More Sixties Stuff

Submitted by Andrew Craig-Bennett on Fri, 08/13/2010 - 09:20
The Governor from 64 to 71 was David Trench:

His political views can be deduced from this photograph, although he was not the man who dealt with the 67 Riots - that was Ronald Holmes - see above.

Public education expanded fast in the Sixties; as I mentioned earlier Hong Kong pupils learn two sorts of history - ordinary history and Chinese history. During the colonial period "Chinese history" stopped sharp on the 10th October 1911 - Sun Yat-Sen's revolution - because any mention of later events would have been bound to bring either the KMT supporters or the Beijing supporters onto the streets in a riot.

The gradual decline of these two factions has a good deal to do with their responsibility for causing riots - we have seen that the 1956 riots were essentially organised by the KMT, and their support was never quite the same afterwards, because they were seen to have been responsible.

In the sixties there were two distinct sets of riots:

(1) The 1966 Kowloon riots, often called the Star Ferry Riots, which many people blame on Elsie Tu (see above) in which the main issue was the 100% increase in fares by the Star Ferry Company, because at that time (before the MTR and the Cross Harbour Tunnels) the Star Ferry was the only means of crossing the harbour and many people lived in Kowloon but worked on the Island, which saw one person killed


(2) The very much more serious 1967 riots, which were organised by the Communists in support of the Red Guards on the mainland with the intention of taking over Hong Kong from the imperialist paper tigers and their running dogs. Fifty-one people were killed, including small children, and eight thousand home made bombs were found and defused. The worst atrocity was the murder of the talk radio host Lam Bun, who was burned alive on the 24th August for the offence of satirising the agitators.

Many people mix up these riots, but I think they are quite different - the Star Ferry Riots were an awakening of Hong Kong social consciousness focussed on a genuine local grievance, whereas the 67 riots, although they began with a factory strike, were really a reflection of events on the mainland and were encouraged from the mainland.

The consequence of the 67 riots was that public support for the Mainland practically evaporated, much as support for the KMT had weakened after the 56 riots.

Another aspect of the Sixties was the role played by Hong Kong as an R&R stopover for US forces involved in Vietnam. Along with "The world of Suzie Wong" this brought the Wan Chai red light district, centred on Lockhart Road, a measure of notoriety in its day.

(The reason for the location is that once upon a time the British Army barracks and Naval base separated Wanchai from Central District; squaddies and jacks had been banned from drinking in Central back when it was still called Victoria, so they went the other way. Victoria Barracks was where Pacific Place now is; the barracks site was bought for redevelopment by Swire Properties at the moment when the handover talks seemed to be going wrong and Deng Xiopeng had just threatened to invade..)

Anyway, back to Lockhart Road...

Two friends who worked for the Great and Ancient Hong once made a bet with colleagues that they could drink all night in The Wanch "on tick" (on credit).

They turned out their pockets in the office in front of wtnesses and set off, on foot to the Lockhart Road. By midnight, they reckoned they had won their bet, so they had one for the road, whilst they contemplated the awful thought of how to get back to their flats, which were in Mid-Levels, in the interesting condition to which six hours of San Miguel* had reduced them, on foot.

The mamasan** flagged them each a taxi and paid the drivers!

*For those who may not know know, the rules of social drinking in a girlie bar, as opposed to going there for other purposes, are these:

1. Only ever drink bottled beer. You have no idea what might be in that "whisky" bottle, let alone the water and ice offered with it! 

2. (Not applicable in the above case) - don't take the taxi that's waiting outside the door...  !

3. (Not applicable in the above case) insist on paying for each round, in cash, as you drink it; otherwise your credit card bill will look like an attempt to bail out Lehman Brothers.!

(Social drinking in girlie bars started at the time when there were very few pubs and the girlie bars offered cheaper beer than the hotel bars. This may well still be true. I could not possibly comment!)

** For the record, I'm pretty sure this was the mamasan of the Ocean Bar, but it just might have been the Winner Bar.

I would now like to consider the question – “What was the attitude of the Government of the People’s Republic of China to Hong Kong, during the period from 1949 to 1997?”

As noted earlier, in 1949 the advancing PLA forces stopped at the border.

