Leung Man Kwong (梁文廣) – clearance of HK harbour post WW2 and founder of Universal Dockyards
Stephen Davies: The founder of Universal Dockyards (now within the UDL Group) was Mr Leung Man Kwong (梁文廣, b. unknown-d.1966), who I’ve been trying to track down for ages and have at last managed to via this website.
Mr Leung was the boss of 80 divers, shipwrights, blacksmiths and other salvage workers, who were on hand in late 1945/early 1946 (they’d been working in Guangzhou on a destroyed bridge as I recall) and ready to roll when Capt W.A. Doust RN arrived in HK charged with beginning the clearance of HK waters of the c.230 wrecks, etc.
The result of the cooperation between Capt Doust and Mr Leung, especially once Capt Doust had retired from the RN in early 1946 and become the salvage adviser to the HK Government, was that HK harbour was cleared and back in full commercial operation quicker than any harbour of comparable size and complexity that had to be restored during and after WW2.
After the initial RN clearance, military administration ended in spring 1946, the Royal Navy and the newly christened Marine Department split responsibilities, with the 40% of the harbour covered by the naval anchorages being the responsibility of the RN and the 60% of the commercial harbour that of Mardep.
From information on a bilingual website (https://www.flickr.com/photos/91722684@N05/8441854814) Mr Leung got his company going on the back of the clearance contracts in 1947, though whether that is when he acquired the Yau Tong site is unclear. The Companies Registry notes that Universal Dockyard Co. Ltd. was registered in 1959.
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Thanks for the most interesting post!
I bumped into a series of very interesting Japanese forum comments about a “crane ship” Seishu Maru (belonged to the Army as it was designed to carry and install coastal guns; http://www.combinedfleet.com/Seishu_t.htm) that worked twice to clear Victoria Harbour in 1942 and 1945/6. She was wrecked during a typhoon in 1946.
This link is Seishu Maru transporting locomotives with her crane (UN photos): https://www.flickr.com/photos/70217867@N07/8551930589/
Hi Chi Man,
Seishu Maru did sink during typhoon in 1946 but raised quickly afterwards without the propulsion power repairing but only the power for crane has been resumed. That’s why Seishu Maru was towed by tug to load the UNRRA American locomotives on land (probably at Kowloon Dockyard or TST Train Station) in March 1947. You can see the rear tug is probably a CWT tug.
Wrecked ships sunk elsewhere during the war were apparently raised and towed to Hong Kong for scrapping as late as 1954. See our discussion on Gwulo about the Itsukushima Maru (http://gwulo.com/node/5849). Did Mr. Leung’s business ventures include ship-breaking? It would be interesting to know who scrapped the ship once it arrived in Hong Kong.
I am not sure how active this site is anymore but would like to know if you have any more information on Captain Doust who is mentioned in this piece from May 2015.
He was a friend of my father’s in retirement and worked together in salvaging operations in HK Harbor after the war. His book The Ocean on a Plank published in 1976 when Capt. Doust was 80 years old, mentions my father on Page 112. Needless to say, it gives his children great pride to know he was highly regarded by Capt. Doust. His name is Neil Djeng and he owned an iron and steel works near the old airport after the war.