70 years ago: Hong Kong's wartime diaries | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

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.
  • 19 Dec 1941. R. E. Jones Wartime diary

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 19 Dec 1941

    Platoon called out 7.00AM. Took up positions around St. Stephens College commanding Fort Rd. Fort bombed & Island Rd shelled.

    Canadians came up & re-inforced us for a while. (Japs landed at Taikoo during early am)

    All quiet during the night.

  • 19 Dec 1941, Barbara Anslow's diary

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 19 Dec 1941

    Japs started landing at North Point, ((but we were given to understand that most of them had been mopped up.))

    Heard rumours that Mabel ((with other VADs from Bowen Road Hosp.)) had been sent to Stanley to nurse... was pretty worried thinking of a 7-mile journey perhaps under fire.

  • 19 Dec 1941, Chronology of Events Related to Stanley Civilian Internment Camp

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 19 Dec 1941

    Dr. Newton, in the Kowloon Hospital has a reasonable breakfast - two bowls of cracked wheat made as porridge, three biscuits, a little butter and a glass of cocoa - but notes that 'none of us are up to very much activity' and that for most people just climbing the stairs leaves them winded. Food continues decent throughout the day, and the main problem is getting the 'night soil' (excrement) buckets emptied.

     

    Arthur Hamson writes to Edith at 10.40 a.m. from 'Internment Camp, Hing Wah School, 7 Castle Peak Rd':

    It is Richard's birthday today. It is also exactly a week since we last saw each other. What misery, what untold sufferings you and I have gone through will forever be in our minds...Like you I am living in memories, memories of happier days, of days when peace and freedom was around us. You would be surprised if I were to tell you that your wrist watch which I have is my constant companion...

    There are 22 women here (and) 32 men...For the first 2 days we had little or nothing to eat and no water to drink, we have been able however to eke out some kind of an existence. The ladies prepare the meals and we men in turn make the fires. We spend our time in between meals in playing cards, draughts etc...Our beds which are black boards are real hard and everyone of us has sore hips. Today is the first day we've had water through the taps and we're all taking (it) in turns to wash parts of our body and our clothing.

     

    On the Island an already bitter struggle intensifies:

    This is by far the hardest day's fighting, with the defenders incurring in twenty-four hours approximately one-third of their total fatalities. Losses to the attackers are probably in a similar ratio.

     

    Powerful forces of the newly-landed Japanese head westwards towards Victoria. At 1.45 a.m. Major J. J. Paterson reports that the North Point Power Station is completely surrounded; he's ordered to hold out as long as possible. His troops are all over 55 years old, but many have experience from WW1, and there's a contingent from the power company and other reinforcements to fight alongside them. There ensues what is often described as an 'epic' defence by a small but highly courageous group. There are two female civilians present throughout: Joan Crawford, daughter of the station superintendent and wife of a mains distribution engineer, and her mother, Mrs Duckworth. Joan Crawford has been doing voluntary work as a dispenser at the French Hospital, and she tends the wounded during the battle.

    Crawford and a few others survive the bitter fighting which ends about 4 p.m. Everybody's pushed into a large garage in a nearby street. They spend the night there, some badly wounded. It's their second day without food or water.

     

    The Japanese take over, without resistance, the Advanced Dressing Station at the Salesian Mission in Shaukiwan. Two volunteer nurses, Mrs E. H. Tinson and Lois Fearon, are released unharmed and eventually make their way to safety (see January 2, 1942) but many of the men staffing the station are murdered, in spite of the Red Cross armbands worn by those working for St John's Ambulance.


    Down on the south of the island, in the confusion of the fighting, Bennie Proulx's wondering where to go next:

    'The hotel's as bad as the castle {Eu Castle}, but it's got food in it,' I said.

    'What do you say, chaps?'

    'The hotel it is, then.'

    So began the now famous siege of Repulse Bay Hotel.

     

    John Stericker is keeping Radio ZBW on the air. Today he introduces the Governor, Sir Mark Young, who tells the listeners that the defenders have now retired within their 'island fortress' and bids them 'hold fast'. ZBW will be off the air for the rest of the hostilities.

     

    Hong Kong’s on the Mirror’s back page today, and the news is ominous:

    Japs claim Hong Kong landing

    JAPANESE Army headquarters last night claimed that a Japanese force had landed on Hong Kong Island in face of fierce resistance.

