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I went to Confession at French Mission building at top of Battery Path – a young Irish priest stopped me (and others passing) and asked if I was RC and would I like to go to Confession.  Inside on ground floor a priest was hearing confessions.  Because Holy Communion would not be given immediately, I left without receiving it.  Olive and I had exchanged tin helmets on account of size difficulties.  I now felt horribly conspicuous in a red steel one.

Marjorie Cook and I had one big row over water.  There was none in the taps ((Japs had turned reservoirs off)).  One day she ushered a coolie into our room carrying two kerosene tins full of water; she announced she was going to use it all herself.  I called her a selfish bitch ((first time I used that noun.))

In the tunnel Peggy was always getting presents of chocolates etc.  I was very jealous.  Then one morning Mr Manning of ARP staff brought me one dozen 4 oz packets of Cadbury's milk chocolate – he said he had heaps in his firm's godown ((store)).  I ate one on the spot, gave one each to Mrs Bebbington and Mrs Pryde in Dina House, put six aside to send to Mum.  Got the 6 bars sent to Mum via Olive, who wouldn't have any of it herself.

The next morning (21st) was a better day.  The Japanese by this time were using the catchwater like a highway;  they had erected a tent just below the Pillbox, and they had their flags spread out on the slopes of Mount Nicholson to indicate their position to their airmen who were flying around all day as they wished.

Planes came over “The Ridge” several times and took a look but dropped no cards.  They were dropping pamphlets by this time, mostly for the benefit of our Indian troops and others, to the civilian population pointing out the futility of holding out any longer.

There is no doubt that once they held Wongneichong Gap they had the whole island at their mercy as this was more or less the centre and by holding it they had already split us in two.  They also had a light field gun firing from the gap at the river gunboats anchored in Deepwater Bay;  this gun was very inaccurate and the ships steamed out without being damaged.

All this we watched patiently.  I rang up HQ house as I thought it possible they could not observe what was taking place but found I was mistaken.  They had seen everything but we were still to hold fire!!

Later on that day we were told to barricade the bottom windows as it was thought the Japanese might attack us at dusk.  This was done very effectively with the many bales and boxes of stores and a hole broken in the wall between the two semidetached houses so that we could move from one to the other without going outside.

Late that afternoon we saw a party of Canadian Rifles straggling up the Repulse Bay Road;  when they reached the approach road to “The Ridge” they turned up and came up to the houses.  A sort of cheer went up as they arrived – one would have thought we were being relieved after a tremendous siege instead of which scarcely a shot had been fired since the morning of 20th.  We were then told that we were to go off in parties of around a dozen and make towards Aberdeen but after getting organized this scheme was dropped.

As night came on Larry Andrews, Cedric Blake and I went outside to get some fresh air and Larry produced a loaf of bread, a tin of butter and some bully beef which he had put in his car the morning we first called at Deepwater Bay.  This was a grand meal which we all thoroughly enjoyed.  We eat [ate?] it on an open verandah overlooking Deepwater Bay and discussed the situation at some length.

We were of the opinion that the action taken by the HQ house was strange to say the least and we were also of the opinion that GHQ might just as well chuck up the sponge for it was obvious to any one with half an eye that the island was already overrun.  Perhaps that was the trouble, for the GHQ staff was safely below ground and owing to the almost complete disruption of the telephone service, were quite ignorant of the true position.

In the northern sector, the Japanese had pushed forward vigorously at Mount Nicholson and Black’s Link, and by 8.15 on the morning of the 21st, were dug in on the Eastern slope of Mount Nicholson.   

The enemy followed up this success by attacking strongly down King’s Road while they directed a heavy mortar fire on to the Naval Yard.  Another enemy landing in force was made at Causeway Bay (and a section of No 6 Portuguese Company HKVDC, in Watson’s factory, was cut off).  By noon the enemy had made considerable headway along the north shore and every gun in the Naval Yard had been knocked out.


On the 21st, an attempt was made by troops in the Stanley sector to link up with troops in the northern part of the island.  No 1 company HKVDC formed the vanguard of the attack, with their carrier platoon ahead, and Canadian Rifles in support.  They moved out along Island Road at 9 a.m. towards Tytam Crossroads, the first objective being Red Hill, the peninsula separating Tytam Bay and Stanley Bay.


On the night of the 21st a message from Repulse Bay Hotel said the troops there were retiring that night on Stanley and if those on the Ridge could join them by scouting the hills they should do so before midnight.  The main body of troops on the Ridge left after dark but the majority failed to reach Repulse Bay.

