Welcome to Hong Kong War Diary - a project that documents the 1941 defence of Hong Kong, the defenders, their families, and the fates of all until liberation. This page is updated monthly with a record of research and related activities. Pages on the left cover the books that have spun off from this project, and a listing of each and every member of the Garrison. Comments, questions, and information are always welcome. Tony Banham, Hong Kong: email@example.com
Brenda Morgan (courtesy Jo Price), Yokohama #19 (courtesy John Hills), Hong Kong Cenotaph (author) Jack Mitchell (courtesy Rosemary Mitchell), Frode's new book (courtesy Frode Olsen), Sea Gull Press (courtesy Tom Thomson) A Coy nominal roll, HKVDC 1940 Year Book (all courtesy Briony Widdis)
Probably ten years ago my publisher suggested I write a book about researching history on the Internet. He did not, of course, mean simply finding things on websites, but using the internet to reach out to people to discover documents and data previously unknown to historians. I didn’t have time, but looking back now I see that as the golden age of internet research. In those days I had the only website dedicated to Hong Kong’s wartime history, so all I had to do was make myself visible, and they would come. Today, of course, there are many such websites, facebook pages, and blogs (keeping many people fascinated and engaged), but from my selfish point of view new information is now far more fragmented. So it was particularly pleasing this month to receive information on A Company HKVDC, a formation that as far as I know really was unknown to historians until this month.
30 Tai Hang Wong very kindly presented me with one of the Canadian 1941 commemoration coins mentioned last month.
28HKUP Sent me the mock-up of the front cover for the new book, which is quite exciting even though it probably won’t be available until mid-2017. 28 A lovely find from Brian Edgar: “Ellen Field remained out of Stanley by claiming to be Irish. During the occupation she worked with Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke and interpreter Kiyoshi Watanabe ('Uncle John') to provide legal and illegal relief to the men in Shamshuipo. She also engaged in the even more dangerous work of helping soldiers to escape. Her memoir 'Twilight in Hong Kong' has long been acknowledged as an excellent source for the history of the occupation. However, it is not widely known that the online videos of the 1954 Miss Universe competition are also a source document for serious researchers! Miss Hong Kong came third that year - out-performing a fourth place in the first competition in 1952. The representative was Virginia Lee Wai-chun - who was one of the three daughters of Ellen Field, all of who lived with her through the occupation. [She] was given a film contract with Universal-International Studios as a result of her success. She made one film, 'So This is Paris' (1955), which starred Tony Curtis. She obviously did well, as she was offered a further contract, but gave up the chance of stardom to marry an American sailor, Roger Glasby, who she'd met in Hong Kong. I think she's the one on (the viewer's) far right in the line up of the last five about 40 seconds in.”
25TK Wong noticed the July request for the location of Royal Scots HQ at Skeet Ground. He notes: “Today, it is no.298, Wo Yi Hop Road Sports Ground and Golf Centre. It was about 100 meters north of the former Tung Chun Soya and Can Factory site.”
24 Bill Lake was asking if anyone knew what happened to the Shamshuipo cello after the war? It was made from all sorts of odds and ends in camp by Royal Rifles of Canada Corporal Stewart Hendersen and Riflemen Wilbur Lester and Kalle Ampi for Major Maurice Parker. It certainly survived to liberation as several 1945 photographs of it exist. 24 George Boote reports that December’s edition of Britain at War includes a ten-page article on Osborn and his VC. 24 Tom Thomson kindly sent me a scan of the Admiral Hughes onboard newssheet (‘Seagull Press’) for 3 October 1945. Although I have copies of similar from several repatriation vessels, I think this is the first I’ve seen from Hughes.
21 Jo Price, Joan Whiteley’s (QAIMNS) daughter who I was in touch with ten or so years back, kindly sent me a photo of Sister Brenda Morgan, killed by a shell at St Albert’s. Her fiancé, ‘Mickey’ Holliday (they were engaged the Sunday before her death), was of course killed a few days later on December 19. A correspondent on the Stanley Group added: “Brenda Morgan's family suffered another loss, her brother Lt Brian Churchill Morgan RA was killed in North Africa in Nov 1942 aged 21, he had married a few months earlier.”
20Martin Heyes kindly put me in touch with Roger Stride whose father was interned in Bungalow A at Stanley. 20 Steele-Perkins’s daughter let me know that she has found a cache of twenty or so photos labelled ‘Hong Kong ARP’. Might be some gems there!
18 Muhammad Sadiq’s (HKSRA) grandson got in touch.
16 I generally don’t report much on items from the fighting found in the hills, as there’s too much chance that one day someone is going to dig in the wrong place and blow themselves up. But there was a very interesting find today, which we may hear more of later.
15Martin Heyes let me know that he is taking Meirion Price’s (Winnipeg Grenadiers) son on the Wong Nai Chung Gap trail today. He has also found the citation for Price’s Military Medal.
13 This morning I visited the Cenotaph in Hong Kong as people were gathering for the ceremony, and took a couple of photos. 13 Today I heard of a book called “Canadians Behind Enemy Lines” which apparently includes a mention of Canadian agents trained by Mike Kendall of HKVDC / SOE fame. I have ordered a copy. My copy of the Royal Marines book mentioned last month arrived, but was disappointing as it had no new information on those at HMS Tamar. 13 Rosemary Mitchell kindly sent a new photo of Jack Mitchell, HKVDC.
13Dave Deptford kindly let me know that Albert Percy Alliston’s RN medals are for sale: “Vide Saleroom - Lawrence's, Crewkerne - Sale on 17.11.2016, Lot 254. Group of Four (39-45, Pacific, War and RN LSGC) to captioned A.B., Service Number PJ 97838. Blurb states captured 29.12.1941 and later held in Osaka. Est GBP70.00.”
12 John Hills very kindly let me use a unique propaganda photo of POWs from the first draft at Yokohama #19 under Lieutenant James Ford, MC, Royal Scots. His father ‘Bumpy’ Hills is in the photo, and provided a names list which I have reproduced as accurately as I can below. Note that where there is more than one possibility (the names were not complete), I have indented the possible alternative names together: Tokyo #19D Yokohama Stevedore, Christmas 1944 Ford, Jimmy A. 2nd Lieutenant Macdonall, ‘Dad’ Thomas Gunner Holmes, Charles R. Corporal Tom? Illegible RN Whippey, Charles Lance Sergeant Broderick, John G. Gunner Smith, Leo Grant Bombardier Smith, Kenneth W. Lance Bombardier Glasby, Ronald Gunner Bolam, David Private Robertson, Hugh Private Robertson, John Private Mew, Ronald E. Bombardier Hancock, William D. A.B. Breen, Cecil Gunner Hunt, Harry Howard Gunner Petican, Arthur F. Gunner Purdue, Harry Lance Bdr. McDonald, Alex Private McDonald, Archibald Private Dyke, Fred R. Private Hills, William L. Private Boyle, Edward Private Bartlett, Leonard H. Sapper Berkeley, ‘Taggy’ Thomas Gunner Robertson, Robert C. Lance Corp. McCormick, Joseph Gunner Longson, Arthur Private Earl, Norman Leslie L/Sergeant Walton, Thomas Henry Private Tigerhashi-San (Interpreter) Edwards, Cyril Private White, Albert John Tel.P.O. White, Charles James S. A.B. Watanabi (The Reverend) Camp Commandant Etacura, C. Acct Chuckles Taylor, John William Gunner Taylor, Eddy Gunner Rowland, Arthur F. Private Rowland, Ernest Private Henderson, G. Private Henderson, George Private Henderson, James Private Henderson, Thomas Private Dunlop, Robert Private Yamamura-san (Muscles) Stubbs, George Gunner Mitchell, William Private Parry, Raymond A.B. Strickland, Francis Alfred Stoker Yoshida-San (the Menace) Morley, Michael Private Jeremiah, Elvet Gunner Chas Hard? RAF?
11 Bernard Jesse’s (Winnipeg Grenadiers) son got in touch. 11 Martin Heyes wrote a letter to the South China Morning Post today, calling for better preservation of the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail. 11 Barbara Anslow kindly let me know about a new booked called 'Testimony to Love’, written by Gwen Steele-Perkins (the wife of Wing Commander Horace Steele-Perkins who was Director of Air Raid Precautions Hong Kong up to a few months before the invasion, when he was posted to India). She notes: “If you would like to read more about the book being published by her daughter Mary Tiffan, with a few additions by Mary”. Details can be seen here. At the moment it is available only as an ebook, but if Mary can find 50 people interested then she could create a hardcopy version which would cost around fourteen pounds plus postage. I believe the book is primarily about Gwen’s religious experiences, but still contains information about her wartime experience (she, with daughters – the Mary mentioned above - and Susan, was an evacuee).
10The Canadian Consulate notes: “As 2016 marks the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong, the Consulate General of Canada has organized a logo design contest at four Canadian curriculum schools in Hong Kong and Macao to commemorate the anniversary and Canada’s defence of Hong Kong. More than 900 students were educated on the shared history between Canada and Hong Kong at the International School of Macao, Delia School of Canada, Christian Alliance P.C. Lau Memorial International School and the Canadian International School of Hong Kong.” The winning logo (illustrated) has now been chosen.
7Correspondence with Crozier’s granddaughter continues. She notes: “I was clearing out at my mum’s yesterday and found other items of interest: a 1940 HKVDC Yearbook, a sketch of the Battery done by G.S. Coxhead on Boxing Day 1941, a HKVDC Battery photograph, my grandfather’s list of “A” Company, and my grandfather’s diary entries for 7th-14th December.” The reference to A Coy was a complete surprise, as officially no such HKVDC Company existed. But looking at the names and ranks, it appears that this must have been an administrative formation in Shamshuipo at around the time of liberation. The list is typed on RAF Form 96 for messages, and presumably came from the large RAF contingent that re-occupied Hong Kong.
6Francis Dobbs’s (HKVDC) granddaughter got in touch. I was corresponding with her mother in 2008.
5 Frode Olsen noted: “I am very happy to let you know that 3 year’s work has come to an end. Next week my book on the Danish community in Hong Kong in the late 1930’s and their participation in the defence in December 1941 will be published in Denmark in Danish language. I am deeply grateful for all the support each of you have provided me with through the process. I have been informed, that Danish publishing house has decided to have an extract of approx. 50 pages translated into English with a view to present the book to foreign publisher. Let’s first see, how the Danish readers and critics receive the book.”
4 Henry Langley noted that: “while doing some more tidying up I came across a few other items that I didn’t realise I had concerning my father’s membership of the freemasons. A couple of items of interest were a certificate regarding my father’s initiation into the Cathay Lodge in 1938 – a rather ornate document – and a list of members of the Cathay Lodge at 28 February 1951.” 4 On the Stanley group, Brian Edgar noted: “On Friday, January 13, 1945 Franklin Gimson wrote in his diary: The roll-call took place in the morning. The Japanese created certain difficulties but internees were rather themselves to blame. The Losebys in particular who have been given the special privilege of remaining in their cottage treated the whole affair in entirely a nonchalant manner and only just escaped having the special concession with drawn.” Not even Barbara Anslow knew that the gardener’s cottage existed! In the official lists, it was named 8/cottage. Geoffrey Emerson (who probably knows more about this than anyone else) noted: “On 22 June 1970, at Isobel Watson's home at 23 Big Wave Bay Road, HK, I met with 7 women who were former Stanley Camp internees, including Patricia Loseby, who was born 09.01.25. No recording was made but after, I immediately made notes. One of my notes reads, "Mr & Mrs Loseby lived in a gardener’s cottage, a hut, away from the others, near the football field. They used sacks for windows. Patricia lived in the married quarters."
3Felix Lam kindly sent me the floor plan of Bungalow A at Stanley (also known as Bungalow 3) to aid in the Short History of the building that I am writing for the Royal Asiatic Society.
1Briony Widdis (Douglas Crozier’s granddaughter - see last month) sent me a photo of a watercolour painting by a Harry J Reston in 1945. A little googling showed that he was a Sydney artist, and her grandparents must have bought it when leaving Sydney around the end of the war, 1 Dr Patrick Lo sent me the transcript of an interview we did together in Hong Kong Park a couple of years ago. From Bullets to Biographies: Informational Interview with Tony Banham Hong Kong War Diary – by Patrick Lo, Dickson Chiu, Yidan Jin, Nan Jiang, Yuanyuan Jiang, and Li Zheng – see full article here.
November 1st, 2016 Update
A Voyage To War (courtesy Hugh Dulley), Wilf Chambers article (courtesy Andrew Suddaby), Cartwright-Taylor MI9 form (courtesy Ian Cartwright-Taylor) UNESCO award, Peak Cafe information board, Helena May plaque (all author) Wong Nai Chung blockhouse (via Vincent Lee), New Canadian coin (courtesy Tai Hang Wong), Bob Tatz and Barbara Anslow (courtesy Bob Tatz)
Last month I spent more time than usual in Hong Kong’s two main military cemeteries, though in fact that’s often the case in the last few months of the year. I am so used to them – and their counterparts all over the world – that I take them for granted. The stones, the inscriptions, the memorial crosses and well-tended shrubs, it had never really occurred to me that someone had to ‘invent’ them. Now, I have just read “Empires Of The Dead” by David Crane (illustrated), which is an excellent description of these cemeteries’ genesis, and how Fabian Ware was responsible almost single-handedly for creating and evolving them to what we see – and accept as normal – today.
31 I learned today from David Archer and his new facebook page about the Winnipeg Grenadiers, that Leonard and Thomas Mulvaney were twins. There are many cases of brothers serving together in Hong Kong, but this is the first set of twins that I am aware of.
30On the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page, Vincent Lee notes that: “Prince Mikasa, who just died a few days ago at age 100, visited Hong Kong during occupation in 1944.” He also added a link to a short Japanese propaganda film about the visit from which I clipped a still. It looks to be the unique and damaged blockhouse (I don’t even know the correct technical term for this particular design) just up the hill from the Wong Nai Chung Gap AA position diagonally opposite Park View. Prince Mikasa died on October 27. I wonder if he was the Japanese prince who visited the Price brothers in POW camp? The prince in question had visited the Prices in Canada pre-war, and (returning the hospitality) asked if the Price POWs wanted anything. They quite rightly said no, but pointed out that fellow POW Major Charles Boxer needed treatment for an arm that was badly injured in the fighting. 30 Rohan Price got in touch about a new book he has just had published on Hong Kong Civil Servant Philip Jacks. He notes: “I am a legal historian who is interested in the relationships between British colonial property law and Chinese nationalism. I began my archival work on this topic in 2008-10 when I was a City U of HK visiting professor in the School of Law teaching trusts and common law method. The role of Jacks as Land Officer in Hong Kong (1905-1935) fascinated me so much that it formed two chapters of my PhD thesis. From this beginning, I did further archival, newspaper and travel records research to produce ‘Going Native: The Passions of Philip Jacks’ (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2016). “ As Jacks passed away in May 1941, he doesn’t ‘officially’ fit into my research, but I mention it here as it’s likely to be of general interest.
