70 years ago: Hong Kong's wartime diaries | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
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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.
  • 23 Jan 1942: RE Jones Diary

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 23 Jan 1942

    Majority of servants (Chineses) sent out today so the big noises must fend for themselves a little.

  • 23 Jan 1942, Barbara Anslow's diary

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 23 Jan 1942

    My kitbag arrived by sea.

    I happened to be near the bungalows when the Japs evicted internees from them.  An unknown young woman who was among them  came over to me, distraught because she had a 6-month old baby  and couldn't carry away the child and luggage.  She asked me if I would take the baby Dorothy and keep her until she had found another billet.  Her name was Mrs Evelyn Kilbee, I told her my Block and Room Number, and gathered up the child.  Never having held a baby in my life, I felt very nervous carrying her down the hill, over shell holes and stony ground.  Dorothy didn't cry or fuss at all.  On the way I met my boss, Mr. B.H.Puckle, who looked surprised and said 'I didn't know you had a baby Miss Redwood!'  ((Some fifty years later, Evelyn visited me with Dorothy to say thank you.  Last year (2015) I met Dorothy again at the VJ Celebrations in London.))

    Was given some ARP provisions ((from the kitty kept in Tai Koon Hotel)) - packet of Kellogs Cornflakes and some Oxo. 

    Eileen Grant was arrested at Stanley Village.  ((Eileen was youngest of 3 daughters of Mrs Grant, the overweight lady who had such difficulty in jumping from ferry to junk at Stanley; I think Eileen was arrested because she had walked beyond the camp boundary, but she was soon released.))

    Rice and stew .. ingredients sent by Japs, cooking arrangements by our people makeshift... waited hours and hours for it, queuing in quadrangle.. about 700 of us. There was only water to drink – unless you had private supplies.

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

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 23 Jan 1942

    The 400 or so people being held at the Kowloon Hotel are sent to Stanley Camp. They are kept waiting in the street outside for hours and then joined by people held at other hotels before going by ferry to Stanley.


    George Wright-Nooth and other police internees at the Luk Hoi Tung Hotel are also sent to the Camp.

    Because the police are among the last to arrive, there is little choice of accommodation, and they end up in Bungalow C, which was badly damaged in the fighting. There are hastily dug graves of British soldiers nearby, the area is littered with live ammunition, small arms and unexploded grenades, there's a shell hole in the roof and all the windows are smashed. Because of the blood, filth and human excreta, a respirator must be worn when cleaning the bathroom. Forty-seven people end up living in the bungalow.


    Also in Bungalow C is Gwen Priestwood, who'd been forced to abandon a plan to escape the day before the Murray Parade Ground assembly. She and seven other women sleep in a room less than 14 feet square, 3 on camp cots, Priestwood herself on a doubled-up quilt, the rest on mattresses.


    Bill Ream has spent two nights sleeping on floors, but today he's invited by the hospital staff to join them and 'help Mr. ((Frank)) Anslow with the stores and do odd jobs as they came along'. He is therefore able to move into the former Leprosarium with the other medical staff. They scrub and clean the building vigorously and then the 18 men settle in to relatively comfortable quarters.


    Defence Secretary John Fraser enters Stanley from the Prince's Building.


    Lewis Bush is interogated for 12 hours at St. George's Building, at that time the Kempeitai headquarters for Central/Victoria. Bush is a naval officer in the Volunteers and one of the few fluent speakers of Japanese in the British ranks - he taught for years in Japan and is married to a Japanese woman, Kanneko. The Kempeitai believe that Bush is a dangerous spy, and after the interrogation he's taken not to Shamshuipo but to Stanley.


    Phyllis Harrop is still managing to stay uninterned:

    This morning Rose ((see note)) and I walked over to Tai Koon ((one of the hotels Allied civilians were kept in before being sent to Stanley)) to see if we could obtain any first hand news of the moving of internees. On the way down Queen's Road we were stopped by a party of sentries, one of whom was very belligerent.

    Rose has forgotten her pass, and, after an unplesant encounter during which Harrop fears her finger will be cut off with a bayonet to get her ring, they are forced to retreat. On the way back to the restaurant Rose and her husband are running, they pass the sentry at the corner of the Hong Kong Hotel, now Japanese military headquarters, 'except for one floor which still housed wounded soldiers and nurses'. This sentry objects to the crowds on the road and lunges at them with his bayonet to force them back:

    The bayonet point went through my sleeve, narrowly missing my arm. All he did was to grin from ear to ear.

    The streets are dangerous for those still allowed to walk them.


    Police: George Wright-Nooth, Prisoner of the Turnip Heads, 1994, 82, 86-88

    Priestwood: Gwen Priestwood, Through Japanese Barbed Wire, 1943, 47-48

    Ream: Bill Ream, Too Hot For Comfort, 1988, 37

    Fraser: Constance Murray diary, p. 1 (Weston House, Oxford)

    Bush: Report of Lieut. Lewis M. Bush R.N.V.R. (H.K.)

    Harrop: Phyllis Harrop: Hong Kong Incident, 1943, 121

    Note 1:

    Bush implies that he was sent to Stanley because the Japanese thought he could do less harm there. Kaneko, who had been used by the Japanese as an interpreter in the period after the surrender, was also arrested and accused of espionage and making anti-war propaganda (the second charge was true, the first wasn't) . She was eventually sent to Japan and allowed to live with her parents, but suffered terrible harrassment from the Kempeitai and ordinary Japanese furious at her loyalty to the Allied cause.