((Source - a dramatization of the history of the Hong Kong Volunteers, which was broadcast over Radio Hong Kong on 31st May 1954 as part of the HKVDC Centenary Celebrations))

On the 21st. December 1941 a Gendarme Officer came and all Chinese were ordered to return to town and the party left under Dr.Choy. At about 5pm. the Europeans left Woodside by car and were taken to the Tsang Fook Piano companies office before being taken to the Duro Paint Factory on Marble Road. Our quarters there were on the concrete Mezzanine office entrance floor. We were joined by other refugees, Strive ((possibly R A Stride)), 2nd. Officer of the SS Marazion and the Beck family. There were 17 in all and the floor was fully covered when we lay down.

Today the Japanese defeat the last attempt to relieve Wong Nai Chung Gap and the island is now irrevocably cut in half. Japanese troops land in Causeway Bay headed for Victoria {now Central}. Governor Sir Mark Young sends a telegram to the Admiralty saying that the enemy holds key positions and soon the defenders will be reduced to holding 'a small pocket in centre of city leaving bulk of fixed population to be overrun'. He seeks permission to 'ask terms' before that happens. He's told that his telegram crossed a message from Churchill - 'we expect you to resist to the end'.

The general conditions are becoming critical too:

In Victoria, electricity and gas are cut off.  The civilians now have no light, heat or water.

 

The absence of electricity - and probably the advance of the Japanese westwards towards Victoria - forces Thomas Edgar and his fellow bakers to abandon the Lane, Crawford Bakery in Stubbs Rd. Edgar has previously placed hops and other supplies in various Chinese bakeries, and he now opens the Yoke Shan and Qing Loong bakeries in Queen's Road East. These are too small to produce the bread needed, and more bakeries must be opened, so army help is sent for. 

 

Joan Crawford and the other survivors of the Power Station siege finally get to eat in the evening - 'a handful of rice cooked on the beach'. This ends four days without food, and the men are allowed to go back to the Station to get clothes and bedding. 

They watch the soldiers being brought to the clearing point 'in pitiful condition', but they are not allowed to approach them.

They're kept at the North Point Camp until the end of hostilities and then sent to The French Hospital - 'where the sisters were so good to us'. From there they go into Stanley on January 29.

 

In Government House they've burnt all the codes and ciphers. Sir Mark Young's secretary, Joyce Bassett, is asked by a friend to rescue his wife and mother-in-law from an area being mortared by the Japanese. Mr. Butters, forbids her to go, but Police Commissioner Pennefather-Evans lends her a car, and she manages to get the two women, and 'another American lady' down just in time - a Canadian soldier tells her the position will be abandoned to the advancing Japanese in an hour.

 

The Repulse Bay Hotel comes under heavy mortar fire all morning. Major C. Templer is given overall command in the area. He arrives at the Hotel, does his best to organise the defenders and talks to Major C. M. Manners (retired) about the situation of the civilians.

Sources:

Military situation, messages, conditions in Victoria: Tony Banham, Not The Slightest Chance, 2003, 187-193

Edgar: Thomas Edgar, Article in The British Baker, September 13, 1946

Crawford: Austin Coates, A Mountain Of Light, 1977, 49

Bassett: Alan Birch and Martin Cole, Captive Christmas, 1979, 129-130

Repulse Bay Hotel: John Luff, The Hidden Years, 109-110

Note:

For further developments in baking see Staff-Sergeant Sheridan's hostilities and escape diaries. Sheridan and Sergeant Hammond arrived on December 23 after an eventful journey: http://gwulo.com/node/13844

 

 

This morning saw us out early at Aberdeen, Betty Kendal having been installed in the Gloucester with her friends of the previous evening. Arriving there we found it a pretty lively spot with what seemed to me a fair amount of trench mortar and serial bombing going on. Since the French was not available, arrangements had been made for us to use M.T.B.10 (Lieut. Commander Gandy) and we loaded her with the ammunition and Brens that we had left. When this was completed Tai and I returned to town, receiving one nasty shock on the way, as we passed the A.A. guns at Pokfulam, just as they were going into action.

We made St.Joan’s Apartments, retrieved our “toys” and a box of guncotton and made our way back, still with an air raid on. Stopping at Pokfulam on the way however, we benefited by the current lack of transport to the amount of roughly a gallon of Dairy Farm milk, which could not be conveyed to town.

