Kowloon (HK & Whampoa) Dockyards during the Occupation 1942-45

Elizabeth Ride: Extracts from reports in the BAAG Intelligence Summaries.

1. Layout. [Map reference 223585: GSGS 3868 HK & New Territories 1/20,000]

Kowloon Dockyard BAAG sketch

2. During hostilities.“Superficial damage was caused by enemy bombing on the first day of the war. Dock gates were not damaged.”

3. During the Occupation.
1942. “The materials left in the Kowloon Docks are rapidly diminishing. There is an extreme shortage of mica used in the electric workshops. At present they have to use the broken strips and stick them together for further use. In the electric welding department , the welding sticks are also getting scarce, they have to go everywhere in town to find and buy.”
1943. “These docks, formerly run by OSK have now been handed over by the Army to Mitsui. The former name “Osaka Shipbuilding Co´s Kowloon Dock” has been changed to “Nippon Shipbuilding Co of the Navy, Kowloon Dock”. Under Kowloon Dock are Bailey Dock and Cosmopolitan Dock.
Administration is divided into 12 sections: Managing Office, General Office, “Less general” Office, Accounts, Works Managing, Stores, Work Allocation, Ship Building, Engine Construction, Labour, Recreation and Guards.”
1944. “The Kowloon Docks like the Taikoo Docks were engaged in the construction of a number of new ships in 1944. … …
The dockyard, which came under the control of the Kokoki 0r Koreki Butai in mid-1944, had been bombed on several occasions, but the greatest damage was reported to have been caused during the raid on 16 October 1944. All buildings except the Transformer Station and the Moulding shop were reported hit. The Ironsmith´s, Brassmith´s, and Coppersmith´s Shops, the Welding Shop, Boiler Repair Shop, Steel Plates Store and Machine Room were said to have been destroyed, while the Main Generating Station was either destroyed or badly damaged. The No 1 Slipway was extensively damaged and rendered unusable, while the cranes and internal railway system were wrecked. Half of the materials for building new ships was destroyed, as well as a large stock of petrol and coal. Many ships were sunk or damaged, casualties were heavy, and work was suspended for some time after the raid.
Power is supplied from the China Light Main Station. The supply was suspended in August 1944, but was later restored. According to one report, facilities are said to exist at the dockyard for generating its own electricity.”

4. Workforce and conditions.
1943. “Working hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
In cases where extra or night hours are employed, double pay is given. Extra hours means from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Night work is from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. sometimes carrying on for the whole night. A holiday is granted every fortnight.
Female labour is employed to work in the Electrical Department and the Saw Mill. Some are found in the casting room.
The materials in the dock are getting very scarce. They are extremely economical, the worn out parts are kept back, especially the copper and the tin. They use substitutes for such articles when ever possible.”
1944: “There is now an acute shortage of lumber, Iron plates, coal, cast iron, and other materials. Fir tree logs, obtained locally, and old lumber collected from demolished buildings is being used for constructional purposes. As a substitute for coal, firewood is being used. In June 1944, a large vessel under construction was dismantled so that the materials could be used to build 2 smaller vessels.”
In August 1944, the number of workers totalled 4678. One report said that as work was held up by shortage of coal, the workers were divided into shifts, each of 2000/2500 with one group being laid off alternately for a few days.

5. Among Ships seen in dock in 1942. Completion of four Empire Ships already started by British, Hsian Yiar Maru, Maya Maru, Tai Sun Maru, SS Ming Sang, SS Mau Lee, SS Monarch, 2 iron barges, Twin funnel tugboat, Kin Wa Maru, Kin Shan, 3 Russian ships, Victory Maru, American Maru, Kinka Maru, Gyo Yat Maru, Gyo Yi Maru, Kasii Maru, Hin Sang.

