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
A commemorative event to mark the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the Lisbon Maru will take place at the FEPOW Memorial in Camden on 2 October. No further details at present but it will be at around 11:00 am. Please contact me if you are interested in attending.
Christos Pavlou then & now (courtesy Chris Pavlou), Richard Harrison's RAF accident (courtesy David Button), Swettenham's appointment to Royal Scots (courtesy London Gazette)
Shamshuipo POW Camp, the Haddock brothers, Stanley dental surgery (all courtesy IWM)
Firing practice warning (via HKU), Canada-China Legislative Association at Sai Wan cross, and at Lawson's grave (author)
As always after finishing any sort of writing project I look at all the others I have on the boil (I generally write a lot in parallel) and select one or two to focus on next. With Reduced to a Symbolical Scale finally delivered, I’ve been looking around. For books, (aside from the obvious one covering Hong Kong’s escapers and evaders) I have a novelised version of the siege of the Repulse Bay hotel, my Hong Kong Dictionary of War Time Biography (a massive but essential project), and the second of my so-far unpublished comedy historic novels (!) For articles, I have a study of POW and Internee diaries, the story of Theodore Leslie Bell, a study of all the medals and awards of the Hong Kong garrison, and an annotated version of the Hong Kong Club’s Roll of Honour. And on top of that are at least two more articles (A Short History of 2 Coy HKVDC, A Short History of the HKRNVR) that really need starting. That’s a lot to choose from! Writing season starts in earnest in October, so until then I think I’ll just play the field.
30 Richard Morgan sent the Stanley group an interesting mini biography of Sapper Henry Marriott, Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps, who is listed as a Stanley Internee but may have been hospitalised as he died quite early in 1942. One of the stories he quoted has been told many times, but is still worth repeating: “On the morning of 22nd January 1918, an incident took place in Gresson Street, Wanchai during which five Hong Kong Police officers were shot dead by an armed gang. Henry Marriott, then a Sergeant in the Naval Dockyard Police, was at home with his wife in St. Francis Street on the southern side of Queen’s Road East. Alerted to the pursuit of the culprits, he grabbed his service rifle and ran down into the street. He was immediately confronted by an escaping suspect who opened fire at him at point blank range, the bullet narrowly missing its target. Marriott chased the fugitive up the hillside and brought the man down with a shot from his rifle, killing him.”
27 Brian Baxter’s (HKDDC) daughter got back in touch.
26 Hong Kong was struck by a second typhoon today, this one being far more destructive in our little corner of the island than the last. Walking down to Central afterwards meant negotiating four fallen trees on Glen Ealy between Conduit Road and the Catholic Cathedral, not to mention thousands of leaves and branches and deep flowing water everywhere.
25 This morning I accompanied a small delegation of Canadian Senators and Parliamentarians (from the Canada-China Legislative Association, or CCLA) to Sai Wan Cemetery for a wreath laying ceremony coordinated by the Canadian Consul General, Jeff Nankivell. Of particular interest to me was meeting Senator Joseph Day of New Brunswick, a city which I know a little about as I have two friends there. I took photos of the delegation with the wreath, and then asked Senator Day and others to stand at Brigadier Lawson’s grave so I could take a photo for Lawson’s grandson.
23 A researcher contacted me asking for details of Arthur Basnett, Royal Scots, who died in St Teresa’s Hospital as a POW. As noted on this website’s British Infantry page, Arthur’s two brothers Robert and Leslie were also lost in the war, on the railway and in Poland respectively. 23 A T10 typhoon (Hong Kong’s maximum rating, and officially a Severe Typhoon - though not yet the Super Typhoon that will hit one year) struck Hong Kong today. I missed it as I was working in Chicago that week, but will go up into the hills when I return to see if anything interesting was washed out.
22I received a nice note today from Brigadier John K. Lawson’s grandson. 22 Martin Heyes notes: “Late on last Sat our company (WalkHongKong) was contacted by a chap called Milan Brezny from Australia. He & his wife were passing thro' HK to Europe for vacation and left last night, so the only day available for any activity was yesterday. (Mon). Milan, who was born here in 1949, was the son of Pte. 4371 Ladislav Brezny of No. 7 Pln, No. 2 (Scottish) Coy of the HKVDC. The latter, whose daytime job was with the Bata Shoe Company, was Czech and he came to HK with his wife Bozena (Beatrice) in about 1938.” That’s a perfect illustration of the international aspect of the HKVDC. Apparently Bozena stayed out of camp, but I wonder if she might have been in Rosary Hill? Martin also included a link to Brezny’s grave. Oddly enough I know that area, as I have an office in North Ryde nearby.
20Richard Harrison’s (HKRNVR, Lisbon Maru) family got in touch. Interestingly, as a member of the Hong Kong Club who lost his life he has been part of the research I have been doing on their Roll of Honour. But now I know considerably more about his Great War RAF (he joined after 1 April 1918) service, during which he was injured in a flying accident. The family notes: “There is an irony in having escaped the horror of the First War to be killed so horrifically in the Second one might say.“ Initially I thought that Stanley Internee Margaret Dickinson Harrison was his wife, though in fact she turned out to be the wife of Wilfred Hugh Lane Harrison, a Civil Servant in Hong Kong. This Harrison was a Lieutenant Commander, RN, hence the confusion, and he survived the war in Shamshuipo. On the latter Harrison, Richard Harrison’s family kindly did some research, noting that he was born in: “Durham 1900, and he joined the Navy as a Midshipman on 1/11/1918 and rose to the rank of Lt Cmdr at the time of the fall of HK. Interestingly, he made the pages of the Daily Mirror of 13 Mar 1942. It tells a story of how he was Naval ADC to the Governor of HK and his wife refused to be evacuated home.”
19Elizabeth Ride kindly let me know that BAAG agent #62, Vincent Young, has just celebrated his 100th birthday. She attached the link to a gwulo article. 19 Ian Gill had a very interesting article in the South China Morning Post today. He notes: “My mother Billie Gill emerged from Stanley a single mother without means. Through extraordinary efforts, she fulfilled her dream of giving me an English public school education. But when, years later, she heard what had happened at the prep school, she was beside herself with fury.” 19 I had a unique contact today from someone studying dentistry in POW camps. It’s fascinating just how specific and detailed some researches are. Fortunately I remembered the IWM photo (why do these things always happen in threes?) of the dentist chair at Stanley with (I believe) Dr John Lanchester operating. When I looked at it carefully and blew it up, I noticed a lot of battle damage on the walls to Lanchester’s right.
17 Elizabeth Ride kindly pointed out that in the photo of HKVDC officers and the Governor last month, the names of the officers in the back row are (left to right) Lieutenant Wright, her father, Lieutenant Robertson, Second Lieutenant Wray, and Lieutenant Richards. 17 I had an enquiry today about a local Hong Kong lad (Eurasian) who very probably joined the RASC here in 1940 or 1941. ‘Mad Mike’ Calvert started this trend by recruiting local men into the Royal Engineers at that time (he spoke Cantonese), and before the invasion there were reasonable numbers joining the RE, RA, RASC, and other units. My question is, has anyone found original roles of these men? BAAG kept files of a number of such individuals who escaped or evaded into China, but these are not complete and of course we can assume that not all of them made it out of Hong Kong.
16I heard today of a new book about the battle of Hong Kong: The Endless Battle by Andy Flanagan. The blurb reads: “Near the end of October 1941, a few hundred soldiers from New Brunswick were among the 1,975 Canadian troops who set sail from Vancouver to reinforce the British Colony of Hong Kong. Within two short months, after a hard-fought but disastrous battle against the Imperial Japanese Army, the island fell to the invaders on Christmas Day, and its defenders were ordered to surrender by the governor of Hong Kong. The survivors were taken captive. Based on the first-hand accounts of the author's father, Andrew "Ando" Flanagan, a rifleman from Jacquet River, NB, The Endless Battle explores the Battle of Hong Kong and its long aftermath, through the eyes of the soldiers. During their captivity, the POWs endured starvation, forced labour, and brutal beatings. They lived in deplorable conditions and many died from illness. But the soldiers stuck together, bound by their cameraderie, loyalty to King and Country, and collective desire to sabotage the Japanese war effort. Writing intimately and sensitively about the lingering effects of the trauma of the soldiers held in captivity, Andy Flanagan shows both the heroism of individual soldiers and the terrible costs of war.”
14 George Swettenham’s (Royal Scots) nephew got in contact, and we began a very interesting discussion. Swettenham joined the Royal Scots from the HKVDC as one of the replacements for officers lost earlier in the fighting, and was himself lost on the 19th of December, or possibly the 23rd. What I hadn’t realized until now was that he and another HKVDC officer (Michael Turner) had been recruited by the SOE a few months before the invasion and were working in parallel with Z Force. My assumption is that when war came that SOE unit was disbanded, while Z Force continued. Turner joined the RA and survived. Interestingly I can find nothing about Swettenham in any Hong Kong files, despite the fact that apparently he worked for Butterfield & Swires.
12As often seemed to happen this month, I was searching for something entirely different when I found a set of live firing practice notices for Hong Kong’s coastal guns – and more particularly the anti-aircraft guns. I suppose it’s logical enough that they would need to practice, but it had never struck me before. There were 47 such notices in 1941 alone.
9 My first ten copies of Reduced to a Symbolical Scale arrived today (illustrated). Good to see after so many years of effort! My first notes on this topic (which culminated in my PhD thesis) were written in about 2004.
7Christos Pavlou’s (Royal Scots, Lisbon Maru) family contacted me to let me know that I have spelled his name incorrectly on this website and the Lisbon Maru one. Originally I had the name as ‘Christie Pavlon’, but I have now corrected it. They note that he was of Greek Cypriot descent, and kindly sent me photos of him in uniform in wartime and towards the end of his life.
6Frederick Stanley Richardson’s (Royal Scots) family got in touch, wanting to know more about the circumstances of his death on 11 December 1941. All I know is what is in NtSC, which describes how he was lost in the battle on Golden Hill. One thing I am uncertain of, though, is what happened to the bodies from that battle. Several escapees who passed over Golden Hill three or four months later reported seeing many bodies there, but never (as far as I have seen) suggested that they might have been of officers who they knew. And Richardson has a known grave. I wonder if officers’ bodies were carried down the hill and either buried at the bottom (and reinterred after the war), or were even brought back at the time to Hong Kong Island? Too late to ask anyone now, unfortunately.
5While searching for another IWM Hong Kong photo, I found one labeled: “Sub Lieut R Haddock (left) a prisoner of war since the Japanese invasion with his brother Warrant Shipwright C F Haddock, of HMS Swiftsure, a cruiser of the relieving task force.” The POW Haddock was of course in the HKRNVR. The photograph I was actually trying to find was the famous one of Shamshuipo, also reproduced above. Does anyone know its IWM file number? An author wants to get permission to use it in a book. 5 Philip Cracknell has released his latest blog. “This month it's a reflection on Japanese and German war crimes. The German war crimes were committed by the Waffen-SS on surrendered British troops during the fighting retreat to Dunkirk.”
3 Bill Lake notes: “Whilst researching ‘Little Hong Kong’, I accidently came across this: A list of all the Indian forces campaigns.” It includes a chapter on Hong Kong. It’s available as a book here, and can also be downloaded in other formats. However, the text format has clearly been OCRed and many mistakes have been inserted.
2 I heard today of a forthcoming book which will include the story of William Wilson, RDYP. I will make further details available when I have them.
August 1st, 2017 Update
HKVDC Officers and Governor (via Elizabeth Ride), HKVDC drum (courtesy Ben Dalgleish), Pinewood pig (courtesy Martin Heyes) Hodgkinson report (courtesy Steve Denton), Wong Nai Chung sign 2006 (author), Wong Nai Chung sign 2017 (courtesy Martin Heyes) Truong casualty report (HKPRO, via author), Leo Borisoff (courtesy Robert Sterling, via facebook), RtaSS advertisement (HKUP)
Aaaaarghhh! For the first time in ten years, I’m late publishing an update. A long vacation in the UK (cold and wet) and Greece (hot and dry) put everything behind schedule, so apologies for completing this month’s blog in a bit of a rush. Now I need to get myself sorted out for this year’s writing season (I am always most productive from around September through to Easter – essentially the cooler months) to focus on the fifth and last of my books in the Hong Kong 41-45 series, provisionally entitled Noticeable And Dangerous and focusing on all those who escaped and evaded, and what they then did from then until the end of the war and beyond. Meanwhile it’s exciting to see the new fourth book (Reduced to a Symbolical Scale) being advertised and attracting interest.
30 Joseph Edmunds’s (RAF) niece’s husband got in touch. He notes: “We knew he was a medic and that he had received some kind of award for his work. We were thrilled to find that it was the BEM for carrying out a leg amputation. He had told us that he often used razor blades to work on his patients but hope he had something more substantial in this case.” I was able to send him the London Gazette page detailing the award. 30 The HKOR Benevolent Association notes: “In Remembrance and Commemoration Of the 72nd Hong Kong Liberation Day And Those who gave their lives for our tomorrows, Of the British, Hong Kong and Allied Servicemen, The Patron and Committee Members Of HKMSC Association (Former Hong Kong Military Service Corps of the British Army General Service Corps) Kindly Request the Pleasure of the Company of the Hong Kong Citizens At a Ceremony to be held at the Sai Wan War Cemetery, Cape Collinson Road, Chai Wan, Hong Kong, At 11:00 a.m, on Sunday 27 August 2017. (Shuttle bus service will be provided. Boarding location is outside Wellcome Super Market, Shaukiwan MTR Station. The first bus service departs at 10:00 a.m.) For enquiries, please whatsapp 91924630.”
29 Ron Taylor’s (UK) The FEPOW Family facebook page is getting a lot of traffic now. Recently I’ve been using it to correspond with the families of two Lisbon Maru men, Signalman William John Harkinson of the Hong Kong Signals Company, and Leading Seaman Harry ‘Bogey’ Butler of HMS Thracian. Also, I have been in touch with the family of Isaac Williamson of D Company Royal Scots who was detached to HQ China Command, and the family of Christopher John Robert Jones who was born in Hong Kong 9 November 1941. As that's 16 months after the evacuation, there must have been another reason that he and his mother stayed in Hong Kong. It appears that his father was Henry Stephen Jones of 1 Bty HKVDC who lost his life in the defence of Stanley on Christmas Day 1941 when Christopher was just seven weeks old. Mary (Henry’s wife) and Christopher spent the war years in Stanley Civilian Internment Camp, in the servant's quarters of Room A3. ‘Servants quarters’ doesn't sound very grand, but although they were small they offered a little privacy for a couple, or in this case a mother and son.
26 Brian Finch notes: “I am pleased to be able to report that PWRR Headquarters have confirmed that there will definitely be an event in London on 2 October to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Lisbon Maru Incident. No further details are yet known, and I will pass these on as soon as I hear.” I will post updates on this site when they become available. 26 Geoff Emerson kindly let me know that the report on the Researching FEPOW History Conference 2017 is now online here. Although this year’s conference was not focused on Hong Kong, I spoke at two earlier conferences.
23 Steve Denton kindly sent me the Australian War Crimes Commission Questionnaire for Corporal Walter Hodgkinson, RAMC, covering the sinking of the Lisbon Maru. As Steve notes: “There's nothing really new in the way of information but I think the hand written ones bring things to life so much more.”