Curiously, this was about the only time after 1930 or so when Britain could have defended Hong Kong successfully – with the ending of WW2 and the start of the Korean War, Britain was abundantly well supplied with troops and equipment; Hong Kong well equipped with RAF fighter aircraft, the Royal Navy was present in force and US support for such a defensive action could be taken for granted.

During the next 18 years the Mainland went through a series of crises - the initial "moderate" or "Leninist" period, during which some private businesses were still permitted, followed by the Great Leap Forward - Mao's first outburst - and then by the ghastly famine that followed it - and which fuelled the biggest wave of immigration into Hong Kong. But one constant feature was that the Mainland took no action against Hong Kong; on the contrary, it invested in the colony and on the eve of the 1967 riots it was calculated that the 300-odd Mainland controlled businesses in Hong Kong contributed half of Mainland China's foreign exchange earnings.

Most people in Hong Kong assumed that this situation would continue, although most were aware that at some stage the lease on the New Territories would fall in.

The water supply from the East River seemed to confirm that peaceful co-existence would continue.

The 1967 riots, and more particularly the Mainland participation in the organising of the riots, came as what can only be called a thunderbolt. It was unexpected and shocking.

By way of illustation, I have several friends (and had more, now alas dead) who were officers on British merchant ships which carried Chinese crews. The relationship between officers and crew aboard a well run merchant ship is usually pretty friendly, and in those days, when tours at sea were very much longer (three years, as opposed to six months) this was very much the case. British officers who were used to Chinese crews generally preferred them to British crews - they were nothing like as stroppy, and generally they were good seamen. Nobody much enquired into the seamen's boarding houses in Hong Kong, which were nests of traditional crimping, but which did keep crews from the same villages together (tradition dictated that the engine roon crew came from northern China, the deck crew from the Yangtse valley and the stewards from Guangdong) . In 1967 almost all these crews mutinied and attacked their British officers. There were only a couple of killings but the effect lasted for the rest of those officers' lives - they would never trust the Chinese in the same way again. Several married their Chinese girlfriends in order to give them a passport, which illustrates the thinking at the time.

There was a thoroughly nasty border incident in July 1967 when several Hong Kong policemen were killed and injured by machine gun fire from members of the Peoples' Militia who had crossed over into Hong Kong at the village of Sha Tau Kok (the Sha Tau Kok Incident).

The members of the Hong Kong police and others who fought the riots formed a club with a very distinctive tie - see the comments contributed below for a photograph - the design was yellow dogs and white pigs. This was because the Communists branded the British officers "white pigs" and the Chinese officers "yellow running dogs". Five Police officers were killed, and one Army bomb disposal expert. I don't know of any case where the Police behaved otherwise than very courageously; attempts to suborn Chinese police officers were an utter failure. Of course, the fact that police officers lived in barracks and in married quarters made it harder to threaten their families, but such threats were none the less made, more or less continually. I have been told that the favourite film, shown more or less continually in each Police barracks in off duty hours during the riots, was "Zulu", starring Michael Caine - the Police identified entirely with the outnumbered redcoats.

The Army was not called in in support of the civil power, unlike the '56 riots. This was certainly because the use of the Army would have given China the excuse it was looking for to invade. However the Army did supply bomb disposal expertise and on one occasion the Navy provided helicopters.

I found a really excellent contemporary report from The Atlantic , written in November 1967, here:

One thing that we know now, but which Maynard Parker did not know when he wrote the report above, is that China did have plans to invade. Such an invasion seems to have been proposed by General Hang Yongsheng, the General in command of the Guangdong region of the People's Liberation Army. Officially we are told that this plan was vetoed by Zhou Enlai. Maybe it was. I am just a little cautious about the routine attribution of all decent acts to Zhou, because we know, beyond any possible doubt, that the invasion plan was kept on file , since Zhou's protege, Deng Xiaoping, threatened Margaret Thatcher with it in 1982 - see later for more on this. At all events Hang was purged soon afterwards, with the fall of Lin Biao, and he ended his days in a labour camp.

