WW2 bombing of Lai Chi Kok oil depot – Standard/Socony/Kawakami?

HF: Craig Mitchell has kindly allowed me access to his collection of WW2 photographs of Hong Kong. Among these are two USAAF aerial images of a bombing raid on an oil depot in Lai Chi Kok which took place on 2nd September 1943.

Standard Oil had a depot there at the start of the war according to this account. (1)

Lai Chi Kok WW2 bombing - Standard Oil  extract Eastern Fortress

However, the history of the closely linked oil companies Standard, Socony-Vacuum and Mobil is complicated so I think it likely, unless corrected, that the Standard Oil depot above is that of the Socony/Kawakami one mentioned in the two BAAG reports below. And that this is the oil depot bombed by the Americans in September 1943.

BAAG Waichow Intelligence report #27 14.4.43

Socony BAAG report

BAAG Kweilin Weekly Intelligence Summary #77 of December 1944 reports:
“Socony Oil Installation, Laichikok. This is now known as the Kawakami Oil Company Factory (Japanese characters). Three oil tanks are still standing, but are empty. There are over 300 50-gallon drums of petrol and kerosene in camouflaged dugouts in the area”

Oil1 (1)

(OVER reads)…Two Curtiss P-40s each carried one 500 pound demolitiom bomb, Direct hits blasted three hugh [huge?] oil tanks, two ships, three warehouses, one underground fuel depot.

LaiChiKok1 (1)

(OVER reads)… storage dump on the mainland [sic] opposite the former British Crown Colony of Hong Kong which has been in the hands of the Japs since Christmas Day, 1941. Large fires broke out immediately after the bombs had been dropped squarely on the target area shooting flames to a height of  3,000ft. Hours after the bombers had left the target, the smoke cloud had risen to 15,000ft and had drifted hundreds of miles down the China coast.

Area at lower left of photo is part of the city of Kowloon. The island to the left of the smoke column is Stonecutter’s Island, former British Naval Ammunition Dump. Three Jap zeros were confirmed as shot down by the bombers and their fighter escort, while all U.S. planes returned safely.

HF: I am happy to publicize a recent Sunday Morning Post magazine article about a team including Craig Mitchell who are hoping to excavate and recover an American plane which crashed into Mount Parker on HK Island on January 16th 1945.

Project Avenger – SCMP article 11th January 2015


(1) Eastern Fortress: A Military History of Hong Kong, 1840-1970, Kwong Chi Man and Tsoi Yiu Lun, HKUP, 2014

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Socony-Vacuum Oil Company in HK from 1896
  2. Standard Oil in Hong Kong – information 1894 to c1908
  3. Kawakami Oil Company in WW2 (AKA Socony-Vacuum Oil Company)
  4. Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company in Hong Kong
  5. Chun Hing [Diesel] Oil Factory, Kennedy Town, WW2
  6. Fook Hing Oil Refinery Co, Cheung Sha Wan, BAAG report, 1943

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