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

20 Nov 1945, Chronology of Events Related to Stanley Civilian Internment Camp

Date(s) of events described: 
Tue, 20 Nov 1945

A report on page 2 of today's China Mail throws some light on a little-known aspect of the occupation.

Alfonso Castro Valle, the Secretary of the Mexican Embassy in Chungking, has been on a trip around southern China and Hong Kong to register and relieve Mexican nationals. In Hong Kong he interviewed 'hundreds' who had suffered years of malnutrition and neglect - costing 15 deaths -  where, for some reason, Mexicans were not interned but imprisoned. The majority were Chinese who were born in Mexico and the ages ranged from 15 to 20, many being women and children. He'd found many being cared for by British relief organisations, although a few had jobs and were eking out a living. In Macao about 100 lived in a Mexican 'colony'.

In Hong Kong Castro Valle interviewed a scattering of Chileans, Colombians, Panamanians, Guatemanians and more than 100 Cubans. Macao had relatively more Latin Americans and the biggest concentration of Peruvians.


This is interesting and the experiences of Latin Americans in Hong Kong could certainly do with some further study, but I'm suspicious of the narrow age range cited, which might be due to a misprint, and also note that one claim directly contradicts the testimony of Dr. Selwyn-Clarke, who was sent to take charge of the medical arrangements at Kowloon's Ma Tau-wai camp in December 1944:

The internees at Ma Tau-wai were mostly Chinese of South American nationality, a few Americans and British, Eurasians and one Indonesian girl. (Footprints, 1975, 94).

A number of people of Latin American origin (and probably Chinese ethnicity) are known to have been arrested for resistance work, and I wonder if anyone connected with these was imprisoned, while the others were interned in Ma Tau-wai?


The Consulate General of Mexico in Hong Kong requested the Mexican Diplomatic Archive to search for documents related to this story. A Memorandum to the President dated November 21, 1945 was found. It states that a telegram had been received informing that "about 193 persons that claimed to be Mexican" had been intervied, in total, by Mr. Castro Valle during visits to Hong Kong, Macao and Guangzhou. A detailed report was apparently later sent from Chungking via air mail but there is no current record of it.

An interesting side note to this story is that Mr. Castro Valle went on to have a long and distinguished career in the Mexican Foreign Service. Among other positions, he served as Ambassador to Czechoslovakia at the time of the 1968 Soviet occupation.

Many thanks for investigating this and for the interesting account of Mr. Castro Valle's later career.It's good to have an exact figure for the interviewees too. Please let us know if any more information ever emerges.

The Japanese-sponsored Hongkong News reported on June 2,1942, that in spite of Mexico's recent declaration of war on the Axis, the seven people of Mexican nationality in Hongkong would not be interned. This was because they were all women and most were 'of Chinese race' and had become Mexican by marriage. The story also notes that the Mexican Consulate in Hongkong had been closed about two years earlier and since then there had been no national representative.

Source: 'Seven Mexicans Here Will Not Be Interned', Hongkong News, June 2, 1942, p. 3.

My father in law, Vincent Wong, was born in Lima in 1913 to a Cantonese speaking first generation family of immigrants. He was sent to HK on his own in about 1936 to learn something of Chinese ways and traditions and in 1937 married a Ms Esther Leung. My wife, Anna Wong Pik San was born at Kowloon General in 1938. Her mother was killed durng the Japanese attack of Dec 1941 and a few years later she and her father were 'banished'  to the Wong village near Canton. to fend for themselves.  He married  a local woman and in 1951 after working in several HKGovt jobs returned to Lima with the promise to send for his family. This never happened.

Knowing very little of her father's prewar experience in HK,  my wife, and naturally I as well, would like to hear if there is a short history of the Peruvians who ended up being caught up in the war.




Here are some pages on Gwulo with related information: