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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott-Lindsley self portrait (courtesy National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth), Percy Hatchett (courtesy Neil Andrews), Bill Glover (courtesy Nick Firby) William Jones' Fraktur (courtesy Ron Rakusen), Bell Obituary (courtesy Neil Lind), Austin Godson (courtesy Tracey Gibson) Shamshuipo Memorial (courtesy Ken Clark), Invasion Map (courtesy Kieran Wright), CLP HQ (author)
I have a problem. This month, as often happens, I have received far more interesting images than I have space for on this page. You would think technology would come to the rescue: I need some sort of system that would take the visitor to this site on one hand, and the 30,000 or so images of Hong Kong 1941-45 that I have on the other, and deliver the set of pictures that a particular visitor to this site would find most interesting. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep adding the usual ten images per month…
28 Percy Hatchett’s (Middlesex, Lisbon Maru) great nephew got in touch, sending a fine photo. 28 Albert Murchie’s (Royal Rifles) grandson got in touch.
27Ron Rakusen notes: “I am sure you know the story behind the design of the two stamps on the envelope that Bob Tatz sent you [See October 2012]? They were designed by the Postmaster General E I Wynne-Jones and the Chief Draughtsman of the PWD William Ernest Jones while they were both in Stanley Camp… The attached Fraktur is by William E Jones who obviously knew his bible. It was signed by him in February 1944 in Stanley Camp. You will see if you enlarge it that inside the ‘illuminated’ drawings are views of Hong Kong, pagodas, junks, etc.”
25 Wallace Wood’s (Middlesex, Lisbon Maru) great niece got in touch.
24 Elizabeth Ride called from Norway, discussing Jimmy Edulji Mogra. Mogra was in 3 Company, HKVDC, and was half Japanese. Fatally wounded in the Black Hole at Stanley Gap, he finally perished at Arygle Street early in January 1942. His CWGC entry shows his mother was Waki Mogra, and this document implies that he had two brothers and a sister of whom I was previously unaware. 24 On the FEPOW Community group, Ian Topham posted a very interesting set of photos of the rededication – by the POW Research Network Japan – of the memorials at the Hiroshima #4B camp. Although no ex-HK POWs were held there, it’s very encouraging to see these memorials being established and dedicated with plenty of local school children in attendance. Those responsible noted: “In 2003, a Memorial plaque was set into a remaining wall of the camp, and a Peace Park with monuments was opened. This year the old wall was decided to be demolished, but the concerned local people wanted to preserve the Memorial Plaque. With cooperation of many people and four big supermarkets, the plaque was preserved at a corner of the shopping area.”
22 Nick Firby got back in touch (see February) on the subject of William Glover, sending a photo of him that was probably taken shortly after the war. He notes: “Bill's death certificate records that he died in 1972 from Addison’s Disease, which I am told was attributed to the malnutrition he suffered while in captivity.”
22Kenneth Dawson’s (HKDDC) nephew got back in touch, kindly sending a number of pieces pertaining to his uncle who was second mate on the Kumsang, and lost his life when Gatling was bombed.
21Kieran Wright is working on updating the maps on his app (see last month) and adding the old coastlines.
19Henry Ching sent me two more of his Occasional Papers, this time covering Bombardier Douglas Orr, HKVDC, and the wartime contribution of the Diocesan Boys’ School (DBS). As usual, these can be read on http://www.rhkrnsw.org/ 19 A Hong Kong student at LSE emailed me asking: “where I can access information about Hong Kong Defence Corps during WWI - I know there were HK volunteers engaged in guard and patrol duties during the Great War.” Good question; I don’t recall any publications covering the HKVDC’s efforts in the Great War.
17 Ken Clark sent a good set of photos from his visit to Hong Kong last month, retracing the steps his father Sergeant Charles Albert Clark (Canadian Postal Corps) during the fighting (see December 2012), and visiting the site of Shamshuipo POW Camp. One of the photos was of Wanchai Gap Road, which I walk up every day after work in Hong Kong!
16 Neil Lind emailed me from Canada: “We have a National Magazine in Canada, known as Maclean's. It tries to put a Canadian face on the news despite our proximity to the US media. Of late, the mag has been using its back page as an obituary for Canadians to share the life story of their loved one. Some have died tragically and the family feels a need to share their story to ease their grieving I suppose, while others share the history of their loved one that left us. This week's story is about William Bell, a survivor of the Battle of Hong Kong. Bill was from Winnipeg.” I reported on Mr Bell’s death last month, but I think it is an admirable tradition to have obituaries of these ‘ordinary-but-not-ordinary’ people on the back page of the magazine. Interestingly, the article was not prompted by Mr Bell’s family.
15 Daisy Jex Rogers’ granddaughter got in touch. Daisy was born Gittins, and her daughter Vivienne Jex Davies spent the war years in Macau. Now, there’s a subject that no one has yet explored in any depth: Macau 1942-45. Considering the number of spies there from both sides, and the large Hong Kong refugee community (not to mention the coming and going between the two), it’s crying out for a good book.
13In a discussion with Henry Ching, he pointed out that in Hong Kong there were three MiDs for services while POWs – Captain R.R. Davies, Lieutenant K.M.A. Barnett and Captain R. Egal. I wonder how that stacks up against Singapore?
11 Ian McNay, Philomena Lapsley, and Henry Ching very kindly assembled the most complete list yet of HKVDC members – and others who were in the garrison in 1941 - who settled in New South Wales, Australia, after the war.
8 That’s it. Finally sent the first draft of my thesis (on the 1940 evacuation of British civilians from Hong Kong to Australia) to my supervisor. Now, while I wait for the inevitable list of complaints/revisions, I finally have time to focus on a few other projects. 8 Today the National Archives of Australia notified me that they had digitised a last set of records I had asked for. I think they have the most admirable system I have yet come across: If researchers want copies of items in their archives, we can pay to have them digitised – and the digitised pages are then made available on their website for everyone to see. So we get what we want, their costs are covered, and the whole community of interest benefits. (The file in question was “Hong Kong evacuees - Applications for financial assistance”). 8 Taking a taxi this evening from Mong Kok MTR station to KGV, I passed the old China Light & Power HQ on Argyle Street and was horrified to see that they had knocked the west wing down. I took a quick (and not very good) snap, but later discovered that they have simply returned it to the form it was in when built in 1940. It’s nice to see it being restored in the same form that would have been familiar to POWs at that time.
4 A rather good article appeared (in Chinese) in the Apple Daily today, about some of the efforts to preserve Hong Kong’s wartime heritage. It has attracted quite a lot of attention among people with similar interests. 4 Philip Cracknell paid a visit to Lyemun, taking a series of useful photos of the ordnance store bunkers there. He also found the memorial to Driver Joseph Hughes, GC, of the RASC who was killed in an explosion there in 1946. 4 The Royal Naval Museum at Portsmouth kindly sent me the complete set of high-resolution images of Scott-Lindsley’s diary (see last month). The sketches are really extremely competent, and I’ve been able to write a few words about most of them. They include four or five of North Point POW Camp – a largely undocumented camp as it was only active for nine months – as well as portraits of fellow POWs Temporary Electrical Lieutenant John Charles Chown, RNVR, Paymaster Lieutenant William Richard L. Bowley, RNVR, Sub-Lieutenant Charlie R.C. Dobson, RNVR, of the destroyer HMS Thracian, Lieutenant Gerald Horey, RNVR, Paymaster Lieutenant Ralph Edward Sisson, RNVR, Chaplain Cedric J. Brown, Hong Kong Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, Surgeon Lieutenant Charles Edward Mason, RNVR, Major Charles Joseph Manning, HKDDC, and Major Duncan Campbell, HKDDC.
3 Austin Godson’s (Royal Scots, Lisbon Maru) family got in touch, sending me both a photograph of him, and a typed up set of his letters home from around 1928 (from Egypt, China, India, on leave, and finally Hong Kong as he travelled with his battalion) to immediately before the invasion of Hong Kong. In total these come to over 25,000 words and make fascinating reading. It would be a very interesting project to fill in the gaps and turn it into a book. Those of us used to the conspicuous wealth of modern Hong Kong might be surprised by this comment as he passed through on the way to Tianjin in 1929: “About daybreak we anchored in the natural harbour of Hong Kong. This place struck me at once by the way it resembled Oban in situation. There is the same land-locked stretch of water with hills and woods on either side. The hills here, however, were much higher and steeper, and the nearest seemed almost to overhang the entire harbour. It was dotted here and there with beautiful little white villas, perched one above the other among the trees right to the top, and without any apparent means of getting from one to the other owing to the steepness of the slope on which they were built. We stayed only a few hours and no one could go ashore, but there was plenty to see in the harbour, which was crowded with shipping, and we were surrounded by Chinese boats and sampans selling fruit, all sorts of useful and useless European manufactured articles, cigarettes, a few specimens of wood-carving and china vases, and singing birds in cages. Excellent bananas were only 3d a dozen, and I enjoyed them so much after three weeks at sea that I ate sixpenceworth without stopping. This was the first close view I had of the Chinese people themselves. The great mass of the Egyptian people is naturally very poor when compared with our own, but the Chinese people must be so poor that poverty can hardly be said to exist among them; they simply live in a totally different manner from ourselves. The people in these sampans had each a long pole with a net on the end of it, and with this they picked up every scrap that was thrown from the ship.” 3 Andrew Hill sent a unique photo of his evacuated family at an uncertain location and notes: “The photograph features women and children, possibly on route to Hong Kong sometime after the Japanese surrender (1946?). My grandmother, Nora, is standing with her hands resting on my father’s shoulders. Norman looks to be about 11 years old in the photo. My aunt, Helen, is standing to the right, in the front row, third from the end, with her left hand folded over her right. Perhaps this was a group of evacuees en route, returning to Hong Kong. There are a few uniformed Polynesian or Melanesian women in the photo, which suggests the photo was taken in New Zealand, New Guinea or a South-Pacific island.” Actually I suspect the photo was taken on a voyage from Australia back to the UK at around that time, but it raises an interesting question. Do other people have photos from these voyages? 3 Brian Edgar reports on a websitethat: “tells the story of the designing in Stanley of the 1946 'peace issue' stamp.”
2 Henry Langley kindly sent me some wonderful photos of his family and their friends the Bowdens just before the 1940 evacuation of civilians Hong Kong.
April 1st, 2013 Update
POWs at Shamshuipo (courtesy Craig Mitchell, via Philip Cracknell), Postbridge then and now (author), Sheila Haynes article (Australia Women's Weekly) Repaired signboard (author), George Merriman (courtesy Harold Merriman), Fred Burford's letter (courtesy Anita Jones) 2,000 Bomb interior, from side, and rear (author)
The Internet has changed everything. Not only do extraordinary things now turn up all the time (read below for the Hong Kong Fellowship newsletters, and the Mervyn Scott-Lindsley diary – not to mention Brian Edgar’s constant discoveries), but it allows an incredible amount of sleuthing. Take this example: I’m spending the holidays alone, finalising the first draft of my thesis on the Hong Kong evacuation. A letter of October 1940 mentions a Dr Stout going to Australia to join his wife there. A check in my files shows that there was an evacuee married to a Dr E W Stout. A search in Hong Kong Government records online enabled me to expand the name to, a Lieutenant in the pre-war HKVDC. And finally a search in the Australian War Memorial online files shows that Edward William Stout became RMO of the 2/5th Independent Company in the Australian Army. Perhaps five minutes work gave me a depth of information that would have been utterly impossible to find in pre-internet days.
29 A friend very kindly sent me a link to a pdf file collecting the Hong Kong Fellowship News Letters. This is from the J.M. Braga collection at the National Library of Australia.
28 Several people were kind enough to send me this link to the obituary of Major Murray Ormsby, judge and prosecutor at the war crimes trials in Hong Kong. 28 While searching for something else, I was lucky enough to find this link to a very interesting Hong Kong POW Diary from Mervyn Scott-Lindsley, RNVR, now at the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth.
24 Tim Luard, author of ‘Escape From Hong Kong’, is giving an illustrated talk on Chan Chak's Escape, to the Royal Geographical Society Hong Kong on April 2 (6.30 drinks, 7.30 talk, at Price Waterhouse/Gloucester Tower). 24 George Merriman’s (MI6) son got in touch. This is very interesting, as I don’t know much about MI6’s involvement in Hong Kong after Drage left. He notes: “Unfortunately Dad didn’t write his memoirs – I think he took the whole MI6 secrecy stuff rather too seriously and it wasn’t until just before he died that he told us he’d been involved in intelligence work in HK. One of the last things he had to do before the fall of Hong Kong was go around the place disabling radio listening posts, and he actually copped a minor shrapnel wound in one leg near his ankle while being strafed by a Japanese fighter who’d spotted him on his travels and had a go at him.”
23 Dave Deptford notes: “As a group photo appears in the latest production you may be interested in the following - In the photo of the farewell for Inspector McLellan, No 2 Police Station, on the front row, far left, is identified one Police Sergeant Charman. Interesting chap, born UK, served WW1 21st London Regt, awarded Military Medal, then Distinguished Conduct Medal. Post war went to the RIC [Royal Irish Constabulary] and was blown up, then to Hong Kong and achieved fame as the OC of the Anti-Piracy Guard HK to Shanghai (appears in the well known photograph), returned to UK and joined up again with further war service, I think with the Middlesex. More to the point - should anyone be interested in the Honours and Awards (BEM Civil) and King's Commendation for Brave Conduct for 'special services during the enemy occupation of Hong Kong' or 'services during military operations in the Far East prior to 3rd Sept 1945' to Hong Kong residents - these can be found in the Supplement to the London Gazette No 37858 published on 17th January 1947.” 23 Assudamal H Vaswani’s son got in touch. Vaswani worked for M/s Utoomal &Assudamal Co., and was incarcerated in Stanley Jail by the Japanese “for assisting the likes of Sir Grayburn of HSBC and personnel of Shell”. Does anyone have further details?
22I downloaded Kieran Wright’s free iPad 2 app ‘Hongkong 1941’ from the AppleStore today. It’s a great idea – a summary of the battlefields, with photos and histories, and even a test for the real aficionados! I can’t believe I didn’t think of this myself, as the potential as an educational or tourist tool is fantastic. Well worth a look. 22 Noel Hammond’s (HKVDC) grandson got back in touch.
19Brian Edgar has written a good article about Thomas Monaghan. 19 An unexploded British 9.2 inch Armour Piercing High Explosive shell turned up in the hills today, and was disposed of by EOD. Like the 2,000 pound bomb mentioned below, it had been lying clearly visible on the surface all these years, but no one had stumbled across it.
17 Today I took the Hong Kong Club walkers from Park View to the site of North Point POW Camp, tracing the forced march of the first POWs captured in the Stanley Gap area on December 20, 1941. It was perfect weather, being cool enough for the long slog up to Quarry Gap to be pleasant. As I was waiting for the walkers, I walked up to the AA position diagonally opposite Park View and noticed that the sign board (which was vandalised a couple of years ago) had been replaced.
16 Martin Heyes kindly sent me a copy of an article entitled "Hong Kong's Chinese Gunners" by a Chinese gentleman named Cheung Yan-lun. It describes the recruitment of local gunners into the Royal Artillery starting at the end of 1937, with 23 enrollments, with a second batch of 40 in June 1938, a third of 40 at the end of 1939, and a fourth, again of about 40, in 1940. Following that, a further 150 were recruited for the 5th Anti Aircraft Regiment. As the article includes many names (and serial numbers) I now have a much better understanding of the 300 or so Chinese gunners in Hong Kong.
13Dennis and Marlene Bell were kind enough to pass on the sad news that: “Winnipeg Grenadier L/Cpl. William Bell, H6336, passed away this evening at 6:40 pm on the day of his 96th birthday! We are so thankful that God blessed us with Dad all these years, and that he was able to pass quickly, and peacefully this evening.” They also attached a photograph of Mr Bell (illustrated).
12 The 16 January bombing referred to below was not a lucky attack at all. As well as accidentally bombing Bungalow C at Stanley Internment Camp, killing 14 internees, two Grumman Avengers also collided and crashed fatally. This evening I joined a few friends in those hills to report an empty 2,000 pound General Purpose HE bomb casing associated with one of those aircraft. The bomb had had its TNT roughly removed – presumably by wartime guerrillas – but when we escorted EOD to the site a further six live Japanese Type 89 mortars turned up, which had to be dealt with. The following day the government lifted the bomb casing out, slung under a helicopter. A unique find (as most of the American bombs that turn up in Hong Kong are 500 pounders) in my opinion it would make a very appropriate basis for a memorial to the USAAF and USN crews lost attacking Hong Kong.
11 Ron Taylor (HK) kindly sent me a long report by someone at 3rd Battery, HKVDC, at Aberdeen. It is entitled ‘The War in Hong Kong as seen, in the main, from the 3rd Battery position at Aberdeen’. Ron notes: “On the cover is written in hand: Written Jan 1942, Typed May 1946, Amendments 1978. The author is not clear, but his wife / girl friend is named Peggy.” It seems likely to me that this was written by Sergeant Gerry Davies, whose wife Margaret was one of the unfortunates lost in the bombing of Bungalow C on 16 January 1945. 11 Philip Cracknell kindly sent a pre-war photo of Erinville, where escapee Benny Proulx, HKVDC, and his family lived pre-war.
10 Based on last months observation that I had found, along the contour path on the west of Violet Hill, the exact position where the historical photo of Postbridge was taken, I decided to try yet another of my not-very-professional ‘then and now’ mash-ups. But this one didn’t come out too badly.
