World War 2 | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

World War 2

My late father-in-law, a Chinese medical Doctor, during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, was forced at gun-point to accompany boats taking Hong Kong citizens to a near-by island where they were left to starve to death. This was done by the Japanese as a way of dealing with the severe food shortage at the time. However, in order to pass as a medical transport ship, I believe, they needed a medical doctor on board. My late father-in-law was forced to fill this role. Does anyone else have information on this, such as other medical people in this role, which island, etc.?


These deportations were among the most dreadful aspects of the occupation, and they must have been traumatic for your father-in-law to witness as well as of course unimaginably horrible for the victims.

In reponse to food shortages in Hong Kong, the Gendarmes rounded up people they found on the streets in shabby clothing and took them (in many cases) to a transit camp in North Point. They were then taken in motorized junks and abandoned at the rate of about 2,000 a week at the height of the program 'on the plague-ridden coast of Guangdong or on one of the barren and uninhabited islands on the fringe of the colony' (Philip Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong, 167). Snow gives Lo Chau island off the Stanley Peninsula as one of these islands, while two others were mentioned in the War Crimes Trials: Havelock and Tarmugli islands:


Evidence as to these appalling actions featured prominently in the trial of Colonel Noma, the head of the Gendarmes, and the courts handed out half-a-dozen death sentences and two of life in prison to those involved.

Thank-you for the information.  It seems that he may have been in this position because he was a medical doctor at North Point Refugee Camp prior to it being taken over by the Japanese.  I suspect the other doctors there were in the same position.  We didn't realize that this was actually part of the war crimes trials.

Chris, thanks for writing. I haven't seen much information about these deportations, so it is very interesting to hear this about your late father-in-law.

I'm not sure why he had to accompany the boats. Since the boats involved are described as motorised junks, they wouldn't have been very large. It doesn't seem likely that the Japanese would have gone to the trouble to pretend that they were medical transport ships.

It must have been a very stressful trip for your father-in-law. Not only from being forced at gunpoint to accompany these terrible trips, but there must also have been the worry that he would have been left there on the island, and not brought back.

Can anyone else add any information about these events?

Regards, David

PS In case it isn't clear, the "Havelock and Tarmugli islands" Brian notes were mentioned in a War Crimes Trial relating to the Japanese in Singapore, and so would not have been one of the destinations for the boats you described.

My uncle Stephen Sai-cheung Tsui testified against W/O Omura at the War Crime Trial in 1946 at the Supreme Court.  He was arrested and taken from his home in Fanling by the Kempatei on 10th Jan 1945. He was around 21 at the time. He was transfered to and detained at the Kowloon Magistracy for four months.  During his detention without trial, he was tortured with: beating, 'water', 'aeroplane', burning, starvation...  He was released in May 1945.

He was interrogated for association with "British Spies".  There was nothing to show that he was indeed involved, although his three brothers - Paul, Mark & Mathew, as well as sister Mary, were all actively involved with the British Army Aid Group in Free China.  Another brother, Philip, was active in the underground resistance in N.Borneo; he died from the maltreatment received during detention while on his way home after liberation.

Stephen Tsui is still well and living in Hong Kong.  He bore the scars of his torture on his body; but has forgiven his tormentors. He gave an account of his odeal to Dr. Sarrah Linton in 2010 in connection with her HKU War Crime Trials research project.  He also received a televised interview by a reporter of RTHK, although the interview was not aired.