Colin McEwan Diary | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
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Colin McEwan Diary

Book type: 
Dates of events covered by this document: 
Mon, 1941-12-08 to Sat, 1942-11-14

Colin McEwan Diary: 8.12.1941 – 20.1.1942

 

Brief notes: 1.7.1942 -14.11.1942 (sometimes illegible)

 

(Lawrence Tsui remarks in Red)

 

Pop’s Diary – last days inHK 1941

(Captain Colin McEwan was SOE & later BAAG Field Operations Group (FOGS) with Ronald Holmes, Maxwell Holroyd, Francis Lee, Vincent Yeung, Al Wong & Osler Thomas) 

 (There appear to be 10 pages missing from the original)

 

…..Emotions varied from a certain not unpleasant excitement to a sober realisation that HK was now being invested (invaded?)and, looking back now, I personally, am thankful that I did not then realise how futile were our expectations of weeks and months of warfare. 

(It is possible that this introduction to the only  extant version was compiled from the missing pages by Pop, but I doubt it, as he talks of “during the morning” when all the other events are headed up with a date – I assume it is December 8th, Monday,when the Japanese invaded HK from across the New Territories)

 During the morning, while awaiting the arrival of the rest of our group, Teesdale (Eddie Teesdale, later Colonial Secretary of HK Post-War, conducted training of Chinese troops at Ki Yang during the early parts of the War after retreat to Free China as SOE/British Military Mission not BAAG)and I went over the Reservoir to the Royal Scots position to borrow .45 ammunition, and, since this entailed some cooperation with the Quartermaster, we passed the time having a pleasant beer with Capt. Jones, sitting by the roadside with all of us trying to realise that we really were at war and not engaged in some large scale exercise – a feeling which persisted with me up to the time Kowloon was evacuated. To collect this ammunition I had to climb up and have my first, and providentially my last, visit to the ill fated Shing Mun (Reservoir)redoubt – that warren of M.G. nests and tunnels which only 36 hours later was to prove not a warren but a snare for the company occupying it including our host Jones.

 

On arrival back at the bungalow we found the complete unit there (with the exception of MikeKendall, head of SOE then). Parsons, Gardner, Day, Corneck, Teesdale, Holmes(later Sir Ronald, Secretary for Chinese Affairs Post-War), myself, and Thompson (later Sir Robert, formerly HK Police, later a Counter-guerrilla Experts in Malaya during the Communist Insurgency Post-war)  who had just left Macao in time and arrived in HK along with the first bombing raid. Tiffin over, we started in on the removal of stores – already packed – to No.2. On the way up, just as we started on the slope to Half Hour Pass the crump of shell fire sounded ahead of us. Our own guns were ranging and there was nothing for it but to retrace our steps, sweating and swearing since, unused as we were to shell fire so near us, on the whistle of a shell, down we went and, having loads of some 50 lbs. on our backs, our going down was painful. However, up the trail we went and, having parked our loads, returned to the Bungalow with thoughts of food and bed – just on dusk.

 

Our hopes were rudely shattered. There was Mike with the news that the Japanese had crossed the border, were passing over Laffans (Lau Fou Shan?) plane, and were already on the two main roads and so out we had to get again. Thompson had gone into town for our portable transmitter and the period of waiting for him in the darkened bungalow was, I think, the (‘earliest’ crossed out, replaced with what looks like ‘earnest) period  of the HK war. Now the blackout meant something and the meal eaten in half light, while Mike gave out final instructions, was in keeping with the setting: - the radio giving us the news of the various points, apart from HK, which were being attacked, the circle of faces round the table without the usual laughter which I associated with that group, and the fuller realisation that our training had been only in time. With Bob back, we set out in pitch darkness – a perfect night for the job and soon instead of the low voices all we could hear was the slither of feet and only with difficulty could we distinguish the figure in front. This was not to last however, and by our first halt, we were moving in that peculiar half light of HK. The trip up is one that none of us will readily forget; at first reasonable going, the trail developed into the typical rocky path of Chinese hillside – falls were frequent – we were sweating with full equipment and packs – one could imagine sounds and see movements where there were none and the last 300 yards saw legs becoming weary and packs which had been heaved up easily now cut into shoulders and backs. 

 

Personally I was feeling pretty done but everyone else seemed to be plodding on and so I plodded too, comforting myself with the thought that they were all feeling as bad as me. To complete the picture, rain was falling and, on getting to the position, Day and I had an hour’s sleep on the open rock before things were ready and that night, or rather during what was left of it, we slept in the magazine, head on box of gelignite and feet among Bren ammo, and slept well. Just before dinner Wattie Gardner said “Well, this is a far cry from Minishant” and once as I woke in the night to hear the water outside and feel the explosives against my ribs, I thought just what a “far cry” it was.