22 Eagle Kmlam put a photo of the Chindit Memorial in London on the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page. It lists The Hong Kong Volunteer Company sixth from the bottom of the units involved. On the same page, Robert Sterling also posted a great photo of Leo Borisoff, HKPF.
18 Ben Dalgleish notes: “I've just arrived in the UK and been to a war curio shop named the Armoury of St James. In their possession they had a presentation drum with a very distinct and memorable symbol painted onto it, I'm sure you will agree. See attached photo. I've just purchased the drum and it's on its way back to Hong Kong to hopefully educate and remind people of the sacrifices of our forebears. The only sad thing is that we do not know who the drum was made for or by whom. That information was lost when it was sold to the shop. If you would be so kind as to upload this to your webpage and newsletter, perhaps we could find the original owner and find more information about it.” He included a photo, reproduced above. Can anyone help?
16 Matthew Broadbridge very kindly sent me biographical details of the British officers of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Punjab Regiment. He notes: “I am very interested in the Indian Army during the period roughly 1903-1947 and research individuals who served as officers. I am very fortunate that I have amassed a small run of Indian Army Lists over the years with which to help with this, and with the London Gazette being online these days (though not perfect) this will get you a long way.” 16 A correspondent writes: “I looked through your website on Second World War. I recalled during my teens in 1980s I read a book by an ex-British banker in Hong Kong (probably from HSBC). The book was very written and got very vivid account on how the invasion happened in the mid-level and the peak. I tried to search for the book via the online catalogue of Hong Kong public library but failed to locate the material.” It sounds like A Yen for My Thoughts. G. A. Leiper. Hong Kong: South China Morning Post, 1982, to me. In NTSC I wrote: “Leiper’s book deserves to be better known. A member of 2 Company but also an ‘Essential Person’, he spent the 18 days working in Chartered Bank during the day, and attached to 4 Company at night. He therefore witnessed the goings-on in Central twenty-four hours per day. His obscene (and probably very accurate) depictions of the effects of shells and bombs hit home with this author, as all were within a short walk of where this book was written; the bloody execution of two Chinese ‘looters’ post-surrender was almost on the doorstep. The remainder of the book describes life under the occupation.”
15 Martin Heyes sent a set of photos from the Wong Nai Chung trail, clearly showing that the government has repaired all the damaged signs and signboards. It’s interesting to look at his current photos, compared to the ones I took in 2006 when the originals were still wrapped in plastic having just been delivered.
12 Elizabeth Ride kindly sent me a very clear photo of her father (as a Lieutenant, top row second from left) and other HKVDC officers at Fanling Camp pre-war. The Governor in the photo is Sir William Peel (front row, centre, 9 May 1930 to 17 May 1935) and Ride was promoted to Lieutenant on 20 October 1931, so that narrows the date of this picture down to between 20 October 1931 and 17 May 1935. 12 A damaged but unfired Japanese shell of roughly 120mm calibre was found on the beach on Lamma today. EOD reckon it was probably washed in by a storm from a post-war ordnance dumpsite at sea.
9 Long-time correspondent Martin Heyes kindly sent a delightful email (and photo) recounting an encounter with a wild boar at Pinewood Battery the other day. It looks exactly like the one I met on Conduit Road very early one Sunday last month.
7 I heard today that Mary Monro’s book ‘Stranger In My Heart’ is at 97% funding. Hopefully this will be concluded soon.
6 Lesley Clark kindly sent me the latest July Java Journal, which included a report on the Buckingham Palace garden party that Barbara Anslow (and others) attended last month. 6 François Drémeaux contacted me. He notes: “I am a French historian living in Hong Kong. Last year, I defended my PhD thesis on «French presences in Hong Kong during interwar period» and, of course, my researches brought me to the aftermath of the Japanese invasion. Next year, I will join the History department of HKU as a Honorary Assistant Professor, which will give me the opportunity to push forward my work on some topics.” As well as looking at the well-known French heroes who helped defend Hong Kong (such as Egal and Delacourt) he is looking into three French sailors who he believes were stranded here in 1941 (Chanzy, Cerillo, and Ohm) and two Indochinese civil servants (therefore French subjects at that time) who died 19 December 1941: Ngo Chi Dao and Tran Van Truong. I had these in my lists as ARP men killed at some point in the fighting, under the names James Dao and Vantrong.
4 Chris Harley from In From The Cold kindly let me know that he had submitted the details of Alfred Rough Fullerton to the CWGC. Fullerton was one of the names on the Hong Kong Club roll of honour who I discovered had certainly been lost in the war but was not commemorated (see previous months).
3 Michael Hennessy kindly sent a copy of “The Battle for Hong Kong: A Battlefield Tour” by Major Helen Wildman AGC (ETS) and Mr Ivan Wildman. I believe this is the book asked for last month.
1 Robert Davis sent the framing tag of the Middlesex ‘colours’ featured last month. It showed that they were made in Finchley. 1 Tai Hang Wong sent this link, knowing that it would be interesting to Blaver’s family (see last month).
July 1st, 2017 Update
Collison Blaver (courtesy Marilyn Wright), Middlesex colours embroidery (courtesy Robert Davis), William Faid (courtesy HKU) Bateman's POW Index Card (courtesy Nicola Davies), JF MacGregor's jurors' role entry (via author), RtaSS Cover (courtesy HKUP) Mark Weedon (courtesy Mark Weedon), Maltby's affidavit, pages 1 and 2 (courtesy www.archieven.nl)
Last January was the one hundred and seventy-fifth anniversary of the British occupying Hong Kong, and December was the seventy-fifth anniversary of the invasion. Now it’s the twentieth anniversary of the handover on Saturday 1 July. At a dinner last week I was telling someone about watching the film The Battle of Britain being filmed over my head in 1968, just 28 years after the event - and yet 1968 is now nearly 50 years ago itself. How time flies. And it’s our silver wedding in October, and next year this website will celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of this blog in this format – which I believe makes it the oldest continuously running historical blog in the world! But it’s odd that as time passes by I feel closer and closer to the historical events I cover here.
30 Last month I posted a photograph of the sign for No. 457 (Barker Road) included the name of its pre-war resident, Mrs J.F. MacGregor. Today I found the entry for her husband in the Jurors’ Role for 1941 showing, naturally, the same address.
24 Mary Munro, daughter of John Monro MC RA, notes: “You may recall that I shared with you [my father's] documents about the battle of HK, his escape from Sham Shui Po and journey to Chongqing. I retraced his steps in 2013 and you very kindly referred me to Martin Heyes for a battlefield tour. Anyway, I wrote a book about it all which is being published by Unbound. You can find out more about it [here]. There is a synopsis of the book and a short video with some nice images from HK and China.” It looks very interesting apparently this is the sort of publisher where if sufficient people pre-order a book, then it will be published so I ordered one today.
24 Robert Davis, great nephew of RSM Robert Challis (Middlesex) who was on the Lisbon Maru kindly sent me photos of two framed ‘mini colours’ of the regiment, which his grandfather (RSM Cecil A F Davis, who was not in Hong Kong), also served in. I’ve never seen anything quite like them – they look almost like cushion covers.
18 While searching for something about Maltby, I found a two-page affidavit from him that I had never seen before, in Dutch archives. 18 Michael Hurst notes that the Spring-Summer 2017 POW Society newsletter "Never Forgotten" is up on his website now. You can access the newsletter - and all of the previous ones, by looking in the SOCIETY section of the website and clicking on the Spring-Summer Newsletter in the newsletters box. Also here is the link to the newsletter.
17 Gwulo today has a fine feature article from Barbara Anslow about her visit (yet again, how the other half live!) to the Queen’s Garden Party. In associated correspondence up came the question of who was who in Hong Kong’s ARP? I have looked everywhere I can think of, but have yet to find a nominal roll. Can anyone help?
15 Via Henry Ching I learned that Lieutenant Joaquim J. Guterres, HKVDC, who I listed as having died in St Teresa’s in We Shall Suffer There, in fact passed away in the canteen of Argyle Street Camp. A small detail in the greater scheme of things, but still an important one. 15 Martin Heyes reports that the damaged signboards of the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail have been repaired. I believe that to be in response to action taken by Martin, Mike Babin in Canada, and others. Good to see in any case!
13 The family holding J T Sayer’s POW bracelet, and J T Sayer’s family themselves, are now in contact! (See last month).
12Richard Hide kindly let me know that Kay Collingwood – wife of Cuthbert Collingwood of the MTB escape – passed away on 9 June 2017 aged 97. He notes that: “Kay, who came on the HERO re-enactment in 2009/10 was the last first generation link to the Christmas Day escape.” 12 Ruth Manserg notes: “I am writing a book about Cumbria in World War Two and have included the Hell Ships. Lance Corporal Donald Joseph Grant of the Royal Engineers, of Penrith, died after being rescued from Lisbon Maru. Captain Roland Ernest Knowles of Windermere died.” 12 Michael Martin, grandson of wartime Hong Kong policeman and artist A.J. Savitsky, notes: “I had the great fortune of having these pictures sent to me yesterday. It’s a caricature of Leo Borisoff drawn by my grandfather in Stanley Camp. It was sent to me by Robert Stirling (Leo's son) who I hope will also join this forum. It was also to my great delight to find out he only lives a 30min drive away from me! Leo Borisoff was a White Russian Policeman in HK and in Stanley Camp and he was friends with my grandfather and his cousin Vitaly 'Vic' Veriga” (Illustrated). I hadn’t previously realized the connection with the Veriga family, who I mention in Reduced To A Symbolical Scale.
11Mark Weedon, son of Captain Martin Weedon, B Coy, 1st Middlesex, got in touch again with a number of interesting family documents and photographs. He also attached a photograph of himself standing in the memorial gardens where his father’s ashes lie beside his mother’s.
7Nicola Davies, following up from the mention of Lolly Goldman (see April), sent this useful link (which oddly enough I had also found a few days ago while researching wartime Hong Kong Club members).
3While continuing searching for details of Hong Kong Club members lost during the war, I stumbled across a useful article about William Faid on the HKU’s Physics Department’s website.
2Tai Hang Wong notes: “You may have seen this Canadian documentary published by the History Channel in 2004. It is now available for free download in YouTube.” Actually I know it well. This is one I helped with, corresponding with the producers for a few months then taking them round Hong Kong. One even came to our flat-warming party! Of course Tai Hang didn’t know this, because although I’m mentioned on the credits at the end, they shoot by in a couple of nano-seconds. However, in my opinion this is one of the better short documentaries on the battle, and I’m glad to see that it’s online. 2 A student from the Chicago area contacted me, interested in the post-war recovery of Hong Kong. I was once asked to write a book about the liberation and immediate post-war period, but didn’t have the bandwidth (I still don’t, to be honest). But I’m not aware of anything comprehensive in the literature. Does anyone have any ideas? 2 A correspondent notes: “I was based in HK for the last four years prior to the handover. During that time there were war tours that started at Osborn Barracks, they were run by the British Army and were very informative. I took several family and friends on a few… There was an A4 size booklet available to all participants of the tour.” Does anyone have a copy of that booklet? I thought it might be ‘Eighteen Days’ but apparently not.
1Sik-Tim Chan’s (HKVDC) daughter got in contact (see April). 1 Collison Alexander Blaver’s (Royal Rifles of Canada) daughter got in touch, noting that I had mis-spelled his name by adding an ‘n’ to make it Collinson. I have corrected that in the on-line garrison lists. She notes too that: “When dad returned from the war, he was sent to Chorley Military Hospital, Toronto (it no longer exists) where he met my mother, Jane Meaden. She was a nursing sister there. They met in November, 1945. In April, 1946, when dad went to Quebec to receive his medal, he asked mom to go with him. She did (with another couple). While there, dad proposed to mom on the Plains of Abraham. They were married in Toronto in June 1946. My sister was born in March 1947 and me in December, 1948. Unfortunately, dad died in October 1951. I was 2 1/2 months shy of my third birthday.” She kindly attached an excellent photo of Mr Blaver.
June 1st, 2017 Update
Hong Kong's defenders (courtesy Life), Chatham Path and AGAS book (author) Gisby travel pass (courtesy Janice Elvins), Gin Drinkers trench (courtesy Tan), Sayer POW Index Card (courtesy Nicola Davies) Biggs MI9 form (courtesy Steve Denton), Pinewood Battery (author), Kobe House Blues (courtesy Steve Denton)
The highlight of the month has to be Tan’s reconnaissance of the Gin Drinkers Line at Siu Lek Yuen (see the 19th). When you see remains from 1941 in such good condition it’s really eye-opening. I would have expected 70+ years of rain to have all but obliterated the trenches, but clearly not. And while sometimes I fear drone use may get out of hand, clearly nothing beats them for work of this kind. The fact is that so much of Hong Kong is steep and overgrown that remains of this sort (though not necessarily of this scale) are still everywhere, usually invisible in the undergrowth even if only a few metres off the beaten path.
30 Barbara Anslow notes that she will once again be attending the Queen’s Garden Party today.
29 Ronnie Taylor (UK) has started putting the Special Parties within the Roll of Honour, and Hong Kong is here. Does anyone know the name of the ship that took Hong Kong’s senior officers? I was never able to find out. 29 Philip Cracknell has published his next monthly blog, including a look at Pinewood Battery.
26 John Thomas Sayer’s family have contacted me. Let’s see how this goes.
25 I heard today that there may be a 75th anniversary memorial event for the Lisbon Maru in the UK in October. I will keep people informed as the idea develops.
22 With help from Nicola Davies and others, it seems we’re getting near to a critical mass of information on Alfred Rough Fullerton to enable the CWGC to finally enter his details on their system as a war death (see last month). Nicola has also managed to trace the POW Index Card and family of John Thomas Sayer, so perhaps it might be possible to give them the POW bracelet also reported last month.
21 Well, sometimes you get what you ask for! Left home on Sunday at around 0700, and got to the end of Conduit Road opposite the university. A man walking his dog in the same direction, just a few metres ahead of me, suddenly turned round and started walking briskly towards me. While puzzling about this, I moved to the left of the pavement to let another large dirty dog go past (following him) to my right – only to realise it was a young Wild Sow! She passed within a metre of me, so cool like she was just going to pick the ‘lets up from church or something. Very nice, though had she been a full-grown boar I would have run away. 20 I received a very interesting MI9 interview form from Steve Denton. Only perhaps 5% of ex-POWs who filled in these forms when they returned added any details, but this one certainly did. It was from Signalman Strangeways E. O’Leary, 850983, attached to the Hong Kong Signals Company from Singapore Fortress Signals. He was a Lisbon Maru survivor. Part 1 of the form covers camps, part 2 any escapes or attempted escapes, and part 3 escape committees. And then we have: Part 4. Sabotage. Did you do any sabotage or destruction of enemy factory plant, war material, Communications, etc., while employed in working parties or during escape? (Give details, places and names). “Whilst working unloading ships at Osaka harbour we used to unscrew any moveable parts of ships or winches drop over side. I used to exchange destination labels on goods in warehouses especially on dynamos, motors + electrical machines. Part 5. Did you observe any courageous acts performed by allied personnel? (Give names, places, etc.). “L / Cpl. Reginald Biggs, Royal Corps signals. Biggs saved many lives of drowning men when ’Lisbon Maru’ torpedoed 150 miles south Shanghai. Biggs saved my life at risk of his own. Nips on board tried to drive survivors back into water. Biggs interposed himself between. Might have been killed. Biggs is NOT my friend but courage, bravery should be praised, noted. I'll do what I can as token of my own regard for his initiative. Hope he receives some mark of distinction for his selfless humanity.” Unfortunately, as far as I can see from the London Gazette, Biggs’s heroism was never recognized. 20 I finally found The Telegraph’s obituary of John Pearce today, and was very cheered to see myself quoted.
