The Royal High School Club




Captain Douglas Ford GC


Douglas in Junior school in 1929


Douglas in the 1st Cricket X!, 1936

In the uniform of a Captain in the Royal Scots in 1939



At the 2003 Remembrance Day service at the School, the Rector recounted a tale of valour involving a former pupil.     The 1942 Easter edition of Schola Regia listed ‘Capt. Douglas Ford (leaving year 1936), missing – Hong Kong’.    Douglas had been taken prisoner by the Japanese on Christmas day 1941 when Hong Kong surrendered.    In captivity, much against the rules, he organised the distribution of medical supplies and drugs which safeguarded the health of his fellow prisoners.     Later, Douglas was involved in a mass plan of escape, but was arrested, tortured, and finally sentenced to death.     On 19th December 1943, his captors led him to a beach overlooking the South China Sea.    After Douglas had expertly dug his own grave in the true Homeric way, and those of two fellow prisoners who were too weak, he was shot.   He was posthumously awarded the George Cross

A selection of photographs showing some of Douglas's sporting life at school are shown below.   Douglas was School Captain in 1935.



This is the Junior 3 (now 7th Junior) cricket team at Holyrood in 1929.    Douglas Ford is front row extreme right.  Sir Frederick O’Brien QC, who donated this picture, is extreme left in the rear row.   Frederick, Club President in 1975 was, as he put it, (and can be seen) ‘larking about’.


The 1st Rugby XV of 1935-36.   Douglas is second from the left in the front seated row


The 1st Cricket X1 of 1936.   Douglas is second from the left in the front seated row


  This story was related by Jim Ford MC, Douglas's younger brother (RHS leaving year 1938) who was taken prisoner at the same time as Douglas, and was in the same camp until September 1942 when Jim was sent to Japan.    Jim died in April 2009, and his widow Isobel still lives in Edinburgh.

Jim subsequently (1961) wrote a series of novels, two of which were about the fall of Hong Kong and the prison.   'The Brave White Flag' recounted the story of the fall of Hong Kong, while the 'Season of Escape' was a fictional story of Douglas's period in captivity based on accounts from many sources.

Jim gave the Former Pupils address at the 1971 Prize Giving, his title at that time being Director of Establishment at the Scottish Office.

Jim was granted an official reception at the City Chambers by Lord Provost George Grubb in May 2008.    Click here to see a photograph of the event.

Jim Ford in his uniform as a second lieutenant in the Second Battalion of the Royal Scots in 1941.        
  The Photo on the left shows HQ Company, the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment) at Murray Barracks, Hong Kong in 1941.    Within a short time the Regiment would be decimated by the Japanese Army.    Douglas Ford is eighth from the right in the front row (seated on chair).

Jim Ford was not only a novelist, but also a celebrated poet.   In 2011, a plaque commemorating this part of his life was installed in the Makars' Court in Lady Stair's Close, off the Lawnmarket in central Edinburgh.   He joins the celebrated band of Scottish poets immortalised in this very special place.

The Plaque, show on the right, reads 'Sing out the silence, fill for ever and ever the emptiness'.   Click the image to enlarge..


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Last modified: 01/21/19