Among ships seen in dock in 1943.
Akatsuki/Gyoten, Date Maru, Nanshu/Nam Chow Maru, large wooden junk, Chung Hoi, Pui Hoi, No 617, Wing Ding Maru, Yin King Maru, Puk Hoi Maru, Wan Yung Maru, Sau Yat Maru, Sun Sai Maru, Wing To Maru, Ko Chi Maru, Wai Bi Sui Maru, Ming Sang Maru, Electric Star (former Star Ferry), Toyo Maru, Hakuyo Maru, Tien Lee/Tenri Maru, Kicho Maru, Ming Sang/Meisei Maru, Gyoten Maru, Tai Sun Maru, Kwong Cheung Maru, Wa Wa Maru, Ming Sang Maru, Tin/Tien Lee Maru, Hiu Tin/Choten Maru, Buenos Aires Maru, Lee Shing/Lee Sang Maru, Hiu Nam Maru, Shuntien Maru, Moller ship, 2 Russian ships, Ha Pau Naru, Fukinichi, Put Hoi, Pak Hoi, Tin Sang, Yat Tai Maru, Ryoyo Maru, Luzon Maru, Hong Kong Maru, Chu Kut/Sumiyoshi Maru, Shing Tin/Marita Maru, Khoon Shing/Kanjo Maru, Ke Kut/Kikichi Maru, Muk Yi Maru, Kwei Ching/Keijo Maru, Pak Yeung/Hakuyo Maru, Riyo, Asia Maru, Nam Chow Maru, Hui Hung Tsui/Hiu Nam Maru, Hung Shun Maru, Shun Yau Maru, Fook Kut Maru, Hei Cheung Maru, Nanshyu Maru, Yamada Maru, Maru, Kin Hing Maru, Ko Chi Maru, Hui Hung Maru.

Among ships seen in dock in 1944.
4 F-type ships, 2 motor sailing vessels, 5 powered cross-river craft, Akatsuki, Gyoko Maru, 6 (Tai Fou Chau class), Military landing craft, Koto Maru, Shirogane/Shiragane Maru, Kaishu Maru, Kainan Maru, Minkaku Maru, “Special 44”, Nichishiki/Hifuku Maru, Hitsu Maru, Tenri Maru, Kinkaku Maru, Kinro, Ginkyo, Haruryo, Chiryo, Tin Sang Maru, Shimada Maru, Minkyo, Taifu/Otomi Maru.
[In many cases, the Japanese or Chinese characters for the names of ships can be provided. Also, in several cases, further details such as cargo, crew, sketch etc]

Further information:

  • For general information about the Elizabeth Ride collection, her father Sir Lindsay Ride, and the British Army Aid group during WW2 a very useful introduction is through http://gwulo.com/node/13968
  • The BAAG papers are kept at the  Hong Kong Heritage Project:
    The Elizabeth M. Ride Collection

The Index contains many articles using BAAG reports from WW2. And about industry in HK during that time.

The photograph shown on the Home Page of this article is one sent by IDJ of Hong Kong & Whampoa Dockyard and presumably taken shortly after the end of WW2.

This article was first posted on 22nd February 2015.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Hong Kong & Whampoa Dock – WW2 bombing – the aftermath
  2. Hong Kong & Whampoa Dock Co Ltd – ships built, wrecked during WW2
  3. Hong Kong & Whampoa Dock Co Ltd – what happened to its famous Hammerhead Crane?
  4. KCR Whampoa Railway Siding
  5. SirThomas Sutherland – first chairman of Hong Kong & Whampoa Dockyard
  6. Facebook, “Photos of Taikoo and Kowloon Dock Families” group


  • Roger Vanhinsbergh

    Hello I am trying to locate any information on Hong Kong Dock Inspector [Assistant?] Horace Arthur Barrett who was awarded the BEM in th BH of June 1946, by KGVI. I am assuming that he may have been taken into captivity in 1942, but do not nknow this for sure. Any help would be most welcome

    • Hello Roger

      I asked Tony Banham see http://www.hongkongwardiary.com. Tony replied: “No one of that name is in my 1941 files. However, a lot of HK Dockyard men left Hong Kong between 1940 and 41, many going to Singapore (where some would be captured) or Australia. However, if his wife was “Margaret L” with a son “Noel” then he’s in my pre-war files.”

      You might also try gwulo.com

      Best wishes

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