 

December 9th– Tuesday

The morning saw us up early and after redistribution of stores and ammo and a clean up in the water which, in our particular quarters , was laid on, we slipped down to the main cave for breakfast and discussion as to what was to be done. Being a miserable misty morning, we could move with freedom and, about tiffin time, we had our first view of the enemy as they came over Lead Mine Pass to Grassy Hill and, in fact, we had our first thrill as one of the shells landed directly among a group of them on the skyline. During the afternoon Mike had explained the set up to us and had given us the news – at least to us – that Monia Talan was still in HK trying to arrange the final details of the Shataukok guerrilla attack. It was decided then that Mike and I should return that night to the Royal Scots HQ with news of what we had seen of enemy activity  in an area where, it had been said, “they would never come”, and, if possible, give help in mining the paths in that area – Mike then to return to HK and I to come back to No.2. Other four, Teesdale, Holmes, Day and Gardner were to accompany us as far as Half Hour Pass, thence to Nam Fung Tao to collect the remainder of the gear including the radio.

 

Setting off just at dusk, we made good time down the trail to a point just below Half Hour Pass where we split ways – the others moving off to Nam Fung Tao.

 

Proceeding on down the catchment above the Royal Scots lines and realising that we were on fixed lines of fire we started at intervals giving our pre-arranged Morse signal by flash. To these, however, we received only one half-hearted reply and, not feeling very happy about being shot up by my fellow countrymen, not to mention our own land mines, we started through the lines. Crossing the catchment bridges was amusing despite the seriousness of the situation. Mike crawled over it on his hands and knees feeling for any possible trip wire while I, waiting a discreet five yards or so behind, suddenly realising that an explosion might smack me, retired behind a rock and remained there coyly peeping at Mike’s backside slithering across the concrete. Having crossed the bridge we fought our way through the undergrowth to the road, halting every few yards for me to call out “Friend, can we come through”. Still no reply and we walked up the road talking and smoking, hoping that our noise would proclaim us as friends. We finally contacted Lt.Fenwick of the Royal Scots and while having a drink with him and his platoon sergeants, Arnott and Whippy, we heard the news of Japanese passing over Kaplung and Telegraph Pass and along the roads to Taipo on the east and Castle Peak on the west. During this time, a telephone message having been sent, a runner had been sent from the redoubt to escort Mike up to that point. As he entered Arnott had just opened a second bottle of beer and insisted on it being drunk. While this was being polished off the news came through that the redoubt  (we were on the left flank) was being attacked – the runner having the key in his pocket (Capt.Jones orders). Out the platoon tumbled into trenches overlooking the valley in front of the redoubt and anticipating a flanking movement by the Japs. covering Bungalow Hill. It was dark and windy and as the battle continued with almost continuous M.G.fire and explosions of grenades, shouts of men and sharp orders came across. Although only gunfire and torches could be seen one could easily envisage the actual scene. Visible too – were the Japanese officers leading up among the barbed wire entanglements (by the platoon on our right) – using torches and waving swords in feudal manner. Shortly after this, orders came to withdraw to B.Coy. HQ at the foot of the Shing Mun valley and back we went to find extra men moving up in the direction from which we had come. Since it was impossible to retrace the path to Taimoshan I decided to stay the night with Fenwick’s platoon and return the following evening or rather the same day as it was now after midnight and a wet miserable morning. Mike meanwhile had got on to a phone and was off reporting to G.H.Q.

 

December 10th- Wednesday  

Following Mike’s departure we moved back up to the knoll looking over our former position and took cover among bushes as best we could, It was miserably cold. Tea had not been served out although it was available and for the first time among the troops I noticed decided “lack of morale”. Although only slightly noticeable at the time the next and subsequent happenings were soon to provide a reason for this. Already a Bren had been simply laid aside and with this as my weapon I became a Royal Scot. Cold it was – nothing was happening – a steady drizzle had begun and when we were withdrawn about 3-4 in the morning I for one went gladly. On reporting back, Fenwick assured me there would be no sport till morning, I contacted the C.Q.M.S – found it was Hendy – and proceeded to grab a bed.

 

On rising I found Fenwick had gone off up to his former position near the bungalow and luckily, finding a runner going the same way, I set off to salvage, if possible, any of our clothes only to meet Fenwick, thoroughly browned off, returning again on orders with no apparent reason and feeling pretty bloody minded about the whole show. By this time the indecision of the upper ranks was beginning to show in the troops and the spark of life had for the greater part left them. No one seemed to know what the position was and with trench mortar fire beginning from above the catchment, general depression was evident. 

 

There was still no telephone message or sign of Mike and in the late afternoon I set off to do a short reconnaissance up to the Shing Mun road to find out my best path for the evening. Approach to our farthest forward pill box was easy at first but, after a burst of Tommy gun fire from a Royal Scots sentry who fired without warning from about 20 yds. While I was hurling my 190 lbs. of weight into a ditch of stinking filth, I decided to become a Boy Scout and run and crawl. It was in the pill box, a fairly elaborate affair, that I first realised what really was wrong with the men – a feeling that they were shut in – even if in concrete and personally I did not feel too comfortable even as a visitor and if night had to be spent  there with the example of Shing Mun fresh in their minds little wonder signs of nerves were appearing. Quite a few too of the men were militia – not toughened for this type of war and most of the regulars seemed quite apathetic and looking all the time for guidance  and leadership which was forthcoming in only a few cases.