28 Bob Tatz sent me an amazing photograph which I believe will be one of the illustrations for his new book. It shows him and a number of other children who were outside camp in 1942, on Bowen Road together with some Japanese officers. Bob also recently met Barbara Anslow and Ruth Baker in the UK.
27 Douglas Crozier’s (HKVDC) granddaughter kindly sent me her grandfather’s annotated roll of 2 Battery HKVDC. Very useful!
25 Hugh Farmer let me know that: “yesterday I posted the article, Robert Taylor - Manager of Green Island Cement - interned and badly injured in Stanley Camp during the Japanese occupation”. Taylor was in Bungalow C.
24 Bill Lake gave a presentation about the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong at the Canadian International School today, which was videoed and is available for viewing.
22Philip Cracknell was walking on Jardine’s Lookout and noticed that PB2’s location has been invaded by a huge water pipe. He has started a petition to have the pipe moved away from the site, which is informally a memorial, and formally part of the Wong Nai Chong Gap Heritage Trail.
21 Hugh Dulley let me know that his father’s (Hugh Dulley senior) book will be published at the end of October. He kindly sent the blurb: “Hugh Dulley’s father (Peter Dulley) and mother (Therese Sander) met in Hong Kong on New Year’s Eve 1935. Four years later at the outbreak of war, Peter, a weekend sailor, was called up in the Hong Kong Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He eventually graduated to command an ocean-going tug of 500 tons from Hong Kong to Aden. En route he called at islands still enjoying pre-war peacetime and navigated across the Indian Ocean using a sextant. In July 1940, Therese, who was eight months pregnant, was evacuated from Hong Kong to the Philippines, where Hugh was born. They then travelled to Australia after a short stop in Hong Kong, which was to be the last time she saw Peter. Collected here is Peter’s correspondence to Therese over a period of six years. Edited and condensed by Hugh, it paints a unique and often humorous picture of life in Hong Kong in the run up to and during World War 2. It is published to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong.” Hugh will give a talk on the book at the RHKYC at 19.30 on Wednesday 14th December. 21 Percy Woodings’s (Royal Marines) grandson got in touch. He noted that he: “passed away in 1986. If it would interest your research Percy's story was told in the newspaper a few years ago, and his story can also be found in the book 'the marines were there' by Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, which in also contains further stories about the Royal Marines in Hong Kong.” I have ordered Lockhart’s book, which I had never heard of before. The Royal Marines in Hong Kong are an under-researched unit so I am hoping that it will be useful. This second mention of newspaper articles about Hong Kong veterans makes me think that there must be hundreds – if not thousands - of such articles out there, from 1946 to the present day, if only there was some way of finding and collating them. I probably have fifteen or twenty in my collection, but assembled ad hoc.
20 I learned today that my book about the 1940 Hong Kong evacuation is unlikely to see the light of day until mid 2017. These things always seem to take longer than you would hope.
18Andrew Suddaby kindly mailed me a newspaper cutting from 1986 about ERA Wilf Chambers who was on the Lisbon Maru. We had discussed him and his friends when I was writing that book.
15 Captain Hugh Cartwright-Taylor RE HQ Fortress Engineers’ son (see June) got back in touch, having received his father’s MI9 Liberation Questionnaire. Only about two percent of these contain anything of interest, but this one refers very positively to doctors Captain Arthur Strachan (spelled Strahan in the document, but I believe Strachan is correct) and Captain Ben Evans, both of the Indian Medical Service (IMS). 15 Walking up to the Peak with my wife, we noticed a plaque (this seems to be the month for plaques…) that we must have walked past a hundred or more times before. It describes the old Peak Café, noting that the building today is little changed from the Sedan Chair waiting room it was designed as at the start of the twentieth century, and that it had been used as a guard post by the Japanese during the occupation.
14We had lunch at the Helena May Institute today, and for the first time I realised that there was a plaque on the outside wall facing Garden Road, describing the building and its use during the war years.
13Bob Tatz is asking if anyone knows anything about Muriel Hassard, Matron of Diocesan Boys School who died in Stanley on 26 August 1945. 13 Brian Edgar found an interesting link to a story of a child in Stanley Camp, but as Brian and Barbara Anslow pointed out, there are a fair few exaggerations and mistakes.
11 Tai Hang Wong kindly sent me an image of the Canadian Battle of Hong Kong Commemorative Coin referred to below. He notes that the Hong Kong distributor can be found here.
9I heard today that Ian McNay passed away on 27 September. Son of Edward McNay, Royal Naval Dockyard Police, Ian was evacuated to Australia during the war years. Ian returned from Sydney to Hong Kong as a fifteen year old in 1946 and was one of the first pupils to return to the reopened Central British School where he became the first post war head boy. He gave me a great deal of help when I was researching that period.
6A discussion on the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page about Little Hong Kong and its conversion to a wine cellar reminded me that (rather undeservedly) I was one of the recipients of a United Nations award for it. The damn thing is about a square metre of solid bronze and weighs a ton, but I finally found it under some furniture and took a photo.
2 Today was the seventy-fourth anniversary of the sinking of the Lisbon Maru. Next year will be the big 75. 2 Dave Deptford mentions a new medal group of seven: “plus badges, reports, photographs etc. to Rifleman Duplassie, RRC. Detailed write up; captured 25.12.41, to North Point Camp, Sept 42 to SSPo, then Tatsura Maru to Nagasaki and so forth. Witness statements involving Cecil Boon and assaults on other POWs. Medals to Canadians infrequently seen, price USD1625.00”
SCMP front page (courtesy SCMP), Trudeau signing visitors' book (courtesy HarbourTimes), Saiwan in the rain (author) Anne at Bob Newton's grave (courtesy Nina Ammundsen), Ian and Rosemary (courtesy Ian Gill), Japanese Map (via author) Moddrel's diary (courtesy Richard Moddrell), Noel Hammond's letter (courtesy Rob Milner), William Allister picture (courtesy Cam Tradewell)
I hear that my review of the Graham Heywood book will be printed in the next edition of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch. In a few years I’ll probably be in the position of having written a new book by accident! If I combined my various Short Histories of units, book reviews, and other articles, I might at some point be able to bring them together into a ‘Collected Essays’ volume to present them to a larger audience.
30 Today I was contacted by the son of Leonard Adams. Adams was a British Consular agent at Kukong from 1943 until the Japanese moved north and occupied it in the spring of 1944. He notes: “I was born in Kukong in February 1944 and flown over the hump to India in mid 1944. I believe my father was responsible for intelligence on the status and welfare of British Subjects in Hong Kong. He would not talk about this period saying it was covered by the Official Secrets act and that at that time the Communists might use any information against local Chinese who had helped the west.” 30 On the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page, Peter Weedon mentioned that Corporal Charles Goddard’s (Middlesex) medals were for sale. They are a historically interesting group.
29 Ian Gill has found a photo of Sapper William Rogers, killed in the Battle of Hong Kong, at his wedding to Dorthy Newman. Dorothy was evacuated to Australia together with friend Yvonne Swinburn who was married to fellow sapper George Swinburn who survived the Lisbon Maru and the war.
27Michael Kelly’s (Royal Scots, Lisbon Maru) granddaughter got in touch. Like quite a number of regular servicemen, Kelly left a Chinese wife in Hong Kong when taken POW, and a daughter who had been born in September 1941. Both had to survive in the occupied city as best they could.
26 Philatelist Richard Whittington got in touch. In his collection he has letters from three officers based in Stanley in 1940: Major William ‘Zaz’ Pitt, OC 36th Coast Battery, Captain William Martin - an officer of 12th Coast Battery under Major William Stevenson, and Lieutenant Ewan Graham, Middlesex. Interestingly all three were later on the Lisbon Maru (aboard which Pitt was of course in charge of the third hold), and all three ended the war in Osaka #4B Ikuno.
25Steve Denton believes that in the very first photo of The Exhibition, (Kobe City Souto-ku Higashi Kawasaki-cho 1-46, Mitsubishi Logistics Co. Kobe branch, Daiichi Shinko No.1 New port), the man in the top left looks like Frank Florence.
24 John Cameron’s (Winnipeg Grenadier) family got back in touch, sending me a POW Camp photo of him (illustrated), and a sketch that Cameron had kept from the war. I am 99% certain that it’s by William Allister, who wrote Where Life And Death Hold Hands and became a famous artist post war. The view appears to be from North Point POW Camp, looking north. It is very much like the one illustrated here.
21Brian Edgar notes that one of the technicians sent out of Camp on August 10, 1945 was Paul Reveley, who had once been personal technical assistant to John Logie Baird. It seems that Reveley is still with us, at a grand old age of 104.
18 Nice new article on Gwulo about Mabel Redwood’s marriage to Clifton Large, both of course having been Stanley Internees.
17 Jim Trick kindly let me know that the new permanent home for the HKVCA newsletter is here.
16Rob Milner, grandson of Noel Hammond HKVDC, kindly sent me a copy of a letter written in 2000 from Hammond to Arthur Gomes describing the fighting around Maryknoll and the Stanley Police Station. It mentions a wounded Middlesex sergeant, who I think might be George Robbins who commanded PB22 (at a stretch it might be Sergeant William Stone of PB24, but that’s less likely).
15 On the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page, Nona Langley posted a very interesting Special Supplement of The Hong Kong News from 25 December 1942. Celebrating their first anniversary of victory, Lt.-Gen. Renuke Isogai – who the Japanese had declared Governor of Hong Kong – laid out his proclamation. The phrase: “The great objective of the war in East Asia is certainly to guarantee the peace of East Asia” really tells you all you need to know. 15 Dave Deptford kindly let me know that: “Through the Saleroom website - Hong Kong - PBA Galleries - Sale on 18.9.2016 - Lot 76 - Minute Book of The Hong Kong Fanlingerers (Golf) - contains references to captioned officer, reportedly blinded during the invasion.” In fact he was blinded by a gunshot wound with B Coy Royal Scots while attacking the Police Post in Wong Nai Chong Gap (the same attack where Vyner Gordon was mortally wounded). Both officers had been commissioned from the Volunteers.
14 Richard Moddrel kindly sent me a copy of his father’s wartime diary. 14 Dr Peter Campos gave me the good news that when he sent his great uncle’s sketch book from Sham Shui Po to the Canadian War Museum, the latter replied: “The Acquisition Committee met today and very happily agreed that your uncle's book should become part of the National Collection. The Canadian War Museum's war art collection has few works from Japanese prisoner of war camps and this will be a significant addition.”
13 Archie Hart tells me that his father James Hart, RASC, who has been poorly lately, is out of hospital and on the mend.
12 Today my wife and I had lunch with Anne Ammundsen and her daughter Nina at their hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. Anne was over here visiting the grave of her uncle Bob Newton of the 5/7th Rajputs at Saiwan (I stopped at Newton’s grave on the 6th with Prime Minister Trudeau and placed a poppy there). Originally we had planned to have lunch at the Helena May, but they were having their hundredth birthday today! I was glad to see the poppy was still on the grave when they visited.
10 Peter Weedon emailed, noting that he is: “a medal collector and have been looking for a representative Defence of Hong Kong group. Today - with the assistance of NTSC - I achieved that aim. I have just purchased the group to Company Quartermaster Sergeant Frederick Walter Hamlen, Royal Army Service Corps. Details of the group can be found here”. He also has Hamlen’s POW Index Card and a few newspaper articles mentioning him.
9 Ian Gill mentioned that he spent some time with Stanley Internee Rosemary Barton in Bath in June of this year. He also has a very interesting article in the South China Morning Post Magazine. 9 Tai Hang Wong let me know that: “In the Summer 2016 edition of the University of Hong Kong Convocation Newsletter Barbara Myronuk, daughter of Vadim Bonch wrote a short note on her father's life in HK from 1930s to 1957 when he emigrated to Canada.” Vadim Bonch was a Bombardier in the HKVDC.
8Peter White, George White’s (3 Coy HKVDC) brother got back in contact. Peter and his mother spent three years in Rosary Hill.
7Cyril Ross’s (Royal Rifles of Canada) great granddaughter got in touch. Cyril Ross was Lancelot Ross’s cousin.
6 The Canadian Consulate very kindly invited me to be the guide for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his visit to Sai Wan War Cemetery. So I took the morning off and joined them. Everything was carefully planned for a ceremony at the Cross of Memorial but as the advanced party arrived, the heavens opened and the ground started to flood. So they quickly reorganised the ceremony, and held it at the shelter by the memorial wall, and my job became simply to give the prime minister a quick briefing before he signed the visitors’ book. However, while he was doing that the rain eased off, and the organisers asked me to accompany him down to the Canadian section and show him the graves there. That was no hardship, as he’s a very personable man and seemed thoughtful and genuinely interested. But I was a little amazed next day to see the two of us on the front page of the South China Morning Post, in the Asian Wall Street Journal’s ‘Photo Of The Day’, many other Canadian newspapers, and even on TV. The Harbour Times had a particularly good set of photos. 6Dave Deptford notes: “Via The Saleroom Website and at C & T Auctions on 7 Sept 2016, 'ephemera' (letters etc.) relating to 3 Chalmers brothers killed in WW2, one of which is as captioned. Description of Lot includes details of the three and short note on Lisbon Maru”.
5 I can’t recall who mentioned it to me, but I found an immediately post-war Japanese monograph on the battle of Hong Kong which was very interesting, and includes a number of good maps. It can be navigated to from here.
2 Following on from last month’s mention of the Harmony Three, Steve Denton mentioned: “I found this YouTube clip of the Western Brothers if you’re interested. Tim Carew mentions in his book Joe [Denton] and Ramp Bowen doing this act, Fran [Florence] would have been on the piano when they did it in concerts.” It gives an idea of the sort of entertainment they would have had in the camps. Steve continued: “Joe's Mum and Dad were theatrical proprietors and his Mum had her own dance troop and Joe would have seen many shows as a youngster.”
1 Following on from last month’s discussion about the defence of Ho Chi Minh by HK Solicitor (and Stanley Internee) Frank Loseby, Tai Hang Wong kindly sent a photo of Loseby with his wife and daughter visiting Chairman Ho Chi Minh in 1960. 1 Sandy Wynd kindly pointed me at this newspaper article about Stanley internee Andrea Jenner. 1 David Bellis on Gwulo has a new project to try to identify all the children on the famous Stanley liberation photo, part of which was used in the stained glass window of St Stephen’s Chapel.
September 1st, 2016 Update
Lau graves (author), Stanley cemetery (Sandra Lau), Rosary Hill list (via Dr Colin Day) Herbert Jordan's wedding (courtesy Pip Firth), Alfred Allen (courtesy Sandra Smith), Stephen Grove (courtesy Malcolm Grove) Harmony Three badge (courtesy Steve Denton), Comms Diagram (author), Ohel Leah Synagogue plaque (courtesy Ilan Ozer)
I’ve been invited to do a very interesting project: Compile a list of all the diaries and memoirs of Hong Kong’s POWs and Internees. Published ones are simple, of course, as I maintain a complete annotated bibliography of published material. The interesting part is the unpublished section. I have always been amazed at how many people kept wartime diaries – ranging from a few scraps of paper with details of Red Cross parcel deliveries – to a 1,000 page tome by an HKVDC officer. Of course I won’t be able to cover all, but will find a representative selection from my own collection and those in archives.
