They are seen piled into a flimsy, overcrowded boat with the look of terror and anxiety on their faces.

The photo is in Les Bird’s 70th anniversary book. Bird was a Hong Kong former marine cop who served in the area for over two decades, from 1976 up to 1997, when it was handed over from British control to Chinese.

Over 200,000 people fled Vietnam during that period of 20 years to flee the violence and horrors caused by the Vietnam War. More than two million people fled the country from 1975 to 1992.

Their boats weren’t strong enough to survive the journey of more than 1,000 miles across the South China Sea.  

The book contains hundreds of photographs taken by Mr Bird and other British officers to record the suffering of those who came.

Blacksmith Books published Along the Southern Boundary, a Frontline Account by a Marine Police Officer of the Vietnamese Boatpeople’s Arrival in Hong Kong on December 12, 2012.

From the tiny fishing village of Tai O Mr Bird assisted in the immigration of refugees to Hong Kong’s south border. They were taken to reception rooms until they could find refugee camp space.

A second image shows children from Vietnam smiling warmly, as their mother rests with them in Hong Kong’s refugee camp. This was just a few days after they arrived in Vietnam.

Another, from behind the barbed wire, captures a group of young people holding identical yellow cups waiting to be served their daily rice. 

These photos contrast starkly with the ones showing Britain’s current migration crisis in which many people arrive on Kent coast every single day, having made the dangerous journey from France.  

Piled into an overcrowded, flimsy boat, these refugees fleeing the Vietnam War have the look of uncertainty and fear on their faces. The image was taken by Les Bird, a former marine policeman in Hong Kong who served for more than two decades from 1976 until the territory was transferred from British to Chinese rule in 1997

These refugees who fled the Vietnam War are seen piled into a small, cramped boat. They have a look of fear and uncertainty on their faces. Les Bird took the image. He was a Hong Kong-based former Marine Policeman who served more than 20 years between 1976 and 1997 when Hong Kong was handed over to Chinese control. 

More than 200,000 refugees fled to Hong Kong to escape the horrors of the Vietnam War, which had come to an end in 1975. Overall, more than two million fled the country between 1975 and 1992. Above: The master of this small sailing vessel prepares to lower his sails after being intercepted off the Soko Islands, just inside Hong Kong waters. Although these photographs were taken several years later, this is a typical example of the Vietnamese coastal fishing vessels that were arriving in 1979 and 1980

To escape the horrors and violence of Vietnam War which ended in 1975, more than 200 000 refugees fled to Hong Kong. More than two million people fled Vietnam between 1975-92. Above: After being intercepted at the Soko Islands (just inside Hong Kong), the master of this tiny sailing boat prepares for his sails to be lowered. These photos were taken many years later but are representative of Vietnamese coast fishing boats that arrived in Hong Kong waters around 1979.

Born to a Staffordshire family of naval heritage, Bird began his journey to Hong Kong as a police officer. He responded to an advertisement for a civil job in a British newspaper.

The newly-formed Independent Commission Against Corruption – which had been set up by Hong Kong’s then-governor Sir Murray MacLehose – were looking for new recruits as they sought to battle wrongdoing in the territory’s institutions.

Once Mr Bird had completed his training, he decided immediately to join marine police. This is where search and rescue plays a large part.

Hong Kong declared itself to be a “point of first asylum” for Vietnamese refugees fleeing war-torn Vietnam. The conflict had claimed the lives of up to 2 million people and caused massive political, economic, and social turmoil.

Bird became the Tai O commander and was later promoted to SBU chief. The SBU is a unit made up of waterborne officers that dealt with terrorists and other serious criminalities, including drug smuggling.

Major routes for refugees to Hong Kong included the ports of Hai Phong (Hanoi), northern Vietnam and Da Nang (east), along with Ho Chi Minh City in the South.

It reached its peak in 1978 and 1979, but it continued into the 1990s. In addition to Hong Kong, many refugees fled Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Bird stated, “I was a Police Officer in the Royal Hong Kong Police during the period leading up to the change in sovereignty.” 

