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

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Mon, 22 Dec 1941

    False alarm 1AM (Japs landed at Stanley.) Canadians turned out & manned roads. All OK. returned to H.Q. 8.30AM for much needed food & clean up.

    1.30PM manned position N of Village commanding shortcut paths from Stanley View. Sandbagged our position & stayed the night, nothing happened.

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

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Mon, 22 Dec 1941

    The ordeal of those captured in Kowloon continues.

    Arthur Hamson and most of his fellow prisoners at the Hing Wah/Ying Wah College are up at  6 a.m. - they've been told they are to be moved today. They are taken by lorry to the Kowloon Hotel, arriving at about 2 p.m.. At 5.30 p.m. he writes to his wife Edith - 'life seems blacker now than it has ever been. We're 4 of us in a small room'.

     

    Robin Boris Levkovich is also one of the party that is moved from the School to the Hotel. He lists some of the people he found already there:

    Mr. Gale, ('American Red Cross Representative') / Mrs Lee ('who went on the peace mision') / Mr. Von Ness / Mr. and Mrs. Massber ('American') / Mr. Gingles and party ('the owner of the Palace Hotel').

     

    George and Helen Kennedy-Skipton have generously opened their home to those in need. Tonight the group is told to move: the troops holding nearby Mt. Cameron are withdrawing, and they tell them to leave too. One of the party, Sally Refo, tells the story:

    He {an officer of the Royal Scots} told us to get ready and they would have a truck there for us in a few minutes. Just as we went out with the children to get into the truck a shell hit the tennis court not more than twenty feet away but fortunately on higher ground and when the rest of us got up Harriet still lay there and I thought sure she was dead. She was only frightened. It was so dangerous that we decided we would stay in our house and take our chances. But the officer commanded us so strongly that we dared not disobey. While we hesitated the truck left. Ours was a wild flight, children, servants and excited adults all mixed in with the soldiers who were retreating in confusion. We feared the soldiers would be shelled or fired upon. We could not get away from them. The children were slow. We ran into barbed wire entanglements in the utter darkness. Mr. Skipton brought up the rear in his car and when we were able to turn from the soldiers' line of march he overtook us and picked up the children. At last we found a place to stop. We lay on the cold floor and rested in a house that the men from the billeting office knew was a good place. Why we did not take pneumonia I do not know. At day light we got up and found a place to live in. That was a dark moment. We had no food, no water, no bedding and only the clothing that we had on.

     

    The tensest moments of the Repulse Bay Hotel siege arrive. It's been decided the soldiers at the Hotel will leave in the hope that this will save the civilians from massacre. The first attempt is through a drain, but this is so noisy that Major Templer decides to lead the rest to Stanley Fort along the road.

    The soldiers line up and begin to slip out of the hotel in stockinged feet.  A Swiss man, a neutral, feels impelled to share their fate; he asks for and is given a Volunteer uniform.

    Many of these soldiers are to be killed, some after torture.

    After the soldiers are gone, the Japanese enter the Hotel. One member of staff, 'the number one Boy' is bayoneted. The soldiers then approach the wounded with fixed bayonets, but Australian nurse Elizabeth Mosey blocks their way and they back down.

     

    The front page of the Daily Mirror carries the headline:

    Hong Kong Battle On Racecourse

    The Express agrees:

    Battle Raging For Hongkong Racecourse

    The Mirror's story is based on a Japanese report, and it also mentions that the Japanese people have been told to refrain from 'excessive jubilation' when the fall of Hong Kong is announced.

    The Chinese army is now described as fighting ten miles north of the border town of Shumchun. But even the most optimistic person with a loved one in Hong Kong must realise that the game's up and that there's nothing to hope for but capture and imprisonment rather than death.

    In fact, on page 2 the columnist Cassandra is drawing conclusions from the 'swift and ominous fate' of Hong Kong and Penang as if it's already over for both places.

