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

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Sat, 6 Dec 1941

    A few drinks in the Club for a change

  • 6 Dec 1941, Barbara Anslow's diary

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Sat, 6 Dec 1941

    Sunny.  Race Day.  

    Had just settled down to work in Puckle's office when Olive appeared with Arthur - unbeknown to R.S. ((Royal Scots)), another Band had arranged to do the Races.

    I left work at 7pm, then Arthur and I to Peninsula for tea, then to King's 'My Life with Caroline.'

    The Jap/USA situation is getting worse because Japan though evasive in her reply, says she means to keep her troops in Indo China against the Chinese.

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

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Sat, 6 Dec 1941

    A day of bright sunshine. Many of the HKVDC leave their offices to take part in weekend exercises.


    Crowds flock to Happy Valley for the races.


    Barbara Redwood is taken to the cinema to see 'My Life With Caroline' by her boyfriend Arthur Alsey a bandsman with the Royal Scots who has a day's leave. They watch a newsreel with comforting images of US planes 'in formidable formation'.


    Anna May Waters goes out to dinner and then dances at the Hong Kong Hotel:

    About 10.30 or 11.00 p.m. they started recalling all naval officers.


    In the evening the 'Tin Hat Ball' is held at the Peninsula Hotel: the purpose is to help raise the £160,000 which would complete the purchase price of a bomber squadron the people of Hong Kong had presented to Britain.

    Kowloon homemaker Ellen Field {known at the timeas Nellie Lee} is at the Ball with her husband:

    It was a glorious evening; the women enchanting, the men elegant and handsome in their uniforms and decorations....We were not thinking about the war. Right then we were preoccupied with Christmas.

    Gwen Priestwood is there too, and the time is coming up to midnight:

    I watched Madame Sun-Yatsen, the fragile little widow of the founder of the Chinese Republic, and her sister, Madame H. H. Kung, wife of the Chinese Minister of Finance...{They} were watching a group of young Chinese society girls; silky hair cascading down their backs, swaying back and forth in long Chinese robes of a dozen pastel shades. As they danced Miss Hilda Yen, an extraordinarily lovely girl, sang native fairy songs in a high sweet voice.

    In the middle of the song the music stopped suddenly, and T. B. Wilson, of the American President Lines, appeared on a balcony above the dance floor, waving a megaphone for silence.

    'Any men connected with any ships in the harbour report aboard for duty,' he said, adding meaningly, 'at once'.

    There was a dead silence for a moment; then the crowd stirred. The Chinese dance was forgotten. Men hurriedly said goodbye to their companions, got their hats and coats, and left. There was a buzz of excited talk. What did it mean? Why were the ships being manned so hurriedly?


    HKVDC, Ball: John Luff, The Hidden Years, 1967, 14

    Races, Cinema: Mabel Winifred Redwood, It Was Like This..., 2001, 68-69

    Waters: Report by Miss Anna May Waters Nurse with the Canadian Forces at Hong Kong, as given on board the MS Gripsholm, November 1943,  point 24

    Field: Ellen Field, Twilight In Hong Kong, 1960, 9

    Priestwood: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/1108151


    Ellen Field's husband Frank and her father ended up in Shamshuipo. Field stayed out of Stanley with her young daughters by pretending to be Irish. Helped by the Japanese interpreter Kiyoshi Watanabe, and also working with Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke, she organised relief for the POW Camp. Unknown to Rev. Watanabe, and with Selwyn-Clarke turning a blind eye, she was involved in the organisation of a number of escapes from Hong Kong.


    For Hilda Yen - 'internationalist, diplomat and aviator' - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilda_Yen.

    Madame Sun, Madame Kung and Hilda Yen were all evacuated from Hong Kong by American pilots working for CNAC.

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

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Sat, 6 Dec 1941

    However, we have just had two Regiments of Canadians arrive to help out in the defence of the Crown Colony. ((The Canadians came on November 16.)) Two Canadian Army Service Corps Sgts. are attached to the Supply Depot. I show them round the Bakery. ((The RASC Supply Depot and Bakery were on Queen’s Rd., the latter opposite the Naval Dockyard entrance.)) They are surprised to see 33 Chinese bakers working so hard. The Canadians arrival means extra bread production, it is now about 12 to 14000 lbs per day, not bad for a bakery with only a mechanical dough mixer and all the remainder hand work. If we move out the dough mixer will be left behind, it is cemented to the floor and needs electric power to drive it.

    We read in the local papers that large landings of Japanese troops have been sighted up the coast towards Bias Bay and Waichow area. Also in the same papers it states that Mr Kurusu and Admiral Nomuru of the Japanese Navy are in Washington as a peace mission. I am roped in to escort civilian lorries from the Dairy Farm cold storage at East Point to the various food stores and to some private houses in the Shouson Hill area. ((There were food stores at various locations around the island. We've found mentions of them at Quarry Bay, Wanchai Gap, and Stanley.)) They are loaded with tinned commodities, flour, sugar, tea, etc. We work from early morning until darkness sets in and move many tons of foodstuff with the aid of hundreds of coolies.

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

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Sat, 6 Dec 1941

    On Saturday, the air was electric with rumours but nothing was done in the way of mobilizing.

  • 06 Dec 1941, INTERNED - DECEMBER 1941

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Sat, 6 Dec 1941

    We were dancing in the Rose Room of the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong on the evening of Saturday the 6th December, 1941.  During the evening an announcement was made on the loudspeaker, recalling all service personnel to report to their headquarters immediately.  It was an ominous sign that war with Japan was close at hand.

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