“I witnessed the terrible sea voyage to Hong Kong that tens or thousands of Vietnamese refugees made in the decades following the war ended. 

Mr Bird is seen above in 1980 with police colleague Laurence Knox

He has recounted his experiences in a book which reveals hundreds of the photographs he and other British police officers took to document the plight of the men, women and children who arrived

In a book, Mr. Bird, pictured with Laurence Knox, a British police officer, recounts his experience. It contains hundreds of photographs that he took along with other British officers to record the suffering of those who came.

The major routes which refugees took to Hong Kong were from the ports of Hai Phong in Hanoi, northern Vietnam, and Da Nang in the east, along with Ho Chi Minh city in the south

Major routes that refugees used to get to Hong Kong included the ports at Hai Phong in Hanoi (northern Vietnam) and Da Nang (east), along with Ho Chi Minh in the south.

‘I patrolled the southern maritime boundary of Hong Kong, and photographed their makeshift boats and later the people-smuggling vessels coming in–including the Sen On, a freighter ship that was abandoned by its crew and ran aground on Lantau Island. 

“In this book I have an unpublished collection personal photos. 

‘I have shared the stories of these boat people–the young children, the father who just bought a boat to embark on a one-thousand-mile journey, and the disillusioned North Vietnamese battle-hardened veterans–all searching for a new life.’

He recounts the time one of his coworkers encountered Tai O boatloads of arrivals.

According to some reports, he pointed out a small wooden vessel that was tied at Tai O’s Pier before saying “There are twenty of us.”

Inspector Ross Mitchell asked him why they came to Hong Kong. He pointed out the British flag that was flying over the station, and he replied: “That.” We knew that we were safe when we saw the flag.

Bird also intercepted many makeshift or flimsy boats. He was involved in the capture of larger vessels used for people-smuggling.

In April 1979, 1,433 refugees were aboard the Sen On, a freighter-ship. After spending a month traveling on the ship, its crew abandoned it while they were still aboard.

This image, which was taken from behind barbed wire, shows a row of youngsters holding identical yellow cups as they queue to receive a ration of rice

The image was captured behind barbed wire and shows children holding yellow cups in a line waiting to get a rice ration.

Hong Kong had declared itself a 'point of first asylum' for refugees fleeing the war in Vietnam, which had killed up to two million civilians and caused enormous political, economic and social upheaval

Hong Kong was designated a “point of first asylum” for Vietnamese refugees fleeing war in Vietnam. The conflict had claimed the lives of up to 2 million people and caused massive political, economic, and social turmoil.

When the numbers of refugees arriving overwhelmed the capacity of existing camps, a new one which was capable of housing 10,000 people was erected on the island of Tai Ah Chau (pictured). The above image was taken in 1989. Two men can be seen wearing their army-issue shirts after they having been demobilised from the Vietnamese military

A new camp was built on Tai Ah Chau to accommodate 10,000 refugees when the number of people fleeing warlords exceeded the existing capacity. This image was taken in 1989. After being demobilised from Vietnam’s military, two men are seen in their Army-issue shirts.

Happy to be safe: These children are seen smiling as they pose for a photo inside a camp in Hong Kong. The migration crisis hit its peak 1978 and 1979 but continued until the early 1990s

They are happy to be safe. These smiling children pose inside a camp at Hong Kong. It was at its height in 1979 and 1980, but it was still ongoing until the beginning of 1990s.

Children are seen smiling with their mother inside the Stonecutters temporary camp which was used to house people until room in a permanent camp could be found. The blankets were used as bedding at night and sunshades in the day

Inside the Stonecutters temporary camp, children are smiling and posing with their moms. This camp was set up to accommodate people temporarily until permanent camps could be established. They were used at night as blankets and day lamps.