    The Japanese Navy supported the troops in overnight operations. The troops were “now rapidly carrying out further operations.”

    The latest Hong Kong communiqué received in Chungking did not confirm the Japanese claims. “Another Japanese peace offer was flatly rejected this morning, to their evident surprise,” it stated.

    ” During the day the defending guns destroyed one section of the enemy’s artillery, located on Devil’s Peak, and another gun firing from Club Hill. {Presumably Gun Club Hill.}

    “Japanese mortars situated on the Kowloon waterfront maintained a heavy fire, which was returned. A number of enemy guns were silenced.

     

    In his East Prussian headquarters, the man Britain is fighting in Europe shares a rather surprising view of events with his guests (including Heinrich Himmler):

    What is happening in the Far East is happening by no will of mine. For years I never stopped telling all the English I met that they'd lose the Far East if they entered into a war in Europe.

    Adolf Hitler, although he understands the importance to his cause of the Japanese successes - 'We must never abandon the Japanese alliance, for Japan is a Power upon which one can rely' - deplores the forthcoming expulsion of the 'white race' from east Asia (including, he believes, Australia) and regrets the fact that 'three centuries of effort' {by European colonialists} are going up in smoke'.

    Sources:

    Newton: Birch and Cole, 109-110.

    Hamson: Allana Corbin, Prisoners of the East, 2002, 103-104

    Hardest day's fighting: Tony Banham, Not The Slightest Chance, 2003, 18

    Paterson at 1.45: Banham, op. cit., 124

    Crawfords: Austin Coates, A Mountain Of Light, 1977, 147-148

    Proulx and Repulse Bay: Benny Proulx, Underground From Hong Kong, 1943, 43

    Stericker: Alan Birch and Martin Cole, Captive Christmas, 1979, 108

    Hitler: Hitler's Table Talk 1941-1944, ed. Hugh Trevor-Roper, 1953/1988, 150, 300

  • 19 Dec 1941, Sheridan's diary of the hostilities

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 19 Dec 1941

    ((Note: In the long entry for today Staff-Sergeant Sheridan describes the evacuation of the Field Bakery at Deep Water Bay and the chaotic conditions as the crucial struggle for the Wong Nai Chung Gap Came to an end.))

    No sleep whatever during the continuous firing racket all night. Twice during the early hours we had a stand to. Heavy automatic and rifle fire can be heard from the direction of Wong-Nei-Chong Gap where the Canadians are being attacked. It is only a quarter of a mile away from the Golf club. Before daylight tracer bullets zoom over my Aldershot ovens. I get the bakers on mixing doughs in the shelter of the club house verandah. As soon as it is light we fire up the ovens. There is a lot of mortar explosions from the direction of the Gap. Tracers still go flying past. With the help of Leung Choy ((‘No. 1 Baker’)) we calm the Chinese bakers and keep them working.

    Some wounded Naval men limp into the ((Golf club's)) club house. We give them first aid. They had been in a convoy of trucks taking food and ammunition up the Repulse Bay road to the Canadians at the Gap. The convoy had been ambushed by the Japs, some of the sailors had been killed and wounded. We were now in the line of fire, as tracers and mortars began to explode everywhere.

    Orders are now given for everyone to be ready to move out at a moment’s notice. The Bakery carries on working until about 10a.m. then we get orders to leave everything and move out at once. I enquire of the Senior officer if we are to take any equipment. The answer is no. Empty lorries, cars, and me all leave like lightedning. I dash up to the first floor of the Golf Club to collect some small kit, but when I return I find everyone had left. I take a last look at the doughs in the verandah in the wooden mixing troughs. In a few hours they will be rotten. The makings of about 8000 lbs of good bread gone west. Hammond, Tuck, Bonner and all the bakers are gone. I make my way along the road towards Pokfulam. I meet some Ordnance Corps men who have also evacuated the Shouson Hill area which is the underground ammunition storage area. I meet up with all the others on the roadside near Bennets Hill. We are all piled along the side of the road, R.A.S.C., R.A.O.C., H.K.V.D.C. nearly all technical personnel. No one seems to know for what purpose. We hang about here until evening, then we all muster by the food store at the bottom of the Pokfulam road. The R.A.O.C. are ordered back to Shouson Hill. The R.A.S.C. and H.K.V.D.C. and all others who are armed with rifles and bayonets make their way to Bennets Hill which we are supposed to defend against the Japs. As much ammunition and grenades as we can carry are issued. We climb up the steep hillside, and are supposed to find positions to defend this hill. It is thickly overgrown with scrub bushes. No one seems to know in what direction the Japs are likely to attack from. An unusual weather feature for this time of the year is that it has started a light drizzle of rain. Hammond, Tuck, Bonner and I find a place with a forward view of the land sloping down to the road. We also find some Canadians and Naval men in similar positions, but there may be others above and below us on the hillside. We are worried about the situation when darkness sets in. If any firing starts then we could be shooting at each other. We are all very inexperienced men at this type of warfare and are no match for the Japs who have been fighting a war in China since 1937.