8Brian Edgar announced another of his finds: “It's a very well presented account of the experiences of 'Barney' Byrne, who, although a neutral, joined the HKVDC after the Japanese attack. He spent time in Shamshuipo before being transported to forced labour in Japan. The blogger has provided a lot of very interesting material to expand the story, which is fascinating in itself.” And another article by Stanley Internee Dr. Talbot. “I came across a complete post-war article by Talbot on eye problems in Stanley.”
6Douglas Smith’s (HKVDC) granddaughter got in touch, but as she did not respond to my replies she will probably find them in her spam folder!
4Researching FEPOW History has announced the building of the Southampton Repatriation Memorial. Many Hong Kong POWs and Internees were repatriated through the port. They note: “SOUTHAMPTON IS TO become home to a major new World War Two memorial. The Researching Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW) History group has been granted permission by Southampton City Council to create the Repatriation Memorial and will launch a national appeal this week to raise funds for the granite plaque. It will commemorate the arrival back in Britain during the autumn of 1945 of thousands of servicemen and civilians (including children) who had survived captivity under the Japanese. The first ship home, the SS Corfu, docked in Southampton on 7 October 1945 with 1,500 FEPOW on board. The Leader of Southampton City Council, Councillor Richard Williams, commented: Southampton is delighted to support this important initiative, to recognise the lives of those men, women and children who survived captivity in South East Asia and the Far East during World War Two, particularly as the first ship back to Britain docked with the survivors in Southampton. We fully support the campaign to raise funds and have granted permission for a Repatriation Memorial to be sited close to the waterfront.” 4 Constance Sing’s (Stanley internee) great niece got in touch. At liberation Constance returned to the UK on the Highland Monarch, and “she was 59 when she returned and lived till 92.” 4 Philip Cracknell sent the Stanley camp a photo of Sheila Haynes (a Stanley internee) as a bridesmaid, and coincidentally it has the Signal Hill tower in the background! In a second coincidence I found another photo of Sheila in a very interesting article from the Australian Women’s Weekly of 20 July 1940.
2 Anita Jones sent me a scan of Fred Burford’s (see last month) last letter home. “…and please don’t worry mom”, it ends.
1 I took the second of Craig Mitchells’ (via Philip Cracknell) photos of POWs at liberation (see last month), and blew it up to see if anyone could recognise any of them. 1 T.K. identified the tower illustrated last month as being on Signal hill (formerly observatory Hill), Tsimshatsui. When the Royal Artillery mentioned it as an Observation Post I had imagined it was on the border with China, but it seems they were observing the harbour instead. 1 The month started well, with Gordon Andreassend kindly sending a copy of the December 2012 edition of Surveying & Built Environment, which this year contained two stories of interest: A Note on British Blockhouses in Hong Kong by Rob Weir and Reconstructing The Early History of the Gin Drinker’s Line from Archival Sources by Chi Man Kwong. The latter notes that the cost of building the line was only GBP168,000!
March 1st, 2013 Update
Hong Kong Police 1932 and 35 (courtesy Andrew Hill), Hong Kong POWs being evacuated (Craig Mitchell, via Philip Cracknell) Cenotaph, pre-war (courtesy Derrick Rothwell), Canadian gift (author), Fred Burford (courtesy Anita Jones) Harris cuttings (courtesy Thomas Sheldon), Maynard Skinner (courtesy John Coombs), Japanese post cards (courtesy Bob Tatz)
It’s odd how sometimes a month’s correspondence clusters around a certain aspect of Hong Kong’s wartime history. In this month it was clearly the Hong Kong Police Force. It’s not entirely coincidence as the Stanley group (a very active bunch of Internet savvy folk with a collective interest in the Stanley Internment Camp) was set up by Michael Martin, grandson of Arseny Savitsky of the wartime police – but there were also some new photographs and contacts from the ever-growing network on the web. There’s a feeling of momentum in the interest in Hong Kong’s history today, with the Stanley Group and Gwulo both being so active.
26Frederick Burford’s (RN, Lisbon Maru) niece got in touch, kindly sending a photo. Fred was one of about 200 men who survived the sinking of the Lisbon Maru on October 2, but passed away over the next few months (in his case, just two weeks later) of the combined effects of malnutrition, exhaustion, exposure, and being locked up in the holds in that ship with so many sick men. 26 Peter Duckers of the Shropshire Regimental Museum got in touch, kindly giving me the details of the career of Hong Kong POW Lt Walter Smalley, RNHKVR: “Born: Gainsborough, Lincs., 16th Sept. 1899. Father, Henry Adams Smalley in timber business. Served in RNAS and RAF from Sept. 1917-18 as Air Mechanic II, based on HMS Daedalus (RNAS) and HMS President II. Motor Branch. Became a ‘merchant’ on the China Coast and HK from 1923 (when first went to Singapore) until 1956 when retired. Lived in Wandsworth/Battersea after WW1 and into 1920s. Married Grace M. Barrett in Wandsworth, 1932. Arrived Singapore, June 1923; in Bombay in 1924; to Shanghai, May 1926; in Colombo July 1927: ‘merchant’; Liverpool-HK Nov. 1932; in Montreal, June 1949; New York in September 1949: with wife Grace. London to Lisbon, Jan. 1958; Bombay - Liverpool March 1959. Lived in 'Windrush', Ashgrove, Berkhampstead from c. 1956 to at least 1975. Died 25th March 1979, Dacorum, Herts. Notice of death re any claims against estate appeared in The London Gazette in 1979. Commissioned as Sub. Lieut. in Hong Kong RNVR, October 1940 and borne on the Navy List in that unit until c. 1949. In the lists as Engineer Officer.” What an interesting life he must have led as a merchant between the wars. 26 Thomas Sheldon, who was in touch a few years ago about his uncle Thomas Harris of the Middlesex, who was killed in a pillbox in Causeway Bay, got in touch again. This time he kindly attached a couple of newspaper clippings about his uncle, and also a remarkable letter from Elizabeth Scantlebury, the wife of Victor Scantlebury (also of the Middlesex) who was killed in Stanley on Christmas day. Writing to tell the family how Harris lost his life, she notes at one point: “I feel those boys have had a merciful release from the hell that now lives in Hong Kong. Out of 100 men who lived through the fighting less than half are alive now. They have died from disease and starvation, and I am thankful my beloved died a fine death free from suffering.”
25Keith Andrews in the UK kindly sent me quite a few pages from the PRO about the alleged collaborators in the POW Camps in Hong Kong. I’m not planning to publicise these as there’s nothing to be gained by embarrassing their families. But perhaps the most interesting document referred to five serving regular military men who – one way or another – ended up in Stanley Internment Camp rather than the POW camps. In one of these cases there’s a note implying that, rather than being on a charge, one of them should have been recognised for an act of bravery! Of course, the account of a Royal Rifles soldier who was left behind drunk in the Repulse Bay Hotel, and was passed off next day by the civilians as one of their own, is recorded in Dr Grant Garneau’s book. On top of that, a fair number of HKVDC and HKRNVR men were – as civilians, and largely because of age – in Stanley too, but this little group was new to me. 25 Peter Hennessy, grandson of Colonel Hennessy who lost his life in HK, kindly sent me the following information: “Prior to 1947 the status of ‘Canadian citizen’ was originally created under the Immigration Act, 1910, to designate those British subjects who were born, naturalized or domiciled in Canada. All other British subjects required permission to land. ‘Domicile’ was defined as having been resident in Canada for three years, excluding any time spent in prisons or mental institutions. A separate status of ‘Canadian national’ was created under the Canadian Nationals Act, 1921, which was defined as being a Canadian citizen as defined above, their wives, and any children (fathered by such citizens) that had not yet landed in Canada. However, these concepts were merely subsets of the status of ‘British subject’, which was regulated by the Imperial British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914, which was adopted in Canada by the Naturalization Act, 1914.” My interest lies in the number of members of C Force (Hennessy, Lawson, Osborn to name but three) who were from the British Isles, and the rather laboured (in my opinion) efforts of certain historians to paint the conflict as more ‘Canadians v. Brits’ than anything else.
24Took the Hong Kong Club walkers on ‘The Travelling Massacre’ walk, from Wong Nai Chung Reservoir, round Violet Hill, down into Repulse Bay, then around the headland to Deep Water Bay. Only 12 people (clearly the majority of the usual crowd had elected to join that day’s Hong Kong Marathon instead…) but enjoyable. One resident of Ridge Court also confirmed that the original bungalow of The Ridge had indeed been commissioned by Eu Tong Sen (see January). 24 Alison McEwan let me know that the HERO (Christmas Day 1941 MTB Escape) Exhibition at the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence will close at the end of March this year. Last chance to see.
23 William Glover’s (RN) great nephew got in touch.
21Thomas Porritt’s (HKPF) family got in touch. Porritt was lost in the Quarry Bay area, probably to a grenade, and has no known grave. Porritt’s brother James had already been lost on HMS Ardent, which was sunk on 8 June 1940 while defending the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious (in a remarkably uneven battle) from the German battlecruisers Gneisernau and Scharnhorst. He also has no known grave. 21 Brian Edgar sent two very interesting links: The story of a Canadian family in Stanley , and photo albums relating to the ship the Prince Robert.
18Craig Mitchell found an interesting photo labelled as liberated POWs from Hong Kong, but a number of elements of the picture don’t really make a lot of sense. C47 tail 43-15854 was allocated to the China theatre, but apart from that I can't see any useful clues. The men mainly looked kitted out in new US outfits - which many newly-liberated POWs were - and they all seem to be either carrying small boxes (cigarettes?) or have them in their pockets. One of the most bizarre aspects, if it's really 1 Sept 1945, is that it's a night shot. A little odd.
14Charlotte Quinn kindly sent me a long (twenty pages or so) letter sent by her father William Mezger to her mother Irene when he was released from Stanley Internment Camp.
13Shirley Tort has finished her article about Bill Carcary (see November 2012).
10John Coombs kindly sent me the following note: “I don't know whether you are still interested in tracking survivors from the Lisbon Maru, but I thought I should tell you that Maynard Skinner died last week on 3rd February, age 92. I think he met you when he returned with other veterans to Hong Kong in 2005/2006 & you mentioned him at the end of your book. My wife always called him ‘Uncle’, though he was no blood relation. When he returned to Bristol after the War he went to live for several decades with her grandmother & her uncle, who had been his teacher at some point before the war. We kept in touch with him over the years & he was godfather to our eldest daughter. We last saw him in his Nursing Home in Poole in June 2012 with his second wife. He never talked about the war, except that we knew he had had a very bad time in the Far East. However after his visit to Hong Kong, he was much more forthcoming; he talked very openly about his experiences on one visit we made & I asked him to sign a copy of your book on another.” Maynard was a very nice man, who I last saw in Hong Kong when he visited with his life-long friend Jim Dignam. They had met on a plank in the South China Sea after the Lisbon Maru sank, and not a week went by from then until Jim’s death when they didn’t speak to each other. 10 Derrick Rothwell kindly sent me a set of new scans of photographs from Bill Ward’s photo album of Hong Kong, which he had first shared with me in December 2010.
7Henry Ching kindly sent two more of his Occasional Papers. The first concerns the experiences of Gunner G.R. Ross, 2 Bty HKVDC, and the other is a letter from Harry Penn (i/c 1 Coy HKVDC) to his wife Irene immediately after the Japanese surrender. As always, they are on their website. 7 Bob Tatz notes: “I have several blank postcards issued by the Japanese at the time of HK’s occupation. I used these to communicate with Mrs. Robinson (my godmother) in Stanley. I could send you copies electronically (they are unused), or the real McCoy via regular mail.” He attached a scan of a 3 cent card (see David Tett’s excellent series of books on POW correspondence – Volume 4 – for details), and later kindly sent me a couple of originals which I will keep sealed in their bag. 7 Michael Martin sent the Stanley group a photo (now hosted on Gwulo) of 1940 HK police and reservists taken at the Central Police Station. He notes: “Names printed freehand on the photo mount by A.J. Savitsky. There are discrepancies in the second row naming as A.J. Savitsky is the 12th person in the second row (left to right) in the photograph, not 14th as named. (Sixteen reservists in the second row). It appears that two officers from the left and right hand side of the photo were cut out (reason unknown, perhaps to fit an album). The photo was taken by ‘King’s Studio’ 16 Queens Rd. Hong Kong.”
6George Sach’s (Middlesex, Lisbon Maru) great niece got in touch.
5 Christine Kirkham sent the Stanley group two more photos of the Police from 1935 and 1937. (If you scroll down on the Gwulo link above, you will see these photos too. Click on them for the names). 5 Elizabeth Ride notes: “Gwulo have started using the BAAG papers, I am very pleased!” 5 Anthony Hutchin’s (Royal Artillery) daughter got in touch. She notes: “I have found one photo [illustrated] which may be of interest to those who may still be around who were in HK. The reverse of the photo has the following note - 'This is a photo of the building in which I live just now. It is 200ft above sea-level and very healthy. At the same time it is the look out post which has the job of warning HK of any approaching threat from the sea 'X' marks the room where I sleep. An outpost of the Empire. What? T'. Not sure which building it is and if it survives.” Presumably this was on the border, but does anyone know anything more about it?
3 Friends of John MacIsaac (Royal Rifles of Canada) got in touch via Bill Lake. 3 Rob Weir let me know of an interesting discussion about a ‘new’ pillbox underneath The Ridge going on at Gwulo here.
2 James Hill’s (HKPF) grandson got in touch through Martin Heyes. James Hill’s son was also an evacuee. He notes: “After military service in the Scots Guards, my grandfather James became a policeman in the Royal Hong Kong Police from 1927 until some time after the restoration of Hong Kong to British rule. He was attached to Special Branch, being proficient in Cantonese, Hakka, Hoklo and Japanese languages. Whilst interned in Stanley Camp, James was one of three official translators assisting Franklin Gimson. A reference by Franklin Gimson says James performed translation duties as a Japanese interpreter from January 1942 to August 1945.” He also provided two interesting photos, that with the larger number of policemen visible being taken in 1932 outside Wanchai Police Station.
1 PB45. Craig Mitchell was the first of several to point out that last month’s description of the location of PB45 sounded very like the Braemar Hill Artillery Observation Post site. The rough location (although slightly further west than presumed), and the description of the blown floor leading to a Japanese Tunnel network (and the description of the network itself) are almost exactly the same (see here). When the late Phil Bruce wrote his note in 1988, far less was known about these sites than today. I suppose it is possible that he mistook an AOP for a Pillbox. 1 A nice and completely unexpected start to the month – a little gift from the Canadian Prime Minister in recognition of a very small service I did last year at the annual Sai Wan commemoration.
February 1st, 2013 Update
BAAG Lorry (courtesy Gerry Van de Linde), Mr & Mrs Beningfield (courtesy Bill Beningfield), Reginal Climo (courtesy Kevin Triscott) Canadian Mess Tin (courtesy Craig Mitchell), Jim Hart at 97 (courtesy Archie Hart), Belchers Detachment (courtesy Kevin Triscott) David Maxwell's commemorative scroll (courtesy Fiona Green), Cover of Staley's book (author), Hong Kong Fellowship page 15 (courtesy Fiona Green).
This month I have discovered that Chief Petty Officer Tom Staley, whose lists of Royal Naval Other Ranks in Hong Kong as at the start of the Pacific War I use all the time, was the Senior Naval Other Rank and thus felt duty bound to record the fates of his comrades. This was obviously done at some personal cost. The surgeons at the POW hospitals did the same, and the Japanese broke up the most famous hospital (the Stadium in Japan) when they found the POWs’ medical records – dispatching those who worked there to punishment camps. And then of course we have the famous Shamshuipo POW list, typed and smuggled into British hands by a Chinese clerk who also thought it his duty. Although I occasionally work on cases where individuals seem to have slipped through the official cracks, thanks to courageous people like these such cases are very much in the minority.
30William Devlin’s (Royal Corps of Signals) grandson got in touch. 30 George Hinton’s (RN) great grandson got in touch. Interestingly, Staley’s document (see below) refers to him being in the ‘C.M.U.’ whereas his Commonwealth War Graves Commission record shows him at HMS Tamar. Tamar was of course effectively the Royal Navy’s pay station in Hong Kong, so presumably the CMU was part of it. However, the only definition I know of for CMU is Civilian Maintenance Unit, which seems unlikely in this context as Mr Hinton was an Able Seaman rather than a civilian.
29Several people alerted me to this interview with Barbara Laidlaw (nee Hume, daughter of ‘Tiny’ Hume, HKVDC) who joined last year’s Stanley Camp (where she was born in 1942) reunion.
28Jack Green’s (RN, Lisbon Maru) brother got in touch, telling an interesting story about his brother’s friend and fellow POW Tom Staley: “When in the camp he received much support from Tom Staley who as a CPO was the Senior OR (RN) in the camp (ex EXETER I think) and Jack always said that he owed his life to Tom. Apparently Tom broke into the Doctor's cabin in a ship in the docks and stole drugs required by the camp MO. In the 1950's I worked in London and stayed with Tom Staley and his wife and, although he was a broken man, I was able to listen to and, as his wife said, provide some comfort to him. He had apparently kept a list of all British POWs in Osaka and the Japanese had tried, unsuccessfully, to get this book resulting in constant beatings.” I use that book a great deal, as it is the only surviving list of RN personnel – and not just those in Osaka - which allocates each to their ship. Staley may well have been on Exeter at some point in his career, but was on HMS Moth when Hong Kong was attacked. 28 Bill Beningfield, the ‘newest’ Lisbon Maru survivor to make contact, sent me a fantastic photo of him and his wife to be – both in uniform – shortly after his homecoming in 1945. They have now been married more than 65 years.