19Tan notes: “I went to Siu Lek Yuen after a hillfire and found long trench system of Gin Drinkers line exposed. You can see the trench, lookout and pillbox remains clearly on the hill.” He included a couple of photos and a link to some fantastic drone footage he took of the area, which shows the trench system far better preserved than I had expected. 19 On facebook, someone posted a link to the 1940 copy of Life (on Google) which focused on the defence of Hong Kong. After a little effort, I managed to reproduce the page with all the individual photos, some of which are named and some not.
14 A correspondent notes seeing a: “lady appearing on Antiques Roadshow last week (series 39 episode 21, 16:54 to 21:57, if you are interested and can get to see it) with her father in law's mementoes from POW camp... apparently gifts from American personnel and an airdrop newspaper still with its canvas drop bag. She mentioned he had been captured in Hong Kong.” I can’t get iPlayer in Hong Kong, but this sounds interesting. 14 Steve Denton kindly sent me a copy of the song “Kobe House Blues”. This was a popular ditty with the Lisbon Maru / Kobe House POWs, and I first heard an ex-Royal Scot sing it perhaps twenty years ago. I hadn’t realised till now that Norman Colley wrote the words. 14 Walked up Hatton Road early, as I always do on a Sunday, to try to find the exact position of Philip Cracknell’s Pinewood Battery shot. I think I found it, though it’s surprisingly different now. Walking up the steps back to Hatton Road I found a porcupine quill, and then saw a civet cat when I walked up to Governor’s Walk. It’s been quite a good year for wildlife, and although I’ve seen no wild boar yet in 2017, signs of them are everywhere. Snakes, though, seem thin on the ground. I’ve just seen a single Blind Snake so far, whereas normally by May I will have seen three or four species. Birdlife is much as normal, except for the very welcome resurgence in Blue Magpie numbers – I saw four on this walk alone. And at Victoria Gardens a black kite (illustrated) flew just over my head. I came back the long way, via Barker Road and Chatham Path, noticing for the first time that the sign for No. 457 (Barker Road) included the name of its pre-war resident, Mrs J.F. MacGregor.
13 Following intervention by the family, Bandmaster Herbert Jordan, Royal Scots, is now recorded under the correct name by the CWGC. Previously he was under the name ‘Jordon’. There are many such errors in CWGC data (not surprising, due to their sheer numbers and the difficulty of checking in pre-database / internet days, but one by one they are getting fixed.
6 Edgar (Tony) Gisby’s (RAMC) widow got in touch. She notes that he was: “on duty and a defender of St Stephens Hospital. I have a copy of the original War Crimes Affidavit that he wrote with a witness present 25/03/1946. There are two other documents, a military pass and a Hong Kong hotel bill… Tony became a Senior Male Nurse and acquired many letters after his name. He died in 1992. I am very proud of the part he played during the war, at St. Stephens and also caring for POWs for four years in captivity.” I hadn’t seen this affidavit before, but it fitted in well with all the others. The military pass and hotel bill were very interesting, as they were for Japan rather than Hong Kong (Gisby was on the Lisbon Maru). A number of Lisbon Maru survivors seemed to have helped the liberating American forces immediately after Japan’s surrender, and I guess Gisby was one. The letters after his name were S.R.N., Q.N., B.T.A, M.R.I.P.H.H. He became a Senior Nursing Officer, was awarded the prestigious Queens Nurse status, and worked with the District Nurses Association. Later he owned a nursing home in West Sussex, was a leading member of the Nursing Homes Association and was instrumental in negotiations with the government (1970's) involving private beds to be used to alleviate NHS hospital demand by geriatric patients.
1 I received my copy of MIS-X today, the book about AGAS by Lt. Colonel Wichtrich who ran the unit in China. There are some rather odd details in it, which make me wonder if perhaps Wichtrich wrote it rather late in life, but it makes an interesting contrast to BAAG who were doing the same job – and a great deal more besides. 1 First thing in the morning I took off on a walk from Conduit Road to Park View. Bowen Road, Wanchai Gap Road, Middle Gap Road, Black’s Link, Wong Nai Chung Gap, Park view, Black’s Link, Coombe Road, Barker Road, Chatham Path, May Road, Glen Ealy, and home. Three hours ten minutes in total. Perhaps unwisely I went shopping for dinner at the supermarket at Park View, so spent one hour thirty-five minutes of that carrying my groceries! On the path from the southern end of Middle Gap Road to Middle Gap itself, I passed the stream where I last saw a Barking Deer all of twenty years ago. Has anyone seen one on Hong Kong Island since those days? 1 Being a holiday I decided to spend some time in the afternoon researching the Pakhoi (see last month). According to page 90/91 of Greg Leck’s book it left Hong Kong with 28 Britons, and 6 Norwegians on board, and when the ship was captured the Japanese took it to Amoy, from where the passengers were transferred to the Shanghai-area camps. Checking against those camps I see six from Hong Kong at the Great Western Road Camp, of whom one definitely and one maybe or had evacuee families. And at Haiphong Road Camp, thirteen from HK, of whom 9 had evacuee families: Beeken, David William - Butterfield & Swire - Haiphong Road Camp -1940 JR Beeken, Edith Dorothy – Great Western Road Camp - wife of David in Haiphong Road Camp Bell, Robert Barr - Butterfield & Swire - Haiphong Road Camp - 1940 JR Dryburgh, John Clunnie - Butterfield & Swire - Haiphong Road Camp - Yes - 1940 JR Hope, Stewart - Butterfield & Swire - Haiphong Road Camp - Yes - 1940 JR Jeacock, Frederick John - ? - Haiphong Road Camp - Yes - 1940 JR Keown, Richard McArthur - ? - Haiphong Road Camp - Yes - 1940 JR Lyle, David Laird - Taikoo Docks - Great Western Road Camp - Maybe - JR 1940 Main, Robert - Butterfield & Swire - Haiphong Road Camp - Yes - 1940 JR Moir, Archibald Black - Taikoo Docks - Great Western Road Camp - JR 1940 Moir, Sarah Black (ANS) - wife of Archibald - Great Western Road Camp - died 22 Dec 44 Munro, Donald - Butterfield & Swire - Haiphong Road Camp - Yes - 1940 JR Nimmo, James - Taikoo Docks - Great Western Road Camp - Yes - JR 1940 Norrie, Robert Brown McGover - ? - Haiphong Road Camp - Yes - 1940 JR Pattinson, Reginald Kingsley - Taikoo Dockyard & Engineering Co. - Haiphong Road Camp - 1940 JR Peoples, David - Butterfield & Swire - Haiphong Road Camp - 1940 JR Pollock, Samuel James - ? - Haiphong Road Camp - Yes -1940 JR Thomson, John Butler - ? - Haiphong Road Camp - Yes - 1940 JR Wallace, Robert Cooper - Taikoo Docks - Great Western Road Camp - JR 1940 I wonder who the other nine were, and what became of them?
May 1st, 2017 Update
Hong Kong Historians (author), France, HKVDC (courtesy Tai Hang Wong), Home & Royal Rifles (courtesy Bill Lake) POW Bracelet (courtesy Sharyn Kreuger) A R Fullerton letter (via Stephen Dowd), Jackson watch (courtesy Craig Mitchell) Chan Sik Tim, OBE (courtesy Micky Chan), Allam Khan, and Allah Rakka Khan papers (courtesy Charles Ingmire)
Many years ago, when an ex-HKRNVR officer passed away, his family kindly sent me the Roll of Honour of the Hong Kong Club which he had in his possession. Many years later this led to the Club mounting a professionally made Roll of Honour on the premises, faithfully reproducing the paper original. One of my long-term projects has been to research each of the individuals represented there. Many are of course very straightforward, old Hong Kong hands lost in the HKVDC or the HKRNVR, or who died in Stanley Camp. But a surprising number were lost far away, in different battlegrounds or at sea. There are even a few whose deaths I have not yet got to the bottom of (they are not recorded in the CWGC files). But this month I got a little closer to one of them.
29 Last month I mentioned that there had been a very interesting find in the hills. I can now reveal that it was an inscribed watch that had belonged to Rifleman Ray D. Jackson, B/68205, of the Royal Rifles of Canada. It was found on the hillside where he was killed. His comrades had initially brought his body down and buried it by the path, from which temporary grave he was reinterred in 1947 - but clearly various bits and pieces were left at the spot where he had actually lost his life. My initial reaction to the find was pride that the watch had been located at the place where I had deduced (in Not The Slightest Chance) that he was lost. But immediately that feeling was replaced with tragedy. The boy was only 21 when he was killed, very much the same age as my oldest son. When he put that watch on his wrist he had all his life to look forward to. Keep an eye on Philip Cracknell’s blog, as I expect he will shortly tell the whole story of how he and a wholly admirable group have returned the watch to the family.
25 Elizabeth Ride let me know of the Chinese Dragons British Lions exhibition at the University of Hong Kong, which will continue for another month. 25 Chan Sik Tim’s (HKVDC) son got in touch, kindly sending a photo of his father. Chan was in 3 Battery, and was one of many local Volunteers who – at the suggestion of their officers – melted into the background after the surrender and were not interned. He notes that he has collected many papers about his father, and: “Most of this info refers to my father’s life and his achievements in HKG, and on top of the list is him being awarded the MBE by her Majesty in 1969. During the 1950’s and 60’s, he was a well known public figure involved in numerous public organisations. One of those being the Chairmanship of the HongKong School Sports Association that re-established the Physical Education programme in all HKG schools that eventually led to him being awarded the MBE.” On their wartime experiences, he notes of his parents that they: “escaped to Macau first, then came back to marry in HKG. The banquet was at the Peninsula Hotel. I have their married Certificate, Chinese style, very elaborate and colourful. They spent the rest of the war in HKG and both sides of the family suffered very badly under the hands of the Japanese. Pretty much lost everything.” Interestingly, Michael Wright of 3 Battery is still with us – I believe he is the last surviving officer from wartime Hong Kong, now 104 years old. 25 Tai Hang Wong reports on the finding of an unusual war relic at the northern end of the steep Pan Long Wan Road in the Clear Water Bay region. He notes: “More than thirty years ago our late maternal uncle told us that this cow shed had been used by the guerrillas during the war years as a makeshift detention and interrogation centre of their captured pro-Japanese elements and thugs. Those found guilty were bought to a beach further down the village to be executed. The reliability of this war relic is confirmed by the old villagers, in particular the two surviving ‘little devils’.”
24 A correspondent made a kind offer: “I have an envelope of a prisoner of war letter addressed to Lieutenant Goldman of 5th AA battery and if you have any relatives contact I would like to send it to them”. This is of course Captain Lawrence ‘Lolly’ Goldman, HKVDC, but unfortunately I have not yet had any contact with his family. Can anyone help? His wife Elizabeth and daughters Elizabeth junior and Pamela were evacuated to Melbourne in 1940, returning to the UK in 1946, but there I lose track of them. 24 David Grant notes: “I am researching the Auxiliary Police in Ireland, what many would call the Black and Tans in Ireland in War of Independence. One of them was a Japanese prisoner and died in 1942 in Hong Kong. You already have him on your database. I don't know if you record further details of the men, but if you do, feel free to use any of this.”
23 Continuing research into Hong Kong Club members who lost their lives during the war, I am down to just two who I cannot identify. But I found a new lead on one I know simply as “A.R. Fullerton”. He is not recorded in CWGC, nor can I find him anywhere else so I assumed he must have left Hong Kong before the outbreak of war. I knew that his family had been evacuated to a flat in St Kilda in 1940, and at this link I discovered a letter to them which he had posted from Victoria, Hong Kong at 4 pm, 17 November 1941 – just three weeks before the invasion. So perhaps he was lost in Hong Kong after all? The only other member I have not been able to locate was ‘A M Barton’. The Bartons were a very big family, and W M Barton was also a Club member, who died of wounds from King’s Road. But I’ve yet to find any records of an A M. Even Barbara Anslow has no memory of anyone of that name, and she knew the family in camp and is still in touch with several of them today. There are still one or two more on the list whose identities I know, but whose records of death I can’t yet find – but I suspect that some of these may not have had British nationality (for example Oliver John Shannon who was apparently killed as a civilian in Manila – possibly American) and therefore are not recorded by CWGC.
20Bill Lakes kindly sent a rather good photo of Lt. Col. William Home of the Royal Rifles from a newspaper clipping.
19 This evening George Cautherley (himself born in Stanley Camp) organised a gathering at the Hong Kong Club to discuss the general question of Hong Kong’s historical archives, and what potential their future might hold. It was certainly a most distinguished group, and on the photo above one can see: Seated, font row, L to R: Chris Munn, Chloe Lai, our host George Cautherley, Vaudine England, Geoff Emerson. Standing, L to R: Philip Cracknell, Robert Bickers, Peter Cunich, Robert Nield, Tony Banham, David Bellis, John Wong. One thing I learned from this assembly of luminaries is that a five-part trilogy is called a quintet. I should have known that! 19 Tai Hang Wong kindly sent a photo of Norman Hoole France, HKVDC, who I note in Not The Slightest Chance was shot by a sniper at Stanley. However, in Sheridan’s diary I found the following entry: “As we were carting some cases from an upper bedroom I discovered a body in a cupboard at the top of the stairs. He had slumped down with a rifle between his knees and his brains had been shot out. Whether it was an accident or not we could decide. However, Tuck recognised the man as Professor France of Hong Kong University, a member of the H.K.V.D.C.” From this, and other notes found by Tai Hang, I think suicide is more likely. For the pictures themselves, the top one shows Mr France and Mrs. Selwyn-Clarke accompanying Madame Soong Ching Ling (Chairman of the China Defence League) boarding a launch (carrying medical supplies in aid of China war efforts) at Central in 1939. The lower picture shows the committee members of the China Defence League in 1938 outside a building on Seymour Road; Norman Hoole France, second from right, was the Honorary Treasurer and Hilda Selwyn-Clarke (third from right) the Honorary Secretary. Tai Hang also sent this link to a set of writing about (or by) the famous writer and HKU student Eileen Chang (the ‘From the Ashes’ link on that page has more about France). France was of course a professor of history at HKU.
18 Bill Lake kindly sent me a newspaper clipping from George Wong’s treason trial, which noted that the Japanese war memorial off Mount Cameron was intended to be the site of mass Hara Kiri following “the expected British invasion.” The base of the war memorial of course still exists, and rumours persist of an ancient Samurai sword buried inside.
17 Richard Keown’s daughter got in touch. Keown was in the Dockyard and was one of those who escaped on the Pakhoi which had sailed from Shanghai for Hong Kong on 20 November 1941. After she discharged her cargo on 28 November, with twenty-eight Britons and six Norwegians on board, she left. But when war came the ship would be intercepted by the Japanese, and taken with her passengers to Amoy and internment. Keown therefore ended up with a number of other Hong Kong Dockyard staff at the Haiphong Road Camp. At some point I must see if I can work out all the names of this group, many of whose wives and children (like my correspondent) would have been evacuated to Australia in 1940.
15 Tai Hang Wong let me know that Galen Perras’s rather good article “Defeat Still Cries Aloud for Explanation: Explaining C Force’s Dispatch to Hong Kong” can be downloaded here.
