1956 riots | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
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1956 riots

I've been trying to find some film or radio  commentary about/ during the 1956 riots (not 66 or  67).  I guess RTHK must have had some film as part of its news broadcasts. Does anyone have any, or know where they can be unearthed? Newspaper footage also of interest!


Carol Jones


Old Hong Kong newspapers: see separate article...

Have you tried contacting RTHK, or the HK Film Archive?

Wikipedia has a couple of photos of the riot of 1956 as well as the details of the event.

My memories:

- looters emptied a mainland shop on Cheung Sha Wan Road near Maple Street Playground,

- police marching by grandma's second floor rental residence on Apliu St.  When her landlord ignored the police order to move away from the balcony, the leader quickly pulled out his sidearm and pointed at him, and he just as quickly complied.  That was scary.

- grandma and I crossed Tai Po Road at Shek Kip Mei to visit her relative  Except us,  the streets in all directions were completely empty and quiet in broad daylight under curfew.  Then riot police appeared and marched by us with shields, batons and guns.  That was more scary.    

The 1956 riots were very serious. Martial law was almost declared. It was a clash between the Kuomingtang and the Communists. I was a 19 year old sailor serving in the HMS Tamar Naval Base. We were placed on full alert, with armed sailors manning the perimeter of HMS Tamar and the Dockyard. Hand grenades were withdrawn from the armory, and one of the ten armed motor launches of the Royal Naval Hong Kong Flotilla were anchored off Sham Shui Po,  where some of the captured rioters were detained in a compound there. Maybe in the old British POW prison ?

Military and Naval families were removed from their quarters and placed in safety. It was a critical time for Hong Kong, and the final days of our marvellous British Empire, with the debacle of the Suez war taking place, and the failed Hungarian uprising against the Soviets, at the same time. There is a horrific picture of a rioter, roasted to death, trapped by a burning car, published in the South Chine Newspaper. I have a copy of that picture, I must find it.

Peter Yeates Hong Kong Flotilla-Royal Navy

The riots were instigated by triad members, allegedly under the orders of Kuomintang agents.  The wife of a Swiss diplomat burned to death in a taxi.  Communist party supporters, especially those in Tsuen Wan, were targetted, tortured and killed.  There is an official report published by the government.  Luckily the rioting did not spread to Hong Kong island.

I well remember the day of this riot. I was travelling by bus from Prince Edward Road towards Tsim Sha Tsui and when we got to Mong Kok all the Chinese paasengers hurriedly got off the bus, and I was left alone with the driver. Rioters were in a frenzy in that area and were peering in to all the buses. The driver advised me to conceal myself underneath my seat. Carefully peering out of the window I could see a couple of  British soldiers in uniform dodging stones being thrown at them in the front entrance of the Mong Kok theatre (which was not open). The bus continued its journey and when we got to Jordan Road, I saw the still smoldering wreck of the taxi, but apart from slowing down slightly the bus just kept on going. I got off near the Star Ferry pier, and took a walla walla to get on board my ship located in mid-harbour. That was quite an experience!