27 Oct 1945, Barbara Anslow's diary | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

27 Oct 1945, Barbara Anslow's diary

Book / Document: 
Date(s) of events described: 
Sat, 27 Oct 1945

Early morning, moved off up the Mersey, over the Bar - very muddy, and came into view of Liverpool.

A launch brought along a crowd of dull, well-dressed men each carrying a little suitcase who climbed ladder to ship.  A crowded ferry circled  round us, people waving to us.  As we pulled alongside, there were loads of people waving and cheering on a raised sort of stage; a band was playing 'Now it can be told'.  The Mayor and other folk made speeches.  Mr. Roe's son Martin  ((from boarding school in England)) was there at dockside.  ((Mrs Roe and daughter Barbara were in same cabin as Mum and I).
((We all had to see the UK officials in the public saloon to get travel documents etc.  Looking back, the logistics were awesome.  I guess there were between 2,000 and 3,000 of us aboard.  Every one was interviewed.  Somehow UK had got information from any relatives any of us we might have in UK; a destination had been organised for every one.

Mum and I were told that Aunt Lily in Gillingham, Kent, had offered to have us; so had Mrs. I. Cole, (pre-war family friend) whose husband Lieut. G. Cole was killed during the HK fighting; she now lived in Devon.  What kindness!

Of course we chose to go to Aunt Lily, and then and there were issued with railway warrants to Gillingham. These interviews took all day, so we spent another night on the Empress, all packed up.))


I was doing a random search for my Uncle Charles Roe and My Auntie Marion Roe when I came upon Barbara's Diary.  I was born in Hong Kong on the 23 July 1940 and my entire family were in Hong Kong for the duration of the Occupation. What has always puzzeled me is why we were not interned. I recall living in Garden Terrace throughout the period.  If anyone has any idea about this I would be most interested.

Uncle Charlie, Auntie Marion together with Barbara and Denis arrive in the UK after the war on The Empress of India and settled in Norwich, regretably they died there in 1964 and 1972, Cousin Denis died earlier this year (2013). Cousin Barbara is still living in Norwich.

I shall ask Barbara whether she remembers sharing a cabin with you. Sadly I don't think she will.

Geoff Marshall

Hi Geoff,

Thanks for writing. Please could you let us know the names of your other family members that were with you in Garden Terrace? That might help spark someone's memory. Also if you could let us know your parents' nationalities and occupations, that might give a clue as to why they weren't interned.

Barbara Anslow would have been 'Barbara Redwood' in 1945, in case that helps your cousin. She might also remember Miss Redwood organising the performance of Peter Pan (see http://gwulo.com/node/11268), where Denis was one of the redskin indians.

Is there any chance your family have kept any written diary of other record of their experiences in Hong kong at this time? I'm always looking for more information to add to what we know about wartime Hong Kong.

Here are a couple of other pages you might find useful:

Regards, David

Barbara Anslow writes:

Barbara might remember me as she was about 10 years younger than me and I knew her well in camp, as well as sharing a cabin on the 'Empress of Australia' to UK Oct 1945 (n.b. not the Empresss of INDIA).

Hello David,

Thanks for your response, Living at 5 Garden Terrace, were my father James Gray Marshall (of Scottish and Portugese parentage) my mother Aice (nee Barretto) of Portguese parentage. My brothers Wilbur (but not for long, I have been told he went off and joined the Guerrillas (?) and we never saw him again, James and myself.

Dad had an Import and Export business with offices in a building next to oing NationL Queeens Theatre in Queens Road. 

Sadly they didn't keep diaries of the time, Dad died in 1958 never mentioned the war, Mother died in Torquay in 2004, any questions about Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong always met with a wall of silence.

Denis transetted through Hong Kong on his way to Korea when he was doing his National Service, he returned home safely after that war and passed away earlier this year.




Dear Barbara,

How nice to receive a reply from you.Thank you. I had noticed that I got the Emprees name wrong.

I am really glad I came across your Diary, more of my relatives have appeared, Marie O'Connor (My mothers half sister) and also Doreen Leonard (I,m not sure about this but I think she was Aunt Marie and my mothers half sister)

My cousin Babara now lives in Norwich.


Geoff Marshall

Hello Geoff

Would seem your parents 'qualified' as Portuguese - a neutral country during WW2 - as was neighbouring Portuguese protectorate Macau. My wife's grandfather took his family to Macau immediately before the Occupation, where she was born, the whole family returning to HK in 1947.

Not many still alive or willing to talk about HK during the Japanese Occupation.

In the 1960's optimistic sharks could still occasionally be seen cruising off Stanley and the odd skull being found in the sands behind the tents at Sheko and Big Wave Bays.

Best wishes.


Dear Geoff,

Thanks for the extra information. The details of your father's company got a bit mangled by the computer, please could you let us know that again?

There were a couple of times your father & the family would have had to avoid imprisonment / internment. One was at the end of the fighting, when most men in uniform ended up in a Prisoner of War camp. I've put some ideas about that on your father's page, http://gwulo.com/node/15916, but please let us know if you can fill in any details.

Then there was the internment of civilians. I think Harry is right that your mother & father likely claimed Portuguese nationality to avoid internment.

I also heard from Henry Ching, who wonders if he went to school with one of your relatives:

I went to school (Diocesan Boys School) with a Gerald Marshall who lived in Garden Terrace. He was Eurasian with strong links to the local Portuguese community. The coincidence was too marked, and I had assumed he was an older brother of Geoff, but apparently not so unless his name was also James. Gerald left HK for England in 1952. He was then about 21 years old. I wonder if he was perhaps a cousin?

Regards, David

  I am sorry but I made some mistakes in the information I originally gs ave about my family. ( Bad Typing I'm afraid)

My father company was called J G Marshall & Co Ltd, an Import & Export Company he had offices in the then building next to the Queens Theatre in Queens Road Central.

We lived at 5 Garden Terrace  and at home were Dad (James) Mother (Alice) and at the very begining of the war my eldest brother Wilbur who when the Japanese arrive left and never was heard of again (any info on him would be gratefully received) Donald, Gerald, Desmond and James (Junior) and myself.




 Harry Ching is correct about Gerald, who is indeed my elder brother. He did go to  DBS. He left Hong Kong for England in 1952 and eventuall did end up in Indonesia where he work for a large German Company.  He now live in retirement just outside Nurenberg, Germany.