Welcome to Hong Kong War Diary - a project that documents the 1941 defence of Hong Kong, the defenders, their families, and the fates of all until liberation.
This page is updated monthly with a record of research and related activities. Pages on the left cover the books that have spun off from this project, and a listing of each and every member of the Garrison. Comments, questions, and information are always welcome. Tony Banham, Hong Kong: email@example.com
Kine-Theodolite (courtesy Andrew Holland), Gloucester Gathering invitation, proto-POW Index Card (both anonymous)
Ride table maps (author), Stanley gathering (courtesy Philip Cracknel), D Coy PB Equipment (author's collection)
Old Mental Hospital, Old WNGC Trail signboards (both author), Canadian Chamber walk (courtesy Elsie Chan)
February News We received the welcome news today, the last day of February, that as from tomorrow masks will no longer need to be worn in Hong Kong, inside or out. Finally we are coming out of the most bizarre - roughly three year and eight month - period of Hong Kong’s history (from the troubles of 2019 to the end of Covid) since that dreadful time 78 years earlier. Of course it makes a poor comparison, but nevertheless an interesting one. We mainly couldn’t travel, tourists couldn’t (or didn’t) come, and life was without doubt different. In some ways it was even positive; I’ve never felt so much part of Hong Kong as I have these last few years, when everyone knew that everyone here was resident, when the city seemed less crowded and busy, and people seemed to have more time for each other and for the city itself and its history. 28 Embarrassingly often I am asked a question which I can’t answer, and then find that I have a perfectly relevant document in my files. I suppose that’s what comes of collecting information on this subject for so many years, and cross-referencing it all on my computer. One document that answered a researcher’s questions this month was the partial war diary of the HKVDC Armoured Car Unit, and when I found it I also found a particularly interesting – but forgotten – document listing the commanders of each B Coy Middlesex Pillbox, together with the amount of ammunition issued (and indirectly illustrating that the Webley and Thompson used different .45 rounds!) And I wonder why PB24 had ten times as many tracer rounds as any other pillbox? 23 The China Daily, Global Times, and other outlets all ran further Lisbon Maru stories based on the Chinese Embassy’s event. 21 Raymond Walter Hill’s (RA) family contacted me. They noted that he was: “born in Whisby, Lincolnshire in 1919… His parents were Josiah Benjamin (Ben) and Elsie Hill… Raymond was a gunner in the Royal Regiment of Artillery, service number 868722, Eighth Coast Regiment. There was a short newspaper article in the Stamford Mercury with the news that he was safe in Australia. Raymond’s parents lived in Ketton at the time and he was married to Susan Wright at St. George’s church, Stamford (Stamford Mercury 14 June 1946.)” Oddly enough, the person who sent the email had studied at Homerton with my sister fifty years ago! 19 Today the Chinese Ambassador to the Court of St James, Zheng Zeguang, hosted a gathering in Gloucester of more than 120 relatives of POWs who were on the Lisbon Maru. Last year he gave Dennis Morley’s daughter a letter from President Xi Jinping. With the help of Brian Finch and others, the Embassy organised this event so that they could personally meet some of the relatives. The Ambassador confirmed that a memorial was being planned to be built in Zhoushan. The event is nicely covered on the Chinese Embassy’s website, and by the BBC. 19 The Researching FEPOW History Group have started confirming the speakers for this year’s conference. They will include: John Tulloch, MBE, who served in the New Zealand Army from 1965 to 1973, including a Tour of Duty in Vietnam from July 1968 to July 1969. He served in the Royal Artillery from 1973 to 2003 in the UK, Northern Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands, including the Falklands in 1982. He served in the Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces from 1978-80. He spent 21 years as a visiting Jungle Warfare Instructor and advisor to the UK Jungle Warfare School in Brunei. His book ‘The Borneo Graveyard 1941-1945’ which took 12 years of research, was published in March 2020 and launched in the UK in 2021 at the CWGC VJ Day 2021 Service. He was honoured with the MBE in 2003 in recognition of his service to jungle warfare training. He gives talks on Vietnam and Borneo to the military, historical groups and schools. Dr Toby Norways, a Senior Lecturer in Scriptwriting at the University of Bedfordshire. He is an award-winning writer of script and prose. His films have screened in diverse locations around the world, including BAFTA Piccadilly, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Hollywood, and Iraq. Toby was awarded a PhD in English Literature from Liverpool Hope University in 2021. The PhD involved writing a memoir of his late father, Bill Norways (1918-86), a Corporal in the 2nd Cambridgeshire Regiment, who spent three and a half years as a prisoner of the Japanese. Bill was a trained artist and brought back over 200 paintings, sketches, and photos from his captivity in Singapore and Thailand. Dr Jon Cooper, a recent graduate from the Centre for War Studies and Conflict Archaeology at the University of Glasgow, having completed his thesis on the life and times of the Scottish soldiers in Singapore in 1942. Previously Jon spent seven years in Singapore as Project Coordinator for The Adam Park Project, which looked at the archaeology relating to the defence of the Adam Park Housing by the 1st Battalion Cambridgeshires and the subsequent occupation of the wrecked estate by 3,000 POWs in 1942. Jon curates an online virtual museum which holds all the Adam Park source material, which is linked to the book ‘Tigers in the Park’. He currently works as a freelance conflict archaeologist, battlefield tour guide and a tutor at the University of Glasgow in which the Singapore campaign is given the limelight. Jon also helps with the CoFEPOW Scottish section, introducing new Scottish members to the experience of the Scots in the Far East. His ambition is to get back out to Singapore to continue the surveys along the south coast battlefields. 17 Ronald Holland’s (8th Coast Regiment, RA) son got back in touch, noting: “I found this photo of him (dad is the very young looking one holding the phone, so it was possibly taken sometime after late 1939 - when he arrived in Hong Kong - to around 1940/41) alongside what I believe is a coastal range finder (?)” What makes this so interesting is that the device is not a range finder but a Kine-Theodolite which was used to film the burst of shells (normally AA, I believe) for correction purposes. I’ve never seen one in a Hong Kong context before, and managed to find this film of one in use. I promised I would post the photo here to see if anyone can identify the location. You would think those concrete platforms would be easy to identify, but they don’t ring any bells. Holland enlisted on 14 October 1937 and arrived in Hong Kong 1 September 1938. 15 Philip Cracknell has published a new blog: “Archibald Cook was captain of the HK-Canton steamer the SS Fatshan. His ship was seized in Canton when the war started. His wife and three youngest children were in Hong Kong at their home in Felix Villas. They were interned at Stanley Camp after the British capitulation. Their three oldest children were at boarding school in Chefoo, in Northern China. They all met up again in Portuguese East Africa. This is their story.” 12 A friend in the UK sent me a very unusual POW Index Card. It is for Nurse Sallie Gubbay, HKVDC. I had actually been sent a copy in 2007 by Ron Bridge, who noted: “I was privileged to have two or three long conversations with the late Irene Braude who was Commandant of the HKVDC VAD 12 -15 years ago, she also gave me a copy of the HKVDC at the outbreak of hostilities. She told me that Sallie Gubbay had been very badly injured during the raid on Bowen Road (16 December 1941 I recall) and had remained in hospital there until she died the following May. (Somewhere I have documentary evidence of this raid, Irene did not say whether it was injury or the complications from that injury or a secondary infection.)” The CWGC recorded her as Sarah Gubbay first, and then corrected it to Sallie, but in some cases record the surname as ‘Gubby’! But what makes this particularly interesting for me is that I hadn’t previously noticed her next of kin was her daughter ‘Mrs L Kadoorie’. The Kadoories were, and are, one of the richest families in Hong Kong, and this means that Sir Michael Kadoorie (who I know slightly - he owns the Peninsula Hotel group, China Light & Power, etc.) is Sallie Gubbay’s grandson! 11 The Researching FEPOW History Group has confirmed that their June conference is going ahead. Details can be found here. 11 Woke to see thick fog all over Hong Kong – not the best start for a walking tour with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce! By the time I arrived at Wong Nai Chung Gap (around 08.15) it was if anything worse and I was afraid no one would turn up, but by 09.00 we had around 20 people assembled and began a pleasant (though largely view-free) walk. But I was shocked to see ‘my’ Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail sign boards lying demolished on the ground! Fortunately a Cantonese-speaking friend was on hand to interrogate the workers there, and they said they were simply replacing them – which is fair enough as they are old and rusty. A fair amount of vegetation also seemed to have been cleared and the view of the old mess hall’s floor (site of the terrible mortar bomb incident of 20 December 1941) was more clearly visible than usual. Later I heard that a qualified individual had ensured that the replacement boards will have a few pre-existing errors corrected. More on that when they are in position. 11 At Great Yarmouth (only a few miles round the coast from my hometown) on Monday, workmen dredging a river picked up a German 250kg HE bomb. EOD didn’t like the look of it and decided it was unsafe to move it further. After some delays while nearby gas pipes were checked, and several thousand people were evacuated, they built a massive reinforced sand berm around the bomb to direct any blast upwards if anything went wrong. Then work began with a tracked robot cutting through the casing to separate the detonator from the bulk of explosive. Meanwhile, of course, many people complained of the inconvenience and delay as surely ‘an old thing like that would never go off’. But they stopped complaining when it suddenly blew up. Fortunately no one was hurt and the berm prevented serious damage, though I don’t think the robot has turned up yet! But the serious lesson, of course, is that plenty of Second World War ordnance is still perfectly viable and anything found should be treated with respect. 10 Reginald Hildred’s (RA, Lisbon Maru) family contacted me again (see September 2014). They have discovered that he married a Chinese lady called Shirley Yau on 6 December 1941 in Hong Kong (illustrated). Hildred was lost in the sinking, so the family knew nothing about this. This marriage isn’t in the list of immediately pre-invasion weddings between the garrison and local ladies that Kwong Chi Man maintains. I traced Shirley as being sent to the New Asia Hotel with other British civilians on their way to Stanley Internment Camp, but being Chinese by birth she would have been allowed to exempt herself. Hildred’s Casualty Card suggests that his wife escaped Hong Kong, went to Guilin, and was under the protection of the British Military Attaché there, but there the trail ends for the moment. Her name does not appear in BAAG files, which were my only real hope. 9 I quite often walk to and from Sai Ying Poon market, returning via High Street. Normally I walk on the south side of the road but today crossed over – and then realized that I’d never before noticed the old walls I’d been walking by! It turns out that this was Hong Kong’s Old Mental Hospital. The walls of the lower floors were preserved when it was knocked down and a modern building was created some 25 years ago. Pre-war it was apparently accommodation for nurses, so I’ll have to see if I can find what the building was used for in wartime. 7 A friend in the UK is engaged in a very serious study on the POW Index Cards. He’s attempting to learn how and when they were created, modified, updated, stored, found at liberation, and used by the Allies to reconcile POW lists and fates. He has found some very interesting proto-cards and so forth. 7 Ken Skelton kindly looked in his copy of Stephen Davies’s HMS Tamar book to find an answer to the question about shore-based accommodation raised last week. (I am embarrassed to say that I don’t yet have a copy. I missed it when it first came out, and can’t see it on Hong Kong bookshop shelves at the moment – and Amazon say they’re out of stock). Anyway, he noted: “p255/256 - almost from the outset Tamar had never been entirely able to provide sufficient accommodation for all personnel at peak demand... other ships like Wyvern were used as accommodation ships… early years of 20th century some evidence the naval base used some shoreside bldgs. within the dockyard - which unknown.” Which pretty much supports what I had guessed. 6 I heard from Fang Li’s team today that they are “reaching a Final Cut of the [Lisbon Maru] documentary and will send this version to the National Film Bureau for a second review.” That’s good news. Obviously the production was delayed by Covid, and I was concerned that the deterioration in geopolitical relationships in the last few years might have thrown a spanner in the works. I later heard that it may be premiered at Cannes. 5 My wife had a few friends round for lunch, and decorated our dining room table with our best place mats. These are antiques depicting Chinnery paintings, and were a kind present from Elizabeth Ride when we visited her in Norway in 2019. They had of course belonged to her father, Brigadier ‘Doc’ Ride of BAAG fame. Unfortunately the Mappin & Webb box they were stored in was too big for us to take, but when I emailed Elizabeth the photo of our table she explained why they were in that box. I thought the story might be of interest, so firstly an extract from Ride's speech to the HKU Congregation of May 1950: “I should like to refer to the story of the Mace; you have all noticed the vacant stand in front of this desk: the mace that should occupy that stand was cunningly hidden in the Library in 1942 by some of the Chinese members of the staff. There it remained in safety until February 1945 when robbers broke into the library in search of paper which was a scarce and valuable commodity in those days. The mace alas was stolen from its hiding place under a pile of old paper, and since then no trace of it has been found. In an attempt to trace the maker, Colonel L.G. Bird, the brother of the designer was written to, and he has spared no effort in helping us. After communicating with many well known silversmiths in England without result, he put a notice in ‘The Times’ and a few weeks ago he received a letter from Major Penn-Gaskell of the New Forest, enclosing a cutting from ‘The Graphic’ of the 16th of December, 1916. The cutting depicted our mace, stating it was made by Mappin & Webb and described it as ‘a unique example of the silversmith’s art’. With this information to hand, Colonel Bird went to the makers and they were able to produce photographs of the original. From these photographs an enlargement has been made by our Department of Physiology, and this enlargement will be on view this afternoon in the new Engineering School. When you see it, I think you will agree it was a most excellent example of the silversmith’s art, an example too rare to be lost; for $10,000 we can have an exact replica made and it is noteworthy that on the reverse side there is a space large just large enough to record the munificence of a donor. In the meantime I should like to express our grateful thanks to both Colonel Bird and Major Penn-Gaskell for their valuable help. The University is indeed fortunate in its friends.” Next from Ride’s speech of March 1951: “For the new mace we are indebted to the munificence of Mr. Leung Yew who immediately after the last Congregation came forward and offered to cover the cost of its manufacture. During tea this afternoon I hope you will all take the opportunity of examining the mace, and although it still lacks its jade ornaments, I am sure you will agree that it is an outstanding example of British craftsmanship; combining as it does, oriental history through the medium of occidental art, it is a fitting emblem to symbolize the supreme authority of a British University set beside a China sea. On the shaft of the mace you will see four panels; on one is embossed a scene of early Hong Kong, on another a picture of this building as it was last year; the third bears an inscription recording the munificence of Mr. Leung Yew and the forth remains empty and on it later it is hoped to depict the main building as it will be when completed. On the obverse of the head of the mace is the Colony Coat of Arms, and on the reverse that of the University, both beautifully embossed, a significant reminder that we are an integral part of the Colony.” I wish we’d kept that box now, it was the one HKU’s mace came in! 3 I received notice today of another Lisbon Maru article churned out online. Yet again it incorrectly repeats the idea that Canadian POWs were onboard, though aside from that and a few typos is reasonably accurate. 2 A whole team of local historians, young and old, gathered at Stanley Cemetery today and had a good chat. There was more to it than that, but the story will have to wait. 2 It’s odd how things tend to happen in clusters. Today I was sent this link to the pre-war Colonial property called Alberose (just south of Queen Mary Hospital), and then my older son in London sent me this link to another big pre-war property. Clearly – though perhaps not surprisingly - Hong Kong’s rich and famous like to live in mansions!