29 Anne Ammundsen, the niece of Bob Newton of D Coy Rajputs who was killed when the Japanese invaded the North Shore of Hong Kong Island, confirmed that she is coming to visit his grave next month.
25On the Battle of Hong Kong facebook page, I saw a posting about a war memorial plaque at the Ohel Leah Synagogue. I think I missed this one when I did my roundup of Hong Kong war memorials some years back. I took exception to “S.D. Gerzo” – it sounds so impersonal. He was Samuel Daniel Gerzo, 1 Bty, killed At St Stephen's with Millington. When I noted that, Nona Langley added that his widow was Ida, and Luba Estes continued: “Then came word that Ida's husband was killed and my mother was asked to tell her. In my ten-year-old memory I could not even imagine what she was going through, this lovely lady lying on the bed part of the day totally distraught. Some of the war years we spent in Shanghai and found Ida again. My mother and she became closer friends. In 1945 when we returned to Hong Kong my parents invited Ida to stay in our house. My parents who were extremely hospitable invited British military officers for meals in our house. The food was not elegant tins of cornbeef seemed to be on the menu always. One officer who came was Joe Close, a very charming Captain. After meeting Ida he became a frequent visitor. They fell in love, married.”
24Bombardier Joe Denton’s grandson contacted me again, sending a host of interesting bits and pieces including a photo of the collar pips (illustrated) believed to be from the Japanese guard Sergeant Morita. Joe Denton was one of the ‘Harmony Three’ singers in Japan, together with Frank Florence RAMC, and Bombardier John ‘Ramp’ Bowen, RA. He was also a friend of Bombardier Thomas ‘Doughy’ Baker, and Lance Sergeant Johnny Inglis.
23George Rogerson’s (Royal Marines) son got in touch, pointing out that I had misspelled his father’s name as ‘George Roperson’. I have corrected it. I am hoping to learn more about the Royal Marines as they have been a rather under researched unit.
18 I received a message via some strange Vodafone system, from someone with an RAOC family background who was evacuated to Manila on the Empress of Japan, and then via the Awatea to Australia. Please contact me by email if you can! 18 A representative of Ying Wah College contacted me asking for further information on Herbert Noble, HKRNVR, who was headmaster of the school (which was also traditionally known as LMS, as it was founded by the London Missionary Society in 1818 in Malacca before moving to HK in 1843). Aside from war service, Noble served as the headmaster from the 1930s to the 50s.
17 Stephen Grove’s (HKVDC) granddaughter got in touch. Grove was part of the Air Unit, and left Hong Kong shortly before the invasion to move to Singapore and join the RAF there. Her father then kindly sent a photo, noting: “My father is… the first on the left of those marching. [He] left Singapore at the end of January when the RAF withdrew their planes to Java then Ceylon”. He added: “He was also Chairman of the Hong Kong Club for two years after the war, and his name is up there in the entrance.”Obviously Mr Grove was fortunate to leave Singapore before the Japanese attack. 17 John Roberts’s (RA) niece got in touch.
15 Fred Sanders’s (Royal Scots) granddaughter got in touch. 15 Albert Taylor’s (RA) son got in touch.
11 The Midlothian Advertiser ran a story on the Lisbon Maru, in which apparently Monkey Stewart was a Colonel of the Royal Scots, Lieutenant Potter was in the Royal Scots, and… well, you get the picture. At least in mentioned a few local men. 11 Tom Thomson sent a photo of Victor Thomson, Royal Scots: “in India circa 1936/7 possibly taken by Danny Fowler 2RS. Danny was a keen photographer. I saw some of his photograph albums in October 1994, he had sent them home with an officers wife during the evacuation of families.” 11I saw a ‘new’ book by Ralph Goodwin, ‘Escape from the Japanese’ advertised on Amazon today. I assume it’s a renamed reprint of his original Hong Kong Escape. Has anyone read it?
9 Signalman Alfred Allen’s daughter contacted me again (see February), kindly sending a couple of very nice photographs of him. 9 I’m working with a journalist on the fascinating story of Captain ‘Crumb’ Chattey. 9 Jim Trick reminded me that the HKVCA’s summer newsletter is published here.
8I discovered that the photo of amputees on HMS Oxfordshire that I published in the July edition is from the IWM. They label it: “Liberation and Repatriation August - September 1945: Limbless prisoners of war from Hong Kong celebrate liberation on board the hospital ship Oxfordshire. Left to right: R Jucke, Beausejoir, Manitoba, Canada; W Nunn, Colchester, England; J Smith, Doncaster, England; D Wanstall, Kirkaldy, Scotland; C Spendelow, Spalding, England; and seated W Parker, West Hendon, London.” Comparing this with my records, I believe they are: Reinhold Juenke, Winnipeg Grenadiers (hospitalized on 25 Dec 1941 at QMH), Walter Nunn, RE (leg amputated), Jack Smith, Royal Scots (leg amputated), David Wanstall, RN, HMS Thracian (leg amputated), George Spendelow, Royal Corps of Signals (leg amputated at thigh), and William Parker, RN, HMS Robin (leg amputated at QMH, 23 Dec 1941). The other image (of the same group but taken below decks) that I mentioned, and which is used in We Shall Suffer There, is also there. For some reason I can't save the exact URL, but you can navigate to both photos (and many more) from here.
7 Colin Day kindly sent me copies of a couple of pages from the National Archives with lists of Rosary Hill residents leaving for Macau in 1944. Rosary Hill is still one of the most under-researched parts of Hong Kong’s war, though apparently Vaudine England is studying it now. 7 Sandy Wynd kindly sent me this very interesting IWM Photo. Again, comparing the names with my records, I believe they are (left to right): Mrs Beatrice Doering, of West Norwood, London; Mrs Dora Begdon (HKVDC Nursing Detachment), of Cornwall; Miss Phylis Findlay, of Australia; Mrs Olive Burnett, Australia; Miss Grace Darby, Birmingham, England; Mr Arthur Groves (HKPF) and small daughter Joyce, of Birmingham, England. As Sandy pointed out, of course it should by Hong Kong rather than Japan. Also, Groves lost his young son (also Arthur) shortly after his birth in Stanley, and then his wife Doris (I believe in childbirth) in early 1944).
6 Pip Firth kindly sent me a photo of Bandmaster Herbert Jordan, Royal Scots, who is said to have been shot by his own guards when he failed to respond to a challenge (though the family heard he died of shrapnel wounds from a bomb). Unfortunately he is listed in CWGC files as ‘Jordon’, which we are trying to correct. Of the photo, he notes: “taken on the wedding day of Bandmaster Herbert Birkett Seddon Jordan and Noreen Anne Egan in Lahore on 20th February 1936 (Herbert Jordan seated to the left)”. Pip also had a great uncle, Claud Minot Newman, who was interned in Stanley and left a comprehensive diary. 6 A fellow researcher is investigating the wartime Japanese hijacking of the Sai On from Macau harbour. I wish I knew more about it. I was once contacted by a family who had several members who escaped from the vessel when it was brought back to Hong Kong, but that’s all I have heard.
5 Today I had a very interesting tour of Stanley with the families of BAAG agents Lau Tak-kwong, Lau Tak-oi, and David Loie Fook-wing. Under the leadership of David Loie, they formed part of Group M, which consisted mainly of Police Reservists and included several non-Chinese agents such as W.J. White and A.C. Shinton. They started operation in March 1943 and were one of the outstanding BAAG teams, reporting on a wide spectrum of enemy intelligence as well as communicating with Stanley Internment Camp. In May 1943, the Japanese accused the Lau’s of allowing their home to be used as a repository of intelligence documents. Members of Group M were also accused of possessing wireless radio receiver sets at White’s home at 97 Wan Chai Road, and at 39 Lockhart Road. David Loie killed himself, either just by jumping from the old LegCo building, or by taking cyanide and jumping, to avoid being forced to name any other members of the group. Lau Tak-kwong and Lau Tak-oi were executed. Loie is also mentioned here and in the Auxiliary Police History here. 5 Richard Modrell kindly sent me the War Diary of Chief Signal Officer China Command, Hong Kong. I read through it with great interest when I realized that I didn’t have a copy after all. One of the most interesting parts were the diagrams showing how communications were networked, and proving that there were a few wireless sets in use. Primarily they were used in the defence of the north shore of Hong Kong Island where Japanese shelling did the most damage to lines. One was at Fortress HQ, with one each at East and West Brigade HQs, one in Wanchai – presumably at Monkey Stewart’s HQ – and two with the Rajputs at Tai Koo and North Point. (I hope I’ve got that right; they used the A-F designations for battalions which if I recall correctly was A – Rajputs, B – Punjabis, C - Winnipeg Grenadiers, D - Royal Rifles, E – Middlesex, F - Royal Scots). However, the diary notes: “This chain was to adopt a listening role, and only to open up on case of urgency, or in the event of lines failing, or where a broadcast to all stations from Fortress was necessary”.
4Several people commented on my note about basing book titles on Churchill quotations. I realized belatedly that at least one other quote (of 23 December 1941) generated more than one wartime Hong Kong book title: “We were greatly concerned to hear of the landings on Hong Kong Island which have been effected by the Japanese. We cannot judge from here the conditions which rendered theses landings possible or prevented effective counter attacks upon the intruders. There must however be no thought of surrender. Evert part of the island must be fought and the enemy resisted with the utmost stubbornness. The enemy should be compelled to expend the utmost life and equipment. There must be rigorous fighting in the inner defences and if the need be from house to house. Every day that you are able to maintain your resistance you help the allied cause all over the world, and by a prolonged resistance you and your men win the lasting honour which we are sure will be your due. The eyes of the world are upon you. We expect you to resist to the end. The honour of the empire is in your hands.” The Lasting Honour was of course Oliver Lindsay’s very good book, and Resist to the End was Charles Barman’s memoir. I’ve always thought, though, that the phrase ‘We cannot judge from here the conditions which rendered theses landings possible or prevented effective counter attacks upon the intruders’ shows Churchill at his meanest. The tacit reprimand is as obvious as it is unfair.
3 A very interesting email between a number of ex-Hong Kong policemen today, noted that one Stanley internee, Robert Ellis, had been responsible for the "safe custody" of Ho Chi Minh who the British arrested in Hong Kong (in the early 1930s), and another Stanley internee, Frank Loseby, had defended him in court when the government decided to deport him.
1 Tai Hang Wong, following on from last month’s news of Fraser’s George Cross being auctioned, sent this interesting link about a post war George Medal won by a Hong Kong man in the Falklands. 1 EOD kindly informed me that the ‘nasties’ I mentioned being found in Fanling last month were four 3.5 inch anti tank rocket rounds (Bazookas) from the 1950s. “They were training rounds packed with beeswax, rusty and without any distinguishable markings.” 1 Received my copy of Escape to Pagan by Brian Devereux today. John Devereux, who the book is primarily about, was a Royal Scots sergeant who was shot in the head and badly wounded on 19 December 1941 (according to his medical files, thus probably at Wong Nai Chung Gap) and taken to Queen Mary Hospital on the 20th. Although the nerves in his face never mended properly, camp records show that he was on the 5th draft of POWs to Japan, and he was eventually liberated by the Americans from Tateyama (Nagoya #8B). Unfortunately, in the book he is an RSM, was wounded on Golden Hill, and was on the Lisbon Maru. Actually, post war he rose to the rank of WOI – which perhaps could have caused the confusion - but the other two points are a bit odd.
August 1st, 2016 Update
Wan Chai Gap pillbox and shelter (author), Cheung Yim Sang's HKVDC certificate (courtesy Paul Cheung) John Fraser (via SCMP), Ping Long Wan house, Miss Fan Lan (both courtesy Tai Hang Wong) Ian Burchett's veterans' event (courtesy Canadian Consulate HK), Signals War Diary (courtesy Richard Moddrel), Halldor report (courtesy Audun Urke)
So, with the fourth book finally with the publishers, I can now turn to the fifth and last of the series, provisionally entitled Noticeable and Dangerous, and being the story of all the escapees/evaders from Hong Kong and their continued war work. In practice, the narrative is likely to centre around BAAG, but must also cover the Chindits and every other organisation these people founded or joined. How I wish now that I had called the Lisbon Maru book: Frittering Away, the Sinking of the Lisbon Maru. Then all five titles would have come from the one Churchill quote: “This is all wrong. If Japan goes to war with us there is not the slightest chance of holding Hong Kong or relieving it. It is most unwise to increase the loss we shall suffer there. Instead of increasing the garrison it ought to be reduced to a symbolical scale. Any trouble arising there must be dealt with at the Peace Conference after the war. We must avoid frittering away our resources on untenable positions. Japan will think long before declaring war on the British Empire, and whether there are two or six battalions at Hong Kong will make no difference to her choice. I wish we had fewer troops there, but to move any would be noticeable and dangerous.”
31 I finally handed in the manuscript for the new book today, provisionally titled Reduced to A Symbolical Scale, and covering the evacuation of British women and children from Hong Kong to Australia in 1940. I even provided provisional cover artwork, thanks to an original photograph from evacuee Margaret Simpson, a modern matching one from photographer friend Don Smallwood in Sydney, and help putting the two together from graphic (and Hong Kong history) expert Tan.
30 Well, my wife is away so I used that as an excuse to get up early and go for a long walk in the hills (yes, I know that’s pretty sad…) My route this morning was Bowen Road, Wan Chai Gap Road, Wan Chai Gap, down to Tai Tam Reservoir, back to Wan Chai Gap, Magazine Gap, Barker Road, then down Old Peak Road and home. I spent half an hour looking over and photographing the shelters and pillbox in the Wan Chai Gap region. The pillbox (a few metres down Lady Clementi’s ride) is one of my favourites as few people go there and the vegetation is so atmospheric, but I also noticed that one of the shelters is now so overgrown with creepers that it’s almost invisible.
28 I heard today the bad and totally unexpected news that Professor Jeffrey Grey, my PhD supervisor at the Australian Defence Force Academy, had passed away. There is an online memorial to him here.
25Cyril Bartlett’s (Middlesex) daughter got in contact, with the very welcome news that her 98 year old father is still with us! She also sent this very educational (and sometimes amusing) link to a TV appearance of his some years back.
23 Good news! The media is reporting that Fraser’s GC has been bought by a philanthropist and is likely to be donated to the nation. The SCMP also published what they say is a photo of Fraser, which I have not seen previously. 23 A researcher studying Stanley Internee John Webster McNaught got in touch. Unfortunately I don’t know anything about him (aside from his entry in the camp list), and nor does he appear in any of the Jurors’ Rolls I have.
22The Canadian Consulate kindly sent me today some photos from Ian Burchett’s leaving party. As the outgoing Canadian Consul he will be sorely missed, but as the photo shows perhaps 80% of those most seriously interested in Hong Kong’s wartime heritage today, it is well worth reproducing here.