    See also http://gwulo.com/node/14388

    Note 2:

    'Rose Simpson': Phillip Cracknell has plausibly suggested that Harrop's friend Rose Simpson and her husband are Rose and Emil(e) Landau, the owners of the Parisian Grill at 10, Queen's Road Central. They and their staff helped her in her escape, so she had good reason to disguise their identities.

  • 23 Jan 1942, Laura B Ziegler's wartime memories

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 23 Jan 1942

    On January 23, the Japanese put us into the hold of a ferry to take us (one hour trip.) to the internment camp they had prepared for us.

    After we left the wharf the children and some of the mothers were permitted on deck. We could see a lot of destruction on shore and every fishing boat or ferry boat was sunk. We saw lots of masts above water or half sunk boats.

    Finally, we reached the other end of the Island. Our ferry couldn’t get close enough to shore so we had to climb over the railing of our boat and the one drawn up against ours. People, bedding, boxes, bags and babies were all handed across the narrow gap. Upon reaching shore, we again walked the quarter of a mile to the camp where the gate was closed behind us.

    This camp was on the Stanley Peninsula. This peninsula is on the southeast end of Hong Kong Island about 12 miles away from the city. The British had built a large prison here with modern homes for the prison wardens, a prison warden’s club house, and homes for the Indian police who guarded prisoners. The prison warden’s homes and clubhouse became the American quarters. The Chinese College Prison guard’s homes were the British quarters and one smaller building was given to the Dutch. The Japanese called us their B-A-D internees, (British, American and Dutch.

    We were given a rather large former bedroom for our family. We had a double bed, a single bed and an army cot for the seven of us. We also had a wardrobe and buffet in the room. We were proud of the fact that we had so much furniture. Many people had nothing. Our dishes consisted of a frying pan, pie tin, a cracked vegetable dish and a collection of empty tin cans. One day Laura Lou found a granite cup in the garbage can which she was very glad to have because it did not leak. We each had a spoon to eat with, but some people made little paddles of wood and used them for spoons.

    We were lucky and thankful to have as much bedding as we did as we had no mattresses. It gets quite cold in Hong Kong, for about six weeks in winter. During this time we were cold all the time as we had no fuel to heat our rooms. We had one window pane shattered by a bullet which also let in plenty of cold air.

    St. Stevens College for Chinese boys was located next to the prison with the dormitories and professor’s homes. All these buildings, except the prison were enclosed with barbed wire entanglements for our camp. It was not large, about 3 blocks wide and 5 blocks long. There were about 2800 internees, about 425 American, 68 Dutch, and the rest British. No soldiers were interned with us. No Chinese or Japanese were allowed in camp except the ones who had charge of us.

    We had running water all the time and in the beginning of March we had electric lights and the use of a few stoves.

    We washed our clothes in the bath tubs, in cold water with as little soap as possible because we did not know when we would get the next piece of soap.

    The Japanese sent us our food raw which we had to cook ourselves. Each person had about 7.6 ounces or ¾ cup of rice, 4 ounces of meat, and 2.89 ounces of vegetables a day. We had some flour, sugar, salt, soy beans and peanut oil.

    For a while in March we had practically no salt, so some men risked their lives and went through the barbed wire fence to get ocean water to boil our food in.

    The flour was increased in May to about 8 ounces. All weights were gross weight, that is including bone of meat and tops and dirt on vegetables. Before May, we each got about 5 small slices of bread a week, but after the flour was increased we got about 5 ounces of bread a day baked by our cooks in camp. This was good bread even without butter or jam. We seldom saw sugar because the cooks used most of it in food.

  • 23 Jan 1942, Roland H J Brooks' War Diary - Stanley Internment Camp WWII

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 23 Jan 1942

    Today moved to St Stevens College Stanley.

  • 23 Jan 1942, Events at the Repulse Bay Hotel

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 23 Jan 1942

    ((We were transferred from the Kowloon Hotel)) to Stanley on the 23rd January 1942.

  • 23 Jan 1942, Eric MacNider's wartime diary

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 23 Jan 1942

    K. Hotel internees arrived by launch from ferry wharf

  • 23 Jan 1942, W J Carrie's wartime diary

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Fri, 23 Jan 1942

    I haven't written for sometime - everything is in a turmoil. I had a row with Macleod too who is ignoring me and trying to keep himself and his family out of internment. Septic has of course succeeded!

    My car is still there! I went to the Univ. Yesterday and found Bertie had gone back to Bowen Road Hospital so I ran up there and saw him after tiffin taking letters, pyjamas and some cigs. The day before I drove Dr. Greaves out to Stanley where he has gone into internment. They have taken over Q.M.H. so all the Sisters arrived there at the same time and Prof. Digby. They have closed down the W.M.H. too and now I hear today that everybody still on the Peak are ordered in. I went up the Peak yesterday and brought down the portable wireless to see if we could use it. I can't get any of the boxes down so I fear we shall lose everything but everybody's in the same boat. It would be colossal joss if they missed the hotroom. We can just hope on. I saw Dora again this morning when I took her the chit I got from Bertie yesterday.

    I had my second dose of T.A.B. yesterday so I had a rotten night and feel awful today but I'm protected now. We are expecting orders to [missing word] Stanley soon now and I won't be sorry to be quit of [missing word] responsibility - but rations are the bug bear. We can still [missing word] the stuff. 
    Cheero Darling    B.

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