70 years ago
Seventy years ago, Hong Kong had recently surrendered to the Japanese, and the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong had begun.
A new project on Gwulo.com gives you a daily summary of news from 70 years ago, compiled from diaries and newspapers of the time. Here are some recent examples:
- 26 Dec 1941: "Although capitulation is not so good it feels nice to know that the likelihood of being shot or blown apart is gone."
- 8 Jan 1942: "Brushwood on hillsides [south] of Prison set alight today. Heard ammunition exploding."
- 9 Jan 1942: Captain Tanaka, at the time Japanese head of communications, gives permission to Thomas Edgar and other bakers to start making bread for the hospitals. They open the Chinese-owned Green Dragon (Ching Loong) Bakery in Wanchai. They are also allowed to bake for the Allied civilians in the hotels and later at Stanley. Barbara Anslow's diary establishes that the bread - one slice for each internee - began to arrive on January 12.
- 19 Jan 1942: "Fire opposite us in the night - very near thing. There were just sooty sparks at first, but later the fire really got going. All the gongs in the neighbourhood were beating as alarms, several huge tongues of fire blew over in our direction."
- 21 Jan 1942: "In morning, we were given a quarter of an hour to pack and get out of the hotel, then marched down Des Voeux Road. Then boarded top-heavy Macau steamer and set out for Stanley. It could have been lovely - such a beautiful day. Our boat too big to go right up to the jetty at Stanley, so we had to clamber over the side of the ferry on to the side of the junk - then jump into the body of the junk. Poor Mrs Grant who weighed over 15 stone, cried from the side of the ferry that she just couldn't make the transfer, but somehow she did."
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Thank you to Alison, Barbara, Brian and Tony for their help:
- Alison McEwan typed up the R E Jones diary, and made it available via the Stanley Camp discussion group. More recently she's been in Hong Kong with her husband Tim Luard, promoting his book Escape from Hong Kong: Admiral Chan Chak’s Christmas Day Dash, 1941. Alison's father Colin McEwan was one of the members of that escape party.
- Barbara Anslow lived in Hong Kong in the 1940s, and was interned in the Stanley Camp. She has very generously agreed to share her diary with us.
- Brian Edgar has already shared details of his father's time in Hong Kong during the fighting and occupation. He's also doing a great job of providing links to other documents that mention events from this time.
- Tony Banham is the local expert on Hong Kong during the fighting and occupation. He has written several books about the topic, and the timeline approach he's used so successfully is the inspiration for this project.
I hope we can add more diaries, to get a broader range of viewpoints. If you know anyone who has family diaries covering Hong Kong between 1941-1945, please could you ask if they are willing to share them with us?
Thanks & regards,