I suspect that the Mainland was watching the situation and, had events gone according to their plan, they would have intervened. I speculate that the plan was for the rioters to cause disorder in Hong Kong beyond the abilities of the colonial government to control and thereafter to invade on the pretext of "restoring order". That is what Deng said he would do, in 1982, should the news of the Sino-British talks cause trouble in Hong Kong.
But the Government out-smarted them, by, for example, drowning out propaganda from loudspeakers on the Bank of China with pop music (this was the Sixties!) and, above all, by waiting for demands from the public to stop the rioting , then taking action, rather than "wading in" right away.

What the riots actually did was to raise the prestige of the Police (renamed the Royal Hong Kong Police, in recognition of their efforts) and to practically destroy the reputation of the Communists. The Army was not, IIRC, called out except for bomb disposal.

The question of the Mainland's attitude can be seen to have been an ambivalent one, throughout the colonial period. Rather than having a definite plan, the mainland seems to have changed its mind repeatedly as differing factions gained the upper hand.

NB (1): don't bother looking for information on the '67 riots on the HK Police website; they never happened. Indeed, whilst looking for pictures to illustrate the riots I found a number of "dead" links to websites that have been disabled. Shades of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia!

NB (2) Don't worry about the fate of those policemen who were loyal to the Crown in '67 - they and the members of the Special Branch up to 1997 and their dependants got proper British passports


Submitted by
Anonymous (not verified)
Mon, 05/24/2010 - 21:43

 This article mentions the "Confrontation Tie":

Confrontation Tie

It was in fact available to all HKP, Military and presumably HK Government officials who served during that time but particular in the Border area.
It was a black tie featuring Bak Pei Chiu - White Skinned Pigs (i.e. us), Wong Pei  Zao Gao - Yellow Skinned Running Dogs (i.e. Chinese HK Government officials & supporters), Hung Fei Mao - Red Fat Cats (i.e.leftist HK Chinese millionaires and businessmen) and a Thin Red Line depicting the British Army.

The 67 commie riot is indeed a taboo subject to the HK govt. When I visited the HKP museum on Coombe Rd, there was no mentioning or a single exhibit on the 67 riot or border invasion by PLA militia in which HKP suffered 6 KIA and 12 WIA. That is a real shame considering that HKP made enormous sacrifice and performed admirably in the defense of British HK during that very sensitive and troublesome period.

Thank you very much for posting that!

One of the world's more admired ties, and now very rare. An important addition to "Gwulo".

I had a dim recollection of having been shown one, maybe thirty years ago, but I had forgotten the Red Fat Cats. 

Submitted by on
Mon, 07/05/2010 - 15:23

In reply to by sf (not verified)

There is a hardback 315 page book describing the police efforts to contain the riots titled Colony in Conflict-The Hong Kong Distubances May 1967-January 1968, published by the Swindon Bookshop in 1970. No ISBN. It includes pictures attributed to the short-lived tabloid English language STAR newspaper that specialised in sensational full page images of the riots, disasters, accidents etc.

Swindon's at this time published a number of small publications covering contentious issues in the colony. I have one titled UNDER THE WHITEWASH covering the sudden deportations and activities of militant European worker priests who were active amongst the factories. These paperbacks were only available in the shop for short periods and then no longer available. IDJ

By email, another owner writes:

I arrived in Hong Kong by ship from Bombay on the Laos in 1967 having traveled overland to India and living for a few months there. My fiancé and I therefore arrived somewhat through the back door into HK as most Europeans at that time had ex-patriate contracts.

We both found it relatively easy to find work there and soon settled into a happy three and a half year stay. I eventually got the job of managing the Brunswick ten pin bowling centre in Kowloon and organized a number of bowling leagues including some for the forces there. So we soon made friends with the forces guys and had friends in the police and government.

I noticed last week that my old HK tie was still hanging in my wardrobe and was telling a college at work about it. The thin red lines and cast of very amusing characters includes us white pigs! He looked on the internet and low and behold up came your website with a picture of the very tie!

I cannot recall how I acquired my much treasured HK conflict tie but I guess it came through friends that we made when I managed the bowling centre. Must be worth a fortune now?

I hope to hear from other owners.