    Sources:

    Hamson: Allana Corbin, Prisoners of the East, 2002, 105

    Levkovich: Statement, pages 4-5 (in the Ride Papers, held at the Hong Kong Heritage project and kindly sent to me Elizabeth Ride)

    Kennedy-Skiptons: Sally Refo's Letter, available to members of the Yahoo Stanley Discussion Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stanley_camp/messages

    Repulse Bay: Tony Banham, Not The Slightest Chance, 2003, 207; Jan Marsman, I Escaped From Hong Kong, 1942, 68-73

    Notes:

    1) Levkovich gives the date of his move as 'about the 25th' and also lists Major Manners as already there: as Manners was still in the Repulse Bay Hotel on the 22 (see above), Levkovich was either transferred a little later than Hamson or was wrong to think Manners was in the Hotel before him. See also the entry for December 12.

    'Von Ness' is Parker Van Ness, a Kai Tak mechanic and eventual escaper: http://gwulo.com/node/11296/backlinks

    For more about E. F. Gingle: http://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/edward-gingle-at-war/

    2) I've put the end of the Repulse Bay Hotel siege today, following Tony Banham's chronology. Jan Marsman's account is a little different: he has the soldiers lining up about 2. a.m.tomorrow morning and leaving the Hotel over the next two hours. The Japanese enter about dawn.
  • 22 Dec 1941, Sheridan's diary of the hostilities

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Mon, 22 Dec 1941

    Today the emptying of the Chung-Am-Kok food store continues with additional lorries and more help. It looks as if very soon the Japs will overrun the road to the Fort. So it is essential to get as many stores in as possible.

    I arrive at the food store as soon as it is daylight. The store had been unlocked as the door had been damaged. I could see that some Canadians had been in during the night. Some tins of milk and bully beef had been used, but they must have been surprised in the act of shaving. I noticed a stump of a candle, a mirror and a safety razor with hair in it. Also lying about are some antigas capes, respirators, two pairs of boots (Canadian) and two sets of identity discs. There was also a fully loaded Japanese magazine from an automatic weapon similar to our Bren gun. The Indian troops were very nervous, so I had a good look round the areas and found nothing else suspicious. The lorry was loaded in quick time but the Indians refused to stay and returned to the Fort with me. On the way I met two more lorries, so I stopped and warned them to be cautious. I took the Jap magazine, the boots, gas cape, respirator and identity discs to the guard room in Stanley Fort. Before I could return the two lorries I had met came tearing into the Fort and said they had been fired on at the food store. So that was the end of any more visits to Chong-Am-Kok that day. Somehow I have a feeling that there are Japs roaming about in Canadian battledress.

    I am kept busy with Hammond and Tuck and Mr Wood sorting out and issuing rations until late afternoon. Then an order comes through by telephone from GHQ for Staff Sgt. Sheridan and Sgt. Hammond to report at Stanley Pier at 6p.m. We gather up what little kit we have and get one of the drivers to take us near the Pier. It is now almost dark as we reach the Pier. It is a wooden structure about 50 yds long and is guarded by two concrete Pill boxes. The concrete boxes are manned by men from the Middlesex Regiment. I obtain permission from the officer in charge for Hammond and myself to go on to the Pier. But first he warns the Pill box men not to fire on us. We hang about on the Pier until about 9p.m. and watch and hear a lot of tracers, very lights ((Very lights were used for night-time illumination of combat areas)) and machine gun fire from across the other side of Stanley Bay. An RA Sgt. Major and some Sikhs from a mountain Battery arrive and are waiting to unload Howitzer gun ammunition which is expected on two MTBs ((Motor Torpedo Boats)) from Aberdeen, a fishing village on the south side of HK Island. We hear the noise of two Motor Torpedo boats approaching the Pier. Our own searchlights focus on the boats and give their position away. As soon as the two boats pull along side the Pier the Japs open up with tracers ((illuminated bullets)) from across the Bay. The former Coxwain of HMS Cicala ((This ship had been sunk in Lamma Channel on December 21; the former Coxswain, transferred to MTB 10, was Chief Petty Officer Gilbert 'Tom' Thums, who took part in the 'great escape' involving Admiral Chan Chak on December 25)) whom I knew from playing hockey against their team, was in charge of MTB No. 10. A tracer clips him across the back of his hand, but he wraps his white scarf around it and gives orders to Hammond and myself to jump on and lie down in the shelter of the wheelhouse. The Howitzer gun ammunition is quickly dumped off and we pull away from the Pier. There is a lot of shrapnel and tracer bullets flying about but no one else gets hit. The other boat follows us out into the Bay, and we have a good view of a lot of noisy activity on the hillside above Chung-Am-Kok. Although we are still lying prone on the deck a sailor comes and gives us a bottle of beer each. Talking to him I find he comes from a place near Cloyne Co. Cork. ((Staff-Sergeant Sheridan attended school in County Cork.)) Just as I am about to have a drink of my beer a hand appears through the Cabin window and a voice says “Give us a swig mate”. I pass the bottle in, and it is returned half empty.

