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.
- Dec 1953 – Shek Kip Mei fire on Gwulo.com
- Shek Kip Mei fire on Wikipedia
- RAF Sha Tin [1949-1962] on gwulo.com
- Sha Tin Airfield Wikipedia
This article was first posted on 22nd April 2021
Related Indhhk articles:
- RAF Shatin Airfield – aerial images
- RAF Shatin Airfield – daily life
- Shatin Airfield 1949-1962
- Shatin Airfield – 1954 article about British Army/RAF use
- Shatin Army Camp – link to Shatin Airfield
- Shatin – first powered flight in Hong Kong 1911
- An Aeroplane Called Wanda – historic flight over Shatin March 18th, 1911.
- Charles Van den Born – first powered flight in Hong Kong, Shatin, 1911
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.