13Allah Rakka Khan (Punjabis) son-in-law got in touch. He notes that Khan: “moved from Pakistan to the UK in the late 1950s under an invitation letter from Field Marshall Auchinleck, presumably a general letter for those who served under him in the forces (although I have not seen this letter)… From his Certificate of Service which his wife has kept… it appears that he served in Malaya/Hong Kong in WWII as part of the Punjab Regiment. He was from a village in Punjab close to Jhelum which was the Punjab Regimental Centre. After the war this area of course became part of Pakistan.” Khan lived from 1921-1979. He continues: “Amazingly, his brother Allam Khan who was also serving, but whom Allah Rakka had not seen for 4 years, also survived the internment. They were reunited in hospital after their liberation by a nurse who twigged that there were two patients from the same place in the Punjab (called Chakanwali). What a great moment for them that must have been. His widow says that he was not wounded, but I did note on his Service record that there is reference to scars, but that may have been unrelated to the war as he continued in the army until 1956 I think. I think that his health probably suffered greatly as a result of his wartime privations and he died aged 59.” He also kindly sent a photo of the brother, Allam Khan.
10I received a very interesting email noting: “I recently discovered a POW bracelet engraved with the name J. T. Sayer. My uncle served in WWII on a naval ship that I understand took part in retrieving POWs from Japanese camps. A Mr. Jonathan Moffatt suggested that you might be able to provide information that would help me trace the gentleman’s family so that I could give them the bracelet. Barring that, is there somewhere I could send the bracelet? I don’t want to simply throw it out.” The bracelet is that of Corporal John Thomas Sayer, 7261964, Royal Army Medical Corps. He spent the entire POW period at Shamshuipo, and was then presumably repatriated on HMCS Prince Robert. A photo of the bracelet was kindly attached to the email and is reproduced above. I contacted the RAMC museum, but unfortunately they have no leads on the family. Can anyone help? 10 Seeing the note about the Bungalow C bombing last week, Bill Lake kindly sent the relevant part of John Charter’s diary which gives by far the most comprehensive account of the attach from the Stanley Camp side that I have ever seen. It was clearly a very major attack, and it’s a wonder that there were no fatalities outside the bungalow. Others were hit by 50-cal bullets from the strafing, and in at least one case a spent 50-cal cartridge case penetrated someone’s leg! I had often wondered about that when I picked these cases (and their larger brother, the 20mm) up on my local North Norfolk beach as a child. Falling from a fighter’s wings at the rate of 40 or 60 per second, they would have a fair amount of kinetic energy on impact. 10 Jen & Philip Burton, seeing the mention of ‘Darkie’ Elsworth last month, kindly sent a couple of paragraphs about him from WISP (William Sprague’s diary), which I passed to the family. They were very grateful.
4 Ben Wespi, great grandson of Joe Mason (Stanley internee buried in Stanley cemetery) passed through Hong Kong for the Sevens. Mason’s daughter Edith Badger who I corresponded with over many years and at great length, always claimed that he had been responsible for hiding much of Hong Kong’s bullion during the war years. 4 That’s it. The fourth book of my five part trilogy (!) on wartime Hong Kong - “Reduced to a Symbolical Scale”, the evacuation of British women and children from Hong Kong to Australia in 1940 - is finally complete (at least, from my side). Now it’s just a matter of waiting for publication. Hopefully we’ll see it in the summer.
1 Steve Denton sent me an interesting obituary of Norman Colley, RE, who appears to have been the man of that name who was on the Lisbon Maru. Colley passed away as recently as 9 February 2016, so somehow I missed contacting him. Steve also sent me a couple of POW poems, including one from Colley, and the well-known ‘A Prisoner’s Prayer’ by Roger Rothwell of the Middlesex (illustrated). 1 The South China Morning Post carried an interesting and timely warning on our unexploded ordnance.
April 1st, 2017 Update
Five generations of Harts in 2011 (courtesy Archie Hart), HKVDC Memorial at the National Arboretum (courtesy Andrew Suddaby), Elsworth and 'Uncle Albert' (courtesy Shane Honey) Iris Hay Edie book, Vigliada entry in St Paul's (author), Middlesex Ashtray (courtesy Craig Mitchell) North Point Camp interior and exterior (HK Gov files via author), Stanley 16.Jan.45 (courtesy Craig Mitchell)
James Hart - one of the few survivors of Hong Kong’s Eucliffe Massacre - has passed away at Wishaw General Hospital on 8 March 2017. Hart was born at 16 Eastvale Place, Glasgow, 26 January 1916 and was brought up in Craigneuk, Wishaw, going to Craigneuk Public School and then Wishaw Central Secondary School. He joined the Army at the age of 19, and was posted to Hong Kong in 1937. He was a driver in the Royal Army Service Corps, and when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong he served as Lieutenant-Colonel Ernest Fredericks’ personal driver and was thus very much in the thick of the action. Along with two hundred other RASC and RAOC men, he found himself at The Ridge as the Japanese penetrated through the middle of Hong Kong Island. Escaping southwards, he was captured and taken to Eucliffe where he and many other men were bayoneted. Fortunately his Sam Brown belt gave him some protection, but his seven bayonet wounds left him in such a condition that when the Japanese came to finish the wounded off, they ignored him. Once they had departed, he escaped towards Chung Hom Kok in no more than his underpants, finding some Canadian soldiers there. They watched a suicidal Japanese human wave attack south across St Stephen’s playing fields, then he showed the Canadians the way to Victoria. There he went to his local girl friend’s house, and turned himself in to the Japanese only after she had patched him up. After a period in Sham Shui Po POW camp he was shipped to Japan on the third draft, finally being liberated by the Americans from Nagoya #9B POW Camp. Leaving the army after returning to the UK, he married Elizabeth Yardley in January 1946 and they would have five sons. Initially he worked at the Excelsior Steel Works, Wishaw, and then returned to the Army in 1947, serving on the Rhine and on other postings until 1958. When he left the army the second time, following the closure of his station at Golden Hill Fort on the Isle of Wight, he worked for Pittis and Sons estate agents and then became a postman — a job he continued on the island until he retired. In retirement he enjoyed travel — visiting Australia, Italy and Canada, as well as Hong Kong, which he travelled to many times to view the war graves of fallen comrades. He was a well-known and active member of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes on the Isle of Wight, and was also a sports fan, enjoying playing outdoor bowls and darts.
28 Some very emotive personal effects turned up in the hills today, but I will leave it to the discoverers to break that news when they are ready. 28 Stuart McDonald, himself ex-Royal Scots, kindly sent a letter written by Private George Urquhart, Royal Scots, who survived the Lisbon Maru. There are many interesting things in the letter, but one quote which stuck in my mind was: “The next morning, small boats arrived from the big island, we had to give a watch or a ring to be taken to the other island. Hector (the CQMS) was the only one of the three of us that had a ring. He told us it was from his wife. He handed it over and the three of us were taken to the other island.” Hector was CQMS Hector Stoddart.
26I’ve been in contact with the son of Stanley internee Fred Myhill. Very interesting. 26 I noticed today that the HKVCA website has the Royal Rifles of Canada War Diary on it – a very useful resource. Unfortunately they don’t yet have the Winnipeg Grenadiers diary.
24While searching for something else entirely, I read the HK Government’s 1939 Medical Report. In it I found two photos which I had not seen before, showing the interior and exterior of what was then the brand new North Point Refugee Camp.
20 The family of Edward Boryer (HKDDC) got back in touch. They sent me a passenger list from 1941 showing Boryer’s voyage to Hong Kong. By coincidence Mrs and Master Danbrowsky of Stanley’s Bungalow A are listed there too! 20 Andrew Suddaby kindly sent a couple of photos of memorials at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. My wife and I visited twice a few years ago when attending Researching FEPOW History conferences, but I think these must be relatively new.
19Dealing with the interesting question of whether Bungalow C at Stanley was accidentally bombed by aircraft attacking a lighter off shore to its west, or by an aircraft attacking the camp in the incorrect belief that it was a Japanese barracks, the answer seems to be ‘probably’. Craig Mitchell kindly passed me the USS Cabot and USS Langley reports detailing the attack, which clearly state that the ‘barracks’ were strafed and the lighter was hit by one pair of aircraft. This makes sense as the internees reported the strafing, and one family has preserved a 50-cal bullet picked up on that day. However, another pair of aircraft claimed to have not only strafed, but also dropped 500-pound bombs on (and fired rockets at) the barracks, until they were ‘rendered unserviceable’– which seems unlikely as surely such a major attack would have been reported by the internees, unless these ‘barracks’ were actually Stanley jail rather than Stanley Internment Camp? At the moment that seems to be the most likely explanation because the reports included an amazing photo of Stanley taken that day, in which the Stanley Prison compound really does look like a barracks.
18 I discovered an error in my online records today. I list a Sister A.D. Stutchbury as a nurse. In fact this was a typing error, caused by me reading Mr A. D. Stutchbury’s name just above a list of sisters at the University Hospital, and incorrectly adding him to it when I typed the list up. Interestingly, though, in 1946 he married nurse Norah Witchell (who would later be murdered by terrorists in Malaya), the sister of May Witchell who became Brigadier Lindsay Ride’s second wife. 18 I finally finished the indexing of Reduced To A Symbolical Scale today and sent it off to Hong Kong University Press. That was four weekends’ work. Several people have suggested to me that software packages can do this job these days, but unfortunately that’s not really the case unless your topic is extremely simple. 18 Someone made yet another interesting find in the hills today, a Middlesex regimental ashtray! It doesn’t really make any sense at that particular location, so their best guess is that the Japanese had taken it as a souvenir.
15 Jim Trick let me know that the Spring edition of the HKVCA newsletter is now available. 15 I’ve been corresponding again with the family of Ernest William Wakeham. They note: “He led a very interesting life, the latter part of it in Hong Kong, working as one of two Admiralty Clerks. The other one was E F T Venables. He worked for the Senior Officer (Naval) Intelligence, and worked at (The) Naval Intelligence Centre, HM Dockyard, Hong Kong. Although officially classified as a ‘Civilian’, because he was an Admiralty employee and not a member of the Armed Forces, he was nonetheless imprisoned at Shamshuipo, along with the (mostly) military POW’s. As you know, he was shipped on the SS Lisbon Maru, to be used for slave labour in Japan, but perished in the tragedy. Having been born on 14 October 1879, he was sixty-five, when he died. Quite how much work the Japanese hoped to extract from a sixty-five year old, has to be a matter of conjecture – or possible desperation.” They have also kindly sent me a number of letters relating to the family after his death, which illustrate just how much tidying up of legal and family affairs had to be done after the end of the war. Wakeham had also received the Greek ‘Order of the Redeemer (fifth class), and Greek Medal of Military Merit (fourth class) for Great War service. The family still has the former, but presumably the latter went down with him (as friends noted that he was wearing a canvas crucifix when he was lost, into which he had sown jewelry and other valuables). They have also kindly sent me his unpublished biography, which looks very interesting.
13 Courtenay Eric ‘Darkie’ Elsworth’s (RA) son got in touch, kindly sending a couple of photos of his father. He notes that he has: “two books that were given to him that have helped with my research: Escape to Fight on by John Whitehead, and, Roll Call at Oeyama by Frank Evans. [My father] is mentioned in both and he met with Frank to aid his memory while Frank was writing his book/diary. John Whitehead asked my father to join them in the escape but he was undecided and chose not to go.” The man in the dark uniform was known as ‘Uncle Albert’, and was a close friend until many years after the war. I’ve been puzzling over the identity of ‘Uncle Albert’ and I suspect that’s a sergeant’s uniform, in which case (assuming he was in the same unit) it could be Sergeant Albert Farrington, or Sergeant Albert Shepherd. Either way he lived until at least 1995. Elsworth also recorded an oral history tape with the IWM, though unfortunately it’s not available online.
10 My copy of Adventure, Romance and War in the Far East by Iris Hay-Edie arrived today. I believe this was a Brian Edgar recommendation, and it covers the experiences of Hay-Edie who was a Scottish lass married to a Norwegian when the Japanese invaded. As a ‘friendly’ national she was allowed to escape to Macau. I believe I have (boasting now…) the world’s most complete library of published Hong Kong wartime non-fiction, but this one was new to me! If ever I’m able to publish the fully revised edition of Not The Slightest Chance, it contains a greatly expanded annotated bibliography of all the works in my collection which must now total around 300 volumes.
8Archie Hart, son of James Hart, RASC, let me know the sad news that his father passed away at 12.55 pm today of a stroke. I had thought he was indestructible, travelling independently until very recently. We’re down to very small numbers now. From the HKVDC (now that we’ve lost Jack Mitchell) I just know two survivors, plus two from the Royal Scots, but none that I’m now in contact with from the Middlesex, RN, Artillery, or other units. On the Canadian side we still have George Peterson (the last of the Winnipeg Grenadiers – see last month), Gerry Gerard (RCCS), and fourteen Royal Rifles including Bob Barter, Paul Dallain, Phil Doddridge and George MacDonell. From India, where I was never able to build a good network, I don’t know of any. 8 The Club Historian of Sefton RUFC, Liverpool contacted me as he is researching Corporal William Houston, HKVDC. According to his POW Index card, Houston hailed from Dunbarton, Scotland, and was born in 1888. That would have made him around 53 in 1941. He notes: “we had a W. Houston playing for our team in the 1913-14 season, they were known as ‘The Aliens’ then, a group of schoolteachers, but renamed Sefton in 1920. They always had a few drifters playing for them. I can't find anybody on the 1911 census that fits the bill apart from this William who was a travelling mechanic.”
6Owen Evans’s (internee) daughter joined the Stanley Camp group.
4 Had a good walk up Jardine’s Lookout early in the morning, and from the summit took a photo (illustrated) towards where we live. 4 Brian Edgar brought up an interesting topic: When was Stanley Internment Camp finally closed? He pointed to this page on gwulo.
3 I had a fascinating email from someone who thinks they may be related to Natalia Vigliada. I know nothing about this young lady except that she appears in HKPRO records as being Italian, eleven years old at the beginning of 1942, and in St Paul’s Hospital in Causeway Bay. She may be related (or even the daughter of) George Vigliada who eventually married a Tamara Golodnikoff. As always, any further information would be gratefully received.
March 1st, 2017 Update
Stuart Woods montage (Sing Pao, via facebook), Punjab War Diary (courtesy Mark Burch), Alfred Stickland (courtesy Terry Myatt) HK Radio Review program (courtesy Briony Widdis), Bob Tatz on Bowen Road (courtesy Bob Tatz), Belt Buckle (courtesy Craig Mitchell) Spitfire XIX over the IGH (via facebook), St Paul's Convent (courtesy Francis Cheung), George Petersen (courtesy HKVCA)
It’s amazing how dopey somebody (me, in this case) can be. For many years I ignored Mountain Lodge. I knew that only the old gatehouse was left as the house itself was demolished in 1946, so didn’t bother going to look. And yet twice a week I would charge up Hatton Road to walk round the Peak. Then towards the end of 2016 I finally took the steps up from the top of Hatton Road to Governor’s Walk (past two wartime Japanese tunnels), and discovered the wonderful Narnia-like park up there. Now I visit every time I walk up the Peak. Then on Saturday 25 of this month, instead of turning to my right and walking straight to the gatehouse I turned to my left. What had been a dismal low-clouded sky at six in the morning had become a very clear day by seven thirty, and I stumbled across the best view in Hong Kong, looking out over Lamma, Lantau, Cheung Chau and (had a tree not been in the way) Stonecutters and Kowloon. I took a photo for a passing Polish tourist, telling him that though I’d been living in Hong Kong for 30 years it was the first time I’d visited that particular spot. “Is nice view”, he said. He was right.