 

From this reconnaissance I arrived back at B Coy. H.Q. to find orders for withdrawal to the inner line. Just why they should withdraw then was vague as there had been no great pressure and the trench mortars, while constant, had done no great damage. However, going we were, and all attempts by phone failing to contact Mike, I reported back to Battalion H.Q. to find a phone to G.H.Q. The withdrawal itself seemed orderly enough but H.Q. was in a flap with people rushing about ineffectually apart from a few worthies who were going out to the Golden Hill area.

 

Luckily the Adjutant (Ely Guthbertson) told me that Mike was coming back later and in fact some “toys” were there. Those I duly took over and sat down to wait – passing my time by listening to the pipers recount what had happened and, for the umpteenth time, hear how the Japs. had climbed on top of the redoubt and dropped grenades down the air shafts.

 

Mike, as usual, arrived with a job – to mine the trails on Golden Hill, which job however, on the suggestion of Major Burn, was transferred to the left flank which was already unprotected. Off we set in brilliant moonlight with most of Kowloon lit up by a huge blaze on the waterfront in company with three Engineers who had volunteered for that special job. The location was a ridge from road to sea above Gindrinker’s Bay but, on arrival, we found the officer in charge had been fortifying himself too liberally against cold, the junior officers too were obeying orders which they felt were wrong and to crown it all, as the platoon to guard this stretch had been collected by the pipers, stretcher bearers, odds and sods under command of a L/Cpl. – all untrained men who walked to the top of the hill and lay on the skyline, visible in the moonlight for miles. Instead too of the tracks which we had been assured existed there was bare hillside; impossible country for our particular “toys”.

 

On arrival back at the road, we did another reconnaissance beyond the last road mine with the intention, if the Japs.. appeared to be there, of laying traps. There seemed no sign of them and the only other piece of excitement occurred when some Chinese came strolling up the road with the sentries allowing them to come close and only firing when Mike and I screamed about the mine. The speed with which ideas change – only two days and here, on the first realisation that saving a life might endanger my own, I was grabbing for my Tommy with only one idea in my mind, and swearing greatly the while. And so rather disappointedly to bed at 4.30.

December 11th– Thursday

Very hospitable treatment was handed out  by the Royal Scots including a bath, shave and breakfast (tea only). Early everyone seemed fairly confident about holding the inner line and according to early reports there had been no heavy attacks during the evening. Later however about 9 o’clock a general air of uneasiness began to pervade the area and confused reports as regards Jap. attacks down the main roads kept filtering in. Shortly after, the armoured cars and some of the Canadian  troops came past and one could hear the sighs of relief  at the thought of reinforcements for troops who were already tired and hungry. When Mike turned up about 10, things were somewhat steadied and, as we came back to the Peninsula Hotel, no one seemed unduly worried.

 

The interior of the hotel presented a different scene. There was the beginning of a first class flap and the scene was similar to that when the evacuation of women was carried out in 1940. Everyone was talking and rumours were being bandied about and gaining in strength as they passed. There was something very akin to panic in the air and the staff which was controlling the issue of permits to HK was quite inadequate.

 

Mike, having to cross to contact Talan, I remained in the hotel changing into civilian clothes to avoid undue attention. The atmosphere in the main lounge was both depressing and exasperating. The Japanese were at Jordan Road – Chinese were looting – fifth columnists with Tommy guns were out in force – houses of people were being robbed – no more people were to be allowed over to the island – all these rumours were flying around and the two cheering incidents were the cheerful bearing with fools of the receptionist – a large plump girl – who stood behind the desk and dealt with all requests for information in the same placid manner although most of the male staff seemed to have urgent business calls across the harbour and the Portuguese matron who had evidently been coerced into coming to the hotel and who now, disgusted with the fuss, waddled out of the hotel declaring that she would rather meet the Japs. in her own house. About 3 in the afternoon my plump friend behind the desk called me aside with the information that orders had been received to evacuate to the island. This put a new face on things since if Kowloon fell it was obviously going to be more difficult to regain contact with our group and, failing to contact Mike by phone, I went along to the police barrier at the ferry to await him there.

 

Crowds were thronging the gates – quite a few without the necessary pass and, to add to the confusion, walking wounded were crossing and those mainly men of the Indian Battalion who had been on the Taipo Road. Cars too were piling up on the road 5 -6 deep with the police doing what they could to immobilise them but with neither the time or men to carry this out.

 

By 6 I had not yet made contact so, crossing over to the island, I tried again but still could not find anyone. Getting back to Kowloon was even more difficult than getting out but by attaching myself to a party of Royal Scots who were going over to collect motor cycles etc, I managed across. The party was led by the padre, Bennett, truly the church militant, whose large and rather noisy presence was exactly what his man needed – most of them H.Q. staff and a few newly out of hospital.