19 Paul Normann Urke’s (first officer of the SS Haraldsvang, scuttled in Kowloon Bay on December 12th 1941) grandson got in touch. He attended last year’s Stanley Camp Reunion in Hong Kong as his grandfather was interned there. He notes: “In Not the Slightest Chance I noticed the name Jorgen Jorgensen, dead December 16th (page 89). I have good reasons to believe this is the captain on the Norwegian merchant ship SS Halldor. The ship was at dock in Taikoo Docks when bombed, on December 14th or 15th. Jørgen Jørgensen was born in Oslo December 8, 1879. One file says he died at the French Hospital. There is a grave at the Happy Valley Cemetery with the name Jorgen Jorgensen, but when I came across it on my trip to HK in February, this grave did seem much older than expected. However, Jørgen Jørgensen was not the only casualty from the SS Halldor. During the bombing another Norwegian seaman got hit and died: Per Gøsta Nyberg, born in Moss on September 2, 1882… One other file seems to indicate that there were casualties among the Chinese ship crew as well, three names are listed.” Those other three were Lei Eng Poh, Chien Tien Loo, and Law Wang, yet more local Hong Kong wartime fatalities who don’t seem to have been recorded on any formal memorial. 19 Paul Letters asked the Stanley Group about the demographics of the Stanley Internment guards. Barbara Anslow answered: “I don't recall any Indians or Sikhs, only Japanese and maybe Koreans. They were in the uniforms Don describes. A small group of three or four used to slouch through the camp on some days, they were no problem as long as you bowed to them. I do recall the event Don mentions when we all had to assemble on ground above the beach, it was soon after we entered Stanley, we wondered what was going to happen to us as we were surrounded by armed guards/soldiers. We feared we would be massacred, it was such a relief when we were allowed to go back to our billets which had been thoroughly searched during our absence.” Don Ady had noted: “Visible guards wore Japanese army uniforms: Black canvas shoes with a split for the two small toes, calf wrappings, and rumpled khaki uniforms with billed campaign caps. The calf wrappings made the trousers appear vaguely like jodphurs, as the fabric belled out a little just above the top of the wrappings. As I recall, the soldiers almost invariably bore their rifles with a bayonet mounted at the end of the gun barrel.”
15 Martin Heyes has been working with the family of policeman Robert Rudolph Ellis, who shared room 12/34 in Stanley Internment Camp with three others of the force. His granddaughter is currently working in Hong Kong.
12 Pip Firth, an ex resident of Hong Kong, is asking is anyone knows the exact location of Skeet Ground, or has photos? This was the Royal Scots’ HQ Kowloon side, and is only described (as far as I know) as ‘near Castle Peak Road, Tsuen Wan to the SE of the Redoubt’.
11 Kathleen Crawford (whose father was Donald Matheson, Royal Scots) kindly sent a photo of Villa Milagrosa in Baguio to which her mother was evacuated in 1940.
9 Richard Moddrel, son of Signalman Peter Moddrel, HK Signal Company (who finally left the army as a WOII after 22 years service), kindly sent me his father’s service records. He also included the cover of the Royal Signals War Diary. I had the text already, but had not previously seen the cover.
8 Cheung Yim Sang’s (HKVDC) grandson got in touch, kindly sending his certificate of service. Like many Chinese Volunteers, he is listed in my files as ‘did not enter camp, or escaped early’.
3Dave Deptford notes: “The George Cross awarded to John Alexander Fraser, executed on the 20th October 1943 appears for auction as Lot 5 in the Dix Noonan Webb sale catalogue for 22 July 2016. Estimate (wait for it) GBP 120,000 to GBP 150,000. Notification of award in the London Gazette of 29th October 1946.” For the Hong Kong Dictionary of National Biography, I was asked to write the entries for Maltby and Harcourt to bracket the war. But I also asked the editors if I could add Fraser, and they kindly agreed. Shame, though, to see his medals for sale, though the circumstances are covered in the South China Morning Post. Dave also noted that Colonel Esmond H. M. Clifford’s – Command Engineers - medals (CBE Group of 8 medals awarded to the above at Lot 7 in DNW at sale as earlier advised, estimated at GBP2200 – 2600) are also for sale.
2 Continuing the discussion about the guerrillas, Tai Hang noted that the activities of anti-Japanese guerrillas in Ping Long Wan village of Saikung are mentioned at least in the following four Chinese books: - Hsu Yur Ching (ed.), A Record of the Anti-Japanese Activities of the Hong Kong-Kowloon Brigade in Saikung District, Joint Publishing, Hong Kong, 1993. - Hsu Yur Ching (ed.), Fighting In Hong Kong, Ocean Printing, Hong Kong, 1997. - Chen King Tong, Yau Siu Kam, Chen Ka Liang (eds.), The Defence of Hong Kong: Collected Essays on the Hong Kong-Kowloon Brigade of the East River Column, Hong Kong Museum of History, 2004. - Chen Dun Tak, A Record of the Hong Kong Office of the Eighth Route Army, Chung Hua Publishing, Hong Kong, 2012. “The story of [one of the] Little Devils Mr. Lau On are documented in two of the books listed above and confirmed by the 1997 memoir of Miss Fan Lan, head of the Urban Area Detachment of the HK-Kowloon Brigade based in Ping Long Wan village. [Miss Fan Lan] was an anti-Japanese student activist living in Wanchai District before the Second World War. After the fall of Hong Kong she went to China and joint the East River Column. In the winter of 1943 she was redeployed from Tung Koon back to HK to head the Urban Area Detachment at the age of 23. Little Devil Lau On was a next-door neighbour of the link-house that the guerrillas used as their hideout.”
1 TK notes: “a book published by the HANG HAU DISTRICT RURAL COMMITTEE in 2009 has all the names of guerrillas who fought during the occupation. The names of my father in law and his brothers are shown. One of my maternal uncles (son of the owner of the house used as hiding place) was a graduate of King's College, HK. Since he could speak English, he served as a Coast Watcher with the Americans in the mountains around Amoy, China. The parts played by the local residents in Saikung or NT deserve further study. There are some Chinese books on this topic but no English except the one by Chan Sui-jeung-East River Column. But that book describes mainly the part of pro-communist forces not local NT residents. Hope some one will take up this job.” 1 John Davidson’s (HKVDC) son got in touch. He was evacuated in 1940 with his mother. Initially I had thought that his father was Donald Davidson (who was killed by the Japanese at Tai Tam Tuk pumping station) as he was the only Davidson serving with the HKVDC when hostilities commenced. But in fact his father was John Davidson who left Hong Kong shortly before the invasion, and joined his wife and son in Sydney. 1 Tai Hang Wong notes: “On pp 221 to 222 of Edwin Ride's BAAG book Lt. J.D. Clague reported to Lt. Col. Ride that Agents 19, 46 and 48 had purchased a junk and permanently based it at Ngam Tau Sha. Miss Elizabeth Ride has kindly sent me two pieces of her late father's papers about this junk which helped in the 3-day escape of two Hong Kong bank officers T Fenwick and J Morrison on 18th October 1942 from Shaukiwan to Sha Yu Chung in Mirs Bay. To update Miss Ride about Ngam Tau Sha I sent her the following letter and a 1960's photo of the Tung Shum Lung section (new section) of the Ping Long Wan Village. The house behind the tree on the right of the 1960s photo is my grandfather's house that was used by the Red guerrillas as a hideout. A wild historical imagination of mine speculates that BAAG agents might probably have visited this house in their FIGS liaisons with the guerrillas.” The photo shows the same house (third building from the right) as at November 2014. 1 Vic Ient, via Ron Taylor (UK), notes: “I met and have written up the biography (in draft) of William Butler, Royal Signals. I did this by way of recording an interview with him and also taking information from his own story, written up by a volunteer some years ago. In own story he refers to a fellow servicemen called Vernon Talks who was on the Lisbon Maru. I suspect that the surname has been written down incorrectly by whoever transcribed his story. Sadly I can't check with Bill Butler as he died a few years ago.” I was on holiday, and Ron answered before I could. Driver Vernon Talks was indeed the name, though he was lost in the sinking. Vic has written up his father’s (Albert Ient) story here, and has notes on his fellow POWs here. Albert’s wife and two children were evacuees. 1 Chrissie Willicombe kindly sent a number of images relating to Percy Gubb (see last month). These included a press article about the Boon trial, including the first photo of Major Cecil Boon that I recall seeing. 1 George and Jimmy Kotwall’s great niece kindly sent me a number of photos, including a good head-and-shoulders of George (illustrated), and a small photo of them together as boys.
July 1st, 2016 Update
Vyner Gordon (courtesy Gavin, Colin & Duncan Gordon), James Hill (courtesy Andrew Hill), Borge Agerbak (courtesy Carol Hadley) Kennedy Road wall (author), Hong Kong War Activities Committee (courtesy Elizabeth Ride), Oxfordshire amputees (via facebook) Duncan Sloss, Stanley dentists, Stanley liberation (all via facebook)
I’ve noted many times that thirty years ago the biggest challenge in studying Hong Kong’s Second World War experience was the great lack of paperwork. Today, though, we’re rolling in it – with the internet being the great facilitator. Normally I ignore historical photos on facebook on the basis that they are already accessible to everyone (and my preference is finding unpublished photographs). However, this month I came across a very interesting bunch of POW and Internee photos, including one of the ex-HK POW amputees on Oxfordshire. Anyone who has a copy of We Shall Suffer There can see a similar photograph taken below decks probably a few minutes earlier.
28 I heard the bad news today that James Wilson, one of the very few Lisbon Maru survivors still left, passed away on the 22nd.
26Carol Hadley, daughter of Winnipeg Grenadier Borge Agerbak, kindly let me publish a photograph of him. I was lucky enough to meet him face to face, on his visit to Hong Kong more than fifteen years ago. Carol let me know that only two Winnipeg Grenadiers, one from HW, and sixteen Royal Rifles are still with us.
25 Percy Gubb’s (Middlesex, Lisbon Maru) niece got in touch. 25 Today at the Hong Kong Club we had a memorial service, organised by Maiko and Jamie, for Toby Brown who sadly passed away last year. Toby was a man with hugely diverse interests and intimidating knowledge of a vast number of domains of knowledge. Hong Kong’s World War Two heritage was just one area that fascinated him, and among many other things he set up the Bold Venture website after I took him to the crash site a few years ago (I am vain enough to assume I am the ‘warm hearted Brit’ mentioned). His loss, even now, hasn’t really sunk in.
24 I’ve been working on the photographs for the forthcoming book about the evacuees, and the Gordon family has been very helpful. Today Duncan Gordon kindly sent me an excellent photo portrait of Vyner Gordon, who was lost in the battle of Hong Kong after his family was evacuated. The Hill family also kindly sent me a photo of policeman James Hill, who was interned in Stanley while his family spent the war years in Australia.
22 I received a very interesting communication today: “My mother, Phyllis Katherine Lang, lived in HK during the war years and her two uncles George and Jimmy Kotwall were executed by the Japanese. Her boyfriend Cedric Salter receives mention in your book. My mother and Cedric corresponded during his time in Shamshuipo and I have her diaries and his letters that were smuggled from inside the camp. My question is could there have been more than one Cedric Salter? In your book it mentions that he avoided capture by posing as a Norwegian and eventually escaped to China. However the Cedric my mother knew was in Shamshuipo until being shipped to Innoshima Japan, I believe on the Tatsuta Maru in January 1943.” Indeed there were two Cedric Salters. This one was a signalman in the HKVDC Armoured Car Platoon, whereas the escapee was a Royal Scot.
21 Walking back from Causeway Bay along Kennedy Road I finally photographed the old wall on the north side of the road. Clearly pre-war, it doesn’t look like it will last much longer.
17 I heard the sad news today that Robbie Poulter, son of CQMS William Poulter of the 1st Middlesex, and a Lisbon Maru survivor, had passed away. Robbie was one of many people helping me with research into the 1940 evacuation.
15 Henry Langley, whose Hong Kong Dockyard family were evacuated to Australia in 1940, and then followed his father to Singapore when he was posted there before it was attacked, noted an extraordinary occurrence a few weeks ago when he received a phone call out of the blue. “This was from a lady in Melbourne who asked me if I had sisters Rosemary and Veronica. I replied yes. It transpired that she was phoning on behalf of a friend who had known my sisters when they were living in Melbourne in 1940/41 and indeed he had been to school with Rosemary. His friend had made various enquiries and done a lot of research (e.g. she had tracked some of the family’s journeys by ship all those years ago), and was ringing around people with my surname in the area. After the family had gone to Singapore and then back to England, he had kept in touch with Veronica by letter into the 1950s… Since that phone call both he and his friend have been to England. I met up with them three weeks ago and since then they have both met Rosemary and Veronica. And we are going to keep in touch. Anyway, I think it is an extraordinary story to meet up again, as he has done with both my sisters, nearly 75 years after they last met!”
14 Arthur Budd’s (Winnipeg Grenadiers) son got in touch, and ever since I have been having a fascinating conversation with him. Apparently his father was wounded in the chest on 19 December, and was the beneficiary of an extremely skilful operation by a Scottish surgeon (either at St Albert’s or the BMH). The son notes: “After the war the surgeon wrote a letter to the Canadian gov't recommending him for a medal and forwarded a copy to my parents. My father tore it up and carried on with his life. My mother was frustrated that my sister and I were not able to read it. That being said the letter is not in his military file and that is fine. My sister and I cannot recall the name of the surgeon. My father did not stay in touch with him but he did try to find him in 1964 when he took us all to the UK and Scotland. He had practiced in Glasgow and Dad was advised by the hospital where he practiced he had died a couple of years before.” We have tried all the obvious possibilities, but so far have not identified the doctor (who apparently had said that Budd “was lucky he had been brought to him as he was the only one skilled enough to do the surgery”).
11 I heard the very sad news today that Jack Etiemble, RA – one of a handful of wonderful men who gave me enormous assistance with the Lisbon Maru book – passed away on May 26. His funeral was on June 15. Very kindly his daughter noted: “Thank you for getting him to open up about his war time experiences, it took a long time to come out and remained with him until the end but he found it easier to speak of it after meeting you.” 11 This evening my younger son and I had the great pleasure of meeting Brigadier Sir Lindsay Ride’s grandson Carsten Schanche for dinner. His mother, Elizabeth Ride, also sent me a very interesting document called Hongkong War Activities Committee.
9Elizabeth Ride kindly sent detailed notes on her father’s escape route. I just wish I had time to go and explore it all! Clearly he took some pretty steep off-piste routes as he wrote at one point: "Today was really the first time in my life that I knew really what it was to have the throat parched and tongue sticking to the roof of the mouth with thirst."
7 Ken Skelton was kind enough to pass me this In Memoriam notice for a Royal Rifle: “Batley, Eric (1922-2016). It is with great sadness that the family announces the peaceful passing of Eric Batley at the Hotel Dieu Hospital on Monday, May 16, 2016, in his 94th year. Eric was one of the last surviving Hong Kong Veterans. Husband of the late Jean Lowe. Dear father of Wayne (Shirley Judge) and Debbie (Larry Everett). Cherished grandpa of Amy and Megan Batley and Jessica and Dillon Everett.”