27Ron Parker let me know that the site dedicated to his father, Major Maurice Parker, Royal Rifles of Canada (he commanded D Company) has now had over 50,000 hits. That’s pretty impressive for a site dedicated to an individual. 27 Archie Hart followed an annual tradition by sending me a photo of his father’s (James Hart, RASC) birthday.
24 Michael Hurst (of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society) reminded me of our offer to take photos of war cemetery headstones for any family that wanted them, so I have added a few words to the ‘Search Garrison’ page to the left, pointing to further information that he maintains on his society’s website.
23A member of Mary Vaughan’s (nee Quinn) extended family got in touch (see October last year).
20 Headed for the hills today, and took Sir Cecil’s Ride west from Mount Parker Road on the search for PB45. Had lots of false positives as there are so many slab-sided rocks on the slopes above, which glimpsed through the thick foliage seem very pillbox like. But no luck. Perhaps I didn’t go west enough, yet all the accounts I’ve read about that pillbox imply it was relatively close to Mount Parker Road.
19A live Japanese 150mm shell was reported on Mount Davis in the papers today.
18 George Sokalski (Winnipeg Grenadiers) great granddaughter got in touch.
15We have a winner! When I first posted the amazing Waldron Collection of POW working party photos from Kobe, I was hoping we’d one day be able to identify at least some of the POWs. Now William Beningfield (see last month) has been identified by his family in one of them (illustrated). His son notes: “Many times when we worked together refinishing furniture he would pull this face, almost in fun, and say 'Yee-up' as we lifted a table top or other heavy item onto a workbench.” 15 I had an interesting email from the daughter of Sydney Scadding, RAOC, who served in HK 1937 to 1939, and then again from 1956 to 58. In between he was with the BEF in France, among other things. Many men (especially NCOs) were posted back to the UK between 1939 and when hostilities started in 1941. A number also came the other way, being transferred to Hong Kong after escaping via Dunkirk.
14 Kenneth Love’s (Royal Corps of Signals, Lisbon Maru) son got in touch. 14 I sent a photo of evacuees taken in a Sydney street in 1940 to the Historic Houses Trust of NSW (as there was a rather distinctive building in the background) who sent back the location details and a modern photograph of the same location within 24 hours! Very helpful. 14 A friend of mine stumbled off a main path and found a Canadian mess tin up in the hills, and a bit of cleaning showed it to be in remarkably good condition.
13 David Maxwell’s granddaughter (see last month) sent me Maxwell’s memorial scroll. There is no doubt now that he was lost in the war, but does not appear in CWGC records. She also sent me a page from The Hong Kong Fellowship Newsletter of January 1946. She notes “[it] asks returning internees to relay any details about the listed deceased. My grandfather is on page 15 under the heading ‘Stanley.’ Here is the text: D. H. Maxwell, Chief Engineer, Butterfield & Swire, Died War Memorial Hospital 18.12.41. Mrs G. Maxwell, wife 16 Astley Gardens, Seaton Deleval, Northumberland.” His wife, Gertrude, is on my evacuation lists.
10Brian Edgar sent the Stanley Group a fascinating link to Anthony Sweeting’s book on Hong Kong Education 1941-2001, showing the lectures given in the camp (click on the link to page 114 at the top). 8 Alfred Lai sent this interesting link to a book about Macau during the war years.
7 Jim Trick kindly pointed out that some of the links way down at the bottom of this page are broken. I have removed them, and updated others as necessary. I am always interested in adding more; the only criterion is that they should be purely about individuals who were in Hong Kong when the Japanese army invaded.
6TK and Elizabeth Ride both commented on last months question of who built The Ridge. In fact the question was triggered by this quote from Alec Potts’ diary: "There is a ridge slightly further down the road which commands a clear view of the gap; on this ridge Eu Tong Sen, a multimillionaire from Singapore where he had made his money in tin mines, had built five houses. Housebuilding was a fetish with him and he is supposed to have been told by the priests that he would live so long as he built… These five houses stand some fifty feet above the road and are reached by an approach road. The first house is a smallish one, then come two large semidetached houses, next a large house and finally a smaller single house. There is a good deal of space between the houses in the shape of tennis courts and gardens." However, I have a book about Eu Tong Sen which was given to me by his family, and although it mentions many of the houses and mansions he had built, it does not mention The Ridge.
4 Rob Weir has discovered new evidence on the possible location of Pillbox 45, which has eluded us for around 15 years! A paper from the late Philip Bruce noted: “a pillbox on a ridge running down to Sir Cecil’s Ride, which connects Mount Parker Road with Braemar Hill, on Hong Kong Island. The pillbox bears extensive scars from bullets and grenade fragments and was obviously the scene of a fierce fire fight in 1941. The floor at the rear has been blown in and one would assume at first sight that his was the results of the battle. But perhaps it was blasted later for, although left ragged, the crater is in fact the entrance to a Japanese tunnel system which runs 50 or 60 feet back into the hill”. That story somehow sounds familiar. When I get a spare morning I’ll go up into the hills and see if I can find it. 4 Gerry van de Linde, on a trip to Hong Kong, kindly left me a CD to pick up at the Mandarin Hotel. It contains a number of very interesting BAAG photos, and also his father’s “Patrick’s Wartime Wanderings”. Serving with the RAMC in India, Patrick received an instruction to move: “It eventually transpired that my destination was Kun Ming, in China, and the objective to rescue certain members of General Wingate's forces who had escaped from the fighting with the Japanese in Burma and had made (or were making) their way into China via a route known as the Burma Road. I had only a vague idea of where Kun Ming was but that didn't matter - the Army evidently knew.” So began his association with the BMM and BAAG. One of the most interesting photos is of a truck bearing the official insignia of BAAG.
2Sergeant Reginald Thomas Climo’s (847853, 965 Defence Battery RA) great nephew kindly sent a photo of: “Reg taken while serving in Hong Kong in 1938 with the Belcher's Detachment. (Reg is front row, 3rd from right). The names of all in the photograph are as follows, starting with the back row from left to right: Gunner Ho Leung To, Gunner Li Ting Sang, Gunner Cheung Wing, Gunner Li Kim Fai, Gunner Chan Kim Hung, Gunner Wong Kit Hing, Gunner Tsang Sik Hong, Gunner Kwok Ping, Gunner Chan Sang. Front row, left to right: Gunner Ko Sik On, Gunner Naik Young Cheung, Hon. S/Sgt Crossen, Lieutenant Smith R.A., Captain (D.O.) A.E. Hazell MBE RA MR, Gunner Tarsane, Lance Bombardier Climo, Gunner Goodenough, Lance/Naik Wai Sek Cheung”. Interesting to see the Indian army rank ‘Naik’ used. Cheung Wing was killed in the war as a Bombardier, Kwok Ping survived as did Wilfred Crossen (RAOC) and Bombardier John Goodenough. The others do not appear in the 1941 garrison records. It appears that Climo was married to a Portuguese/Hong Kong national called Teresa, a hairdresser, who the family was in touch with post war until she moved to Switzerland. 2 John Fender’s (HKPF) great nephew got in touch. Fender’s wife, Sarah Dempsey, was evacuated to Australia in 1940 but does not appear in my evacuation records.
1 T.K. kindly sent two photos bracketing the war, one dated 16-11-1941) showing Canadian soldiers assembled on the pitch below the Signal Hill or Observatory Hill in Tsimshatsui before they marched along Nathan Road to Shumshuipo Camp, and the other British soldiers reoccupying The Peninsula Hotel, dated 16-8-45.
January 1st, 2013 Update
Sydney Cenotaph (author), Bill Beningfield with wife and granddaughter (courtesy David Beningfield), BAAG shoulder flash (author) Cemetery Ridge and two views of Japanese POWs in 1945 (courtesy T.K.) SCMP cutting (courtesy Elizabeth Ride), Bankers marching from Sun Wah (courtesy Tim de Broekert), My Wartime Experience (author)
The end of yet another year, and a resolution for the new one: To finish my thesis on the evacuation of Hong Kong British civilians to Australia in 1940. And what a great way to end the year, being put in touch (see the 24th) with another survivor of the Lisbon Maru!
31Ron McGuire in Canada kindly put me in touch with the son of Charles Clark, Canadian Postal Corps. Clark made a valiant effort to save Colonel Hennessy after the latter was mortally wounded by a shell on The Peak.
30Jaroslav Krofta’s (HKVDC) granddaughter got in touch. Krofta was one of the few Czechoslovakians in the Volunteers. 30 TK mentioned a new book which sounds quite interesting.
29Adrian Phoon contacted me, asking: “My father and his family grew up in HK during WWII and often talked about how they escaped the city and fled to Guilin. My grandfather was a prominent surgeon in HK and feared that the Japanese administration would force him to work for them. He was also worried about the lack of food in the city. I am keen to learn more about those who fled the city during the war - how and when they did it, and by what means and resources?” Aside from some coverage of student refugees in ‘Dispersal and Renewal’, does anyone know of other sources?
27 David Hood Maxwell’s (Merchant Navy?) granddaughter got in touch noting: “I have very few details about my grandfather's death in Hong Kong other than the date - 18 Dec 1941 - and that he was suffering from dysentery and died of pneumonia in the basement of a Hong Kong hospital during the Japanese bombardment. He was a chief engineer in the British Merchant Navy. He is on no memorial, but I do have an official condolence and Medal of Honor from the British government.” He doesn’t seem to be mentioned in any of my sources either, so this may be one of those interesting searches.
25Spending a rainy Christmas Day on holiday in Sydney, I took the opportunity to go to Martin Place and photograph the cenotaph. I then used an Armistice Day 1942 image, showing a wreath laid by the Hong Kong evacuees (given to me by Brian Bromley some years back) to create one of my not-overly-professional mash ups.
24William Beningfield’s (Middlesex, Lisbon Maru) son got in touch, with the excellent news that his father is alive and kicking! 24 Donald Lam got in contact with a useful account of the infamous massacre of civilians – including several members of his own family - at Sir Tang Shiu-kin’s residence on Blue Pool Road. He notes that: “My father and two of my uncles were citizens and they served on the Hong Kong Reserved Police Force in the chaotic and traumatic days leading to the surrender of the Colony”, and also added a link to a fascinating family photo album from the pre-war years. 24 Tim de Broekert sent the Stanley Group his first findings from the Dutch archives, including a copy of the well-known photo of the Sun Wah Hotel bankers being marched towards Central.
22Philip Cracknell reports finding an original British army canteen/water bottle up in the hills – still full after all these years! (Illustrated) 22 Jill Fell is asking who built “The Ridge” – the houses just south of Wong Nai Chung Gap which were occupied by the RAOC when the Japanese attacked. So far we’ve looked at Li Shiu Fan and Eu Tong Sen, but no definitive answer as yet.
17 Leonard Brooks’ (RA) great niece got in touch.
16 Brian Edgar found this account of an operation at Tweed Bay Hospital in a 1945 Australian newspaper: “DOCTORS INGENIOUS IN HONG KONG CAMP From REG HARRIS, Courier-Mail Correspondent. HONG KONG, Sept. 7. — A major operation performed at the Stanley internment camp hospital here while the Japs were in control was a masterpiece, of medical ingenuity. Professor K. H. Digby, former professor of surgery at Hong Kong University, performed the operation on Mr. Bill Ahearn, a sugar chemist, whose father, Mr. Denis Ahearn, lives at Ayr (Queensland). Professor K. H. Digby, former professor of surgery at Hong Kong University, performed the operation in the dingy theatre with improvised lighting. A mud wall was built outside the window of the theatre, and the mud was smoothed and highly polished until it reflected the sun's rays into the theatre. After making a nine-inch abdominal incision, Professor Digby got another doctor to stand, over the patient, holding a polished sheet of tin. The tin reflected the sunshine from the mud wall on to the abdomen. Ahearn was on the table for four and three-quarter hours, the first three and a half hours with a spinal and local anaesthetic and the rest with chloroform. Another doctor performed a similar operation on another patient under similar conditions. The Japs, although they had it, refused to provide medical equipment for these and other operations, and old rags had to be used as dressings. The camp hospital got some drugs from the International Red Cross, but none from the Japs. The doctors made medicine for dysentery from a clay they found in the camp area. They also made a medicine from the lagging (asbestos) from the camp boilers.” (Trove is a wonderfully useful resource for old Australian newspapers).
15 Bruno Yvanovich kindly sent me a copy of his father Philippe’s (6 Coy HKVDC) memoir My Wartime Experience. 15 Victor Scantlebury’s (Middlesex) grandson got in touch. Scantlebury was killed on Christmas Day 1941 at the MaryKnoll. His widow passed away in Middlesex in April this year.
12Craig Mitchell sent a fascinating clipping from Britain At War magazine covering an attempt late in the war to cut Hong Kong’s cable connection to the outside world, so that the Japanese in occupation would have to use radio (which could be intercepted) instead. This topic has also been covered in a book. 12 Dave Deptford reports: “DNW 12-13 Dec 2012. Group of Nine to HARRY BEVIS, WW1 Trio, 39-45 Star, Pacific Star, Defence, War, Two UK Life Saving medals. Note states - 'a prisoner of war since the fall of Hong Kong', inference being he was captured there and then. Re engaged post war and served until c 1953.” Bevis was on the Lisbon Maru.
11In an attempt to learn more about the dockyard Osborne family pre-war I went through the archived Hong Kong newspapers here. I found an account of John Osborne’s death, but not as much about the family as I was hoping for.
8By tradition Barbara Anslow sends an email on this date (the anniversary of the start of Hong Kong’s war). Today she wrote: “As I was eating my breakfast this morning, I was remembering having a very hurried breakfast about 6.45 am Monday 8th December 1941, as at 6.30am I'd been woken up by the arrival of a Chinese messenger from nearby ARP HQ where I worked; he handed me a note from my boss asking me to get to the office by 7am. Not know why, but fearing the worst (we'd been on alert for the past few days), I hurried off, then learned that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbour (wherever that was - I didn't know then!) and we were now at war with the Japanese. I had charge of a number of files labelled 'Bring up in an emergency' - so I duly brought them up! The first air raid alarm came at 8am but I heard no bombs. I hope we will always remember the several thousand military etc. & HKVDC killed or missing in the battle for Hong Kong, as well as civilians - and countless Chinese citizens.”
7 T.K., responding to my mention last month of the Prasads, sent me a photo of Cemetery Ridge, noting: “The attached photo which was taken in 1946 clearly shows the location of Cemetery Ridge. It was the slope on the left of the photo. You can see the rolls of graves clearly. They were cleared to build the car parks for the old HK Stadium. The Chinese style building in the photo is the Confucian Hall. It still exists. When I was a student of Eastern Hospital Road Government Primary (1957-1963) now Ho Tung Technical School for girls, I could still see some graves on the slope behind the Confucian Hall.” Later he added: “Workmen found skeletons around the area when they build the Fontana Garden and the new Hotung Sec. School in the 50's and 60's.” 7 On the Stanley Group Don Ady gave his recollections of the registration for the internment camp, and Barbara Anslow replied: “You are right about the hard-packed earth on Murray Parade Ground that January day in 1942. It was cold too! At that time I was already interned, with other ARP personnel, in the Tai Koon Hotel; that day we were taken by the Japs to Murray P.G. where the long tables you remember were set up, with chairs. We ARP lot were told to sit at these tables and fill in forms as the captured civilians (including you!) came to us one by one. We were to take names, nationality etc. It soon became apparent that this was an impossible task, the Japanese gave up and we ARP were sent back to the Tai Koon Hotel. I didn't know what happened to all the other people at that time. The parade ground fronted Queen's Road, and was opposite Murray Barracks (with Garden Road between them). On the other side, high up, was the red-bricked French Mission with its large round tower on top I was interested to see that French Mission building still there in 2008!” I am happy to report that the French Mission is still there to this day.
6On Michael Martin’s Stanley Camp group Don Ady posted an excerpt from a letter he had written soon after repatriation: “January 5th the Japs posted notice in town that all enemy aliens were to register at the Murray Parade Grounds, but some people didn't think that there was any thing funny in the air and just went to see what they were supposed to do and got slapped into some of the Chinese hotels, with just what they had on for the internment. And their folks or friend that were living with them during the siege didn't know where they were unless they managed smuggling letters out most likely. The internment in the hotels lasted from the 5th to the 22 of Jan and if we had stayed there all the time we probably would have been either dead or insane by the time repatriation came along. (We lived in the New Asian Hotel, which was the smallest and one of the best of the hotels, and was on the street and almost opposite the Sun Company. On the 22nd we were marched down the bund to a dock where we got on a launch and went to Stanley on it.” David Bellis then gave us the Gwulo page for the Sun Company building. 6 The Dockyard facebook page has also introduced me to Robert Lapsely’s (HKVDC) son.
5 Jean-Willy Dubois’ (a Swiss civilian who spent the war years in Hong Kong outside the internment camps) got in touch. She would like to learn more about her father’s experience. Pre-war he lived at 3 Gap Road. 5 Today it was announced that Ho Tung Gardens (wartime HQ of the HKSRA) will not be preserved.
4 Joseph de Broekert’s (Dutch Stanley Internee) grandson got in touch. Joseph was interned with his father (Anthonie) and mother (Maria) and two siblings. He notes: “I have also found extensive material about Stanley in the Dutch Center for war records. All kinds of records of committee meetings and other documents have been preserved. This is now available to the public.” De Broekert senior worked for Marsman & Co. 4 Through the Taikoo and Kowloon Dock Families facebook page, I am in touch with the granddaughter of Stanley Internee Alfred Osborne. Her family were also evacuees, but returned to Hong Kong before hostilities began.