28 Wayne Carew (son of Duncan Boag Izatt of 3 Coy HKVDC) got back in touch to report the finding of some letters from ex 3 Coy men – including Bevan Field - to his father. There must be thousands like that out there, many of them holding useful snippets.
26 Making the most of this being the coldest day of the winter (seven degrees on the Peak), today I set off early to walk from Conduit Road to Quarry Bay. My route was Bowen Road, Wanchai Gap Road, Black’s Link, Wong Nai Chung Gap, the summit of Jardine’s Lookout, the summit of Mount Butler, down exactly 600 steps, then descending Mount Parker Road to King’s Road, and finally (cheating) the MTR back to Central. 26 Geoffre Arnold’s (HKVDC) family got in touch. He is in my records with the ‘Y’, but apparently that’s incorrect. With references to the 1940 evacuation they note: “He was a son of Eunice Arnold (nee Gaines), a widow. The siblings, oldest first, were George, Edward (died young in HK), Geoffre, Roger, Poppy and Nils. All except Geoffre were evacuated with Eunice.” It was quite common for older sons to be left in Hong Kong – usually in the HKVDC – when their younger siblings evacuated.
25 This is the first of two indexing weekends for Reduced to a Symbolical Scale. I cannot express how much I hate this job. Indexing a book requires such a high degree of concentration that I can do only ten pages at a time, and then I need a break. My kids taught me how to play League of Legends a few years back, so I index ten pages, play a game of ARAM, then index the next ten. Each set of ten takes me around 45 minutes. I’ll be glad when it’s over.
23 Alfred Stickland’s (Royal Navy) family got in touch. He was in my records erroneously as Strickland (a much more common spelling). See his photograph, together with others from the first draft to Japan, in the November update. His family notes that he passed away in south London in 1988.
22 Philip Cracknell has updated his blog about Erinville and Cash’s Bungalow.
21 Alexander Leslie’s (Royal Scots – see March 2016) great granddaughter got in touch saying that he would be 101 next month. 21 Steve Denton kindly sent me this interesting Exhibits file from the war crimes trial of Hiroyuki Morita. There are some affidavits from ex-HK POWs towards the back.
20 Brian Finch kindly pointed out that in the book The Sinking of The Lisbon Maru, I mistakenly used the reference PRO 234/1114 for the photo on the front page. It should of course have been WO 235/1114. It shows how easily proof-reading mistikes can be made…
19 Donald Penny’s (Royal Canadian Corps of Signals) nephew got in touch. This nephew is the younger brother of Burke Penny, who wrote the excellent book Beyond The Call about the Canadian Signallers in Hong Kong.
18 It’s funny how these things happen. Today on facebook appeared a photo of a Spitfire PR XIX overflying the other pre-war building visible from my Causeway Bay office! Immediately under its centre section is the Indian General Hospital.
15 Bob Tatz let me know that his autobiographical book Lifeboat Without A Rudder is nearing completion. I look forward to publicizing it (and reading it, obviously) later this year. He also kindly gave me permission to show an amazing photo of Bob and several other ‘stay outs’ on Bowen Road with Japanese officers. I walk past this spot every afternoon on the way back from the office. 15 I received a very welcome email today from a gentleman whose grandfather had served on the USS Gosper, and had repatriated survivors from the Lisbon Maru. They had presented him with poems by Alan Potter and Roger Rothwell. Both these were well-known poems among the POWs, but make a remarkable souvenir never the less. There is also a poem called “Let us give thanks” by Lt M.C. McGregor, but he doesn’t seem to have been from the Hong Kong garrison. 15 I received the proofs for Reduced To A Symbolical Scale today. Next comes the job of indexing, something that for some reason I detest!
14 Today’s Sing Pao ran a story about Stuart Woods and his amazing finds. Rather kindly, someone had put Not The Slightest Chance in the middle of the feature as a sort of product placement (thanks to ‘Mc Yu’ for putting the image on the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page). 14 Another nice blog from Phillip Cracknell, this time featuring Major Edward William Francis de Vere Hunt.
13Martin Heyes kindly sent a photo of the 1941 – 45 Roll of Honour from the Ohel Leah Synagogue in Robinson Road, Mid-Levels (illustrated). It includes two nurses, Leontine Ellis and Sarah Gubbay, who were both lost in 1942 but I don’t have the cause of death for either in my records. All the others, aside from Isaac Goldenberg of the HKRNVR, and David Kossick of Civil Defence who was lost on the Jeanette, were HKVDC.
12 John Goodenough’s (RA, Lisbon Maru) granddaughter got in touch. Unfortunately she has not responded to my replies. Check your spam filter, Anne! 12 Dave Deptford reports: “DNW March sale - Lot 218. Group to Brig MacLeod C.R.A HK and another to his wife, member of HK Vol Nursing Detachment.” Unfortunately there’s a sad addendum, his son’s medals are also included, and he was lost at El Alamein.
11 Mark Burch kindly sent me a copy of the 2/14 Punjab War diary (WO 172/1691).
8 Briony Widdis kindly sent me a Hong Kong Radio Review for 25 January 1941. Father Thomas F. Ryan later wrote the book: Jesuits Under Fire in the Siege of Hong Kong (1944). 8 The HKVCA (web page, facebook page) posted a photo of George Petersen today, stating that he is the last of the Hong Kong Winnipeg Grenadiers still with us.
7 Avery Tong kindly let me know that Lt Col Reginald David Walker’s (OBE, MC, ED, HKVDC) medals are available on eBay. He moved from Malaya to Hong Kong in 1934, where he was appointed Acting Manager and Chief Engineer of Kowloon-Canton Railway, and was advanced to Manager and Chief Engineer in August the same year. He commanded the HKVDC REs during the fighting, and was badly wounded in Wong Nai Chung Gap and rescued by two Winnipeg Grenadiers. When the Japanese finally overran those shelters, he helped negotiate a relatively bloodless surrender.
6Francis Cheung kindly sent a few recent photos of St Paul’s Convent, one of two historical buildings (the other being the old Indian General Hospital – or Tung Hwa Eastern Hospital) that I can see from my office window.
4 I generally don’t report on things found in the hills any more as so much is in a dangerous state, but an interesting belt buckle (1908 patent. HKVDC?) turned up today. Something rather more valuable, but dating from just after the war, also turned up a few weeks ago.
1 Elizabeth Ride asked for photos of Grayburn, Morrison, and Fenwick of the HSBC, to illustrate the BAAG volume she is currently working on, and the bank’s archivist kindly sent a number of possible illustrations. Grayburn (together with Edmonston) of course died of mistreatment in Stanley prison, but Morrison and Fenwick were spirited out of Hong Kong in a daring rescue led by BAAG agent 64 and involving 48 and 19.
February 1st, 2017 Update
Jack Mitchell (courtesy Kenneth l'Anson), Gerald Golledge (courtesy Julie Heyer), Commemorating H.W.M. Dulley (courtesy Hugh Dulley) Alan Weare, RAF (courtesy Jim Stewart), US bombing of Hong Kong (via Tai Hang Wong), Uncle Mac's Hong Kong Diary (author) Rajputs and Gilman's garage (via facebook), Marcel Doiron (courtesy Robert Chan), Food Control notice (courtesy Roger Stride, Via Martin Heyes)
Lunar New Year is my favourite time for walking round Hong Kong, as it’s so quiet. Twice this holiday I did my favourite local route of Hatton Road, Governor’s Walk, Mount Austin Road, Old Peak Road, and once I trudged Bowen Road, Wanchai Gap Road, Coombe Road, Barker Road, and down Old Peak Road again. Both times it was dripping wet – well inside cloud level at the top – and neither time did I see more than twelve to twenty other people (though admittedly I left home pretty early). But there are times on both walks when all you can see is Hong Kong as it was seventy-five years ago (or seventy-two, perhaps, if you count the two Japanese-built tunnels off Governor’s Walk).
30Philip Cracknell has published the next edition of his monthly blog about wartime Hong Kong. 30 One more chat with Elizabeth Ride over dinner today. Hopefully we’ll have a chance for at least one further before she departs.
26 Hugh Dulley (see last month) kindly sent me a photo of him commemorating the 75th anniversary of the death of his father Lt.Cdr. H.W.M. (Peter) Dulley. His father was leading a small group from HKRNVR, which was supporting army units defending Postbridge from the Japanese. This was a part of the defence of Wong Nai Chung Gap which fell shortly afterwards. 26 I heard today from the Hart family that James Hart, RASC, is celebrating his 101st birthday. 26 William Shore kindly sent the Stanley Group the UNRRA personnel file of his great uncle, Chris Evans, who was interned at Stanley and then other internment camps in Shanghai.
25 Henry Macnamara’s (RA, Stanley Internee) family got in touch via Ron Taylor (UK).
23 At lunchtime today I had my annual speaking engagement at GlenEaly primary school, talking about famous and interesting people from Hong Kong’s wartime past. I had the usual good questions, but my favourite had to be: “How old are you?” The teachers were perhaps a little embarrassed by it, but I thought it a fair and logical question. It’s not easy for kids that age to distinguish whether I was old enough to be describing times I’d lived through or not. But it reminded me of an incident when my mother was a teacher, describing to the kids how Ancient Britons used to live in caves, hunt mammoths, etc. until one little lad put up his hand and asked: “How old were you when you lived in the caves, Mrs Banham?” 23 Today Elizabeth Ride told me a fascinating BAAG story that I’d not heard before, about a Hong Kong-based New Zealand engineer who was at sea when the Japanese attacked, but had a wife and children in the Colony. Somehow he made his way into China, contacted BAAG, and gave them the information they needed to contact his wife and then smuggle her and the children out to Samfou where they were reunited! 23 An America 500 pound AN64 GP bomb turned up in construction work in Pok Fu Lam today, necessitating the evacuation of several buildings as it was dealt with. Tai Hang Wong sent an interesting photo of an American bombing raid, possibly that responsible for this device.
20 Jack Mitchell’s funeral was today, at St Wilfrid’s Church, Haywards Heath at 2pm. 20 Steve Denton (see August) kindly sent me several affidavits concerning Joe Denton’s skull being fractured by the guard Furuya (the ‘Pay Sergeant’) at Kobe. I also found a note about Denton in Sergeant Poulter’s diary: “Christmas Day 1944. A happy Christmas to all at home and I feel sure that I shall be with you for the next one. My finest present today was a card from my wife. The prisoners put on a pantomime; it was based on ‘Alfs Button’. This one concerned two prisoners who had pinched a magic ring. It was very well done and most of the credit must go to Norman Colley and Joe Denton. One of the chaps did some card tricks and I was his stooge. I think I did fairly well!” 20 Francis Cheung kindly sent an old photo of The Sailors Home & Seamen's Institute with HMS Tamar and The Peak in the background.
19 Robert Chan kindly sent me a copy of Uncle Mac’s Hong Kong Diary, a book I’d been trying to get hold of for at least a year.
17 We had a family dinner with Elizabeth Ride today to discuss, in part, my fifth (and hopefully final…) book in my Hong Kong 1940-45 series. 17 Kevin Liu notes that his article about the battle in Time has been published.
16 I had a very lunch today with the ‘minders’ for my walks with the Hong Kong Club. We have a new plan for next year’s season. 16 Harry Butler’s (RN, Lisbon Maru) granddaughter got in touch. 16 Dave Deptford notes: “Currently on eBay - Grp 7 medals (WW1 and WW2) to George Wright MORRISON, apparently a Lt Commander R.N, and attached to HMS Tamar at the time of his capture December 1941. WW1 service R.N., left 1921, farming in New Zealand and recalled/volunteered for WW2 service. Blurb states he was held in HK and eventually retired as a Commander.” But it appears this has been taken off eBay already. However, the seller’s website (search for Hong Kong) is worth a look.
15Today I returned to Hong Kong University Press (eight days early!) my revised chapters for the new book. I also passed Dr Colin Ride the first draft of my next article for the Royal Asiatic Society. This is the short history of Bungalow A, St Stephen’s College. 15 On facebook an interesting December 1941 photo appeared, of soldiers of the 5/7th Rajputs being transported through Wanchai on a commandeered commercial lorry. What makes it interesting is the fact that they are going past Gilman’s Garage, which of course became Monkey Stewart’s HQ during the vital defence of that area.
13Martin Heyes kindly sent me hard copies of several papers concerning Roland Stride (provided by the latter’s son). The most interesting for me was a list of food control officers. 13 Francis Cheung kindly recommended a good Gwulo article about war relics in the Shaukeiwan area.
12 Walter & Catherine Pryde’s (Stanley Internees) grandson got in touch. He is hoping to learn more about his grandparents’ lives in Hong Kong before the war. I passed him the little I had. 12 A nice article about Barbara Anslow in the SCMP today. 12 I heard that John Pearce, of the Hong Kong Pearce family, son of Tam (lost in the fighting), member of the RA, Shamshuipo escapee, BAAG stalwart, and famed businessman and racehorse owner, passed away today. “PEARCE John on 12th January 2017, aged 98. Formerly of Hong Kong, died peacefully at home in Newmarket. Dearly loved uncle of Daphne and great-uncle of Hugo, Edmund and George. Funeral service at the West Suffolk Crematorium, Bury St Edmunds, 1P28 6RR, on Thursday 26th January, at 9.45am. Family flowers only. Donations, if desired, to The Injured Jockeys Fund c/o Southgate of Newmarket Funeral Directors, 25 Duchess Drive, Newmarket, CB8 8AG. Tel: 01638 662480.” Hopefully The Telegraph will run a full obit at some point.
11 Jack Mitchell’s nursing home and family all contacted me with the sad news that he passed away today. He was the last HKVDC veteran I was in regular contact with, and I learned a great deal from him. He was 95 and seemed pretty much lucid to the end. 11 A correspondent is asking if anyone knows where the Stanley Internment Camp marriage records are?
10 The Java Journal (newsletter of the Java Far East Prisoners of War Club 1942) contained the following two short announcements: “Civilian Internee Isabel Batey died on 5th December. Her first husband was Alan Frank Walkden, who had served with the 1st Hong Kong Regiment and died at Kobe in 1943. Isabel herself had been held at Stanley Camp. Joan Bull on 16 December 2016 (widow of S/Sgt Edward Arthur Bull RAOC held in Hong Kong).” 10 Ronald Mason’s (Middlesex) son got in touch. (See last month).
9 George Bearman’s (HKDDC) granddaughter got in touch via Ron Taylor (UK). This is another case of the family believing he was on the Lisbon Maru, whereas in fact he was on the third draft from Hong Kong. 9 Robert Chan kindly sent me a set of documents and photos relating to Marcel Doiron, Royal Rifles of Canada.