    The speed of the Torpedo boat slackens and we make our way cautiously into Aberdeen Bay. It is pitch dark and needs expert navigation. When the boat is anchored, we are taken below deck to a very tiny cabin and are treated to an excellent meal, which both Hammond and I enjoyed as it was the first meal of the day since breakfast and it was now about 10.30p.m. About 14 of us sat round the table in the sailors’ mess. This crew have been going day and night since the attack started. They have had a few attacks on the Japs invasion boats, and inflicted plenty of casualties, but they are in the best of spirits.

    About 11p.m. a sailor escorts us ashore, this is quite a feat as the little harbour is choc-a-bloc with Chinese junks and hundreds of sampans all moored side by side. We climb over and through about a dozen to get ashore. The occupants of some were not too pleased, being asleep and woken up by us.

    We were taken to a Boys’ Industrial school which was being used as a temporary hospital, Naval HQ and a sort of rest centre for troops. There were a lot of wounded here being tended by Naval sick berth staff.

    It is not safe for Hammond and myself to go any further in the darkness. I try to telephone GHQ but no success, so we settle down on the concrete floor, but later we are assigned a bed with no mattress in the former boys’ dormitory. Parts of the building had been shelled so we remained on the ground floor. We were not allowed to divest of any clothing or equipment. Mortar shells kept us awake and during the night we had two stand-tos, when we had to get outside, but they were false alarms.

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

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Mon, 22 Dec 1941

    The night of the 22nd. December was wet and troops robbed us of all coats, sweaters and woollen clothing.

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

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Mon, 22 Dec 1941

    Around midnight (21st-22nd) I was summoned to the No.1 house which was our HQ.  Here I found Col. McPherson, Ordnance, Lt.Col. Fredericks RASC and many other officers.  I was informed that we were leaving “The Ridge”   One party was to make its way (nobody quite knew how) up to the catchwater leading from Repulse Bay to Wongneichong Gap, another party in which I was included were to proceed down the Repulse Bay Road and occupy “Overbays” a large house at the junction of Island and Repulse Bay Roads.

    Our party was to consist of thirty Canadians with Lt. Anderson in command, forty Chinese sappers and thirty men drawn from the Ordnance and RASC.  Amongst the officers in the party were Lt.Col Fredericks, Major Mould, Capt Blaker (Blake?) all RASC and several Ordnance officers whose names I do not know except one named Piggott and Anderson of the Canadians and myself.  Each man was to have a rifle and a hundred and fifty rounds and in addition we had a couple of Bren Guns and some hand grenades.  There was very little food left at “The Ridge” and all that could be spared was four Army biscuits per man and only half a mug full of water.  We had no field dressing nor anything in the shape of a stretcher.

    We set off shortly after midnight down the Repulse Bay Road;  it was a very still night and we must have been heard for miles around.

    We had almost reached “Overbays” and had just entered a cutting, when there was a sharp burst of machine gun fire, this caused almost a panic.  Fortunately there was a driveway being constructed for a new house, and into this we bundled and then spread along the parapet.

    I remember Piggott taking charge at this juncture, he was a real old sweat and it was a pity we didnt have more of his type.  He went around steadying the boys and then gave them the order to fire at the opposite bank, from which the fire had come.

    The result was ludicrous – many of the Chinese had no idea of how to use their rifles and simply fired without aiming, with the result that many of the bullets, which were tracers, were going straight up in the air.  The tremendous fuselade which we fired went on for several minutes and it was a job to stop it.

    No doubt the Japanese were lying down quite secure behind the bank and when we stopped, popped up and gave us another good burst;  this and the first, inflicted several casualties and the moans of the wounded and their almost immediate request for water were distressing.