February 1st, 2023 Update
First and third, Japanese attack on King's Road (courtesy Tan), second, Indian patrol on Des Voeux Road (Author)
Wong Nai Chung school party (courtesy Tim Hoffman), Cigarette case (via Jeffrey Ho), Wanchai Market, then, not long ago, and now (Author)
Deb LegCo notice (via Government reports online), Brown's bag (courtesy Sheila Forsyth), Asahi Shinbun 18 Dec 41 (courtesy Rusty Tsoi)
January News Well, I didn’t get quite as many entries for the ‘then and now’ photo competition of Hong Kong wartime scenes as I’d hoped, but I’m pleased to announce that the winner (again) is Tan with his two images showing the Japanese attack along King’s Road at Fortress Hill taking first and second place. However, I have also given myself third place for my Des Voeux Road effort showing Japanese and Indian troops on patrol, not for quality (which is poor) but for the patience required to wait long enough for a modern tram to come almost perfectly into position! But I’m also leaving the competition open for another month, just in case anyone else wants a go. I have a couple of new ideas myself. 31 Today I received an invitation to join a very interesting expedition early next month. But more about that in the next update! 28 Another question: Prior to the Second World War did the Royal Navy have any barracks or billets on shore? As far as I know, all seamen were based on their ships, on the Tamar hulk, or (for shore leave) at the China Fleet Club. And yet it seems reasonable that senior officers, and perhaps naval staff at the Royal Naval Hospital or other shore-based units, might have had urban accommodation. While searching for an answer I came across this very interesting history of the China Fleet Club (other parts can be found from the links here). It’s possible that Stephen Davies’s book on HMS Tamar has some information, but unfortunately so far I haven’t seen it in Hong Kong shops. 25 A trip to Stanley by bus today showed that the old bullet-scarred wall by Wanchai Market has now been demolished. I wish I’d taken more photos of the original while I still could! I took a quick shot as we passed, and in the sort of ‘then and now’ photo montage that I produced, the wall in question is – in the pre-war original photo – the one just behind and to the left of the lorry with the black cab and white body. Also on the topic of Stanley, I was asked whether the CWGC graves there contained human remains in coffins or not. I know that burial services there during the war itself used a reusable coffin with a fake floor, but don’t know whether post-war interments used coffins or not. The last one I attended, in 2009, certainly did. 23 With help from others, I have been looking for records of a Mr M.R. Deb. He was an Indian gentleman, perhaps originally from Malaysia, who came to Hong Kong in about 1937 to work in an anti-mosquito/malaria team under Dr Robert Best Jackson. It seems that Jackson left Hong Kong before hostilities, but Deb didn’t and – apparently – was killed in the fighting at North Point when the Japanese invaded. Unfortunately, though, he doesn’t appear in the CWGC records or any of my files. For anyone not familiar with the site, it’s possible to search for Hong Kong Government reports from 1842-1941 here. 20 Jeffrey Ho posted a photo of a silver cigarette case found on the battlefields (I am continuing with my policy of not revealing the exact locations of any battlefield finds). I was able to locate an exact match. 18 I have an Arthur Foster in the Stanley internment lists with profession given as “Health Inspector”. I also have an A. Foster in my nominal roll for the HKVDC Field Ambulance. I wonder if they could have been one and the same? 18 Continuing yesterday’s conversation, Eursal Kaine’s daughter noted: “My Dad, I think because he was with my uncle John Kaine (who was a paraplegic because of a mining accident) got flown out of Fukuoka (Sept 15/45) and saw Nagasaki from the air on his way to Okinawa on an American plane (he collected the flight crew’s autographs) and then another flight to Manila (Sept 19/45) and did as you said come home on the Hughes (left Manila on Sept 24, 1945.)” The autographs read: Fukuoka-Okinawa Sept 15, 1945 Sgt. Clifford V. Adair Box 607 Reading Michigan USA Douglas C-47 4337998 3rd emergency Rescue Sq. B flight. Sgt. Anthony Forte 3rd Emergency Rescue Sq A.P.O. 245 Rfc. Allan Pensinger Portland Oregon 2317 S. W. Vermont St. 519 military police Okinawa Lt. Ivan E. Crockett Jr. 800 S Fir Ave, Inglewood California Sgt. Arthur Bird 200 Campbell St. Valparaiso Indiana Lt. James W. Ashmore 717 SE 12th St, Paris, Texas Ist Lt. D. R. Brock 705 Carolyn Ave. Austin, Texas, navigator. The third emergency rescue squadron makes sense, but the aircraft serial number is unfortunately off. 43-37998 was a B-17 which never served in the Far East. However, I managed to find records of a C-47A-30-DK with serial 43-47998. I wonder if that might have been it? 17 Eursal Kaine’s (Winnipeg Grenadiers) daughter got in touch again (see March 2022) noting: “I’ve another mystery for you to send out to the group to see if we can solve it, and another interesting piece of memorabilia too. My father came home to Canada with another soldier’s duffle bag. It belonged to Louis Brown B68230. According to the HKVCA individual report (and you), he was on the same transport to Japan as my father and uncle, and also ended up in Omine. There is no further record after that. Just wondering if we can figure out how Dad ended up with Louis’s bag. On the bag, it seems Louis had been a soldier before he went to Hong Kong (the painted left side shows places like Fort York Arm, Iceland, Aldershot England. That’s an interesting story too, I’m sure. Sending you photos of the two sides of the bag, and also one of the sheets from Dad’s autograph book.” In fact there seems to have been quite a bit of gift-giving between POWs as they made their way home, but interestingly Kaine went back to North America on the USS Admiral Hughes, while Brown was on the USS Howze. Looking at the bag, Fort York Arm is Fort York Armoury, Toronto which makes sense. The odd one out here is Aldershot. However, I looked into it and I see that a Canadian Brigade (consisting of The Royal Regiment of Canada, Les Fusiliers MontRoyal, and The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa) was sent to Iceland in June/July 1940, with the first two battalions being sent to Aldershot at the end of October that year to rejoin the main body of the 2nd Canadian Division there. So that implies that Louis Brown was originally in (probably) the Royal Regiment of Canada, then joined the Royal Rifles back in Canada before they were sent to HK. 16 Craig McCourry notes that his new film Battlebox is now streaming on Amazon Prime in the UK and USA, and Tubi. There’s also a new poster (illustrated). 16 The Editors of the Close Encounters in War Journal, who I have occasionally worked with, let me know that issue number five of their journal, "Science, Technology, and Close Encounters in War" is now online. 13 Walking through Wong Nai Chung Gap with a friend, we came across a group of secondary school students on a historical tour. It’s good to see people making use of the historical trail. 12 I heard today from a French film company planning a short documentary about the Lisbon Maru. 11 Gunner Arthur Cooling’s (RA) nephew got in touch. He notes that Cooling: “was the son of a WW1 regular soldier who saw service in the Boer War aged 18 and was commissioned Warrant Officer in the field in 1915. After leaving the Army in the 1950’s Arthur & family emigrated to Australia to take up a position as a prison warder. Apparently he had a reputation with the prisoners as being a hard man. Imagining his upbringing and life as a POW it’s not difficult to understand the attitude he may have had with the prisoners.” This makes sense as Cooling was one of the ‘hard men’ on the first draft of POWs to Japan. 10 The Java Fepow Club (now the largest and only remaining UK Nationwide FEPOW Club, with worldwide members too) issued their January Java Journal newsletter today. It contained a reprint of an article concerning the death of Yeung Ming-Hon (see last month). 8 Rusty Tsoi notes, of the Asahi Shinbun of 18 December 1941: “it said the Japanese interviewed a corporal captured with Jones… This 23-year-old ‘corporal’ came from Bradford of Yorkshire, and he told the Japanese that the British soldiers used to spend two months training in Kowloon every year; and he had participated this kind of training twice. He didn’t really say anything bad about his military life at all. However, I’m not quite sure who was he in reality…” I don’t know either, but no doubt he was one of the Royal Scots captured with Jones at or around the Shingmun Redoubt, and held at Fanling at the time of the alleged interview. 4 Justin Ho let me know about another interesting eBay item, a POW letter/card from William Murray Mayne, Winnipeg Grenadiers. I’m surprised how much money these items sell for. 2 We flew back from Christmas and New Year in the Philippines today, which is why the December 2022 update was published a few days late. Lucky we didn’t travel on the first, as Manila airport was knocked out by a power outage and almost 400 flights were cancelled or delayed. But there’s always a silver lining. Cathay Pacific laid on an extra flight today, five hours earlier than the one we were booked on, and we managed to switch to it, getting better seats in the process and getting home at six in the evening rather than after midnight as expected! Thus the delay in publishing last month’s update was a day less than I had feared.
January 1st, 2023 Update
75th Memorial Service (author), Arthur Turner, RA (via Facebook), Vleeschouwer letter (eBay via Justin Ho)
Old HK in Colour images (courtesy OldHKinColour), Wanchai then and now (courtesy Tan), Duane and Dennis Clarke (IWM)
Winnipeg Tribune (via Henry Wong), Fraser's medals (courtesy Daily Mail), WIlfred Miles's new stone (courtesy Christine Lindgren)
December News I’ve been very impressed by recent colourisations of old Hong Kong photographs, often in a ‘then and now’ pairing. Obviously I’m most interested in the wartime period, so I thought we’d kick off the new year (the twentieth anniversary year of Hong Kong War Diary in this format) with a competition. Who can create the best Then & Now photo using an original from (let’s say, to add more possibilities) 1940-46? No prizes, of course – just the glory and honour! All entries (if there are any…) should please reach me no later than 28 January 2023. I have included in this month’s photos an example done by Tan in 2014, of bomb damage in Wanchai following an American raid in 1945. 30 An interesting conversation (about the Supermarine Walrus) between Martin Heyes and Philip Cracknel led to a number of useful finds. The former provided this nice clip of Walrus operations, and the latter the records of two Walruses (one, two) lost in Hong Kong waters shortly before hospitalities. A further two were of course destroyed in HK on 8 December 1941 by the Japanese attack. 26 I have known anecdotally that a number of ex-HK POWs, who returned home post-war via Canada, fell in love with the country and emigrated there later. I read about one in more detail today on the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page: “Arthur Turner… was a gunner with the 8th Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery…When he was liberated in 1945, he was hospitalized with dysentery, beri beri, malaria, and severe malnutrition. While being repatriated to the United Kingdom he travelled by train from Esquimalt, British Columbia to Halifax, Nova Scotia. He fell in love with Canada and vowed to return and find work as a policeman. In 1947, he did just that by joining the Toronto Police Department where he eventually rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant at 12 Division. A respected leader, Turner was elected President of the Metropolitan Toronto Police War Veterans Association in 1974. He retired in 1983, and sadly died of a heart attack less than four years later.” 24 Antony Yeung, son of the last known survivor (in Hong Kong) of the Battle of Hong Kong, kindly gave me the bad news that his father – Yeung Ming Hon of the HKVDC Field Ambulance - passed away today. The press also carried the story. 23 John Patrick Maher’s (965 DB, Lisbon Maru) granddaughter contacted me. Fortunately I had in my files (thanks to Steve Denton) her grandfather’s own first-hand account of the sinking. 19 Henry Wong posted an interesting front page from the Winnipeg Tribune on facebook today. The main photo is well known, but I’m not sure that I’ve seen the one of Sutcliffe (bottom right) before. 18 Martin Heyes notes that he has just had his second paper (on the subject of Colonel Evan Stewart of the HKVDC) published in the respected Journal of the Orders and Medals Research Society in the UK. He is working on a third paper which I will mention when it is ready. The Orders and Medals Research Society, HK Branch December 2022 Newsletter has also been uploaded to the Branch website and can be seen here. 15 Rather surprisingly, the Gibraltar Chronical today mentioned three of Hong Kong’s wartime soldiers. One of them (Gunner Joseph Viotto) had married Chow Tai Choy in Hong Kong on 1 November 1941 (the same day that two other Hong Kong gunners – James Brown and Ernest Bedford – also married their local girlfriends). 14 Today I helped the Battle of Hong Kong 1941: A Spatial History Project with a special facebook post remembering internee baby Anthony Clark who died 80 years ago to the day, at the age of twelve days. It read: “Stanley Cemetery, 1945. A snapshot of the complexity of wartime family life. Dennis Clarke and his half brother Duane Liu, at the grave of Dennis’s brother Anthony Clarke who died 80 years ago today at Stanley Internment Camp aged just 12 days, having been born prematurely. His father was policeman Goscombe Goddard Clarke, and his mother was American Mildred Liu. Duane was born in Beijing in 1936, his sister Gardenia Liu was born in Hong Kong in 1940, and Dennis in Stanley in 1944. The children and their mother were interned in Bungalow A. Goscombe Clarke’s wife Joyce and their two children (Goscombe junior and Ann) had been evacuated to Sydney in 1940, while Mildred Liu had fled to Hong Kong that year leaving her husband in Beijing. After the war, Goscombe Clarke moved to the UK, and the Liu children didn’t make contact with their father (then in Taiwan) again until 1970. Goscombe passed away in Great Yarmouth, UK, in 2003, Mildred and Duane passed away in Los Angeles in 1979 and 2008 respectively, and Gardenia in Sherman Oaks, California, in 2018. Both Goscombe and Mildred remarried other people after the war. Dennis retired in 2010 after 45 years with Hilton Hotels, initially in the US but with his last eleven years as VP of Operations for Conrad Asia Pacific and Managing Director of Conrad Hong Kong. Despite Anthony’s name being correctly spelled in the original gravestone photographed, today he is recorded by the CWGC as Anthony Clark. We are currently working to rectify that.” 14 Today I was able to show Andy Salmon’s son Ken the animation that Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence made of a gunner’s life in pre-war Hong Kong, based largely on his father’s account. It’s clearly aimed at the younger viewers, but seems quite successful in that! Ken approved, which was what mattered. 13 A couple of good Old HK in Colour ‘then and now’ photos were shared on the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page today and I noticed that both had the same British warship in the background. HMS Anson, I believe. It got me to thinking that there really aren’t a lot of good then and now mash-ups from the period, which is a shame. Admittedly they are challenging as not too many photos have survived from 1941-45, but at the same time they are extraordinarily useful because the territory has changed so much since. 11 Tan was kind enough to let me know about the new SBE issue which (fortunately for us!) seems full of Second World War articles again. (Illustrated). 11 Unfortunately I have lost my notes for this one, but today I was sent a link to a Daily Mirror article about the sale of John Fraser’s George Cross a few years back. 7 The HKVCA Winter newsletter was published today. They also let me know that “the next HKVCA virtual event will be on January 17 at 08:30am (Hong Kong) / January 16 at 7:30pm (in eastern Canada). It will feature Dr Kwong Chi Man speaking about his Spatial History Project, and a complementary project presented by Nathan Kehler of the Canadian Research and Mapping Association, speaking about his group’s virtual mapping project to tell the story of the Canadian involvement in the Battle of Hong Kong.” The Zoom registration link is here. 6 I received a welcome email today: “I have read some of your writing about historical Hong Kong with great interest. My Grandparents and Great Aunt and Uncle were in Hong Kong when War broke out. My grandmother and her sister were evacuated to Australia and my Grandfather and my great Uncle were Japanese POWs and both families returned to Hong Kong after the war, continued bringing up children and living there until their retirement from the prison service when both families left for UK. I have just started thinking more seriously about the two sisters’ experiences as evacuees in Australia and how this impacted their lives. I have arranged to talk to my Mother’s cousin who remembers life at that time. So I just wanted to touch base and say hello! I'm just about to buy your ‘Book 4: The Evacuation’ on Amazon - really looking forward to it!” After a few questions and some research, I found that the grandmother and her sister (Connie and Floss) had both married men in the Prison Service, and this is what I have in my evacuee files:
Rosen, Robert S. Prison Officer Constance CH M Winterton, Frederick T. HKVDC Stanley Plt. Florence A. CH M Winterton, Frederick T. HKVDC Stanley Plt. Florence A. Shirley A. 4 CH M Winterton, Frederick T. HKVDC Stanley Plt. Florence A. June A. 1 CH M (i.e. Connie and Floss, and Floss’s two young daughters Shirley and June, were evacuated from Hong Kong, and then onwards from Manila on the Christiaan Huygens, disembarking in Melbourne - though unfortunately I lose track of them once they disembark). My notes say that Constance returned to Hong Kong on the Duntroon in August 1946 (together with Robert, who had joined her in Australia for convalescence after the Japanese surrender), and Florence and daughters returned on the SS Eastern in the same year. Fred Winterton’s right hand had been shattered in the fighting outside the police station in Stanley, and later had to be amputated. While discussing their experience, I pointed out that it’s also worth bearing in mind that quite a few evacuated women clearly found the experience liberating. In the pre-war years, life as a married western woman in HK could be quite stifling and dull. Some flourished when they had to take charge of their own lives in Australia, and many marriages failed because of this - and also, of course, the long separation and the fact that many of the menfolk were either killed or suffered what we’d now call PTSD. From my researches it seems that a bit more than half the evacuees stayed in Australia post war, one way or another. 5 I heard today that Christine Lindgren had dedicated a new memorial stone to her father (HK POW Wilfred Miles, RA). He is buried in St Non’s Church, llannon, Wales. She is intent that he should not be forgotten, so I thought I would mention him here. 5 I think I may have posted this before, but when I was searching today for something completely different I accidentally stumbled upon Kyoda Shigeru’s (master of the Lisbon Maru) fan at the National Army Museum. It’s amazing what turns up! I also found, under Apprehension of Suspected War Criminals, the following note about him: “Presently employed as pilot in Tokyo Harbour. Probable home address: 279 Jiyugaoka Meguro-Ku, Tokyo-To.” 4 Today we had the first Annual Canadian Memorial service at Sai Wan since 2019 (in fact I believe they had some form of ceremony in the two years in between, but because of Covid restrictions we were discouraged from attending). The attendance wasn’t huge, but that’s only to be expected after such a long break. It was good to see a high-level deputation from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission themselves there, including Sir Bill Rollo. I was also able to finally introduce myself to the new Canadian Consul, Rachael Bedlington. It didn’t dawn on me – despite the flurry of email confirmations in which it was clearly stated – that this was the 75th such memorial, until I read it on the programme when I arrived! As always, I walked around the cemetery taking photos of various graves as we waited for formalities to begin. 1 Justin Ho found some interesting letters (from Belgian Stanley internee Ernest-Pierre de Vleeschouwer) on eBay. Apparently the dealer specialises in 19th-20th century letters sent from and to China or Hong Kong. (One, two, three, four).
