Paul Atroshenko's childhood memories of wartime Hong Kong

Submitted by Admin on Mon, 06/29/2015 - 17:23

The extracts from Paul's website are reproduced here with his permission. He writes:

Thanks to the Russian Revolution, a lot of Russians ended up like political shrapnel flung across the Far East. Hong Kong proved to be a great haven for many of them. Even during the Japanese Occupation, Russians were not interned because the Japanese avoided war with the Soviet Union; and all Russians, whatever their politics, were basically left alone.

Apart from the bombing, and occasional Japanese brutality, the worst problem was just finding enough food to eat.

Thanks to the fact that I was a Catholic, we found sanctuary in the Italian Convent on Caine Road, even though the rest of the family were Russian Orthodox. My father was the first man to have permission to live in that convent! The convent was not bombed.

My brother and I started at KGV when it first opened after the War, in 1947. As I recall, it was called the Central British School. 

I've selected the extracts related to Paul's wartime experiences, but the whole biography is well worth a read.

Book type
Diary / Memoir
Dates of events covered by this document

Sample pages

((Although his family was denied entry to Hong Kong, Paul was born here in 1937, just before the great typhoon that hit Hong Kong that year.))

My brother Viacheslav was born in Shanghai in September, 1935, and I must have been conceived there sometime in December, 1936. It was a difficult time for my parents, Tonia and Ivan Atroshenko. The global economic depression of the 1930s had not affected…

SAFE IN HONG KONG AGAIN... or so it seemed.

Somehow my father managed to obtain visas for the family to return to Hong Kong. Apparently, having a child in the family who was British by birth was an advantage in obtaining visas for all of us.

While my mother established her dressmaking business in Hong Kong, my father was soon successful in prospecting for minerals. With both my parents gainfully employed, this was a short period of considerable comfort and…

((Date is approximate))

The Shell House Episode

The company which had employed my father in the construction of air raid shelters had carefully selected a good one for the families of their employees. We were evacuated from Kowloon to Victoria Island.

Before that evacuation, I had seen what I thought was a British warplane being shot down by a Zero in a dogfight. This must have impressed me greatly as I had reason to recall that event soon after…