 

It was evident now that there was looting in Kowloon, large fires could be seen burning and, as the lurid glare spread over the water front to the accompaniment of hoarse howling, it sounded truly like a witches’ dance. On reaching the Peninsula I found it was barred but by shouting the door opened and I was confronted by two of the boys armed with batons ready to do battle for their lives. Inside things had been organised – guards patrolling – food being regulated, sleeping quarters allocated – all with a business like efficiency which put to shame the panicky mob of a few hours before. It was a fine effort by those people – all civilians – this attempt to safeguard their families against the looting which undoubtedly was rife.

 

My search for Mike still being of no avail, off I went back to HK. Still in vain, however, and I decided that V.H.Q. should at least supply a bed. On reporting I got much more than a bed – news having got around that the Rec.Unit had been totally wiped out and after a feed, of biscuits washed well down with some beer, I found a bed with Mike Carruther’s armoured cars which had just returned from Kowloon more or less covered with glory, having covered the retreat, acted as buffer in the day’s retreat, held positions in the Tsun Wan Road, and with one of their cars blown off the road by our own troops. No.1 Coy. too were back from Kai Tak with news of the military evacuation of Kowloon, which however did not finish till the following evening when the Indians came off Devil’s Peak.

 

Sleeping was an amusing affair – starting in the open beside the C.S.O. and finishing in the Air Raid Tunnel opposite.

 

So we were evacuating – although I had been somewhat prepared after last night’s show still, like most people, I had not been prepared for all the New Territories going in four days and the realisation of what this meant – complete siege, troops and civilians packed in a small area – ability of the enemy to bring up guns and shell Victoria – and the distance of water between Kowloon and Victoria – came home to one very rapidly.

 

December 12th– Friday

Today saw my first experience of direct shelling, the whole morning being pretty hectic with air raids keeping us busy ducking in and out. No signs yet of Mike but on telephoning G.H.Q. with Col.Rose’s help I was told to come along at 12.30. During the morning I had the entertainment of seeing all the H.K.V.D.C. Companies coming in for rations and had the pleasure of seeing my old company with whom I made arrangements in case of my failure to rejoin my group. Everyone seemed fairly cheerful and there was a better spirit abroad, possibly from inexperience but anyway it was a much more cheerful place than any centre I had so far seen. During the morning too orders came through to evacuate for the Punjabis. It seemed that I was being caught up in the current – Shing Mun, Tsun Wan, Taipo Road, Peninsula, V.H.Q. – all along the road I seemed to have been on the retreat – sorry – withdrawal – strategic – soldiers for the use of.

 

My visit to the Battle Box lead to my dropping one brick. Under the impression that I was going to hand my news only to Col. Newnham, when I was finally in the holy of holies facing a senior looking soldier I hummed and hawed and only on a discreet tap on the ankle from Col. Rose did I realise I was speaking to the General.

 

Apart from my news of Shing Mun there was nothing I could tell except confirm reports and incidentally learn that Mike was expected and, luckily, as I left, run into him. Before a final rendezvous however I had the opportunity of visiting the places taken for wives and families of Volunteers with Gordon Ferguson, who spent his time cursing his job and doing it damned well, patting the children on their heads and giving pep talks as required. 

 

The day had seen pretty consistent shelling of the main roads over the island and the evening saw Mike, Talan and myself with Mrs.K. installed in St.Joan’s, a perfect landmark and a building which later we agreed must have been a reference point since, sticking out like a sore finger as it did must have been a perfect target yet was never hit. While on this subject it is, I think, worth recording that shelling and bombing during the entire siege was, as far as my observation went, confined to military objectives and there certainly was no deliberate shelling of civilian areas.

 

The evening saw the first of our anti-fifth column patrols. Reports had been received about flashes of lights and signals especially in the mid and upper levels and certainly the guns had been picking out even temporary gun emplacements on our side very quickly. With a view to stopping any possible signaller we patrolled the Conduit Road area but apart from ARP and Police, the roads were clear. One suspicious character run in and a few shots through windows which persisted in showing lights stopped effectually any activity in that line.

 

An incident worth recording concerned the Indian policeman, who, when drunk on guard at the Japanese Consul’s house, had been taking pot shots at people, unluckily, however, without shooting any of the Consulate staff. He was being taken to P.H.Q. in the Consul’s car which was duly stopped by us and the police required to prove their identity. A cause for regret lay in the fact that we did not commandeer the car, a slinky shining limousine since by this time everyone who was anything in HK had at least one superior chariot at his disposal.

 

Following the cleaning up of this area and also a brief halt at the Jewish Club – where, owing to Tai’s influence, a small amount of beer was obtained, we moved to upper levels to find everything in complete darkness. From our selected observation post, a flat overlooking Victoria and the harbour, we could hear occasional bursts of firing in the streets but otherwise everything was quiet when suddenly there was a short burst of M.G. fire and at the Western Bund a terrific deafening explosion and a terrifying magnificent pinkish-purple flame leapt up momentarily illuminating the water front. There had been intermittent shelling and my guess was that a Jap. shell had hit a dump of ammo. Mike, however stuck to his theory – later proved correct – that it was a ship of some kind which had been blown up by our fire, although the problem of what the Japs were doing with such a craft leading a landing party was one we could not solve.