December 1st, 2022 Update
Statues at the HKMCD (both author), HKVDC Armoured Car (courtesy The Battle of Hong Kong 1941: A Spatial History Project)
Geoffe Clarke, RASC (courtesy Anthony Clarke), Cloake at Stanley and newspaper report (via Stephen Hutcheon)
November News I generally think of Hong Kong government-run museums as being wonderful big buildings in locations that would be worth a fortune, manned with abundant staff, budget, and resources, and containing just half a dozen exhibits and twenty or more colourful explanatory posters. And I compare that to when my sister was curator of the Wisbech & Fenland Museum in the UK in the 1980s, as the only member of staff, presiding over an ancient crumbling building crammed with amazing things (Napoleon’s tea set captured at the battle of Waterloo, a Zulu warrior’s kit – still crawling with parasites that had somehow survived since Victorian days, Dickens’s original ‘Great Expectations’ manuscript, a many-thousand-year old Egyptian bronze of Anubis the jackal-faced god of war, and so forth). But the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence falls nicely in the middle of these two extremes, and I was delighted to be invited this month to its reopening ceremony following post-Mangkhut repairs. They have done an excellent job! 30 Annemarie Evans today reminded me of her 2005 interview with Jack Etiemble about the Lisbon Maru. Apparently her programmes (such as this one) are available on MMIS. 29 Returning to DBS again, Debbie Lee Jiang posted a page from “Perpetuation”, their 120th anniversary booklet: “5) There have been many reports of Japanese soldiers seen sitting in corners and corridors. Many students also caught fleeting glimpses of dismembered heads of soldiers hanging in mid-air. The sounds of some strange march of perfect unison have often been heard in the dormitory. 6) Previous to 1968, there had been numerous sightings of a figure dressed in white standing motionless in front of the garage. In 1968, when the swimming pool was under construction, two sets of skeletons were found together with some Japanese swords (now in display). The sets of skeletons were removed and since then no more sightings were reported.” I don’t think anyone has yet compiled a full set of Hong Kong’s second world war related ghost stories, but they would make a pretty large volume: DBS, St Stephen’s College, Nam Koo Terrace, The Hong Kong Country Club, Dragon Lodge, there are no shortage of candidates. 27 I received a regular email update from Researching FEPOW History today. The book Captive Fathers, Captive Children sounds very interesting. This sort of research has often been discussed by the families of FEPOWs, but as far as I know it’s the first of its kind to be published.
24 Today the Royal Asiatic Society, Hong Kong, presented a Zoom talk about Project Avenger. Even though I was quite familiar with the story (Craig Mitchell took me to the crash site shortly after finding it, together with a small posse from EOD to detonate some Japanese ordnance located nearby), I still enjoyed hearing the details. It’s worth keeping up with the RAS as they have quite a lot of interesting talks, with Kwong Chi Man covering “Hongkongers in the British Armed Forces, 1860-1997” next, on Tuesday 6 December. 24 As usual, while looking for something else entirely I found this fascinating colourised footage from towards the end of the Great War. It’s not, of course, directly related to this site’s subject, but may be of general interest.
23 Thanks to Franco Yeung, today I was invited to the re-opening ceremony for the Museum of Coastal Defence. It had been quite badly damaged in the Mangkhut typhoon of 2018, but clearly they have taken this as an opportunity for a major upgrade and overhaul. Strikingly, as you emerge from the lift to walk to the rotunda, various bronzes of soldiers loom out of the mist (it was a dirty grey evening), which gives a nice atmosphere. The building itself seems more spacious than it was, and despite of the attendance of numerous dignitaries, they had the kind good sense to give a single crisp speech, and then let a young a cappella group (who were very good) sing a few songs. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay long enough for a proper look round, but I’ll be back. I bumped into Bill Lake and Rusty Tsoi there, and Admiral Chan Chak’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter. 22 On The FEPOW Family page, Anthony Clarke posted photos and details of his uncle Geoff Clarke, RASC. Clarke was one of the ‘hard men’ on the first draft of POWs from Hong Kong to Japan. He died of blood poisoning later in 1942 at Tokyo #2 Hospital. 21Justin Ho reports finding a ‘new’ veteran from the wartime HKVDC. More on that at the appropriate time. He also kindly passed me a link to the late Mr. Seah Tin Toon's (1922-2001) Interview, done by the National Archives of Singapore. It has five parts plus a transcript viewing option. 21 Regular readers of this blog will know that I like to follow (when I can) the careers of descendants of Hong Kong’s wartime garrison. Here’s an update on singer KT Tunstall (granddaughter of James McDougall, HQ Company, Royal Scots, who survived the Lisbon Maru.) 20 Keith Andrews in the UK kindly put me in touch with Arthur Paul Glanvile’s (Stanley internee) daughter again. She was evacuated from Hong Kong to Australia in July 1940 together with her mother and two sisters. On release from Stanley, not realising that his family had already retuned to the UK, he asked to be sent to Australia hoping to be reunited there. They were finally reunited late in 1945 in the UK. Sadly he died of TB (which he had whilst in the camp) in 1955. In Stanley he had the unique room identifier as ‘Lep.’ I wonder if this could have been the old ex-leprosarium, which might have made a makeshift TB sanatorium? 16 The Battle of Hong Kong 1941: A Spatial History Project today posted a good Japanese photo of a knocked-out HKVDC armoured car. I think it’s probably Bill Lowe's car: No. 1 Car (lost at Wong Nai Chong Gap, December 19th). The crew were: Walker, Charles Douglas, Sergeant Labrousse, Ernest Denys, Corporal Marriott, Henry Ernest, Private Lowe, William, Private Schouten, Klaus, Private. All survived, with Schouten (who was Dutch) being interned at Stanley, and repatriated with the Americans in June. 15 Today I was invited by the « Souvenir Français de Chine » and the General Consulate of France in Hong Kong & Macau to the Remembrance Ceremony in honour of the Free French Forces on Friday, December 2nd at 2:30pm. I believe it is invitation only, so interested parties should contact the Consulate. 15 Leading Seaman Moses McElroy’s (HMS Thracian, Lisbon Maru) daughter-in-law got in touch. 14 Walking in the Peak area this morning I took Governor’s Walk to get a photo of how the Mount Austin Barracks area looks today. The modern buildings are certainly a good deal less impressive than the Victorian monoliths they replaced. 13 Unfortunately a family commitment meant that I couldn’t join the Memorial Service at the Cenotaph this year, though I was told it was well attended. 13 DBS held their Garden Fete today, and Sunny Liu kindly posted a photo of their Roll of Honour. 10I downloaded the Recommendation for Award for John Pearce of BAAG from The National Archives in the UK (Catalogue reference: WO 373/101/397) free of charge today. That’s pretty good service! 9 Stephen Hutcheon on the Stanley Camp facebook page mentioned: “Here’s a photo I found on an Australian museum site showing Australians meeting at the Stanley Internment Camp after the Japanese surrender in August 1945. The caption on the back of the photo is partly removed”, but the legible part reads: “Countrymen meet. Australian journalist R.J. Cloake, xxxx Stanley Camp, Hong Kong, meets another Australian, J.H. Adams of Sydney with the coming of the reoccupation forces. Mr Cloake was on the staff of the South China Morning Post and brought out an issue of the paper day [sic] after the surrender to the Japs. He is nxxxx the job, ROYAL NAVAL OFFICIAL PHOTGRAPH”. With a good piece of detective work, he also found a newspaper column written by this journalist on his visit, published Tuesday 4 September 1945. 3 With reference to Mount Austin Barracks (see last month), my note reminded Rob Weir of “pictures I had of the Barracks, from one of my Kew visits… They cover both the ground and first floor but unfortunately a couple of the pictures are blurred. There are a couple of others showing overall plans” (Illustrated). So clearly Kew would be a good place to find further details. 1 Justin Ho found some interesting HKVDC signatures in the book The Portuguese Community in Hong Kong.
November 1st, 2022 Update
Lisbon Maru group (author), Lisbon Maru memorial at Zhoushan (both via Kent Shum)
Removed, War Illustrated (via CH Au), Takliwa document (courtesy Lloyds)
Bungalow D painting (courtesy Archibald Brown), Bungalow D photo (author), Mount Austin Hotel (via Internet)
October News Believe it or not, this time next year will be the twentieth anniversary of this monthly blog – making it one of the oldest continuously updated blogs on any subject in the world. I’ll have to create some special content for it – so come back in October 2023! Meanwhile it’s interesting to consider the two biggest changes (as far as this topic goes) over those 20 years. Firstly we’ve gone from having many veterans to talk to, to probably a single digit number. With the passing of Phil Doddridge this month (see the fifth), for example, we are down to two Canadians. I don’t now know of any surviving Brits or Indians, but of course they were generally regular soldiers who had already been in Hong Kong for a few years before the invasion, and thus were on average a little older than the Canadians. There could be a tiny handful still with us. Secondly, in the same period we’ve gone from having very little easily available information on this topic to having a plethora of online sources and books. How times change! 30 I received an email from Researching FEPOW History: “Here is your preview of the posts coming up in November on Rice and Shine. The Intrepid Theatre-Goer goes live on Wednesday 2nd November at 10:00 (UK time). In this post, read about Captain Wilkinson's opinions of the shows he saw once he was back on his feet and take a detailed look at the heavily praised show Hayfever.” 26 Dave Deptford kindly let me know that auction house Noonans (formerly Dix Noonan Webb) on 9 November 2022, as Lot 410, will be auctioning a group of five Medals (39-45, Pacific, War, Defence, and Army Long Service) of CQMS Thomas Bayly, B Company, 1st Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment, who was a POW at Sham Shui Po, Nagoya, and Toyama, with an estimate of GBP 260 – 300. 24 Hazel Dolan, Corporal Albert Devonshire’s, Middlesex, daughter (you may recall that Timothy Rankin found her father’s tin hat and dog tag a year or two back, and we were able to reunite her with them) contacted me again, having read on this site that her father’s signature had appeared in a Canadian POW’s scrapbook. I was able to put the two together and she now has a copy. That’s really what this site is all about. 24 Rochdale Online today posted a little article about war memorials, which happened to include two local men lost on the Lisbon Maru. 24 Pete Starling kindly brought the journal, Canadian Military History, to my attention. In fact I was already familiar with it, and they published one of my papers a few years back. However, I wasn’t aware of the rather good search facility. 23 I heard from Lynne Williams: “It is a long time since I first contacted you about my stepmother's war experiences in Stanley Camp and I am very grateful for your help as well as for the information in your books. I thought you might be interested that I have finished a book about the first half of her life entitled ‘The Girl with the Butterfly Hands’. The publishing date will be the 17th November and it will be published both as an ebook and paperback. It is available online at Amazon and all the other book outlets (my favourite is Booktopia, of course).” Confusingly (though this was covered on this site last year, and is no doubt all explained in the book) the stepmother as variously known as Elizabeth Evelyn Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Evelyn Soo, Elizabeth Evelyn McGowan, and Chin Yu Williams. 21 C.H. Au posted a lot of photos from the 29 March 1940 edition of War Illustrated magazine, including one of two boom defence vessels working on Hong Kong Harbour’s outer defences. Does anyone recognize them? 19 Justin Ho reports: “Recently I have been trying to look for my granduncle's internment card using the Fold3 database. However, a huge chunk of HKVDC Chinese cards (Smuggler List #s 4362 - 4445) are not on Fold3. Based on my existing experience with such results, this generally suggests that they were stored in another place, i.e. British and commonwealth, colonial cards in National Archives; Canadians in Ontario Archives; Dutch O-20 Cards at Netherlands Archives. Do you by any chance know/ have heard of where the cards went?” I checked with Steve Denton, who knows more about Index Cards than anyone else I know, and he said he was 99% sure that he doesn’t have an index card at Kew. 18 I had an enquiry relating to Lance Naik Imam Din, 10638, 2/14 Punjabis. Apparently he may have been involved in some sort of POW resistance against the Japanese. Does anyone have any information? 13 I was contacted today by the nephew of James Connell Brown (Stanley Internee). Born 8 January 1908, he was an electrical engineer with the government, but worked for HSBC post-war and apparently married a fellow internee. He has inherited: “a collection of drawings and paintings by various members of the camp and some dated and signed. The most accomplished paintings have a signature of Ian Highet.” Highet was the banker Ian Campbell Hugh Highet, and signed himself ICHH. My correspondent continues: “There is a painting of some graves which seems to be a section of a larger painting. The grave names are A Raddy RRC Killed Dec 1941, Li Lin Dec 1941, Kenneth Evans killed 1941 and James Merry killed Dec 1941.” He kindly sent photos of several of these watercolours. One of Bungalow D at Stanley was particularly good, and almost matched the angle of a photo of the same building I took perhaps ten years back. 10 Two or three times a week I walk past the site of the old Mount Austin Barracks (previously the Mount Austin Hotel). As far as I can see there’s no trace of the old building now. It was knocked down soon after the war, and eventually had some very expensive flats built there in a gated compound. But I was interested to see what it was like, and found a decent photo on the Internet. It was certainly very large! You can see why the government bought the hotel (in 1897) and converted it to a barracks. It was still in use in 1941, when a Japanese shell set fire to a huge dump of .303 rounds there. 8 Lillian Randall got back in touch after almost twenty years, to state that she is still struggling to get her uncle, Sergeant George McCarthy’s, Winnipeg Grenadiers, memoir manuscript edited and hopefully published. I have been lucky enough to read through the whole thing, and hopefully can give useful advice. She also sent many photos and illustrations (McCarthy created many rather interesting pen and ink sketches, particularly of POW life). 5 Phil Doddridge, Royal Rifles of Canada, passed away today at the age of 100. He had visited Hong Kong a number of times, and I had met and interviewed him – and kept in occasional touch until recently, even if only via facebook. Colin Standish kindly sent this obituary link. 4 Shamas Munir (see last month’s query about Sabir-Ud-Din, 2/14 Punjab) notes: “Hancock was kind enough to send me a cutting from the Madras Weekly of 20 October 1945: ‘Eight hundred prisoners of war from Hong Kong who were rescued from the ill-fated S.S. Takliwa which caught fire and was abandoned off the coast of the Nicobar Islands last Monday while on its way to India, arrived in Madras Harbour this evening…’ The ship had been carrying 516 men of the Punjabis, 109 of the HKSRA, 153 of the HK Mule Corps (including Hancock), 19 men of the Rajputs, and 5 of the IMS. I copied the above script from your web site for reference. Can we get the names of these POW travelled to Madras, or any source to get these names?” It’s a good question. I have never seen a manifest for the Takliwa but it would be very helpful. I was able to find an interesting document on Lloyds Register Foundation Heritage and Education Centre, and in fact they had quite a few others about this ship. I have also added Sabir-Ud-Din’s name to the Indian nominal roll on this website. 2 Today is the eightieth anniversary of the sinking of the Lisbon Maru. Kent Shum kindly let me know that the now-traditional commemoration ceremony took place at Zhoushan today, and sent several good photos. Meanwhile I prepared a montage of photos of a number of the POWs who were aboard, in the forlorn hope of getting a well-known magazine to run an article on the anniversary. 2 Brian Finch gave Lisbon Maru descendants this update: “I know many of you are keen to know about progress on the documentary film. There have been significant delays caused mainly by Covid and the restrictions that are very strict in China. But Laurel Films are continuing to work on the film and hope to release it next year. A recent Chinese press report includes some clips provided by Laurel Films, which will give a small taste of what to expect. You can see this here.” 2 Antonio Fragoeiro posted (to the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page) an interesting letter from the International Red Cross (illustrated), stating: “The opening of the ‘IRCC’ Hong Kong office. Until then the HK prisoner of war situation management was done by Shanghai.” 1 Lisbon Maru articles continue to show up in the Chinese press, this one under the title “Stories shared by Xi Jinping”. This included a broadcast from the new Lisbon Maru memorial which was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum last year. 1 The next HKVCA virtual event will be on November 21 at 7.30pm Toronto time (8.30am on November 22 for Hong Kong). The subject is “The PoW Experience in Hong Kong and Beyond. Noted Canadian historian and author Nathan M. Greenfield will discuss the differences in experiences between Canadian PoWs in Europe in both world wars and those of Canadian PoWs in Hong Kong. He will discuss issues such as the legal status of the different PoWs, forced labour, starvation, beatings, executions and resistance to their captors. He will also touch on PoWs held in Canada during WWII.” Here’s the Zoom registration link.
