05 Jun 1943, The Hong Club's committee holds its only meeting in Stanley Camp | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

05 Jun 1943, The Hong Club's committee holds its only meeting in Stanley Camp

Book / Document: 
Date(s) of events described: 
Sat, 5 Jun 1943

((The Hong Kong Club's committee met just once during the internment, on this day. Vaudine England describes the meeting on page 88 of her book, "Kindred Spirits: A History Of The Hong Kong Club":))

This unique meeting, held on 5 June 1943, was chaired by Newbigging, with vice chairman Robert Young and three other men in attendance: H.J. Armstrong, D.H. Blake and John Fleming, the Club accountant, who, in the absence of Trenchard Davis, acted as secretary. Several topics were recorded from the meeting. The first was ‘casualties in hostilities', which referred to the many Club members lost in action, including J.E. Potter, their colleague on the Committee. This was followed by the issue that may have triggered the meeting: the apparently impending repatriation of Mrs Thornhill. It was resolved to give her a letter of reference...

recording her loyal and efficient service to the Club. It was further decided, as no other means of assisting her financially were possible, to give her a letter addressed to the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank London requesting the Bank to pay her One Hundred Pounds (£100) as a gratuity and to cover her undrawn December 1941 salary. Repayment to the Bank of such sum to be jointly and severally guaranteed by the undemoted Committee and other Members of the Club, who would if agreeable, sign such letter in confirmation thereof.

Attached to the Minutes is the carbon copy of this letter to the Bank, dated 15 June 1943. On it appears a long list of names of those who had signed the original — incidentally giving us an important sample of the Club’s pre-war membership still alive in the camp halfway through the war:

D.L. Newbigging, H.J. Armstrong, R.D. Gillespie, G.A. Pentreath, Robert Young, N. Croucher, Edgar Davidson, M.M. Watson, D. Morgan Richards, A.L. ShieldsF.C. Hall, W.F. Suminondo, D.D. Forbes, P. Tester, E.A. Pritchard, A.N.H. Phillips, John Fleming, H. Sheldon, H.R. Sturt, M.A. Annett, A.D. MacGregor, J. Owen Hughes, Eldon Potter, Chas Terry, B.C. Hawkins, R.A.C. North, J. Finnie (the manager of Butterfield & Swire), L.C.F. Bellamy, S.T. Williamson, W.J. RyanR.C. Margarett, W.N. Brown, E.W. Hamilton, P.S. Cassidy, D. Clark, R.H. WildDenis Blake, C.C. Roberts.

Also attached was a letter of thanks from Mrs Florence E. Thornhill, dated 22 June:

I thank you [Newbigging] and the members of the Hong Kong Club for the gratuity you have so kindly arranged for me to draw on arrival in England. It will be most useful. I would also express my appreciation for the consideration shown me during my employment with your Club, and take many happy memories with me. I regret very much the circumstances which end my association with you and hope things will be back to normal soon. Yours faithfully ...

'The circumstances’ was a modest description of a devastating world war and the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong; a modest hope, too, that things would soon be ‘back to normal’.

((The meeting was held at a time when it looked as though British women, including Mrs Thornhill, would be repatriated. That didn't happen, though most of the Canadians in Camp, including one of the signatories R D Gillespie, were repatriated in September 1943.))