Very early this morning the telephone rang. Bill O'Neill, Reuter's Hongkong manager, a lovable, happy Irishman. "The balloon's gone up," he said quietly. "They'll be here for breakfast."
I heard the youngsters moving in their room. I called to them, "No school to-day." Then I telephoned the Headmistress and told her the bad news. "Yes'" she replied resignedly, "Perhaps they had better not come to school to-day. I suppose things will be a little disorganised for a while."
The invaders came for breakfast as Bill had predicted, and we had our first air-raid alarm. I drove myself to work as usual. Explosions and big smoke across the Harbour at Kai Tak. People hurried purposefully about. They were shopping - and I realised that the hoarders were busy. More alarming, such shops as had opened were closing again; the shutters going up everywhere. I telephoned my wife and she rushed to a department store, where she managed to get some tinned stuff, including a small case of Australian beef.
Shell-fire drew us to the office windows in Wyndham Street, to gape at half a dozen planes high over the west end of the Harbour, gleaming yellow in the pale sun. Our first thrilling sight of puffs of flack. It wasn't very accurate, didn’t go high enough and, though one plane turned away, the intruders were not incommoded. No defending fighter planes went up - there was none.
Nerves were tightening. People from Kowloon crowded the ferries to Hongkong, and the evening communique warned, "Members of the public are advised that it is safer on the Kowloon peninsula and that congestion in the crowded streets of Hongkong will inevitably lead to unnecessary casualties." Police were posted to the ferry wharf, and permits to cross became necessary.
A complete black-out tonight. A night unexpectedly quiet.