6My copy of Reginald G. Davis’s The Long Journey Home arrived today (illustrated). It’s a very thin volume, but interesting for its description of the Stonecutter Island RT unit, and the experience at Tamano Camp (especially its liberation and the repatriation of its inmates, which I’ve not seen documented elsewhere). Davis was also a man who had the whole Hong Kong experience, marrying a 1940 Hong Kong evacuee who was also the daughter of a Lisbon Maru victim. He names her as just Vera, but from my records I am pretty sure she was Vera W. Baskerville, daughter of TSM Albert Baskerville of 12th Coastal Regiment, RA. 6 EOD kindly informed me that the 9.2 inch shell found recently was in fact a Japanese 240mm. They are quite similar in size. Apparently it had been defused, probably quite soon after it was fired.
5 Elizabeth Ride pointed out that her father filmed some of his escape route in the 1950s, and the film is in the HKU Special Collections.
1 In response to the question about walking the POW escape routes (see last month) Tai Hang Wong replied: “Back to the early 1980s I walked two sections of the track with my friends that Col. Ride had done in January 1942. We did it in two weekend one-day trips in the winter. The first one from Lai Chi Kok to Siu Lek Yuen of Shatin. The second from Mau Ping to Three Fathoms Cove of Saikung. It was quite difficult to find or estimate the exact spots and locations that are mentioned in his son's book about the BAAG especially in the built up areas of the city. We just took the shortest or most direct streets or tracks when we were not sure. I anticipate it will be more troublesome in guesstimate them now three decades later.”
June 1st, 2016 Update
Johnson's Christmas Card (courtesy Kerry Norrie), Commander Dulley, Harbour view (both courtesy Hugh Dulley) Stafford Smith with Brian Gill (courtesy Ian Gill), John Darby's Index Card (courtesy Carolyn Johnson), Inclinometer (courtesy Dave via Stuart Wood) Jubillee Barracks (via facebook), William Forsey newspaper clipping and ID (both courtesy Brian Forsey)
At the end of the month my wife and I were invited by Cathay Pacific to view their first brand new A350 Airbus at Chek Lap Kok. They provided a bus which drove us onto the new airport (built out of the sea just twenty years ago), and as we circled round to HAECO we had an amazing view of the new Macau bridge. In a Hong Kong that changes so much from generation to generation, it is amazing that so many wartime relics remain, and perhaps even more amazing that ‘new’ veterans of the fighting in 1941 are still turning up. Emotionally history has a strange way of seeming closer each year, though in practice we know the gulf will always grow.
30 Harry Holden’s (RASC) family got in touch.
29Elizabeth Ride kindly sent me the war crimes transcript statement of Lau Tak Oi’s mother. Lau Tak Oi was married to David Loei.
28 Kerry Norrie, the daughter of the first officer of HMPS Perla kindly sent me her father’s (William Alan Johnson) 1940 Christmas card.
27 Brian Edgar has written a new blog about Rudolf Zindel of the Red Cross, who has come in for a lot of criticism over the years, and yet those of us who spend a foolish amount of time studying these things generally feel that he did a decent job in an unenviable situation. Brian has also found a story here about a Eurasian boy in Stanley with his sister and American mother, living with the Dutch community.
23 Bob Tatz was asking about Stanley internees Catherine Hellevik and Ingeborg Warild. He notes: “Catherine Hellevik and Olga Robinson (my godmother) were good friends from Stanley days. According to Olga, apparently Norman was separated from his mother on the troopship as he was ‘slightly’ too old to be included in the cabin berths for women and children. Being diabetic and beyond care by his mother, he gorged on chocolate and candies excessively (what kid wouldn’t after all those years), and never survived the journey home with his mother. Sad story.” How typical of these researches (and how sad) to have two tales of these immediate post-war deaths in the same month. 23 Victor Thomson’s Grandson mentioned a helpful Japanese camp official called ‘Uncle John’ and I immediately assumed he was referring to Watanabe in Stanley. It turns out though, that this Uncle John was a different helpful Japanese guard in Kobe: “my Grandfather had been on a work party, felt unwell and had squatted down. One of the Japanese guards carrying his rifle and a stick had come along and my Grandfather expected to get a beating, but instead the guard had drawn the image of a fish in the dust and given him an aspirin and told him to take a rest but look busy if anyone had come along. Later the same guard had shown him a wallet containing some 1st world war decorations (including British medals) he had been awarded after fighting in the 1st World War. He tried to help them as much as possible but sadly when discovered was executed for having the courage to follow his convictions.” Has anyone else come across him? 23 The Researching FEPOW History Group have announced their June 2017 conference: “The latest RFHG newsletter is now available for you to download here. This includes the exciting news that once again we are working in collaboration with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to stage the 6th international FEPOW History Conference! It's all happening 9 - 11 June 2017 - be sure to get your place booked early!”
22 Someone has posted Breakthrough Film’s King & Country Episode 2 - Disaster in Hong Kong, onto YouTube here. I gave these guys some assistance and took a day off when they came to HK, to show them around. Glad to see my name rush past in the credits at the end!
21 Here’s an interesting challenge: Has anyone ever done a Shamshuipo escape walk? In other words, followed the exact route taken by escapees? I recall a friend once doing Goodwin’s route, and of course the HERO team did the MTB escape, but has anyone followed the others paths? 21 Two years ago Julia Law was trying to find details of his great grandfather, George Frosts in Stanley Camp. However, two George Frosts were interned, George Benjamin Frost and George Bartle Frost. Now he has found details of a grave, with enough details to show it was the latter.
20Ian Gill sent the Stanley group a link to the South China Morning Post Magazine story: “My grandfather's amazing life in China and how he found my mother”, with the blurb: “In 1916 in Hunan, Hong Kong-born Frank Newman took in an abandoned baby girl, much to the disapproval of his compatriots. Her son, Manila-based journalist Ian Gill, discovers that was just one of many surprises in the life of a most independent-minded man.”
16 Yet another nasty item turned up in the hills today. I am also seeing more and more evidence of ‘rogue’ detectorist activity - especially along Hatton Road – where they are making large excavations and leaving the road covered in earth. They’re not even likely to find anything interesting in that area, except for unexploded Japanese 150mm shells which are best avoided for obvious reasons. But one very interesting item did turn up recently, on the surface: an artillery inclinometer.
13 Another ‘new’ veteran of the war in Hong Kong turned up today, thanks to Martin Heyes who let me know he is in contact with the family. He is Ron Freer, Royal Artillery, who turns 101 this year.
12George Boote kindly let me know of the existence of a book called “The Long Journey Home”. I took one look and thought, ‘yes, of course I have The Long Journey Home’. But when I took a closer look, mine is by a member of the HKDDC called Victor Merrett. George’s one is by a Royal Naval radio man by the name of Reg Davis, is still available from the Braunton and District Museum at Davis’s home town.
11 So many interesting second world war Hong Kong photos turn up on facebook and other social media sites these days. Often they are repeats of well-known ones (though sometimes in a welcome high quality) and occasionally brand new. A photo of Jubillee Barracks turned up today, probably taken shortly pre-war, that I had never seen before.
9 Ian Gill notes: “I recently found in a compartment of my mother Billie's old leather suitcase a cachet of family photos, including an informal series on Brian. I attach two, one of Brian with Mickey Hahn and another with Uncle Stafford Smith.” The one with Hahn (illustrated) is nice, but who was Stafford Smith? According to my records there was a gentleman of that name in the ARP, and I have one note saying ‘died?’ But aside from the fact that he seems to have been known as both F Stafford Smith and Stafford F Smith, I don’t know anything about him.
8 William Forsey’s (HKDDC) son wrote me a letter, describing his father’s death on the hospital ship Oxfordshire on the way back to the UK after surviving the whole war in Shamshuipo. This is one of a tragic group of deaths I originally came across in my researches, that have post-war dates and no known grave. It took me a while to realise that these were burials at sea.
6John Darby’s (RA) great niece got in touch, kindly sending a copy of his POW Index Card. 6 Karen Lewis sent the Stanley Group an interesting photo of internees grinding rice (Barbara Anslow’s brother in law Clifton Large is the one wearing the hat, the other person is probably Leo Barton).
5 Allan Thomson kindly sent me a document relating his grandfather (Victor Thomson’) experiences as a POW and on the Lisbon Maru.
3 Dave Deptford kindly let me know that: “in DNW of 17 - 18th inst, Lot 133 is the Military Medal Group 7 to Sergeant H. V. Pearse HKVDC: BWM and Victory (Royal Marine Light Infantry), 39 - 45 Star, Pacific Star, Defence and War Medals. MM for defence of HK, Citation in LG of 4.4.46 (Maltby's Despatch). Estimate GBP 2400 to 2800.” 3 This evening I was invited to the Canadian Consul’s (Ian Burchett) house, along with many other people involved in this period of Hong Kong’s history, for a very enjoyable reception. Ian has done a great job in Hong Kong, and has been a great supporter of the cause of Canada’s wartime involvement in Hong Kong, but will be leaving for Ottawa soon.
2 Unfortunately the records of the locally-enlisted men who joined the regular RE and RA in Hong Kong seem to have been lost. Elizabeth Ride believes that Lau Kwok Ping was a Corporal in the regulars, but it’s not mentioned on the CWGC entry. Does anyone know? Interestingly, the scan of the old paper files show that Lau Tak Oi is listed as ‘son of’ instead of ‘daughter of’, but that has been corrected in her online entry.
1 Brian Edgar kindly sent a two-page report that Annie Sydenham co-wrote with Dean Smith on 20 November 1942 about children’s nutrition in Stanley Internment Camp. 1 Of last month’s report, Henry Ching noted: “Re the reference to R.J. Masters in the entry for 28th April, you have no doubt seen my father’s diary entry for 21st April, 1943. The visit of the Japanese gendarmes that night terrified us. They had in tow George Kotwall who, as you know, was subsequently executed.”
May 1st, 2016 Update
Jack Mitchell's birthday (courtesy Rosemary Mitchell), Lacey twins (courtesy Ishmael Abdul), Robert Ross (via Ron Taylor) Signals Reunion (courtesy Richard Moddrel), Nagoya 6B roster (courtesy the late Roger Mansell), BMH Sergeants' Mess (author) Japanese POWs and USAAF reconnaissance photo of Stonecutters (all courtesy Tai Hang Wong)
1946. With the news that finally my fourth book about the Hong Kong garrison is to be published, I’m looking at starting work on the fifth and final one of the series. But I’m now also conscious of the books that I won’t write, and one of them – perhaps potentially the most important - I always provisionally thought of as titled “1946”. The concept was to look at what the POWs did when they got home: the medical struggles, physical and mental; readjusting to a changed society; trying to find jobs outside the forces; cong to terms with their experiences, and so forth. Of course such a volume could be a lot broader than just the ex-Hong Kong POWs’ experiences, but it would be a study well worth completing.
30At the end of last month Wayne Carew posted a picture of a Nagoya liberation roster to facebook. It looked a bit familiar (maybe I gave it to him a long time ago), but I noticed something odd on it: two Frenchmen labelled as HKDVC. So today I went to my original Roger Mansell files (I was one of several people he kindly gave copies of his entire collection to shortly before he passed away) and found the originals. Not all the pages show these two men as HKVDC, but there they are: Andre Chaingy and Paul Cirello. Anyone recognise those names?
29 On my walk home from work we had the first decent weather today for weeks, and I snapped a shot of the Bowen Road Military Hospital’s Sergeants’ Mess.
28 Elizabeth Ride was asking about Rustam Jehangir Master, Electrical Engineer, China Light & Power Co Ltd, of 474 Nathan Road. Master was in the HKVDC Field Engineers and being of Indian descent was apparently held in Ma Tau Ching Camp. Unfortunately I don’t know anything else about him, but Elizabeth notes that both Master and his wife helped Ansari, GC, and were thus arrested by the Japanese.
24 Ron Taylor (UK) kindly sent me a photo of Robert Ross (Royal Scots), which he received from Ross’s grandson Raymond. Ron puts all these on very neat pages on his website.
22 Henry Ching sent the next two of his well-regarded Occasional Papers. These cover Non-European Internees, and Colonels in the HKVDC. As always, they can be found on the Hong Kong Volunteer & Ex-PoW Association of NSW website.
21 Hugh Dulley kindly sent me the current draft of his book about his father’s Hong Kong experiences (see last month). The initial impression is very good. 21Tai Hang sent a very interesting set of photos of Japanese POWs in various Kowloon locations in around September 1945. For one, he notes that it shows: “Japanese POWs at the intersection of Fenwick Street and Gloucester Road in Wanchai marching probably to the assembly point at the Naval Dockyard of Admiralty. They were fully armed and not escorted by British soldiers. The date could be mid August 1945. The road was still littered with discarded war damages. The building in camouflage colour on the right survived up to mid 1970s.” There is also a lot of visible battle damage, but with the majority probably from American bombing rather than 1941 fighting. Bowen Road is also visible top left.
20 Today was Jack Mitchell’s, HKVDC, 95th birthday. Rosemary Mitchell (his niece, who was in Hong Kong for the Stanley Internment Camp reunion at the end of last year) visited him and kindly sent me photos. 20 Thomas Jones’ (Merchant Navy) grandchildren got in touch, seeking more information about him, to differentiate him from another gentleman of the same name also living in Hong Kong in 1941. He was a Master Mariner and was resident at the Seamen’s Institute, Gloucester Road. He died on 1 August 1944.
17 I discovered today that Captain Maurice Lynch, RAMC, was a Canadian.
16 When looking for information about Charles Toms Bailey, an employee of Cable and Wireless and a member of the ARP, I found this short but interesting set of diary entries. 16 I discovered something today that many of you are probably already aware of, that the HKU Library online system has the majority of the Journals of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society available online. 16 The Wong triplets contacted me again, noting that they: “were delivered into this world by Dr Annie Sydenham [illustrated] in Oct 1950 at the Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital (London Missionary Society) on Caine Road. Dr Sydenham arrived from England in 1925 to take up work in obstetrics and gynaecology at this hospital as soon as she had completed some Cantonese language study. We attended the memorial service for Dr Sydenham held on 20th January 1969 at the same hospital.” Dr Sydenham was a Stanley Camp internee during the war, and is mentioned in just a few books (Chuck Roland’s Long Night's Journey into Day: Prisoners of War in Hong Kong and Japan, 1941 – 1945, Dr E H Paterson’s A Hospital For Hong Kong: The Centenary History of the Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital 1887 – 1987, and Dr Bernice Archer’s A Patchwork of Internment). They would like to know more about Dr Sydenham's contributions to the medical service of Stanley Camp from 1942 to 1945, the exact date of her retirement from the Nethersole Hospital in Hong Kong, and the name and location of the cemetery where she was buried in Surrey, England, if anyone can help.
