Y. C. LIANG (aka BAAG No. 538 / BAAG codename "PL" / Run Chang / 梁潤昌) [1918-1979] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
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Y. C. LIANG (aka BAAG No. 538 / BAAG codename "PL" / Run Chang / 梁潤昌) [1918-1979]

Names
Given: 
Y. C.
Family: 
Liang
Alias / nickname: 
BAAG No. 538 / BAAG codename "PL" / Run Chang / 梁潤昌
Sex: 
Male
Status: 
Deceased
Birth
Date: 
c.1918-01-01 (Month, Day are approximate)
Birthplace (town, state): 
Shanghai
Birthplace (country): 
Death
Date: 
c.1979-01-01 (Month, Day are approximate)

He was an agent (codename "PL") for the British Army Aid Group (BAAG) in WW2. There is more information about him below, and in this thread.

Tags: 

Photos that show this person

1970

Comments

does anyone have any info about john reeve (beyond what is written in edwin ride's BAAG history)? reeve was british consul in macao during the war and the point man for  allied intelligence operatives such as liang.

jeremy

Liang Yun-chang, usually referred to as Liang Chang, was an outstanding agent of the BAAG in Macao during the War.  His code name was 'PL' (not 'PHOENIX' who was Dr. Gosano).  According to the citation given by the Commnadant of the BAAG, Col. (later Sir) Lindsay Ride, for the award of the King's Medal for Courage in the course of Freedom (usually awarded to outstanding members who were not British national), Liang was first recruited into the BAAG in Dec 1942 and served until 1945 when the War ended.  The grounds for the recommendation of award was based on 'valuable service in command of escape & intelligence operation in enemy-held territories' which were Macao & SW Guangdong.   He was a trader in Macao at the time. 

He came to the notice of the British when he was especially kind to the HK British refugees through providing provisions to them on credits from his shop Wang Tai in Macao.  He was also known to have very good connections in the surrounding territories which was valuable to the escape & intelligence operations of the BAAG.   He was interviewed by Ride in Kweilin in early 1943 whence he was tasked & returned to Macao.  He proved himself extremely efficient & effective.  He was able to set up safe escape & communication routes in Forward Area 2 via Samfou (Kaiping) to Kweilin.

By October 1943, PHOENIX (Dr. Gosano) & Mrs. Joy Wilson (who operated out of the British Consulate) could no longer function under Japanese surveillance.  The BCG John Reeves had been instructed by the Chungking Embassy to cease his private 'I' operations which were based on his own initiatives, but unwittingly compromising the BAAG operations, indeed suspected to be the cause of many purges of BAAG operatives in Hong Kong who came into contact with the BCG on innocent matters.  PHOENIX was asked to handover his team to PL (Liang) who was described by Ride to be completely trustworthy.  Eventually in May 1944, PHOENIX was withdrawn & PL took over as head of the small BAAG unit in Macao which included 'NITRAM' (Nelson MA Nai-kwong).  His team also operated radio communications onboard a moving junk in the harbour; bought airtime in the Macao radio station to broadcast encrypted messages; generally doing outrageous things right under the nose of the Japanese.   

On 17th Aug, after the Japanese surrender on 15th, BAAG received message from the Embassy in Chungking that HM Government directed F. Gimson to assume authority to restore British soveringnty over HK under the Letter Patent pending the arrival of British or Allied forces. This message was delivered by PL (Liang) who travelled to HK (still under Japanese rule) on 22 Aug with Wireless Radio & operator Fung Bei.  PL delivered the message personally to Gimson at Stanley, offering Gimson four Soverigns of his own money for his expenses in establishing Provisional Government (which was set up at the French Foreign Mission - today's Highest Court of Appeal).  PL continued to shuttle between HK & Macao for relief supplies using ferry boat 'Fat Shan'.   (Ref: the series of telegrams concerning the liberation of HK has been deposited by Paul Tsui at the PRO HK MS30)

After the War, Y.C. Liang became a rich businessmen of HK & Macao.  He was the substantial shareholder of the HK & Shanghai Hotels Group (The Penninsular Hotel & other assets) as well as operator of one of two HK-Macao ferry & jetfoil services.  Anonymously, he was a big charitable donor - apart from donations to universities, he also donated TV sets to HK prisons & public parks.  He was awarded CBE in the 70s.

  

Hi Lawrence, thanks very much for the extra information. I've corrected the code name.

Regards, David

hello lawrence.

it was interesting to read your comments above. are you related to paul tsui by any chance? i am researching the wartime period in macao and am always interested to get any info about life at that time, japanese military activities there, anti japanese resistance activities or any other information involving the consul john reeves or baag agents.

thanks again and best wishes

jeremy

From the entry for Y C Liang in the BAAG Personnel Register, Ride Collection:

Nationality Chinese, born Shanghai 1918, Trader, BAAG Dec. 42 - Dec 45.

“In 1942, the BAAG contacted this man in Macao, and in view of his business connections he was put in charge of an escape and intelligence group there.  Early in 1943, he made the dangerous trip out of Macao through enemy territory to Kweilin and set up safe escape routes. At Kweilin he was fully briefed and returned to set up his organisation. Throughout all his service, he was operating under the very noses of the Japanese, and in spite of that he was able to maintain weekly contacts with our post without loss.  Through his channels, over 50 European and 4 American evaders were smuggled out of Macao to safety and important messages passed into Hongkong.  In all this work, he not only showed organising ability of a high order but he displayed outstanding bravery and extreme devotion to our cause.”