Kind Regards,

Rob Minshull

From Hong Kong Ways and Byways by Eric Cumine:

"This is the HK tie. You are entitled to wear it if you have spent 24 hours in HK................The symbolism is simple:  The background is black, same as the outlook, the dull red line is the Commie propaganda they put out, the three main HK inhabitants are: The White Skinned Pig (Expatriate), The Yellow Running Dog (HK yan), The Red Fat Cat The Commie rep here (Cadillac Commie).   BUT - a big BUT..........If you turn the tie inside out there is a SILVER LINING!!!  (Designed by Eric Cumine in the late 1960s)"

The army were indeed called out to assist the police in 1967 other than for bomb disposal duties.  The raid on the HQ of the communist controlled Federation of Trade Unions, a multi storey building in Kowloon, was a case in point.  The army put in a cordon round the building while helicopters dropped police raiding parties onto the roof - the normal entrances were barricaded.  I have a photograph of this operation.


Submitted by
TW Wong (not verified)
Fri, 12/24/2010 - 17:36

I have vivid memories of the riot, as a teenager during that period. There were many home-made bombs in the road corner between Queen's Road Central and Bonham Strand East, near where I lived. These bombs did inflict injuries mostly on policemen. There was a rumour that they were made in a leftist secondary school in the mid-levels, (by the name Chung Hua Middle School) which was later raided by the police. After that no more bombs were placed in the vicinity. I also  remembered reading the news one day about the incursion of the border by mainland militia killing several policemen. Later the Gurkas were dispatched to repell the invaders. More than a decade later, I worked as a health officer in Government. My boss, Dr. CY Sam was the Assistant Director of Medical and Health Department in charge of New Territories Region. A tall and slim man, he was a graduate from a mainland medical school, who rose to a high position as a Directorate grade staff. He told me about his involvement in the border incident that later led to his ascent in the civil service.  Like others of similar training background, he worked as an Outpatient Clinic doctor in the New Territories clinics, a post that most HKU trained doctors would be unwilling to take.  On the day of the shooting, he was called to the scene to treat the injured policemen. He had no idea what had happened, but he went anyway. The morale of the police was greatly boosted when they heard a doctor was coming to the frontline!  After the incident, he was given a choice of two rewards - a medal or a scholarship for further training. He chose the latter, and was sent to Ireland to study for the Diploma in Public Health, a "license" for the health administrators in those days. That was how he eventually became my boss, as I was a trainee doctor in Public Health in the late seventies. 

TW Wong

Interesting. A pity they didn't give him the medal and the scholarship though.

The joint army & HKP helicopter raid you referred to happened on Aug 4/67. Target was 3  buildings in N Point that served as leftist rioter stronghold completed with a  fully equipped field hospital hidden behind false wall. The leftists also booby trapped the entrance to one building with live high voltage wire designed to electrocute anyone busting in through the front door. HKP obviously had good intel on the whole set up. So they boarded Wessex helicopters from an RN aircraft carrier anchored in HK harbour and air assaulted into the leftist stronghold through the rooftop.

A month earlier on July 8/67, Chicom militia crossed the border into Sha Tau Kok and badly shot up the HKP border post with machine gun fire. 5 policemen were KIA with another 13 WIA during the gun battle. HK went on a war footing that day with emergency call up of all off duty reg & auxiliary policemen that afternoon. Later on in the evening, the army sent in Gurkha troops supported by Saladin & Ferret armoured cars to relieve the besieged HKP border post. It was the most serious incident during the 67 riot. Soldier Magazine did an article on this border shootout incident and subsequent army border defense duties along the HK/Chinese border. Link here:

For those who were living n Hong Kong in the 1960s, the riots and the deaths of the policemen at the border outpost at Sha Tau Kok may sometimes come up in conversation.

I had always wanted to visit Sha Tau Kok but could never do so from the Hong Kong side as it is situated in a restricted area and a special pass/permit is required for entry.

About five years ago, I joined a local tour in Hong Kong and visited Sha Tau Kok Town from Shenzhen. I managed to take in what I wanted to see:

a) Shenzhen-Sha Tau Kok History Museum;

b) Chung Ying Street (Anglo-China border street) and the

c) Anglo-Chinese Boundary Stones.

Mainland Security Post and Hong Kong Police Post

2005 Shau Tau Kok Mainland Security Post











2005 Sha Tau Kok Hong Kong Police Post












Chung Ying Street - The Hong Kong side of the border is on the right.