    There was some sort of a conference held amongst the officers, and it was decided we should push on to “Overbays”.  This did not meet with my approval, which I expressed.  I was in favour of scattering in small parties on the hillside, or in returning to “The Ridge” which being well clear of the hillside was easy to protect, and from where we should have been able to put up a good fight, with the large quantity of arms and ammunition at our disposal.  “Overbays” on the other hand was a death-trap in my opinion.

    It is a large house, with many windows, standing on a level cut in the hillside some hundred feet above the roadway, from which it is approached by a driveway.  The front door is only the width of this driveway from the hillside, from which you can look right into the upper story windows.  As you come up the driveway and approach the house there is dense undergrowth right up to the windows.  At the front of the house is a small open verandah overlooking the junction of Island and Repulse Bay roads and at the side of the house a lawn somewhat smaller than a tennis court, to which access from the house is obtained through French windows, one side of this lawn is bounded by the cut hillside, the other by a cliff overlooking Repulse Bay Road some hundred feet below from which a flight of steps leads, and the far end ends in hillside covered by dense undergrowth.

    Anyway we went up the driveway and reached the house without further trouble and got inside.  We then posted some sentries and settled down as best we might for what I fully expected was to be my last night.

    However, the Japanese elected to leave us in peace.  I was up at dawn and searching the house for food and drink.  I found a bottle of marmite, some apples and some grapes, but nothing else had been left by the owner, Sun Fo, son of Dr. Sun Yat Sen.  I kept the marmite and a couple of apples and gave the rest of the apples and grapes to the wounded who were suffering pretty badly.  We had bound them up as well as possible with torn up linen which we found but there was no antiseptic or proper bandage to be found.

    The interior of “Overbays” comprised a very big lounge to which the front door gave immediate access.  The opposite wall had French windows which opened onto the verandah overlooking the junction of Island and Repulse Bay roads.  One end of the lounge also had French windows opening onto the lawn, the other was a wall with a door leading to the dining room and servants and domestic quarters.

    There was a staircase in the lounge leading to the upper story, a small flight of stairs just inside the front door led to a level which ran across the length of the lounge and then another small flight landed you on the upper floor.  The level part had a row of windows facing the hillside so that practically the whole lounge was exposed.  Thus with the French windows and the windows on the staircase the lounge was pretty well open all round.

    The dining room commanded no view at all, thick shrubbery coming right up to the windows.  

    The upper floor consisting of bedrooms was vulnerable being on a level with the hillside.  There was nothing we could barricade the windows with, so we were faced with a nice problem.

    Whilst I was scrounging around, firing started and when I went upstairs I found one man had already been hit while lying in bed.

    Nobody seemed to be paying much attention to organizing any defence, so I spoke to Anderson and suggested it would be as well for him to get something done.  He called his sergeant and with him and another man went out across the lawn to the far end of it where a path led up the hillside;  here he concealed the sergeant and man with a Bren gun and then returned to the house.  I had in the meantime got Larry Andrews and another of the Canadians to mount a gun on the verandah overlooking the junction.

    When Anderson returned we could clearly see the Japanese, moving about on the hillside, through the windows on the level part of the staircase.  He and I got rifles and started potting at them and we then tried to get men to fire from the windows.  No one seemed very willing to expose themselves and the Chinese sappers were by this time sitting in a huddle under the staircase and were removing their bandoliers which they threw with their rifles into the middle of the room.  The remainder stood around in groups upstairs and down, taking good care to keep clear of the windows.

    The firing got more intense and by this time bullets were coming through the staircase windows but were hitting a beam well above our heads.  Still it was unpleasant!!  I went upstairs with Anderson to see if we could get up on the roof or get any fire to bear from the upper floor.  We found both impossible, for there was nothing with which to barricade the windows, through which the bullets were now coming fast, nor could we reach the roof for the ladder which led up to it opened onto a part which had no protecting parapet, so that once anyone emerged from the trapdoor they were in full view.

    The wounded were bleeding still, for we had no proper means to bind them and one man was obviously bleeding to death.

    On coming downstairs I found Larry had been forced to bring his gun in from the verandah as the Japanese were throwing bombs at it.  A bold rush across the lawn and up the hillside was the obvious thing and this I suggested to Anderson to which he agreed saying that if we remained in the house we would all be caught like rats.

