25 Sep 1946, Hidden History-Kowloon Tong Air Crash-1946

Submitted by IDJ on Sun, 01/16/2011 - 21:15



These were the headlines in the South China Morning Post on 26 September 1946. An RAF Dakota had crashed into the hillside above Kowloon Tong immediately after taking-off from Kai Tak airport. The passengers were a mixture of military personnel and Chinese passengers including a family. The most prominent passenger was Colonel Cyril Wild, the chief British War Crimes investigator, whose work had uncovered the closeness of the Japanese Emperor to groups involved with conducting banned gas experiments on human beings. Wild was allegedly on the point of having the Emperor arrested for war crimes. He had spent his last evening in Hong Kong before the flight to Singapore with the redoubtable Jack Edwards. In more recent times he was the well-known Hong Kong resident who was an untiring champion of Far East POWs and their widow’s on compensation and passport issues.


This website alleges the flight was sabotaged at the instigation of those in post-war power in Japan (ie 5 Star General Macarthur and his cohorts) to ensure Wild could not take his investigations further and that his incriminating research materials ‘disappeared.’ Googling Colonel Wild’s name also brings up many stories related to this crash on other websites.




The main crash story has been written by someone who knew Wild, and although it could be regarded as the stuff of conspiracy theories, when read in conjunction with books such as Sterling & Peggy Seagreave’s, ‘The Yamoto Dynasty -- The Secret History of Japan’s Imperial Family’ it doesn’t seem so unbelievable.

Date(s) of events described


I think it was after this crash that a take-off in a northwesterly direction on Runway 31 towards the Kowloon Hills was banned. I recall the book 'Gweilo' recounts a similar take-off episode but this was in the 1950s.

Chic Eather in one of his books mentions that when he joined Cathay Pacific in that period he was specifically warned "to never ever attempt to take-off in that direction." However somewhere in the Wild material, an RAF person is quoted as saying that the take-off over Kowloon Tong should not have been a problem to pilots as experienced as those who were flying the Dakota. If the eye-witness reports of small puffs of smoke seen near the tail indicated sabotage by explosives, perhaps an urban myth was generated to cover up the real cause of the crash. I doubt that we shall ever know. 

Does this have anything to do with the urban myth regarding the origins of the name "Diamond Hill"?  I remember people always say that the area is named Diamond Hill because there was a mysterious plane crash long time ago in which the crashed plane was allegedly used to transport diamonds...

No air crashes of any significence have occured at Diamond Hill. I suggest that the name is related more to quarrying or mining activities in the area.

What was certainly not an urban myth was an air crash in January 1947 that scattered millions of dollars of gold bullion across part of Mount Parker on Hong Kong Island. Metal detectors enthusiasts be aware there still may be gold in the hillls! Although no doubt the bank's insurers would want a share if any were found even after all this time.



Gold Cargo Worth US$15,000,000

Scattered Over Hill-slope




The Philippines Airlines Dakota plane, PIC-2, which was reported missing since 3p.m. on Saturday, was located about 9 a.m. yesterday. It had crashed on Mount Parker, Hong Kong Island, burst into flames and been destroyed. The four members of the crew, including a woman (Stewardess) were all dead. The plane carried cargo only, including a shipment of gold valued at US$15,000,000 consigned to seven banks. Some of this rolled down the hillside and some melted, but it is understood that almost all has been recovered. Mount Parker is 1734 feet high. The pilot, flying in thick rain mist, failed to clear it by about 50 feet.


A Dakota C47, the plane was specially chartered to carry the large consignment of gold bars and coins, said to be valued at HK$60,000,000 for seven local banks. The RAF said that the plane left Makati airfield, Manila, early Saturday morning and was in almost continuous radio communication with Kai Tak. At 3 p.m. the plane was making its approach to the airfield from the south and was receiving its final instructions preparatory to the let down. The pilot was told to climb higher. The message was not acknowledged and contact was not re-established. It was thought that the pilot may have decided to put back to Manila, but when the bodies were found, a watch on one of them had stopped at 3.02p.m.-indicating that the plane had hit the mountain almost immediately after the signal was sent. On Saturday the RAF could not say that the plane was missing until enquiry had been made from Manila to discover whether she had put back there-as another plane recently did. Manila’s reply at nightfall was negative. Meanwhile RAF search planes and rescue teams had been made ready; but it was too late and the weather too thick for an air search. The Police and Army were notified.


Search at Sea


It was first thought that the plane had crashed outside Hong Kong in pirate infested waters. HMS Finisterre and other naval and police launches were sent on Saturday evening to conduct a thorough search, with the order to continue operations at night. They covered a considerable area, including Junk Bay-leading to rumours that the plane had hit Devil’s Peak. A villager passing the Shaukiwan Police Station late Saturday night reported that he had seen something burning faintly on the hillside, but although more searching parties were sent out, they could not confirm the report as it was dark and misty and the hillside was difficult to climb. Rescue parties combed the hills early yesterday morning and the wreckage was located about 9 a.m. when the mist had cleared somewhat.


High police officials, including Commissioner of Police ASP Luscombe and ASP Kellett arrived at the scene soon after the wreckage was located and a police cordon was immediately thrown around to guard the gold bars and coins which were scattered about an area 100 feet wide. According to the police 60% of the valuable cargo could be recovered easily, but some coins were fused into the metal of the plane by the intense heat. The plane had broken her back and was in two pieces, with charred wreckage covering an area some 15 yards wide. The crew consisted of Pilot, O.T. Weymouth, Co-pilot, M.A. Lim, Radio-Operator, B. Merza and Air-Hostess, Miss I. Chuidian. The police located the four bodies lying among the ruins, burnt beyond recognition. They were brought down from the mountain yesterday afternoon.


Salvage work soon began and when a SCMP reporter visited the scene, more than 30 gold bars had been recovered and loaded on a lorry to be taken to the vaults of the Hong Kong And Shanghai Bank. Over 20 coolies and several constables were seen coming down the dangerous slope nearly 1,000 feet from the road, each carrying a gold bar weighing over 10 pounds. It is believed that the plane carried 2½ tons of the valuable metal. The valuable cargo is said to be consigned to seven banks in Hong Kong and is said to have been insured with Lloyds. The consignees are the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, the Chase Bank, Bank of Communications, Belgian Bank, American Express, Bank of East Asia and the Salt Industry Bank. An official of Philippine Airlines came by plane from Manila yesterday afternoon. The scene of the disaster is about 1,000 feet above the Island Road, a few minutes drive from Shaukiwan Police Station. Mount Parker is at the eastern end of the island, in the loneliest section, with no settlement near it. This, and the fact that the plane struck the far (south) side of the hill-top in thick rain fog explains why the crash was not seen or heard and why the wreckage was not located earlier. It was learned from the police last night that the scattered gold coins had not all been recovered and that heavily armed guards were on duty at the scene throughout the night.




IDJ was right in pointing out that the name 'Diamond Hill' originated from the mining activities in the region. I shall write a little more to explain how this came to be.

'Diamond Hill', in Chinese, is:

鑽      石       山

jyun  sehk   san

with jyun = drilling, sehk = stone, san = hill

If one takes 'jyun' as a verb, then 'jyun sehk san' would mean a hill where stone drilling takes place - which accurately describes blasting activity in quarries.

But 'jyun sek' can also refer to the use of diamonds on drills, blades and other cutting instruments; thus the Chinese term for diamond is 'drilling stone'.

Hence the corruption of a name which originally meant 'A hill where stone drilling takes place' into 'Diamond Hill'. The original meaning of the name might have probably been lost long before it was translated into English by what I would presume to be a translator of Chinese ethnicity.