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

80 years ago: Hong Kong's wartime diaries

Shows diary entries from 80 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.
  • 24 Jan 1942: RE Jones Diary

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    Date(s) of events described: 
    Sat, 24 Jan 1942

    Shifted from Prison to E Block Indian Qtrs. 4 per room. Everyone searched pretty well when we left gaol. It is nice to be able to walk round anyway.

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

    Date(s) of events described: 
    Sat, 24 Jan 1942

    After a couple of days of chaos, an open-air meeting is called, and elections are held for the Camp Temporary Committee, which will be tasked with creating order and setting up the basic systems necessary for daily life in Stanley.

    Most of those elected were merchants and businessmen, with only two officials of the former government - J. A. Fraser and H. R. Butters. Ben Wylie (SCMP) was chair. Other members include Geoffrey Herklots (HKU), D. L. Newbigging (Jardine Matheson), the Reverend Joseph Sandbach and L. R. Neilson.


    The first meeting of the Committee is held the same day. Although Franklin Gimson is not yet interned in Stanley he manages to attend. The meeting discusses questions of sanitation and construction work and stresses the shortage of firewood.

    The committee will meet almost daily. Regular subjects include the internees' hopes for repatriation of women, children, the sick and men over military age, sanitation, discipline, and the problem of food allocation to dogs.


    Most of the British and American civilians still left on the Peak arrive at Stanley.

    By general consent, the Americans are moving into a better organised situation than the British:

    As soon as they arrived, the Americans were taken care of. If they did not get a room assignment immediately, they at least had a temporary one before nightfall. Unfortunately, the British were not as organized. When they arrived, they had absolutely no idea of where to go.


    Elections: Geoffrey Emerson, Hong Kong Internment, 2008, 10; http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80004743

    Meeting and subjects for discussion: John Stericker, Captive Colony, 1945, Chapter IV, page 3; Emerson, op. cit, 60-61

    Americans and British: Norman H. Briggs (cited in Tony Banham, We Shall Suffer There, 2009, entries for January 24)


    The Reverend Sandbach is not on the list of Temporary Committee members provided by Alan Birch, and nor is 'Larry Grayson', another figure he mentions - this is probably a misremembering of L. R. Nielson. However, Barbara Anslow seems to confirm his membersip of the Camp Council in 1945:


    As well as those in the entry above, the members listed by Birch are D. N. Blake (solicitor), A. E. Nobbins (merchant)Dr. Uttley and Dr. Pope. The committee appointed a quartermaster (at some point this was W. J. Anderson) and a Treasurer. The Chief Justice (Atholl MacGregor) acted as Accommodation Officer.

    G. B. Endacott and Alan Birch, Hong Kong Eclipse, 1978, 351

  • 24 Jan 1942, Barbara Anslow's diary

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    Date(s) of events described: 
    Sat, 24 Jan 1942

    The Salmon family arrived, and Baby Jean whom Mum is taking over for the time being while her guardian Mrs Irene Braude was organising a room with other mums with babies.  

    ((The Salmons were a Jewish family with daughters Leah, Frieda, Hilda and Dorothy, and sons Sammy and Herbert.  We had been neighbours when we Redwoods lived in Kowloon 1927/8.))

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

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    Date(s) of events described: 
    Sat, 24 Jan 1942

    ((Original text undated, but other diaries report the people from the Peak arriving on the 24th.))

    Dearest, What days! When I got to the C.S. yesterday I heard that all those still on the Peak had been ordered down - over 400 I believe. I ran up therefore to see if I could help but I was too late for the people who had all walked down. I went into 152 - what a mess! - these people had never tried to tidy  up. I had let them use our mattresses - I couldn't help it - the big one was there but Joy's was gone. There was another box sort of mattress on the floor - not mine. I found ours at the corner outside the flats (I stopped there for breakfast and now it is 12 noon) - with 'E M Kelly' on it - I tore that off and put it in my car.   I took down some other luggage - Eldon Potters and Ralstons and delivered it at the Cenotaph.  Then I saw Lin and Frank - Miss K tried to speak to me but I hurried on.

    I was looking for Lin then - and I got them to come quietly away with their stuff and drove them out to Stanley. The others all had to go by boat. (meanwhile however I had run back here and put Joy's mattress in here - I'll hide it someplace)

    I had a spot of trouble with Win and Frank at the entrance to Stanley and Win had to get out and be perfunctorily searched by halfcaste prison wardesses - but I got them there. I hurried back to H.K. again hoping to help some others but I had to draw petrol first and by the time I got to the Wharf the small river steamers they were all on were just drawing out. Win took her two dachshunds out with her - they won't be tolerated long. But there was no accommodation for anybody and though Win and Frank were the first of the Peak party all I could do was to dump them and their luggage into an open shed  D.O.K. how or where they would sleep - I heard today they had got  the Indian warders quarters - probably lousy - but a cover over their heads. I was off early this morning as I thought that the Univ. show would be closed down today but no word of it. But Dora gave me a parcel for Bertie - a book she had managed to save for him, just sent the boy along - and of course letters. Then I went to Bowen Road and saw Bertie. He is ever so much better and is going on all right. Then I had a commission to do for Dr Greaves - I had to kiss Mrs G!! and give her a bottle of bubbly - it's the 21st anniversary of his wedding - he had hoped to go himself of course and then he had to go into internment.

    Then I saw [?Alihi] again and went with him to North to see the Japanese Consul and fixed up about a van to go to Stanley tomorrow - and so back here - now for tiffin.

    I think of you all the time and long for news of you    All my love always               B.

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