    He turned to his men and said “Boys, I’m going out, who will come with me.”  There was a dead silence.  Anderson said “Will you come sergeant” “Yes” was the reply, “and you Dupont”.  “Yes, Sir” answered a very pale faced youngster.  Another who I suspect was Dupont’s pal immediately said he would go too.  Nobody else volunteered so these four dashed from the French windows, crossed the lawn and disappeared up the path.

    I waited a minute and then said to Larry, “I don’t like to see those chaps go out alone;  if we can reach the hills we can put up some sort of a show if the Japs try and rush the house, and if they don’t we can get away at dusk and report the situation to GHQ who I feel sure know nothing about it, will you come with me?”

    He agreed immediately.

    I called for volunteers to go with me.  No response!

    So out we went following the same route as Anderson, fully expecting to stop one any moment, however we reached the path safely, which I saw led up into more open country but further to the right was a ravine covered with dense undergrowth into which we dashed.

    On taking stock we heard several machine guns up the hill firing at the house, and also one which was firing right over our heads, but there was no answering fire.  I thought if we lie here we can ambush the Japs if they attempt to rush the house and if they don’t we can get away at dusk and report the situation to GHQ.

    To this plan Larry agreed and so we lay waiting and watching.  We saw no sign of Anderson and his men who must have gone further up the hillside.  

    The firing grew more intense as the afternoon wore on, but still no reply came from the house.  However, no attempt was made to rush it, no doubt the Japs knew our strength almost to a man and must have thought we were holding our fire till they came out in the open, little knowing the deplorable condition which actually existed.

    As we lay waiting, a dog came along and took a look at us but otherwise no one disturbed our long wait.

    Larry was actually in the small party which had set off from “The Ridge” just ahead of our party.  We had caught up with them at the point where we were ambushed and they had then joined up with us as it was obviously impossible to reach the catchwater from anywhere around the Repulse Bay end, as the Japanese were already in possession of all that area.

    At last it was getting dark and we took off our boots and prepared to start on our journey to GHQ.  Keeping to the ravine we crept down towards the road, seemingly making a fearful row, for the firing had died down to almost nothing at dusk, and the only sound seemed to come from the stones which we dislodged in our descent.  We came to the end of the ravine where the hillside overhung the road;  here we found a stormwater cement culvert, to carry the heavy rains safely past the road, and down this we slid, landing safely on the road.

    So far so good!  The new moon was just up and for such a small crescent seemed to be giving an amazing amount of light.  Much too much for our liking!

    The point on the road where we now stood was about two hundred yards from the road junction below “Overbays” and directly above a palatial residence which belonged to the same Chinese millionaire who had built the houses known as “The Ridge” which we had only left the night before. ((David: The 'palatial residence' was most likely Eu Tong-Sen's house, Eucliffe.)) This residence was some forty feet below the road level, and even if we had been able to get down the retaining wall which supported the road, we should only have found ourselves in his grounds and might have had to contend with the fierce dogs which he turned loose at night but more probably would have found the place in the possession of the Japanese.

    We walked slowly up the road towards the junction with the intention of slipping across and making for Deepwater Bay and Aberdeen.  Suddenly there was a shout and we heard several men running down the road from the junction.

    There was only one thing to do, so over the wall we went.  Fortunately we had already reached a point where the retaining wall was only some fifteen feet above the hillslope and outside of the millionaire’s grounds.  We landed safely and lay still till we heard the running men well past, and then slid down the hillside to the beach some forty odd feet below.

    Here, we discussed our next move.  Larry, who is an excellent swimmer, was set on swimming from where we were across to Deepwater Bay but I felt I was not equal to it.  The water was very cold and I was certain I should get cramp and was all for sticking to the land.

    We decided to part, each taking the route he preferred.  We wished each other luck, arranged to make for Aberdeen where we knew the Navy had their headquarters, and whoever reached there first was to go on to GHQ and report.

    Below the road level between the junction of Island and Repulse Bay Roads there are a number of houses, the gardens of which all run into each other and are linked up by paths.  Keeping in the shadows I went along these paths, going very quietly, as I had to get past the road junction which was just above the first house.  This house was deserted, but from it I could see the Japanese were at the road junction for they had made a barricade with lorries and what struck me as very odd, had a red light burning.  We used to have red lights on road blocks during the first few days, before there was any likelihood of a landing, but this was discontinued once the Japanese were in Kowloon.