3 T.K. sent me two photos of Japanese POWs soon after Hong Kong’s liberation. He notes: “The soldiers were preparing to enter their camps in Fanling but the photo was taken near Kai Tak. You can see Lion Rock in the back ground.” 3 Elizabeth Ride sent a cutting from the South China Morning Post, featuring an editorial (most probably written by Henry Ching senior) published two weeks after the BAAG stood down. Henry Ching junior wasn’t absolutely sure that his father was the author, but noted: “I recognise his style of writing. He was fond of the triple phrase – ‘rallying round, beckoning us, assuring us’, ‘planning, providing, infiltrating’, ‘ready, generous and efficient help’, ‘able, familiar with the Colony and blessed with personality’. He did not leave HK until well into the first quarter of 1946, to join his family in Australia. The BAAG was disbanded on 31st December, 1945 and this editorial was apparently written in mid-January, 1946; he would have been at his editorial desk at that time.”
2 Elizabeth Ride and other friends came to a delayed Thanksgiving dinner. Elizabeth very kindly presented me with an original BAAG Scarlet Pimpernel shoulder flash.
1 Kurt Swanson’s (Royal Rifles of Canada) family got in touch via Ron Parker. Swanson is recorded as dying on 28 December 1941 and has a known grave, therefore we presume he passed away from wounds in hospital. 1 Barbara Shimmin was kind enough to send me a CD of an amazing BBC radio broadcast from Christmas Day 1945. In it, the BBC had selected a London family to speak to other families and wish them a merry Christmas – and as luck would have it, this family included recently returned Lisbon Maru POW - Sergeant Robert Dyson, Middlesex. It is a real gem, from the mixed accents (BBC and Bethnal Green) to the phraseology and content – and recorded at a quality rarely heard in broadcasts from that date.
December 1st, 2012 Update
Tatz in Stanley (courtesy Bob Tatz), John Lander's grave, Stanley Wort's book (both author) Japanese photos from 27 December 1941 (all courtesy T.K.) Kamal Prasad (author), Bob Tatz and author (courtesy Geoff Emerson), the Landers (author)
In theory, every British citizen killed in the Second World War is individually commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In practice, too, the vast majority – and almost all those in uniform – were correctly recorded. This month, though, after an investigation over the past year, I concluded that one more civilian – Theodore Leslie Bell - is missing from the records. His is only the third such case I have discovered. Usually, when people ask for help for information on a father who was lost during the war and whose passing was unrecorded, it turns out to be a sad case of abandonment and a mother letting the children down gently.
29 Brian Edgar found a very interesting account of the fighting and internment years from Father Tohill. Amazingly, it contains a second (though second-hand) account of Bell's death.
28Henry Ching kindly sent a further three of his Occasional Papers. These cover a study of families in the HKVDC, Penn's letter of commiseration to Lambert's wife, and an account by Robert Lapsley. These are available here. 28 Elizabeth Ride kindly sent the famous sketch of Stanley Camp - reproduced many times - drawn by Mark Tsui based on information given by Hong Kong policeman Narwarnt Singh, from Waichow Intelligence Summary Number 13.
27 Brian Edgar continues to add new articles to his website. This one covers Doris Cuthbertson who organised relief for Jardine Matheson employees in the camps. 25James Donnelly’s (RE, Lisbon Maru) grandson got in touch. 25 While going through the IWM’s Hong Kong photos. I was amazed to find one of Dennis Clark and his brother Duane Liu. I sent it to Dennis, and he was equally amazed!
24Dave Deptford kindly let me know that Alan Nicol had passed away in September, and has a short obituary in the latest RAS newsletter. I knew Alan slightly, having had lunch with him and Wally Scragg at the Mess at Cheung Sha Wan Police Station in March 2004. Dave continues with details of Nicol’s medals now for sale on the website of dealer Norman Collett: “OBE, 39 45, Pacific, Defence, War, GSM Malaya, CPM Meritorious plus 2x Malaysian medals @ GBP695.00. Born Penang 1922 son of Officer in Straits Settlement Police, enlisted HKP 1940, Interned, continued service post war, transferred to Special Branch Malaya 1951 as Assistant Superintendant, retired as Assistant Commissioner 1967, service with UK FCO, final retirement to HK in 1986, died HK 22.9.2012.” 24 Bill Lake kindly sent me a copy of the original order for civilians in Hong Kong to gather for registration at Murray Parade Ground on 5 January 1942. Does anyone have a high resolution version of this?
23I took the day off, and my wife and I visited Elizabeth Ride at her new ‘office’ – the Hong Kong Heritage Project now at the CLP HQ in Hung Hom. It was good to see her hard at work again, and she was able to help with some very useful details on the Hong Kong Chinese Regiment men who escaped into China to join BAAG and, in many cases, the Chindits.
19John S. McCallum contacted me saying he was in the Reconnaissance Unit of the Hong Kong Regiment sometime from 1958-66. I wasn't previously aware that the Reconnaissance Unit was resurrected after the war. 19 Roger Mansell’s daughter let me know that Roger’s book, “Captured: The Forgotten Men of Guam” has been published this month by Naval Institute Press. “Prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War, Guam was a paradise for U.S. military and civilian employees stationed on the island. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, however, the Japanese invaded the tiny island, captured the Americans, and shipped them to Japan. Drawing on interviews with survivors, diaries, and archival records, Roger Mansell documents the mostly unknown story of these American POWs. The men endured horrific hardships, many of which are chronicled in this book for the first time. Also included are moving stories of their liberation, transportation home, and the aftermath of their ordeal.” It can be ordered from the Naval Institute Press or Amazon. 19 Kamal Prasad sent a useful link to studies of the Japanese Army during the war. The Occupation and POW Policies part is vey interesting.
18Today saw the last Hong Kong Club walk of the season – the old favourite, Wong Nai Chung Gap. I was looking at some old emails recently and realised that we wrote the text for the signboards in 2004. It’ll be coming up to the ten year anniversary soon!
17 Bob Tatz sent a sketch of him completed in Stanley Camp in 1942 by Christine Corra.
15Cecil Kingdon’s (Stanley Internee) family got in touch.
14I heard today that: “Col David Miller, a military historian, is seeking details of the family and origins of Lau Teng Kee, as after service with the BAAG, Lau was recruited later in 1942 for another MI9 project - Operation Minerva. This was organised to repeat in Sumatra and Singapore activities the BAAG, including Lau, carried out in and around occupied Hong Kong. Whilst on Operation Minerva Lau was flown to the west coast of Sumatra together with four other military personnel: none of them were ever seen again. The names of the rest of the party are on War Memorials at Kranji in Singapore and Rangoon (these can be provided). David Miller seeks Lau's details in order to have Lau Teng Kee's name added to the Roll of Honour at Kranji Memorial as his is the only name of the Op Minerva party not so recorded.” Regular readers will recall earlier attempts to do right this, by Elizabeth Ride and others. Interestingly, Malayan Lau Teng Kee of HKU does not seem to have been in the HKVDC – at least, not under that name.
13Today I had my first ever history-related visitor from the sub continent: Kamal Prasad, son of Major Kumta Prasad, the commander of B Company of the second battalion the fourteenth Punjabi regiment. I was able to show him – from a high vantage point – the battlefields behind Causeway Bay where B Coy was for much of the fighting. I also showed him a photo of Lt Col Kidd’s grave (his father’s CO) which I had taken at Sai Wan on the 11th.
12The Danish Embassy in Beijing is looking for more details on the death of their national Kaj Soren Kjaer of No 1 Company HKVDC. In Not The Slightest Chance I quote the internal records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, stating that Kjaer was originally "Buried at Tai Koo Road, 600 yards north of Sai Wan". That would imply that he was killed quite soon after the Japanese invasion of the north shore - possibly even on the evening of the 18th itself. 12 Daniel Cunningham’s (RA) great niece got in touch. She notes that: “Danny was one of ten children and born in either in 1916 or17. There were five of each gender and my grand mother was the youngest born 1925. I also know he survived diphtheria as a boy which killed three of his siblings. He is remembered on the war memorial in his Roman Catholic parish church saint Illtyds Dowlais Merthyr Tydfil where his baptismal records can be found.” 12 George Bristow’s (RN) great niece got in touch. I corresponded with Bristow for a while ten or more years ago, and he helped me with Information on Robin and Tern. 12 A friend of William Carcary (Winnipeg Grenadiers) got in touch.
11 This Armistice Day the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and his wife were in town, so the Canadian Consulate brought forward the annual Sai Wan Memorial service to Novembers so that they could join. I was given the opportunity of briefing the Prime Minister and wife on the photo information boards that the Consulate had on display. I also met Ken Pifher, Royal Rifles of Canada, again. He reminded me that I had taken him for a ‘gruelling walk’ in the hills on his last visit in 2009, but he seemed very fit on it! 11 Ernest Shirley’s (RA, Lisbon Maru) nephew got in touch. 11 This evening I phoned Rose Gibson in the UK to tell her the fate of her father Theodore Leslie Bell (see March and earlier). I had finally realised two weeks ago that the Mr Bell referred to in Charles Mycock’s report – originally given to me by Lee Hunter around three years ago – must be the Theodore Leslie Bell who went missing during the war and has no known official memorial. After re-checking all the other possibilities, I felt safe in passing Rose the news with a full report on my findings. 11 Alexander Campbell Scott and brother Donald Scott’s (both Royal Scots, Lisbon Maru) great niece go in touch.
10 Today I finally met Bob Tatz, a Stanley Internee I have corresponded with for some years, and Gerry Lander whose father John Lander was killed with 1 Bty HKVDC in the defence of Stanley. Gerry spent the war years in Santo Tomas Internment Camp in the Philippines. Geoff Emerson kindly arranged for us to look round St Stephen’s and then took the others (Gerry was accompanied by his wife, and Bob by his three children) to the prison in the afternoon. 10 Ron Taylor (UK) kindly sent a photo of Arthur Hemmingfield, RA, who was lost on the Lisbon Maru (illustrated).
9 Andrew Suddaby kindly sent a photo of Big Wave Bay in the 1950s.
8 My copy of Stanley Wort’s book “Prisoner of The Rising Sun” arrived. It looks interesting. I’ll read it properly on my next flight. 8 Tony Bushell kindly sent an account of Lieutenant Walter Davis, RNR, and his time as a POW.
6After his trip to Hong Kong (see last month) Gerald Rose noted of We Shall Suffer There: “I was staggered to find the note to Gladys MacNider from Capt Laite in Shamshuipo on page 170. I have never been told of this amazing generous offer. Capt Laite made a contribution to my father's Album - spread 16.”
5 T.K. in Canada emailed three interesting Japanese photos. All dated 27 December 41 they show the scenes inside the Naval HQ, at Kai Tak’s Entrance and looking out from Shiu Fai Terrace towards Morrison Hill and the harbour. He noted that the stones for the Japanese War Memorial off Mount Cameron were taken from Morrison Hill.
3Duncan Izatt’s (HKVDC) grandson got in touch. 3 Evacuee MaryJane Littleton (nee Mezger) got in touch, Her sister Charlotte Quinn contacted me some time back.
2 Philip Cracknell notes: “I came across a rather rare book or maybe booklet would be more apt titled ‘Memories of a Japanese Internment Camp’ written by Margaret Elizabeth Jay and printed by Tyndale Press, Lowestoft. In December 1941 she had come to Hong Kong by air for a week's holiday from teaching in a missionary school in Kunming, Yunnan. She chose the wrong week as it was the week the Japanese invaded. She volunteered as a nurse during the first week at Kowloon Hospital. In Camp she became friendly with a Polish girl Lucille Eichenbaum and their accommodation was an open verandah on one of the bungalows. Although often flooded out they [weren’t] re-accommodated until after the Americans left. She taught children in the Stanley Camp School (no desks, no seats, sitting on the floor in groups) during the mornings 8:30am to 11:30 am.” I don’t have this one yet.
1 Dave Deptford was quick to comment on the question of last month: “KPFSM(G) mv Sai On incident. Vessel was a HK-Canton ferry, caught fire in HK harbour early 1947, c150 deaths. KPFSM(G)s to William Todd, Sub Inspector HKPF; Roland Henry John Brooks Acting Divisional Officer HKFSD; Charles William Browne Station Officer HKFSD - awards published in London Gazette Issue 38037 Page 3679 of 5.8.1947. No citation but q.v. award of George Medal and citation for same incident to Cheung On, boarding house employee (and later Corporal HKPF) in 3rd Supplement to LG of 1.8.1947 Page 3677. Todd/Brooks and Browne between them rescued a number of persons from the sea. Ditto Cheung On. William Todd enlisted HKP 26.7.1939, made Sgt 25.8.1940 and was reportedly one of 'The Stanley Trio' (with MacLeod and Pearson), entertainers in the Camp.” David Bellis also noted a page on the topic on Gwulo.
November 1st, 2012 Update
St Stephen's Chapel Window, Gerald Rose and Harry Banham (both author), Mary Vaughan and mother Sue Leung (courtesy Mary Vaughan) Propaganda leaflet (courtesy Gerald Rose), Lisbon Maru story (courtesy The Telegraph), Page from Bell's diary (author) James Melvin at Scott's funeral (courtesy Katrina Melvin), 1946 cover (courtesy Bob Tatz), Rosary Hill ID card (courtesy Mary Vaughan)
Ten years ago this month, Hong Kong War Diary took on its current form of a monthly report on all things related to studies and information sharing about Hong Kong’s wartime history. More than 180,000 words of news later – that’s nearly two average size books’ worth – it’s still going strong. More statistics: Since that date, this site has received 44,768 non-spam emails, and 452,095 visits. More importantly it has exploded the pre-Internet myth that an event like the capture of Hong Kong is documented by just a few diaries, letters and similar items locked away in archives and museums; the reality is that almost every family involved seems to have kept at least a few documents and photographs – ranging from 25-word POW postcards to 1,000 page diaries – and taken together they represent a breadth and depth of history that eclipses all the books on the topic that will ever be written.
31A researcher is asking if there were any Wrens in pre-war Hong Kong. There were none that I know of – the only uniformed female Naval personnel in my records being nurses.
29 Henry Ching let me know that: “the new website for the Hong Kong Volunteer & ex-POW Association of New South Wales is now officially launched. Our Occasional Papers will be posted on this website, and past issues are already there.”
28Slightly cooler this morning with a stiff breeze. Autumn is coming. I met the Hong Kong Club walkers at Park View at 08.45 and we did the ‘Cadogan-Rawlinson’s Last Stand’ walk – to the summit of Jardine’s Lookout, then the summit of Mount Butler, then down Mount Parker Road to Quarry Bay. Like the walks last season, it was really enjoyable; a nice group of people, many interesting conversations, and a good excuse for a beer or two later in the day! There was a slightly surreal experience right at the end, but that’s between my fellow walkers and me.
27Paid a visit to the Shek O area this afternoon to inspect a site where the Japanese executed a number of people during the war years.
26I heard today that Lieutenant-Commander (Retired) William Lore passed away on 22 September in Hong Kong at the age of 103. Mr Lore was said to be not only the first Canadian-born Chinese person to join the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) but also the first person of Chinese ancestry to serve in any of the British Commonwealth navies. Born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1909, in 1943 at the personal request of Vice-Admiral Percy F. Nelles, then Chief of Naval Staff, he joined the RCN (along with a number of other young Chinese Canadians eager to do their bit). In 1945 Mr Lore was assigned as an intelligence officer to Sir Cecil Harcourt, who commanded the British fleet which relieved Hong Kong after Japan’s surrender. Arriving on 30 August 1945 Sub-Lieutenant Lore (as he was then) led a platoon of marines to take control of the naval dockyards (now Tamar) and then crossed the harbour to Sham Shui Po POW Camp. He was also present during the local surrender of the Japanese on 16 September. He retired from the navy as a Lieutenant-Commander, later studying law at Oxford and establishing a practice in Hong Kong. 26 Martin Dewick made a number of interesting finds in the hills today, including a Japanese machine gun strip, of the type illustrated here. 26 Dave Deptford kindly alerted me to a new book today: “Prisoner of The Rising Sun - by Stanley Wort, a sailor captured in HK, to Japan, earthquake, bombing raid and Emperor's broadcast. Advertized by Naval and Military Press £7.95.” Needless to say, I have one on order already.
24Ian Kerr’s (Corps of Military Police) daughter got in touch. Ian’s father – Stanley, was also in the Corps.
23 Damian Greenwood, ex of Hong Kong, is asking if anyone knows for which incident(s) Sub-Inspector William Todd of the HKPF, and Station Officer Charles William Browne and Roland Brooks of the HK Fire Brigade were awarded the King's Police and Fire Services Medal for Gallantry (KPM) gazetted in 1947? 23 Harry Rainsford’s (RA, Lisbon Maru) nephew in law got in touch. 23 Percy Poole’s (HKRNVR, Punjabis) son got in contact. As far as I know, Poole (who was ex-Shanghai Police) was the only officer to be posted from the HKRNVR to the army. Poole later escaped from POW camp. His son notes: “His escape was a spur of the moment thing. Apparently the monsoon rain was pouring and the camp gates were opened to admit some trucks. Realising that the splash-back from the rain, which was some 18 inches high, meant that the ground could not be seen he lay on the ground and crawled out between the wheels of the incoming trucks, and just kept going. Once out he made contact with some Chinese locals (he spoke fluent Chinese) who helped set him on the road, and then he walked for the next four months westwards until he met up with allied troops. He was then hospitalized before returning to active service. By way of a stint as an unarmed combat instructor at the School of Jungle warfare, he served with 4/5 Army and 42 Marine Commando and was at the invasion of Singapore. At the end of the war he was an interrogating officer for the war crimes commission and among those he interrogated was the commandant of the camp (Dr Saito??). At this time he managed to have assigned to him one of the Indian NCOs he had met at camp…. one Shah Mohammed Khan. He was then transferred to Frontier Control in Aachen and stayed there until 1951 when he left service. He died in 1982.” I have never come across this escape before. Interestingly, the Shanghai Police gave the British some of their most effective unarmed combat instructors, such as Sykes.
