30 Aug 1945, Barbara Anslow's diary | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

30 Aug 1945, Barbara Anslow's diary

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Date(s) of events described: 
Thu, 30 Aug 1945

11am: Mabel's 22nd birthday, and Mary Taylor's 27th.

Tens of planes have been over all the morning, some of them zooming frighteningly.  Fleet movements have been seen on the horizon.

19 heavy planes have just flown over us, and most people are up on the roof because they say the Fleet can be seen entering Lye Mun, but I can't see (well enough) so no good going.
7pm: Here I am sitting on the 4th floor of the French Mission, overlooking St John's Cathedral!

At 2pm Miss (Grace) Ezra (Govt. stenographer) came and told me to be ready to go to Town at 5pm. So rushed round to see Father Hessler who gave me a blessing.  Peggy (Barton) was running round me all the time, helping.  Mum and Mabel did the packing.  (Olive still not well).

Family helped carry my folded camp bed and meagre belongings down to the Ration Dump where transport was supposed to come, but when we arrived, the tranport had apparently left! While I waited, hoping another transport would arrive, family brought along my share of Mabel's birthday party planned for evning, and I ate it sitting on my suitcase at the road side.
Planes were zooming about, then a car drove through the gate, and out stepped the civil servant who was acting camp commandant now that Mr Gimson was in town, (I think he was our Commissioner of Prisons).

'The Admiral will be here in a few minutes,' he called out, 'Tell every one to assemble outside the CSO!'

Everyone in hearing rushed off with the glad tidings, every one but me, I dared not move from the spot in case my transport arrived.  People came running from all directions to get a vantage point outside Block 2, I felt so frustrated that I coudn't join them. ((There are photos of this))

Then in came two cars, the first contained Admiral Harcourt in full fig, and Mr Gimson (who is now Governor.)  Then some Marines on small amphibians all looking so huge and healthy, their white starched uniforms gleaming, and their faces so pink that it looked as if they were wearing makeup.

Now I threw duty to the winds and dashed up the road to join the crowds.   The Admiral made a short speech, short he said because he had get to other places in the Far East.  The National Anthem was sung as the flags were raised.

The Admiral and his retinue drove off and I went back to my station near the gate and found several more government servants waiting for transport, which turned out to be an ancient bus with no glass in the windows, and holes in the wooden floor.  As it drove us away from Stanley through puddles, water splashed up between the floor boards.

Among the passengers were 2 Eurasian teenage stepsons of Mrs. K. Rosselet, an ANS friend of Mum's, they had not been interned but had today been visiting their stepmother. Stubbs Road in an awful mess. The Gap Road flats ((where we Redwoods had lived until the Jap. attack)) had been bombed.  Japanese were visible in Wellington Barracks (Queen's Road).  British sailors were in Naval Dockyard barracks, throwing cigaretes down to Chinese children. We all waved frantically.
The bus stopped at the steps up to Battery Path opposite HSBank.  The Rosselet boys carried my bed and luggage up the Path to the French Mission.  (This building had now been commandeered for Government quarters and offices) ((It was outside this French Mission during the fighting that I had been waylaid by an Irish priest was asking all who passed by if they were RC, and offering Confesion and Holy Communion in the building.  I had joined a short Confession queue on the ground floor. ))

I was directed to the top floor, the two Rosselets kindly carried my luggage up to a room already occupied by Mrs. D. Mathias, Nan Grady and Barbara Budden, all Govt. employees.
We had dinner downstairs, served by Boys!  Lovely, comfortable chairs with arms; flowers on table; soup, mashed potato, hamburger, fried eggplant.   Sweet course I couldn't face, but had room for coffee with milk and sugar.
Listened to radio at 10.30pm, hearing Charles Moorad of U.S. broadcasting from Hong Kong - rather frightening perhaps to families in UK: "You can recognise an internee a block away" i.e., gaunt appearance, sunken eyes etc. ((We didn't think we looked like that !))

There's a huge Japanese shrine on the Peak.

Tim Fortescue broadcast 'Good Night' on radio.