 

The following morning we learned the reason. A harbour launch loaded with explosive from Green Island had arrived in some time ahead of the fixed schedule. An M.G. post had fired on the boat causing the explosion with the resultant annihilation of ship and crew. Added to the already jumpy state of nerves along the water front this was enough to produce intense activity directed against imaginary boats containing imaginary Japs. This activity in turn spread to the artillery and the whole concentration of fire power was put up against nothing. Why with searchlights playing, the truth was not found out sooner remains a mystery.

 

Immediately after this the entire water front from West Point to Causeway Bay went into action – searchlights came into play sweeping the harbour – M.G. fire was continuous providing a most picturesque fireworks scene as lines of tracer criss-crossed up and down and there was all the evidence that a large scale attempted landing was on.

 

To add to the illusion the heavy guns had opened up and along the Kowloon water front explosions could be seen and heard and we had the impression that Kowloon was being hammered to hell.

 

It was a pretty sobering thought to realise that here we were – with Kowloon newly evacuated – with the Japs. already attacking and, at that, straight across the harbour although against this was the fact that practically nothing could get through the wall of fire which was put up.

 

The following morning however we were to learn the reason for both the explosion and the intense firing. (already explained)

 

December 13th– Saturday

Today as most subsequent days was to prove fairly uneventful during daylight hours. During day both Mike and Tai had been making attempts to find their contact guerrilla man but without any success as he seemed to have vanished.

 

At dusk we set out on another patrol which soon proved that the previous evening’s parade had been effective as the roads apart from an old (odd?)police patrol were quiet and no lights were to be seen.

 

We had more or less come to the conclusion that all was quiet and were proceeding up to our observation point of the previous evening when suddenly a burst of T.G. fire lit the road in front of us. Down we flopped, not very gracefully but very rapidly into a tarmac road and proceeded to dig in and move so that the trees by the roadside would afford us cover. Realising it was one of our own patrols Mike hailed them but was answered by another burst which set me to wishing I was small enough to sit inside my tin hat. Mike then addressed the audience and spoke clearly, fluently, and volubly – his voice rising in a crescendo of rage and in language of which only the last two “buggers” and “bastards” could be clearly heard.

 

This eloquence seemed to remind the Afridis – as they later turned out to be – of the voices of their O.C. and, after mutual compliments being paid, we proceeded to the post who, after examining us and smoking our cigarettes, allowed us to proceed, the sergeant having expressed his regret and sealed the bond of friendship by repeating “Fuck Japanese”. A quick visit to their H.Q. – another of the few places which impressed – both officers and men striking one as efficient and alert and another day was over.

 

December 14th- Sunday  

During the morning Mike and Tai having to go out to H.Q. I spent the time at Punjabi H.Q. I just returned from there to find a telephone call to report back to meet Tai who drove me up to the Middlesex H.Q. in Leighton Hill. (Mike O’conner’s house) Evidently a ship lying off Taikoo Docks – M’sex area – had been boarded by an observation party of Japs. and, for some reason, never clearly defined, shell fire could not be brought to bear on it. Here was our chance to try out our “toys” and by some curious twist this problem was the very one set me during our training course. Time, however, was short. The “toys” had to be made ready and no reconnaissance had been carried out nor indeed had we identified our object.

 

At Taikoo things happened with a rush. Contacting Chris Mann who was in command of that special area we reached the docks – a strange contrast from their usual appearance – quiet and deserted. No one seemed to know the exact position of either ship or the pill boxes which were our reference points. This was later partially explained by the fact that the M’sex had only newly occupied them but, after searching and help from the dock people, a few of whom were around, we established her position. Back at H.Q. Tai and I set off for Ah King’s to find some kind of boat and luckily almost at once discovered a small yacht dinghy and two sawn off paddles. When we had this transported back Mike had the first toy ready and as soon as No.2 was ready we fed and at 21.00 hrs – when the tide was turning – we slipt out to the Ritz (this replaces ‘lido’)launched the dinghy and immediately realised something we had overlooked – the phosphorescent light caused by movement in the water. Still it was too late to worry now and with a queer feeling in the pit of my stomach I stepped in beside Mike and off we went.

 

Tai remained to give directions and control the M.G. fire which was, if possible, to divert attention from us and keep the Jap. heads down as we approached. (Footnote here referring to Sheet 14 (?) but the original Sheet 14 gives no clues: looks like Vickers a/q – Tarhard(?) – no way of digging/dragging 1’4 (?) feet/feel with a Currets(?) tool/loop – possibly concerning position of covering fire?)Later we were to learn that the guns were mounted on concrete but, luckily for any peace of mind we had, this was not known to us. Incidentally how Tai ever guessed his times and distances for fire will remain a problem for me since obviously no cut and dried timetable could be arranged and the soldiers would give no guarantee of real accuracy. Paddling out proved a beast of a job. The tide was running like the devil. We did not want to paddle too forcefully on account of the phosphorous in the water but had to counteract the tide. The night which previously had seemed dark, now to my eyes, seemed bright as daylight  and we seemd about the size of a battle cruiser.