    I went slowly on, finding no difficulty in getting through barbed wire fencing here and there, till I reached the last house which is just round the corner from Deepwater Bay;  then a dog started barking.

    I stood still, hoping it would stop but it went on and on and I thought I must do something quick before someone came to see what was the matter.  I slipped up the road, intending to go along to Deepwater Bay but found this was impossible as the Japanese had another block just at the foot of the hill, as the road leaves Deepwater Bay.

    I therefore turned back and made my way as quickly as possible down to the beach, with the wretched dog still barking his head off.

    On reaching the shore I found a barbed wire fence;  this looked innocent enough and I had no compunction in crawling through it.  As I was climbing through my coat caught and there was a deafening explosion.  

    I found myself lying on my back, very frightened. At the time I immediately thought the dog had attracted the attention of the Japanese and that a bomb had been thrown at me;  however, I believe I must have been mistaken and that it was one of our sentry mines which we had all along the coast where there were rocks on which it was possible for small parties to land, for nothing further happened.

    However, I decided it was now time for me to follow Larry into the sea and hastily removed my clothing.  I hated like hell leaving a very well cut raincoat which the tailor had only just delivered to me, but I knew if I was to keep afloat I must sacrifice everything.

    Clad in my underclothes I slipped into the very cold water which was black with oil from the sunken oil lighter which had been bombed at Aberdeen.  I swam quietly towards Deepwater Bay where I landed, very cold but quite intact.

    I then made a very serious mistake.  I spent about an hour and a half in trying to get through the very formidable barbed wire entanglements on the beach.  I tried at the point at which I landed, again in the centre of the beach and yet again where a stream flowed under it.  Each time I succeeded in getting a certain distance through the wire by rolling and squirming, only to find myself up against an absolutely impregnable fence.  In this I was fortunate as it happens for I heard later the beach was mined and if I had got onto it, I should certainly have been blown up.

    By this time my feet were in a terrible state having got badly cut on the rocks to start with and then on the barbed wire and the small anchor posts which secured it.  I was miserably cold and didn’t know what to do next.

    I decided I must swim again and try to scale the cliff some forty feet up to the road which ran from Deepwater Bay to Aberdeen.  This time I entered the water it was an absolute nightmare and my teeth started to chatter.

    I swam out to a point where there was no barbed wire, climbed onto the rocks which were covered with barnacles and began to climb the cliff.

    The light given by the new moon was quite sufficient to show me where I could get a good foot and hand hold, and I reached the top without much difficulty, but here I was confronted by a sheer granite wall which formed the retaining wall and parapet for the road.  It seemed to tower above me and there was only a very narrow ledge at the top of the cliff on which I should have to stand and reach up for the top, so as to pull myself up.  It was a pleasant thought that one little slip would land me on the rocks forty feet below!!

    I got up very cautiously, squirming my body up against the wall, and reached up with my arms.  I was just able to grasp the top of the wall!  A pull-up and I was on the road.  I almost expected to find another road block at this end of Deepwater Bay but luck was with me and I found the road clear.  I thanked God for pulling me through, I do believe I was looked after that night for it was a miraculous climb in that light.

    Seeing the road clear I decided to walk along it, thinking if there were any Japanese in that area they would probably let me pass, as clad in my underwear and covered with oil they might easily mistake me for a coolie.

    I passed many deserted lorries, all ours, but neatly parked on the side of the road where the Japanese seemed to be fixing them up, for several had small lights burning and people working in the cabs, but no one disturbed me.

    Just before entering Aberdeen, about two miles along the road from the place I reached it, I ran into a barbed wire entanglement.  I immediately thought that the Japanese must be at Aberdeen and that I should be captured and probably die of pneumonia if not shot, which I thought was very discouraging after all my efforts.  

    I stood perfectly still. Suddenly a good old British voice challenged.

    I fairly shouted with joy, “Thank God you’re British”.

    He replied, “Is that Capt. Potts?”  “Yes” said I, “but how did you know?”  “Oh, Lt. Andrews arrived a short while ago, and told me to be on the lookout for you”.

    That was great news.

    I went to the Naval Headquarters at the Industrial School just past the sentry, where I found Comdr. Harrison who gave me a much needed drink and warm coat.  He told me Larry had just gone off in a car to GHQ, this meant that there was no need for me to go so I asked if he could spare a car to send me home.