15 Well, it’s been a long wait, but Hong Kong University Press have finally confirmed that they want to publish my PhD thesis in book form under the name “Reduced To A Symbolical Scale” (a phrase from the same Churchill quotation as both Not The Slightest Chance and We Shall Suffer There). I’m just waiting for the final contract now. 15 Tai Hang Wong notes: “I am reading Terry Lautz's new biography of John Birch, an American missionary-turned-OSS intelligence captain who was killed in mid August 1945 outside Soochow, China in a still unclear/mysterious situation by the Communist Eighth Route Army soldiers. The enclosed Youtube video briefly tells how John Birch used his missionary experiences to build networks to rescue American flyers. At the 22 minute and 5 second segment there are a few scenes showing a 1943 bombing of Japanese installations in West Kowloon as seen from the bomb bay of an American bomber.” The areas shown in the bomb bay picture are Yaumati and Mongkok, with the main feature to identify these two areas being the Yaumati typhoon shelter constructed in mid-1920s. Tai Hang also included a 1 September 1943 USAAF picture showing the Lai Chi Kok oil storage depot under attack, an incident mentioned in many POW diaries as it was clearly visible from Shamshuipo Camp.
12 Quite a few years ago I started writing a heavily-illustrated book about the various battle field walks I’ve taken parties on over the years. I finished it to my satisfaction, and passed it to a publisher… and for various reasons it languished there. Said publisher has just got in contact again, and we’re looking at reviving the project.
9 Brian Edgar – again – found a very interesting newspaper report of the death of Jean Dubois in a robbery in 1940. Jean-Willy Dubois (Dubois's son) was a Swiss national who stayed outside camp during the war.
6 Following the recent discussions about the Arthur May book, Brian Edgar (who can apparently find anything!) found a video of him and the famous flag in question.
4William Bainbridge’s (HKVDC) daughter got in touch.
3 Yasuko Claremont, of the POW Research Network Japan, who teaches Japanese literature at the University of Sydney, got in touch. She and Susannah Smith (research assistant and artist) will be publishing a book on grassroots postwar reconciliation this year. They were asking if they could cite this website. I emailed permission, but received no reply. I have had quite a bit of problem with spam filters recently, so if you are reading this, Yasuko, please go ahead!
2 Richard Moddrel, son of Peter Moddrel of the Hong Kong Signal Company who was at Kobe Camp, sent some fascinating photos taken at POW reunions of the Royal Signals at Blandford Forum in Dorset. Clearly the ex-POWs are engaged in some sort of role-play as Japanese guards. Does anyone know what this was all about?
1 Kung Fu experts David and Anthony Lacey gave me their permission to post a picture of them with their family (see last month). Their father, Harry Lacey, HKVDC, died as a POW. 1 Regular correspondent TK said something that stuck in my mind. Mentioning the fact that he and his two brothers (he is one of triplets) will return to Hong Kong next year for their mother’s 100th birthday, he noted: “Like most senior citizens she lost her three younger brothers during the occupation. They were forced to work in Hainan Island and never returned.” This topic really needs to be taken up by a Cantonese speaker and properly explored before it’s too late. A back-of-the-envelope calculation by me and other local historians shows that at least 250,000-300,000 Hong Kong civilians died between 1941 and 1945 – which is a far bigger story than that of the garrison which I generally focus on.
April 1st, 2016 Update
Alexander Leslie, then and now (courtesy Gordon and Maria Leslie), Dulley Rock Menu (courtesy Hugh Dulley) George Peterson (via Carol Hadley), PB1 (courtesy Francis Cheung), Victor Thomson (courtesy Tom Thomson) Bombing Taikoo (via facebook), Skvorzov book (author), with annotation (courtesy Luba Estes)
I don’t know exactly how many military veterans of 1941 Hong Kong are still with us. I’m in touch with a couple of Royal Scots, one or two HKVDC, a few Royal Rifles, one Middlesex, one RASC, and that’s about it. Outside that are a couple of remaining Winnipeg Grenadiers, and presumably a small handful of RN, RA, and other groups. In all, at most I probably met, spoke to, or corresponded with a couple of hundred over the years. Now that I realise what a privilege that was, I wish I’d managed to track down more.
30Richard Hide let me know the sad news that his brother David, a long standing committee member of the HERO group, has passed away after a short illness. 30 Francis says: “E. B. stood for Edward Benjamin.” The source is the memorial book of the HKVDC in the St. John 's Cathedral. I never thought of looking there. Great idea!
29 I received a copy of the April Java Journal today, from the Java FEPOW Club. It contained an interesting little snippet: “In May, our youngest FEPOW Bill Macauley will be 90 – congratulations Bill! He was part of the Civil Defence with the Hong Kong Corps of Air Raid Wardens at the age of 15 when the Japanese invaded and was held in different camps around the island. Most will know this ‘cheeky chappie’ from our reunions and the London Club – we’ll be gearing up to give you the bumps at our reunion in July Bill!” They also mentioned that Barbara Anslow has just been for a week’s cruise with her family. Despite the journal’s name, they have FEPOW members from all over the Far East and do a fine job.
27 Robert Gibson notes that the Kowloon Star Ferry clock tower is under renovation again. Every time this happens, we worry that the wartime damage still so clearly visible (especially on the north-facing wall) will be gentrified into nonexistence. 27 Francis Cheung sent me an unusually good photo of the mortar-damaged gun loop of PB1 on Jardine’s Lookout. This is where E.B. Young was mortally wounded. I am still hoping to discover what the initials ‘E.B.’ stood for, but no luck so far. I used to be in touch with his nephew and wish I’d asked then.
22 Luba Estes saw that I was missing an original copy of her father’s (Lt. Skvorzov, HKVDC) famous book “Chinese Ink and Brush Sketches of Prisoner of War Life in Hong Kong”, and with extraordinary kindness presented me with her spare copy! What’s more, she included copies of eight pages of veteran’s signatures from an edition of the book that her father took to a reunion in Hong Kong in 1965. Needless to say, I recognise many of those names.
21 Florence Lydia Mae Wookey’s granddaughter contacted me. She believes that Mrs Wookey was in Stanley, but she does not appear in any lists under that name. I think it’s possible she was in Rosary Hill. There was a Corporal Frank Wookey, Middlesex, who was on the Lisbon Maru. Perhaps Florence was his wife?
17 Tom Thomson, who was in touch in February 2015, got in touch again because his son (and his son’s wife to be) are visiting Hong Kong shortly. They will be looking at the places where Victor Thomson, of the Royal Scots and a Lisbon Maru survivor, was. Tom also kindly sent an excellent photo of his father.
16Brian Edgar sent the Stanley Group (and particularly Jill, Bee Bicheno’s niece) the following note: “On September 22, 1941 the South China Morning Post (p. 4) reported a number of arrivals by ship. Three were said to be Hong Kong residents who were NOT evacuated but had gone to Australia on leave and been granted permits to re-enter: Dorothy Brazier (a Salvation Army volunteer who was to spend most of the occupation looking after orphans), Mrs. Monk (a schoolteacher) and Miss Bicheno, described as 'Secretary of the Hong Kong Singers'.” I recalled when I saw this that I had recently seen mention of Bee Bicheno’s teacher’s salary in a Hong Kong Government Civil Establishment list, and sent the relevant page to the group too. Philip Cracknell then pointed out that I had missed the name of another teacher on the same list – Ursula Tulloch, Charles Boxer’s first wife!
12 Ernest Jones’s (HKPF, Stanley Internee) son got in touch. He notes: “My father arrived in Hong Kong from the U.K. just 3 months before the attack and was incarcerated in Stanley Camp, where he met my mother. My mother's family history (Mendes Da Costa) goes all the way back to the 1650s when the Mendes' first arrived in Macao.” 12 Elizabeth Ride asked a question about Bombardier Cheung Chung Yat of 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, which reminded me that there’s still one major piece of research that needs to be done – listing all the local members of the regular forces (RA and RE in particular). There were many of them, some named on this site, but many so far unrecorded. Elizabeth was also asking if anyone is specifically working on a study of 5th column activities during hostilities. This would also be a very interesting subject, as the true scale/organization appears to be unknown.
9 Chatting with Michael Hurst of POW Taiwan, I was reminded that I never discovered which ship took the ’Special Draft’, of 14 officers and seven batmen from Hong Kong to Taiwan (Shirakawa) in August 1943. Does anyone happen to know?
8Mark Huang kindly corrected the audio link for Arthur Gomes at the bottom of this page. 8 Chris Harley kindly let me know that Alfred Ernest Ablong senior has now been officially added to CWGC records. 8 Andrew Thomson’s (Royal Scots, Lisbon Maru) nephew got in touch. He is also an Andrew Thomson, and I assume was named after this uncle who was lost in the sinking aged only 23. Unfortunately the CWGC have him listed as ‘Thompson’, but what the family would like most is a photo of him. I have several of the different 2nd Royal Scots companies, but unfortunately none of them are annotated.
7Leslie Buckley’s (RA) great niece got in touch. She is visiting his grave in Yokohama in April.
6 I was sent this YouTube link of the liberation of Hong Kong in 1946.
5 In a very interesting exchange with Hugh Dulley (son of Commander Dulley who was killed at Postbridge) I learned that his father had hit a submerged rock near Chek Lap Kok during a Hong Kong to Macau yacht race in 1935, and that the rock has been known as Dulley Rock ever since! He kindly sent me a photo of the menu from the dinner honouring the naming. Hugh has just finished compiling a book of his father’s letters from 1936 to 1941 and it is now with the publishers. I will mention it in these pages when it is available. 5 Vic Marsh, son of Tom Marsh, Winnipeg Grenadiers, sent this very interesting newspaper article that mentioned his father. He notes: “Our family eventually settled in Kelowna, British Columbia, and dad joined the BC Dragoons with the new rank of Lieutenant and became a Cadet instructor. In his later years he always said it was the Japanese army and specifically the cruel officers that he disliked. He never held any animosity against the Japanese as a people.” 5 Yet more dangerous ordnance turned up in the hills today.
4 A friend of the Lacey family goy in contact (see January 2014), sending a photo of Anne Sue Lacey had twin sons. Anthony ‘Vincent’ Winston Lacey and David Wavell Lacey. Their father was Harry Lacey, HKVDC, who died as a POW in 1942. His twin sons went to high school with Bruce lee and went on to become world-famous martial artists known as the ‘Lacey twins’ kung fu masters of Choy lay fut. Anthony Winston Lacey's son Shane Lacey has been in the movies as a world-famous martial artists and kung fu champion.
3Thanks to a useful tip from Brian Edgar I was able to get in contact with Eager, who confirmed (see last month) that his sister Cynthia had passed away in Oregon in 1996 surrounded by her family. Brian also pointed to this interesting Hong Kong history website that I had not seen before.
March 1st, 2016 Update
Large bucket, Large bullet (both courtesy Janet Hayes), Nielson Field map (via facebook) With A War On, The Arthur May Story (both author), Arthur May (courtesy Francis Cheung) Rogue detectors, Rogue builders (both author), Police Roll of Honour (courtesy Richard Morgan)
I suppose some people will find the idea of kicking off this month’s report with a picture of a bucket (Mr Large’s bucket, hence the title!) a little odd. But for me, the full appreciation of history comes at the intersection of record (including memory), place, and artefact. That - as I may have mentioned before - is how this all started for me: finding a Japanese rifle cartridge at Wong Nai Chung Gap, and then reading about how it got there. That bucket once carried rice in Stanley Internment camp, and forms a permanent link with the internees’ experiences. Such things have no real monetary value but form a strong emotional bridge, which is why I get disappointed when I see governments and individuals failing to appreciate the importance of our heritage.
28 Brian Edgar sent the Stanley Group this interesting self-portrait by Stanley internee Gerald Rose. Rose’s mother Rachel died in camp, and his father (BSM Henley Hembdon Rose, 2 Bty, HKVDC) was in Shamshuipo POW Camp. I visited Stanley with Gerald in 2012, but hadn’t realised he was an artist. 28 Shopping in the Gage Street market with my wife, I happened to look up at Graham Street (at the side of the beautifully named Yiu Fat Seafood stall) and noticed three pre-war buildings in various states of dilapidation. My guess is that they’re to be demolished and replaced with yet another modern building. What a shame that so little is done to preserve the few that are left.
25 Donald Plimer’s (Royal Scots, Lisbon Maru) daughter got in touch. She is also the niece of Royal Scot George Plimer. She pointed out that I had spelled their names incorrectly on this site (now fixed), and that her father was mentioned in this article on the BBC’s website. There are some inaccuracies in it, of course, but it’s worth reading. Unfortunately she didn’t respond to my emailed reply, which is probably sitting in a spam filter somewhere.
24 I’ve been trying to trace the full name of the ‘Jessop’ mentioned in several places as the ‘ex policeman watchman at Taikoo’ who was first to report the Japanese invasion of the island, and engaged the help of ex-policemen Dave Deptford and Richard Morgan. The latter kindly sent a photo of the police roll of honour with the name ‘A Jessop’ on it. However, eventually I thought of checking my own files and found I had an email from Jessop’s son-in-law from 2004. He mentioned that the full name was John Edward Jessop, who was actually serving in the HKVDC at that time and lost his life on the night of the Japanese attack.
23My copies of The Arthur May Story, and With A War On both arrived. The former is certainly more readable!
21 Most Sundays I walk up the Peak, and recently I’ve noticed far more ‘unethical’ metal detecting. These are the fly-by-night brigade who never even bother backfilling their diggings, leaving debris all over the paths. I took a photo of a damaged earth bank along Hatton Road. I don’t know why they bother: the chance of finding anything they could profitably sell on eBay is vanishingly small, and the chance of eventually digging into a live grenade converges on certainty. The ‘ethical’ detectors know their stuff, record and report what they find, and leave no mess – though even they, in my opinion, take too much risk with ordnance.
20 Dennis Norris’s (Middlesex, Lisbon Maru) son got in touch.
19 Ian Gill noted: “Thought I would let you have news of an 80-year-old Stanley internee who is alive and well in the Blue Mountains of Australia. She is Samara May Thomson, who was known as Mavis Hamson when she was interned in Stanley from the age of 5 until nearly 9. Her daughter is Allana Corbin, author of the book ‘Prisoners of the East’, which provides interesting background on the Hong Kong war and Stanley camp.” I have Allana’s book and have been in touch with the family, but I didn’t have the photo that Ian attached, of Samara and her great granddaughter!
17 Alfred Allen’s (Hong Kong Signals Company, Lisbon Maru) daughter got in touch.
16 Brian Edgar sent the Stanley Group this interview with Stanley child Christopher Chubb.
15 Although it’s not strictly to subject, I heard the said news today that Dr Dan Waters, BBS, ISO, had passed away. I had many a chat with him over the years, normally at memorial services and such like. He served in the Western Desert in the RA during the war, and carried a piece (or two) of shrapnel in him for the rest of his life. He, like me, was a Norfolk boy. The funeral will be a private one, and a memorial service will take place at 4 pm on Thursday 3 March 2016 at the Catholic Cathedral, Caine Road. 15 Here’s a question for the real experts: what did Eugene Alexander von Nagy Kobza do during the Japanese occupation?