2005 Sha Tau Kok Chung Ying Street












2005 Sha Tau Kok Shop










Anglo-Chinese Boundary Stones


2005 Sha Tau Kok - Anglo-Chinese Boundary Stone No. 4











2005 Sha Tau Kok Anglo-Chinese Boundary Stone









Photo of a photo in a 1997 handover exhibition. Image may be subject to copyright.

1997 Chung Ying Street, Sha Tau Kok








A good read about the boundary stones: "Unequal Treaty 1898-1997" by Peter Wesley Smith



How things had changed by 1997. 30 years ago, the Chinese police would have grabbed the 2 RHKP constables and dragged them across the border into communist China as prisoners. It happened a few times in Sak Tau Kok and along the border fence.

There is a youtube video showing Sak Tau Kok from the HK side. The old shot up HKP border post which was located at the Chung Ying St entrance and a stone's throw from the HKP umbrala stand in your picture has been completely demolished and turned into a fenced empty lot.

I guess certain part of history is better to forgive and forget.


I was on the raid of the FTU HQ,Ma Tau Wei in summer of 1967 as part of the police involvement.Indeed the military did perform inner/outer cordon duties and wore their 'tommy' helmets..I believe it was the 'Welsh Guards' on the day.Police(from Kwun Tong Division) were reponsible for entering/securing the target premises:arrests were made and imitation arms seized.It was a very big operation- and a show of strength and determination by the HK Govt to maintain the upper hand in the 'confrontation' with the local 'leftists'.

I have one of these ties in my possession.

My father was  John Charter, the Government Architect, 1939 - retired in 1967. Designed  Queen's College ( built in 21 weeks!) ,the East and Main Wings of the Central Government Offices, which included a separate Legislative Council chamber ( cant find a photo of the interior of this chamber).

The impression i had from my father was that Eric Cummine, a well known  Hong Kong architect and a friend of my father's, had had these ties made and given to friends as a Christmas present that year 1967. Maybe he copied the idea?

"Sha Tau Kok" (the tune played for general salute in Hong Kong Police) was written by W. B. Foster to commemorate the five policemen killed on duty in Sha Tau Kok on July 8, 1967. I believe they were shot by militia across the border.



The tie in the photograph is mine, submitted when I was still Anonymous! The tie was strictly speaking a border tie worn by military, police and officials who worked there during 1967/68. I earned mine as a humble Police Training Contingent (PTC, later to become the Police Tactical Unit, PTU) Alpha Company No 1 Platoon Commander. I suppose it became popular more widely and ended up with some of the pen pushers south of the border! I will wear mine tonight, David; I am looking forward to your talk for the Friends of Sai Kung. OnOn.

Re. Raid on FTU HQ 1967. It was indeed The Welch Regiment (of which I was a member) that supported the HKP that day, B Company provided the Outer Ground Cordon & I was one of the "Wessex" Heli-Bourne Assault Platoon from D Coy which flew from HMS HERMES to secure the Roof of the Building. We wore 1.5m Toggle Ropes which we secured to each other to exit the aircraft which hovered just above the Lift Shaft & took up defensive positions around the Roof top. Once the building was secured the HKP assaulted the building simultaneously from both the Ground & Air. Some of the Arrested personnel were airlifted from the roof (don,t know where to). It was a very well planned & successful combined Police & Military Operation. The Welch Regiment supported the HKP throughout the unrest from 1966 to 1968 as did the Lancashire Fusiliers. The HKP are to be applauded for their Bravery & Dedication to Duty during this terrible period of unrest in Hong Kong´s turbulent history. I also was awarded a "Conflict Tie" which I wore proudly for many years & which sadly, I no longer have. If anyone out there knows of any for sale I would be grateful if they would give me any helpful information. L.I.

At some ungoldly hour in the morning on around 24 May 1967, when I was duty officer of 42 Commando and sleeping in the DO's cabin, I was woken by the phone and given the password to get the entire Commando up and moving with full kit down to the Rusty B (HMS Bulwark) in HMS Terror. I learned later that the same message had gone to the DOs in 40 Commando, 7 (Sphinx) Bty RA, and 845 Squadron. By 0700-ish we were all formed up and marching aboard and not long afterwards, as we cleared the straits, 845's helios flew in.