    My feet needed immediate attention if I was to avoid blood poisoning, and I thought the best attention I could receive would be from Susie.  It was just after midnight when the car in which Harrison sent me arrived at “Alberose”.  You can imagine the fuss that was made over me.

  • 22 Dec 1941, Harry Ching's wartime diary

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Mon, 22 Dec 1941

    The day opened mildly for us. An air raid alarm for breakfast; but they have been sounding so frequently and are so mixed with the all-clears that they have become meaningless. We fed as we could. Plates have become impractical; we eat with spoons from rice bowls. With these we are mobile, can duck quickly when the crashes surge near. The lull did not last for long. Another terrific bombardment around us and away up in the hills. Another shell on our roof destroyed some of my tomatoes. There were again great fires on the mainland - big smoke near Tsun Wan. The remaining oil tanks in the installations there had been shelled and set alight.

  • 22 Dec 1941, South China Morning Post

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Mon, 22 Dec 1941
    Hong Kong-Newsprint-SCMP-22 December 1941-pg1.jpg
    Hong Kong-Newsprint-SCMP-22 December 1941-pg2.jpg

     

  • 22 Dec 1941, Additional notes

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Mon, 22 Dec 1941

    On the 22nd an artillery attack on the Ridge was commenced and our sandbag defences and walls of the houses began to crumble.


    No 6 Platoon of the Scottish Company were assigned to hold the area of the bridge over the Lido Road on the night of 22nd December to protect the evacuation of troops in the Repulse Bay Hotel area from enemy troops who were penetrating down the valley to the east of Violet Hill.

    ((Source - a dramatization of the history of the Hong Kong Volunteers, which was broadcast over Radio Hong Kong on 31st May 1954 as part of the HKVDC Centenary Celebrations))

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

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Mon, 22 Dec 1941

    8.45am.  News not so good yet we can just carry on.  I'll write later       B.

    11.15   Nothing much to do and very quiet today.  We have maintained our positions but we are not pushing them back - still it is said that the Chinese are shelling the Japs in Sham Shui Po so perhaps relief will come quickly  I've never mentioned Betsy -  I thought I'd have to have her destroyed but I brought her here.  She is not getting as good chow as she is accustomed to but she is getting a fair amount. With all the glass lying about that last night and morning and she would follow me everywhere she got a little splinter in one foot.  Coolie got it out next day and so far as we can see there is absolutely nothing wrong with her foot or leg but she will persist on going about on 3 legs - very annoying.

    I have a certain amount of organisation and re organisation to do each morning and evening but for the rest of the day there is nothing to do.  I didn't go into town this morning - I'm going to try to stop that now. Cheerio again. Glover is just back with the rations   B.

    12.15now!   I wonder all the time what you are hearing and thinking.  I am sure Ian will keep your spirits up.    But I suppose you are all working now - Joy at the wireless - D.O.K. what you'll be doing, or Ian.  I'm glad he got his exam over first - it may be of use later.  I have just had Puckle in seeing me - he is Iron Biscuit's [?Steele-Perkins] successor.  He says they never landed at Repulse Bay but in great strength at North Point and then captured Wongneichong Gap and so on to Repulse Bay and even to Aberdeen.  I hear Timson was trapped in his house on the Repulse Bay Road and either shot or grenaded.  France, lecturer in History has been killed.

    Now 5.15p.m.  I had to stop there as some work came in.  I ran into town this afternoon just after 4 to see Macleod at Medical H.Q. - we fixed up some things.  It is so much easier than trying to do it by phone; it was absolutely quiet then and still is.   The roads have been damaged a good deal so it is not always easy to drive.

    Did I tell you about my lovely car?  I think I did. It is a Plymouth - at least 30 H.P. - with gear change operated from the steering wheel handle.  I am getting in to it now and it really is a beautifully running car. But it has a much longer wheel base than my Ford V8 and turning is not so easy.  Now more news yet - I must ring up [?W.J.] later. Chow will be on soon. so I'll stop  Darling.  I think of you all day long these days - what a reunion it will be now after all these days.

    Goodnight Little Lady.  All my love always    B.

Subscribe to 70 years ago: Hong Kong's wartime diaries