6 Ali Asgar’s (HKSRA) son got in touch via Ron Taylor in the UK. Asgar is yet another Indian POW not in my records, but fortunately he is included in one of the nominal rolls that appear in Barman’s Resist to The End (which seems to be rapidly becoming book of the month…) in the list entitled ‘Nominal Roll of Indian Prisoners of 1st HKSRA Regiment at North Point Camp as of 21 March 1942’. 6 Gerald Golledge’s (RA, Lisbon Maru) granddaughter got in touch, kindly sending a photo. I was very pleased to see this as Golledge was one of the unlucky ex-POWs killed in the ditching of B24 Les Miserables which was flying him to Manila from Okinawa and I’ve always been particularly interested in that group. He is also mentioned several times in Barman’s Resist To The End. His wife and three children evacuated to Australia, and like many others who lost a husband she decided to stay there post-war. 6 Today I concluded my discussions with Leilah Wood in Canada about Bungalow A, St Stephen’s College where she was interned. I wish I could find out more about Renee and Hugh Dingsdale; I think there’s more there than meets the eye.
4John Donnelly’s (Royal Scots) niece got in touch, kindly sending a photo (illustrated). They were a poor family. She notes that he lost five brothers and sisters as children, to Encephalitis, tuberculosis, bronchitis, jaundice and malnutrition. 4 Jim Stewart kindly sent a photo of Alan Weare, RAF (see December). 4 A new account of Stanley, by Kathie Hamilton, has been published on Gwulo.
1In answer to last week’s query about the provenance of Tamworth’s Wong Nai Chung Gap map, Rob Weir notes: “I have a copy which I took from WO 106/2401A, which is part of Maltby’s Despatch.” 1 Thanks to Bill Lake, I re-found the Hong Kong Journals Online of the Royal Asiatic Society. Well worth a browse. There are many Second World War articles there, as well as others of equal interest.
Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Edition
December Images, I
Banham & Dalgleish (courtesy Ben Dalgleish), Re-enactors at Tsimshatsui (both author) Hurst escape map (via eBay), Hurst's daughter and son in law (courtesy Ralph Reimers), Barbara Anslow (courtesy Janet Hayes) Kindred Spirits, Hong Kong View Dec 2016 (both author), Gunner Muhammad Sadiq, HKSRA (courtesy Mohammad Zubair)
December Images, II
Stanley nurses, inside St Stephen's (courtesy Roger Stride), Mountain Lodge Gatehouse (author) Canadian Memorial Service (courtesy Francis Cheung), Bob Newton's grave (author), Pinewood Battery under fire (via facebook) Maltby by Skvorsov (courtesy Luba Estes), Douglas Ford's POW Index card (courtesy Iain Gow), Tamworth map
As the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong, this has been the busiest month that I can recall. I have actually lost count of the number of articles, films, and projects I have assisted with – which contrasts hugely with the seventieth anniversary which passed with scarcely a murmur. What a difference five years can make; the increase of interest in this period of Hong Kong’s history has been as surprising as it has been intense. The Daily Mail (several articles), The Guardian, South China Morning Post (several articles), New York Times, Globe and Mail, Hong Kong Free Press, RTHK, and I probably missed others. My favourite memorial, though, has to be living one of the Watershed re-enactment, which was so atmospheric – especially when they were on the Star Ferry.
So to celebrate this special month, for the first, last, and only time I am increasing the usual nine featured photos to eighteen.
31 Celebrated the last day of 2016 by taking a walk up the Peak and continuing up to Governor’s Walk to photograph the Mountain Lodge gatehouse, and Haystacks and other old buildings on the way down.
28 I satisfied another minor ambition today, walking from home on Conduit Road through the hills to Stanley. The route was Bowen Road, Wong Nai Chung Gap, the catchwater path around Violet Hill, the catchwater path around The Twins, then Stanley Gap Road; total time three hours. To be honest I didn’t see much – certainly not many people as it was the coldest day of the winter so far – but it was still enjoyable. 28 An Alberta newspaper ran a Hong Kong 1941 report today. Interestingly, Gerry Gerard was one of many Brits in C Force (other obvious ones being Lawson, Osborn, and Hennessy – the latter being born in Ireland before Eire was created).
27Mohammad Sadiq’s (HKSRA) grandson got in touch again (see November), this time sending a very welcome photo of his grandfather, plus a post-Partition service document (showing that he joined the Pakistani army in 1948, and that he had served in the Royal Indian Arty from 1941-46), and his 1941-45 medal. If I could have wished for one thing from Santa this year it would have been a complete list of all Indian Army Hong Kong POWs! It is a great shame – and an embarrassment – that my records of the Indians are so sketchy. I would be extremely grateful to anyone who could point me to better lists than I have. 27 The Guardian today ran a story on the re-enactment. It focused (as did most of the comments beneath it) on the political aspects, but it was still good to see it in the mainstream press. 27 It being a beautiful clear morning in Hong Kong, though cool, I walked up The Peak and took a great photo of a rare haze-free view over the city into the New Territories.
25John Green’s (RA, Lisbon Maru) second cousin got in touch. 25 Harold Holden’s (civilian working for RASC) niece got in touch, sending a very kind email. Earlier I had helped add Holden’s name to CWGC lists. Interestingly, Harold’s brother Thomas was captain of HMHS Oxfordshire. 25 Alan Weare’s (RAF) nephew got in touch. Weare was one of five RAF/RAFVR men who went missing in The Ridge area on December 20th, and being RAF rather than Army he is remembered on the Singapore memorial.
24 The RTHK show I helped with last weekend was broadcast today and can be seen online here. The segment about the invasion starts at around 11.25. 24 I was contacted by the family of a Leading Aircraftsman John McKee, who they believe was in Hong Kong until 1946. There is indeed a man of that name on my POW lists, but as there John McKee was married in Scotland in 1944 he must be a different person. My bet is that he was one of the 3,400 RAF men who arrived for the reoccupation on 4 September 1945.
23 Craig Smith’s article about Lawson came out in the New York Times and Globe and Mail today. I had put him in touch with the Lawson family, and his biographer. During numerous email exchanges I sent him Lieutenant Tamworths map of the defences at the bottom of Wong Nai Chung Gap, but I can’t remember where I found it (I’ve had it twenty years)! I’m sure it was the PRO, but I don’t recall which file. But the Lawson family were pleased with the article, which is the main thing. 23 The Great Christmas MTB Escape was today featured in the South China Morning Post in the style of a Boy’s Own cartoon. 23 Iain Gow kindly sent me the POW Index cards for the two Royal Scots Ford brothers. 23 Victoria Phillips, granddaughter of American Stanley Internee Richard Sanger, is visiting Hong Kong today. After that she is touring Hiroshima with friends originally from there, who put together this fascinating private documentary about how their whole family survived the bomb.
22 Ben Dalgleish kindly sent a few more photos, including one of about 100 members of the Chindit Hong Kong Volunteers.
19 The South China Morning Post ran a story today about the re-enactment. 19 Today Hong Kong University Press sent me the proofs of my new book (Reduced to a Symbolical Scale) for checking. Submission date: January 20. 19 The Dulleys today visited the site of Postbridge, to place flowers where Hugh’s father was killed seventy-five years ago to the day.
18 Spent the whole morning filming a short documentary with RTHK. The only problem was that I thought it was going to be radio, and hadn’t even shaved! As soon as I saw their van, I thought it held rather more cameras than generally used on radio… Anyway, we filmed various pieces to camera at both Pinewood Battery and Sai Wan Cemetery. By good fortune a Japanese photograph of Pinewood Battery under fire had appeared on facebook that very morning, which was useful to explain the situation to the film crew. While in Sai Wan, I took a particularly evocative photo of Bob Newton’s grave, just one day short of the seventy-fifth anniversary of his death.
17The copy of Britain At War magazine, kindly sent to me by George Boote, arrived today. The Hong Kong article (on CSM Osborn, VC) had nothing much to add, but was well enough done. It still claimed all the action was on Mount Butler, despite descriptions, archaeological evidence, and veterans’ accounts placing it on Jardine’s Lookout.
16 The South China Morning Post ran yet another 1941 story today. (A fully attributed version of this article can be seen here). 16 Today I had the pleasure of meeting Hugh Dulley and his wife Barbara who were visiting Hong Kong. Hugh kindly gave me a copy of his father’s book, A Voyage To War. 16 My copy of Canadians Behind Enemy Lines by Roy Maclaren (see last month) arrived today, and it does indeed include a section about Mike Kendall training Chinese Canadians later in the war.
15 Tai Hang Wong notes: “The local Chinese newspaper Apple Daily today reports that the Conservancy Association Centre For Heritage will premiere a new documentary tomorrow on Alec Michael Wright who is now 104 years young and living in the UK. The film covers the life and contribution of Alec Wright in the development of public housing estates of Hong Kong. The Lai Tak Estate on Tai Hang Road was named in honour of Alec when he was the Director of Public Works. The official Chinese name of Alec Wright is Woo Lai Tak (塢勵德).” I used to correspond with Michael twenty or so years ago. 15 Diary extracts for 12 to 31 December 1941 from "In Time of War" have been appearing on the ProversePress facebook page, continuing up to 31 December 2016.
14Eric Buttress’s (listed as a civilian, but killed on Jeanette) grandson got in touch. His wife Doris and two older children (she was pregnant with the third) had privately evacuated to Canada. 14 Today was that special and exciting day of the year when I receive my annual royalty cheque from Hong Kong University Press! All three of the books I wrote with them are still available, and each year they pay me my dues for that year’s sales. Now, many people seem to think that publishing books about the war in Hong Kong must some how enrich me, so for full disclosure my income from this year came to the grand sum of HK$1,973.74. Bearing in mind that simply keeping an advertisement-free website costs me roughly three times that per year, and you can see that this isn’t really a profit-making enterprise! Also, by tradition, I just use the money to buy something for my wife to thank her for her patience with this endeavour!
13 Finalising my Short History of Bungalow A (at St Stephen’s College), today I interviewed Leilah Wood by phone. As a teenager, she was interned in the bungalow and has very clear memories of the experience. She has also been enormously helpful to me in mapping the internees to their rooms. 13 Muhammad Ilahi’s (HKSRA) widow got in touch. 13 A number of visitors have complained about the state of the Wong Nai Chung Gap trail. Their point is justified (some signboards and other facilities are in a state of disrepair), but I’m not sure who really has authority over it now. We did most of the planning/design/erection in 2003-2005, and I believe that all the government representatives I worked with on the project have now moved on to other responsibilities. 13 It seems that Philip Cracknell’s mission to have the water pipe removed from PB2 has been successful. It will be buried underground, preserving the original view of the historic pillbox.
12Through Ron Taylor (UK) I am in touch with the family of Leonard Robinson (Middlesex). Robinson was on the third draft to Japan, and Ron has discovered that – at least to the Middlesex, and logically enough – this was also known as ‘C Draft’.
11 This morning I crossed over to Kowloon on the Star Ferry to witness the Watershed Group’s re-enactment celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the battle. Around 25 of them were in the area of the clock tower, dressed in pretty accurate 1941 HKVDC uniforms but very sensibly without carrying any fake arms. One of their number was Ben Dalgleish, Ip Kwong Lau’s grandson (see Dec 5).
10 The Hong Kong Free Press today published an article on the Free French in the defence of Hong Kong. (This also appeared in the Daily Mail). 10 Martin Heyes kindly let me know about a second Hong Kong 1941 article in the Daily Mail. 10 Luba Estes sent a very kind email, noting: “Amongst my father’s papers I have a copy of that London Gazette that Maltby sent to him with a personal note on the top right. It says: ‘Dear Skvorzov. As a member of the Garrison of Hong Kong I know you would like a copy of my dispatches. Yours sincerely C.M. Maltby.’ While Maltby was a prisoner at the Argyle Street camp, my father made two sketches of him. During the 1965 reunion at the camp, my father must have asked Maltby to sign one of the sketches, which he did. The sketches have been seen before, but I will post them anyway.”
9Keith Grant kindly sent me a newspaper clipping of uncertain provenance, featuring a photo of ex-Hong Kong POWs at Sendai Camp. Unusually – but very usefully – it included an annotated photo of a number of POWs including Manassah Rakusen. I sent it to his son, who was very pleased with this ‘early Christmas present’! In return, I received his collection of Sendai #2B photos.
8Barbara Davies kindly let me know that the article about the HKVDC that she wrote for the Daily Mail has been published. 8 Richard Finch’s (RN, Lisbon Maru) nephew got in touch. He notes: “the story shared to my dad through one of the survivors (my Uncle Richie’s friend) who visited my dad’s family after the war was that Richie made it out of the holds and was gunned down in the water where he told his friend: ‘I’m not going to make it.’ Richie was a Leading Seaman who used to swim out and disarm the mines in the water. From what I am told he also was the boxing champion for his weight class.” 8 Janet Hayes kindly sent me a photo of her aunt Barbara Anslow on the occasion of her ninety-eighth birthday. 8 Mark Wavell let the Stanley Group know that his cousin, Stanley internee Isobel Joan Walkden (nee Mason) passed away on 5th December 2016 aged 99. She was living in a nursing home in Corbridge, Northumberland and died peacefully in her sleep. 8 The HKVCA’s latest newsletter is available here. 8 The Royal Asiatic Society’s November newsletter is available here.
7Both George Boote and Al Coleby kindly let me know that Lieutenant Commander Gandy’s personal account of his escape from Hong Kong was for sale on eBay. I immediately reached out to Gandy’s family to ensure they were aware of this (previous experience has taught me that sometimes such items are stolen). They assured me that it couldn’t be his as they had donated all his papers to the IWM. When I looked at the item online I quickly saw from the escape route map and other items that it was actually Hurst’s account of his 1942 escape. I contacted the seller and pointed this out, in parallel reaching out to Hurst’s family. The latter believed the item was legitimate (it was probably Hurst’s 94-year-old son Billy’s copy), and in our correspondence kindly sent me an updated photo of Hurst’s daughter and son-in-law. The seller then listed the item again under the correct name and it finally sold for 900 pounds.
6 Martin Heyes mentioned taking a visitor along the Wong Nai Chung Gap trail, whose maternal grandfather was Ronald Mason of the Middlesex. This was very useful for me as the Shamshuipo records had listed a Mason with no Christian name who I had not previously been able to identify. According to the family, he was in D Company.
5 Ben Dalgleish (see last month) sent me a set of photographs of his HKCR, Chindit, and SAS grandfather Ip Kwong Lau. One was taken immediately after he passed his SAS parachute training (illustrated). 5 Cecil Shipp’s (Royal Engineers, Lisbon Maru) great granddaughter got in touch. She notes that Shipp’s wife was born in Hong Kong, of Portuguese ancestry, but her maiden name was Small and her mother’s maiden name was Frank – neither of which sound very Macanese. 5 I received this question today: “I am trying to research a Mr. H. Da Luz, Portuguese gentleman that lived in HK during the war, I have heard from several sources that he produced some sort of diary or memoir, have you heard of this name? Or better still the memoirs?” Although I have several ‘Da Luz’ in my files, none have the initial H. Can anyone help? 5 The manager of the Hong Kong Club kindly sent me a copy of their new history, Kindred Spirits by Vaudine England. It looks very good.
4 For the first time in several years I missed the annual Canadian memorial service at Sai Wan. However, Francis Cheung and others said it was well attended, and kindly sent me some photographs. The Canadian Consulate posted the Consul’s speech here.
3Roger Stride (see last month) kindly sent me a large set of photos relating to Stanley Internment Camp, a couple of which I had not seen, and several of which were much better quality than the copies I had previously found. 3 The Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society published their latest newsletter today.