22Henry Langley kindly sent a set of interesting documents relating to his father’s 1941 transfer from the Hong Kong Naval Dockyard to the Singapore one, just in time to be evacuated from the latter. He followed up with a wartime photo.
21 RTHK broadcast their collectors show this evening. Kicking off with highly respected local historian Tim Ko, this episode (available online here) focused entirely on Hong Kong’s wartime experience. Yours Truly appears about 11.10 in from the start. (It’s in Cantonese, but my part is sub-titled). 21 Hamish Low is asking about the RAF crew graves at Sai Wan, in particular: “Three RAF graves with same date - 24th July 1945, I have traced them to 243 Squadron based in Camden, Australia flying Dakota transporting supplies in SE Asia, but no account of what happened to them or where they died: H Scholes, Pilot 1520432 Warrant Officer J G Steel, Pilot J H Turton, Wireless operator FO”. Does anyone know where this plane crashed? Presumably they were reinterred from China, Taiwan, or the Philippines.
20James Melvin’s (Royal Scots) granddaughter got in touch. She included photos of Mr Melvin as a boy soldier, and also attending the funeral (marked with an X) of Major Ronnie Scott, Royal Scots, at Happy Valley in February 1939. According to the regimental museum: “Ronald Scott joined the Regiment as a 2/Lt in 1915 and served with the 1st Bn. in Belgium and Salonika where he was twice wounded and mentioned in dispatches. He joined the 2nd Bn. in 1922 at Aldershot on their return from Ireland and served with them until 1934. The cause of his death on 4 Feb. 1939 is not recorded in the regimental journal The Thistle but his obituary records he went to China in 1934 to learn the language and had latterly been employed as Assistant Military Attaché at the Br. Embassy, Peking where he was highly thought of. He had arrived in HK en route for home and his first leave when he died.” Oddly enough, Scott’s grave was moved at some point after the funeral.
18Bob Tatz sent me an interesting envelope, noting: “I think you might be interested in this attachment. It is a postal envelope commemorating Peace in HK 1946, addressed to my godmother, Olga Blake, at the address we all stayed in after we shipped to England on the Highland Monarch. She gave me this original.” He added: “Olga Blake was Mrs. Robinson in Stanley Camp. Harry Blake was also interned in Stanley Camp, and they became married long after the war; it was sometime in the late 1950’s when they retired from work in HK and immigrated to Australia. Harry Blake was injured by American war craft in one of their raids when a stray cannon shell smashed his left ankle, and left him with a lifelong disability.”
17Vic Rayward-Smith kindly sent me an account of the 1940 evacuation written by his sister Wendy Borthwick.
15Mary Vaughan, nee Quinn, kindly posted me a set of documents – including an ID card from when Rosary Hill was used as a rehabilitation centre immediately after the war - relating to her birth. There is some confusion over her date of birth, with her late mother and Rosary Hill saying 1 March 42, and other authorities saying 14 April 42. She is still hoping to learn more about her mother’s (Sue Leung, who married John Quinn, Royal Marines, at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church Hong Kong) side of the family. (See last month).
14 Today, Sunday, my wife and I and our younger son (who is almost 11) went to Stanley to meet Gerald Rose and his wife at St Stephen’s College. We visited the chapel, by permission of the ever-helpful Dean, where there is a stained glass window above the door. At the top of that window is a pane based on a photo taken at Stanley Camp on the last day of August 1945. Gerald told me how a naval photographer had arrived with Harcourt’s fleet and asked him to assemble the other kids on the steps for a photo. By chance a few days later that photographer saw Gerald again and gave him a copy of the photo that he still has. He is the little chap at top right with his fist clenched by his face. At that time he was exactly the same age as our younger son. Gerald also gave me some documents from the time, including a Japanese propaganda leaflet that I hadn’t seen before.
12Archibald Elston’s (HKPF) granddaughter got in touch via the Stanley group. She is also John Hargreaves’s (Stanley Internee) grandniece. Rather unusually, Mr Elston donated his underwear to the IWM.
11 Donald Mitchell ‘s (RN) granddaughter got in touch. Mitchell’s wife and two sons were evacuated in 1940. 11 Robert Dyson’s (Middlesex, Lisbon Maru) niece got in touch. She notes: “I wondered if you might be interested in a recording I have of a BBC radio programme that was broadcast at Christmas 1945? The broadcast featured my mother's family, as a typical East End family, and what the end of the war meant to them. In the programme, my uncle, Robert Dyson, spoke of his experience of surviving the sinking of The Lisbon Maru. He was recently home, and his contribution to the programme - amidst all the jollity - brings a tear to the eye. And I'm not saying that just because it's a relative speaking; people who've heard the tape, and who have never even met my uncle, have the same reaction.”
10 I had a note from Henry Ching concerning Michael Wright’s 100th birthday. He says: “we have heard from Nick Woolmington in London that the gathering on 4th October was a great success. A lunch party was held at the Cavalry and Guards Club in Piccadilly. Nick reports that Michael was in excellent spirits and reasonably robust for his age. Most of the time was spent talking about various memories of Hong Kong, and Michael’s memory is described as ‘quite remarkable’. All letters of congratulation from various branches of the Regimental Association and from individuals were read out.” Michael was 3rd Bty, HKVDC.
9 Stanley Smith’s (HKPF) son – also nephew of Albert Smith, HKPF - got in touch.
8Martin Heyes notes that: “yesterday I took Bud Donovan, aged 84, the younger brother of Valenine A. Donovan of the Winnipeg Grenadiers, around the Wong Nai Chong Gap Trail. Bud was accompanied by his daughter Laurie.” Private Donovan was killed aged 21 years on 19 December 1941, at the Wong Nai Chong Gap West Brigade Headquarters. 8 Marsh’s family followed up with a selection of letters both from Marsh when he was a POW, and from the army following his death on the Lisbon Maru. Most interestingly they included a newspaper cutting about Lt. Howell of the Volunteers (who led the breakout from the Lisbon Maru’s holds) presenting the Middlesex Regiment post-war with a shied commemorating the incident. The cutting included a photo of Howell taken at Shamshuipo when it was still a barracks, together with five survivors of the ship still serving with 1st Battalion when (1950/52?) the article was written. They were: L/Cpl A. Jackson, Drum Major C. Holdford BEM, Cpl J. Field (who received a Mention in Dispatches in Korea), Cpl R. Dickens, and Cpl F. Hazlewood. Brian Finch commented: “Some years after the war, probably when 1st Bn The Middlesex Regiment was again stationed in Hong Kong, the Battalion presented Lt Howell with a badge from a cross belt of the kind worn in the Peninsular War. This was a 57th of Foot badge (the 57th later became The Middlesex Regiment), bearing the inscription ‘Albuhera’, the famous battle at which the 57th earned the nickname ‘The Diehards’. I do not know the date of the badge, but clearly is must be after 1811. Following Lt Howell's death some years later, his widow returned the badge to The Middlesex Regiment as she felt it would be more meaningful to them than it was to her. She handed it to the Adjutant of the Royal Hong Kong Regiment, who was a Middlesex Regiment officer. He offered it to RHQ for the museum, but at that time The Middlesex Regiment was about to be absorbed into The Queen's Regiment (now the Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment), and there was no interest, so the officer kept hold of it. Last year, in response to my appeal on behalf of the Lisbon Maru Association of Hong Kong, he gave me the badge, which has since been presented by the Lisbon Maru Association of Hong Kong to the Dongji Museum of History and Culture, which has a major section on the Lisbon Maru incident.” 8 Eric Lomax, the famous POW from The Railway passed away today. His book, The Railway Man, is about to appear as a major film with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.
7 RTHK came and filmed an interview with me at home this afternoon, moving into Wong Nai Chung Gap later for a few shots of Sir Cecil’s Ride in rapidly fading light. This is for an episode in their ‘Collections’ series to be broadcast on October 21. It was fascinating to go through my collection of POW diaries (I looked at the drawings in Bell’s in particular) and scrapbooks with them, marvelling at the artistic abilities of the illustrators, and the penmanship of those who wrote poems and stories; in the present day, we would be hard pressed to match their skills.
6William Marsh’s (RA, Lisbon Maru) nephew got in touch via Malcolm Moore. Marsh’s father was CSM Joseph J Marsh DCM (8189) 2nd Battalion West Yorks, KIA at Ypres 16 August 1917. His brother followed up with a photo (illustrated). 6 A friend of the late ‘Dick’ Johns, 40 Fortress Coy, Royal Engineers got in touch. He mentioned that as a POW in Japan, Johns “was liberated by Wallis Simpson’s first husband, Earle Winfield (Win) Spencer, who was a U.S. naval aviator. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1910, so one assumes that by 1945 he would have had a senior rank.”
2Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Lisbon Maru. Although I was in San Francisco and missed it, I was glad to see that a number of young people in Zhoushan held a memorial service, and were kind enough to read out a short summary of events that I sent them. This video link of the event comes courtesy of Kent Shum. 2 The Herald Scotland carried its own version of the Telegraph article today – basically shortened, with a few added mistakes! 2 Henry Forsyth’s (HKVDC) son (himself an evacuee) got in touch. I was very pleased, as Forsyth was of course the C.O. of the famous 2 ‘Scottish’ Coy of the HKVDC, who suffered such large casualties in the defence of Stanley, Forsyth and his CSM (Swan) being among those lost – coincidently, at the same time and place (the old police station) as Mr Climo mentioned below, who was with 965 Defence Battery – presumably blocking the road outside with their two pounders. A Short History of 2 Coy has been on my ‘to do list’ for some time.
1William Carrington’s (Royal Scots, Lisbon Maru) nephew got in touch. 1 Gordon Bignall’s (RN, Lisbon Maru) son got in touch. 1 Reginald Climo’s (RA) great nephew got in touch. 1 The Sunday Telegraph published a good article about the Lisbon Maru yesterday, written by Malcolm Moore (the printed version was better and longer than the online one). It was based on an interview with Dennis Morley, the last survivor with whom I am in regular touch, and the sub-editor couldn’t resist adding ‘The Last Survivor’ as a subtitle. That aside, it was a good piece and I was surprised how much email it generated.
October 1st, 2012 Update
New London FEPOW Memorial (courtesy Martin Percival), Veriga wedding (courtesy Nikki Veriga) Cooke's medals (courtesy eBay, with thanks to Dave Deptford) Pillbox Map (courtesy Philip Hudson), Innoshima view, Innoshima Cobbler's shop after bombing (both courtesy Billy Hirst) Bell's grave at Colonial Cemetery (author), Scott's linguistic skills (author), The Peak (courtesy Gerald Rose)
As I post this update, it’s just a few days before October 2nd, the seventieth anniversary of the sinking of the Lisbon Maru. Initially I had thought that (apart from myself and one of the few survivors I am still in contact with) everyone had forgotten. But then I heard that a major UK newspaper (The Telegraph) will run an article, and there will be an event in Zhoushan itself on October 2nd. This will take place at the Zhejiang College of Ocean (Zhoushan City), involving the Zhejiang Social Science Association, historians of Zhoushan, retired Government officials and local students. I wish I could be there myself.
25Today I met Walter Scott’s grand neice Hallie Sullivan, and saw her photos and other memorabilia. 25 I had some useful feedback from Ron Rakusen that the font used on these pages isn’t dark enough to have good contrast. I’ll see if I can fix that starting this month. He also noted that the July 28, 2012, note from Brian Edgar (Robert Ward's 1943 version of what was to become ‘Asia For the Asiatics?’) has the incorrect link. The correct one is here.
22Martin Percival, of the Researching FEPOW History group sent a fantastic photo of the new London FEPOW Memorial, noting: “After 11 years of campaigning the London FEPOW memorial was finally unveiled yesterday at Mornington Crescent… It was a good ceremony with about 150 people present and Viscount Slim (the son of Bill Slim) and Toni Garizio, a FEPOW veteran who was in the Cambridgeshires, doing the honours of unveiling the plaque which includes a Ronald Searle illustration.” 22 Taking my younger son to KGV for football training today, I was glad to be accosted by the Manager of the coaches, noting that he’d been listening to my ‘dulcet tones’ on the radio on his drive in to work. Apparently today was the first part of the Lisbon Maru radio broadcast I recorded (see last month) at Star Ferry a few weeks ago.
21William Hatton’s (civilian internee) granddaughter got in touch.
20Herbert Johnston’s (civilian internee) son got in touch. He was also – aged 5 – an evacuee from Hong Kong in 1940.
17Drummond Hunter’s (Royal Scots) grandson-in-law got in touch. Drummond was one of the people who helped me write Not The Slightest Chance and it’s nice to be back in touch with the family. 17 Had a note from Dennis Morley, one of the few survivors from the Lisbon Maru who I am still in touch with. He notes that he will be 93 next month!
15William Hirst’s son followed up with some illustrations from his father’s papers, of Innoshima Camp, and a list of other items of interest – including all the names of POWs who returned to Australia on HMS Ruler after liberation from Japan. I have never seen the latter before, and as all researchers into this subject know, no one has yet located the ‘mother lode’ of RAPWI passenger manifests. Very interesting!
14I heard today from Henry Ching that Michael Wright (who was a 2nd Lieutenant in 3rd Battery HKVDC in 1941) will be 100 on September 19th. Michael was one of many people kind enough to help me write Not The Slightest Chance, and we corresponded on and off for a year or two around 2000. I couldn’t have been more pleased to hear that he is still going strong. Now, my challenge will be to find someone who can send me a photo of the birthday celebrations! 14 Uriah Laite’s (Canadian Chaplain’s Service) great niece got in touch, noting that she had his diary in her possession. I believe this is the same (excellent) diary featured here. It gives the best interpretation of the situation at the bottom of Wong Nai Chung Valley until Dec 22 of anything I have read.
13Alfred Morris’s (Stanley Internee) granddaughter got in touch. She notes: “I have a sneaky feeling Alfred was caught in the New Territories where he did a great deal of work amongst the people, being a prominent member of The Order of St. John. His wife Lily was in the UK, having taken me over to the UK to school prior to the war, and did not get the chance to return to Hongkong – fortunately. However my parents and my young brother were caught up, and interned in Stanley – all survived. [I] was born in Hongkong in 1927, also my two elder brothers Alan b. 1923 and Morris, b. 1925. Am endeavouring to compile a history of our family, but find it increasingly difficult with advancing years!!” Her older brothers were in the UK too. Morris was in the tanks, and was wounded (though survived) not long after D Day. Alan was unfortunately killed, aged 19, learning to fly for the RAF in Texas, and is buried there. 13 Both Brigadier Lawson’s granddaughter, and Major Maurice Parker’s (Royal Rifles of Canada) were kind enough to send me an illustrated cartoon version of Canada’s contribution to the defence of Hong Kong. Unexpectedly, the artists have been at some pains to get things right – the Japanese grenades depicted, for example, are of exactly the right type. As usual, General Grasett, who was Canadian, is referred to as British, and Brigadier Lawson, who was British, is referred to as Canadian, but it’s not a bad effort. 13 Gerald Rose followed up with 2 Bty HKVDC’s War Diary, which I had not seen before. It of course details the second line defence of Stanley, and the outline would be familiar to anyone who had read James Bertram’s books. Not surprisingly, Bertram also features in Rose’s autograph book. In the War Diary’s appendix, BSM Rose is one of five men specially mentioned for the ‘high example of skill and courage which they set’. (The others were Lt. S. Burt, and Gunners John Gaunt, Edward Lloyd-Jones, and William Coates). Stanley is such a peaceful place today that it’s hard to imagine just how dangerous it was in 1941; the HKVDC’s losses there – as a percentage – were huge. 13 Regular correspondent Dave Deptford was kind enough to alert me to this very important collection of medals, buttons, and other items: “Please see eBay 2809 6468 2283 - Hong Kong Police – Militaria, Group of 3 medals with insignia and much paperwork to Harold Cooke, Royal Naval Yard Police. Reported as POW HK.” Cooke was on the third draft to Japan. Dave later updated me that the items had sold for GBP362.
11Edmund Jupp’s (HKRNVR, Lisbon Maru) nephew got in touch. Again, Jupp’s wife and children were evacuated from Hong Kong in 1940 (like so many others – over 200 in fact - he died shortly after the sinking of the ship).
