11 Dec 1941, Laura B Ziegler's wartime memories | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

11 Dec 1941, Laura B Ziegler's wartime memories

Date(s) of events described: 
Thu, 11 Dec 1941

On Thursday afternoon (Dec. 11th) one of the men had been out to try to get some news because the radio and telephone were out of order. He came back about 5PM with the news that the British were retreating and they were evacuating Kowloon ((where we were)) and that the last boat would leave for the Hong Kong side in about 25 minutes. If we wanted to escape capture by the Japanese, we must leave at once.

Everybody went up to their rooms, gathered a few belongings and rushed to the ferry landing about 9 blocks away. There had been no shooting for several hours and all was strangely empty and quiet as we hurried along. As we passed the bus terminal, the British police and soldiers were wrecking the busses so that the Japs would not be able to use them.

We crossed in safety but the boat that left a few minutes after ours was not as lucky. The Japanese soldiers arrived before it got far enough away from the wharf and shot at them. Several people were wounded. ((Doris remembers seeing dead bodies floating in the water and that Mother tried to shield my eyes from the scene.))

We arrived on the Hongkong side safely, but it was dark which added much to our hardship. We wanted to go and find the Buuck’s but although I had the address, I did not know exactly where it was. There were no coolies from whom we could ask for help.

After walking several blocks a British police officer asked if we had a place to live. He took us all the way to the home where the Buuck family lived. They were glad to see us because we hadn’t heard from each other for two days.

A few hours later we were all in bed and we wondered what would happen next. We slept in the basement here because we felt it would be the safest place to be. The homes on Hong Kong Island are built on the mountain side facing the harbor. The Japanese put up their guns across the harbor on the water front and other places facing us, and the British guns were on the mountain behind us and some below us. During the fighting the shells came from both sides.