Shelter Area near Maryknoll in Stanley [c.1941-c.1941] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Shelter Area near Maryknoll in Stanley [c.1941-c.1941]

Current condition: 
Demolished / No longer exists
Date Place completed: 
c.1941-01-01 (Year, Month, Day are approximate)
Date Place demolished: 
c.1941-12-24 (Year, Month, Day are approximate)

Position of marker and dates are approximate.

Father Murphy mentions it in an interview he gave after he was repatriated in 1943 (thanks to brian for the link):

On the second day of war, Fr. Murphy was placed in charge of a refugee camp for Chinese bombed out of Hong Kong city, to be established on the grounds of the Maryknoll mission, near Point Stanley. The camp was maintained by the Hong Kong government, under the medical department. Maryknoll, Passionist and Vincentian Fathers voluntarily assisted in the task of erecting lean-to's and other preparations for the 2,000 Chinese who arrived December 10.

The camp was constructed on the brow of a hill overlooking the bay; flunked behind by the tall red Maryknoll building and other hills. The presence of nearby British forces and other military objectives early directed fire to the vicinity of the camp, and many of the refugees were wounded by bomb fragments and anti aircraft shrapnel.

What originally was intended as a point of refuge soon became a "hot spot." The Kowloon area of the mainland, to the northeast, fell on December 12. Japanese troops crossed the channel a few miles from Stanley six days later and captured Tytam reservoir, located 

in hills near the camp. Thereafter the entire island was without water. From December 20 the Stanley area was under constant fire. Fighting also ranged in the vicinity of Repulse Bay, to the southwest.

Through these ever-approaching battle lines. Fr. Murphy worked ceaselessly to maintain communications for the Chinese refugees. In an open touring car he made as many as four round trips a day over the hazardous 11-mile road between Stanley and Hong Kong. The road crawled through Wong Nei Chong gap, one of the big battle zones. Throughout these journeys, the young priest was exposed to almost constant rifle fire and often bombing forays. He had to work around landslides and skirt bomb craters. Skirmish lines were all around him.

"But others were doing far more,” he said. "However, I was fortunate in not being hit.”

The Chinese were fed two meals daily, of beans, fish, rice and meat. "Whenever there was a bombing raid ” Fr. Murphy said, "the camp would be deserted at once, the Chinese running into nearby vales. But they always came back for their meals.”

The Chinese were largely villagers, he said. They were cooperative and friendly, but frightened and bewildered. Although they recognized Fr. Murphy, and the work he was doing for them, he was forced to carry a cane with him to prevent injury in some hysteria-inspired rush for the food lines. Camp officials were obliged to encircle the kitchen with barbed wire. But once the crowd pushed so heavily against the wire fence in a frenzy to obtain food and escape to the vales, that they overturned a heavy concrete pillar, anchoring one end.

On December 24 the Chinese refugees mysteriously faded away, warned, perhaps, of impending events. Fr. Murphy had made his last trip to Hong Kong the previous day. He was warned to stay away, because the route was too dangerous. Hong Kong fell Christmas Day.