October 1st, 2022 Update
Yoshihara Seiyu POWs (courtesy Waldron family), Yoshihara Seiyu (courtesy Yoshiko Tamura), Bill Stoker senior's medals (courtesy Bill Stoker junior)
Stanley Journal (courtesy Elizabeth Ride), Message for Nasty, Lost in China (author)
Here’s something that hadn’t really struck me before: the vast majority of people in the UK today have never seen – in circulation – coins bearing a monarch’s head other than that of Queen Elizabeth II. Yet when I was a child living there in pre-decimal days I found coins in my change with George VI’s head, George V, Edward VIII, and Queen Victoria - as well as the shiny new ones starting from 1953 with the ‘new’ Queen’s head. Coins found occasionally on Hong Kong’s battlefields are generally George VI, though of course Hong Kong’s coins also carried the Queen’s head from 1953-1997. And now, the world’s last head of state who actually served in the Second World War is gone.
Addendum: Please see the 10th for an important correction on the identity of BAAG Agent 75 last month.
28 I haven’t previously mentioned the Battle of Hong Kong 1941: A Spatial History Project’s facebook page, but it’s well worth following. There was a particularly interesting story today on the civilian internee exchange ships.
26 I heard today that the Royal Geographical Society Hong Kong’s Gala Dinner 2022 features “The Battle and Occupation of Hong Kong 1941-1945” with guests of honour Philip Cracknell and David Bellis on Saturday, 22 October 2022. 26 The HKVCA’s live event today, on Captain Edmund Lionel Hurd, Royal Rifles of Canada, can be watched here (together with other recordings of previous events).
23 I received two gifts of books today (in both cases I was given the opportunity to read through them and make comments before publication): A Message for Nasty by Rod Fry, and Lost in China by Jennifer Dobbs. I can happily recommend both, and both have been described in earlier months. The former covers Vince Broom’s rescue of his wife and children from occupied Hong Kong, and the latter the death of Francis Dobbs in Causeway Bay in the fighting (and internment of his wife) and the effects on their two young children left behind in wartime mainland China.
22 I spoke to Elizabeth Ride today, for the first time in a while, mainly on the topic of Agent 75. 22 Lance Bombardier John ‘Red’ Bullen came up in conversation with Martin Heyes today, I had forgotten how late his MiD was granted, and why (but the story is covered here).
21 Ian Harrison contacted me again (see January 2022 for details). He and the family are still searching for an oil painting of Mrs Gordon Neve (GSO II Maj. G.E. Neve’s wife) which was presumably on the wall of their Married Accommodation in Hong Kong (most likely, I think, in Victoria Barracks, either the Cassels Block - originally called Block C and today the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre – or Wavell House - now the aviary education centre). It may have been taken by her on the evacuation to Australia, or more likely left behind to be looted during the occupation. Either way it has not been seen since and they would very much like to trace it on the off-chance that it wasn’t destroyed. What I had forgotten was that it was painted by quite an important artist, Frank Cadogan Cowper, and had been exhibited by the Royal Academy in 1930.
20 The Orders and Medals Research Society, HK Branch September Newsletter is now available here.
18 Another Lisbon Maru story here, this time in Shanghai Daily. President Xi has certainly done a good job publicizing the incident.
16 I mentioned some time ago that Perth Academy was working on a video memorial to all their old boys lost in the Second World War. I helped with details and some video footage for John Dickson, lost on the Jeanette. The video has now been completed and can be watched here.
15 Out of respect for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, the virtual event "Lives Lived: Edmund Lionel Hurd" scheduled for Monday, September 19 was postponed to Monday, September 26.
12 I’m back in touch with Bill Stoker, having discovered (primarily thanks to Barbara Davies) that there’s a mistake in my HKVDC documentation. I have Bill Stoker senior listed as IC 7 Platoon, 2 Coy, but in fact he was IC 5 Platoon. (To add to the confusion, this Bill Stoker had a son called Bill Stoker who was a Hong Kong evacuee and later a famous post-war RAF jet fighter pilot, and my contact his that Bill Stoker’s son – also called Bill Stoker!) Bill Stoker kindly sent me a photo of Bill Stoker’s medals.
10 Last month I quoted a book called “Clock Tower Reminiscences” recently published by the Hong Kong Heritage Project, which stated that BAAG Agent 75 was W.H. ‘Hongkie’ Kwan. This is incorrect, and Elizabeth Ride has kindly sent me the following, together with more than sufficient evidence to show that Agent 75 was (of course – and I should have recalled this myself) Francis Lee. She notes: “I am truly sorry to have to pour cold water on the erroneous suggestion that Kwan was ever allocated the number 75. The fact is that my BAAG Register of FIG agents, authenticated by documentary proof, shows that the number 75 was conferred on Francis Lee You-Piu.” The publishers have quite correctly said: “We and the writer would like to extend our apologies for the oversight and will seek to rectify the fault when we reprint the book.” So it will be resolved, which is right and correct. 10 Craig McCourry sent out a new BattleBox film poster today, and also the link to the first-look teaser.
8 Someone pointed me to an old New Zealand newspaper article about Ana Reddish in Stanley. It’s more than 20 years old and has some odd points, but still worth a look. The BBC also has an article about the family. However, this doesn’t mention the son who died immediately after birth, who in fact I don’t seem to have heard of before and is not covered in any documentation that I can find. 8 The HKVCA published their Autumn 2022 Newsletter today. 8 A wartime mine was found and dealt with off Cape D’Aguilar this afternoon. 8 The death of Queen Elizabeth II today was a break in history. She was the last remaining head of state to have served in the Second World War.
7 The Stanley Journal magazine came up in discussion today. It was published in at least 1942 and 43, but no one seems to know how many (irregular) editions there were. I have two copies (or at least their front covers). Does anyone else have any?
3 I have been corresponding again with Yoshiko Tamura of the POW Research Network Japan. I sent her a number of high-resolution photos of POWs in Kobe from the Waldron Collection. Noticing that one of them showed ex-Lisbon Maru POWs at Yoshiwara Seiyu, she kindly sent me an archive photo of the factory. 3 The Lisbon Maru theme continues to reverberate in China, here and here.
1 I heard from RFHG (Researching FEPOW History Group) that “Registration for the 2023 Researching FEPOW History Conference in now open for all former delegates and mailing list subscribers. This gives you a month of early access before registration officially opens on 1st October 2022.” The Registration Form can be found here. 1 I had a welcome email from India asking why Sabir-Ud-Din, 2/14 Punjab, who died 26 November 1942 was missing from my files. It turned out to be a very good question. Eventually I realized that the original CWGC publication for Sai Wan’s Memorial to the Missing that I had worked with 30 or so years ago (when compiling my initial lists of personnel) had been missing an Addenda page which must have been produced later. I tracked it down and found it contained an extra 21 names. Eleven of them were BAAG, and I had them listed elsewhere. One was a post-war interment unrelated to my studies. Four were in my files already from other sources. The remaining five, aside from Sabir-Ud-Din himself, were: Constable A.K. Karamat, HK Police Reserve (Indian Coy), died 11 December 1944. Private Richard James Cox, HKVDC who was killed on 17 December 1941 (and whose brother Charles William Cox of 3 Coy was killed just days later - both were sons of Albert James Cox and Sophie Cox, of Hong Kong.) Gunner Naranjan Singh, 2 Mountain Bty HKSRA, died 28 November 1944. Constable Wali Dad, Hong Kong Police, died 9 February 1944. 1 Following on from last month’s post about the B24s that were lost while repatriating ex-POWs, Iain Gow (son of James Gow, Royal Scots) notes that: “My mother (my dad would talk to her, but, as was the way, not really to us about his experiences), for as long as I can remember always told us that on my dad’s repatriation flight, the bomb bay doors suddenly opened and some FEPOWs fell out. She maintained this was why he had such a fear of heights, even when, say, travelling along in a car on a road with a steep drop beside it. I also found the passage where a similar event was said to have taken place, the aftermath being seen by Kenneth Harrison, a FEPOW from Singapore, but imprisoned in Japan, flying from Okinawa to Manila and described in his book ‘The Brave Japanese’.” Iain kindly attached a scan of the page. Cicero Rozario, HKVDC (in his unpublished memoir), also mentioned that William Doxford, HKVDC, was lost in the same way, and another account said the same for Bombardier Arthur Compton who had been captured in Singapore. However, we know that both these men were in fact lost on Ginny. What makes James Gow’s report so compelling is that he said the bomb bay door incident was on his own aircraft. However, if anyone really was lost in this way they were not ex-HK POWs, as I can account for all of them. But this debate encouraged me to check my sources one more time to see if I could find any passenger manifests for such flights, and I did in NARA RG407 Box104 (illustrated) which was somehow filed under Philippines! Admittedly these appear to be flights concentrating ex-POWs on Okinawa (including Boswell, who once again tells the same story) before further flights to Manila, but even so it implies that somewhere in the NARA archives there may be full manifests (not just the MACRs for the aircraft that were lost) for the onwards route. I’ll find them one day and resolve this once and for all.
September 1st, 2022 Update
Two views of Sancha Peak (courtesy Mark Wilkie), Kenneth Haywood (via Brian Finch)
Yokohama Ceremony (Yoshika Tamura via Tracy Morgan-Humphreys), Denise Wynne with Xi letter (courtesy Denise Wynne and Kent Shum), George Kelling and Jim Fallace (courtesy George Kelling)
Peter Wing (via Battle of Hong Kong Spatial History Project), RN Stone at Wanchai Market (courtesy Tan), Leighton Hill then and now (courtesy HK in Colour)
“Dear Diary: Internment, day seven…” Well, not really, but our short week-long enforced stay in hotel quarantine – after returning from a month’s holiday in the UK - felt a little like it! Obviously it was perfectly safe and comfortable, but being shut in a single room for that short period only increased (with some imagination) the respect I have for those who survived almost four years in camps in unimaginably less comfortable conditions. And that’s also why this month’s entry is a little short compared to most; after leaving quarantine on August 8 it took many days to catch up.
30 I am working on a request from POW Research Network Japan for photos from Osaka #2B (Kobe) camp. We have often co-operated in the past and I am very happy to help.
29 I had a query about British dog-tags in Hong Kong this morning, and thought I’d post it here as there might be general interest. “Starting from 21 August 1914 soldiers were issued with two disks to be worn, one red/brown and one green. They were made of vulcanised asbestos fibre and stamped with the soldier’s number, name, regiment, and religious denomination. In the event that a man was killed, the red tag was to be removed from the body - to be handed to the quartermaster for record keeping - and the green tag left with the body, traditionally placed in the dead soldier’s mouth. But in the heat of battle there was often no time to take tags, or even bury bodies. Bodies left in the open could be disturbed by animals, and these ‘felt’ disks weren’t very robust anyway.” This perhaps partially explains the large number of unknown burials in Hong Kong’s war cemeteries.
28 I began the day with the first of many alerts (examples here and here) from Google mentioning that the Lisbon Maru was in the news. I’ll let Lisbon Maru survivor, Royal Scot Dennis Morley’s daughter Denise Wynne, tell the story: “I have been interviewed because I sent a letter to President Xi requesting a memorial be erected for the POWs who perished during the sinking of the Lisbon Maru and also a memorial for the Very Brave Chinese Fishermen who put their own lives at risk to help rescue the soldiers from the sea. My father always said that if it weren’t for the fishermen he would have died there and then. He wanted a memorial to be erected so that they would never be forgotten and should never be forgotten! I received a letter from President Xi and hopefully a memorial will be erected. I am happy to carry out my late father’s wishes. Kind Regards Denise.” I saw copies of President Xi’s letter, and the Chinese Embassy in the UK also carried the story with a number of nice photos. 28 I received a note from the FEPOW History Group that: “The Show Goes On, goes live on Wednesday 14th September at 10:00 (UK time), looks at the shows which continued to be performed amongst the background of the massive troop movements.”
27 A researcher is looking into the life and death of Victor Zaharoff of the HKVDC RASC Unit. Unfortunately I have yet to come across an eye-witness report of his death, and as far as I know he was simply one of the victims at Eucliffe.
26 Debbie Jiang, a descendant of Kwan Wing Hong (Agent Domus / Agent 75), shared a page from a book called "Clock Tower Reminiscences" recently published by the Hong Kong Heritage Project, about the iconic Clock Tower of the former HQ of the China Light and Power Company (CLP) located on Argyle Street near the intersection with Waterloo Road. “W.H. Kwan, a.k.a. ‘Hongkie’, was born in British Malaya and educated at the University of Cambridge in Britain. He is credited with having designed the modernist Rediffusion Building in Wan Chai and the Hong Kong Telephone building in Tsim Sha Tsui, the tallest building in Kowloon when completed in 1949. During the Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong, W.H. Kwan joined the British Army Aid Group (BAAG) – an underground resistance operation active in south China – as agent Number 75. Despite his many achievements, W.H. Kwan is perhaps better known as the father of Nancy Kwan, the actress famous for her role as Suzie Wong in the Hollywood film.”