As well as intercepting many flimsy or makeshift boats, Mr Bird was also involved in stopping larger people-smuggling vessels. One, the freighter ship the Sen On, ran aground with 1,433 refugees on board in April 1979. They had spent a month travelling on the ship before it was abandoned by its crew when they were still on board

Bird helped to stop larger vessels used for people-smuggling. In April 1979, one of the ships, the Sen On, ran into difficulties with 1,433 refugees on board. The crew abandoned the ship after they had spent one month onboard. 

“It was hard to decide which direction to go or whom to help.” He wrote that one man was up to his waist, in the surf and dragging another semi-conscious person out of the water.

He dropped him in the sand and then returned to the ocean to aid another. There were about fifty young men around me shouting at me.

Bird says he entered the ship’s precarious position by standing on the top of a motorboat police officer and climbing onto the large vessel’s stern.

‘From the hold at the bottom of the deck in the middle, hundreds of faces gazed back at us, many of which were young women and children. He wrote that they would spend four hours cleaning them out.

In his book, he says that refugee boats were already sinking by the time they reached Hong Kong.

'I was a police officer in the Royal Hong Kong Police in the lead-up to the change of sovereignty,' Mr Bird said. 'I saw the harrowing sea journey to Hong Kong made by tens of thousands of refugees in the years that followed the end of the Vietnam War. Above: Refugees are seen crowded into a boat shortly after arriving in Hong Kong

Bird explained that Mr Bird was a Royal Hong Kong Police police officer. “I witnessed the terrible sea journey that thousands of refugees made to Hong Kong in the years after the Vietnam War ended. Above: A boat is seen carrying refugees shortly after they arrive in Hong Kong.

Newly-arrived refugees are seen on the island of Tai Ah Chau as they wait to be registered in Hong Kong. Mr Bird says in his book: 'Each newly arrived group of boatpeople was required to come forward, each to give their name, age, place of birth and on which vessel they had arrived. We then tried, as best we could, to keep each group more or less together. But with no infrastructure on the island, and the small workforce we had available at the time, that initiative didn't really work'

While they are waiting to register in Hong Kong for their new asylum seekers, the newly arrived refugees were seen on Tai Ah Chau. In his book, Mr Bird states that each newly-arrived group of boatpeople had to be registered. Each person must give their name and address as well as the vessel on which they arrived. As best as we could, we tried to keep every group together. Despite the fact that there was no infrastructure or a small workforce, this initiative did not work.

Children are seen smiling and waving as the adults on this ship look more stressed. The image was taken in the early 1980s

As adults are more stressed, children can be seen waving and smiling while others on the ship seem to be more relaxed. This image was captured in the 1980s.

A grandfather and his two grandchildren are seen looking up at the police vessel on which officers are standing. Mr Bird said the boat was one of four vessels which were all powered by identical small outboard engines

Two grandchildren and a grandfather are seen gazing up at the officers standing on top of the police boat. Bird stated that the boat was among four similar small outboard motor-powered boats.

A rescue can take up to two police boats and could be completed in a few hours. He adds that Marine officers were required to watch out for any other vessels during a rescue.

“Then, there were the immediate medical needs to address mothers and their children.

Two or three Vietnamese ships arriving within an hour of each other was common, but it didn’t mean that all the water boundaries to the south of Hong Kong would be without Marine Police officers.

“All would be busy tending the vessels that were already here.”

A new camp was built on Tai Ah Chau to accommodate 10,000 refugees after the refugee numbers exceeded the existing capacity.

Some refugees were sent to Canada as part the United Nations Orderly Departure Program. Others were repatriated.

Hong Kong authorities were criticised for housing immigrants in what was known as “closed camps”, where conditions were harsh and bars were placed around their borders.

Along the Southern Boundary: A Marine Police Officer's Frontline Account of the Vietnamese Boatpeople and their Arrival in Hong Kong is published by Blacksmith Books and released on December 12

Blacksmith Books published Along the Southern Boundary, a Frontline Account by a Marine Police Officer of the Vietnamese Boatpeople’s Arrival to Hong Kong on December 12,