(signed) L T Ride, Colonel.  1946.

Hi Jeremy,

Just happened to come across your comment. After his death, one of his close friends put together his memoir "The Lone Flag", which was published in 2014. You won't be disappointed, I've just read it and will be reviewing it on Amazon and on Facebook. It's a bit pricey. Don't know if HK Press will be cheaper. I was also pleased to read about Mr Liang Y.C., CBE. That's how I found this post. I was searching for a photo of the big guy.

I have YC Liang's operation instructions for the set-up in Macau:


(Copy)      TOP SECRET

To: No. 538, Leader,   Ref.:
P.L. Group.  Date: 16 May 44.
From: Commandant, B.A.A.G.,  

Subject:- P.L. Group.

1. As instructed in my M38/A/7 of 12 Feb 44, you are appointed Leader in MACAO of the a/m Group and, as such, are responsible to me, through Captain C.M. McEWAN (or any other Officer-in-Charge) of the B.A.A.G. Post, SAMFOU, for the direction and efficient running of the Group.

2. Tor the present, the Group will consist of the under-mentioned, who will receive pay and perform the duties as shown below:-

NITRAM - Secretary and Translator - M$650.- per month.
FUNG BAY - Assistant & Ciphers - M$550.- " "
BUTT KAI - W/Operator. - M$550.- per month.
LEE WAI  - Runner - CYCLONE. - M$150.- " "
MOK HUNG - Runner - MASBATE - No pay (to be fixed later).

3. You will report direct to Captain C.M. McEWAN at SAMFOU, who will give you the necessary guidance and orders and transmit H.Q. instructions to you from time to time.

4. The running expenses of your Group will be M$5,000.-per month, which will be remitted to you direct from this H.Q. You will be solely responsible for the handling of this money and will render monthly accounts to Captain McEWAN.

5. Communication with Captain McEWAN will be by means of (a) XPL W/T (b) CYCLONE and (c) special Runner by the quickest possible route in case of urgency. CYCLONE will make at least one round trip per week.

6. The equipment of Station XPL (2 transmitters and 1 receiver), has been paid for by B.A.A.G., and remains the property of the B.A.A.G. and as such you are responsible, for its safe custody.

7. B.A.A.G. having invested CNC$300,000 in CYCLONE is an unofficial share-holder therein and as such has priority in the movements and use of CYCLONE until such time as the capital sum is withdrawn or refunded.

8. You will keep Captain McEWAN supplied with up-to-date information regarding Japanese military movements, shipping, economic conditions, etc., in MACAO in accordance with the directives and guidance which you will receive from time to time.

9. For security reasons, you will have NO overt contact with Mr. REEVES, H.B.M Consul, MACAO, and PHOENIX, the former Group-leader, who are under close surveillance by the Japanese. You will take every precaution to maintain the Security of your Group and so ensure its continued existence.

Headquarters,  
B. A. A, G., (Sgd) L.T. RIDE.
Kweilin, China. Colonel,
16 May 44. Commandant, British Army Aid Group.

p.s.  Did you know that PL were the first and last letters of the medical word *prontocil*, (which appears on the lists of supplies at BAAG medical posts).  This information about the codename from Ma Nai Kwong, but why this was chosen I do not know.  E.

This is the first message to PL from BAAG HQ:



M38/A/1 of 12/2/44.

To: P.L.,

(1) The Censorship in Canada, recently intercepted a letter from China to an address in CANADA, in which it was stated that Mr. J.M.A. FAY (French, Commissioner of Chinese Customs for LAPPA and District, resident in MACAO, was in touch with Prisoners in HONG KONG. It is NOT clear whether by this it was meant P.W. in the P.W. camps or civilian internees in STANLEY Internment Camp. It is more likely to be civilian internees in STANLEY.

(2) Nevertheless, the Canadian Government being very interested in the welfare of Canadian military P.W. in SHAMSHUIPO P.W. Camp, instructed the Canadian Legation in CHUNGKING to endeavour to get in touch with Mr. FAY with a view to establishing contact with the Canadian P.W. in SHAMSHUIPO, and their representatives have recently been to see me and I have agreed to do all I can to help them.

(3) Enclosed you will find 2 letters of introduction, one to Mr. FAY and the other to Mr. A.G. BORRAS, (British) formerly his Chief Tide-surveyor and Harbour-Master, from Lt.-Colonel E.D.G.HOOPER of our organization who was formerly in the Chinese Maritime Customs and know Mr. FAY personally in SHANGHAI in 1931 and Mr. BORRAS in CANTON in 1938-39, where he was Deputy Commissioner. You should accordingly approach either Mr. FAY or BORRAS, or both, at your discretion, hand them these letters of introduction, explain to them, what has been outlined above and ask them if they are prepared to help. You should endeavour to get a written reply (of a non-compromising nature) for transmission to me.

(4) If they are prepared to help, a special code message will be sent to you for introduction into SHAMSHUIPO P.W. Camp (where there are many French Canadians - this point may be of particular interest to Mr. FAY) through the channels known to Mr. FAY or Mr. BORRAS.
But NO message should be introduced until you get the O.K. from me. Please go ahead on the above lines and let me have a reply as quickly as possible. You will have to use your discretion, as FAY and BORRAS may be closely watched by the Japanese, and should you have information which shows that there would be any risk to yourself, likely to jeopardize your other work for us, in approaching these gentelemen, please inform me at once and await further orders.

Signed: BLUE