18 Aug 1945, Chronology of Events Related to Stanley Civilian Internment Camp | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

18 Aug 1945, Chronology of Events Related to Stanley Civilian Internment Camp

Date(s) of events described: 
Sat, 18 Aug 1945

Paul Reveley - a world class radio engineer - has left Ma Tau-wai Camp to inspect the wireless station at Hung Hom. He tells Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke that he is able to arrange for messages to be transmitted beyond Hong Kong. The former Director of Medical Services begins a campaign to persuade Franklin Gimson to re-assert British authority over Hong Kong. He wants to thwart any Chinese attempt to take over Hong Kong with American backing, and perrhaps even more urgently he wants to resume his old work and start to deal with the appalling health conditions he sees all around him. But Gimson is more cautious: his policy for the next five days will be to engage in talks with the Japanese, hopefully leading to a gradual resumption of British control - he is aware that the British are nowhere near able to maintain law and order, and he fears that if he pushes the Japanese too hard they will abdicate responsibility and chaos and mayhem will ensue. His advisors in camp are even more cautious: he wishes to take the oath as Officer of Administering the Government, making him the theoretical Governor of Hong Kong, but he's told that even going this far is too risky.

 

About 11 a.m. Leon Blumenthal arrives in Stanley on a motorcycle, accompanied by Greenwood and Brailsford ((Two of the technicans removed from Stanley and places in Ma Tau-wai)) in a fire-engine with a Chinese driver. There's huge excitement in camp. Blumenthal tells people there's plenty of food in town.

A British plane does a victory roll over camp. Lieutenant Owens brings a pile of cards from Shamshuipo. A union jack is seen flying over St. Stephens. Eric MacNider sees stew ((probably rice congee)) in the dustbins - some people are now refusing to eat the old diet.

Sir Robert Kotewall tries to visit the camp but is stopped by gendarmes ((presumably the Japanese Kempeitai.))

 

There's a Union Jack hidden in the house of Arthur May's parents on Hong Kong Island. With the agreement of Dr. Selwyn-Clarke, May slips out of Ma Tau-wai late last night or early this morning with his friend, the engineer J. C. Brown. They cross the harbour in a leaky boat, which nearly sinks half way over. They wake May's parents, retrieve the flag from the cushion where it's hidden and climb the Peak in the dark 'by unfrequented ways'. They create an impromptu flag pole with an abandoned plank, fix the flag to it and erect it ready for the dawn. Guards with fixed bayonets rush to the Peak and demand it be taken down. The flag remains until May has secured a promise from an officer that the Japanese won't sabotage public utlities before the arrival of British troops.

The flag was taken down at 1.30 p.m. It had flown for four and a half hours.

 

Donald Bowie, in charge of the hospital at the Central British School (formerly Bowen Road) receives a letter from Matron E. M. B. Dyson of Stanley's Tweed Bay Hospital saying that she wishes to bring her Queen Alexandra nurses to rejoin his staff - 'this gave us pleasure'. On August 22 Bowie completes arrangements for all the QA sisters to return. (See also entry for September 1, 1945.)

Sources:

Revely, Sewlyn-Clarke and Gimson: documents in the Selwyn-Clarke Papers, Weston Library, Oxford.

Blumenthal to Kotewall: MacNider Papers, 'Aug. 18, 1945'

May and flag: Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke, Footprints, 1975, 97; Arthur May Papers, University of Hong Kong

Bowie and the QA sisters: Donald Bowie, Captive Surgeon in Hong Kong, 1975, 258-9