25 I was contacted by an Indian journalist researching into the Indian Olympic hockey icon Dhyan Chand’s (illustrated) tenure with the 2/14 Punjab Regiment. Unfortunately I couldn’t help much as he had been posted for officer training before the Japanese invasion and so is not in my files. I also cannot find an authoritative biography of him. As far as I can see he was originally recruited into the 1st Brahmans, which in 1922 became the 4th Battalion of the 1st Punjab Regiment, which was disbanded in 1931. Clearly Chand remained with the Punjab Regiment - but when did he transfer to the 2/14th? 25 Kevin Snowdon has created a brief history of the RAOC in the Far East here.
24On the FEPOW facebook page I noticed a reference to an old story about British POWs being killed when being repatriated on an American B24 shortly after liberation. The story claims that someone accidentally opened the bomb bay doors which they were sitting on. I replied that as far as I know it’s a myth, based loosely on the story of one of the three American B24s that crashed in a typhoon in autumn 1945 while repatriating POWs from Okinawa to Manila. One crashed into a mountain in Taiwan (the father of entertainer Clive James was one of the fatalities), one just disappeared in the sea, and the last was ditched after the POWs were forced to bail out. This one had some survivors, including the pilot who I interviewed many years later. I'm pretty sure that this latter plane is the one that generated the myth. The three were Liquidator, Ginny, and Les Miserables. To my great surprise a gentleman by the name of Mark Wilkie then added: “some additional information on the Liquidator crash. The crash was on 10 September 1945. It’s locally known as the Sancha Mountain Incident. Sancha peak is 3,496m high. The crash site is situated near Jiaming Lake in Southern Taiwan. The crash site is not actually on the peak but a good day’s hike from the peak. To reach the crash site is a three-day hike. Most of the hike is above 3,000m in elevation. The 5 crew, 11 American POWs, 4 Dutch POWs, and 5 Australian POWs all perished in the crash. On 15 September, Formosan aboriginal Bunun hunters reported seeing the crash to officers at Wulu Police Station. On 18 September, the first recovery team of 8 men departed for the crash site. On 27 September, a second team of 89 departed for the crash site. This group consisted of Japanese police and conscripted local Bunan tribesmen. On 30 September, a typhoon hit Taiwan, and 26 members of the recovery team died of exposure high up in the mountains. On 5 October, a third team set off to bury the crash victims in a mass grave, as well as burying the dead from the rescue team. The rescue team members were buried where they fell. They were scattered across the mountainside. It would seem that not all the rescue team victims were located. In 2000 the remains of three were located in a small cave near Jiaming Lake. From weapons and footwear, it appeared the remains belonged to two Bunun tribesmen and a Japanese policeman. The remains of a missing climber were also located at this site. In February 2021, on a university research trip to the site I located the cave and documented the burial. The tragedy of the crash is compounded when one considers that the majority of those that perished in the rescue party were innocent Bunun tribesmen who had been ordered by the Japanese police to assist in the rescue. It would appear that the only compensation the families of these tribesmen received was a bag of rice. In October 1948 the remains of the crew and POWs were disinterred. The Australian and Dutch remains were reburied in Hong Kong. The remains of the Americans were reburied in Missouri… The plane clipped a ridge where the red arrow points. An engine came off at this location. The main impact location is on the opposite ridge below where the purple arrow points. The photo is taken from Sancha peak.” I had heard some of this before, but without a lot of detail, and certainly with nothing to match the photos he generously attached! 24 I was contacted today by a lady writing a book about women at sea in the second world war, asking for details of Violet Hearn, whose husband was in the RAOC and who was evacuated (by sea, naturally) with the other British women and children from Hong Kong to Australia in July 1940. I am in touch with the family and hope to put them together. 24 Tai Hang notes: “TK and I discussed the history of Hong Kong stamps yesterday. The following story of keeping hope in a bad time may be of interest to the readers of your website.” Again I had been vaguely aware of this, but without the details.
23 Tracy Morgan-Humphreys (granddaughter of William Tyner, RAMC, who is buried at Yokohama) reports that: “Yoshiko Tamura at the POW Research Network, Japan is still overwhelming us with her generosity of spirit in remembering us following their annual commemoration on 6th August at the Yokohama War Cemetery”, kindly attaching several photos.
21 Long time correspondent Tan notes that: “I see the stone wall outside old Wanchai Market destroyed! Some stones on the wall marked with IL86 and Navy sign. It should be for the old navy hospital located there. Too bad that they can’t save those historical stones for the work. An air-raid tunnel below Wah Yan College also destroyed by the slope work on there.” I’ll have to go there and take a look myself, because part of that wall also showed clear bullet damage from the Japanese attacking via the nearby ARP tunnels. It would be very unfortunate if they have been lost.
19 The facebook page “Old HK in Colour” had an interesting shot of Happy Valley and Leighton hill then and now today. You can see why Leighton Hill was such a commanding vantage point for Z Company, Middlesex.
17 Mike Babin of the HKVCA let me know that: “Our next virtual event will be on Monday, September 19 at 7:30pm ET here in Canada, which is Tuesday, Sept 20 at 7:30am for you. The topic is ‘Lives Lived: Edmund Lionel Hurd’, and will be presented by his son, Fred Hurd. Capt Hurd was Battalion Quartermaster, RRC. Here’s the registration link. Please feel free to include it in your blog!”
16 I received an email from an Australian local history researcher looking into Valentine Vincent MacDonnell (Stanley internee) of the Import & Export Department (later Customs & Excise) anti-sabotage branch. I knew he had served in the Great War, but learned from them that he had lost two brothers in that conflict in 1917.
15 Today I was able to put two Hong Kong Dockyards families – who had been friends there exactly 60 years ago – back in touch with each other. 15 The Battle of Hong Kong Spatial History Project today featured Peter Wing, probably the only ethnically Chinese member of C Force. They also announced a new project to map the 3 years and 8 months Occupation of Hong Kong.
13 Dave Deptford notes: “As time and tide permit you may be interested in ‘Issy WONG’ via Google and Wiki, a talented female cricketer currently very active in England, and representing same. She is reportedly related to Anderson KIA 19.12.1941 and also to the Nolasco da Silva families.” I am always fascinated to hear about the descendants of the 1941 garrison.
6 It was George Macdonell’s one hundredth birthday today. Debbie Jiang did a good job of getting people together to write best wishes for him on this notice board, and for getting others to record birthday greetings on video (which Eric Brunt turned into this rather good compilation).
2 The great grandson of Sub Shah Muhammad (2/14 Punjab Regiment) got in touch. Shah Muhammad’s brother in law, Akbar Ali, was in Hong Kong too. The latter’s story is straightforward. He was in 17HAA Battery at Brick Hill and was killed there in the Japanese attack of 25 December 1941. But the family tell me that Sub Shah Muhammad never came home, which is odd as I have no record of his death, the CWGC have no entry for him, and the book An End to Tears by Russell Clark (a journalist who arrived with Harcourt’s fleet to relieve Hong Kong in August 1945) mentions him as being alive at that time. Of course there are a number of issues with the records of Hong Kong POWs of Indian regiments. Firstly, there were many men with the same (or almost identical) names, secondly the spelling in army documents was not always accurate, and thirdly the war and the occupation of Hong Kong meant that many records were lost. Having said that, officers such as Shah Muhammad are generally better documented. That book says that he had been sent in 1942 by the Japanese to Canton with 100 men, and was very badly treated. The author also implies that after the liberation of Hong Kong, Sub. Shah Muhammad made a statement about Japanese war crimes to the British authorities. All this clearly implies that he survived the war. We know of course that after Hong Kong was liberated, the surviving Indian ex-POWs were put on board a ship called the Takliwa which ran aground on the Indian coast on 15 October 1945. Official documents state that there were no casualties, but in fact I believe at least four men died. I suppose it is just possible that one might have been Shah Muhammad, but again I think it’s unlikely as documentation of officers is normally quite complete. Yet another mystery, and one more name to look out for until it is resolved.
1 Long-time correspondent George Kelling kindly sent a photo of himself with Jim Fallace of the Lisbon Maru (and famous escape from the islands after its sinking) taken at Eastborne in around 2005. 1 Just too late to be included in July, Brian Finch kindly sent a photo of Kenneth Haywood (Royal Scots, Lisbon Maru) from the latter’s son.
August 1st, 2022 Update
UK Shell case collection (author), Sam Tse letter (via Kenneth Wong), 7 Rajputs flash (author)
Football Club knife (via Oliver Win), RN Tin Hat (via Martin Heyes), Savitsky birthday card (courtesy Michael Martin)
BAAG Anniversary (courtesy 'George Best'), Stanley Police Station (with apologies), Chinese Sappers (courtesy The Battle of Hong Kong 1941: A Spatial History Project)
We spent all but four days of the month in the UK, mainly clearing the North Norfolk house that I grew up in. I was amazed by how much second world war stuff was still there. It included my maternal grandmother’s 1940-45 diaries (they lived in the outskirts of London), ration books, photos, my father’s tin hat, a 1940 shell dressing that my grandfather had from fire watching duties, and so forth. Rather embarrassingly, there was also my teenage collection of shells and shell cases – rather more of them than I had recalled - which eventually went to a local collector of militaria. The other thing that struck me forcibly is how much people used to write to each other pre-Internet! I found sacks of letters going right up to the late 1980s, far more than I’d remembered. Now I never write to anyone, and nor does pretty much everyone else. That’s an enormous amount of primary source lost to future historians.
30 Justin Ho kindly let me know that the medals of Corporal Charles William Standen, RAOC, are for sale.
28 Martin Heyes let us know that a friend of his, at auction, bought a very unusual Hong Kong made steel helmet. The description read: “Extremely Rare Hong Kong Made WW2 British Royal Navy Port Defence Hong Kong Steel Combat Helmet, the helmet is an excellent example overall which retains much of the original green paint finish to the exterior of the shell. Royal Navy decal insignia to the front of the helmet and remains of a painted marking to the rear. The helmet brim is folded over to give it the look of not having a rim, known as a ‘Dutch Fold’, this is a characteristic you find on these Hong Kong made helmets. The helmet is complete with the original liner system which was made by the Chiap Hua Manufacturing Company in Hong Kong and is dated 1941. Helmet has the original chinstrap. The liner dome pad is present but loose. Very few of these Hong Kong made helmets are in existence today and are missing from most of the serious WW2 British helmet collections.”
25 Today I was emailed by someone interested in writing a piece about the eightieth anniversary of the Lisbon Maru. 25 On the Battle of Hong Kong Facebook page “George Best” posted the invitation / menu for the BAAG 10th anniversary dinner of 1942.
21 Michael Martin posted a couple of Stanley drawings by his grandfather, policeman Arseny Savitsky, including a nice 26 August 1945 ‘birthday card’.
20 The Orders and Medals Research Society, Hong Kong Branch held a talk entitled Project Avenger by Craig Mitchell today. It was advertised as: “In 2012 local resident and military historian Craig Mitchell, whilst hiking the hills on HK island, stumbled upon the wreckage of a wartime U.S. Navy plane. Upon investigation, the aircraft was found to be from a U.S. Navy Task Force consisting of no fewer than 10 aircraft carriers engaged in a bombing mission of Japanese-occupied HK on 16 January 1945. This amazing discovery kick-started what became known as ‘Project Avenger.’ Craig initiated a 10-year campaign for funding to research the crash site in Tai Tam; negotiating with the relevant authorities, (including the U.S. Navy’s Heritage Command), and obtaining the required local permits and licences. Much of this activity had to be conducted whilst the city was experiencing both social unrest and restrictions imposed by the Government due to the Covid pandemic. Craig’s team was finally assembled in 2018 and Project Avenger was underway. The team, comprising both local and overseas experts in the fields of archaeology, geographical surveying, orienteering and historical conservation, ‘broke ground’ in 2021. The project became HK’s biggest professional WW2 archaeological study. It was conducted in collaboration with 4 HK universities employing the latest remote sensing technology, high-resolution light detecting and ranging, photogrammetry and cloud technology and ground penetrating radar.”
19 I heard today that Rod Fry’s book A Message for Nasty (original title Snake Boats, the story of Vincent Broom’s rescue of his wife Marie and their four young children from wartime Hong Kong), is due for release on August 28 at the Auckland Writers Festival. The editor notes: “Of those who were children when these events happened, you might be interested to know that Marie Jr is still alive and living in Auckland, Cynthia is alive and living in Vancouver. Vincent Jr died a few years ago. Margaret (the oldest child) died just a few weeks ago in Auckland. The book had been read to her.”
14 QM Coy on Facebook posted a map showing the Volunteer HQ in Hong Kong. That old building (just south of the cathedral) had been knocked down by the time I arrived in HK but it was good to confirm it was where I had been told – on Lower Albert Road. This was the scene of the wartime disaster when a Japanese bomb fell into the miniature rifle range there, killing many Indian soldiers.
13 I had an email today from someone working for Alpha Education in Canada. I came across Alpha quite a few years ago, but found them (at least at that time) to be more anti-Japanese than pro-history and have not really had anything to do with them since. Does anyone know if they have changed?
8 Justin Ho notes that he has found a “A talk by Mandeep Singh (Col., Retd.) regarding the History of the HKSRA. Some contents are informative, but sadly not sourced.”
7 Having seen a newspaper clipping on my site (13 August 2021) about cutlery removed and then returned to Hong Kong Cricket Club by Captain Wilfred Bashford, RAOC, Oliver Win kindly noted: “After reading your article on your website from an old newspaper clip, I reached out to a friend at the club if he could find the knife that was returned by the good Captain. I am pleased to attach a photo of it.”
6 Today I was contacted by the family of Corporal Guy Ralph Taylor, RE, who was on the Lisbon Maru and died on 17.10.42 of bacillary dysentery at Osaka Military Hospital.
5 Jennifer Dobbs kindly sent me the final draft of her book Lost In China. This is the story of how her British father Francis was lost in the Battle of Hong Kong, while American mother Alice was interned in Stanley and Jennifer and her younger brother were left in China for a year before escaping to New York. It’s well written and quite a story. Francis Dobbs (illustrated) is recorded in the list of civilian dead, but his remains were lost.
4 The Orders and Medals Research Society, Hong Kong Branch July Newsletter has been published. 4 A recent Facebook discussion about battlefield finds of shoulder flashes made me dig mine out – a rare 7th Rajput Regiment one, actually found by the late Toby Brown. 4 I was contacted again today by the family of Sam Tse, who worked for the Harbour Department as Chinese assistant lighthouse keeper before and after the Second World War. The family believes that he was evacuated from Waglan Lighthouse on 13 December 1941 by the APV Frosty Moller (a note by Harbour Master James Jolly mentions this evacuation). The question is: Does anyone have details of this evacuation and the list of names of evacuees? We know that Tse was in Macau for the duration (thanks to letters found by Professor S.W. Poon of HKU Faculty of Architecture) and that his services back in Hong Kong were requested soon after liberation. 4 This evening we flew out of Hong Kong for Heathrow. The airport was amazingly quiet. Very strange as I used to fly on business through its bustle almost monthly, and this was my first flight since December 2019.
2 Steve Denton kindly confirmed that Lance Corporal Cecil Joseph Abson, RASC, was on the third draft of POWs to Japan. I had deduced as much because he turned up at Tomano POW Camp there, but the smuggled list made no mention of him being on the draft.
1 The Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society Spring-Summer 2022 newsletter "Never Forgotten" is on their website now.
