Argyle Street Barracks / POW Camp [????-????] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Argyle Street Barracks / POW Camp [????-????]

Current condition: 
Demolished / No longer exists

It's time as a POW camp is described in detail in Tony Banham's 'We shall suffer there'. He gives a brief description, map and photos on his website:

In April 1942, the Argyle Street Camp was opened for officers, who were accompanied by 100 Other Ranks who primarily acted as cooks and batmen. (Note that in the background of the Argyle Street photo to the left, the Central British School - now KGV - can be seen).

[...] In 1944, Argyle Street was closed too, with the officers moving to Shamshuipo (which was then split into camps ‘N’ and ‘S’). The situation in Hong Kong then remained virtually unchanged until the end of the war.

A reader asks:

Does anyone know what the former Argyle Street POW camp was used for after the war? It became a Vietnamese refugee camp in the late 70s/early 80s, but I can't find any information about its use from the mid-40s until the late 70s. I volunteered there in 1991 when it was a Vietnamese refugee camp and think it closed the following year. Any information is appreciated!

It appears on a 1950s list of British Military Installations, at grid reference 577037, about the same location as the marker on the map above:

(18) Argyle Street Camp No. 2: Area on South side of Argyle Street surrounded by wire fence with front on Argyle Street.

(19) Argyle Street Camp Nos. 3 & 4: Area on Northside of Argyle Streetbounded by Argyle Street, Leven Road, Sheung Yan Road, and a barbed wire fence from Sheung Yan Road to Argyle Street.

Neither Sheung Yan Road nor Leven Road are shown on today's maps.

Photos that show this place

Comments

in the 60s the streets surrounding the 'camp'  - forfar road, lomond road (also bits of argyle and the whole of perth street going left from princess margaret rd) were two storey buildings with ample space,  front and back gardens -  and known as 'forces accommodation'.  i  once went to a birthday party on forfar which was temporary accommodation for parents of my friend who worked in air traffic control/teaching. this makes me think the army had some lease/rent  to hk government before eventually they were knocked down.  brilliant flats!

David, you may have to put the 'y' back in Argyle!

Back in the 80s after the British Forces had withdrawn and ceased to be a Vietnamese Refugee Camp , the Medical & Health Department of the Hong Kong Govt and later the Hospital Authority had control of the site.

 

Thank you all! I submitted the question and didn't mean for it to show up as Anonymous. I've been in touch with Tony Banham and he does have great information about the camp during the war years. It pops up in different books like Philip Snow's The Fall of Hong Kong and Emily Hahn's China to Me, but nothing longer than a sentence or two.

The Vietnamese left the camp in '92, so did the Medical & Health Dept. have control of the site before the Vietnames came in 79 or 81 (I can't remember when they started using Argyle for the refugees, but it was one of those years) or after they left in '92? When I moved back to HK in '94, I'm almost sure that the land had been developed into high-rise luxury flats. It was quite a prime piece of real estate, being so close to Kowloon Tong and on the outskirs of the congestion of Mongkok.

I think the M & H Dept had control of the site after the Refugees had vacated and that would have been in the early 90s.

Didn't part of it become the recreation ground? I haven't got a copy of Wordie's Kowloon book but I thought it made a mention of this. I could be mistaken.

Another good book that contains a lot of info about the camp is Oliver Lindsay's "Battle for Hong Kong 1941- 1945". It merges the invasion story with the memoirs of John Harris who became a POW at the Argyle Street camp.

I think the Recreation Ground that you may be referring to would be Mission Road ( I think named after the Norwegian Mission) just across the road from the Argyle St Camp and opposite KGV on Tin Kwong Rd.

It was MOD (Ministry of Defence) property and used as a cricket field/pitch in later years.

The 'Leven Road' mentioned in the 1950s document was later renamed to the current 'Lomond Road'.

Sheung Yan Road no longer exists at all, but ran between Lomond Road and Pentland Street, roughly through the middle of the present St Theresa's hospital site.