    However orders come through for us to move back to the road where after a short wait some lorries arrive which we board and set off back towards Deepwater Bay. It is pitch dark and no lights are allowed. It is a nerve wracking job for our driver. He is a man of 60yrs (H.K.V.D.C.) named Mr Sleap. ((Probably Corporal Sydney Alfred Sleap, who was aged 55.)) We nearly crash over the side of a bridge and further on hit a parked car, with no serious damage. We pass within 30yds of the Golf club, I can smell the doughs which would now be rotten. No sign of anyone about the Golf Club area. The Japs could be there, but we do not stop to investigate, but continue on up the Repulse Bay road towards Wong-Nei-Chong Gap. Our destination is a house called The Ridge which is well off the road. ((On December 22/23 The Ridge became the scene of one of the worst massacres of the Hong Kong war – Tony Banham estimates that at least 47 people were killed.)) We disembark about ½ mile from the house and set out to walk the rest of the way. Everyone is warned to keep quiet, no cigarettes are allowed, and we walk on the grass verge to deaden the sound. Sgt.Tuck, Sgt. Hammond and I stick together, we seemed to have lost contact with Bonner. ((Horace Bonner was killed at Overbays on December 22)). We can hear a lot of automatic firing going on up towards the Gap and an occasional tracer bullet passes over our heads.

    Just as we near the entrance to the house called The Ridge we hear a Naval man enquiring for any R.A.S.C. men. I tell him we are from that unit. He asks for volunteers to go up the road towards the Gap to help with some wounded Naval men. These would be the men who were ambushed that morning with the convoy of ammunition trucks to the Canadians at Wong-Nei-Chong Gap. Tuck, Hammond, a Pte. Kingsford and I volunteer. We set off up the road in the company of the Naval man. We find our Naval men lying in a typhoon nullah (drain) by the side of the road, they are calling for water. We stop and give them some. They are all badly wounded and we discover they have been there since about 8a.m. and it is now 10p.m.

    It seems no ambulance could get up this road during daylight. One of the men had been shot through the throat and when we gave him a drink the water ran out through the wound. We made them as comfortable as possible and left them a full water bottle. We continued up the road towards the gap and found several lorries still loaded with small arms, ammunition and grenades slewed across the road. Some dead Naval men are in the cabs, others lie on the road or in the back of the lorries. There are also dead and wounded coolies. This is the result of the heavy firing we heard this morning. They must have been sitting ducks for the Japs’ ambush. We continue on, but as there is no grass verge we are making quite a bit of noise on the roadway. All of a sudden a voice calls out of the darkness “Halt, stand where you are”. I answer “friend” and a Canadian officer emerges from the bushes at the roadside. He is armed with a Tommy gun and warns us to go quietly as the Japanese are dug in above the road and may open up at any moment. He says he is trying to get back to the Gap to his men and accompanies us as far as the house where the wounded Naval men are. This is a large house on the left hand side of the road about 400 to 500 yds short of Wong-Nei Cheong Gap. It is known as the White House.

    Hammond and Tuck stand guard outside while Kingsford and I and the Naval man enter the house. We find about 15 people wounded, mostly Naval men, some civilians, and two women, one a Chinese shot through the chest, the other a European was dead. We could see most of the wounded needed urgent attention. I call Kingsford and the Naval man outside to discuss what could be done to get these people to Hospital as soon as possible. The Naval man suggested starting some of the cars which were parked outside the house. However, some were damaged by shell fire, and none had any ignition keys. But then a vital thought struck me, that if we managed to start a car or two and put the wounded in, the noise would alert the Japs and there would be more casualties. We decided that lorries or ambulances were needed to transport the wounded. So Tuck and Hammond decide to go back down to the house called The Ridge to see if any transport could be arranged.