14Janet kindly followed up by sending a photo of her father’s (Clifton Large) Stanley Camp rice bucket. She also kindly typed the relevant section about the attack that day from “It was Like This” by her grandmother Mabel Winifred Redwood: “[January 16] at 8.30 a.m. our guards again sounded the alarm. We were confined to quarters all the morning, listening to the zooming of planes and faint bombing a long way away. During a lull in the activity about noon, Olive and Barbara sped down to the hospital for their afternoon shift. Just after that, a group of planes flew over the camp, very high up, in reassuring numbers. They looked like a shoal of small silver fish in the brilliant sunshine. As we gazed in pride at them, two planes collided. One burst into flames and immediately crashed out of sight behind the hills. The other fell more slowly, enabling two men to bale out. Their parachutes opened and one of the men floated down freely (he was captured by the Japanese, we heard later), but the parachute of the other airman became entangled in the falling plane and he was lost. Suddenly all was noise and confusion. The planes were directly overhead and diving low. Machine gun fire, the snarling of the planes and the thud of their bombs struck terror in our hearts. No consolation that the attackers were our allies and their targets were guns set up on top of the gaol and a large Japanese ship beached in a nearby bay. Several bombs hit the rocks outside the gaol, shattering windows in the hospital and our blocks. The Japanese were retaliating with machine guns from their camp HQ on the hill, as well as with the guns atop the gaol. At the first onslaught, we rushed into the hallways and corridors for safety and huddled there listening to what sounded like all hell let loose. We felt the blast of one almighty thud. Someone bravely watching from a front verandah shouted to us that Watanabe, one of the Japanese HQ staff, had gone rushing down to the hospital. Olive and Barbara were there when he arrived to seek medical aid for the internees in one of the bungalows which had been hit by a bomb. Volunteers hurried off with stretchers and found that fourteen of our number had been killed outright; another died before reaching hospital.” The wrecks of the two planes were of course found by Craig Mitchell a couple of years back. 14 Playing around on facebook I found an interesting hand-drawn Philippine POW Camp ‘Monopoly’ board. It mentioned Nielson Field, which has always interested me as it was the intended destination of the three B24s that crashed in September 1945 while attempting to fly released POWs there from Okinawa – including many who were ex-Hong Kong. The Wikipedia entry mentions that Nielson himself ‘because he was British’ was interned in Hong Kong (he was, he was in Stanley), but this is odd as many British people captured in the Philippines remained in internment there until liberation. It adds he: ‘was never seen or heard from again’.
13Mabel has been trying to send me a photo of that bullet, and her daughter Janet (in the States) kindly helped today and successfully got one to me (illustrated). Mable’s son Robin mounted it in Perspex with the story of the event. I took a look and immediately told her that the bullet wasn’t the normal American 50-cal I was expecting to see. I asked Tony Williams in the UK (he’s probably the world’s leading expert for calibres from 5.56-37mm) for advice. What worried me is that the bullet should appear bronze in colour, with rifling marks, should be more pointed at the front and less at the back. I was actually worried that they had something potentially dangerous! Tony immediately pointed out that what they have is the steel core from a normal armour-piercing 50-cal bullet which has lost its jacket upon impact with the ground. The jacket is probably still at Stanley somewhere.
12 TeeAy, CSM Osborn VC’s grandson, kindly sent a very atmospheric photo of Canadian snow, and the wreaths that he habitually puts at places of memorial.
11 Alexander Leslie’s (Royal Scots) son contacted me with the very welcome news that he (the father!): “will be 100 years old on 11 March.” It’s quite unexpected to be finding ‘new’ veterans after so many years.
10Barbara skyped Mabel (who lives in New Zealand) and mentioned my ‘Mabel story’ to her. I had also asked her if Bungalow C at Stanley was ever reoccupied after the January 1945 bombing, and after discussing that she noted: “she said Clifton (later her husband) picked up a spent bullet from one of the planes just after that raid. I was in the hospital office at that time, but Mabel was with Clifton in front of the Married Q when a plane flew low along the road there, firing. She still has that bullet.” I asked if I could see a photo of it.
5Luke Gauci is still trying to track down ex-Stanley Internee and international competition swimmer Cynthia Eager, if anyone can help. Her father was lost in the MTB attack.
4 George Boote kindly told me about a book called “With A War On”, published in 1984 by American Stanley internee Mary Higgins. I was able to find a second hand copy online and ordered it. 4 Francis Cheung reminded me of the new book, “The Arthur May Story” by Ron Taylor, and I immediately ordered a copy. He also sent me a photo of Arthur taken at Hong Kong’s cenotaph some years back.
2Apple Daily published photos of a find of what looked like an unfired shell. I checked in with EOD and they told me it was an early 20th century 3.7 inch shell, probably a howitzer, found unusually close to the border. Possibly it was from the HKSRA’s 3.7 inch howitzers. They also told me of the recent find of a British M36 Grenade and a Japanese 50mm mortar in the hills, but those of course turn up all the time.
1 Stephen Vine kindly sent a presentation he gave at the launch of Suzanna Linton’s book about the Hong Kong War crimes trials. His father was a prosecuting officer. Stephen’s late stepmother (Aida) was an Agabeg, and being Armenian the family lived in and around Caine Road throughout the Japanese occupation. 1 The month started with a lunchtime lecture at Glenealy Primary – the admirable school that our kids once attended. I gave them a presentation about ‘Interesting people in Hong Kong, 41-45’. I paired the interesting people up - for example two professors: Doc Ride who founded the BAAG, and Professor Wenzel Brown who was interned in Stanley until repatriated to America. I paired Barbara Anslow up with Emily Hahn, as ‘two interesting ladies’. When I spoke about Barbara, I said: “This is Barbara, who was interned with her mother and her two sisters, Olive, and, er…” To my amazement, the whole class shouted: “MABEL!” Apparently they had been reading her diaries online in preparation! I let Barbara know the story.
February 1st, 2016 Update
James Hart's 100th (courtesy Archie Hart), St John's Memorial, Repulse Bay Hotel drain (both author) Canadian party and 1941 map, Close up of map (both courtesy John Russell), Edwin Husband (courtesy Ken Williams) Humorous abbreviations (courtesy Frode), Baukham letter (courtesy Anthony Baukham) Joseph Burgess letter (courtesy Dan Bond)
What a bizarre business history is. A lady widowed for over seventy years, a massacre victim celebrating his one-hundredth birthday, a watch (lost in a battle) that might run again, a question finally answered after ten years. Someone asked me today why I got involved in this subject in the first place, and I automatically answered that ‘it was just bad luck’. But it’s thought provoking too, and satisfyingly unpredictable.
31 Finally I was able to take the Hong Kong Club walkers around the Stanley battlefield. Two weeks ago it was too wet (this has been the wettest January on record by a good 10%), last week it would have been too cold. And this week it was almost too windy! But we had twenty people turn up and had a good walk. Ending in Stanley Cemetery, someone pointed out that Phyllis Bliss’s ashes had been placed in an urn behind Arthur Sidney Bliss’s headstone. Bliss was killed at Chung Hom Kok on Christmas Day 1941, and Phyllis had been a widow for the remainder of her hundred-year life. I hadn’t realised she had passed away (she remained in Hong Kong), but the urn gave the date 26 May 2014. 31 I am back in contact with the family of Lt Col Houghton. Todd’s message (below) slowly rang a bell, and suddenly I recalled that they had contacted me in 2006. At that point they had written: “Major Houghton had two sons which were very young when he left for HK before the war. As his second wife died during the birth of his second son, and he had recently moved to Scotland prior to leaving for HK, the two boys ended up in a care home and boarded out to a remote island farm. No family ever came for them so they remained there until becoming adults. My wife’s father (David) has always wanted to know what became of his father.” I have now sent them all the details on the loss of Ginny.
30 Stuart Woods reported finding a Japanese watch, a Seikoha Nation, in the hills in a condition that might be restorable. Before that, they found the butt plate of a Lee Enfield.
27 Dan Bond got back in touch, kindly sending a Red Cross letter about his great uncle Joseph Burgess of the Middlesex (see June 2013). The sad part, of course, is that Burgess had been killed in Stanley (PB28) on Christmas Day. Even years later, it appears, the family still didn’t know this.
26 Today was James Hart, RASC’s, 100th birthday (though the family celebrated on the 23rd). Not bad for a man who the Japanese left for dead at the Eucliffe massacre! His son Archie kindly sent me some photographs of the event. 26 Todd Blomerth kindly sent me a biography he had written of Willard Sharp, the pilot of B24 Ginny. Three B24s were lost on 10 September 1945 carrying ex-POWs: Les Miserables (whose pilot I once interviewed. The majority of POWs on board were ex-HK. It crashed in the sea, with the survivors being rescued by HMS Ursa); Liquidator (which crashed in the mountains in Taiwan, and the bodies of those on board were recovered in atrocious conditions in which - I was told - a number of Taiwanese soldiers died. The British on board were initially buried in Taiwan but were reburied in Hong Kong later. These included the father of entertainer Clive James); and Ginny (Ginny was never found, and it is uncertain whether they hit a mountain - which is perhaps unlikely, as you might expect the wreckage to have been found by now - or the sea), one of whose passengers was Lt Col Houghton (see last month). 26 Peter Monypenny kindly sent me his thoughts on Christopher Man (see December).
24 Woke up this morning to find a temperature of one degree outside, and -0.8 on the Peak up the hill from us! There was ice on the trees and icicles by the waterfall. While such low temperatures are unusual and did not occur in 42-45, winters typically do have a few days in single digits here, which must have been very trying in the largely unheated wooden huts of POW Camps. 24 Tina Selby got back in touch. Her grandmother, Elizabeth Jones mother Irina, and aunt Rolanda were in Stanley, and her step-grandfather Roland Jones, HKDDC, was lost on Gatling in the fighting.
23 Anthony Baukham, son of Victor Baukham HKRNVR got back in touch kindly sending a number of documents relating to his late father.
22Joan Wilkinson’s (Stanley internee) son-in-law got in touch. He notes that: “She and her family were internees in Stanley camp for the full duration of the war. She is mentioned in Barbara Anslow’s diary in September 1942. Mum sang at a concert in the camp with her sisters Maureen & Marjorie and we were wondering does either Barbara herself or any other contributor to the diary remember Mum and her family. Her Mum & Dad were called Fred & Beatrice Wilkinson and the rest of her siblings were called Fred, Joyce, Brian & Maurice, Mum’s singing group were known as the Wilkinson sisters in the camp. We also have family connections to the Pereira’s, namely Augusto Pedro Pereira Jnr who was imprisoned in Nagoya 8B Tateyama POW camp. Also Joseph Nelson Wilkinson was killed on 18th December, as you know from your researches, he was a Gunner in the HKVDC. Billy Wilkinson was also a POW in Sendai POW camp No 2.” Barbara indeed recalled the family, praising their singing! 22 Geoff Emerson kindly sent me a copy of his full Stanley Reunion Report from last year. It’s a truly unique document, bringing together so many of those born or conceived in Camp. 22 I finally finished reading the very good “It Won’t Be Long Now”. In it, one of the most interesting things for me was Heywood’s description of the early days (pre-25 Dec) as a POW in the New Territories, with those captured at the fall of the Shing Mun Redoubt. One thing of note is his mention of a single Canadian who was with these POWs, captured ‘having got lost in Kowloon’. It rings a vague bell, and must be either a D Coy Winnipeg Grenadier or a RCCoS man. It’s not the still-missing Private Gray, as Heywood notes that this individual rejoined Canadian POWs in January 42.
20 I had a request from a researcher today, seeking contact with the Eager family. John Crawley Eager was killed on MTB 26 on 19 December 1941, and his family was in Stanley. His daughter, Cynthia, became a famous swimmer and is the focus of this request. I asked MTB expert Richard Hide, and although he didn’t have the contact details he had a few photos of Mr Eager and has updated his excellent account of the raid in which he was killed.
17Today should have seen the last walk of the season with the Hong Kong Club, but the rain was so bad that we had to postpone it. Typical April weather – in January! 17 On the Stanley Group, Brian Edgar notes: “This site has a photo of and a little information about internee Roland Arthur Charles North, a senior civil servant. A quick look at the whole site suggests his father was a very interesting man.” 17 Philip Cracknell has written a particularly interesting blog about Stanley internee George Giffen.
16 Alfred Paling’s (RAF) family got in touch. I don’t know much about him (aside from the fact that he was held in Shamshuipo POW Camp and died of pellagra). Can anyone assist? 16 About that ‘blasted rock’ I referred to in July on Hatton road. I walked past it again this morning on a cool rainy lonely day, and had a rethink. What I had thought might be a shell impact was, I now think, the end of a borehole. I suspect this rock was simply blasted out of the way by the builders of this road in the 19th C. 16 I can’t recall exactly what set me off, but I saw one too many references to Hong Kong being attacked ‘the day after’ Pearl Harbour. If the attack at Pearl was at 08.00 local time (Dec 7), that would have been 02.00 (Dec 8) in HK. So if the first Japanese border crossing was at 07.30 HK time on Dec 8, that would actually have been 5.5 hours after Pearl was attacked. Seem right? 16 Ron Taylor (HK) followed up the news about John Fitz-Henry with his list of wartime HKVDC members believed to be still with us. He has just ten now, the only one of whom I am in regular contact with being Jack.
14 Edwin Husband’s (Royal Signals, Lisbon Maru) grandson got in touch, kindly sending a photo.
12 David Bellis of Gwulo notes: “The latest three shows of Annemarie Evans's ‘Hongkong Heritage’ have covered different aspects of the wartime years in Hong Kong, including Stanley Camp. They are all available to listen to online. 19 Dec 2015 show: 00:00 Introduction to the wartime diaries project and some diary extracts from the fighting period 08:11 Interview with Diana Fortescue about her family's experiences in Hong Kong and Stanley camp, and her book, The Survivors: A Period Piece. 26 Dec 2015 show: 00:00 Interview with Ian Gill about his mother Billie's life and her experiences in Stanley camp, and Ian's later search to find his father. 17:10 A visit to a couple of Hong Kong's WW2 air-raid tunnels. 2 Jan 2016 show: 00:00 Interview with Veronica Heywood about her father's experiences as a POW in Sham Shui Po camp, and the book of his account "It Won't Be Long Now - The Diary of a Hong Kong Prisoner of War" that has recently been published. 10:20 Interview with CM Shun, Director of the Hong Kong Observatory about his research into the history of the Observatory, including the previous directors' experiences during WW2. 12:46 Extracts from the wartime diaries covering the occupation years.”
11Ron Taylor (HK) also let me know the sad news that John Fitz-Henry (HKVDC) passed away in September. His correspondent notes: “John was the youngest of our PoW Members, being just 17 years old when captured in 1941, and one of the last survivors of Innoshima Island PoW camp.” 11 I heard the bad news today that Jack Mitchell’s wife Zena passed away on the 9th. Jack is one of the few ex-HKVDC POWs I am still in touch with. 11 I had an email from an ex-RN chap who served in Hong Kong in the sixties and heard the story of A.B. Ronald Mattieson (HMS Thracian) who survived the Eucliffe massacre (as described in White Ensign Red Dragon). Mattieson was a POW in HK until liberation, but does anyone know what happened to him afterwards?