There are changes on the south side of Argyle Street too. Today Tin Kwong Road runs south from Argyle Street, then turns a corner to run east to Ma Tau Wai Road. Previously only the short east-west section was called Tin Kwong Road, and the north-south section was called Mission Road (see Moddsey's mention of the Mission above).

All these older names are visible on the 1947 map of Kowloon (Plate 4-7, Mapping Hong Kong).

My first home was on Prince Edward Road. The side road, I am pretty sure, was Lomond Road. We were nexr to St. Teresa's hospital. I lived in one of those two storeyed houses with front and back garden. I used to look out of the first floor window of the little back room and see a soldier on duty with his rifle. It scared me. When the house was demolished and the present building was finished, we moved back. I spent most of my life at that address, in the fifties and sixties; so I am a little curious about the barracks as well!

I have hold of a copy of Wordie's Kowloon book and the associated map identifies the cricket pitch on the eastern side of Tin Kwong Road as (at least part of) the camp.

He also identifies a whitewashed storage hut as the only remaining original. So is the eastern side of the road the location of the camp? This was the place I meant when I mentioned the recreation ground earlier.

Richard Wong:

The Argyle camp was used as La Salle College from 1947-1957. In the late 1970s, it was used to house Vietnamese boat people awaiting resettlement in third countries.

Guy Shirra:

Argyle Street Camp in the 70s was home to 10 Intelligence and Security Company (Ten Coy), British Army Intelligence Corps. NOW KC Law Courts.

How big was it exactly? I was under the impression that La Salle used a site on Perth St while the school was still being used as a (military hospital?). Does this mean the camp stretched from Lomond Road all the way to Perth St and straddled both sides of the road?

I lived in the Kowloon City Police Flats in 1951-1954 and again in 1954 to Sep 1956.  The 4 story building is the accommodation block for the living in local police stationed there.  There was a courtyard behind with a gate onto Argyle St at the end of the office block. The flats were immediately behind from the direction of the photo and are out of sight because they were set back with lawns in front.  There were twelve in two sets of 6 with a row of garages at one end.

The flats have been pulled down and new flats put in their place, but the police station survives.  Along the pavement from the 4 story block,still stands the office block which only went up to a first floor with cells below.  

As for the army camp by the Police Station, it was still occupied in the 1950s and in the space between the camp, Argyle St and the Station were market gardens growing carrots amongst other crops, - I used to "scrump" carrots by crawling through the crop!  The wall you can see supported the hill which was taken away and is now a sports ground.  I was arrested with a friend by Royal Military Police who came behind us while we destroyed the camp fence by throwing rocks down from the hill.  My father had to come from Kowloon Central HQ to collect me so thre memory is clear.  I will post some pictures to show the flats and some views of the 4 story block.

regards

Stephen

Richard Wong wrote:

The Argyle camp was used as La Salle College from 1947-1957.

However, as Phil notes, the temporary site for La Salle was south of Perth Street, east of Princess Margaret Road. See http://gwulo.com/node/15185 (Also it was at that site between 1949-59 not 47-57 according to the school's website.)

The Argyle Street Camp did have a section south of Argyle Street (see "(18) Argyle Street Camp No. 2:" above), but I don't know if it ran as far south as the La Salle site. Can anyone confirm?

Regards, David

Argyle Street Camp can be viewed  here

Henry Ching notes that the post-war camp covered a much larger area than the wartime POW camp:

I think some confusion has arisen from the use of the term “Argyle Street Camp”. The term used post-war by the Army referred to far more than the site of the POW camp during the war. In the Facebook photo referred to, the POW camp was only the area with the wooden huts at the right of the photo. As far as I can recall this camp was never used by La Salle College. The western boundary of the POW camp was somewhat east of where Tin Kwong Road enters Argyle Street, roughly in line with to-day’s Pentland Street.