July 1st, 2022 Update
Propaganda poster (courtesy Mark Hammett), Zimmerns in the HKVDC (from Recollections Of My Life), Military Structures (author)
Two internal shots of Rosary Hill (IRC via Antonio Fragoeiro), The Royal Navu 1941 (The Telegraph)
RBL mini-histories (author), RBL 100th anniversary dinner (courtesy RBL), 229th Memorial in 2009 (author)
1940 saw the forced exodus of thousands of British women and children from Hong Kong to Australia, followed in 1941 by the one hundredth anniversary of the Colony. There have been mass leavings of Hong Kong since, post-1945 for example, then after the 1967 riots, and then prior to 1997. Now we have just experienced – thanks to Hong Kong’s Covid travel restrictions – the biggest exodus of people in my 30+ years here. And tomorrow, 1 July 2022, sees the 25th anniversary of the handover. In those years we have also had the Asian economic crisis, SARS, the 2008 global financial meltdown, Occupy Central, the troubles of 2019, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Say what you like about Hong Kong, but it’s never dull! It’s a good place to study history, because history constantly happens all around you. As I always say to people here: “Don’t worry! This time next year we’ll be talking about a different crisis entirely.” And it’s always true.
27The July Java Journal was published today, but for once didn’t include any Hong Kong stories.
26 Today I received a rather unexpected email from a neighbor in the UK village where I grew up. It turns out their brother in law is a member of the Millington family from Hong Kong. Grandfather Henry Millington and three uncles (Harry Millington, Leslie Millington and Victor Millington) all served in the HKVDC. As both Henry and Harry are officially called Henry James Millington in the files, I had always been a bit confused about them. Now I can confirm that Sergeant Harry Millington was killed in 1 Bty in the defence of Stanley, while Harry senior, Leslie, and Victor all became POWs. Three further siblings (including the mother of the person concerned) were evacuated to Australia with their mother in 1940.
24 Walking with a friend, we were discussing the fact that at the start of the Second World War, the Royal Navy was still the largest and most powerful in the world. I then recalled seeing a sketch (originally created for the Telegraph newspaper) of the whole navy in 1939, including ships expected to be at sea by 1941 but excluding all those already ordered which wouldn’t be launched till ’42 or later. Most of the smaller vessels represent a number of that class (including the Scout class destroyer, with HMS Scout herself oddly enough being in Hong Kong and escaping to Singapore on 8 December 1941). It’s well worth a look. And if you’ve ever seen the gigantic HMS Belfast on display on the Thames in London you might be surprise to see that it wasn’t considered very significant then, and is hidden away in row D at the back (number 15).
22 In an email conversation with David St Maur Sheil (great grandson of Sir Grenville Alabaster) the Kotewall family came up for discussion, and whether the Kotewall sisters were related to ‘the Kotewall who was executed’. I recalled I had a book written by a Kotewall, and I finally found it. It’s called “Recollections of My Life” by Cicely Winifred Zimmern (nee Kotewall, the daughter of Robert and Edith Kotewall). Unfortunately it doesn’t have much about the war years, but does mention Alabaster. It was of course the Kotwall brothers who were executed with BAAG, rather than Kotewall - yet I am sure they were originally all one family! I can’t now recall the cause of the split and name change. But one of the photos in the book is interesting. The original caption says: “The Hong Kong Volunteers, back row: Archie [Zimmern], far right; Ernie [Zimmern], 4th right; Andrew [Zimmern], 4th left.” Although Andrew Zimmern is labelled, I suspect that this is actually Francis and that the photo is of 7 Platoon, 3 Coy. The Kotwalls were in the same company, though different platoon. (The right hand man of the two gentlemen in the middle looks like Alec Itenson to me, also 3 Coy).
21 Justin Ho kindly sent me this article about conserving ‘orphan heritage’ in Hong Kong and Malaysia, looking at British battlefields.
20 Mark Hammett, on a facebook page, posted a photo of a World War Two poster he had in Hong Kong as a child. I had always wondered if the British had any Allied propaganda aimed at showing that China and the UK were aligned against a common enemy, and this is a good example. The Chinese text roughly translates to: British Army, Navy, and Air Force unite with China to fight public enemy.
19 Alexander Kennedy’s book “Full Circle” came up in conversation. I still have two copies (only 500 were printed, so they are good for swaps), and in the discussion we concluded that probably all 500 were signed by the author, as all the ones we possess have that honor. 19 Steve Denton kindly sent me some biographical details of Hong Kong escapee David Bosanquet.
18 Today was the dinner (at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club) in honor of the 100th birthday of the Royal British Legion. It had been postponed a couple of times because of Covid, but went well with around 100 attendees. The usual crowd were there, with Douglas Haig’s great grandniece (who happens to live in HK) being a special guest! Lindsay Ride and Douglas Clague were also honoured for their role in restarting the RBL post-war. The photo above shows (L to R) Captain Albert Lam, Professor Kwong Chi Man, Haig’s great grandniece, author, and Bill Lake. The RBL also kindly gave every attendee copies of four historical booklets: A History of the World War II Veterans Association, A History of the Hong Kong Locally Enlisted Personnel (LEP) Trust, A History of the Royal British Legion Hong Kong & China Branch, and A History of the Hong Kong Ex-Servicemen’s Association. These were all prepared under the direction of Nigel Collett, who was also responsible for their huge Book of Remembrance.
16 I visited Professor Kwong Chi Man at Baptist University today, discussing other maps and data to be added to the Spatial History Project. He kindly gave me a copy of the book “WWII Military Structures of The Southern District”. This is a bilingual and comprehensive account, generously illustrated with colour photos and maps (very handy for any hikers with an interest in the period). We also discussed the fate of the memorial to the Japanese 229th division, which I was shown in Chung Hom Kok around 12 years ago. At the time I wrote: “Visited Chung Hom Kok to investigate rumours of a memorial to Japanese soldiers who blew themselves up at the end of the war rather than be captured. I had heard this story thanks to the kindness of two members of the Hong Kong Club. The truth turned out to be different, but at least equally interesting. It was in fact a ‘Toba’. The exact wording is: ‘Memorial service stave to pray for the repose of the war dead, the foot soldiers' No.229 regiment No. 10 company, for the 50th anniversary. From No 10 company volunteers’. These staves are left at graves or burial sites in a Buddhist ritual 1, 2, 6, 12, and 49 years later (and then 50 years after that, in theory). The question is, are there others like this still dotted around Hong Kong?”
15 Had lunch today at Crown Wine Cellars, courtesy of Greg De’eb. The Little Hong Kong Ordnance Store that the club is housed in is still a great piece of Hong Kong’s heritage. 14 Today I had my traditional annual walk with two friends from Discovery Bay to Silvermine Bay, ending at The Kitchen. Each time we do this I think that I should explore Lantau more, and try to come to grips with its wartime history better.
13 The Researching FEPOW History Group have announced that their next conference, hosted by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), will take place 10 – 11 June 2023. Updates will follow on their website in August. 13 I have Google set up to alert me to any mention of the Lisbon Maru, and received this link today. It’s not bad, but just an old rehash of well-known information, combined with the incorrect (but common) statement that Canadian POWs were on board.
12 Today Antonio Fragoeiro posted a photo – taken in October 1944 - of the Rosary Hill Red Cross Camp, showing many of its inhabitants in their Dining Room. My initial thought was that I hadn’t seen such a photo before, but then I recalled that Vaudine England wrote an article about Rosary Hill in Volume 57 of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong. For some reason I had completely forgotten (which is disappointing, as I am now the editor of that Journal!) It even has the same photo, and 11 more all taken on that same October 1944 date.
9 On eBay, Justin Ho “managed to acquire a postcard supposedly showcasing the HMS Thracian, likely taken between 1925-1930.” It certainly looks like Thracian to me (illustrated).
3 Metal detectorist Timothy Rankin has been finding a lot of ordnance recently. Some looks like expended shrapnel shells, and others have possibly been defused and left, but clearly there’s still lots of potentially dangerous items in the hills.
1 Ken Skelton kindly let me know that the Japanese Marines (in the photo I published here last month) should properly be called their Special Naval Landing Force.
June 1st, 2022 Update
Gilman's Motors and US Bombing Damage (both via 'George Best'), Japanese Marines in HK (courtesy Jon Reid)
Marjory Braga's pass (courtesy Stuart Braga), HMS Tamar book (courtesy Stephen Davies), the Vincent Broom book draft cover (courtesy Awa Press)
On the last day of the month I finished reconciling the causes of POW deaths in JA177, 178, and 179, with my original lists. There were 615 names, and although there was plenty of duplication, and mistakes in names and dates and so forth, I now have a pretty good record with at least 95% of British and Canadian deaths now explained. But the Indian data is much sparser. For example, for the Punjabis alone there are 21 POW deaths with no known grave or cause, and a further 11 with a grave but no cause. My guess is that these men were out of the POW Camp system and its administration. Also, I wonder what happened to the American POWs who died in the camp (generally from the American Merchant Service)? Their deaths are recorded in these documents, but I can’t yet find their graves.
27 I heard today from the family of Private John D. Minhinnett, ASC Unit HKVDC (lost on 22 December 1941) and Private Ronald Douglas Maxwell, 3 Coy, 9 Platoon (lost on 23 December 1941 and uniquely buried in the grounds of St John’s Cathedral).
24 QM Coy posted on the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page: “Prince Tsuneyoshi Takeda of Japan Royal Family visited Hong Kong in January of 1942. He was then Lt. Colonel of IJA during WW2. This picture is seen in the Japanese Pictorial World magazine dated 1st of March, 1942.” I wonder if this was the prince who knew the Price family, who ran a major lumber business in Canada? Scions Major John Herbert Price and Captain Charles Edward Price both served in the Royal Rifles of Canada and at some point early in the occupation the brothers were visited in POW camp by a Japanese prince the family had once hosted in Canada. He asked if there was anything he could do for them. They quite rightly refused help themselves, but asked for medical assistance for Major Charles Boxer who otherwise would have lost the use of his arm.
23 Ron Taylor in the UK posted this link to an interesting interview with Robert Barter, Royal Rifles of Canada.
21 Justin Ho pointed out that as well as the HMS Cicala Christmas Card (see last month) an HMS Rainbow card is now on eBay too. This rather implies that these cards were normal practice, at least in this time and place, and thus it should be possible to find similar for Thracian, Tern, etc. (Rainbow was one of HMS Medway’s submarines, which left HK in 1940. The boat was lost during the war when rammed by an Italian merchantman).
20 Francis Cheung kindly sent this video link to Professor Kwong Chi Man talking about the 1941年香港戰役空間史研究計劃 The Battle of Hong Kong 1941: A Spatial History Project (in Cantonese).
19 One of the unsettling discoveries from JA177: two Royal Rifles of Canada riflemen, who died of diphtheria just one day apart: Allen Benjamin Welsh, died 07 October 1942 aged 29 (son of Ruben and Sarah Welsh, of Entry Island, Magdalen Islands, Province of Quebec), and Delbert William Louis Welsh, died 06 October 1942 aged 21 (son of Philip and Hester Welsh, of Entry Island, Magdalen Islands, Province of Quebec; step-son of Leonard Chanell, of Entry Island). Entry Island is just a little fishing island which even in those days couldn’t have had a population much more than a couple of hundred. They must have been from the same family.
16 QM Coy posted an interesting magazine article about Phyllis Harrop (including a photo) on the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page. I have seen her signature on a number of documents in the PRO in London, so clearly she had some sort of governmental job after returning to London, but I have yet to learn the details.
14 I heard today the welcome news that the book covering the story of Vincent Broom’s rescue of his wife Marie and their four young childrenfrom wartime Hong Kong should soon be published.
13 Apparently the Sir Mark Rylance episode of “My Grandfather’s War” was broadcast in the States today, and I received several emails commenting on it.
11 Stephen Davies’s book Transport to Another World: HMS Tamar and the Sinews of Empire is now available.
9 Regular readers of this site will be well aware that during the construction of the new tunnel for the Sha Tin to Central link, no fewer than three unexploded American 1,000 pound bombs were uncovered. One is now on show at Exhibition Station, and several people sent me their photos of it. 9 I came across another relevant facebook page today: Hong Kong Veterans Tribute.
8 Robert Parkinson’s (Royal Navy, Lisbon Maru) grandson got in touch. He notes: “My Grandad wrote a short account of his experiences on the Lisbon Maru and I wondered if you would be interested in reading it? He mentioned his life being saved, by someone called Casterton, though doesn't state which service he was from unfortunately. I had heard the story from my Grandad about him being hauled out the water by someone on many occasions and seem to recall him saying that his rescuer was Canadian, but that could be my memory playing tricks on me.” In fact it was seaman Gunner Reginald Gaze Castleton HKRNVR who was born in TsingTao, China 16 September 1909. Unfortunately I don’t know what nationality he claimed (though he was certainly in Canada at some stage), I just know where he was in the fighting for Hong Kong, and that his wife and either one or two children were evacuated from HK to Australia in 1940 (I suspect it was one child, and his wife was pregnant and had a second in Oz). Castleton had worked as an assistant at Butterfield & Swire in HK before the war, and survived till liberation. He passed away on 30 November 1950 in The General Hospital, Saffron Walden, Essex, England. Parkinson’s account read, in part: “After swimming around for a while, I teamed up with an Able Seaman named Chilcroft who I think was a Londoner. We had a small piece of wood between us and we seemed to be making headway towards a group of islands. Some fantastic things happened during our long spell swimming. I remember seeing a raft with a bloke called Mickey Miles of the Scots sitting in the middle with about 10 others hanging on to the sides. He was singing ‘Pull for the Shore Boys’. Two other chaps both former members of the Royal Navy water polo team were throwing a water bottle to each other as if they were warming up before a match. Incidentally both were never seen again. After another period of time Chilcroft and I joined up with a fellow called Casterton and a WO Jupp of the HKRNVR who had a hatch board.” Neither Chilcraft (his actual name, he was on HMS Cicala) nor Jupp survived.
6 Stuart Braga notes: “Have you ever wondered what happened to the silk top hat worn by Sir Mark Young? No? Well here is the answer. It may be an invention, but you never know.” He included a newspaper clipping quoting Bob Hammond as saying that, a few days after the fighting ceased in Kowloon, he saw a dustman dressed in rags, but with the Governor’s hat on his head! “I note that the American, Bob Hammond laughed. A British subject, if any had not yet been rounded up, is more likely to have been scandalised in that era. Hammond’s memoirs strike me as being exaggerated at several points. I am going through a box of papers from my uncle, Tony Braga, who kept an incomplete file of the historical series that the ‘Post’ used to put out from time to time.”
5 Local battlefield guide Martin Heyes has been accepted into the Guild of Battlefield Guides, and has the tie (illustrated) to prove it! He notes: “Nice tie…not when I will ever get to wear it though!”
4 Geoff Pickard notes: “Forgive me for contacting you but I spotted your email address whilst researching the sinking of the Lisbon Maru. I do have a small piece of background information about one of its tragic victims: D/MX 53857 Leading Sick Berth Attendant Ronald Howson RN. As a small boy in the 1970s I would visit our local cemetery with my family to pay respects at my grandfather’s grave. Directly on the row behind was a family plot to the Howson family. Very often Ronald’s father, Mr Howson, would be there and place chrysanthemums on the grave. My father would tell me that Mr Howson’s son died in WW2 as a POW. There is an inscription on the headstone which states ‘Our Beloved son Ronald Howson Died as a prisoner of war whilst in Japanese hands’, followed by the date of death. The plot was always immaculately kept and all year round there would be a big display of chrysanthemums on it. The choice of the most Japanese of flowers was very poignant and moving. Why he chose it we can only speculate all these years on. It must have been particularly hard for him to lose his only son, because also named on the headstone is his daughter who was killed in an accident in childhood before the war. When we saw him he was also already widowed but would go on to reach 98 years of age. The headstone was laid down a few years back by our local council along with many others on the grounds of health and safety. Now exposed to the weather, in time the wording will fade away. The grave does not now seem to be visited and I do not know if there are any family descendants who survive in the area to pay for the headstone to be returned to its correct upright position. I intend to make inquiries and if it’s possible would pay for it myself in honour of Ronald and his father.” The cemetery is in the village of Brierley in Yorkshire.
