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.
  • 2 Jan 1942: RE Jones Diary

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 2 Jan 1942

    All radios confiscated by Japs. Perhaps news is so good for the Allies that they fear us being able to listen to it & doing something about it. Anyway, we are helpless without arms & there is no electric on anyway. So the radios are useless.

  • 2 Jan 1942, Chronology of Events Related to Stanley Civilian Internment Camp

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 2 Jan 1942

    Sergeant Britnell of the R.A.M.C. manages to get to Shaukiwan and bring two stranded British women to the Prince's Building, home to Franklin Gimson and other members of the former Government.

    Lois Fearon and Mrs E. H. Tinson were working at the Advanced Dressing Station at the Salesian Mission. The Japanese arrived on the morning of December 19, and they were forced to witness the massacre of the men working there and of some soldiers seeking medical help. After two hours standing in the rain, they were ordered to leave - it seems their age saved them from the fate awaiting the Chinese women. They were sheltered for the night by a Chinese doctor; the next day, they tried to walk into town but lost everything they had on them to armed robbers.

    When Sergeant Britnell rescued them, they'd been hiding for several days in a room six feet by six feet in a monastery, sheltered by Chinese nuns.

    Attorney-General C. G. Alabaster has the dreadful task of telling Mrs Tinson that her husband had been killed in the battle and her house has been destroyed by mortar fire.


    Tony Banham, Not the Slightest Chance, 2003, 129

    Phyllis Harrop, Hong Kong Incident, 1943, 99-100

    Note 1: 

    About eight Canadians, ten R.A.M.C. men, three St. John's Ambulance men, two wounded Rajput officers and one Volunteer crawling to the station for treatment were murdered at the Salesian Mission on December 19.

    Note 2:

    Phyllis Harrop's account, based on conversations with Lois Fearon at the time, differs in some details, none of them crucial, from Tony Banham's, based on a conflation of available sources. I've tried to produce a composite account, but assuming Banham's to be more reliable. The details of events on December 19 are largely from him, those of the following period from Harrop.

  • 02 Jan 1942, P. O. W. and ESCAPE DIARY.

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 2 Jan 1942

    Bitterly cold wind last night which kept on blowing bags away from windows.  Slept very little owing to sore hips and cold wind.  Rice for breakfast with a little cabbage and carrots at 10 am.  Saw General and asked him to lodge a vigorous protest about camp conditions.  Dysentery cases in Jubilee refuse to move to new isolation hospital.  7 of them are lying on the floor in a room in Jubilee Blgs.  They are relatively cosy and if they move they will have to go onto concrete floors in a large room without windows or doors and without any reasonable sanitation.  At present their stools can be thrown down lavatory and flushed with buckets of water.  Decided to let them stay, and reported the matter to the General and asked him to allow me to come along when a Jap Rep. came this afternoon.  Bought three little pieces of almond toffee through the fence for 50 cents.  They were about 2” long and 1” wide and ¼” thick.  Plates were being sold at 1 dollar a piece and army plates too at that.  Mug of tea and 3 army biscuits at 1300 hrs.  Sat in sun for an hour or so writing when suddenly visited by a party of Japs.  Again the arrogant Major was there together with a Mjr General (medical) who said nothing throughout the interview.  Another more junior officer with a red and gold sash was very pleasant;  he apparently knew Prof Furuhata.  We asked the Major what he wanted to see, he said everything, so we started with the Hospital – no windows, no doors, no beds, no blankets, no utensils, no fuel.  He said we should ask for them and we said we had.  Next he wanted to see the isolation Hosp.  It was in just the same condition and we got the same reply.  He said we could have some straw and when I said that was no good for dysentery patients he said that is all we would get.  We asked again when we would get the med supplies and equipment and he said “tomorrow”.  We said that is what they promised yesterday and had not done it whereupon the Majs face flushed and he shouted to our interpreter to shut up and if he spoke like that again we would have the machine gun turned on us.  He then strode off in a temper to the main road.  There General Maltby asked him for permission to see Gen Nagouchi;  he flatly refused.  I asked for permission to visit the sick in Argyle St which was also flatly refused;  I pointed out that by the Geneva Convention we [doctors] were not prisoners of war and shd be allowed to visit our sick and wounded and he said “You stay here;  the British doctors in Philippines have machine gunned our men”.  We asked when he was coming again and when he would send us medical supplies.  Again the reply came “tomorrow” and when I asked at what time he said “Maybe morning maybe afternoon” and with that he jumped into his car and went, leaving us standing in the road no further forward.  A few minutes later a Capt of the Jap navy arrived with armed escort.  We approached him and he said the military officer would attend to Gen Maltby after he had finished talking to him.  This officer later said he would try and get permission for Gen M to see Gen Nagouchi.  The arrogant Major asked to see Commander Young (HE) and seemed surprised he was not in the camp.  All through these interviews he spoke through young Kerr, our interpreter, but when he lost his temper he broke into English.  Later saw Scriven who had been to Argyle St and he said conditions there were terrible.  Only Newton left there, the other two Drs being ill and there were a number of deaths from dys.  Commanders conference at 1700 hrs decided lights out 2100 hrs rev 0800.  Sanitation not yet satisfactory.  Excellent meal with Grenadiers of rice pork potatoes and carrots and cabbage.  Full moon beautiful clear night and less wind.

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