 

Suddenly a burst of M.G. fire went over our heads and it was a moment before I realised it was our own fire and from then to our first bearing, another ship which was on fire, the odd burst kept coming at irregular intervals. The blazing ship spread a lurid glow over the water  and, unluckily for us, the wind kept blowing the smoke away from us. We were however getting nearer but by a mistake in our judgement of tide we found ourselves about 200 yards astern of our target and tide against us. So paddle we had to and maskee noise and to add to our discomfort a light kept appearing at intervals on the Jap. Shore. My mind was full of ideas – the Japs. might be relieving their post – perhaps at that moment one of them was sitting in the stern with an automatic laid on us (later Mike said his idea was some one with a grenade) and I kept wondering what it felt like to have a burst hit us and queerly enough drew comfort from the fact that the fire would probably set off the “toys” and let us out quickly. About 100 yards astern there came a burst of fire – ours – hitting the superstructure of the ship, our paddling became furious and under the stars we slid safe, at least for the moment.

 

We hung on to the sternpost and took our bearings. We could hear faint voices above but no undue noise and noticed a large lifeboat attached to the gangway on the port side. Using it we pulled ourselves round the port side and reached a point about ¼ way up the ship. I slipt over the side and thought at first it wasn’t cold. In a minute though the water soaked through my clothing and “Wow” was it cold! Taking the first toy I sank down to get depth and “slap” on it went and with it most of the skin from the tips of my fingers on the barnacles. When I came in the tide had swept me nearly to the sternpost but by means of the lifeboat I pulled myself back up. Putting the second one on was slightly more difficult as we wanted to make absolutely sure. I was afraid that the barnacles would deaden the magnetic attraction and when it was on tried to pull it off but luckily it proved all we had been taught it was and behaved like its name. It is peculiar how the mind works since as I was coming up I found myself admiring the phosphorescent bubbles coming out of my battle pants. Once in the dinghy again our problem was to get away. We let her drift down stream and now our or rather my feeling was what it would feel like to have a burst in the back. Once clear, our spirits rose and, apart from one scare when we fancied we saw another small boat, we paddled back speedily and as Dai (Tai?)said later our last 100 yards was a procession. Getting ashore and a large tot of rum revived me considerably and I began to feel like carrying out our second job of attending to some of our prominent fifth columnists. (There is another footnote here which says ’Cut the lifeboat clear’)This however was postponed and after a change of clothes we hopped home where Betty, as always, was waiting with her ever welcome hot coffee.

December 15th– Monday

A telephone call in the morning established the fact that the ship had been well and truly finished and I personally had my first real feeling of satisfaction at something which had been done.

 

The previous day Mike had seen the C.P. and today Tai and I were taken along to see him and learn our next job. P.H.Q. had been pretty heavily hammered in the morning with some casualties and preparations were being made for transfer to the Gloucester Hotel. However, we got all our information and arrangements made for our return in the evening to carry out our real job. The early evening was not too pleasant as the work was not of the kind we relished but had to be done. P.H.Q. in the evening presented a queer scene – with no lights and the bar where we made our contacts lit up by flickering candles only. Here for the first time was noticeable the lack of cohesion among the police and a tendency to herd together and talk.

 

At last 10 o’clock came and with the feelings very confused we had the jail opened and our prisoners handed over. I had expected to feel some sympathy for them but instead felt only a slow anger and a feeling that they were not human beings in the real sense of the word. Coming out into the street was dark as hell and all we could feel was the presence of the Punjab guard, the rasp of their boots, and the occasional whimper of one of the prisoners who was taking it pretty badly.

 

In Queen’s Road they were soon lined up and shot, though one of them, who all along had preserved a dead silence, made a break for it and was cornered in an alley after a chase. Duly placarded they were left and home we went again via the Punjab H.Q. where some marvellous crusty bread, cheese, and whisky proved exactly what the doctor ordered. On the way home we were all pretty quiet – I personally had a mindful of thoughts – the changes we had seen – the difference in our lives – different attitudes to life and its value – change in occupation – all these provided plenty of interesting material for thought and in just such a ruminative frame of mind we went to bed in our ARP basement and, as was our custom now, while Mike and Betty had their little room Tai and I slept with our French girl friends-and mother – and slept well at that.