    Kingsford and I remain outside the house listening to sporadic automatic fire up towards the Gap, which was now only a few hundred yards away. Then we heard the same Canadian Officer calling softly, I answered and went towards him. He said there was a wounded sailor lying in the middle of the road further up and would I attend to him.

    Although I was carrying a Lee Enfield 303 rifle and about 300 rounds of ammunition slung in bandolier fashion, I thought it best to get down and crawl towards the wounded man.  It was about 50yds and I found he had a smashed hip and was unable to move.  He had been in the first lorry and his mate had been killed in the cab of the lorry.  He had been lying there all day and had feigned death when he heard the Japs talking during the day.  I asked him if he could bear me lifting him on to my back to carry him to the White House.  He replied he would stick any pain to get off the road way.  After a struggle I managed to get a firemans lift across my shoulders but he groaned with pain.  He must have weighed about 12 or 13 stone but I got him as far as the door of the White House.  Just as the door was opened from inside, a shot ran out in the still night air, and a bullet hit the wall of the house above my head.  I rushed in and dropped the poor devil on some more wounded men inside the door.  I rushed out and got down prone on the ground with my rifle cocked, when Kingsford came running towards me.  He said he had been jumped on by two Japs and that he had dropped his rifle, which was cocked with the safety catch off.  It had gone off and it was the bullet from it that had hit the wall of the house above my head.

    Nothing happens for a few minutes, then we hear the Canadian Officer calling again.  He came out of the bushes near the roadside and enquired who had fired the shot.  I told him that Kingsford had been jumped by two Japs and that his rifle had gone off.  The officer said that they were not Japs but two scouts in their bare feet from one of the Indian Regiments.  We search about and recover the rifle. The real danger now is that we have alerted the Japs and anything could happen.  Se we decide we can do no good here and that it would be best to return to the Ridge. 

    We set off down the road, and meet an armoured vehicle trying to manoeuvre between the ammunition lorries.  It is accompanied by a British Officer and some Indian troops all in their bare feet. They are about to stage a raid on the Jap positions near Wong-Nei-Cheong Gap.  Further on we meet a Naval surgeon and two RN ambulances.  He enquires how far to the White House and how many wounded.  We give him all the information, and ask if he requires any help.  He said he had sufficient in each ambulance and continues up the road.  We also find he had attended to the wounded men on the roadside near the entrance to the Ridge and would pick them up on his way back. 

    Kingsford and I made our way up the drive to the house called the Ridge.  We find hundreds of men there, all from the technical branches of the Services.  No one seems to know what is going on.  I sincerely hope the Japs do not attack here as it would be mass slaughter.  After a search round the grounds in the dark we come across Hammond and Tuck.  It starts to drizzle rain and as it is now midnight we shelter under a large tarpaulin. 

    About an hour later I hear Lieut. G. Wood ((Warrant-Officer Master Baker in the RASC )) calling my name. He says we are to report to Fort Stanley to issue rations which are stored there. The party consists of Capt. Escott, Lt. Wood, Sgts. Martin, Hammond, Tuck and myself. Sgt. Martin drives the truck with no lights showing, a very risky business, where there are steep drops on one side of unfenced roads. We decide to take a chance and return to the Clubhouse at Deepwater Bay to collect some hurricane lamps and some of our kit. We find that the stores have been looted and scattered about the place. We wasted very little time in collecting what we needed, as we were not certain whether the Japs were in the vicinity or not. I could smell the bread doughs that had been mixed that morning and were now spewed all over the Golf Club verandah. We set off for Stanley, everything was very quiet, no firing or explosions, even the R.A. guns were silent. We picked up a Canadian soldier, who asked for a lift into Stanley Fort.

