Mr. Maxwell, Ronald Douglas
Ronald Douglas Maxwell (aka Roy) was a student of La Salle College in the 1930s. Like many young men in Hong Kong in the early 1940s, he joined the Hong Kong Volunteer Defense Corps (HKVDC) to defend Hong Kong against Japanese invasion in December 1941. Roy was Eurasian, and belonged to No.3 Company, where many other Lasallians were posted.
During the battle against the invading Japanese, on 23 December 1941, Roy was with his company in Wanchai guarding a post, and he kept looking out for the Japanese invaders. Arthur Gomes (33) recalls that Roy’s fellow soldiers told him to keep his head down, as there were Japanese snipers around. Before he had a chance to listen, Roy was shot in the head by a Japanese sniper and died immediately.
Three of his fellow comrades, including George Roylance and William (Willie) Sprinkle (St Joseph’s OBs) carried his body to Club Lusitano in Central, and consulted the commander on what to do. On checking the records, it was Roy’s wish to be buried in a Church ground. The closest church was the St John’s (Anglican) Cathedral along Garden Road, and so they brought the body there. There they found a foxhole (a defensive fighting positions large enough for a soldier’s entire body and his equipment), and so they deepened the hole and lay Roy’s body to rest there.
After the war in 1945, Roy’s family was ask if they wished to relocate Roy’s remains to the Sai Wan Commonwealth War Cemetery. Roy’s mother did not prefer the relocation as she would be farther away from the grave and would not be able to visit it regularly. Her wishes were respected, and Roy’s remains stayed where they were first laid to rest.
Even though the grounds was an Anglican Church, Roy was in fact a Roman Catholic, like many of his Lasallian classmates. According to the Church, it is the only known grave there.
According to Arthur Gomes (33) a gravestone was prepared for Roy at Sai Wan Commonwealth War Cemetery, but since his remains were not moved, his grave there remained empty, and the grave stone there states that he is buried within the Cathedral grounds.
In the book, “Streets-Exploring Hong Kong Island”, author Jason Wordie shared the following:
Roy Maxwell’s grave
Within the grounds of the Cathedral, under a spreading tree and surrounded by low chain railing, lies the grave of Private Roy Maxwell, a local Eurasian serving in the Hong Kong Volunteer Defense Corps, who was killed in Wan Chai on 23 December 1941, two days before the British surrendered to the Japanese.
Maxwell was buried here shortly afterwards by three of his fellow Volunteers who were with him when he was killed. Surrounded by a low chain-mail fence, Maxwell’s is the only known grave in the Cathedral precinct. Maxwell has another gravestone at Sai Wan Commonwealth War Cemetery, which records that he is buried within the cathedral grounds.
End of quote
Here are details found on Maxwell in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
Son of Mrs. C.E. Maxwell of Kowloon, Hong Kong. Alternative Commemoration – buried in Hong Kong (St. John’s) Cathedral Grounds.
Nationality: United Kingdom
Regiment/Service: Hong Kong Volunteer Defense Corps
Date of Death: 23/12/1941
Service No: 3176
Additional information: Son of Mrs. C.E. Maxwell of Kowloon, Hong Kong. Alternative Commemoration – buried in Hong Kong (St. John’s) Cathedral Grounds.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: IX. E. 21.
Cemetery: SAI WAN WAR CEMETERY
An anecdote from Arthur Gomes: although Roy was Eurasian, he had dark hair and had a Chinese look.
At the time of writing this section (13 December 2006), Roy’s elder sister, Gladys and younger sister, Nancy, are together living in the USA. Two other sisters, Kathleen and Connie, and Roy’s parents, have passed away.
Updated by Mark Huang (85) on 13 December 2006.
April 2010 update
The grave of Maxwell was redone in February 2010.
Source of Grave Stone photo: