74 years ago: Hong Kong's wartime diaries

December, 1941.

74 years ago tensions were high as war with Japan seemed inevitable. On December 8th, those fears were confirmed when Japanese planes attacked Kai Tak, and Japanese soldiers crossed the border into the New Territories. The fighting continued until the British surrendered on Christmas Day.

The end of the fighting marked the beginning of the Japanese occupation, a time of great hardship for Hong Kong's residents. They would have to endure for three years and eight months, until the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, and Hong Kong was liberated shortly afterwards.

What was it like?

Let the people who lived through these times tell you themselves.

We've collected several wartime diaries, and split them into their day-by-day accounts. Each day we send out an email message containing all the diary entries written on that day, 74 years ago.

How to sign up to receive the daily messages?

Please click here to subscribe.

You'll be taken to another screen marked Feedburner (they're the company we use to send out the daily email messages) and asked to enter your email address. Once you've completed that screen, you'll be sent an email message, asking you to confirm your subscription. Click the link in that message and your subscription is activated. Then each day you'll receive an email message with today's diary entries.

It's free of charge, your details stay private, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

What do the daily messages look like?

Here are sample extracts from the messages you'll receive:

  • 30 Nov 1941: "Topper says we are as near war now as we have ever been, that Japan with her militarist Govt. can't very well back down now."
  • 1 Dec 1941: "Government advising further evacuation.  Only hope seems to be that Japs now say they will keep on talks with USA in hope that USA will change viewpoint - that isn't thought likely."
  • 7 Dec 1941: "There must be something in the wind, G.H.Q. staff are preparing to move into Battle HQ, a huge underground structure just behind the Garrison Sgts. Mess."
Extract from Barbara Anslow's Diary
Extract from Barbara Anslow's Diary: "war had been declared"
  • 8 Dec 1941: "I started my birthday with a war. Kowloon bombed about 8AM."
  • 10 Dec 1941: "Sid has been wounded.  Bullet through shoulder.  He told Hospital to phone Mum at the Jockey Club and she went to see him."
  • 13 Dec 1941: "We hear rumours that

Cool weather? Head for the hills!

We've just had our first few days of cool weather this winter, and cool weather means it's time to get out hiking!

If you're out and about and you see anything unusual, please leave a comment or a photo to tell us what you've found. It's always good to hear about new things to explore. I'll give some more tips on how to share your discoveries below, but first a small find from Friday morning's walk.

I'd started off with

2015-11 RTHK's Hong Kong Heritage - Harlech & Hatton Roads

Join us for a walk along Harlech and Hatton Roads, chatting about their history. Here's the link to listen to the show: http://podcast.rthk.hk/podcast/item_epi.php?pid=164&lang=en-US&id=63273

I'll include links to more information and photos below, with the time as it is shown on the podcast player. You can click on any photo to see a larger view and more information about the scene.

Thanks to Annemarie for inviting me on to her weekly show, Hong Kong Heritage.

Regards, David

00:35 - David Bellis - Walk along Harlech and Hatton Roads


Who owned these 1920s launch photos?

Can we work out who owned these photos? Here are the clues so far...

What: All the photos are connected with this launch, named Paula:

Launch off Cheung Chau

The seller didn't keep any of the photos' captions, but I think this was taken off

2015-11 RTHK's Hong Kong Heritage

Join us for a walk along Lugard Road, chatting about its history. Here is the link to listen to the show: http://podcast.rthk.org.hk/podcast/item_epi.php?pid=164&lang=en-US&id=62986

I'll include notes and photos below, with the time as it is shown on the podcast player. You can click on any photo to see a larger view and more information about the scene.

Thanks to Annemarie for inviting me on to her show, and congratulations on the new format. Starting this week her show has doubled in length to 30 minutes.

Regards, David

01:45 David Bellis - Walk along Lugard Road

  • 01:55 - c.1900 photo of the Peak Tram Terminus area
    c.1900 Peak Hotel


  • 04:15 - History of


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