2 I received this question from a researcher into Hong Kong postal history: “I am looking for information on Sergeant Frederick William Richards who served with the RAMC in Hong Kong in 1941 and perhaps earlier. He unfortunately died in hold 2 of the Lisbon Maru. Do you have any other information about him? I have him down as a British soldier - I guess this is correct. There is an existent 1941 correspondence (mainly airmail envelopes) between Sgt Richards and his wife Mrs K P Richards who lived (in 1941) at Bondi, Sydney. Perhaps she was evacuated to Australia, as many others were, from Hong Kong in 1940. Are you able to check whether she was indeed one of the evacuees? Sgt Richards stated his address as Reception Station, Whitfield Barracks, Kowloon - he used the term British Reception Station in one case. Do you have any information or ideas about this establishment?” I was able to answer all the questions except the last. I have never heard of the Reception Station.
1 Peter Hall got back in contact. On the famous photo of the Stanley kids sitting on the concrete steps at liberation, he notes: “The photo I mentioned above appears in my book, ‘In the Web’ edition 1, page 60, and in edition 2, page 65. I am on the extreme left (half of me) wearing an Army beret with bandaged right knee. Gerald Rose, my good friend, is on the extreme right, hand raised. We are both bare chested. Sorry I didn't inform you about my Aunt Phyllis Bliss's death 26 May 2014. At her Special 100th Birthday party at the Peninsula Hotel on 30 June 2013, there were a total of 49 persons present, mainly her relatives from all over the world. Bryan, her son, had to get special permission from the CWGC to have her urn placed on Uncle Sonny's grave.” This is actually very rare. My reading of the history of the CWGC (see October) made me understand – and appreciate - very clearly their general objection to personal memorials. 1 Dave Deptford notes: “Chippenham Auction Rooms, Sale Dec 2nd, Lot 594 (Illustrated) thro "Saleroom". Described as WW2 POW 1941 item (a wooden box, appears to be similar to a cigar box), Naval Badge carved on top of lid, inscription thus on inside - Capt S F Lane, HK Naval Dockyard Defence Corps - Prisoner of War of Imperial Japanese Army No 2916".
December 1st, 2016 Update
Brenda Morgan (courtesy Jo Price), Yokohama #19 (courtesy John Hills), Hong Kong Cenotaph (author) Jack Mitchell (courtesy Rosemary Mitchell), Frode's new book (courtesy Frode Olsen), Sea Gull Press (courtesy Tom Thomson) A Coy nominal roll, HKVDC 1940 Year Book (all courtesy Briony Widdis)
Probably ten years ago my publisher suggested I write a book about researching history on the Internet. He did not, of course, mean simply finding things on websites, but using the internet to reach out to people to discover documents and data previously unknown to historians. I didn’t have time, but looking back now I see that as the golden age of internet research. In those days I had the only website dedicated to Hong Kong’s wartime history, so all I had to do was make myself visible, and they would come. Today, of course, there are many such websites, facebook pages, and blogs (keeping many people fascinated and engaged), but from my selfish point of view new information is now far more fragmented. So it was particularly pleasing this month to receive information on A Company HKVDC, a formation that as far as I know really was unknown to historians until this month.
30 Tai Hang Wong very kindly presented me with one of the Canadian 1941 commemoration coins mentioned last month.
28HKUP Sent me the mock-up of the front cover for the new book, which is quite exciting even though it probably won’t be available until mid-2017. 28 A lovely find from Brian Edgar: “Ellen Field remained out of Stanley by claiming to be Irish. During the occupation she worked with Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke and interpreter Kiyoshi Watanabe ('Uncle John') to provide legal and illegal relief to the men in Shamshuipo. She also engaged in the even more dangerous work of helping soldiers to escape. Her memoir 'Twilight in Hong Kong' has long been acknowledged as an excellent source for the history of the occupation. However, it is not widely known that the online videos of the 1954 Miss Universe competition are also a source document for serious researchers! Miss Hong Kong came third that year - out-performing a fourth place in the first competition in 1952. The representative was Virginia Lee Wai-chun - who was one of the three daughters of Ellen Field, all of who lived with her through the occupation. [She] was given a film contract with Universal-International Studios as a result of her success. She made one film, 'So This is Paris' (1955), which starred Tony Curtis. She obviously did well, as she was offered a further contract, but gave up the chance of stardom to marry an American sailor, Roger Glasby, who she'd met in Hong Kong. I think she's the one on (the viewer's) far right in the line up of the last five about 40 seconds in.”
25TK Wong noticed the July request for the location of Royal Scots HQ at Skeet Ground. He notes: “Today, it is no.298, Wo Yi Hop Road Sports Ground and Golf Centre. It was about 100 meters north of the former Tung Chun Soya and Can Factory site.”
24 Bill Lake was asking if anyone knew what happened to the Shamshuipo cello after the war? It was made from all sorts of odds and ends in camp by Royal Rifles of Canada Corporal Stewart Hendersen and Riflemen Wilbur Lester and Kalle Ampi for Major Maurice Parker. It certainly survived to liberation as several 1945 photographs of it exist. 24 George Boote reports that December’s edition of Britain at War includes a ten-page article on Osborn and his VC. 24 Tom Thomson kindly sent me a scan of the Admiral Hughes onboard newssheet (‘Seagull Press’) for 3 October 1945. Although I have copies of similar from several repatriation vessels, I think this is the first I’ve seen from Hughes.
21 Jo Price, Joan Whiteley’s (QAIMNS) daughter who I was in touch with ten or so years back, kindly sent me a photo of Sister Brenda Morgan, killed by a shell at St Albert’s. Her fiancé, ‘Mickey’ Holliday (they were engaged the Sunday before her death), was of course killed a few days later on December 19. A correspondent on the Stanley Group added: “Brenda Morgan's family suffered another loss, her brother Lt Brian Churchill Morgan RA was killed in North Africa in Nov 1942 aged 21, he had married a few months earlier.”
20Martin Heyes kindly put me in touch with Roger Stride whose father was interned in Bungalow A at Stanley. 20 Steele-Perkins’s daughter let me know that she has found a cache of twenty or so photos labelled ‘Hong Kong ARP’. Might be some gems there!
18 Muhammad Sadiq’s (HKSRA) grandson got in touch.
16 I generally don’t report much on items from the fighting found in the hills, as there’s too much chance that one day someone is going to dig in the wrong place and blow themselves up. But there was a very interesting find today, which we may hear more of later.
15Martin Heyes let me know that he is taking Meirion Price’s (Winnipeg Grenadiers) son on the Wong Nai Chung Gap trail today. He has also found the citation for Price’s Military Medal.
13 This morning I visited the Cenotaph in Hong Kong as people were gathering for the ceremony, and took a couple of photos. 13 Today I heard of a book called “Canadians Behind Enemy Lines” which apparently includes a mention of Canadian agents trained by Mike Kendall of HKVDC / SOE fame. I have ordered a copy. My copy of the Royal Marines book mentioned last month arrived, but was disappointing as it had no new information on those at HMS Tamar. 13 Rosemary Mitchell kindly sent a new photo of Jack Mitchell, HKVDC.
13Dave Deptford kindly let me know that Albert Percy Alliston’s RN medals are for sale: “Vide Saleroom - Lawrence's, Crewkerne - Sale on 17.11.2016, Lot 254. Group of Four (39-45, Pacific, War and RN LSGC) to captioned A.B., Service Number PJ 97838. Blurb states captured 29.12.1941 and later held in Osaka. Est GBP70.00.”
12 John Hills very kindly let me use a unique propaganda photo of POWs from the first draft at Yokohama #19 under Lieutenant James Ford, MC, Royal Scots. His father ‘Bumpy’ Hills is in the photo, and provided a names list which I have reproduced as accurately as I can below. Note that where there is more than one possibility (the names were not complete), I have indented the possible alternative names together: Tokyo #19D Yokohama Stevedore, Christmas 1944 Ford, Jimmy A. 2nd Lieutenant Macdonall, ‘Dad’ Thomas Gunner Holmes, Charles R. Corporal Tom? Illegible RN Whippey, Charles Lance Sergeant Broderick, John G. Gunner Smith, Leo Grant Bombardier Smith, Kenneth W. Lance Bombardier Glasby, Ronald Gunner Bolam, David Private Robertson, Hugh Private Robertson, John Private Mew, Ronald E. Bombardier Hancock, William D. A.B. Breen, Cecil Gunner Hunt, Harry Howard Gunner Petican, Arthur F. Gunner Purdue, Harry Lance Bdr. McDonald, Alex Private McDonald, Archibald Private Dyke, Fred R. Private Hills, William L. Private Boyle, Edward Private Bartlett, Leonard H. Sapper Berkeley, ‘Taggy’ Thomas Gunner Robertson, Robert C. Lance Corp. McCormick, Joseph Gunner Longson, Arthur Private Earl, Norman Leslie L/Sergeant Walton, Thomas Henry Private Tigerhashi-San (Interpreter) Edwards, Cyril Private White, Albert John Tel.P.O. White, Charles James S. A.B. Watanabi (The Reverend) Camp Commandant Etacura, C. Acct Chuckles Taylor, John William Gunner Taylor, Eddy Gunner Rowland, Arthur F. Private Rowland, Ernest Private Henderson, G. Private Henderson, George Private Henderson, James Private Henderson, Thomas Private Dunlop, Robert Private Yamamura-san (Muscles) Stubbs, George Gunner Mitchell, William Private Parry, Raymond A.B. Strickland, Francis Alfred Stoker Yoshida-San (the Menace) Morley, Michael Private Jeremiah, Elvet Gunner Chas Hard? RAF?
11 Bernard Jesse’s (Winnipeg Grenadiers) son got in touch. 11 Martin Heyes wrote a letter to the South China Morning Post today, calling for better preservation of the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail. 11 Barbara Anslow kindly let me know about a new booked called 'Testimony to Love’, written by Gwen Steele-Perkins (the wife of Wing Commander Horace Steele-Perkins who was Director of Air Raid Precautions Hong Kong up to a few months before the invasion, when he was posted to India). She notes: “If you would like to read more about the book being published by her daughter Mary Tiffan, with a few additions by Mary”. Details can be seen here. At the moment it is available only as an ebook, but if Mary can find 50 people interested then she could create a hardcopy version which would cost around fourteen pounds plus postage. I believe the book is primarily about Gwen’s religious experiences, but still contains information about her wartime experience (she, with daughters – the Mary mentioned above - and Susan, was an evacuee).
10The Canadian Consulate notes: “As 2016 marks the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong, the Consulate General of Canada has organized a logo design contest at four Canadian curriculum schools in Hong Kong and Macao to commemorate the anniversary and Canada’s defence of Hong Kong. More than 900 students were educated on the shared history between Canada and Hong Kong at the International School of Macao, Delia School of Canada, Christian Alliance P.C. Lau Memorial International School and the Canadian International School of Hong Kong.” The winning logo (illustrated) has now been chosen.
7Correspondence with Crozier’s granddaughter continues. She notes: “I was clearing out at my mum’s yesterday and found other items of interest: a 1940 HKVDC Yearbook, a sketch of the Battery done by G.S. Coxhead on Boxing Day 1941, a HKVDC Battery photograph, my grandfather’s list of “A” Company, and my grandfather’s diary entries for 7th-14th December.” The reference to A Coy was a complete surprise, as officially no such HKVDC Company existed. But looking at the names and ranks, it appears that this must have been an administrative formation in Shamshuipo at around the time of liberation. The list is typed on RAF Form 96 for messages, and presumably came from the large RAF contingent that re-occupied Hong Kong.
6Francis Dobbs’s (HKVDC) granddaughter got in touch. I was corresponding with her mother in 2008.
5 Frode Olsen noted: “I am very happy to let you know that 3 year’s work has come to an end. Next week my book on the Danish community in Hong Kong in the late 1930’s and their participation in the defence in December 1941 will be published in Denmark in Danish language. I am deeply grateful for all the support each of you have provided me with through the process. I have been informed, that Danish publishing house has decided to have an extract of approx. 50 pages translated into English with a view to present the book to foreign publisher. Let’s first see, how the Danish readers and critics receive the book.”
4 Henry Langley noted that: “while doing some more tidying up I came across a few other items that I didn’t realise I had concerning my father’s membership of the freemasons. A couple of items of interest were a certificate regarding my father’s initiation into the Cathay Lodge in 1938 – a rather ornate document – and a list of members of the Cathay Lodge at 28 February 1951.” 4 On the Stanley group, Brian Edgar noted: “On Friday, January 13, 1945 Franklin Gimson wrote in his diary: The roll-call took place in the morning. The Japanese created certain difficulties but internees were rather themselves to blame. The Losebys in particular who have been given the special privilege of remaining in their cottage treated the whole affair in entirely a nonchalant manner and only just escaped having the special concession with drawn.” Not even Barbara Anslow knew that the gardener’s cottage existed! In the official lists, it was named 8/cottage. Geoffrey Emerson (who probably knows more about this than anyone else) noted: “On 22 June 1970, at Isobel Watson's home at 23 Big Wave Bay Road, HK, I met with 7 women who were former Stanley Camp internees, including Patricia Loseby, who was born 09.01.25. No recording was made but after, I immediately made notes. One of my notes reads, "Mr & Mrs Loseby lived in a gardener’s cottage, a hut, away from the others, near the football field. They used sacks for windows. Patricia lived in the married quarters."
3Felix Lam kindly sent me the floor plan of Bungalow A at Stanley (also known as Bungalow 3) to aid in the Short History of the building that I am writing for the Royal Asiatic Society.
1Briony Widdis (Douglas Crozier’s granddaughter - see last month) sent me a photo of a watercolour painting by a Harry J Reston in 1945. A little googling showed that he was a Sydney artist, and her grandparents must have bought it when leaving Sydney around the end of the war, 1 Dr Patrick Lo sent me the transcript of an interview we did together in Hong Kong Park a couple of years ago. From Bullets to Biographies: Informational Interview with Tony Banham Hong Kong War Diary – by Patrick Lo, Dickson Chiu, Yidan Jin, Nan Jiang, Yuanyuan Jiang, and Li Zheng – see full article here.
November 1st, 2016 Update
A Voyage To War (courtesy Hugh Dulley), Wilf Chambers article (courtesy Andrew Suddaby), Cartwright-Taylor MI9 form (courtesy Ian Cartwright-Taylor) UNESCO award, Peak Cafe information board, Helena May plaque (all author) Wong Nai Chung blockhouse (via Vincent Lee), New Canadian coin (courtesy Tai Hang Wong), Bob Tatz and Barbara Anslow (courtesy Bob Tatz)
Last month I spent more time than usual in Hong Kong’s two main military cemeteries, though in fact that’s often the case in the last few months of the year. I am so used to them – and their counterparts all over the world – that I take them for granted. The stones, the inscriptions, the memorial crosses and well-tended shrubs, it had never really occurred to me that someone had to ‘invent’ them. Now, I have just read “Empires Of The Dead” by David Crane (illustrated), which is an excellent description of these cemeteries’ genesis, and how Fabian Ware was responsible almost single-handedly for creating and evolving them to what we see – and accept as normal – today.
31 I learned today from David Archer and his new facebook page about the Winnipeg Grenadiers, that Leonard and Thomas Mulvaney were twins. There are many cases of brothers serving together in Hong Kong, but this is the first set of twins that I am aware of.
