70 years ago: Hong Kong's wartime diaries

Shows diary entries from seventy-one years ago, using today's date in Hong Kong as the starting point. To see pages from earlier dates (they go back to 1 Dec 1941), choose the date below and click the 'Apply' button.
  • 5 Sep 1945, Chronology of Events Related to Stanley Civilian Internment Camp

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Wed, 5 Sep 1945

    Franklin Gimson writes his first letter to his wife Dorothy and tells her the most debilitating thing about internment;

    (It was) not the boredom, not the uncertainty but the nervous inter-play of personality on personality, the selfishness, the malicious trend given to any scandal, the deliberate misinterpretation of any statement and many signs of extreme nervous tension & lack of mental balance.

     

    Telephone engineer James Anderson is brought in from Stanley to help with the rebuilding of Hong Kong's infrastructure. He's billeted in a mess in Hankow Rd. along with other technicians.

    Sources:

    Gimson: cited in Nicholas Tarling ed., Studying Singapore';s Past, 2012, 183

    Les Fisher, I Will Remember, 1996, 245

    Note: Of course all of what Franklin Gimson says is true, but the 'big picture' is rather different: in three years and eight months of more than 2,000 people constantly hungry and living in crowded accomodation there were no major crimes, no successful suicide attempts and, although I've never seen statistics to bear this out,my guess is that those given special care as 'lunatics' numbered not many more than would be expected in normal times. For more on this topic see http://gwulo.com/node/26812

    My guess is the constant display of unreasonable behaviour described by Gimson helped ward off major pathologies.

  • 5 Sep 1945, Barbara Anslow's diary

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Wed, 5 Sep 1945

    Peggy (Barton) arrived today and is to work for Medical Department pro tem.

    Eileen Grant's American boyfriend ((Merritt)) who was repatriated in 1942 has re-appeared.. swept into camp in the middle of her engagement party to Lewin Benn ((who'd been in Shamshuipo Camp)).  Now Eileen and Merritt are engaged.

    Clifton appeared in office looking very nice in white shorts and shirt ((his camp wear was usually just khaki shorts as in the photo of him grinding rice with another internee)). He brought me things from Stanley.

    Olive acquired alot of umbrellas from her office, we have been dishing them out to all and sundry, sent 2 to Mum and Mabel.  Peg & I went to Asia after office, had cider and ice-cream. Lots of fleet there, also Mr. Pine and Mr. Hurst, dockyard colleagues of my Dad, (they'd been in Shamshuipo) and had 2 more ice-creams each, with them,  the men had beer; great to see Mr Pine tucking into a plate of steak and onions and chips.

    The Fleet men are big and pink and fresh, clothes beautifully white.  One large Irishman kept saying 'Shucks!' every time we tried to explain how difficult it would be for us to come on board his hospital ship which is said to be the finest-fitted hospital ship in the world.

    The Asia Co. has now acquired a gramophone;  amid loud chatter, Chinese boys dashing around, sailors everywhere, clatter of plates etc. from kitchen; different flags displayed inside the entrance to the shop.

  • 5 Sep 1945, Charles Mycock's report of his wartime experiences

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Wed, 5 Sep 1945

    ((Mycock had arrived in Stanley Camp on 21st Jan, 1942, and)) remained there until transferred to the SS. Maunganui on 5th. September 1945.

  • 05 Sep 1945, R. E. Jones Wartime diary

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Wed, 5 Sep 1945

    Cloudy, showery, S wind.

    2 Pkts Jap cigs. 1 Irish potato. ½ tin milk, ½ tin marmalade, (oatmeal, cocoa, ½ milk & ½ catsup) White bread.

    Duty 12-3pm.

    G & V to “Swiftsure” among their own once more. Makes me feel somewhat inferior.

    Quite refreshing to read the daily paper again, all British & mostly sensibly written.  

    G & V back 9.15pm made porridge, had supper & peg with them. We all registered for repatriation on board Emp. of Aus. ∴

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