3 Stuart Braga notes: “You are probably aware of the passes issued to about 600 people, including many members of the Braga family, early in 1942. I did not think that any had survived until my cousin Maurice Braga in Cornwall sent me photo of his mother's pass which he found recently in her papers. Have you seen one of these passes?” Actually I had not, and he very kindly sent me copies. These were issued by Francisco Soares, Hong Kong's acting Portuguese Consul. I believe they would have permitted travel to Macau. 3 The Alabaster book is finally in – at least some of - Hong Kong book stores! 3 Jon Reid in Canada sent me a fascinating photo, asking where it was taken. I was a bit put off by the fact that it clearly shows Japanese marines, so reached out to Kwong Chi Man who identified the location as the Kadoorie familyhouse at Kadoorie Beach near Tuen Mun.
2 Sandy Wynd was kindly also looking for information on Michael Hyde, and in his researches: “drew a blank but I did find a three part series of the memories of Jock Morrison of HSBC who escaped occupied Hong Kong. Nothing really new – but what a great story.” The three articles can be seen here, here, and here.
1 ‘George Best’ posted two interesting photos of Wanchai and the scene around Gilman’s Motors (Monkey Stewart’s forward HQ in the defence of that area). They show the same pillbox, with one photo being taken immediately post-war demonstrating the American bombing damage very well. 1 I have been wading through the POW causes of death in JA177, 178, and 179 (see last month) and updating my records accordingly. I have found just five that I cannot reconcile with my garrison records: Ram Singh, 23.8.44, concussion of the brain. Fateh Mohd, 26.5.42, Punjabis, appendicitis. Thakur Singh,15.6.42, aged 55, TB. Abdullah, 15.3.43, bronchial pneumonia, wet pleurisy. Ibrahim, 10.12.43, amoebic dysentery. 1 There are a number of cases of fathers and sons both being lost in Hong Kong, and I identified one more today: Private Frederick Austin Rapp, Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps R.A.S.C. Coy, died 22 December 1941 (so presumably the massacre), and Private Frederick Christian Rapp, Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps, died 12 August 1942 aged 59. Trying to research the family I see in the Rosary Hill files under lists of ‘Eurasian and British Subject by Marriage’ a Mrs Catherine Winnie Rapp (Fred junior’s mother, and senior’s wife. Constance Gertrude Rapp and Donald Christian Rapp are also listed as ‘Eurasian Race but unknown nationality’ – presumably Fred junior’s siblings? But then who was ‘A Rapp’, listed by the CWGC as a wartime civilian fatality? Theoretically I have all the Death Certificates for the period, but not this one. 1 Brian Edgar very kindly sorted out the Michael Edward Hyde question (see last month). Probate records show that Michael Edward Hyde of Corunna Barracks at Aldershot Hampshire died on 6 May 1958 at Wheatley Military Hospital Oxfordshire leaving effects of £9147, 5s, 1d Administration to George Nether Burgess (a builder – Michael’s mother’s maiden name was Burgess). He kindly attached two newspaper reports: Headline: Death of Officer Shot on Range. Lieutenant Michael Edward Hyde, aged 20, of The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, died yesterday in the Wheatley Military Hospital, Oxfordshire, from gunshot wounds in the head. On March 20 on the rifle range at Aldershot he was struck in the head by a ricocheting bullet. His home was at Meadows Cottage, Staplefield, Sussex. (The Times, Wednesday 7 May 1958). Headline: Coroner to Protest to War Office. The Oxford coroner, Mr Harold Franklin, waited an hour yesterday for a number of the Army witnesses summoned to attend an inquest. Finally he had a call put through to Aldershot. He was told that the Aldershot police had been asked to inform him that the men were flown to Cyprus at short notice. Adjourning for a month an inquest on 2nd Lieut. Michael E. Hyde, 20, of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, attached to the Parachute Regiment, the coroner said he would protest to the War Office at not being informed that the witnesses were unavailable. Lieut. Hyde died in Wheatley Military Hospital, near Oxford, after being shot in the head during firing practice at Aldershot. (News Chronicle, Thursday 19 June 1958). The key point was the address: this was Lady Grayburn’s UK address, which implies that the adoption of Michael was not just for the duration of the war at Stanley, but continued post-war in England. 1 A number of wartime explosive devices were found this month, this one reported under the name “Bomb Hunter”.
May 1st, 2022 Update
HMS Cicala (via eBay, courtesy George Boote), 13mm examples, Life and the Press poster (both author)
Little Boy pit on Tinian (via Internet), HKPOWA badge (courtesy Fender Taylor), HKPOWA newsletter (author)
Hongkong sappers (via Kwong Chi Man), Ishitake (courtesy The Battle of Hong Kong 1941: A Spatial History Project), HMS Ruler (author's collection)
The depth of outrage I felt when President Putin, simply to feed his imperial fantasies, ordered the invasion of Ukraine is interesting. Growing up after the Second World War it always seemed that that conflict – a fixed part of our shared history - must have been inevitable, but of course it was not - and people living at that time were probably just as outraged as I am now. Full-scale warfare like this has no place in the twenty-first century.
29 Mucking around on the web I came across a ’new’ photo of Little Boy in Hiroshima Pit #1 which I thought worth sharing.
26 This evening saw the 2022 Annual General Meeting of the Royal Asiatic Society, Hong Kong. The highlight for me was Dr Colin Day’s presentation on the history of the Ride Fund and the 35+ essential books on Hong Kong history which it has so far helped sponsor, and which would probably never have been published in its absence. I have been lightly or heavily involved in many of them – as many cover the war years one way or another - and the full list (constantly updated as new titles are added) can be seen here.
25 Stuart Braga (the well-known academic and historian) in Australia kindly let me know that: “I was pleased to see the Hong Kong Volunteers in today’s Anzac Day March in Sydney. They were led for many years by Dr Solomon Bard, that truly outstanding man who made an enormous contribution to so many aspects of life in Hong Kong. I feared that his passing might mean the end of their participation, but there would have been between 12 and 15 beneath the banner today. It bears, as you probably know, the Battle Honours of Hong Kong, Stanley, Wong Nei Chong Gap and Repulse Bay. I hope that I am not the only person today who knew something of the grim significance of those names.” 25 I helped my wife take some things to work at Jardine’s Lookout and then walked back (as I quite often do) via Sir Cecil’s Ride and Black’s Link. Near the eastern end of Black’s Link I passed – yet again – an odd spanner-shaped steel device stuck in the concrete (illustrated). Some time ago I saw a photo of something very similar in the UK which was identified as part of an old rifle range.
23 Harold Downing’s family (see below) kindly sent me some pages from his memoires. The pages they selected covered the sinking of the Lisbon Maru, and it’s interesting that yet again he described the kindness of the Japanese navy in stark contrast to the army. 23 Reading (and enjoying) Kwong Chi Man’s new book “Hongkongers in the British Armed Forces 1860-1997”, I couldn’t resist copying a photo of Hong Kong Sappers of the Royal Engineers shortly before the war.
22 Every now and then that well known photo of HKVDC ex-POWs being brought to HK from Australia on HMS Ruler surfaces, and I am able to refine the names again. I now have: Front Row, L to R: Gunner Douglas Geoffrey Allen, Gunner Barry O’Meare Deane, Signalman James Joseph King, Private Bill Lowe, Lance Corporal Edgar George Mathias, Private Walter Duffield, Gunner John Ken Fitzhenry, Gunner George Ronald Ross, Private Alan Esra Goldenberg. 2nd Row, L to R: Sergeant Ernest Hillas Williams, Soos Knox, Lance Corporal Lyall James Glendinning, Gunner Ernest Oswald Butler, Silo Fisher, Private John Kempton, Private Freddie J.D. Clemo, Signalman Charles Barry Le Patourel, Private Douglas G. Day, Private William Murray Wilson, Private Douglas Haig Hamilton, Private Kenneth Lynn Keen. 3rd Row, L to R: Jim Fisher, ...?..., CQMS Edward Fincher, CSM Victor Harold White, Warrant Officer Fred Arthur Fabel, Sergeant Robert John V. Everest, CQMS Leonard Sykes, Private Anthony Wilfred Lapsley, Private Robert Henry Lapsley. 4th Row, L to R: Corporal George Cottrell, Private Arthur Cecil Tinson, Private Fred Cullen, Private Ernest Allen Fowler, Private William Graham Lamb, Private Reggie Thomas Broadbridge, Private Victor Charles Bond, Private Ferdinand Lapsley, Private Charles Joseph Manson, Private Brian Hailstone, Charles Tandien?, Private Boris Gellman, Private Herbert Otto Kees, Private Leslie Fred Coxhill. 5th Row, L to R: ...?..., Gunner Norman Mackenzie, Signalman Albert William Rowe, Private Ian Gordon Dixon, Private Alfred Leonard Eastman, Lance Corporal Norman Broadbridge, Sergeant George Dodds, CSM Leslie Charles Millington, Private John W. McDonald, Private Eric Neville Matthews, Private Raymond Walter Smith. I am not sure if ‘Soos’ Knox was Corporal William Thomas Knox or Private Douglas Haig Knox. ‘Silo’ Fisher and ‘Jim’ Fisher could be any two of Private Edward Joseph Fisher, Private John Arthur Fisher, or Private William Diego Fisher. ‘Charles Tandien’ might be Gunner Edward Tandy. Note that Norman Mackenzie was a professor, and Ernest Hillas Williams was a famous judge! 22 William Shaw’s (Stanley Internee) family got in touch. I was able to provide them with the circumstances of Mr Shaw’s death but as I have had no reply I assume that – yet again – my email is holidaying somewhere in their spam folder!
19 On the Facebook Battle of Hong Kong page, Fender Taylor posted a photo of the Hong Kong POW Association badge. I don’t recall much about that Association, except that Arthur Gomes wrote a monthly newsletter for it until shortly before his death. I have around a hundred copies, mostly kindly supplied by Jennifer Dobbs, and in some ways these monthly updates on my site keeps this going. 19 I had a very interesting email from the Broaddus family in the States today. The Broaddus’s were a family of missionaries based in Hong Kong. An American citizen, Mr Emmett Broaddus’s second wife was Canadian (his first wife Margaret died very young in 1930 and is buried in Happy Valley), so apparently she and their many children were evacuated as ‘British’ citizens in July 1940. But they elected to stay in the Philippines and were thus interned in Santo Tomas. Emmett stayed behind in Hong Kong, and ill health caught up with him shortly after the invasion. I was fascinated by the fact that I had never come across his name until now, even though he died during the Occupation. I have put them in touch with an expert on Santo Tomas who can hopefully answer their questions.
15The Battle of Hong Kong 1941: A Spatial History Project is growing by leaps and bounds. Recently they have started publishing fascinating images from the diary of Sergeant Shiro Ishitake of the Artillery of the Imperial Japanese Army. They note: “The first page of the album shows the photographs of the owner of the album, Shiro Ishitake, a Sergeant Major of the Imperial Japanese Army. The photos were taken in August 1942 and Jan 1943, both in Beian, Heilongjiang, Manchukuo (now part of China). We know very little about his life before the war and what happened to him after January, except that he belonged to the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment (1FeA), part of the 1st Heavy Artillery Group (thereafter as 1AG) during the period covered by the album. On closer inspection, however, the erased cover shows that it is ‘volume two’ of his album. Given the fact that he is already a Sergeant Major when he joined 1FeA, it is of little doubt that Ishitake served before 1940.”
12 In recent weeks while coming up the Mid-Levels escalator I have noticed a large sign advertising an exhibition called ‘Life and press under the Japanese Occupation’. I took a photograph today. Unfortunately it gives no real details, but sounds interesting. The location is the HKNE on the south side of Bridges Street. 12 Royal Rifles of Canada veteran Hormidas Fredette celebrated his 105th birthday today, an event fortunately captured by CBC.
11 Tan and his fellow researchers have kindly released their excellent Gin Drinkers Line book. 11 Fellow researcher Steve Denton has found a very useful document comprehensively showing causes of death for POWs in Hong Kong. The first section covers these few: MacCulloch, David M. Corporal 7588090 K 9.1.45 Brain embolism Williams, Herbert J. SSM S/13005 12 Coy K 16.1.45 Heart failure / malaria Lumby, Walter Ernest Private BRH K 17.1.45 Hardening of liver Munshi Khan Jem 3169 HKSRA U 21.1.45 Forehead crushed Mubarak Ali Gunner 5240 K 21.1.45 Chest injuries / heart Goldman, Harry Chief Eng. US Merch Serv UX 18.2.45 Arteriosclerosis Sukh Ram Singh Sepoy 13854 MiD K 28.2.45 Fracture of cranium Cullen, Fred Solomon Private 64 BRH K 2.3.45 Hardening of liver Bala Singh Sepoy 7232 K 26.3.45 Bullet wound in head Hansen, Thornwald Sailor Suicide (haemorrhage) Sheo Raj Singh Sepoy 14445 K 6.4.45 GSW in abdomen Sai Khan Sepoy 18821 K 5.6.45 Pulmonary TB I just had ‘Cirrhosis of Liver’ for poor Lumby, and ‘Killed in air raid (WMH or Matilda Hospital)’ for the unfortunate Munshi Khan (which both fit well), but nothing solid for the others. I didn’t even have a date of death for Mr Hansen. Later Steve sent me the whole file, but it will take a while for me to reconcile the entries with my own records as there are several hundred of them. Very welcome nevertheless, especially as they confirm the names of 15 forgotten Indian soldiers killed when the USAAF bombed the Hong Kong docks on 1 December 1943. But I have to admit that some of it makes for very miserable reading, such as the case of 19 year old Rifleman Gordon Garnet Kellaway of the Royal Rifles of Canada who was wounded in the fighting (gunshot wound to leg and rectum), admitted to Queen Mary Hospital on 28 December 1941, and died of blood poisoning on 18 March 1942
10 Today a Japanese mortar bomb was found (and three more turned up later in the month). According to one source: “When Japanese forces were about to assault Hong Kong Island on the evening of 18 December 1941, the 21st Mortar Battalion was deployed near Devil's Peak to shell Chai Wan and Aldrich Bay. The unit was equipped with Type 94 Mortar (90.5mm). It is possible that the bomb was one of the many fired by this unit.” 10 This afternoon the Hong Kong Maritime Museum hosted a Zoom seminar by Geoffrey Charles Emerson entitled ‘Hong Kong Internment, 1942-1945: Life in the Japanese Civilian Camp at Stanley’. They note: “2021 marks the 90th anniversary of the Mukden Incident, as well as the 80th anniversary of the Asia-Pacific War, and the devastating dark period of the Fall of Hong Kong during the Japanese Occupation, also named as “Three Years and Eight Months”, a metonym of the occupation. Starting from November 2021 to May 2022, the Hong Kong Maritime Museum will organize a series of seven talks using cross-disciplinary approaches and various perspectives such as war-related historical sites, archives, oral history, medical science, history, visual culture, literature, and film to reveal more about this neglected Hong Kong history. In addition, this talk series will be the prelude to the new special exhibition entitled ‘Hong Kong’s Maritime Miracle: The Story of Our City Since 1945’ organized in mid-2022, that will introduce the rebirth of this port city and her development after World War II.” Unfortunately they don’t yet appear to have put Geoff’s presentation online.