  • 19 Dec 1941, Charles Mycock's report of his wartime experiences

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 19 Dec 1941

    At 9.30 am. a party halted outside Woodside and I led 19 members of my staff in a body on to the lawn. After the house was searched we were told to carry rice and other material, in company with 30 or 40 Chinese, many with halters around their necks and hands tied to ropes, who had also been commandeered. Doctor Winterstein, Dr.Choy, TollanBell and I with our Chinese staff were added to the fatigue party. I protested but after being beaten on the head with a revolver was forced to submit. The women staff were permitted to re-enter the house. Choy and I with a bag of rice between us were in the van just behind the officer in command  and near the junction with Cecil's Ride lay the body of William Seath, A.R.P., shot through the head. On the opposite side of the road were the bodies of two women, one a European with a cloth over the face, [Mrs. Baldwin], and an Amah.

    Fifty yards further on was a Rajput Bren Gun Post with several Rajputs bayoneted lying around. Still further on was a European Officer, young, fair headed; of good physique, lying on his face with wrists bound behind his back. In passing the Nipponese Officer cut the rope binding the wrists. I thought this man was Captain Cole, Adj.of the Rajputs. He was without shirt or tunic. Near the top of the road was another body, a private in the H.K.V.D.C. Evidently killed on the way down the road he had been shot in the head. I thought this to be Arthur Job of the staff of St. Stephens college but positive identification of any of these is only possible in the case of Seath. We were halted soon after near the top and I again protested to the officer who spoke a litttle English. After showing my passport in support of my age I was given a safe conduct pass to return to Headquarters. This pass was needed to pass the numberless troops on the road including artillery which was plainly visible. We safely arrived back in Headquarters at about 2pm.

    The boys of St. Louis Industrial School with some of the staff were occupying number 10 camp after leaving Aberdeen and North Point Camp. A little after we arrived one of them arrived to report that Father Percunas, Latvian Mission, had been wounded and that he required assistance to reach the surgery. Choy, Winterstein, Tollan, Bell, Morris ((possibly Alfred Morris)) and I crossed the road down into the valley and after great difficulty got Percunas onto the path leading to the surgery. I climbed the bank to go  to the other house for female help and on hearing a shout turned around with  hands up. On the path I saw Winterstein helping Percunas followed by Bell, Morris and Tollan. Just off the road a Japanese Officer with men had come around a bend. All turned with hands up but Bell. A shot followed and Bell dropped. Another followed and I dropped on my face unhurt but out of sight. After a little time Winterstein was left with Percunas and Bell and the others were marched up the road. I watched and when out of sight I went to the assistance of Bell. He was shot through the chest and died about 7pm. without regaining conciousness. He leaves a daughter of about 5 years whom I understand was later taken to the Italian Convent. She left with Dr.Choy when the Gendarmes sent our Chinese staff away. Tollan and party returned later.

  • 19 Dec 1941, Laura B Ziegler's wartime memories

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 19 Dec 1941

    A bomb hit the road behind us about December 19, and broke the water main leaving us without water. Our fears were short-lived however, because in the afternoon a large shell broke another pipe in a culvert across the road. The precious liquid trickled slowly from the shattered main. We considered ourselves very fortunate to have water so close at hand. Naturally, it was dangerous to go and get water because we never knew when the next shell would come or where it would land. Some people had to walk for many blocks to get a pail of water. A person learns to value a little water in a time like this.

    One afternoon the shelling was very close and it kept on for more than an hour. After the firing stopped one of our little girls said, “Mamma, I prayed that God would send his angels to stand between us and shells so we wouldn’t be hit. If a shell came for us I prayed that the angel would push it into the ground so we wouldn’t be hurt.” We opened the front door a little for fresh air after the firing and there in the front was a shell that had landed in the lawn and hadn’t exploded. Ruth was certain that the angels had protected us and caused this shell to land in the ground. If this shell had come 10 feet higher, it would have come right into our room and injured or killed most of us.

  • 19 Dec 1941, A. H. Potts' wartime diary

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 19 Dec 1941

    Shortly after midnight one of the Ordnance men dosed off with his finger on the trigger of his rifle with the inevitable result, which was somewhat alarming but fortunately caused no damage.

    At six-fifteen just before dawn I announced I was going out to have a look around.  ‘Davy’ Gow immediately said he would come with me.  We opened the steel door cautiously and went slinking down the passage like a couple of gunmen till we reached the grill at the outer end.  We peered out, fully expecting to find a sentry or in any case Japanese around in the magazine compound.  No sentry was there!  No one up or down the roadway!!