Our arrival back coincided with the arrival ashore of the survivors of the Cicala, which had been caught at last, after the thirty seventh raid, raked from stem to stern with a stick of bombs, from the last plane of a flight of nine. Incidentally the story of how five bombs hit her in line, without completely sinking her, and causing only one death (The Gunner’s Mate) changed my idea of the effectiveness of bombs, and told as it was by “Tom Thumb” later to prove the best of good fellows, gave us a good impression and a lasting one it proved of the Navy in general and also gave us a new phrase for our repertoire “Bloody Rubbish” denoting anything unfortunate, unlucky, badly managed, nonsensical, etc.

Dinner we had on board and an eye-opener it proved to us, after our experience at army feeding stations during the last week – plenty of good and well-cooked food on the dot.

We were soon appointed to our various boats – evidently our original party was growing – and I found myself aboard ‘11’ with Collingwood and Legge while Tai landed on ‘07’ with Ashby and Gee. For some measure of safety the boats were “spread” at the harbour approaches and when, in the evening after dusk they congregated we found ourselves in the midst of old friends Parsons, Kennedy and Brewer. During the same evening too, the “Navy” unwillingly played us the only dirty trick of the campaign by leaving us on Parson’s boat, while they went off on an expedition up the harbour to machine gun landing craft. They were, however, gone a short time only and on their return we made Telegraph Bay for the night, and my last sensation was one of complete comfort as I sank off to sleep in one of their super beds. Definitely the Navy had something.

((Original text)) ((Jill Fell's translation))
Pendant le repas de midi des soldats prennent position en toute hâte sur la véranda du 1er étage, face à Aberdeen. Le bruit court que les Japonais arriveraient de ce côté mais la soirée passe et on ne voit rien venir. Nombreux vols d’avions japonais qui lancent des bombes à plusieurs reprises. During lunch soldiers hurriedly take up posts on the first floor verandah opposite Aberdeen. It’s rumored that the Japanese would arrive from this side, but the evening goes by and there’s nothing to be seen. A lot of Japanese planes going over dropping bombs repeatedly.

All the furies broke loose. The battle at Wongneichong Gap has reached decision point. We have now to expect shelling from two directions, from Kowloon in the north and Quarry Bay in the east. Above our flat, high but not too far away laterally, the road through the Gap is an obvious target. A burnt-out truck stands gaunt at the corner to remind us of that.

A lively bombardment of the road began. The first shells hammered the road, but successive missiles fell short until they were landing about our ears. My wife took the terrified children down to the ground floor, where an Indian family lived. Our guests joined them. I went on the front verandah to take a look at the road, and a shell exploded on the corner of our roof, some fifteen feet away, shaking me severely. I retreated, went to the back of the flat and decided to close the shutters. As I leaned out to clutch one, another shell took a corner off the back of the building, again a short five yards away and again rattling our hero. I scuttled downstairs where they told me I looked as green as I felt. The women prayed and moaned and would not be heartened, and the children cried while the house bounced again and again. But quite suddenly the protracted ordeal ended.

At sunset a grimly silent procession passed our back door going up Shan Kwong Road - mules with Indian soldiers carrying five mountain guns. These were emplaced on an empty lot at the corner of Village and Sing Woo Roads, almost under the noses of the Japanese in the hills above. The Indian gunners opened up on the Japanese, and they peppered our district furiously in reply.

Busy morning - lousy breakfast - this holding back on food is ridiculous. Heavy bombing and shelling by the enemy — he is now shelling the Aberdeen area   — from the   direction of   Wong  Nei Cheong.  I hear he has advanced to the heights flanking both sides of Wong Nei Cheong - also he has got into the Repulse Bay area - if that is   the case, Stanley will be cut off.

Just received order to take "French" out to East Lamma Channel   and rescue crew of "Cicala" which is sinking from hits received from enemy bombing planes. I hope John is O.K. - so at last "Cicala" succumbs to the enemy - well she put up a fine show.

Just left the pier when No. 10 returned with last of "Cicala's" personnel, so returned.

Casualties very small - 1 killed two wounded. 1st Lieut. of No. 10 wounded in the leg by shrapnel. Told by C.O. to join No. 10 as 1st. Lieut. - marvelous - how I have been longing to get back into a boat again.

Hear John is alright but sent off to hospital.

