19 Dec 1941, Chronology of Events Related to Stanley Civilian Internment Camp | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

19 Dec 1941, Chronology of Events Related to Stanley Civilian Internment Camp

Date(s) of events described: 
Fri, 19 Dec 1941

Dr. Newton, in the Kowloon Hospital has a reasonable breakfast - two bowls of cracked wheat made as porridge, three biscuits, a little butter and a glass of cocoa - but notes that 'none of us are up to very much activity' and that for most people just climbing the stairs leaves them winded. Food continues decent throughout the day, and the main problem is getting the 'night soil' (excrement) buckets emptied.

 

Arthur Hamson writes to Edith at 10.40 a.m. from 'Internment Camp, Hing Wah School, 7 Castle Peak Rd':

It is Richard's birthday today. It is also exactly a week since we last saw each other. What misery, what untold sufferings you and I have gone through will forever be in our minds...Like you I am living in memories, memories of happier days, of days when peace and freedom was around us. You would be surprised if I were to tell you that your wrist watch which I have is my constant companion...

There are 22 women here (and) 32 men...For the first 2 days we had little or nothing to eat and no water to drink, we have been able however to eke out some kind of an existence. The ladies prepare the meals and we men in turn make the fires. We spend our time in between meals in playing cards, draughts etc...Our beds which are black boards are real hard and everyone of us has sore hips. Today is the first day we've had water through the taps and we're all taking (it) in turns to wash parts of our body and our clothing.

 

On the Island an already bitter struggle intensifies:

This is by far the hardest day's fighting, with the defenders incurring in twenty-four hours approximately one-third of their total fatalities. Losses to the attackers are probably in a similar ratio.

 

Powerful forces of the newly-landed Japanese head westwards towards Victoria. At 1.45 a.m. Major J. J. Paterson reports that the North Point Power Station is completely surrounded; he's ordered to hold out as long as possible. His troops are all over 55 years old, but many have experience from WW1, and there ensues what is often described as an 'epic' defence by a small but highly courageous group. And there are two female civilians present: Joan Crawford, daughter of the station superintendent and wife of a mains distribution engineer, and her mother, Mrs Duckworth, are at the station throughout. Joan Crawford has been doing voluntary work as a dispenser at the French Hospital, and she tends the wounded during the battle.

Crawford and a few others survive the bitter fighting which ends about 4 p.m. Everybody's pushed into a large garage in a nearby street. They spend the night there, some badly wounded. It's their second day without food or water.

 

The Japanese take over, without resistance, the Advanced Dressing Station at the Salesian Mission in Shaukiwan. Two volunteer nurses, Mrs E. H. Tinson and Lois Fearon, are released unharmed and eventually make their way to safety (see January 2, 1942) but many of the men staffing the station are murdered, in spite of the Red Cross armbands worn by those working for St John's Ambulance.


Down on the south of the island, in the confusion of the fighting, Bennie Proulx's wondering where to go next:

'The hotel's as bad as the castle {Eu Castle}, but it's got food in it,' I said.

'What do you say, chaps?'

'The hotel it is, then.'

So began the now famous siege of Repulse Bay Hotel.

 

John Stericker is keeping Radio ZBW on the air. Today he introduces the Governor, Sir Mark Young, who tells the listeners that the defenders have now retired within their 'island fortress' and bids them 'hold fast'. ZBW will be off the air for the rest of the hostilities.

 

Hong Kong’s on the Mirror’s back page today, and the news is ominous:

Japs claim Hong Kong landing

JAPANESE Army headquarters last night claimed that a Japanese force had landed on Hong Kong Island in face of fierce resistance.

The Japanese Navy supported the troops in overnight operations. The troops were “now rapidly carrying out further operations.”

The latest Hong Kong communiqué received in Chungking did not confirm the Japanese claims. “Another Japanese peace offer was flatly rejected this morning, to their evident surprise,” it stated.

” During the day the defending guns destroyed one section of the enemy’s artillery, located on Devil’s Peak, and another gun firing from Cub Hill.

“Japanese mortars situated on the Kowloon waterfront maintained a heavy fire, which was returned. A number of enemy guns were silenced.

 

In his East Prussian headquarters, the man Britain is fighting in Europe shares a rather surprising view of events with his guests (including Heinrich Himmler):

What is happening in the Far East is happening by no will of mine. For years I never stopped telling all the English I met that they'd lose the Far East if they entered into a war in Europe.

Adolf Hitler, although he understands the importance to his cause of the Japanese successes - 'We must never abandon the Japanese alliance, for Japan is a Power upon which one can rely' - deplores the forthcoming expulsion of the 'white race' from east Asia (including, he believes, Australia) and regrets the fact that 'three centuries of effort' {by European colonialists} are going up in smoke'.

Sources:

Newton: Birch and Cole, 109-110.

Hamson: Allana Corbin, Prisoners of the East, 2002, 103-104

Hardest day's fighting: Tony Banham, Not The Slightest Chance, 2003, 18

Paterson at 1.45: Banham, op. cit., 124

Crawfords: Austin Coates, A Mountain Of Light, 1977, 147-148

Proulx and Repulse Bay: Benny Proulx, Underground From Hong Kong, 1943, 43

Stericker: Alan Birch and Martin Cole, Captive Christmas, 1979, 108

Hitler: Hitler's Table Talk 1941-1944, ed. Hugh Trevor-Roper, 1953/1988, 150, 300