 

December 16th- Tuesday 

Morning saw our nearest meeting with bombs – one landing outside our flat and opening the roadway half across but luckily doing no damage apart from shattered glass, the retaining wall taking the blast. Our next job was detailed – sinking another ship and lighter at West Point. After the Taikoo job this appeared easy as no activity had been seen on board and the ship was well removed from both shores. The H.D. were arranging a motor boat and we anticipated no great difficulty. In the evening we paid what was my second visit to B.H.Q. and having to wait on Mike we had time to collect our impression. After our entry by a dim blue lit baffle gate our stay was most oppressing. Somehow the whole atmosphere was dreary – the guards seemed apathetic. The air was close and in that huge catacomb with its innumerable passages, doors, pipes and guards I felt more uncomfortable and depressed than at any other time. It was, too, amazing to see how eagerly Mike’s appearance with news was welcomed – after all what was happening when their own people could not correlate reports and tell us. It had been the same at P.H.Q. The C.P. seemed to have no sources of information either and no means of communication with H.Q. Bluntly it seemed to me a bloody place in which to have to pass any time at all.

 

From there we moved with C.S.O., I to the General’s house where, over a drink, we, at least again I, had an eyeopener when GSO1, in detailing a job he seemed to feel we could do, revealed a shocking gap in our North Point defences. 1000 yards, without even a booby trap. The job however involving as it did laying mines in daylight under M.G. fire about 400 yards away did not appeal to our minds and with mutual expressions of goodwill we homed hoping that none of the innumerable sentries would have a crack at us.

 

December 17th– Wednesday

Feeling that the contact with the Shataukok guerrillas was now hopeless and after discussion with the C.P. Mike decided to contact the official Chinese Gov’t. representative  S.K. Yee and this morning we paid him a visit to ascertain if he had established contact with any of the supposed advance guerrillas who were attacking Shumchun and Shataukok. Although a man had been sent no reply had come back yet but with this in mind Mike had arranged for the transport of the guns and ammo to Aberdeen – now naval H.Q. for transport by fast launch  to Shataukok. In the evening we reported to the Harbour office to meet our crew and again were held up by the Army refusing to vouchsafe us a passage from Wanchai to the V.R.C. Naturally they were worried over a possible repetition of the explosion on the 12th, but chances had to be taken and we felt that a guarantee of ½ hour was a fairly small request. However, it was refused and again it was postponed until such time as another launch in the central area was ready.

 

December 18th- Thursday 

Today we had tiffin in town – a habit we were falling into as our activities took us more and more around town during day. Those meals were very interesting – seeing how the restaurants, formerly our haunts of tiffin dates and gins were now converted into set price canteens or, in the case of the Parisian Grill a canteen for the various organisations connected with the Civil Defence. As usual people tried to obtain extra helpings – I did myself – but, in fairness to the places concerned the regular helping of food was enough and more and more we realised how prone pre-war HK was to overeating.

 

Gone too were the three or four gins which used to be regarded as an indispensable part of tiffin and in the Café Wiseman, probably the best organised of all, tiffins were served with a speed and smartness which was missing in the old days of 10% tipping.

 

The hotel of course provided the biggest contrast of all. Now tiffins were fixed at $1.50 and the last sign of old HK had gone with large notices informing their clientele that chits could no longer be signed and meantime cash would be appreciated.

 

So rigidly was this adhered to that where previously one ordered one’s meal, sat over it in leisure – signed a careless chit and sauntered off; now cash was paid before even covers were laid and – shades of the ‘Gripps’ – a meal lasting over 10-15 minutes was looked upon with disapproval.

 

But we had still to find a boat for our own gun running and we proceeded to Aberdeen where our first impression of the Navy was most unfavourable. A very snooty 2 ½ striper barred Tai’s and my entry and with a definitely superior air informed us it was up to him whether we could see Mike who was seeing the S.N.O., or not. In the end however when repartee was growing heated his excellency unbent and allowed us to stand in the open about 3 yds. from cover. There was an air raid on while a P.O. covered us with a tommy gun which was clearly a new weapon to him. Our own guns being stacked in a corner in charge of some grinning ratings later to be our shipmates on M.T.B.’s. The fact that we had Betty with us made us more annoyed but his superior highness had not deigned to notice us any more and our tempers being a bit frayed, our pride was rampant and enter the sacred portals we would not.

 

In the end Colls – later to die in that magnificent raid in the harbour in daylight – showed us over the French– a snappy little cruiser on the lines of an M.T.B. – fast and fairly quiet. All that remained now was to make the Yee contact and we were off to see the Wizard.

 

Before leaving for Aberdeen that morning we – Tai and I – had checked our motorboat for the evening job but in the evening when we returned to St.Joan’s, Mike had one of his ‘hunches’ – ideas in which I had by this time grown to put a good deal of faith. The A.P.C. oil tanks were one blaze of light – Japs. Were shelling them continuously, obviously with a view to keeping it going and clouds of thick black smoke were billowing out – the night itself was pitch black – black as the Earl of Hell’s waistcoat – and there was a high tide. It was a perfect night for a landing – which was actually made and this time we decided that we would not start running about the harbour on a job which was now pointless.

 

December 19th– Friday

This morning the telephone had gone but Mike, on returning from H.Q. came with the news that the landing had been made and bridge heads established in the North Point area. That being the case, we decided to move into town to P.H.Q. From our window we had an excellent view of the M.T.B. raid up harbour. Although we missed the first pair we suddenly saw one – later found out to be Wagstaff’s – come racing up the harbour from Green Island in a straight line for Kowloon Bay. By this time the Japs. Were on both sides of the harbour and both M.G. and T.M. fire were brought to bear on the boat while to add to the strafing she was being bombed at the same time.