30On the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page, Vincent Lee notes that: “Prince Mikasa, who just died a few days ago at age 100, visited Hong Kong during occupation in 1944.” He also added a link to a short Japanese propaganda film about the visit from which I clipped a still. It looks to be the unique and damaged blockhouse (I don’t even know the correct technical term for this particular design) just up the hill from the Wong Nai Chung Gap AA position diagonally opposite Park View. Prince Mikasa died on October 27. I wonder if he was the Japanese prince who visited the Price brothers in POW camp? The prince in question had visited the Prices in Canada pre-war, and (returning the hospitality) asked if the Price POWs wanted anything. They quite rightly said no, but pointed out that fellow POW Major Charles Boxer needed treatment for an arm that was badly injured in the fighting. 30 Rohan Price got in touch about a new book he has just had published on Hong Kong Civil Servant Philip Jacks. He notes: “I am a legal historian who is interested in the relationships between British colonial property law and Chinese nationalism. I began my archival work on this topic in 2008-10 when I was a City U of HK visiting professor in the School of Law teaching trusts and common law method. The role of Jacks as Land Officer in Hong Kong (1905-1935) fascinated me so much that it formed two chapters of my PhD thesis. From this beginning, I did further archival, newspaper and travel records research to produce ‘Going Native: The Passions of Philip Jacks’ (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2016). “ As Jacks passed away in May 1941, he doesn’t ‘officially’ fit into my research, but I mention it here as it’s likely to be of general interest.
28 Bob Tatz sent me an amazing photograph which I believe will be one of the illustrations for his new book. It shows him and a number of other children who were outside camp in 1942, on Bowen Road together with some Japanese officers. Bob also recently met Barbara Anslow and Ruth Baker in the UK.
27 Douglas Crozier’s (HKVDC) granddaughter kindly sent me her grandfather’s annotated roll of 2 Battery HKVDC. Very useful!
25 Hugh Farmer let me know that: “yesterday I posted the article, Robert Taylor - Manager of Green Island Cement - interned and badly injured in Stanley Camp during the Japanese occupation”. Taylor was in Bungalow C.
24 Bill Lake gave a presentation about the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong at the Canadian International School today, which was videoed and is available for viewing.
22Philip Cracknell was walking on Jardine’s Lookout and noticed that PB2’s location has been invaded by a huge water pipe. He has started a petition to have the pipe moved away from the site, which is informally a memorial, and formally part of the Wong Nai Chong Gap Heritage Trail.
21 Hugh Dulley let me know that his father’s (Hugh Dulley senior) book will be published at the end of October. He kindly sent the blurb: “Hugh Dulley’s father (Peter Dulley) and mother (Therese Sander) met in Hong Kong on New Year’s Eve 1935. Four years later at the outbreak of war, Peter, a weekend sailor, was called up in the Hong Kong Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He eventually graduated to command an ocean-going tug of 500 tons from Hong Kong to Aden. En route he called at islands still enjoying pre-war peacetime and navigated across the Indian Ocean using a sextant. In July 1940, Therese, who was eight months pregnant, was evacuated from Hong Kong to the Philippines, where Hugh was born. They then travelled to Australia after a short stop in Hong Kong, which was to be the last time she saw Peter. Collected here is Peter’s correspondence to Therese over a period of six years. Edited and condensed by Hugh, it paints a unique and often humorous picture of life in Hong Kong in the run up to and during World War 2. It is published to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong.” Hugh will give a talk on the book at the RHKYC at 19.30 on Wednesday 14th December. 21 Percy Woodings’s (Royal Marines) grandson got in touch. He noted that he: “passed away in 1986. If it would interest your research Percy's story was told in the newspaper a few years ago, and his story can also be found in the book 'the marines were there' by Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, which in also contains further stories about the Royal Marines in Hong Kong.” I have ordered Lockhart’s book, which I had never heard of before. The Royal Marines in Hong Kong are an under-researched unit so I am hoping that it will be useful. This second mention of newspaper articles about Hong Kong veterans makes me think that there must be hundreds – if not thousands - of such articles out there, from 1946 to the present day, if only there was some way of finding and collating them. I probably have fifteen or twenty in my collection, but assembled ad hoc.
20 I learned today that my book about the 1940 Hong Kong evacuation is unlikely to see the light of day until mid 2017. These things always seem to take longer than you would hope.
18Andrew Suddaby kindly mailed me a newspaper cutting from 1986 about ERA Wilf Chambers who was on the Lisbon Maru. We had discussed him and his friends when I was writing that book.
15 Captain Hugh Cartwright-Taylor RE HQ Fortress Engineers’ son (see June) got back in touch, having received his father’s MI9 Liberation Questionnaire. Only about two percent of these contain anything of interest, but this one refers very positively to doctors Captain Arthur Strachan (spelled Strahan in the document, but I believe Strachan is correct) and Captain Ben Evans, both of the Indian Medical Service (IMS). 15 Walking up to the Peak with my wife, we noticed a plaque (this seems to be the month for plaques…) that we must have walked past a hundred or more times before. It describes the old Peak Café, noting that the building today is little changed from the Sedan Chair waiting room it was designed as at the start of the twentieth century, and that it had been used as a guard post by the Japanese during the occupation.
14We had lunch at the Helena May Institute today, and for the first time I realised that there was a plaque on the outside wall facing Garden Road, describing the building and its use during the war years.
13Bob Tatz is asking if anyone knows anything about Muriel Hassard, Matron of Diocesan Boys School who died in Stanley on 26 August 1945. 13 Brian Edgar found an interesting link to a story of a child in Stanley Camp, but as Brian and Barbara Anslow pointed out, there are a fair few exaggerations and mistakes.
11 Tai Hang Wong kindly sent me an image of the Canadian Battle of Hong Kong Commemorative Coin referred to below. He notes that the Hong Kong distributor can be found here.
9I heard today that Ian McNay passed away on 27 September. Son of Edward McNay, Royal Naval Dockyard Police, Ian was evacuated to Australia during the war years. Ian returned from Sydney to Hong Kong as a fifteen year old in 1946 and was one of the first pupils to return to the reopened Central British School where he became the first post war head boy. He gave me a great deal of help when I was researching that period.
6A discussion on the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page about Little Hong Kong and its conversion to a wine cellar reminded me that (rather undeservedly) I was one of the recipients of a United Nations award for it. The damn thing is about a square metre of solid bronze and weighs a ton, but I finally found it under some furniture and took a photo.
2 Today was the seventy-fourth anniversary of the sinking of the Lisbon Maru. Next year will be the big 75. 2 Dave Deptford mentions a new medal group of seven: “plus badges, reports, photographs etc. to Rifleman Duplassie, RRC. Detailed write up; captured 25.12.41, to North Point Camp, Sept 42 to SSPo, then Tatsura Maru to Nagasaki and so forth. Witness statements involving Cecil Boon and assaults on other POWs. Medals to Canadians infrequently seen, price USD1625.00”
SCMP front page (courtesy SCMP), Trudeau signing visitors' book (courtesy HarbourTimes), Saiwan in the rain (author) Anne at Bob Newton's grave (courtesy Nina Ammundsen), Ian and Rosemary (courtesy Ian Gill), Japanese Map (via author) Moddrel's diary (courtesy Richard Moddrell), Noel Hammond's letter (courtesy Rob Milner), William Allister picture (courtesy Cam Tradewell)
I hear that my review of the Graham Heywood book will be printed in the next edition of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch. In a few years I’ll probably be in the position of having written a new book by accident! If I combined my various Short Histories of units, book reviews, and other articles, I might at some point be able to bring them together into a ‘Collected Essays’ volume to present them to a larger audience.
30 Today I was contacted by the son of Leonard Adams. Adams was a British Consular agent at Kukong from 1943 until the Japanese moved north and occupied it in the spring of 1944. He notes: “I was born in Kukong in February 1944 and flown over the hump to India in mid 1944. I believe my father was responsible for intelligence on the status and welfare of British Subjects in Hong Kong. He would not talk about this period saying it was covered by the Official Secrets act and that at that time the Communists might use any information against local Chinese who had helped the west.” 30 On the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page, Peter Weedon mentioned that Corporal Charles Goddard’s (Middlesex) medals were for sale. They are a historically interesting group.
29 Ian Gill has found a photo of Sapper William Rogers, killed in the Battle of Hong Kong, at his wedding to Dorthy Newman. Dorothy was evacuated to Australia together with friend Yvonne Swinburn who was married to fellow sapper George Swinburn who survived the Lisbon Maru and the war.
27Michael Kelly’s (Royal Scots, Lisbon Maru) granddaughter got in touch. Like quite a number of regular servicemen, Kelly left a Chinese wife in Hong Kong when taken POW, and a daughter who had been born in September 1941. Both had to survive in the occupied city as best they could.
26 Philatelist Richard Whittington got in touch. In his collection he has letters from three officers based in Stanley in 1940: Major William ‘Zaz’ Pitt, OC 36th Coast Battery, Captain William Martin - an officer of 12th Coast Battery under Major William Stevenson, and Lieutenant Ewan Graham, Middlesex. Interestingly all three were later on the Lisbon Maru (aboard which Pitt was of course in charge of the third hold), and all three ended the war in Osaka #4B Ikuno.
25Steve Denton believes that in the very first photo of The Exhibition, (Kobe City Souto-ku Higashi Kawasaki-cho 1-46, Mitsubishi Logistics Co. Kobe branch, Daiichi Shinko No.1 New port), the man in the top left looks like Frank Florence.
24 John Cameron’s (Winnipeg Grenadier) family got back in touch, sending me a POW Camp photo of him (illustrated), and a sketch that Cameron had kept from the war. I am 99% certain that it’s by William Allister, who wrote Where Life And Death Hold Hands and became a famous artist post war. The view appears to be from North Point POW Camp, looking north. It is very much like the one illustrated here.
21Brian Edgar notes that one of the technicians sent out of Camp on August 10, 1945 was Paul Reveley, who had once been personal technical assistant to John Logie Baird. It seems that Reveley is still with us, at a grand old age of 104.
18 Nice new article on Gwulo about Mabel Redwood’s marriage to Clifton Large, both of course having been Stanley Internees.
17 Jim Trick kindly let me know that the new permanent home for the HKVCA newsletter is here.
16Rob Milner, grandson of Noel Hammond HKVDC, kindly sent me a copy of a letter written in 2000 from Hammond to Arthur Gomes describing the fighting around Maryknoll and the Stanley Police Station. It mentions a wounded Middlesex sergeant, who I think might be George Robbins who commanded PB22 (at a stretch it might be Sergeant William Stone of PB24, but that’s less likely).
15 On the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page, Nona Langley posted a very interesting Special Supplement of The Hong Kong News from 25 December 1942. Celebrating their first anniversary of victory, Lt.-Gen. Renuke Isogai – who the Japanese had declared Governor of Hong Kong – laid out his proclamation. The phrase: “The great objective of the war in East Asia is certainly to guarantee the peace of East Asia” really tells you all you need to know. 15 Dave Deptford kindly let me know that: “Through the Saleroom website - Hong Kong - PBA Galleries - Sale on 18.9.2016 - Lot 76 - Minute Book of The Hong Kong Fanlingerers (Golf) - contains references to captioned officer, reportedly blinded during the invasion.” In fact he was blinded by a gunshot wound with B Coy Royal Scots while attacking the Police Post in Wong Nai Chong Gap (the same attack where Vyner Gordon was mortally wounded). Both officers had been commissioned from the Volunteers.
14 Richard Moddrel kindly sent me a copy of his father’s wartime diary. 14 Dr Peter Campos gave me the good news that when he sent his great uncle’s sketch book from Sham Shui Po to the Canadian War Museum, the latter replied: “The Acquisition Committee met today and very happily agreed that your uncle's book should become part of the National Collection. The Canadian War Museum's war art collection has few works from Japanese prisoner of war camps and this will be a significant addition.”
13 Archie Hart tells me that his father James Hart, RASC, who has been poorly lately, is out of hospital and on the mend.
12 Today my wife and I had lunch with Anne Ammundsen and her daughter Nina at their hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. Anne was over here visiting the grave of her uncle Bob Newton of the 5/7th Rajputs at Saiwan (I stopped at Newton’s grave on the 6th with Prime Minister Trudeau and placed a poppy there). Originally we had planned to have lunch at the Helena May, but they were having their hundredth birthday today! I was glad to see the poppy was still on the grave when they visited.
10 Peter Weedon emailed, noting that he is: “a medal collector and have been looking for a representative Defence of Hong Kong group. Today - with the assistance of NTSC - I achieved that aim. I have just purchased the group to Company Quartermaster Sergeant Frederick Walter Hamlen, Royal Army Service Corps. Details of the group can be found here”. He also has Hamlen’s POW Index Card and a few newspaper articles mentioning him.
9 Ian Gill mentioned that he spent some time with Stanley Internee Rosemary Barton in Bath in June of this year. He also has a very interesting article in the South China Morning Post Magazine. 9 Tai Hang Wong let me know that: “In the Summer 2016 edition of the University of Hong Kong Convocation Newsletter Barbara Myronuk, daughter of Vadim Bonch wrote a short note on her father's life in HK from 1930s to 1957 when he emigrated to Canada.” Vadim Bonch was a Bombardier in the HKVDC.
8Peter White, George White’s (3 Coy HKVDC) brother got back in contact. Peter and his mother spent three years in Rosary Hill.
7Cyril Ross’s (Royal Rifles of Canada) great granddaughter got in touch. Cyril Ross was Lancelot Ross’s cousin.
6 The Canadian Consulate very kindly invited me to be the guide for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his visit to Sai Wan War Cemetery. So I took the morning off and joined them. Everything was carefully planned for a ceremony at the Cross of Memorial but as the advanced party arrived, the heavens opened and the ground started to flood. So they quickly reorganised the ceremony, and held it at the shelter by the memorial wall, and my job became simply to give the prime minister a quick briefing before he signed the visitors’ book. However, while he was doing that the rain eased off, and the organisers asked me to accompany him down to the Canadian section and show him the graves there. That was no hardship, as he’s a very personable man and seemed thoughtful and genuinely interested. But I was a little amazed next day to see the two of us on the front page of the South China Morning Post, in the Asian Wall Street Journal’s ‘Photo Of The Day’, many other Canadian newspapers, and even on TV. The Harbour Times had a particularly good set of photos. 6Dave Deptford notes: “Via The Saleroom Website and at C & T Auctions on 7 Sept 2016, 'ephemera' (letters etc.) relating to 3 Chalmers brothers killed in WW2, one of which is as captioned. Description of Lot includes details of the three and short note on Lisbon Maru”.
5 I can’t recall who mentioned it to me, but I found an immediately post-war Japanese monograph on the battle of Hong Kong which was very interesting, and includes a number of good maps. It can be navigated to from here.
2 Following on from last month’s mention of the Harmony Three, Steve Denton mentioned: “I found this YouTube clip of the Western Brothers if you’re interested. Tim Carew mentions in his book Joe [Denton] and Ramp Bowen doing this act, Fran [Florence] would have been on the piano when they did it in concerts.” It gives an idea of the sort of entertainment they would have had in the camps. Steve continued: “Joe's Mum and Dad were theatrical proprietors and his Mum had her own dance troop and Joe would have seen many shows as a youngster.”
1 Following on from last month’s discussion about the defence of Ho Chi Minh by HK Solicitor (and Stanley Internee) Frank Loseby, Tai Hang Wong kindly sent a photo of Loseby with his wife and daughter visiting Chairman Ho Chi Minh in 1960. 1 Sandy Wynd kindly pointed me at this newspaper article about Stanley internee Andrea Jenner. 1 David Bellis on Gwulo has a new project to try to identify all the children on the famous Stanley liberation photo, part of which was used in the stained glass window of St Stephen’s Chapel.