12 Dec 1941, Harry Ching's wartime diary | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

12 Dec 1941, Harry Ching's wartime diary

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Fri, 12 Dec 1941

A day of readjustment, alerts and nuisance shelling of the Island, without much damage. The communique announcing the withdrawal from the mainland declared, "We have retired within our fortress, and from the shelter of our main defences we will hold off the enemy until the strategical situation permits of relief."

Driving myself home at sunset I had my first taste of shell-fire. Two whistled and crashed in the Naval Dockyard as I dodged a military vehicle coming fast on the wrong side of the road. 

We are now besieged in our fortress - but we do not feel very impregnable. The Kowloon hills have become mysterious and menacing. Normally the friendly horizon, they are now the hostile limit of our mental vision. The gates of hope have closed, and beyond them is a receding universe. Claustrophobia lays a probing finger upon us.

The day closed in an atmosphere of tension and depression. I parked the car and removed the rotor arm as instructed. There will also be a fifth column on the Island. It is a fairly quiet night, enlivened by pistol and revolver shots as suspect prowlers are chased home; but about 11 p.m. a great explosion.