10Henley Rose’s (HKVDC) son got in touch, kindly sending me a copy of his father’s amazingly interesting POW Camp autograph book. Each page has an autograph, or piece of prose, or illustration by a familiar name. He notes: “Sgt. Major Henley H S Rose, also known as Harry Rose. A member of HKVDC 2nd Battery, Henley joined the army at the age of 16 and fought in the 1st and 2nd world wars. He arrived in Hong Kong as a soldier after WW1 but was later employed by the Government of Hong Kong from 1924-1950. He was involved in the building of dams and reservoirs. In 1930 he married my mother, Rachel Grace Law Yun Yin, who was originally from Sarawak in Borneo. She had been adopted by a missionary, Miss Butcher, who sent her to Hong Kong to complete her education. Rachel played hockey for Hong Kong for many years. She died in 1943 while interned with her two children in Stanley Camp and is buried in the Military Cemetery at Stanley. Henley was born in Lowestoft in 1898. He died in Lowestoft aged 57.” The ‘two children’ referred to of course include my correspondent who was in room 4/28 with his mother and brother. Rose was born in 1898, and I also received a First World War photo of him – looking exactly like my own grandfather, who was born the same year and also served on the Western Front as a late teenager. 10 William Hirst’s (HKVDC) son got in touch. He notes: “Bill was a lance corporal in HKVDC (I have spotted him on your site as #1359(XD3) but don’t know what that means), was taken prisoner and ended up in a Japanese shipyard somewhere near Nagasaki. Happily he survived. My grandmother Kitt and aunt Bessie were both interned for the war and survived. I have found them on your site. The suffix after Bessie’s name is LOGHACSS but I cannot find an explanation of this in the key which precedes the listing of civilians. Ethel was evacuated to Australia where I was born on 1 September 1940. I believe this was shortly after the evacuation ship arrived in Sydney. During the war Ethel decided to make her way home to Belfast with myself and we were re-united with Bill in 1945. We returned to HK in 1946, Bill resuming his colonial career and Ethel re-opened Fort Stanley school with the support of George? Opie of RAEC, also benefiting from the house neighbouring the school. I was NOT impressed with having my mother as headmistress.” He’s right (Alethea Hirst was secretary to the Governor), it turns out that the key on my site (on this page) wasn’t complete. I hope I have fixed it now. William Hirst was an Innoshima, and my correspondent included some very professional illustrations from that camp.
7Walter Scott’s (HKPF) grand niece got in touch. She notes: “Alexander Grantham and Walter Scott (best friends) married American sisters Maurine and June Samson, who were my great-aunts. (Their 3rd sister, Jean Samson was my grandmother on my Dad's side.)” Scott was of course executed at Stanley, while Grantham became a post-war Governor. I discovered in Hong Kong Government papers that Scott was an excellent linguist. 7 John Hudson’s (Middlesex) son got in touch. As Commander of A Company, I had been hoping his family would get in contact one day. He notes: “We've got some odds and ends of his adventures during this time which you may be interested in and also a detailed map of HK and surrounding areas reportedly drawn in the camp during his stay. We would like help in identifying the author/artist of this incredible artifact, not least because it would surely be of great interest to his family.” Later they kindly sent me photos of parts of the map, plus a very good map of the Pillboxes surrounding Hong Kong Island. The artist/cartographer was Ken Sawyer, RAVC.
4On a painfully humid afternoon, I popped into the Hong Kong (Colonial) Cemetery on the way home from work to get a photo of a post-war Lancashire Fusiliers grave for the boy’s family. On my way out I stopped and took a couple of photos of the 20 or so wartime graves there. One was Whittaker (illustrated) whose family had been evacuated, and another was R. S. Bell, HKVDC, with the unusual inscription: “In loving remembrance your adopted family”.
3Nikki Veriga kindly sent a photo of Vitaly Veriga’s (of the HK Police who was interned in Stanley) and Antonia’s (who was evacuated in 1940) wedding. See 6 January 2012 entry. 3 John Quinn’s (Royal Marines, Lisbon Maru) daughter from his first marriage got in touch. Her mother seems to be one of the few ethnically Chinese wives to have been evacuated to Australia.
1Keith Andrews in the UK introduced me to Brian Allen, who has done a lot of research into his family – including George Deacon, HKDDC, whose family evacuated to Australia in 1940. It seems that Edith Deacon and her son Arthur, together with the Kirmans and Lumbys and Mrs Maisey and Vagg – all Dockyard families – travelled back from Australia to the UK as early as August or September 1942.
September 1st, 2012 Update
Ex-Sapper Morris now 92, Morris family (both courtesy Michael Morris), Kobe House map (courtesy Dr Iain Gow) PostBridge area now (courtesy Craig Mitchell), Postbridge area pre-war (courtesy Lawson family, via Tyler Wentzell), Postbridge Google Earth (author) Grayburn's grave (author), Asia Society damage (author), Owen Bond and grave (Jill Bond)
At the end of last month I revisited the Hong Kong PRO (and was pleased to see it being quite well used by serious researchers) to pick up the last documents I needed for my current research into the evacuation of British women and children from Hong Kong to Australia in 1940. These are the financial records. I didn’t realise how depressing they would be: beginning with interesting items like the cost of hiring a ship, crew and provisions, it drifts over the years to documenting – some 25 years after the evacuation – the fates of those who never recovered: One poor woman and daughter in a mental institution following the death of the husband/father in the bombing of bungalow C; others in similar facilities, or permanently disabled and needing care. It’s always depressing to see what long tails wars have. (See Aug 19 below).
28I had a fascinating hour or two as a guest of EOD at their headquarters today. Very impressive to learn more about their procedures, and see some of the nasty things they have had to deal with over the years. I left with a great deal of respect for the work they do, and some food for thought about the sheer size and killing power of some of the ordnance that turns up on our battlefields. They also let me know about the explosive device found on a beach at Lamma. “The round was a Japanese 12cm Incendiary Shrapnel Spin Stabilised Rocket. The warhead contained a Picric Acid burster charge and approximately 4.5 Kg of White Phosphorus Pellets. The rocket was damaged and in a highly unstable state; exposure of the WP to air would have caused the round to detonate. Picric acid is a common fill in Japanese ordnance and is in itself a highly dangerous and unstable explosive, coupled with the large WP fill and location of the find this case was particularly problematic.” Most likely it was from one of the Japanese suicide boats which were based on Lamma (Picnic Bay) towards the end of the war. These devices were carried to be fired at shipping during the run-in to attack, to keep the enemy’s heads down and try to prevent them blowing the suicide boat out of the water. Needless to say, that combination of picric acid and phosphorous is extraordinarily dangerous. Anyone finding one of these (or anything like it) should report it immediately, without touching or moving the device. 28 Brian Edgar notes that he has found a site that: “contains an excellent selection of documents and extracts relating to internee D. J. Sloss”, the Vice Chancellor of HKU.
27 I met Annemarie Evans down at the harbour, above the Star Ferry, today to record a radio program for Hong Kong Heritage. The subject is of course the Lisbon Maru. The 70th anniversary of the sinking will be on October 2nd this year. She mentioned that the village where she lives on Lamma had been evacuated following the finding of an explosive device on the local beach. 27 William Tanner’s (Stanley Internee) son got in touch.
25After dropping a child off for a birthday party at the American Club at Tai Tam, I wandered down into Stanley and towards the cemetery. On the way I stopped and looked west; I had forgotten what a good view there was of PB22 to the left of the relocated Blake’s Pier. At the cemetery I took a few photos of graves – generally for people I have been corresponding with recently – and also one of Vandeleur Grayburn’s headstone, recently decorated with fresh flowers. 25 Michael Stewart (son of the wartime commander of 3 Coy HKVDC) kindly sent me his biography today. Looking forward to reading it on one of my trips. What I didn’t realise until now is that he is the cousin of Gerry Lander, whose father (the only British Olympic gold medallist to be killed in the second world war) John Lander of 1 Bty HKVDC was lost in the battle. It was good to put them back in touch.
21 Brian Edgar notes: “[I have] pages of a letter from an unknown escaper [who after further research he later identified as Frenchman Raoul de Sercey] describing the relief work he and an Australian internee, Doris Cuthbertson, carried out for employees of Jardine Matheson in Stanley and Shamshuipo. The escaper guaranteed Miss Cuthbertson out in September 1942 - the exact date is hard to read, but a group of Maryknoll Fathers came out on September 12, so it might well have been then. With the help first of Selwyn-Clarke and, after his arrest, the Red Cross and Swiss businessman Walter Naef, she sent parcels or money into the two camps. Mr. Naef is mentioned on the Internet for his business activities and his post-war role in founding the HK Swiss Association, but until now I had no idea he'd risked his life to raise funds for the camps after the internment of the bankers in summer 1943. One of the people who allowed parcels to be sent in his name was Ezra Abraham, an elderly broker who had himself been guaranteed out of Stanley in 1942. Page 2 mentions the involvement of the banker Charles Hyde, who seems never to have been far away when works of relief or resistance were taking place. Elizabeth Ride kindly sent me this document from the Ride Papers, and suggested it might be of general interest to our group. This newspaper article provides a little more information about Miss Cuthbertson's work (as well as showing the role played by Helen Ho)” . Helen Ho was recognized by the POWs post war with a letter of thanks, of which I have a copy.
20 On the Stanley Group we have been having a very interesting discussion about Betty Church. Well known in the Colony, she owned an Advertising and Publicity Bureau and was an overseas correspondent for The Daily Mail. She had managed to leave Hong Kong just before the Japanese overran the Colony, escaping via Singapore to South Africa where she enlisted in the South African Wrens – known as SWANS. This RTHK interview with Betty is worth a listen.
19 I have long been aware of Methuselier ‘Pop’ Herbert Hingston. As most will know, the Methuseliers were a group of First World War veterans (the Hughes Group) who formed their own unit of the HKVDC, and defended the North Point Power Station against all comers. Hingston had fought at Vimy Ridge in the First War, and was Head Chef at the old Hong Kong Hotel. Going through the financial records from the evacuation of Hong Kong, I discovered that Pop and his wife had moved to Australia soon after the war, bringing their grandson Herbert with them. His parents had been lost in the war, and he was severely disabled. J. Hargreaves, Accountant General, noted on 15/4/53: “I regret delay in this matter but had to wait on the convenience of an old lady of 72 – Mrs [Mary Charlotte] Hingston’s sister. The boy (Herbert J D) was born in Hong Kong in [21 March] 1933. The father was a Russian who deserted the mother. The latter died before the outbreak of war. The boy, with Mrs Hingston, was in Rosary Hill, and in 1945 both were reunited with Mr Hingston who had been interned as a member of the HKVDC. All three were evacuated to Australia.“ Records of Herbert Hingston in Australia continued until August1962. 19 I was delighted to hear again today from Kamal Prasad, son of the highly-respected officer of the 2/14 Punjabis, Major Kumta Prasad, MC. We have been out of touch for a while.
18Those interested in BAAG will be sad to hear Gerry van de Linde’s news today: “It is with great sadness that I have to inform you of the passing of my father Patrick Anthony van de Linde. On Saturday 21st July 2012 in Port Maquarie, NSW, Australia he passed away peacefully. On Thursday June 28th 2012 his wife of 70 years, Nancy passed away also in Port Macquarie. They had had a wonderful life together.”
17Michael Morris reports that his father – ex-Sapper John Morris – celebrated his 92nd birthday in style yesterday.
16James Clapperton’s (Royal Scots, Lisbon Maru) great nephew got in touch. Mr Clapperton was one of the very unfortunate men who made use – after their liberation from Japanese POW Camps - of the kind American offer of air transport from the Philippines to Okinawa – only to fall foul of a typhoon and be lost in the ensuing air crash. He is commemorated at Sai Wan (Illustrated). His great nephew notes: “he was due to fly the previous day but gave up his seat to a friend, who by all accounts had a young family. A sad fate indeed.” 16 Brian Edgar sent this fine obituary of Iain Finnie, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, UC Berkeley, 1928 – 2009, who was Hong Kong born (his father, John Finnie, the director of Swire & Sons’ Taikoo Dockyard, was captured and interned in Stanley). 16 Ray Smith let me know today that his 90 year old Father, Bandsman Reginald L. Smith 6203540, 1st Battalion the Middlesex Regiment and a Lisbon Maru survivor, had passed away on June 22. The funeral was August 13. Ray noted: “Six Buglers played my father’s last post and four volunteers from the RBL flag bearers came down to attend. SSaffa were present as was Mr Aire den Hollander from COFEPOW. I couldn't get hold of St Andrews church choir as they were all at work, so I asked the Military wives choir if they would attend. I was only hoping for a few but the whole choir turned up. I was really moved beyond belief.” Ray’s brother Ken also died on active service with the Rhodesian SAS and is buried in Colchester with their father.
15Dennis Rayner’s (Middlesex) son got in touch. Mr Rayner was one of the ‘hard men’ on the first draft from Hong Kong, and died on 10th July 1989 of Motor Neurone Disease, he was just 77. He notes: “The only piece of memorabilia he had was a panel from a parachute that all the surviving prisoners from his camp signed. He donated it to the Imperial War Museum for an exhibition before he died. It is no longer on display, so I presume it is stored somewhere in their archives.” 15 Owen Bond’s family (see last month) kindly sent a few photos of him, his friends, and his grave.
13Richard Hide saw a DVD of a lecture I gave at the HKMCD last year, and questioned the fate of Christmas Day 1941 escapee Bobby Hempenstall. He also provided the contact details for Hempenstall’s grand niece (who happens to live in HK), and she told me: “After recuperating in a hospital in India, Robert joined HMS Defiance on 13 July 1942 and served in the Atlantic campaign and later in support of the France and Germany campaign, which was launched on 6 June 1944. For this service Robert qualified for the Atlantic and the France & Germany campaign Stars. The cessation of hostilities in 1945 did not herald the end of Robert's service. He was then called upon to police the Mandate of Palestine, and was on the strength of HMS St Angels. Public records show that HMS St Angels was based at Haifa from 24 October 1946, where the vessel was maintained, serviced and provisioned in the Palestine Police security area at Haifa. Robert, aged 27 year, died on 7 November 1946, as a result of an explosion and not through enemy action. He was laid to rest in the New War Cemetery at Haifa”. Richard also sent me a copy of the famous escape group photo with all the names listed.
12My walk to work takes me along Kennedy Road each day. Looking back this morning as I passed the old ordnance depot between Kennedy and Queen’s Road I noticed a lot of damage on one of the old buildings recently converted to the Asia Society’s HQ. Shrapnel damage? Looks very like it – and that area was certainly heavily mortared.
9Henry Ching sent me two more of his ‘Occasional papers’. In the words of James Hayes: “The contents of the two Occasional Papers being distributed on this occasion owe much to an account of those harrowing times contributed by one of our senior members, Mrs Beatrice (Bea) Hutcheon. One (OP Number 10) relates Bea’s experiences during the defence of Hong Kong in December 1941 and her wartime stay in Macau between 1942 and 1945. The other (OP Number 11) focuses on the early post-war war crimes trials in Hong Kong, which Bea attended as a specially recruited court reporter for the South China Morning Post. This was an experience rendered the more poignant by court visits, including one made to Lyemun where her brother Stanley, serving with the HKVDC, had been killed during the fighting.” Her brother was Stanley Greaves of 4th Battery.
7The Glendinning family contacted me, seeking more information about Lyal Glendinning, HKVDC, and his two sisters Mavis and Kathleen. The latter apparently served with occupying forces (probably as nurses) in Japan just after the war. (Grandfather Cecil Thomas Glendinning was murdered at Tai O Police station in 1918). 7 Gareth Jones of Gareth Jones Photography contacted me seeking information about the father (Private J. M. Murphy, Middlesex) of a family friend.
6Recently I was shown a very interesting pre-war photo by Tyler Wentzell. My initial feeling was that it was of the south side of The Ridge. You can clearly see Mount Nicholson on the left and Jardine’s Lookout on the right. However, sterling detective work (aided by a bit of Google Earth) by Philip Cracknell and Craig Mitchell, has shown it to be Postbridge! This is the first photo of Mr Tinson’s house that any of us have seen (he was of course killed there by a mortar during the fighting for Wong Nai Chng Gap). There’s no prize for spotting the old Police Post (the simple structure that appears to rise from Postbridge’s roof), and Holmesdale hasn’t changed very much.
1James Myles’ (Royal Scots, Lisbon Maru) niece got in touch. She is also niece of Kitty Pirie (wife of Lt. James Pirie, Royal Scots) who was evacuated with three children in 1940. 1 The daughter-in-law of John Nicol Brown of Chartered Bank (who was Gunner J. N. Brown, 5094, of the HKVDC) got back in touch. I don’t know if anyone can help, but she is looking for a HKVDC cap badge. 1 Iain Gow kindly sent a scan of a map of Kobe house, noting that it’s: “from the 1985 copy of ‘A history of ‘J’ Force’ – I think it’s upside down in that North is at the bottom…”
August 1st, 2012 Update
Wilf James, with friend, with Thanet's crew, with Thracian's crew (all courtesy Jason Duignan) Brigadier Lawson (courtesy Tyler Wentzell), Rhexie Stalker's birthday party (both courtesy Jennifer Golding) Page from the Stanley list manifest (courtesy Philip Cracknell), Burnside's pamphlet (courtesy Kelly Stuart), Hong Kong evacuee passport stamp (courtesy Rebecca Hudson)
In 1999/2000 when this website was inaugurated, there was next to nothing available on the web on the subject of Hong Kong’s experience of the Second World War. Richard Hide’s website (now called Hong Kong Escape) had predated mine by a year or two, but that was just about it. Now we’re fortunate enough to see more and more information flooding in, and Brian Edgar (and others) are diligently scouring the net, bringing these articles to the attention of the broader community of interest. Some of their finds - whole books on the web - are extremely useful.
30George Kim’s (HKRNVR, Lisbon Maru) family got in touch.
29Owen Bond’s (Middlesex) niece got in touch.
28 Robert Carr’s (RA) daughter got in touch. 28 Brian Edgar notes: “For those interested in what was happening outside the camp, Robert Ward's 1943 version of what was to become ‘Asia For the Asiatics?’ is also available online. It's got an appendix which reproduces many documents from the early months of the Japanese occupation.” It can be found here.
25 John Rix’s (RN, Lisbon Maru) nephew got in touch. Rix was one of the few New Zealanders captured at Hong Kong (regular readers will remember his friend Ross Lynneberg who helped me with the Lisbon Maru book, was often mentioned on these pages, and passed away last year). Mr Rix died young, but left a very interesting diary of his experiences. He had also been Ross’s best man, and Ross had sent me a photo of him (illustrated) some years back.
