Gwulo: Old Hong Kong


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PS 'Gwu lo' is roughly how '古老' sounds in Cantonese. It means 'ancient' or 'old-fashioned'.

77 years ago: Hong Kong's wartime diaries

December, 1941.

77 years ago tensions were high as war with Japan seemed inevitable. On December 8th, those fears were confirmed when Japanese planes attacked Kai Tak, and Japanese soldiers crossed the border into the New Territories. The fighting continued until the British surrendered on Christmas Day.

The end of the fighting marked the beginning of the Japanese occupation, a time of great hardship for Hong Kong's residents. They would have to endure for three years and eight months, until the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, and Hong Kong was liberated shortly afterwards.


What was it like?

Let the people who lived through these times tell you themselves.

We've collected several wartime diaries, and split them into their day-by-day accounts. Each day we send out an email message containing all the diary entries written on that day, 77 years ago.


How to sign up to receive the daily messages?

Please click here to subscribe.

You'll see another screen that asks for your email address. Enter your details, hit the "Subscribe" button, then each day you'll receive an email message with today's diary entries.

It's free of charge, your details stay private, and you can unsubscribe at any time.


What do the daily messages look like?

Here are sample extracts from the messages you'll receive:

  • 30 Nov 1941: "Topper says we are as near war now as we have ever been, that Japan with her militarist Govt. can't very well back down now."
  • 1 Dec 1941: "Government advising further evacuation.  Only hope seems to be that Japs now say they will keep on talks with USA in hope that USA will change viewpoint - that isn't thought likely."
  • 7 Dec 1941: "There must be something in the wind, G.H.Q. staff are preparing to move into Battle HQ, a huge underground structure just behind the Garrison Sgts. Mess."
Extract from Barbara Anslow's Diary
Extract from Barbara Anslow's Diary: "war had been declared"
  • 8 Dec 1941: "I started my birthday with a war. Kowloon bombed about 8AM."
  • 10 Dec 1941: "Sid has been wounded.  Bullet through shoulder.  He told Hospital to phone Mum at the Jockey Club and she went to see him."
  • 13 Dec 1941: "We hear rumours that

New on Gwulo: 2018, week 49

A summary of what's new and updated on Gwulo:



Memories of:



Gwulo book news

The new Volume 2 books were delivered on Tuesday last week, and I'm happy to see they've turned out well. At first glance this looks like last year's photo:

Happy Birthday Barbara - 100 today!

Today is Barbara Anslow's 100th birthday.  Barbara is a regular contributor to Gwulo, and has generously shared her memories of life in Hong Kong in the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s.


Below I'll look back at some of the major events from Barbara's first century - usually reported in her own words, as she is a keen diarist and letter-writer.

The Best Hotel in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Hotel


This photo shows the view looking south along Pedder Street, across its junction with Des Voeux Road and Chater Road.

It was sold as a postcard, and its title comes from this pencil note on the back.

1901. On the Praya

1901. On the Praya


The people in this photo come from several very different groups.


People on the Praya - 1


On the left is a young, trouserless child in a grubby top, being hurried along by his mum. They look to be


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