Grandsons of siege victim visit Force

2 Photos

On January 22, 1918, the violent deaths of five police officers shocked Hong Kong, in one of the most sensational incidents to have ever taken place in the territory.

Commonly referred to as the "Siege of Gresson Street", this description does not fully reflect the scope of the encounter. Initiated by an apparently routine execution of a search warrant to locate the proceeds of an inside robbery, it led to a running gun battle through the streets of Wanchai, before the remaining culprits were surrounded in their lair, at No. 6 Gresson Street. In the aftermath, five Police Officers were dead, including Detective Inspector Mortimer O'Sullivan, Detective Sergeant A87 Henry Goscombe Clarke, Detective Constable C88 Kwong Kui, Detective Constable C29 Kwong Sang and Police Constable B402 Moola Singh. Five other Police Officers were wounded. Three of the culprits were killed and another shot and apprehended. A number of bystanders were also injured.

The siege phase of the incident was remarkable for a number of things. Firstly, and probably for the only time, a Governor of Hong Kong attended a crime scene and personally negotiated with a barricaded and armed suspect. Sir Francis Henry May had, of course, served as the Captain Superintendent of Police between 1893 and 1901. Secondly, the Royal Garrison Artillery was used to "bomb" out the last member of the gang, who had refused to surrender. The full story of this incident has yet to be told, with many of the details lost with the destruction of Force records during World War II.

The grandsons of Sergeant Henry Goscombe Clarke visited the Force in January. Simon Clarke from England was visiting his brother Dennis who lives and works in Hong Kong. The family has extensive links with the Force. Their father Goddard Goscombe Clarke joined the Force in the 1930s (and was posted to the current Wanchai Police Station just after it was built), as did their uncle Jack Goddard. They visited Gresson Street, Wanchai Police Station, and the vacated Central Police Station complex. They also met retired Senior Superintendent, Wally Scragg who had been interned in Stanley Internment Camp (where Dennis was born) with their father and uncle during WWII. Their grandfather is buried in the Hong Kong Cemetery in Happy Valley. They also have a brother who did not survive internment, and is buried in Stanley Military Cemetery.

Also on hand to meet the Clarke family at Central Police Station were Inspector Wally Murison of Marine Police Headquarters, the grandson of Chief Detective Inspector William Murison, and Dominic Stead, currently living and working in Hong Kong, who is the great-grandson of Chief Inspector (later Assistant Superintendent) James Kerr. Chief Inspectors Murison and Kerr both received King's Police Medals at a presentation ceremony in Central Police Station on July 8 1921 from H.E. the Governor Sir Reginald Edward Stubbs. At that time, they were the only two Chief Inspectors in the Force. Both had joined in the 1890s, and had risen through the ranks. William Murison who took part in the investigation into the Gresson Street case, retired in 1923. James Kerr had an eventful career, with Police Launch 4 sinking under him in 1896, as well as being in command of the Fire Brigade in 1918, at the time of the fire that destroyed the Jockey Club stands in Happy Valley killing over 600 people. He was the first officer in the Force to rise from the rank of Constable to Assistant Superintendent, and retired in 1925 when he was in command of the Water Police.

(Article contributed by Mr Richard Morgan, member of Force Museum Advisory Committee)

Hong Kong Police detective staff in 1914: (front row left to right) Sergeant Pincott, Sergeant Mills (wounded at Gresson Street), unknown, Inspector William Murison, Chief Detective Inspector Collett, Inspector Albert Terrett; (second row left to right) Sergeant Murphy, Sergeant Henry Goscombe Clarke (killed at Gresson Street), Sergeant Reynolds, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, Sergeant Kendall.

Dennis (left) and Simon Clarke at Wan Chai Police Station

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