RAF Shatin Airfield – Headquarters, Part One

Peter Howell has kindly sent the following introduction and images. If you wish to know more about Peter’s involvement in the Shatin Airfield and life there please see our RAF Shatin Airfield articles linked below.

HF: I was a little confused as to whether the name of the building and compound at RAF Shatin Headquarters was Arcullis House or Camp. I asked Peter for clarification  about the names and to outline what the buildings and compound were used for.

Peter Howell: I suggest simply calling the building and grounds Arcullis Camp, the House could then be referred to as “the House”.

The “function” of the House in particular was as the HQ of the whole operation. On the ground floor were several offices, a meeting Hall with a stage and several small rooms which served as accommodation for the NCO’s. The first floor was given over to barrack rooms, each containing 6 beds. The square building on the north side of the house had the Other Ranks canteen within it, and also provided more accommodation.

On the first floor, there was also a radio room containing a high powered Army Transmitter/Receiver which was used for international communications. During the Christmas period 1953, I managed to hold a morse conversation with a Radio Ham friend in Somerset, but that was a rare event.

Living conditions for the personnel were very basic. There was no mains running water, sewerage or electricity. What water there was came from a spring on the hillside to the West, a rain water collection tank fed the toilets within the house and drinking water was transported from Kowloon several times a day in a large water bowser. There was a shed containing Thunder Boxes to the East of the House, these were emptied daily by local farmers who used the contents as fertiliser for their crops, Night Soil I think they called it – we were banned from eating locally grown produce by the Medical Officer!!

Electricity was generated by a large diesel generator in a shed to the north of the Guard Room, it only operated from about 6 in the morning to 11 at night, except in times of emergency or if there was an alert in force.

The buildings to the South of the Camp housed the Naafi and the laundry.

In addition to a series of 3 ton and 15cwt vehicles, the unit possessed an ambulance and also a Rolls Royce engined Scout car which had 5 forward and 5 reverse gears, which provided great entertainment at the weekends on the airstrip when there was no flying going on!

I hope that this short missive is sufficient explanation of the “function” of the Camp.

HF: I have added the photo captions provided by Peter and an image number so that individual images can be easily identified by anyone wishing to add information.

RAF Shatin Airfield HQ Image 1 Peter Howell

Image 1 A visit from the Royal Signals Motor Cycle unit

RAF Shatin Airfield HQ Image 2 Peter Howell

Image 2 Arcullis House and Camp aerial photo

RAF Shatin Airfield HQ Image 3 Peter Howell

Image 3 Arcullis House from the sea. This painting by J.E. Cager was used for the Unit Christmas card 1953

RAF Shatin Airfield HQ Image 4 Peter Howell

Image 4 Arcullis House and Camp taken from the railway embankment

RAF Shatin Airfield HQ Image 5 Peter Howell

Image 5 Arcullis House by moonlight, taken around 2 in the morning while on guard duty

RAF Shatin Airfield HQ Image 6 Peter Howell

Image 6 Arcullis House from the sea wall

RAF Shatin Airfield HQ Image 7 Peter Howell

Image 7 Arcullis House from the south

RAF Shatin Airfield HQ Image 8 Peter Howell

Image 8 Arcullis House looking north showing hills in the background

RAF Shatin Airfield HQ Image 9 Peter Howell

Image 9 Arcullis House

RAF Shatin Airfield HQ Image 10 Peter Howell

Image 10 Basketball was very popular, 1900 Flight seen here with some of their supporters on the left

RAF Shatin Airfield HQ Image 11 Peter Howell

Image 11 Inter unit Sports Day

RAF Shatin Airfield HQ Image 12 Peter Howell

Image 12 Looking south east showing the Dhobi Laundry and the NAAFI. Taken on Christmas Day 1953 showing smoke rising from a large fire at Shek Kip Mei


  1. Dec 1953 – Shek Kip Mei fire on Gwulo.com
  2. Shek Kip Mei fire on Wikipedia
  3. RAF Sha Tin [1949-1962] on gwulo.com
  4. Sha Tin Airfield Wikipedia

This article was first posted on 22nd April 2021

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. RAF Shatin Airfield – aerial images
  2. RAF Shatin Airfield – daily life
  3. Shatin Airfield 1949-1962
  4. Shatin Airfield – 1954 article about British Army/RAF use
  5. Shatin Army Camp – link to Shatin Airfield
  6. Shatin – first powered flight in Hong Kong 1911
  7. An Aeroplane Called Wanda – historic flight over Shatin March 18th, 1911.
  8. Charles Van den Born – first powered flight in Hong Kong, Shatin, 1911


One comment

  • Jim Walker

    Hello Hugh,

    Really enjoyed the photos and reminiscences of RAF Sha Tin and Arcullis House – thanks for posting.

    It is always good to see images of pre-development Sha Tin. Must have been a wonderful place to live and work.

    Arcullis House is an odd name……..sounds as if it could possibly have been the property of Ronald Arculli’s family – any idea? Maybe a coincidence, but rich people did build country mansions and use wordplay in naming them; perhaps the most well-known example is Audrey EU’s father/grandfather who built 2-3 rural properties with ‘EU’ in the name, the principle one being Eucliffe in Repulse Bay.

    Thanks again for your stories and photos.

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