23Brian Edgar found a short account of the Reddish family, Stanley Internees, online here.
21Ken Agar (see last month) kindly sent me Lloyds’ complete specifications of the Lisbon Maru. I suspect there’s enough detail here for someone to make an exact model.
19Bernard Preece’s (Royal Corps of Signals) family got in touch. 19 Howard Benson got in touch concerning Cecil Joseph Abson from the Royal Army Service Corps. His interest is about his website covering Woodlesford Station in the UK where Abson was a porter before the War. 19 Tyler Wentzell notes: “My article regarding J. K. Lawson was published last year in the Canadian Military History journal, but it took a while to come out electronically, as well. The research went very well, due in no small part to you connecting me with the Lawson family. They are a great bunch and we got along great, to the point that John (J. K.'s son) and Ruth were guests at my wedding just a few weeks ago! Thank you very much for putting me in touch with them.” The electronic version is available here.
16Robert Challis’ (Middlesex) grandson got in touch.
15Henry Ching points out something that I had noted, but had no info on: there were seven ladies in Stanley who were HKRNVR VADs. Does anyone know anything about that organization? Presumably they were at the RN Hospital under Olga Franklin of the QARNNS. They were: Yvonne Charter, Kathleen Gray, Eleanor Green, Magdalene Greenwood, Jane Lyon, Beatrice Tomlin, and Augusta Wexham.
14 Michael Hurst notes: “I'm not sure if you've seen our Spring-Summer 2012 newsletter or have had a recent look at the homepage of our POWTaiwan website, but I want to draw your attention to the launch info articles relating to our new Asia War Graves Photo Group.” Michael (for Taiwan), like me (for Hong Kong) and Ron Beattie (for Thailand/Burma) at the Thailand Burma Railway Centre, has always been willing to take photos of graves for families, but we are now formalizing this slightly more. As always, in my case, there will continue to be a wait between receiving requests and fulfilling them, as I don’t get to the cemeteries on a regular basis. The project is also mentioned in the POW Taiwan society’s current newsletter.
13 Brian Edgar notes: “I've written about two of the five Sanitation Department officers who worked with Dr. Selwyn-Clarke before entering Stanley in May 1943. Leslie Macey's daughter was kind enough to make his archive available to me, so I've been able to document Mr. Macey more fully than most of the others in the French Hospital. (Unfortunately this title gives the wrong spelling of 'Leslie' and when I changed it, it changed itself back!). I haven't been able to find out very much about John and Barbara Fox, but I do bring the welcome news that their daughter, Maureen, born in camp on January 3, 1945 and recorded in Greg Leck's list as having died in August 1945, was alive in 2011 and active in charitable work with the Rotary Club after retiring from a career in midwifery!”
11 Hong Kong’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) were kind enough to get in touch about the shell found in North Point a few weeks ago. Like me, they initially believed the round to be a British 6 inch (similar to ones that had been found previously). However, when they recovered the fuse and gain it was discovered to be Japanese - most likely a Japanese 150mm High Explosive Armour Piercing (HEAP) round. I assume it would have been fired by one of the 16 Type 89 Cannon that the Japanese brought, one of 5,000 shells that they fired from this type of gun. Bearing in mind that such a shell weighs 50kg and would do a vast amount of damage, it’s probably worth reminding everyone of the golden rules if anyone is unlucky enough to come across one of these, or the smaller but equally dangerous grenades and mortars: Don’t touch the object Don’t move the object Call 999
10 The editor of the magazine of the Old Salfordians' Association (the association of former pupils) got in touch: “The school was founded in 1904 and abolished in 1973 but we still have 550 members. I'm always on the look out for subjects for potential articles for the magazine. In the school magazine for 1931 there was an account of a journey through China by an old boy, E C Thomas, who attended the school 1904-11. In 1931 he was on the staff of the Diocesan Boys' School in HK. I've googled him and he seems to have co-written at least a couple of books [Example 1, Example 2] and he and his wife seem to be on your GB Civilians list, IAKH. Our school in his day was known as Salford Secondary School for Boys, but it changed its name to Salford Grammar School twelve months after his article appeared in the school magazine. Although the school magazines have survived, pupil records were destroyed in a fire in 1963, so I can't tell you what his initials E C stood for. If you know anything about him, I'd be interested to have it.” At least I was able to tell him that this was Edward Cairns, married to Madeline according to the Stanley Camp records.
9I discovered today that Kung Fu Grandmaster Vince Lacey in the States is the son of Harry Lacey, HKDVC, who died as a POW on 21 May 1942. I am now trying to learn more about Harry himself. Unfortunately, checks of the usual sources (old newspapers, Government reports, the Carl Smith Collection, etc. turn up nothing). Can anyone help?
8Peter Hennessy was kind enough to send me this article about his uncle Ralph (eldest son of Colonel Patrick Hennessy, RCASC, who lost his life in Hong Kong during the battle). In early August 1942, Lt. Ralph Hennessy was second-in-command of British-built HMCS Assiniboine when it was assigned to protect a convoy of 33 ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean. He will be 94 in September, and the article is well worth a read!
7 Jason Duignan kindly sent several photos of Wilf James, RN (see last month). These include one of Wilf with an unidentified army friend, one with the crew of Thracian (Wilf is 3rd row, 2nd in), and one of a 1941 march past as part of Thanet's crew to celebrate the King's birthday.
6Nick Andrade notes: “In the June 1st entry 2, The La Salle Old Boys Association submitted an entry on Joseph Wilkinson. He was my teacher at St Joseph's College (Hong Kong) in 1934-35 after transfer from Burma. He taught under the name of Brother Irenius Joseph. Three members of his family also entered the La Salle Brothers Teaching Order. One brother (Robert) later left the De La Salle Order and went on to teach at the Wah Yan Jesuit Brothers College. He is the brother of Harry Wilkinson, and uncle of James Thirlwell who were both POW's." 6 Philip Cracknell sent the Stanley Group a page from the Camp Internees' log book kept at the IWM, showing the Redwood family among others.
5Looking at coming medal auctions, Dave Deptford notes: “Colonial Police Long Service Medal to Francis W. Fowlie, born Maud, Aberdeenshire 1902, enlisted Hong Kong Police 1925, Sub Inspector 1941, Interned Stanley with wife [school teacher Mary Jane Fowlie], CPLSM 1943, retired 1947. Also entitled to 39-45 Star, Pacific Star, Defence and War Medals) - in the next Bonhams List. Est GBP60 - 100 (about right but it can be a mad market.” 5 Craig Mitchell forwarded a loss report from USS Hancock, showing (among others) no fewer than 4 F6Fs lost on and around Hong Kong on 16 Jan 1945.
1Jennifer Golding kindly sent several photos of Rhexie’s (Miss Rhexinor Stalker) 90th birthday party in the UK (see last month’s update). 1 Bill Streifer notes: “My 2010 article about an OSS mission to a POW camp in Mukden, Manchuria is now on Scribd.” This is interesting as it relates to the liberation of the Manchurian camp where the Governor and the senior HK military men (and their batmen) were held. 1 Rebecca Hudson sent a fantastic collection of items relating to her father’s (Peter Hudson) evacuation to Australia. These included the first ‘Hong Kong Official Evacuee’ passport stamp that I have seen.
July 1st, 2012 Update
Canadian veterans Lowe, Nickes, Gerrard (courtesy Lee Naylor), Kobe house by John Inglis (courtesy Bruce Waldron), RCCS at Debert (courtesy Lee Naylor) Agar (courtesy Ken Agar), Kenneth Hodkinson (courtesy Jean Clements), POW at Kobe House ruins (courtesy Iain Gow) George Crichton's MI9 form (courtesy Angela Miles), Wanchai Market (coutesy Ian Inglis), Levett's papers (courtesy Eustace Levett)
It’s strange how each month’s correspondence has its own character. This month featured a lot of interesting old & new contacts, and after a relative drought of Canadian contributions – finally broken by the leading photo of Joseph Pudlo of the Winnipeg Grenadiers last month - three items relating to the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (a fair number considering that they were not the biggest unit in the world), and one relating to the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals.
27Brian Edgar has begun to write up the doctors who stayed out of Stanley to help Selwyn-Clarke with his public health work. The first two ended up in Camp, probably being sent there on May 7, 1943: Dr Phillip Court and Dr. George Graham-Cumming. Brian notes: “I'd be grateful for any corrections or additions. And for any information at all about Dr. Griffiths, who's on the BAAG list of those in the French Hospital in December 1942 but not on Greg Leck's 1945 Camp Roll, nor on any list of arrests that I've seen.”
25Norman Whitmore’s (RA) son-in-law got in touch sending some very interesting photos of a unique hat that his father in law brought back from Japan, covered in the names of those who were lost. I am hoping to get higher resolution copies.
24Jennifer Golding kindly let me know that ex-Stanley Internee Miss Rhexinor Stalker (Rhexie) in Somerset, UK, is celebrating her 90th birthday on Friday, 29th June 2012. 24 Glyn Chipping’s (Winnipeg Grenadiers) daughter got in touch. 24 John Burton’s (RCASC) granddaughter got in touch, sending this interesting link to a couple of Allister paintings the family still has.
22 Howard Naylor’s (RCCS) son got in touch kindly sending many photos of his father and the other Canadian signallers.
20 Donald O’Kieffe’s (US Banker interned at the Sun Wah Hotel) grandson got in touch. It took us a while to work through the details, but eventually we discovered that he seems to have been in a unique situation. He does not appear in any official internee list that I am aware of, having apparently been interned with the other bankers (he was at Chase) at the Sun Wah Hotel in January 1942, and presumably going straight from there to repatriation that summer without passing through Stanley Camp.
18 I received several emails today relating to the finding of a ‘Japanese bomb’ in North Point. The description, and the photo in the Hong Kong Standard, look rather more like a British 6 inch howitzer shell – a big enough piece to cause a lot of damage had it exploded. Unusually, the photo showed that it had been found in the nose-down position in which it had presumably hit the ground 70 years ago. 18 Peter Hennessy kindly sent a biography of his grandfather, Colonel Hennessy, RCASC, who was lost in the battle. 18 George Crichton’s (Royal Scots, LM) great niece got in touch, kindly sending a copy of his interrogation card. 18 I don’t often advertise Hong Kong wartime fiction, but this book may be interesting holiday reading. 18 Wilfred James’ (RN) grandson got in touch. James was on HMS Thracian, and was one of those who was trucked up to Wong Nai Chung to reinforce The Ridge area after the destroyer was beached. His grandson relates: “Granddad was sent ashore eventually and was sent in convoy into the hills to reinforce the Canadians. They were travelling in 3 trucks when ambushed at Wong Nai Chung Gap. He was in the second truck and was only saved because he was in the middle of the truck and others fell on him as they were shot and covered/trapped him. He was able to escape some time later, having had to cut his boots off in order to escape from the pile of bodies on top of him. Other reports state that Quilliam and Cullum are the only men unhit of the 32 in the second truck. I guess they didn’t know my Granddad was still in there unhurt at the time! From there, he met up with some ‘other chaps’ (don’t know who, regiment etc.) and they hid in a ‘farmhouse’. The Japanese discovered them there. They were taken outside one by one and while being held by the arms, they were bayoneted at the edge of a ravine and pushed down the hill/ravine side. My Granddad suffered a similar fate, but the bayonet didn’t fully penetrate as it partly stuck into his service/money belt. Wounded but very much alive he tumbled down the ravine and landed with the other bodies. The Japanese proceeded to shoot into the bodies when they were finished bayoneting everyone [he was hit in the shoulder but escaped serious injury although was left with a respectable scar].” In a further email he noted: “Grandma again referred to the house that Granddad was hiding in as ‘a kind of old farmhouse’. But, new info, he was in there with 15 other blokes. He was 14th to be bayoneted and is pretty sure the 13 before him were killed, wasn't sure about the last 2.” That doesn’t sound like The Ridge or Overbays or Euclffe to me; I wonder if it could have been the less-well-documented Monte Verde or Twin Brooks?
17 Brian Edgar found The Valour and The Horror on the web. Personally I think it’s a pretty poor piece of work, containing a lot of fiction (see ‘a white ribbon of concrete’ as a description of the Gin Drinkers Line, for example), but some of the footage is worth watching - especially the interviews with veterans.
15 Randolph Steele’s (Royal Rifles) granddaughter got in touch.
14 Brian Edgar posted a fascinating link about Hong Kong Prison Warder Bill Hudson. The link includes a detailed letter about fighting with the Stanley Platoon on the night of December 24 1941.
12 Dr Iain Gow – son of James Gow, Royal Scots, has identified a number of photos belonging to his father as having been taken outside the bombed-out runs of Kobe House, probably some time in September 1945. 12 Albert Carter’s (RCASC) granddaughter got in touch. 12 Fran Kvalheim sent me one of those emails that I dread: “Garfield passed away May 29th after a long battle with cancer. Your book, The Lisbon Maru, was one of his most prized possessions. He was such a great person and will be missed by his friends and family, mostly me as I loved him dearly.” Gar was the last surviving member of the 1942 crew of the USS Grouper (which sank the Lisbon Maru) and together with Fran had given me a huge amount of help with my book on that topic. I had always expected to visit them in the States one day and give my thanks in person, but – not for the first or last time – simply left it too late.
11Amelia Alsop of the Hong Kong Heritage Project, working together with Elizabeth Ride, kindly sent me a BAAG list of Norwegians in Hong Kong during the war. Elizabeth notes: “As Brodersen and Kwamsoe are not on the list I assume it was compiled by them after they had arrived at BAAG HQ; this list was included in Waichow Intelligence Summary No 20 of 23rd February 1943.”
8 Kenneth Hodkinson’s (Royal Scots, Lisbon Maru) niece got in touch, kindly sending a birth certificate and a couple of photos. Like quite a few of the Lisbon Maru’s victims whose bodies were never found, he is mentioned on a family headstone (his great grandparents’ in Droylsden Cemetery in Manchester) in the UK.
5 Eustace Levett’s (Signals) grandson got in touch, sending some papers from his grandfather’s collection.
4Bruce Waldron sent me more of his father’s papers, including an excellent drawing of Kobe House by John Inglis, and a set of poems by ‘Ramp’ Bowen. This reminded me of an album of John Inglis's photos that his son Ian sent me a long time ago. I looked at these again, finding excellent shots of well-known landmarks today such as the old Wanchai Market when it was brand new.
3 Albert Chan’s (HKVDC) son got in touch, noting that his father was missing from the 'Search Garrison' pages of HKWD! That error has been fixed now. Mr Chan, Albert Kam Chuen was a Gunner in the 4th Battery at Pak Sha Wan. 3 Ron Taylor (UK) was kind enough to send two photos of Michael Tooley (RA, Lisbon Maru) that had been sent to him by the family (illustrated).
2Reginald Smith’s (Middlesex, Lisbon Maru) son got in touch. 2 Brian Edgar notes that photos of the French memorial service for the 70th anniversary of the battle last year are now on Facebook.
1Sen Tang notes: “I can now identify the medal my Great Uncle received. Courtesy of my husband, who found a copy of ‘The London Gazette’ (copy attached), it lists my great uncle Tang Hing Yuen receiving the British Empire Medal. It also lists other BEM recipients in HK.” This was the Gazette of 1 July 1947. It lists a number of decorated Hong Kong people. 1 Dave Deptford kindly sent details of policeman William James Dewar Cameron (see last month): “[born] 8.7.1912 in Hong Kong (probably son of W. Cameron, Inspector, who retired 1914?) enlisted HKP 2.3.1934 as A 134, L/Sgt 2.3.1935, interned as Married aged 29, Sergeant 2.3.1943. Post War - to post of OC District Watch Force, Sub Inspector 1948, CPLSM 2.3.1952 as Inspector.” 1 Today a little parcel arrived from Ken Agar, whose father was on the Lisbon Maru (see last month). It contained a number of very interesting documents, including a Lloyds report in the ship while it was still under construction, photos of collaborators in Shamshuipo, and a page of photos of war criminals including the Lisbon Maru interpreter Niimori. Many of these were new to me and much appreciated.
June 1st, 2012 Update
Joseph Pudlo, Winnipeg Grenadiers (courtesy Rod Pudlo), Allied POW notice (courtesy Diana Hall), A. L. Fisher (courtesy Mike Forrest) Oiivia Ogley & Family (courtesy Geoff Emerson), Gowland Amahs (courtesy Jan Hollis), Saiwan Battery (courtesy Philp Cracknel) Kobe work party (courtesy Bruce Waldron), 2 Coy HKVDC (courtesy Diana Hall), Stanley Napkin (courtesy Richard Newhouse)
It’s an unusual month when I read two ‘new’ books by people who were present in Hong Kong during the war. The two I received were Victor Merrett’s “The Long Journey Home” and “Make For the Hills” by Sir Robert Thompson. The first I had been aware of for a long time, but it is rare and hard to find – and, I believe, the only such book by a member of the HKDDC (though short, it mentions Sakurajima and Akenobe camps). The second is much better known and much easier to find, but it was only recently that I learned the author was the same Robert Thomson who was a member of the HKVDC’s Z Force. Then, on the last day of the month, I noticed a new book called Dark Days: Reminiscences of the War in Hong Kong and Life I China 1941-1945 by Tan Kheng Yeang on Amazon Canada. I don’t know anything about it yet, and suspect it’s very new.