    We examined the car which by some miracle was still there and by a greater miracle undamaged.

    Sending Davy back to call the others, I got into the car and touched the starter button.  She sprang to life immediately and I was thankful we had taken Larry’s Studebaker and not my Morris.  There is no question American cars are the ones for quick starting.

    The others came out from the magazine and hastily piled in.  Larry and Gow in front with me, each with a revolver and the Ordnance men and the ancient police reservist in the back with their rifles pointing out of the windows.  It must have looked for all the world like a gangster’s getaway!

    Off we went, but I couldn’t see the roadway and very nearly ruined everything by almost driving into a ditch, so I stopped the car and broke the windscreen with the butt end of a rifle.  Then we were off like the wind, up the hill to Lyemun barracks which were strewn all over the roadway from the recent shelling.  Threading our way through the debris we reached the main gates.  Again no sentry!  Luck was with us.

    Down the military road I drove at a dangerous pace, the car going right down on her springs as we ploughed through the two big craters – till we reached Shaukiwan hill.

    The light was still bad and I misjudged the turning and rammed my right front wing against the hillside.  Fortunately no damage was done other than force the wing against the tyre and we soon had that pulled out and were streaming up Shaukiwan hill.  I put my foot right down on the accelerator as the light improved and the big car well laden moved along like a train.  If we came across Japs it would have been just too bad for them unless they had a barricade, we should have gone slap through anything.  Our road block at the top of Shaukiwan hill which had been manned the previous night was deserted when we reached it and we saw neither our troops nor the Japs until we reached Tytam Gap which the Canadians were holding.

    The gates across the road were closed and heavily guarded.  The Canadians knew about the landing and were all on the alert.  We passed through the gates and then drove on more slowly, past Stanley and Repulse Bay where the roadblocks were still in operation till we came to the RASC Supply Depot at Deepwater Bay which we found deserted ((as explained in Sheridan's diary for today)).  The Golf Club house was still piled high with tinned goods and there were also great piles of goods stacked all over the course.

    We went into the clubhouse and helped ourselves to some bread and tinned goods wondering what had happened to the personell.  Whilst we were eating and discussing the situation we heard machine gun fire coming from Wongneichong Gap which is right above the golf course.

    We decided to turn round and go up there to see what was happening. Accordingly we proceeded up the Repulse Bay Road till we reached a corner just short of the gap where a lorry driver stopped us and advised us not to proceed any further as the Japs had already got possession of the Police Station and we should be under fire,

    There is a ridge slightly further down the road which commands a clear view of the gap;  on this ridge Eu Tong Sen, a multimillionaire from Singapore where he had made his money in tin mines, had built five houses.  Housebuilding was a fetish with him and he is supposed to have been told by the priests that he would live so long as he built;  however he is dead now and a good … [I will have to check this at HKU] between the priest and house contractors is also finished.  These five houses stand some fifty feet above the road and are reached by an approach road.  The first house is a smallish one, then come two large semidetached houses, next a large house and finally a smaller single house.  There is a good deal of space between the houses in the shape of tennis courts and gardens.  

    The first house is built against the hillside from which the ridge on which the five houses are built juts out.  Some hundred feet above the level of the houses, up the hillside is a water conduit running from Repulse Bay to Wongneichong gap.

    On getting up to these houses we found they were occupied by the Ordnance Corps who had their HQ in the first house, the two semidetached and the large single house were full of stores and the last smaller house was occupied by the other ranks.  There were also great piles of stores stacked all over the tennis courts.

    On our arrival, I noticed there were a few men lying down with rifles behind the stone parapet of the approach road leading past the houses till it reached the end house, but no one was firing.  Looking across to Wongneichong gap I could see the Police Station was in the hands of the Japanese and they were engaged in attacking Tinson’s house, a beautiful home belonging to a solicitor who was a great friend of mine.  He was attached to the ARP but was killed whilst leaving his house for his post on the morning of 19th.

    The Japanese were also attacking the pillbox at the foot of the bridle pass leading from the gap up Mount Nicholson.  This pillbox had a lot of bare hillside with no cover at all surrounding it and I could see the Japanese scrambling about on it quite clearly.

    The Police Station, Tinson’s house and the Pillbox were all approximately the same range (about 1000 yards), so I was surprised that no effort was being made to assist them.  

