What would you like to ask Barbara Anslow?

Submitted by David on Fri, 02/07/2014 - 15:00

If you have any questions about life in Hong Kong from the 1920s til the 1950s, here's your chance to ask them.

Barbara first arrived in Hong Kong in 1927, aged 8. Her father came here to work, and brought the family. They stayed here for two years.

Barbara aged 9

Barbara returned to Hong Kong in 1938, when her father was posted to Hong Kong for a second time. In 1940 she was part of the wartime evacuation of women and children from Hong Kong to Australia. She reached Manila, along with her mother and sisters. However the sudden and unexpected death of her father meant they had to turn round and head straight back to Hong Kong.

Here they stayed, and were in Hong Kong when the Japanese invaded in December 1941.

Photo: Christmas Day, 1941

Barbara lived through the fighting, and went on to spend the long years of occupation interned in Stanley Camp. After liberation she left Hong Kong, never expecting to return. Then next year she was back again!

She married a fellow-internee just a few years later, and they raised their young family here in Hong Kong. Barbara finally left for good in 1959, returning to Britain to live.

She celebrated her 95th birthday in December.

Barbara Anslow (the one on the right)

I'll visit Barbara in two weeks time, and she has kindly agreed to answer any questions readers have. What would you like to ask Barbara about life in Hong Kong during the 1920s - 1950s?

You can leave questions in the comments below, or send them to my email address:

David's email address

I'll collect them up and take them with me to ask Barbara. If I can get a clear recording of our conversation on my mobile phone, I'll post that up here when I'm back to Hong Kong again. Otherwise I'll write up Barbara's answers for you to read.

Regards, David


Luckily for us, Barbara has been a keen diary-writer, and has generously shared several sections of those diaries with us. Here are links to some highlights:


Hi David

Could you please ask Barbara about my Aunt Doris Brooks' wedding in Stanley Prison Camp to Duncan MacPherson.  She did mention to me that Doris and my grandmother, Emily Brooks, shared a room near hers in the camp and she told me about the making of the wedding cake.  

I have a photo of the wedding of Doris and Duncan with what appears to be two Chinese groomsmen or maybe witnesses - or would they be Japanese? standing behind them. My father was a prisoner also in the camp and yet it would appear neither he nor my grandmother attended the wedding? Does she know what the normal format would be?  Were relatives not permitted to attend? Were there many weddings in the camp?

Thank you Barbara and kindest regards,


Thanks Suziepie, I'll take your questions along with me to ask Barbara. I've also had a bunch of interesting questions sent in by email.

Any chance you can post the wedding photo for us to see please? That also raises another question for Barbara about what options there were for having photos taken during internment.

Regards, David

Thank you David 

I have been busy!! trying to upload the wedding photo while you were posting your message.  It took me a little while because like some others I was stumped for a while on the "place" question.  But after reading your replies to the others I sorted it out.  

MacPherson-Brooks Wedding 1943, Stanley Prison Camp, police

You and Barbara will now see what I mean by the "groomsmen" - they actually look more Chinese than Japanese. But I doubt they would have been Chinese.  (And why did I never ask my Aunt?! )  

I may have pinpointed Stanley not quite in the right place -could you please fix if I have mis-pinned it. 

Also you will see that I have now got around to putting in my Mum's details, Helene Caudron Brooks, but when I went to "link" I see she is already linked to a blank - second Person input. Could you please fix that too!  Thanks David.

I will be loading some more photos, so can I have a "Gallery" label - maybe call it:  1930s-1950s Brooks Family Gallery - and the other photos I have loaded ie: the Stanley drawings and book, can go in it.

Thank you,

Kind regards, Suziepie