- Title: SPITFIRE SQUADRON AT KAI TAK AIRSTRIP [Allocated Title]
- Film Number: ABY 169
- Other titles: ROYAL AIR FORCE OPERATIONS IN SOUTH EAST ASIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR [Allocated Series Title]
- Summary: Spitfires of RAF 132 Squadron operate at Kai Tak airstrip, Kowloon, Hong Kong, and adopt two local Chinese boys.
- Description: View of Kai Tak airstrip; the field is overgrown and the buildings appear to be in disrepair. A variety of aircraft are parked on the strip and two Short Sunderland flying boats of RAF 205 Squadron are moored in the harbour. Spitfire Mk XIVs of RAF 132 Squadron take off and pass over the Sunderlands. Spitfires parked in long grass. A Spitfire taxis through long grass towards the camera and comes to a halt. Close-up of the spinning propeller slowing down and stopping. Aircraft in flight over a range of hills close to Kai Tak. Spitfire landing. Spitfire FF:O RM991 taxiing with FF:Z behind. A Spitfire named 'Anita' with FF:S taxiing in the background. A pilot climbs out of a Spitfire named 'Betty'. Groups of Indian ex-prisoners of war crowd around a couple of Spitfires. A Sunderland makes a fairly spectacular pass directly over the camera. An RAF seaplane tender (No. 1634) ties up at a jetty and Air Commodore W A D Brook (Air Officer Commanding, Hong Kong) steps ashore. Brook, and an unnamed Group Captain, talking with other officers. Japanese prisoners of war move petrol drums. Airmen and officers watch two young Chinese brothers, known as 'Big Wings' (11 years old) and 'Little Wings' (8 years old) play at boxing. The brothers, with dummy rifles, are taught drill by Corporal J Dawber of Wigan; 'Big Wings' goes smartly from 'order arms' to 'slope arms' and then to the 'present arms' position. The brothers seen polishing airmen's boots. The brothers sparring with each riding piggy-back on an airman. The boys watch a Spitfire revving up. The brothers sit in the cockpit of Spitfire FF:T RN188. The boys wear flying helmets and describe with hand gestures some imaginary dogfight. The boys walk away from two Spitfires with the pilots, Warrant Officers W S Morrison and K Young; 'Big Wings' carries Morrison's parachute. A brief glimpse can be had of a Sergeant Breeze, an RAF official photographer, who took the stills referenced below. The boys receive an English lesson by reading a magazine with Corporal Dawber. Local Chinese people washing clothes. Local women, wearing distinctively Asian conical straw hats, cut the overgrown grass on the airfield with sickles. The brothers, with curiously elaborate formality, sit down on a long packing crate (possibly an ammunition box) and an airman brings them both some food.
- Access Conditions: IWM Attribution: © IWM
- Featured Period: 1939-1945
- Production Date: 1945-10-18
- Production Country: GB
- Production Details: Air Ministry, Directorate of Public Relations (Production sponsor) Royal Air Force Film Production Unit (Production company) Layzell, R G (Production individual)
- Personalities, Units and Organisations: Brook, William Arthur Darville (person) Royal Air Force, 132 Squadron (regiment/service) Royal Air Force, 205 Squadron (regiment/service)
- Keywords: Kai Tak, Kowloon, Hong Kong (geography) Liberation of Hong Kong 1945, Pacific War 1941-1945, Second World War (event)
- Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W Sound format: Silent
- Technical Details: Format: 35mm Number of items/reels/tapes: 1 Footage: 659 ft; Running time: 8 minutes
- Notes: No slates and dopesheet undated. Date above taken from contemporary photographs. The squadron arrived at Kai Tak on 15 September 1945, the day before the formal Japanese surrender of Hong Kong. Though a modern viewer might look askance at footage of boys being encouraged to box, or be concerned by the apparent familiarity of the airmen with these children, the propaganda value of this film is nonetheless readily apparent. This is particularly the case in the light of the brutality of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong and elsewhere in China. Captions to corresponding photographs reveal that the older brother was named Chang Kwai-Tong and, being able to speak English, presented himself at the squadron orderly room and told of how the Japanese had murdered his father and that his mother was seriously ill. Representatives of the squadron apparently visited their ailing mother and it was agreed that the boys would be adopted by the unit while she recovered. RAF 132 Squadron's voyage to Hong Kong aboard the escort carrier HMS Smiter can be seen in the IWM film referenced below. Footage of RAF 155 Squadron's adopted mascot, a Gurkha boy named Jimmy Nathu, can be seen in ABY 69.
- Link to IWM Collections page:
Related IWM Collections Objects:
ABY 144 (RAF 132 SQUADRON AND 7155 ECHELON SAIL TO HONG KONG [Allocated Title]) ABY 171 (REAR ADMIRAL HARCOURT VISITS RAF 132 SQUADRON [Allocated Title]) ABY 172 (JAPANESE INTERNEES AT WORK AT KAI TAK AIRSTRIP [Allocated Title]) ABY 180 (AIR CHIEF MARSHAL SIR KEITH PARK VISITS HONG KONG [Allocated Title]) ABY 183 (A DAY PASS IN HONG KONG [Allocated Title]) JFU 353 (ROYAL MARINES ENTERTAIN ORPHANS IN HONG KONG; ADMIRAL HARCOURT REOPENS HONG KONG LAW COURTS [Allocated Title]) JFU 424 (SIR KEITH PARK VISITS HONG KONG [Allocated Title])