Events at the Repulse Bay Hotel: View pages | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Events at the Repulse Bay Hotel: View pages

On December 7th 1941 both Mr. Kalazhny, my sub-manager, and Mr. B. Gellman, Night Reception Clark, were mobilized for duty in the fighting forces.

[...] other members of the foreign staff were called up for A.R.P. duties on December 8th, and Mr. Leung Fat, the Chinese Number One, was mobilised as a Police Reservist.  This left me very much understaffed, but I fortunately received the assistance and co-operation of the guests living in the Hotel, who were all most anxious to help in any way possible.  I would particularly mention in that connection the invaluable assistance of Mr. J.H. Marsman, Mr. G.C. Dankworth and Mr. R. Wilson, who amongst other activities arranged the very satisfactory air raid shelter in the deep storm water nullah, thus alleviating the anxiety of mothers with young children when the bombing commenced.

         The two Bamboo Lounges were turned into a sick bay with Sister Mosey in charge, ably assisted by Mr. and Mrs. E.M. Raymond, and Mrs. R.L. Longworth - one can say that they worked a 24 hour day under most difficult conditions.

         The Hotel was completely full - in some cases guests were "doubling up" in rooms.  We held large provision stocks in cold storage to chamber capacity, and also increased stocks over normal of dry goods.  Extra supplies of rice were also stocked to meet the feeding requirements for our Chinese Staff.

         During the first few days of the hostilities the ration truck from town maintained its usual schedule, but soon disruption took place due to the state of the roads and military requirements;  further it became difficult to obtain transportation from the Government Food Control Department which had requisitioned all the Company's ration trucks.

 Laundry work after the commencement of hostilities was carried out on the premises by the Hotel amahs, as deliveries from the Steam Laundry Company ceased after the second day of the war.  I am indebted to Mrs. Logan, the Housekeeper, for her excellent organisation and co-operation in carrying out many extra duties which made possible the smooth working attained.

         In addition to the guests of the Hotel, we housed, on requisition, in the Bar and Drawing Room, about 120 A.T.S. Drivers (Chinese) and accommodated three of its foreign officers and a Chinese clerk in the New Wing.

         During the period I also supplied food to large numbers of British Troops who were operating in the neighbourhood - as often their own rations failed to reach them.

         Five members of the Army Signals Corps took up quarters in the building as soon as hostilities reached the neighbourhood of the Hotel.  They ran a line to room 109 which remained as their headquarters until the Hotel was vacated by the British military personnel.

After the 18th December our contact with town by road ceased entirely, and we were forced to subsist upon the stocks of food remaining at the Hotel, which I issued upon a severely rationed basis.

         Actual hostilities around the Hotel increased in intensity by the 19th December, and fighting for possession of the Hotel Garage took place on the 20th December when the Japanese occupying it were dislodged.  Then certain British units manned the Hotel with Mortars, Machine Guns, and various small arms (windows, verandahs, rooms, and roof being utilised).  Interchange of fire took place continuously until the British troops left the Hotel during the early hours of the 23rd December just prior to the Japanese forces entering the Hotel at dawn on that day.

Our stocks of wines, spirits, etc., were destroyed on the 22nd December.  

((The Japanese forces entered the Hotel at dawn on the 23rd December.))

         The Commander of the Japanese forces who took possession of the Hotel confined us to the interior of the premises and during the morning the Japanese conducted a search of everyone except children.

         On the morning of the 24th December the Japanese took a roll call on the lawn in front of the Hotel of all occupants of the Hotel including third nationals. 

On completion of the roll call we were ordered to our rooms to await examination of belongings etc.  We were told at the roll call that we should be vacating the Hotel.  We were not told our destination, but we were instructed that we should be allowed only one suit case each as we would have to walk to our destination wherever it was.

         Sister Mosey elected to remain upon the premises to attend to two seriously wounded British soldiers who had been brought in during the hostilities to the sick bay.

         At 10.a.m. on the 24th December we were again paraded with our baggage and walked off.  We proceeded by the Repulse Bay Road to North Point.  We halted outside the Commercial Press premises at North Point at about 2.30 p.m., and remained there until 6.30 p.m., when we were lodged for the night in the Duro Paint factory premises. 

         When I left the Repulse Bay Hotel the majority of the windows there had sustained breakage or other damage, and many doors were cracked and split, but the structure of the building was intact.

         With regard to the contents of the Hotel, stocks of food had completely run out.  Linen Stocks, crockery and glassware and silver stocks were of normal quantities as per stock sheets, and were intact when I left the Hotel.  Furniture, carpets and other fittings to the rooms were also all there.

((On)) the 25th December, we were removed by launch to Kowloon and placed in the Kowloon Hotel where we remained until our transfer to Stanley on the 23rd January 1942.

         Sister Mosey, ((who had stayed at the Repulse Bay Hotel to attend to two seriously wounded British soldiers)), was afterwards taken to Stanley Prison together with the two wounded by the Japanese on the 27th December.

((We were transferred from the Kowloon Hotel)) to Stanley on the 23rd January 1942.