((I discovered that I had a forgotten transcription of a letter I wrote in October 1942 to an acquaintance, having left Stanley Internment Camp at the end of June. At the time of the writing I had very recently become 10 years old. DeKalb, Illinois was our town of residence for six months, then it was on to Omaha, Nebraska.
Having posted on the events earlier, it is interesting for me to now see some forgotten details, and an item or two that may have been remembered wrongly in 1942.
The mentioned Phillips House, not far off Nathan Road in Kowloon, was a hotel converted into a few offices and a number or flats rented by American Protestant missionary families. It was used by more than one denomination. The Zieglers were also there, though Laura and I do not recall seeing one another at that place.
According to my current recollection, the Adys did not stay overnight at the Church Guest House in Hong Kong, but went directly in the dark uphill on a slope to the building where we sheltered.
If it had been a "hostel" then I can not recall that definition now. It was in any event the home of an HKVDC officer who was away.
Regards, Don Ady))
303 South 4th St.
October 8th, 1942
Now I guess I'll start telling you about the siege. In Hong Kong it broke out on Monday and the fighting began about 8 AM. But hardly anybody knew it. I was going to school on a bus. And after we had gone a few blocks, the driver stopped to listen to something, then he went on and repeated it twice, but the second time somebody got up and jumped off the bus. And soon the rest followed. I was sort of scared, because I didn't know what on earth had happened. So I asked one of the schoolboys if he knew what had happened, and he said "the Japs have come!" (Although there were quite a lot of kids in their teens, I didn't know any. In fact I don't think I ever saw anybody I knew personally!) At the time we were living on which is located at the end of Blendheim Ave which is the little street which if you are looking across the street from the Phillips House is on the left side. And at the end is Minden Ave. And at the other end of it, on the same side as Phillips House. Upstairs in the right flat, and our address was No. 1. Minden Ave.
And now I guess I'll go back to the bus. Well, we happened to be just opposite the Majestic Theater, and I ran all the way home! Mom and Dad told me the boy must have been mistaken, because they thought it must be a practice air raid. But Mom was teaching on the Hong Kong side, and she couldn't get across on the Star Ferry because it wasn't running. About ten o'clock they started shelling, so we knew that the Japs had really come.
Tuesday we went out to see some of our friends in Kowloon Tong on a bus, but we walked back in spite of the air raid overhead. On the way home we passed an air raid siren that went off about the reached it. Ane we hadn't gone more than a few blocks, when some friendly people invited us inside until it was over. But once the planes started to fly away, and the all clear sounded, but no sooner had it sounded than the mean things turned around and flew back. But pretty soon the all clear sounded again and we went home.
Then we went through shot and shell until Thursday evening when we had just started to set the table for supper. When Mr. Pommerenke came over all excited saying that there was going to be a couple of barges, something of that sort, to evacuate a few people from Kowloon (Mr. Steiner had gotten the information) So I hurried up and drank my milk while Dad spent about two minutes throwing some various articles in a suitcase which was already mostly packed. While Mom talked to our servants because no Chinese were allowed to cross on the barg. And luckily we got across without interference from the Japs. (The barge we went in went to go about 6:30 PM and the other one went two or three hours later, but was machine gunned.)
That night we slept in the Church Guest House. But the next morning we moved to the Saint Paul's College Hostel, just up the hill form the Church Guest House.
We lived with the Shoops, the Rebers, the Pommerenkes, Avis Thompson, and several that you didn't know, which we didn't know before the war.
We had some close misses as far as shells and bombs are concerned, but the only casualties were a couple of scratches I received, when I was out picking up shrapnel in an areaway with the road up above. But not knowing there were any planes overhead I quite surprised to hear a plane diving quite close. So I dashed for a hallway because I was nearer to it than was to the door. But being used to planes diving just as and hearing heavy guns of some kind going off and thinking they were the bombs, I made a dash for the door, and the real bomb went off on the road just above, and a rain of glass fell on me (not mentioning some pieces of window frames although none hit me) and you should have seen me leap inside. And so we went through shot and shell, although Dad and Mr. Pommerenke probably got the worst of it because they worked up at the hospital filling sand bags, and wore A.R.P. helmets.
And I was glad I didn't have to go through any more fighting Christmas day because probably I had eaten something that upset me, and had a trifle of a fever. But almost everybody had bad digestion on account of the fighting.
January 5th the Japs posted notice in town that all enemy aliens were to register at the Murray Parade Grounds, but some people didn't think that there was any thing funny in the air and just went to see what they were supposed to do and got slapped into some of the Chinese hotels, with just what they had on for the internment. And their folks or friend that were living with them during the siege didn't know where they were unless they managed smuggling letters out most likely.
The internment in the hotels lasted from the 5th to the 22 of Jan and if we had stayed there all the time we probably would have been either dead or insane by the time repatriation came along. (We lived in the New Asian Hotel, which was the smallest and one of the best of the hotels, and was on the street and almost opposite the Sun Company.)
On the 22nd we were marched down the bund to a dock where we got on a launch and went to Stanley on it.
At first we were billeted with the Pommerenkes, and later the Lynns lived with us, so there were seven of us in the room.
The worst treatment we received from the Japanese was when the whole camp of about three thousand (these were about 2500 British, about 50 to 60 Dutch and about 350 Americans) and took us out to a big playing ground for several hours, while they searched for radios, firearms, ammunition, spy glasses, and etc., in our quarters.
I rather think that we weren't fed as well as self respecting dog, usually in many ways.
But I think I'll bring the letter to a close now and tell more about the internment in the next letter.
Donald W. Ady