8John Russell, one of the Canadian visitors last month (son of Albert James Russell, Royal Rifles of Canada), kindly sent a photo taken during our walk around Wong Nai Chung Gap. During that walk he also kindly gave me a large – and very useful – annotated Hong Kong map that I hadn’t previously seen, published by the War Office in 1930 and updated by them in 1938. John also notes that on the page Book 3: The POWs of this website there’s a picture of his father (under Japanese Camps, he is the middle one in the first row as POW # 96, Albert James Russell, Royal Rifles of Canada, 7 Plt, A Coy, wounded at Repulse Bay on 19 Dec 1941). He was 19 then, and 82 years old when he died in 2005. 8 Frode in Denmark sent me a very interesting page from the 1934-1935 HKVDC Year Book, giving joke explanations of various military initials. (Actually I bet few people these days would know all of the actual meanings, for example: Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services. There’s actually a very useful long-list here, which though it refers to the Great War is a strong subset of the Second).
6 Diane Bishop-Whent kindly sent a photo of Raymond Pearce (see December. Illustrated).
4 Jim Trick kindly let me know that Phil Doddridge’s memoirs have been moved to a new location here.
2 It’s become a habit to start the new year with a long walk, and today I did one that I’ve been meaning to do for years – from our house in Conduit Road to Repulse Bay. The route was Bowen Road to Wong Nai Chung Gap, and then the contour road round Violet Hill and down the steep hill to meet the coast just east of Repulse Bay. On the way, by the St John’s Memorial in Wong Nai Chung Gap I noticed a new plaque – apparently erected in November – commemorating the lost St John’s personnel. They give the number correctly as 56 – the 55 Chinese personnel, and Alan Potter who was lost on the Lisbon Maru (and who Brigadier Sir Lindsay Ride had successfully insisted should be included in their lists). At Repulse Bay I walked along the road just under the old Repulse Bay Hotel garage, and finally found the famous drain in which the hotel’s inhabitants had sheltered during daylight in the siege (in fact Rob Weir had told me where to look several years ago).
January 1st, 2016 Update
Ralph MacLean (Canadian Consulate in Hong Kong, via Jim Trick), Canadian visitors (author), Stanley Reunion 'children' (courtesy Ian Gill) Fly Chit, 4th Battery HKVDC (both courtesy Nick Garland), Mark Tsui's wedding (courtesy Lawrence Tsui) HKVDC Cocktail Shaker (courtesy Chris Potter), Fortescue book (author), 29 Lugard Road (courtesy Amanada Parkes)
December, being the anniversary of the battle, is always the busiest month – and this year with more than 60 war-related visitors here, was certainly no exception. Geoff Emerson did a fantastic job planning and organising the 2015 Stanley Reunion, and Mike Babin likewise with the HKVCA Tour. As for photos, the monthly format I use for this site limits me to just ten, but there were over 40 of sufficient interest that I would have liked to have added them!
31 Geoff Emerson kindly corrected my entry for November 9 (see, obviously, last month!) Barbara Hume is Barbara Laidlaw today. Barbara Coe was Barbara Morris before she was married. 31 Sher Muhammad’s (HKSRA) widow contacted me. Interesting to suddenly have two new contacts from Pakistan when there have been so few previously. 31 Seeing last month’s mention, Jessie Holland’s family contacted me again. Jessie was killed on 12 December 41, and although her husband Adam was killed in the bombing of Stanley’s Bungalow C at the end of the war, it seems likely that Jessie would have been buried properly by her husband before the fall of Hong Kong, but possibly without time to construct a headstone. They have told me that the couple had three children, Isobel, Alistair and Joan. Alistair shows up (as ‘Alister’) in the 1940 Jurors’ Role, but doesn’t appear in any HKVDC or POW/Internee list. Neither do his two sisters (at least, not under the surname Holland. I believe all three would have been adults in 1941 and therefore could have been married). Possibly all had left Hong Kong by the end of 1941.
30Raymond Pearce’s (Middlesex, Lisbon Maru) niece got in touch via Ron Taylor (UK).
27Muhammad Ilahi’s (HKSRA) widow got in touch from Pakistan. This is only the second such contact I have had in 25 years. 27 Chris Potter kindly sent a photo of a cocktail shaker presented to his father John Edward Potter on the occasion of his marriage by the members of the HKVDC Air Arm on 29 November 1939, noting that it: “has an amazing survival tale to tell. It was looted by Japanese soldiers from my parents' house on the Peak and made its way to a post-war market somewhere in the East where it was bought by an Englishman who happened to recognise some of the names on it. By then we were living in New Zealand, but on a brief and rare visit back to England (her birthplace) my mother met the said Englishman, who enthusiastically returned the shaker to her.” Each name has a story: W.E. Peers – Killed in 58 Squadron, 15 January 1941. S. Grove – Possibly the auditor Stephen Grove? No war record found. R.G. Parker - Possibly in my records as R.J. Parker, who served in the HKVDC. A.F. Walkden – Transferred to the HKSRA as Lieutenant. Died in Japan, 23 February 1943. K.W. Forrow – Served in the HKVDC and survived. D.H. Stewart – A Douglas Harrison Stewart was killed in the RCAF, 15 October 1942. G.H. Fowler – Was killed in an accident at Kai Tak, 25 August 1940. B.M. Hynes – Brian Maurice Hynes was killed on 28 October 1944 over Germany. L.M. Wylie – Killed in 1 Coy HKVDC, 19 December 1941. P.E. Bedell (Instructor) – Probably Patrick Edwin Bedell, killed in the Singapore campaign, 205 Squadron, 7 December 1941. John Potter himself, of course, was lost with 1 Coy HKVDC in the defence of Stanley, 25 December 1941. Chris also sent photos of the shoes that were made for him in Camp!
26Anneke Kekwick’s (nee Offenberg – Stanley Internee) granddaughter let the Stanley Group know that her grandmother passed away yesterday
22 Trevor Hollingsbee asks a very interesting question: Why is a British soldier marching in the Japanese Victory Parade? He can be seen at around 02.20 in this clip, and appears to be a Royal Scot corporal. It’s a very interesting video even without this, though much of the footage seems to be the IWM collection discussed last month.
20 Ian Gill kindly sent a photo taken at the Stanley reunion (in Stanley Cemetery) of photo of those attendees who were born (or conceived) in Stanley. From left to right: Rosemary Mitchell, Ian Gill, Dennis Clarke, Lydia Veriga Kirby, George Cautherley, Conner Hackett, Chris Potter, Barbara Laidlaw (nee Hume), Elizabeth Sharp, Michael Thirlwell, Margaret Coleman (nee Forster), Gillian Woolley (nee Millar) and Brooke Himsworth. Ian also sent two photos of his father – George Giffen – with the HKVDC in the 30s. He initially served in the Anzac Company, which doesn’t seem very well researched.
19 Chris Potter, who I had briefly met at the Stanley reunion, got in touch. He was born in September 1941 and grew up in Stanley Internment Camp. Among the many souvenirs he has of that period are the sling in which his mother carried him (which is still in remarkable condition) and a pastel drawing of him and his mother using it, by A. Savitsky, the well-respected artist/policeman. 19 Amanda Parkes kindly sent a set of photos taken by her family (Herbert Hills’ family) in and around 29 Lugard Road in the 1930s. The building was seriously damaged by shelling in December 1941 (in fact a live Japanese 150mm turned up nearby earlier this year) and was demolished and rebuilt post-war.
18 Chris Harley let me know today that Harold Holden has been accepted by the CWGC as Civilian War Dead. 18 Rob Weir made an interesting comment about the non-escape from the Shing Mun Redoubt AOP (see last month). He notes that few people would be willing to make a dash down a pitch-black tunnel at night, while under attack and surrounded by an enemy that might be anywhere. It’s a good point. In that situation I think I would have stayed put too.
17William Fergusson’s (Dockyard Police) daughter got in touch. She notes that he had previously served in the Royal Welch Fusiliers in Hong Kong, and when he retired from them he took over the Marcel Café. There he kept a silver plaque that his regiment had awarded him, which he somehow preserved through all the years in Shamshuipo Camp. 17 Today I was interviewed by the Morrin Centre (Canada) about the preservation of Hong Kong’s wartime remains (or lack of preservation, in many cases…)
15 Iain Gow kindly sent a scan of his father’s POW Index Card, pointing out something I’d never noticed before. The date of entry to ShamShuiPo POW Camp is shown as 7 January 1942. When I checked other HK Index Cards, they were the same. As most of the POWs entered ShamShuiPo on 30 December, this implies that the official opening date was a week later.
13Continuing his research into why Major A.C. Houghton – lost in a B24 crash on his way back from Camp in Japan – is commemorated in Kent instead of Sai Wan, Richard Bone notes: “I received a response from the CWGC, in short it says that Major Houghton should have been recorded at Sai Wan but the records at the time provided to the CWGC were not accurate enough to be definitive for him to be commemorated there… Incidentally I did a very quick bit of Google research, AC Houghton was one of four brothers, one died in WWI the other two seem to have survived the wars. I think I mentioned that Maj Houghton’s son died in Jan 1944 in a crash, he was in the Fleet Air Arm. I do wonder if he knew this news while he was a POW.” 13 Second walk of the season with the Hong Kong Club, the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail. It was very enjoyable, with the usual group of regulars and good walking weather. 13 A gas mask turned up in the hills today, on the surface in remarkably good condition.
11 Ian Gill kindly sent me copies of two poems written in memory of his half-brother Billie who died in an accident in Stanley Camp. One was by Les Parkin (who was another child in camp) and one was by George Giffen (who became Ian’s father, and is also the man quoted in the War Crimes newspaper article referred to on the 1st). 11 Referring to last month’s still from the surrender ceremony at Government House in 1945, Richard Hide notes: “Standing in the centre next to the man in the white tropical uniform is David MacDougall.” He has also recently been in touch with Lt-Commander John Yorath’s granddaughter. In a further email he sent this link to a video about the surrender.
8 Neill Garland’s (HKVDC) great nephew got in touch, noting: “Aged 17 he flew with the RFC/RAF in WW1, returned to Scotland after the war, then after a degree in ship engineering from Strathclyde, moved to Hong Kong in the 1930s to the Marine Division out there.” He sent a very interesting set of papers, including the Scottish Quarterly – a 57-page anthology that was clearly typed and illustrated in camp, plus the first ‘fly chit’ I have seen, a hand-written will of a fellow soldier (I.B. Trevor, I believe – he survived) written on 24 December 1941, and many other pieces. 8 Henry Ching kindly sent me two more of his occasional papers. They cover the Ablong family and Hong Kong Cadets during the war (interestingly, mentioning Paul Tsui again). As always, they can be read here.
7 Luba Estes has discovered an original copy of her father’s book on the web for an astounding amount! 7 Gordon Simmons’s (Royal Rifles) granddaughter got in touch. 7 Bill Lake kindly sent photos of the Kamloops Kid, both alive and very dead following execution. 7 Of the Stanley Reunion, Ian Gill noted that: “At least three in the group photograph of Stanley children taken after Liberation attended last week’s Stanley Reunion in Hong Kong: Brooke Himsworth, whose father Eric organized food distribution in camp, Gillian Woolley (nee Millar), who showed us Stanley mementoes and Maureen Coleman (nee Forster) who was seven at war’s end and recalled bed bugs and roll calls. Other picture highlights include Conner Hackett visiting the Commandant’s Headquarters that had been his parents’ home when his Dad had been doctor at Stanley Gaol, and Chris Potter showing us photos of himself as a tot taken with a Japanese guard and with his mother at Stanley.”
6 Nice weather today, as usual, for the annual Canadian Memorial Service at the Sai Wan Military Cemetery. There was a good turn out, added to by the 30 or so visitors from the HKVCA, and a similar number from the Stanley Reunion. Ralph MacLean spoke very well. I looked down at one point and noticed that the grave I was standing by was that of an American named William Roger Suits who served with the Royal Rifles (illustrated). The CWGC record notes that he was “Son of Kenneth B. and Nina Suits, of Decatur, Michigan, U.S.A.” I wonder what his story was? 6 A strange find in the hills today: a US Navy radio receiver, and a British transmitter – both of wartime vintage, though probably pre-1941. 6 Anne-Marie Evans has a very nice review of the Graham Heywood book in today’s SCMP Magazine.
5 At 08.30 this morning I waited in light drizzle and cold winds at Wong Nai Chung Gap for the Canadian Tour organised by Mike Babin of the HKVCA. Fortunately when they arrived the rain eased off, and we had a very enjoyable walk around the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail. One veteran, Ralph MacLean of C Company Royal Rifles under Major McCauley, accompanied us – and put us to shame by completing the entire walk and looking more comfortable at the end than many of the younger people! Then we took the group’s bus down to Stanley to visit St Stephen’s College and their excellent museum before retiring to the Cricket Club for lunch. I had to leave them there, and as I left suddenly the heaven’s opened and we had the heaviest rain I’ve ever seen in Hong Kong in December! They have added a trip report to their website here, with photos here. 5 Charlie Dobie has added more wartime photos of Hong Kong to his album here.
3 This evening I accepted George Cautherley’s kind invitation to join the Stanley Reunion dinner (organised by Geoff Emerson) at the Hong Kong Club. It was very well attended, with the 30 or so attendees including around 10 people who were either children in Stanley or born in camp. David Bellis of gwulo.com spoke about Hong Kong historical information on the web, and Diana Fortescue introduced her new book about her parents in Stanley. Ian Gill – conceived in the camp - also spoke about his and his family’s experiences. Finally, we showed a three minute video clip of the liberation of the camp, shot by the Royal Navy and kindly provided by Elizabeth Ride and H.T. Leung.
2 Brian Finch kindly put my in touch with Peter Moneypenny, who at one point served as ADC to the late Major General Christopher Man (later Private Man of the Athol Highlanders). Man, of course, was one of the best respected Middlesex officers (responsible for the defence of Leighton Hill amongst other things) and I am looking forward to learning more about him. 2 Ron Taylor (UK) continues to add POW Camp rolls to his website, and has now completed Innoshima (Hiroshima #5B).
1 Referring to last month’s video of a Japanese war criminal taking his captors it what appears to be the direction to Tweed Bay to visit a memorial to executed prisoners, Brian Edgar kindly sent this newspaper link. The story there (under the heading “Jap Visits Victims’ Graves” implies that the location of the execution was the usually-quoted one of Stanley Beach. Also, referring to the same video, Avery Tong kindly pointed out that the Chinese captain in the first 3.07 of the clip filmed during the ID parade at Sham Shui Po Camp was Captain Paul Ka Cheung Tsui, MBE. Tsui’s son Lawrence confirmed this and kindly sent a photo of his father in uniform in 1946 at the wedding of Mark Shing-cheung Tsui at Rosary Church, Tsimshatsui. He notes: “Mark (No.56) was Confidential Clerk of the BAAG Field Intelligence Group working side-by-side Paul Tsui as well as sent to assist McEwan in Forward Area 2 (Samfou of the West River region). Many of the diagrams in the BAAG Collection were drawn by Mark from debriefing agents, especially the most efficient Group J (under No.2 Au Fai) which he rendezvous at Taam Sui and later Toishan.” 1 Dave Deptford kindly let me know that John Tibbs’s (RE) medals and other ephemera are visible on the web here. I’ve always been interested in Tibbs as his CWGC entry records his family living in Wells-Next-Sea, my home town.