Harry Ching's wartime diary: View pages | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Harry Ching's wartime diary: View pages

All-day raid far off in Kowloon. Respite for us

((Following text not dated:))

Latter half of month almost nightly alerts, but nix. Kept us awake.

Another hectic day 11.30 a.m. to 3.50 p.m. Left after blindly dropping bombs. One near Bowrington Canal. Everybody jittery. People moving about. Always safer some other place. 

((Following text not dated:))

No food at Rosary Hill by month end for Portuguese refuse go. Enemy nationals can't go Macao. 

Downstairs Jap family suddenly move to Robinson Road. Replaced by single man. Upstairs now also Jap family. Naughty kids. Putting grilles on doors.

Night alerts continue despite rain. But no planes heard. Three alerts at night on 18th May. No bombs or firing

((Following text not dated:))

Girl in street with all flesh torn from legs. Wild dogs blamed. 

Cucumbers in roof garden green and white not so bad after all. Four pumpkins survive but long time ripening. Long beans not bad. Peanuts livening up.

Early June all quiet for a week.

Quiet broken by daylight raid. Jelly bombs. Hit Wanchai coffin shop, mah jong school and Happy Life Clinic. People pick up for vaseline. Jelly bursts into flame after few minutes. Next day three B24s brought down. Total 59 raiders. Central hit. Hospitals short of bandages, gauze and other requirements.

((Following text not dated:))

Margaret Guttinger ((a neighbour living in Fung Fai Terrace)) sends word peace talks. Privileged to have short wave. Peace sensation.

Spend freely on pork and buns for dinner, Y3,000. Glad not more. Account book looks like lasting just long enough. For first time in years had coffee at own expense in restaurant, for three of us. Coffee and two small cakes each, Y372 plus tip = Y400

Cut two pumpkins. A little green though look ripe and vines dried. More coming on. Also had couple foo kwar first time in three years. Flies usually ruin them. White rabbit surprisingly gives birth to incestuous four. Kids all excited.

Stanley bombed by lone plane ((See diaries for 25th July)). Seven injured. No other raids in moonlight beginning of month. Why so quiet? Several nights hear planes but no bombs. 

Alert in forenoon. One high flyer. First alarm in many weeks.

Early a.m. alert. Planes but nix. Next day plane scare while walking to town.  Hurry past Naval Yard.

To town with two kids. Very quiet. All sorts foolish rumours. Leaflets said to be dropped saying transfer to take place Tuesday. Zindel ((International Red Cross Rep)) said to have told Rosary Hillites not celebrate until Tuesday.

To town alone. No news. Rumour some Stanleyites out. Bull. Walking home conscious grim activity. Some thirty Jap or Formosan prisoners in white uniforms and chains outside Naval Yard. Tanks on cricket ground. Low flying plane. Explosions. All hint peace scare over and war to go on. Pastor Neilsen calls. Rumour American demands delayed 24 hours by Swiss and only just received by Tokyo.

Little news in paper. Rumour many arrests for careless street talk. Decide nothing will develop until tomorrow so will stay home.

Up and down all night listening to radio. Early broadcasts said Jap reply not received. At 5 a.m. San Francisco said reply received in Switzerland decoded, but did not contain the reply for which world was hoping. Meanwhile Japan being heavily raided all day from noon.

Rumour that B.B.C. announced Japs accepted demands. Went to town with Maurice Fung, by tram. Told kids stay in lest crazy ones show excesses in behaviour. To Ken Chaun's. Say all over. But red flag goes up for air raid! Example of sturdy independence of departments which has characterised the administration throughout.

With Charlie ((Wong)) and Henry Ahwee to hear important announcement. Gloucester corner big crowd mostly Japs looking grim. Seem to know what's coming. Tokyo relay, much static. Emperor's voice deeper boom than expected. Long spiel. Japs look sad, but no outburst. Women near tears.

Ask Lum arrange meeting for me with Japs in office. No excuse not transferring soon as can. But Lum says they addressed staff, said worked together long time, friends, but soon going; meanwhile carry on as before. ((Harry Ching had been the editor of the SCMP before the war. The SCMP office had been used by the Japanese during the occupation, now Harry is keen to get it back.))

Radio not so busy last night. To town. Heavy rain. No soldiers about. But in evening plenty in full kit moving somewhere. Nothing cheap yet. Japs buying up rice to pay staff. To office, wait hours to see Jap. Paper ((Hong Kong News)) closing tomorrow, but say continuing paper from our place. Hopes carry on after transfer. Coldly spurns my suggestion give me desk in office. Trying to write first leader.

Sleepless night. Brain active writing leader. To town. Aeroplane causes rush. Pamphlets. Merely repeats surrender stuff. No interference with people reading. That night no mention Hongkong on radio. Gendarmerie has decided form special squads to keep order. Also large number gendarmes to guard rice and other shops selling daily necessities.

To town every day now. Everything haywire. Rumour Chinese troops in Kowloon. For some days Chinese flags furtively shown. To-day rash of them and cracker firing. 

Gendarmes order Chinese flags removed.

Passes being issued to people visiting Stanley. Big crowd going. I climb aboard truck in wretched condition. Repulse Bay area devastated.

At camp gate Hongkong Police. Recognise Inspector, says O.K. but skinny and hungry. Big crowd awaits. Some silent and snooty. Wylie awaits. Getting more food. Offer us rice. Meet many terribly changed, can't place them.

Home for tea.

Downstairs Jap moved out yesterday. We souvenired some stuff. Using phone. Tonight pinched phone and brought upstairs.

To town. Wylie and Giffen phoned Lum. Went to meet them at office. Wylie bold, bluffs Japs, inspects office. Building filthy. Staff gape at us and chatter. Japs say awaiting instructions but amicable. Cheeky Giffen wants car and gets it as missed bus. Take Wylie for walk around town.

Walked to town. Hot and tired. Hear Japs giving newspaper staff 40 catties rice bonus, but denied to boy who shook hands with Wylie.