1st. Lieut. of 10 fortunately not badly wounded. Handed over keys etc. of "French" to S. N. O.A. and reported her in good running condition. My crew victualled in the school. The C.O. very kindly gave me leave for the night, so that I could go along and see my wife. I borrowed an old Morris Minor and after a very rough ride (on two flat tyres) eventually reached Queen's Gardens - leaving the car there,  I prepared for a stiff climb up the Peak Road. Heavy Shelling of Top Peak Tram Station and Barker Road. Lay under a nullah until the shelling ceased. Met some of our troops who warned me not to go on as they believed enemy troops were about - however, decided to risk it - eventually reached the War Memorial Hospital. Amazed at the destruction around. Heard from Evelyn that they had been having a rough time of it the last two days. Saw the youngster. doing fine, had a good meal and slept in the hospital. Returned to base - had a bite of breakfast in town on the way back. Called in the Queen Mary, saw John and Alec M - left message from his wife.

From daylight to darkness I have been driving a lorry carting cases of tea, milk, jams, veg, sacks of sugar and flour and many other tinned commodities from the food store at Chung-Am-Kok to Stanley Fort. The married quarters and barrack block verandahs are stacked up with tons of supplies. We have several air raids but the AA guns have kept them up high and very little damage has been done. One plane strafed the road in front of the lorry I was driving towards the fort, I thought it best to keep going at a good pace and so escaped being hit.

The 9.2 guns at Stanley have been firing out to sea. The shock waves rattle the doors and windows of the Quarters and Barrack block. In the afternoon the Japs got the range of the 9.2 guns and began dropping anti-personnel shells right on target. I saw the ambulance go to the gunsite and pick up some casualties.

I have six Indian troops at the food store helping to load the lorry. They are Sikhs and wear a turban. One speaks good English so I warn him to keep a good look out for any Japs.

We discover that the Japs have now cut the road leading to the Tytam Reservoir about a mile from the Tytam Villas. No traffic can move down towards Repulse Bay further than the food store where I am loading especially during the daylight hours. Several vehicles attempting it have been machine gunned by the Japs.

The Canadians are fighting a losing battle against the Japs on Stanley Mound, and the neighbouring peaks. The Japs have superiority in numbers. I find this out when I come across a party of wounded Canadians on the road. I give them a lift into Stanley Fort, they are all walking wounded. Further on we meet an ambulance which is collecting stretcher cases being brought down the hillside, a very difficult job in such rough terrain. I talk to one of the wounded who travels in the cab with me. He tells me the Japs’ mortar fire is most devastating and that it is very difficult to see the Japs in the green foliage as their camouflage is so good. The Japs are also using pack animals to transport their heavy mortars up the steep hillsides, leaving them fresh to move about in their soft soled cloven hoof shoes. These young inexperienced Canadian troops have had to carry equipment, ammunition, as well as food and water, up the steep hillsides through thick scrub bushes and then fight against a fanatical type of soldier. A lot of servicemen and civilians are trapped in the Repulse Bay Hotel. ((For the siege of the Repulse Bay Hotel see http://gwulo.com/node/13017)) Volunteers attempt to transport food and water at night but are ambushed on the way back.

9a.m.     No more news yet but we had a very quiet night.  So we hope things are going well.
Later  12.30pm.    I got some lime juice today so I'm having a gimlet!  No more news but things seem to be developing all right.  I have authority now to send lorries to Aberdeen again and as far as Causeway Bay.  I was making a joke today and tried to take bets that we'd be all in our homes by Christmas - we might!  Here's hoping!  Well I'm told tiffin is ready so I must run - and I've hardly touched my gimlet!      Cheerio, Darling.    B.

Later 5.45       Poor Roe - I let him off this afternoon and he went up the Peak  - his wife and 2 children were in Peak Mansions until yesterday  morning,  when after a plastering  * there -  they went to 178 - then they got a frightful  plastering there this morning so he has brought them down here. 

*I had to stop there and have chow. Now it is rather dark and I am writing with my flashlight on.

We have all done our best for the Roe family - it's not quite right however, and I don't know what to do!   After all several of the Inspectors have wives on the Peak too and we can't put up the lot.  But we'll see how it pans out.

News is not quite so good tonight - I think they got some reinforcements over last night and today - well we can only hope the Chinese are coming nearer.  We hear they are at [?Sha Tanbot]  and  [?Shamchun]  and one rumour is  that they are  as near as 13 1/2 mile Beach on the Castle Peak Road.  We can only wait and see.

I saw Bertie again today - up and about - but still a good deal shaken.  I took him cigs. and cashed a cheque for him, H300 out of my imprest account. Well this is not easy going so I'll stop.  All my love  Darling.   Billie.

Orders T 10.00AM & attached to the Middlx. Regt. Catchwater overlooking Rep. Bay. Knocked some Japs over during the afternoon.

Retired to Stanley View for the night.