21 Apr 1943, Harry Ching's wartime diary

Book / Document: 
Date(s) of events described: 
Wed, 21 Apr 1943

((Following text not dated:))

Gendarme visit alarms family. With Eurasian George Kotwall ((executed as BAAG agent in October, 1943)). But mistaken identity. "You master's wife?" Confusion. Wanted Morgie Master next door. Allegedly carried messages Ginger Hyde ((banker)) to Volunteer husband ((Pte R. J. Master)) in camp for one Ansari instructing Indians escapology. Supposedly from one Sedgwick ((P. C. M. Sedgewick, a HK Govt Cadet)) at Waichow.

Comments

I've placed Charles Hyde's address on April 30 in the Chronology, following one of the BAAG sources. However, this entry sounds as if as it's a report of a terrifying experience that took place while Mr. Ching was still in the Nethersole, and it makes it highly probable that the arrest was earlier than I thought. I note that April 21 was given by another source, so I'll move the location of Hyde's arrest to that day.

I've not seen a reference to Morgie Master or her arrest before. I think that Captain Mateen Ansari was in Ma Tau-Chung Camp at the time of the escape plot, and this suggests that Private Master was Indian as, to the best of my knowledge, the camp was used only for Indian POWs at this time. Can anyone clarify or expand?

Hi Brian,

Where you see "((Following text not dated:))", it means we've guessed the date. I'll add more detail about this on the main page for this diary. However you're right the gendarme visit should have happened while Mr Ching was at the Nethersole.

Tony Banham lists R J Master on the HKVDC page:

Master, R.J. Private CLP Argyle

I guess that means he was in the Argyle Street camp and that he wasn't Indian, but then I'm not sure what his connection to Ansari was.

Regards, David

Henry Ching writes:

Master was in the HKVDC and he was Indian. I guess (but I’m not certain) that he was in Ma Tau Chung Camp with Ansari. I don’t know the significance of “Argyle” in Tony Banham’s list, but you will notice that in that whole section under Field Company Engineers almost all the names have “Argyle” after them. They were not batmen, so I think it means they were in the Argyle Street Camp right in the beginning, before or just after the surrender, prior to it becoming an officers’ camp. Master was released from POW camp, I think in September, 1942 with the batch of Asian Volunteers. He was later arrested by the Kempetai, but following that he and his family were permitted to leave for Macau.

The Japanese visit to our home with George Kotwall took place one night between 18th and 24th April, 1943 while my father was still in hospital.

Observation from the 1941 Jury List.

Rustam Jehangir Master was an Electrical Engineer at China Light & Power (CLP) probably on Argyle Street.

I found the key for the list of entries on this page:

http://www.hongkongwardiary.com/searchgarrison.html

As Henry suspected, 'Argyle' refers to to the place the soldiers were initially imprisoned:

Initial Place of Internment
These details are taken from the January 1942 ‘census’ of prisoners. Generally those recorded as being at North Point at this time were captured at Stanley, and those at Sham Shui Po were captured in Victoria.

Military:
NP - North Point Camp
SSP - Shamshuipo Camp
Argyle - Argyle Street Camp

Regards, David

Thanks Henry, Moddsey, David.

it's good to have this additional information.

Looking forward to future diary instalments!