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

75 years ago: Hong Kong's wartime diaries

Shows diary entries from 75 years ago, using today's date in Hong Kong as the starting point. You can have these delivered to you by email each day, click here to subscribe. Or to see pages from earlier dates (they go back to 1 Dec 1941), please choose the date below and click the 'Apply' button.
  • 16 Aug 1945, Barbara Anslow's diary

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Thu, 16 Aug 1945

    Still tired and un-hungry.

    Camp full of rumours and news of a truce, armistice and peace.

    To choir practice to practise 'Te Deum'.

    Fresh rumours have been coming in all day, viz:

    • That news came on radio last night that armistice and cease fire was at 4pm yesterday.
    • That Kadowaki smashed radio when he heard it.
    • That Formosans were given iron rations last night.
    • That there were various parties in camp last night (this last is definite - Brother Grimshaw was invited to one: there were 2 RC Brothers in camp, Bro. Grimshaw and Bro. Bonnici)
    • That Jap officials have gone into town.
    • That the Formosan gurds are running around in civilian clothes.
    • That food ships are sailing from Manila as soon as peace is signed.
    • That peace was actually made on Monday the 13th.

    Latest (at 5.55pm) that Kadowaki is now with Gimson; and that the Formosan guards say the Emperor broadcast at 3 this afternoon and gave orders to prepare lists of internees etc. for embarkation - which we presume applies to those in Japan since it's said to be one of the peace terms.

    We were each given a roll of U.S. toilet paper today. ((A very welcome 'first' for 3 & half years; the toilet paper supplied to camp came in large sheets of Chinese buff-coloured paper that had to be cut up)).

  • 16 Aug 1945, Chronology of Events Related to Stanley Civilian Internment Camp

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Thu, 16 Aug 1945

    The Imperial Rescript bringing an end to the war is read outside the Hong Kong Hotel by a Japanese officer, first in Japanese and then in Chinese.

     

    In Stanley nothing's official yet, but more and more internees believe that this time the rumours are true:

    On Thursday, August 16, the Camp Council met in solemn assembly....While we argued, pondered and frowned, internees kept passing the window, holding up their thumbs and grinning. Prisoners in the gaol below us were dancing and waving. Even the harbingers of gloom conceded that something must have happened.

     

    For some confirmation comes in an unexpected form:

    (W)e were flabbergasted by a messenger charging through the corridors shouting 'The war's over: all go down for your Victory roll!'

    Though convinced the whole thing was a joke, we hurried downstairs to investigate. A long queue had already formed, and  areal toliet roll was being handed to each - the first ever during internment. Now we were ready to believe anything!

     

    In Ma Tau-wai Camp the internees ask Dr. Selwyn-Clarke to take charge. He decides that the liberators should find the Union Jack flying 'in claim of status':

    Arthur May produced a Union Jack which he had concealed, at considerable danger to himself, throughout the occupation. And Hilda, ((Selwyn-Clarke)) it was suggested, should have the honour of hoisting it on a long bamboo pole.

    The moment the ceremony's over, the guards rush onto the scene and demand it be taken down. Selwyn-Clarke refuses to do so without a written order from the Japanese Military Governor.

    Sources:

    Rescript: G. B. Endacott and Alan Birch, Hong Kong Eclipse, 1978, 229

    Meeting: John Stericker, A Tear For the Dragon, 1958, 208

    Victory roll: Mabel Winifred Redwood, It Was Like This, 2001 184

    May and flag: Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke, Footprints, 1975, 96

  • 16 Aug 1945, Eric MacNider's wartime diary

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Thu, 16 Aug 1945

    Rumours rife of peace

    Issue of toilet roll

  • 16 Aug 1945, Harry Ching's wartime diary

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Thu, 16 Aug 1945

    Radio not so busy last night. To town. Heavy rain. No soldiers about. But in evening plenty in full kit moving somewhere. Nothing cheap yet. Japs buying up rice to pay staff. To office, wait hours to see Jap. Paper ((Hong Kong News)) closing tomorrow, but say continuing paper from our place. Hopes carry on after transfer. Coldly spurns my suggestion give me desk in office. Trying to write first leader.

  • 16 Aug 1945, R. E. Jones Wartime diary

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Thu, 16 Aug 1945

    Showery.

    Rained so didn’t go to work till 10am. With G instead.

    Final clear up of Hosp. chatties.

    1 Roll Toilet paper issued free. 28 workers cigs.

    Camp very excited  - many couldn’t eat – re peace rumours. A crowd of delegates  US. Brit. etc is supposed to be in Tokyo discussing terms. There seems to be something in it this time. Brit. & US Fleet left Manila & units thereof will arrive HK Sun am. 

    Gov. of HK warned all nationalities that any saboteurs would be ruthlessly shot. Emp. of Jap. signed 

    Peace 1.30 14th inst. ∴ sehr shõne. [so beautiful] ((Jill Fell: "sehr schön" is best translated as "wonderful".))

  • 16 Aug 1945, INTERNED - DECEMBER 1941

    Book / Document: 
    Date(s) of events described: 
    Thu, 16 Aug 1945

    ((Following text undated:))

    There were so many rumours about the ending of the war that in the end we didn't believe that it was true, until the Japanese gave us each a toilet roll!  Henceforth it was called the Victory Roll!  The next two weeks were quite extraordinary; the Japanese had surrendered, but there was no sign of the Allies.  Dropping the Atom Bomb on Japan ended the war immediately, and our navy had to steam up from Australia to take over.  In the meantime our police force took charge of running the Colony.  It was absolutely wonderful when the sailors came into the camp...they looked so enormous to us who were so weak and lean!  No sailor came empty handed; for the first time there was toothpaste, soap, etc.  Carmen and I decided to walk up to the camp gates which we had not seen for the duration of the war.  It was guarded by one of our own sailors, so we asked him if we could just walk out; and he replied: "You may walk wherever you please".  Freedom at last, and what joy!

    Lots of food was sent into the camp including meat, but our stomachs had become so weakened and small that the meat made us very sick.

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