    I found the semi-detached houses contained a great many guns of all sorts in addition to all sorts of stores including field glasses and telescopes.  I got hold of a telescope just to make sure they were in fact Japs scrambling around the Police Station and pillbox and being quite satisfied they were, I got out a couple of Lewis guns with ‘Davy’ Gow, cleaned them up, got some chaps to fill up the drums and when we were ready started firing.  A sergeant of the Ordnance said to me “Thank God you’ve come Sir, we haven’t done a thing to help those chaps till you came”.

    Davy and I were making good shooting amongst the Japs around the Police station and the ones on the bare hillside around the pillbox were scampering back to shelter like jack rabbits.  We were thoroughly enjoying ourselves when an officer came along and told us to stop firing.  I pointed out our target informing him, when he told me those were our Indian troops, that I had ascertained they were Japanese before opening fire by employing one of his good telescopes and invited him to look through it himself.  He took a look and said he wasn’t certain and therefore we were not to fire and in any case I had no business to open fire without permission from his OC.  In other words, he clearly indicated that our presence at “The Ridge” was not welcome and they were quite capable of looking after themselves – presumably by lying low.

    As it wasn’t our show there was nothing to be done but pack up and move on.  It was sickening as some timely assistance to the chaps up at Wongneichong gap might have helped a lot.  We got into the big car, this time only Larry, Davy Gow and myself for we left the Ordnance men with their own outfit also the old police sergeant;  he poor fellow was overjoyed to be out of Lyemun safely and kept on saying “Bless you, my darling”.  He worked like a trump up at “The Ridge”, as I know when we returned there later that day and stayed till 21st, but I lost touch with him and am afraid he was killed.  

    We turned down Repulse Bay road and went back to Deepwater Bay which was still deserted so decided to drive on towards Aberdeen.

    Here we got news that the whole of the RASC both Supply and Transport had retired to Sassoon Road at Pokfulam.

    We found them around noon and got a great welcome as we had already been posted as missing as it was presumed we had all been killed or captured at Lyemun.

    I discovered that in the rush of leaving Shouson Hill most of my kit and Mr Bones had been left behind.  I went off to see Susie at the Queen Mary Hospital which is at the top of Sassoon Road, only a quarter of a mile from where we were.  I found her very tired but cheerful and Uncle Pat much improved.  As we were likely to be at Sassoon Road for some time, I decided to dash back to Shouson Hill and collect Mr Bones and my kit.

    When I arrived at Grimble’s bungalow I found the servants still there but very apprehensive.  I told them not to be alarmed as no harm would come to them even if the Japanese arrived.  Mr. Bones was delighted to see me poor fellow, I’m sure he realized he had been deserted.  Thank goodness they hadn’t shot him.  I also collected a small suitcase I had containing razors, soap, brushes etc etc and a bottle of whisky, box of chocolates, pipe tobacco, cigarettes and oranges and apples, in fact a veritable treasure chest.  I left hanging in Grimble’s wardrobe a good Jaeger dressing down, a suit of overalls and my spare jacket and shorts.

    On my return to Sassoon Road I was informed that we were to move our personnel to some position up in the hills just beyond Aberdeen, but that the vehicles would remain at Sassoon Road.  I placed Mr Bones and my kit in charge of Corpl. Sleap who was to remain behind with the vehicles.

    We drove off, Larry and I still together in his car at the rear of the convoy of some six trucks till we reached a point on the road about a mile beyond Aberdeen where we got out and walked about five hundred feet up the hillside where we were to take up position for the night, but we had no sooner got up than we were ordered to come down again as we were to go up the Repulse Bay Road and join the Ordnance people at “The Ridge” and assist them to give covering fire to an attack which was going to take place that night on Wongneichong Gap.  It was said that we still held the Pillbox and Tinson’s house and that the position was well in hand so everyone felt somewhat braced.

    After our first encounter with the Tramway wire down Kings Road I had equipped my Ammunition Column lorries with heavy wire cutters but unfortunately none of them were in our convoy for just at the junction of Island and Repulse Bay roads the leading lorry got entangled in the concertina wire at the road block there.  This was simply damned carelessness as the car leading the convoy had already passed through the gap in the wire safely.  We found there were no wire cutters of any description amongst the convoy and the lorry had to be cut out with a file which was a long and tedious business to say the least.