28On the Stanley Group, Lance Sergeant David Fyffe’s (HK Police) daughter posted a very interesting document concerning the repatriation of Canadian nationals who were Government employees (including Fyffe) on the Grispholm. On interviewing the repatriates, the document states: “The reactions to American bombing are indescribable. The stunt flight of the P.38’s over the camp is the greatest moment in these people’s lives. Asked what would have been the result had the P.38’s been R.A.F. Spitfires, words failed the repatriates: I can describe their attitude to this thought only as one of awed wonder and prayer.”
26Richard Hide kindly sent a couple of letters from Stanley Dodwell to MTB escapee Lt. Ashby in 1942. These listed the status of all the Dodwell staff who were in Hong Kong when the fighting began.
23 Barbara Anslow has held the Stanley group spellbound this month, sharing her diary entries for August 1945. Here’s just one little snippet from the 29th: “About 1.30pm a big plane came over very low, and started dropping parcels by parachute! The best sight in our lives. The plane flew very slowly and carefully above the American Block and the Indian Quarters. The parcels were pushed out - 13 or 14 in all, we were so excited we lost count; mostly 2 at a time, sometimes 3. The parachutes were enormous, and billowed and swayed gracefully - several white ones, two shades of green, and one scarlet one. One parachute didn't open, its parcel hit the Dutch Block corner (the de Vleeschouwers' room) and most of its contents were smashed… a yard one way and it would have fallen on the roof where crowds of people were gathered.” 23 Henry d’Assumpcao kindly put me in touch with Nick Andrade, who served locally with the Royal Navy in the defence of Hong Kong, being stations at the HQ at Six and Seven Penny Hill (apparently that sum was the pay of a private at the time it was named!) By good fortune, Nick was part of the Extended Defence Office, and kindly identified the XDO and his staff for me: “These were the only Naval officers and four Telegraphists working in the XDO with Capt. Campbell as C.O. (XDO). The Duty Officers were Lt Com. Tollemanche and Lt Com. Morrison alternating between the two for Night Watch. Apart from Wireless Transmission, I also operated a Land Line to a base at Stanley. There were two other Wireless stations monitoring ships on patrol 24/7 apart from myself. One located at the Navy Dockyard (HMS TAMAR) the other at Stone Cutters Island. Should any incident occur, the report is immediately handed to the Duty Officer and Captain Campbell as O/C Extended Defence Officer then decides what action to take by the ships on patrol.”
22Geoff Newhouse’s (HKVDC) great nephew got in touch. As I’ve noted before, I am now in touch with a critical mass of 2 (Scottish) Coy families, and should at some point knuckle down to writing a short history of the company. Newhouse married Isabella Johnston at Kowloon Union Church and was give away by Commander Drage (local head of MI6 at the time). As Mrs Newhouse, after Geoff was killed, she shared room 3/13 at Stanley; my correspondent kindly shared some very nice drawings she had done of that room, and an embroidered napkin from Stanley showing many clearly recognisable names (including Olive Redwood, Annie Ponting, Elizabeth Archer, Alan Barwell, and perhaps fifty others).
21 Ron Taylor (HK) was kind enough to let me know that 4300 Gnr Sum Chan Chip who served in the HKVDC 5 AA Battery passed away in the Nethersole Hospital Chai Wan on 27 April 2012. Mr Sum was one of those who managed to evade POW Camp.
19Evacuee Janis Hollis (nee Gowland) sent several photos of her mother and Amah at Stanley prison (where her father was a warder) just before the war. She would be interested to see if anyone is recognised. 19 Philip Cracknell kindly sent several photos taken on a recent expedition to the Salesian Mission and Sai Wan (the sites of the RAMC and 5 Bty HKVDC massacres).
17 Joseph Pudlo’s (Winnipeg Grenadiers) son got in touch, kindly sending a fine photo of his father in uniform (he notes that he still has that uniform, though his father only weighed 100 pounds when he came home in it).
15 Ellen Hope kindly sent me six articles from Standard Chartered Bank’s old company magazine, ‘Curry and Rice’ (Nov. 1964, June 1965, Feb. 1966, Autumn 1966, Summer 1967, and Spring 1968). These were about her father, William Cruikshank, and the other bankers who were interned at the Sun Wah Hotel while they were forced to tidy up the banks’ affairs. The articles cast some rare light on conditions in the city during the occupation: “Strangely enough, in retrospect it is not the scenes of brutality which remain most vividly in the memory, but the distressing and unforgettable sight, witnessed daily in the streets of Hong Kong during these early months of 1942, of Chinese men, Women and children lying on the pavements or huddled in doorways dying of starvation and looking at passers-by, who were powerless to assist, out of eyes from which all expression had already gone.” And this extract, which covers the bankers’ eventual move to Stanley: “The route taken was via Wanchai and Stubbs Road and the journey through the Wanchai district had an air of unreality for the familiar, previously densely crowded streets were, even at high noon, almost deserted. From Stubbs Road junction the journey continued through a weird and deserted landscape. On the rising approach road to Wong Nei Chong Gap, and on he reverse decline the vegetation had encroached on to the road from both sides and, at several places the road had disappeared under a carpet of lantana and other creepers. The ruins of houses, previously occupied by friends, were barely discernable through the thick mass of jungle growth which had engulfed them.”
14 Went to the Hong Kong PRO to pick up some documents they had been kind enough to copy for me. Ended up making two visits, after discovering on the first that they only take payment in cash or cheque! It’s a lovely facility and the staff couldn’t be more pleasant but on both visits I was the only person there, surrounded by perhaps fifty empty seats. It was so much more convenient when it was in Central, in that building that they have up to the ICAC.
13 Simon White’s (Royal Scots) great granddaughter got in touch. 13 Peter Hall, author of the amazing work ‘In The Web’ which documents the Portuguese community in Hong Kong, was kind enough to solve a mystery for us: What happened to Eileen Bliss after the war? “Ruby Eileen Bliss, known as Auntie Eileen, was the elder sister of Arthur Sidney Bliss, Uncle 'Sonny', who was killed at Stanley on Christmas day. Eileen married Frederick Ivan George Hall in Stanley on 6 March 1943. He was executed by the Japanese on 29 October 1943. Eileen later married Robert Harrington Nichol and they divorced in 1952. Eileen (not Emily) died in England in 2001. Auntie Phyllis will be 99 years old on 30 June 2012.” 13 George Brown’s (RASC) granddaughter got in touch, sending a very nice photo of her grandparents’ marriage (illustrated). Grandmother died of TB in Hong Kong while Brown was a POW. Their son (also called George Brown) went to DBS (Diocesan Boys School) after the war, and would be interested in making contact with old school friends.
12Elizabeth Ride sent me an Imperial War Graves Commission form covering a “Sergeant Low of the HKVDC”. It occurred to me as I answered (viz: “When Private William Edmund Lowe, Royal Scots, died in hospital on 20-Dec-41 he was mistakenly recorded as 'Sergeant Low, HKVDC' in hospital records. Lowe's serial was 3059223. Somehow that seems to have been converted to 'Sergeant Low, 2223, 29-Dec-41'. However, the Stanley grave referred to here (VI B, 3/14) is occupied today by Mr Lowe. So my guess is that someone made an administrative error soon after the war, and that it was corrected soon afterwards with the mythical Sergeant Low being corrected to the true Private Lowe”) that I was probably the only person in the whole world who could! Sad that my one and only claim to fame should be so lowly, and also sad that it didn’t help Elizabeth’s quest - which is to find the resting place of Low Teng Kee of Hong Kong University. As ‘The First Fifty Years’ states, he was: “A third-year medical student from Malaya, he joined the BAAG headquarters about the middle of 1942. An officer of the Royal Air Force who visited the unit in Kwangtung was so impressed by Low that he sought permission to enlist him as a member of a secret mission for work in Malaya. Low eagerly accepted the dangerous offer. Eventually, after a lengthy period of training in India, he and his party were landed in enemy territory from a submarine, but contact was never again made with any of them. After the war a former prisoner in Changi Gaol reported that he had intercepted a message tapped through the wall of his cell concerning the imminent execution of a party that had been captured after landing from a submarine in northern Sumatra.” The remains of the remainder of the party were located post-war, but Elizabeth is still trying to establish Low Teng Kee’s fate. 12 Brian Edgar notes: “Anyone who'd like a poster-photo of Stanley Camp American Cook E. F. Gingle will be thrilled to hear you can get one for £61.99 (that's the small and unframed version of course, and I doubt it includes the postage).”
11 Albert Louis Fisher’s (RN, Lisbon Maru) cousin got in touch, sending another photo of him (see December 2011).
10 Tidying up loose ends in the Stanley internee lists, Barbara Anslow notes: “David and James [Cameron] did not come into camp until 19th August 1945. I was a patient in Tweed Bay Hospital when they were brought in, half-starved. I was told they were the sons of one Muriel (nee Smith) who, with her mother & the boys avoided Stanley through Irish passports, and ended up in Rosary Hill. I believe either Muriel or her Mother died.” We are speculating that their father was W.J.D. Cameron of the Police. 10 Brian Edgar seems to have a real knack for picking up information on the web that has missed the rest of us: “This website gives details of the fate of the Haraldsvang and its crew -who made up some of the Norwegians in Stanley. It also tells the story of the escape of the Captain and another Norwegian in February 1943 which led to the internment of those left behind in Stanley. The writer notes that the Captain's own account of the escape claims that he (and perhaps the other Norwegians) were sent to camp in March 1942 - this seems unlikely for a number of reasons, one of which is that the few details given seem to clearly suggest an escape from town. The direct link to the list of crew members who ended up in Stanley is here. The second engineer is listed as being in Kowloon at liberation, so was presumably one of the technicians sent there just before the end of the war. It's also possible that there was one Finnish national in Stanley.”
9Neville Ducker's (RN, Lisbon Maru) great Nephew got in touch. Mr Ducker was lost when the ship sank.
8William Agar’s (RA, Lisbon Maru) son got in touch. 8 Wilfred Mulcahy’s family are looking for more information about him. He was a teacher (and later head) at KGV. As luck would have it, KGV used to hang a picture of him in their entrance hall and I took of photo of it in 2009 whilst there for one of my sons’ interminable football games…
7 A gentlemen who would prefer to remain anonymous alerted me that: “I would like to share the news that the old WWII Radar Station on Mount Butler Road will very soon be demolished. It was renovated a few years ago to provide offices for Government use but will now be demolished entirely. I'm sure like me you find this a terrible loss of a memorable building/site. I think the demolition will be undertaken by the Drainage Services Department on behalf of Government.” He also shared a link on Google maps. 7 I was very sad to learn today, from Stanley internee Peter Strange’s wife, that Peter had passed away in mid April even after having successfully fought off a brain tumour. As his wife said: “Peter always said that if the Japs couldn’t kill him, then the brain tumour wouldn’t. He was right. It wasn’t the brain tumour. It was the chest infection.” 7 Brian Edgar kindly sent me his transcription of the statement of S/54544 S. Sgt. Sheridan, R.A.S.C., who Escaped from Hong Kong on June 4 under an Irish passport.
6Bruce Waldron kindly sent two more Kobe POW photos that he had found in his father’s papers (Bruce kindly supplied all the fantastic and unique photos that appear here). The one of a working party in a hut – with each man’s hook having his POW number – is outstanding; I have never seen such an intimate view into POW existence. I have added these to the Exhibition page. Bruce also enclosed a 1949 Middlesex Reunion Dinner programme. 6 Seeing the photo of the Repulse Bay Hotel Garage last month, Elizabeth Ride noted: “I came across Douglas Ferguson's mention of the Repulse Bay Garage. It’s nothing sensational, but all these little details keep help to those days alive. I wonder if this officer is one of the bodies buried in the rosebed. ‘We took up our positions in front of the hotel and the Japanese had a sniper in a garage just below us. We were shooting at the garage from behind a balustrade and this young officer was right beside me and kept popping up and shooting over the balustrade. I said to him: "You better be careful or that sniper is going to get you." Sure enough, the next time he did it, the sniper got him with a bullet in the forehead, and that was the end of him’.” The dead officer was of course Peter Grounds of the Middlesex.
5 Tim Luard was kind enough to check on the entries for Honky Kwan (see last month) in Colin McEwan’s writings. He found this: “My man in the upper West River area rejoiced in the code name of Domus although after all these years I can find no reason why that particular christening came about. Hunky Kwan was a Malayan Chinese architect whom I had known in Hong Kong and many of my readers will have seen his daughter Nancy Kwan who became quite a well-known film star in post-war days. My pet story of Hunky's ingenuity was when Lt. Miller of the U.S.A.A.F. was shot down in Hunky's area. There was a Japanese concentration in that particular area and since he had been shot down in daylight there was a fair amount of hue and cry after him which came a bit too close for Hunky's comfort. So to pass a few days till this died down, Hunky took the lieutenant by night into Nanning, the biggest city in the area, which, sitting as it did on the West River, was a main Japanese centre. There they both spent a few days in one of the better class brothels which catered for the higher ranking Japanese officers but on the 'call out' system which meant that no Japanese apart from the odd medical officer ever called personally."
4 Geoffrey Emerson notes, on a discussion in Michael Martin’s Stanley Group, on which Barbara Anslow has been kindly posting her wartime diaries, month by month: “Just read April 1945 and was delighted to read that on 2nd April at Annie Van Der Lely's wedding, Livvy (Olivia Ogley) walked in front”. He continues: “This year on 18 January 2012, I had the great pleasure of taking Olivia Ogley (now Ryser) to Stanley with three of her grandchildren. She gave me a copy of her birth certificate, signed by Dr Valentine, showing her birth at Tweed Bay Hospital on 3rd September 1942. She had written to Greg Leck in late 2011 about her visit and he kindly gave her my name. Olivia was very sorry to miss the Reunion in December but had planned a trip to China with her grandchildren before coming to Hong Kong and was unable to change the dates. We spent a fascinating day at Stanley with lunch in the Prison Officers Club (thanks to Joyce Ho, retired officer), found Olivia's block where she lived as a child (Block D of the Married Quarters) and saw the Tweed Bay Hospital building where she was born.” 4 Diana Hall (daughter of Eric Hall of the famous 2 Coy, HKVDC) kindly sent me several items, including his certificate of service of the HKVDC, a photo of 2 Coy on exercise (Hall in the middle of the picture 4th from the left), and a note dropped to ex-POWs right at the end of the war telling them what airdrops of food and supplies to expect.
2The La Salle College Old Boys’ Association got in touch concerning last month’s mention of Joseph Wilkinson. They note: “According to our research, La Salle College did have a teacher by the same name, who served with the 5th AA Battery of the HKVDC during the battle, and was killed possibly in the massacre at Sai Wan Fort. His remains are interred at the Stanley Military Cemetery… Joseph Wilkinson joined the La Salle Brotherhood in October 1927. After completing his training, he taught briefly in Burma and returned to teach at St. Joseph’s College in 1935. He was transferred to La Salle College in 1936. Brother Joseph subsequently left the Brotherhood.”
1Ian D. Johnson of the HKHAA notes: “Brian Edgar's Americans acting as drivers [see last month] would be the various CNAC & Pan American personnel left behind after the airline's last aircraft left Kai Tak in December 1941. See the CNAC website for the various names under ‘Pilots’, ‘Operations’ etc. Some mention driving duties as does the following from a PAN AMERICAN AIRWAYS in-house journal dated early 1942: ‘Although the majority of British, American and Dutch nationals were crowded together into internment camps, Schafer and four other American citizens managed to escape internment by securing passes to work for the Hong Kong Medical Dept. During the next six months, they trucked 350 cubic tons of food and supplies to the internees and 800,000 lbs of firewood to Hong Kong’s hospitals. But though they had a form of freedom, they never knew when they would be slapped or kicked, or their loads confiscated by the Japanese. Once, a guard slapped Schafer so hard his head rang for hours. They lived on the internee’s rice-beans-salt rations, and managed to avoid catching beriberi only by buying other foods outside at enormously inflated prices. Every day, some two hundred men, women and children were dying from starvation, cholera, smallpox, dysentery - and Japanese bullets.’” 1 Elizabeth Ride has been kind enough to try to help with the mystery of Lt. Col. Frere, MC, who is buried in Hong Kong but we don’t know why (see last month). He was from Burma, so Elizabeth checked Patrick Van de Linde’s (BAAG) account of a trip to pick up stragglers from the Burma road in case Frere was mentioned. VdL noted: "During the morning a telegraphic message arrived from Gen. T'sung Pin, G.O.C., 71st Army, based in Pao Shan, a town on the Burma Road, beyond the Mekong and about 180 km. from the Burma border (map 71). The gist of it was that some more of the group of Wingate's men of the 77th Infantry Brigade – whom I had been originally sent to rescue - had managed to escape from Burma into China and were being held in Pao Shan. Immediately phones started buzzing but there was no doubt about it; confirmation was obtained and it was agreed that I should set off for Pao Shan as soon as possible to see what I could do to help and to try to bring them back to civilisation… That day, 2nd July, we set out in good time and got to Pao Shan by mid day. It was a typical Chinese walled city, entering at one of the main gates we were at the bottom of a long street with a few shops on either side (pic.06). We worked our way up the street till we came to the local hospital where we located what was left of the party we had come to rescue. From various sources we pieced the story together: apparently six men had been left behind by the main party (who had passed through Kun Ming before my arrival) because they were sick and couldn't keep up; however with the help of Chinese villagers they had eventually made it to Pao Shan. Of the six, two had been evacuated safely from Yun Nan Yi, (though how they got there we never discovered), one named Warmsley died on arrival, leaving three who were taken to the ‘6th New Life Medical Unit’ as the local hospital was designated. Yet another died just before we arrived (I have a photograph – unfortunately very poor - of the grave of one, Pte. D. Harrop, just outside the city gate). So we were left with two patients, L/Cpl Brown and Pte Rowley to care for."