As we trundled up the South China Sea - for we were bound to HK as back up we learned - we practised riot drill on the flight deck, partied and passed the time, as young RM officers, being inducted into the mysteries of bridge and engine room watchkeeping. We duly arrived in HK on 26 May, had riot squad update training from the HKP and, in order to help keep the temperature down, went off to play silly soldiers - 42 in the Pat Sin Leng/Bride's Pool area and 40 on Lantau. On 12 June we were re-embarked in the Rusty B and went back to Singapore.

Fascinatingly, when I came to look all this up recently, I discovered that back in 1967 there had been a comprehensive news blackout. The event as I recall it never happened. What happened, according to all contemporary and modern academic sources, was that 40 Commando only came on a 'long-planned routine visit'. Nothing else. There are no readily available materials to confirm/disconfirm this, not even in the RN/RM Museum's archives in Pompey. The only way I have confirmed that I'm not suffering from advanced senility is via my old mates in both 40 and 42, who have searched memories and muniments and come up with shared memories of who did what and photos of members of both units in identifiable spots in HK dated by such things as birthday celebrations.

I can't imagine such a successful news manipulation happening today. Amazing to reflect on the power of the British 'D' Notice system back then...and the supine willingness of the press to play along. Interestingly, from what I can work out, the whole Chinese press was duped and never got a whisper that all of 3 Commando Brigade present in S'pore (45 was battling it out in Aden) had arrived in HK. Itself evidence of the duality that was much of the underlying problem.

Stephen D

One very good book which came out in the 1970's on the '67 riots is called "Colony in Conflict." This book covers in detail many of the individual "incidents" described by various posters above as separate chapters. I recall the one relating to the Sha Tau Kok shooting in detail.

Long out of print, of course, but copies will exist I'm sure.

I spent most of 1967 as a member of the 2nd Battalion The Queens Regiment based at Gun Club Barracks in Kowloon.  We indeed spent a good deal of time assisting the HKP.  In particular we had a regular commitment escorting the buses that went out early each morning to collect the early morning bus drivers and deliver them to the depots. On one occasion my patrol arrested a gentleman who was engaged in cutting the wire of the Ordnance Depot opposite Kai Tak airport.  Their sentries had detected the guy, but were unwilling to open fire since the airport was just across the road.  I can also remember a very hot afternoon spent cordoning a Communist stronghold along the road to Kai Tak, much of the time wearing respirators due to the HKP's liberal use of tear gas.  I do not recall the use of helicopters on this occasion, but apparently the police avoided the armoured doors by going through holes knocked in the walls dividing this place from the neighbours.  On another occasion, one of our soldiers received a fire extinguisher, dropped from a considerable number of stories up, on his steel helmet.  The helmet was turned almost inside out, but the soldier survived.  It is my recollection that the Lancashire Fusiliers did not relieve us until later in 1967 when things had quietened down somewhat.


Another commitment was to carry out guard duties at a place where some of those arrested during the period were being held.  I cannot remember where it was, but I can remember playing Mah Jong late into the night which gives you some idea how boring the job was for the guard commander.  However, it was considered sufficiently likely that an attempt would be made to spring these people, that the guard included a sandbagged GPMG position with live ammunition.  My Mah Jong set has never recovered from the condensation spread from the numerous cans of Fanta consumed.


Eric Cumine was a well-known architect in Hong Kong, and he does mention the Conflict Tie as quoted, which he calls "The HK Tie", in his book "Hong Kong Ways and Byways - A Miscellany of Trivia", published in 1981 by Belongers' Publications Ltd (p. 179). The urban legend in my family has it that the tie was actually designed by my father, Aalon Aaron Lee, who was a young architect working for Uncle Eric at the time (before he started his own firm, Lee & Zee Associates - Chartered Architects, in the 70s). We suspect that it was Uncle Eric's concept, but my father's intrerpretation and execution. Dad had a gift for drawing cartoon characters, and we recognize his style in the running dog. We still have the tie in the family, in its original clear plastic sleeve. I love the "silver lining".