    However it was clear at last and we proceeded up the Repulse Bay Road without farther delay, till we reached the approach road leading up to “The Ridge” where we got out and the lorries returned to Sassoon Road.

    When we got up to the houses we found all quiet and nothing doing;  there was no sign of an attack being made on Wongneichong Gap and no preparations being made by the Ordnance to give covering fire.  Our presence did not seem to be very welcome, however we distributed ourselves amongst the five houses and settled down for the night.

    I selected the last house where the sergeants were and they fixed me up with a good hot meal which was the first I had eaten since tiffin time the day before and also produced some whisky which had been left in the house by the owner.  I then settled down for a much wanted sleep on a couch.

  • 19 Dec 1941, Harry Ching's wartime diary

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    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 19 Dec 1941

    Cloudy and rainy, helping the smoke pall to blanket the eastern districts. A friend phoned early, in whispers. He is serving in the rice depot at the Lee Theatre in Percival Street, and one of his staff this morning saw a couple of Japanese soldiers at the Causeway Bay junction nearby, apparently reconnoitring since they went away. Later in the morning an Australian friend went by our back door and shouted, "They landed last night. Three hundred of them, at North Point" - a mile away eastward from us.

    It was an understatement. Contrary to expectations, they had crossed the eastern end of the Harbour the night before in great strength. It was a dark night, and the smoke pall from Whitfield had further reduced the visibility. In the afternoon the battle in the hills seemed to have quietened. We saw a long file of soldiers, probably Canadian, walking from the west slowly along Stubbs Road high above us, reinforcements for the battle raging at Wongneichong Gap. The upper end of Happy Valley has become a no-man's land. The telephone still works, but all sign of government has vanished except for the street guards. The electricity supply has ceased. 

  • 19 Dec 1941, South China Morning Post

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    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 19 Dec 1941
    Hong Kong-Newsprint-SCMP-19 December 1941-pg1-b.jpg
    Hong Kong-Newsprint-SCMP-19 December 1941-pg2.jpg

     

  • 19 - 23 Dec 1941, Events at the Repulse Bay Hotel

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 19 Dec 1941 to Tue, 23 Dec 1941

             Actual hostilities around the Hotel increased in intensity by the 19th December, and fighting for possession of the Hotel Garage took place on the 20th December when the Japanese occupying it were dislodged.  Then certain British units manned the Hotel with Mortars, Machine Guns, and various small arms (windows, verandahs, rooms, and roof being utilised).  Interchange of fire took place continuously until the British troops left the Hotel during the early hours of the 23rd December just prior to the Japanese forces entering the Hotel at dawn on that day.

    Our stocks of wines, spirits, etc., were destroyed on the 22nd December.  

  • 19 Dec 1941, W J Carrie's wartime diary

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    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 19 Dec 1941

    Sweetheart - I wonder what you're hearing about us - they made a landing on the Island last night.  Kerfoot, one of the lads who came up from Singapore with me last January got a grenade thrown into his Bren carrier from above and he was killed. We have had a much quieter day - probably because they don't know where their own troops are. I am very afraid we won't be able to hold out long.

    I went down town this morning again to see the Controller of Transport and to go to the Bank about small money - I drew H 1000 in H 1 notes and 10 cent notes. I went along and saw Bertie at teatime - he is looking pretty well but obviously shaken a good bit. I couldn't do with that bunch of women round me - Dora and Margery of course, Mrs. Mike Turner, Beryl Shipworth (Fair that was) ((probably Beryl Skipwith)) and another woman. I had a cup of tea and promised to cash a cheque for Bertie. It is only 5.30 but dinner is ready so I must run.

    Now ten to 7 - all quiet - so we had a walk along the road to the corner - just at Upper Levels Police Station - just beyond Euston. The fire at the A.P.C. installation at North Point is still burning and some house on the upper levels is also on fire.

    Dora was of course asking for you and I could only tell her I'd had one wire and had tried to send two. They were talking about N.L who was on the Ulysses - and so I fear was my Christmas parcel. On the 9th she reported she was being bombed half way between here and Singapore. I am afraid she would be sunk. But of course she might have escaped.
    Well Honey - I can't write more - I must try and write by day in the future.          Goodnight Loved One.
                                                                                                                                                                                                       Billie.

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