9 My collection of POW Index Cards for Chinese personnel released from Shamshuipo is growing. Corporal Lau Sheung Lai, HKVDC 960, and Gunner Hoy Lee, 8 Coast Regt RA 5112 were kindly added this month.
5 Steve Denton in the UK has been trying to discover, among other things, the oldest POW in Hong Kong. For a while William Forrster, Master Mariner, born 17 March 1876 looked like the record holder, but now we think it may well be Thomas Jones, Master Mariner, born 5 June 1873. On a personal note it’s amazing to me that I used to know quite a lot of ex-POWs, yet their oldest member appears to have been born 13 years before the first car was built! History contracts as one ages. 5 Florence Eileen Hyde’s (nee Burgess, Stanley internee) family got in touch. Florence was married to Charles Hyde. The story is well known: both died in Stanley, and their son Michael was adopted in camp by Lady Grayburn. But they would like to know what happened to Michael between leaving Stanley at Liberation, and his accidental death on national service.
4 Lance Corporal Harold Downing’s (Royal Scots, Lisbon Maru) son-in-law got in touch. He notes: “an unpublished book has come into my possession. It is the wartime account of [H Downing] who was captured in Hong Kong and was aboard the Lisbon Maru, and was one of the survivors. The account, which is of his wartime experience, is very anodyne, but nonetheless you may be interested in some of the extracts from his book. It bears the title ‘The Road to Kobe House by F.E.P.O.W. 283’.” 4 Sylvio Sylvester Souza’s (HKVDC) daughter got in touch.
3 Unfortunately I didn’t get early notice, but today the HKVCA advertised an event entitled ‘GANDER in Hong Kong’ for the 18th. They note: “Gander was a large, black Newfoundland dog who struck fear into the Japanese soldiers attacking his human companions in Hong Kong in December 1941. Gander was not only fearsome to look at, but every bit as brave as the Canadian soldiers he went into battle with. Together, against a vastly superior force, they demonstrated the determination and grit of Canadians in battle. George MacDonell, one of only four living Canadian veterans of the Battle of Hong Kong, and writer/researcher Sue Beard tell the fascinating story of this most unusual soldier.” Fortunately it was recorded and can be watched here.
1 Someone reported finding a Japanese 13mm bullet. These turn up from time to time (I think I’ve seen four or five) and are often mistaken for American .50-cals. The key differences are that the Japanese rifling goes counterclockwise rather than clockwise, the 13mm has no (or virtually no) cannelure whereas the .50-cal has one (or sometimes two) clear ones, and the 13mm is slightly longer.
April 1st, 2022 Update
Collossus Hangar deck (via Antonio Fragoeiro), Cohen grave (Joe King, via Bill Lake), PB29 (courtesy Ricci College, HKU)
Ferguson POW Index Card (author's collection), Steenwijk POW Index Card (via Justin Ho), Devonshire autograph (courtesy Sheila Forsyth)
Japanese HK medals (Chao Hui, via facebook), Alabaster book (author), Britnell & Stanton (author's collection)
I’m pleased to say that The Battle of Hong Kong 1941: A Spatial History Project was the winner of the Digital Humanities Awards in the category Best DH Data Visualization. The reason I think this is so important is that books, by definition, are static. Once they are published, they can never evolve. But the database approach used in this project allows data to be constantly added to, corrected, and refined. In practice it creates a dynamic repository of knowledge which will only grow and evolve over time, modelling and representing the Battle of Hong Kong better and more completely than could possibly be allowed by any other approach. It will become the dynamic interactive encyclopedia of the battle, and many other theatres may follow its lead.
29 The Royal British Legion (Hong Kong & China Branch) kindly sent me a copy of their latest revision of Volume 3 of the Branch’s Book of Remembrance.
25 I have been helping a TV company with photos for a film about Hong Kong POW Harry Odell, HKRNVR.
23 I had a very interesting email from Eursal Kaine’s (Winnipeg Grenadiers) daughter who I met in 2000 when she and others visited Hong Kong. She notes: “I am working on the story of my father, his brother, and as it turns out several cousins and relatives in the Hong Kong battle and POW in Japan. My dad was Eursal Kaine, Platoon 17 D Company RRC, (E30003) and his brother John (E30211). And as you probably know, there were a large number of men from the Mann Settlement area in Quebec who were all related (Irvines, Lyons, Mann, and Kaines) in some way. Over 30 as far as I can tell. My father was wounded (head and leg) on the last battle in the Stanley Cemetery on Christmas Day (I recall you pointing out grave markers there), and was in hospital for over a year, was only in Sham Shui Po for a few weeks before he was sent to Japan. I have a few interesting things from his time in Japan. As you mentioned, there were a lot of little diaries from those days. I have three. One is a hand-made affair with a cardboard cover and a shoestring binding, another is a small maroon soft-covered notebook and another is one of the autograph books you mentioned. I have typed out the contents of these if you are interested in them at some point… He and John were on the Tatuta Maru draft in January 1943, and they ended up in Omine… John was injured in a mine cave-in and was a paraplegic for the rest of his life. My Dad used to have to carry him around the camp on his back.” Eursal’s head injuries were severe; he was taken to Queen Mary Hospital three days after the battle, where he had surgery to insert metal plates into his skull. He was moved to Bowen Road Hospital on 21 January 1942 and stayed there (with other seriously wounded men) until 26 November of that year when he was finally moved to Shamshuipo. The autograph book contains identified entries from: Captain Ernest Harry Padwick, Hongkong Dockyard Defence Corps (HKDDC) Captain Joseph Charles Gavey, Royal Rifles of Canada Private William E.F. Collins, RAMC A.B. Samuel MacQuay, Royal Navy (served aboard the destroyer HMS Thracian) Private Edward Thomas Johnson, Winnipeg Grenadiers, died 25.2.44 in Japan CSM James Thomas Emo, Canadian Provost Corps Staff Sergeant Charles Albert Clark, Canadian Postal Corps Private Isaac Sanderson, Winnipeg Grenadiers Private Harvey Lawrence Berry, Winnipeg Grenadiers Corporal Clarence Earl Burgess, RCOC Private John Spikula Smith, Winnipeg Grenadiers Rifleman Raymond Elliott, Royal Rifles of Canada Captain Charles Edward Price, Royal Rifles of Canada Rifleman Reginald Samuel Taylor, Royal Rifles of Canada. Died 23.12.43 in Japan. CERA Ernest Richard Morris, RN (served on HMS Thracian) Lieutenant Richard Queens-Hughes, Winnipeg Grenadiers Lance Corporal Leslie Caulfield-Kerney, C Coy, 1st Battalion Middlesex Regt. Corporal Albert Devonshire, Middlesex (whose helmet was found in HK last year) Rifleman Percy H. Wilmot, Royal Rifles of Canada Rifleman Seymour G. Allison, Royal Rifles of Canada Corporal George Nelson Peterson, Winnipeg Grenadiers. Sergeant Lancelot Ross, Royal Rifles of Canada Rifleman Valmont Lebouef, Royal Rifles of Canada Private Herbert Bowman, Winnipeg Grenadiers Rifleman Matthew D. MacKenzie, Royal Rifles of Canada (lost an arm at Stanley) Leading Seaman Robert Edward Halfyard, RN, HMS Thracian, died 2.6.43 Rifleman Louis Brown, Royal Rifles of Canada Marine Fred Moxham, Royal Marines Sub-Lieutenant Walter Nash, HKRNVR Private Reginald Joseph Banks, HKDDC Lance Corporal George Thomson, Corps of Military Police Private John Glassey, Royal Scots Sergeant William Dyson Hawke, Royal Rifles of Canada Rifleman James Richard Patterson, Royal Rifles of Canada Lance Sergeant Alan Everest Murray, RAPC Private Leslie Robert Gregory, HKVDC Private James Keddie, Royal Scots SPO Albert John James, RN, HMS Tamar Corporal Oliver Ray Sauson, Royal Rifles of Canada CQMS Thomas William Smith, Royal Rifles of Canada Randy Steele, Royal Rifles of Canada Rifleman Harold Albert Baker, Royal Rifles of Canada Along with many sketches and ditties. 23 My “author’s” copies of “More Than 1001 Days and Nights of Hong Kong Internment” arrived today. It is available from HKUP.
22 Today Martin Heyes and Julien Lehoux gave an online presentation to the HKVCA. It was entitled ‘The WW II Civilian Internment in Hong Kong’ and described as: “Beginning in December 1941 well over 100,000 Allied civilians across China and Southeast Asia were taken prisoner by the Japanese, including entire families. Although at the outset these civilians were in general not treated quite as harshly as were military POWs, their internment was extremely unpleasant, and for many, deteriorated drastically later in the war. Some 2,800 civilians, among them a number of Canadians, were interned in Hong Kong. Our two speakers, Martin Heyes of Hong Kong and Julien Lehoux of Montreal, will tell you about Hong Kong’s civilian internees and how they lived during their imprisonment, the complex negotiations to repatriate the Canadians among them, and the impacts on their lives after their return to Canada.” I heard very good feedback about it (but I’m not going to tell them that!) A recording can be watched here.
20 Justin Ho sent me a fascinating photo of a 1937 kit inspection at Shamshuipo Barracks. I think it might be of wide interest to modern researchers for the details it includes (illustrated). 20 Antonio Fragoeiro posted a well-known photograph, but in high-resolution and colourised. He notes: “One of the interior decks of HMS Colossus, prepared for housing former allied POWs. Aboard on arrival in Hong Kong, were also Portuguese ‘SSVF’ (Straits Settlements Volunteer Force) and ‘HKVDC’ elements. An original photograph by Teresa da Rosa, now enhanced and colorized.” I have a copy of the black and white original, but this version is far better. The carrier was of course used to bring liberated POWs back from Japan. 20 Bill Lake kindly forwarded two interesting ‘then and now’ videos, here and here, and a colourised version of the famous Japanese film of the invasion of Hong Kong. The colours really bring it to life! Who was the mystery Scotsman filmed marching? Bill believes he may have been an engineer captured at the Kowloon Reservoir.
19 My arrival anniversary. It was 33 years ago today that I moved permanently to Hong Kong (having previously only visited the then Colony once, in 1987). Today when meeting young Hong Kong people I confess I get a great deal of childish delight, when asked “How long have you lived here?”, by answering: “Longer than you!”
18 Jessica Park (and Gordon Andreasand) very kindly sent me a soft copy “of the original Winged Dragon originally published in hardback in 1996 and now republished as a PDF just at the end of last year”. Of course I have a hardcopy somewhere, but my office is such a mess (compared to everyone else’s except, obviously, the infamous Professor Kwong’s!) that I can’t find anything - and thus a soft copy is far more practical.
17 Alex Macdonald had a query about the Mulvaney brothers (Leonard and Thomas of the Winnipeg Grenadiers). “According to a post from Winnipeg Free Press dated 19 Oct 1946 it was reported that on 8 Mar 1943 Leonard carried his brother Thomas into a Japanese Prison Camp Hospital at Hong Kong.” He would like to know why. I am sure that the Shamshuipo medical records survived the war, but unfortunately I don’t have them. 17 Philip Cracknell wrote a blog about Brigadier Cedric Wallis today. One day I’d like to write a full biography of him!
14 I saw this, with the attached photo, on facebook: “Aside from the dedication and excellence in sports, Riccians are also passionate in heritage conservation. A team of Riccians, while abiding strictly by the pandemic countermeasures, made an expedition to Pillbox 29, Tai Tam Bay to assist conservation work. Professor Lawrence Wai-chung Lai (Riccian 1978), of HKU’s Department of Real Estate and Construction, and his team have devoted himself to the study of Hong Kong’s military relics. Pillbox 29, as part of the coastal defense system during the Battle of Hong Kong, was deserted, and the pathways nearby have been obscured by overgrown vines and weeds. In light of this, Riccians took up the initiative to conserve the site, thereby, also has ensured tourists’ safety. Professor Lai , Mr Nixon Tit-hei Leung (Riccian 2011) and other experts also stressed the value of these monuments and the importance of heritage conservation. It is hoped that Riccians’ efforts would inspire others to follow and participate in heritage conservation efforts, playing their part in passing the baton to following generations.” Text: Sam Liu (Riccian 2021), Jeffery Wei (Riccian 2021), Elijah Tong (Riccian 2018) Photo: Rick William So (Riccian 2021). 14 Colin Standish kindly sent this modern clipping about the famous Stanley Tiger.
12 A fellow researcher has been studying released Chinese POW Index Cards and sent me those for the following: Lance Bombardier Chan, Charles, HKVDC 2659, 13 Lee Tung St (Top Floor) Hospital Coolie Chan Cheong, SJA, 3129, 15 Cheung Lok St, 2nd floor (24th) Lance Bombardier Chan, Hoi Kee, HKVDC 3740, 297 Hennessey Road, 1st Floor Gunner Chan Kam Tong, 8th Coast Regt. 5135, Hong Hom Village - Chindit Private Chan Kan Ming, SJA, 3131, 40 Johnston Rd, 3rd Floor (24th) Sapper Chan Kong, RE 560, Shanghai Street Lance Corporal Chan Ping Sing, RE, 63 Sapo Road (1st Floor) (20th) Private Chung Hui On, SJA, 3104, 2 West Street, top floor, Western Market. (24th) Lance Corporal Cheung, Thomas, HKVDC 3373, 792 Nathan Road, 1st Floor Private Cheung Yan Sing, 4th Bty HKVDC, 169 Hennessey Road, Ground Floor Sergeant Kim Toon Goh, HKVDC 2882 Private John Cecil Fenton, HKVDC DR277, Field Ambulance This is interesting as a number of these men, like Chan Kam Tong, went on to serve with the Chindits and other units. Also, it confirms that the SJA used serial numbers. He also kindly sent me the POW Index card for Douglas Ferguson, RE, who quietly escaped with his mate Howarth. I think it’s the first escapee Index Card I have seen. There are also a couple which give home addressed in Japan! A surprising number of HKVDC personnel had some sort of connection to the country, and even spoke Japanese. 12 Alex Macdonald was asking where Lieutenant Commander William K.L. Lore, RCN, (reputedly the first Allied officer to land in Hong Kong at liberation in 1945) was interred. I recall that his post-war office was in Central and he passed away in Hong Kong, but I don’t recall where he was buried. 12 “QM Coy” noted on facebook: “Mr. Chao Hui (赵晖先生),one of my old friends in Beijing published an excellent pictorial reference / guide book for badge and medal collectors on the subject of Medals and Badges Collection during World War 2 in China. It’s interesting to see some rarely seen Japanese medals issued for invading and occupation of Hong Kong in 1941 including one to commemorate some Japanese soldiers KIA (with names) in war fighting in Stanley of Hong Kong. He really did a great job.” (He also posted two Japanese invasion photos, showing light tanks and a ‘knee mortar’). 12 Walked along New Street again today, and I think my speculation about the air raid shelter (see last month) was wrong. On second glance it seems more likely that whatever it is, was built for HK Electric.
7 Bill Lake kindly sent a copy of a short biography of Two-Gun Cohen, which included a photo of his grave that I don’t think I’ve seen before. 7 Justin Ho is continuing to look at the Dutch POW graves in Hong Kong. I’ve given a little help on a few of them, and Justin is planning to write a paper explaining the circumstances of the deaths of all 72.
6 The HKVCA published their Spring 2022 newsletter today. 6 Steve Denton in the UK has been doing some interesting research into POW Index Cards from Hong Kong, and reckons Leonard Ackerman, RASC, was the first POW death recorded by the Japanese. His official date of death was 3 January 1942, but (for reasons I don’t currently recall) I thought he died on the 13th.
1 Justin Ching Ho notes: “I just saw your post regarding the Dutch gravestones. I believe I can help answer some of the queries. Some of these were reinterred from other places, such as Hainan Island, with Kah (the photo you have) being an example.” See last month.