 

Suddenly she stopped, started to drift to the HK shore and while later we heard that one of the crew had swum ashore this was never verified. Later at Aberdeen we heard details of the why and wherefore. The M.T.B.’s had been ordered out to attack landing craft in the Kowloon Bay area. From a base at Green Island the first pair, Collingwood and Ashby, had gone in and by swamping and M.G. fire had carried out that task successfully. Helped by the element of surprise they got out again successfully although having to run under fire and bombing. The second pair, Parsons and Wagstaff who were ready to go were signalled to stop since the sinking had been carried out successfully but Wagstaff, either not receiving or disregarding the order had carried straight on.

 

In the late afternoon we again hit Aberdeen with a view to taking back some of our stores for use of police and others, and arrived there to find evidence that there was Jap. activity in the hills above Repulse Bay. Reports had been coming in that Aberdeen was taken and with us on the truck we had two police volunteers, Sgts. Watt and Kinloch. We arrived there to find tales of snipers but saw no signs of any activity. After the first load in which we had been willingly helped by some of the Ambulance Unit, Tai and I with the two police returned for a second load. By now it was dusk and rain was drizzling down. We had quite an odyssey, beginning with running flat into a Canadian road block at the Q.M.H. but by able use of a pair of wire clippers by a Canadian sergeant we got out and crawled along missing one and half hitting another at the entrance to Aberdeen village. The return trip was a mixture of narrowly missing road blocks – listening for challenges –finding oneself nearly over the edge of the road and hanging over the side directing Watt who was driving.

 

Bed that night was in P.H.Q. – in the Gloucester – and just before going to bed we heard  or rather overheard, conversation among the A.S.P.s which explained a lot of the apparent insensitivity of the police and the unwillingness of the senior men to send for volunteers to help the army at any time.

 

Their arguments were that they were not Army, the army had made the mess, let them get out of it. Their men were tired (as who was not?). It was their duty to preserve civil order – not to defend the colony – and if those views did not please the C.P. they would go over his head direct to the Governor.

 

And so with the comforting thought that the police were selling out – for the sergeants were more than willing to fight – we got off to sleep on the floor.

 

December 20th- Saturday 

A queer jumble of a morning. We began by accompanying A.S.P. Searle, one of the police who went out and did things, on an anti-sniping raid at Happy Valley. All this proving another rumour we returned and almost at once set off on an anti-looting expedition. This was taking place at the French Store in Queen’s Road but the shooting of one and arrest of another, a member of the A.P.S. who, in company with the Police, were having as much as anyone under the guise of escorting it into lorries stowed that. Apart from this the Western District seemed quiet and there was nothing to support the stories at P.H.Q. of looting in Western Central; the streets being deserted practically in the Des Voeux Road area and, in Queen’s Road, far from busy.

 

After tiffin where I met Gray Dalziel, thoroughly disgusted and properly so at his job of superior nurse to ratings’ wives, we got orders which seemd to point to something good at last. A P.B. of the Middlesex had been cut off at Causeway Bay by a few Japs. Who were allegedly sniping from roof tops and side streets. The news, coming as it did from G.H.Q., was authentic and as no volunteers were allowed from the police, the three of us with Petro, a good enough fellow but who talked like bloody hell proceeded to the area in question. Arrived there I did a reconnaissance over Jardine’s hill but even with the help of the headmaster of the school there I could see no signs of activity. Proceeding further there were still no signs of Japs. Anywhere nor for that matter of our troops either. The P.B. certainly seemed deserted but at the distance 3-400 yds. it was difficult to be sure. Dusk was setting in and we had to be moving quickly if anything was to be done so Mike moved us back while he went to see if any change in the situation had been reported. There certainly had – the P.B. had been evacuated some hours before and we had been playing at soldiers in no man’s land.

 

In addition, orders now came to move to Aberdeen the following morning ready to move to Shatuakok. The evening was spent in feeding and argument – we, having contacted Betty’s roommates at the Gloucester, (indecipherable name/s written by hand above this: Lynn Harmond(?) Mrs….Cantas(?)) and after a fairly lively evening, culminated in Tai and and I heaving our bedding all over the hotel which was crammed even more to the corridors and finally going to sleep in Police quarters again.

December 21st– Sunday

This morning saw us out early at Aberdeen, Betty Kendal having been installed in the Gloucester with her friends of the previous evening. Arriving there we found it a pretty lively spot with what seemed to me a fair amount of trench mortar and serial bombing going on. Since the Frenchwas not available, arrangements had been made for us to use M.T.B.10 (Lieut. Commander Gandy) and we loaded her with the ammunition and Brens that we had left. When this was completed Tai and I returned to town, receiving one nasty shock on the way, as we passed the A.A. guns at Pokfulam, just as they were going into action.

 

We made St.Joan’s Apartments, retrieved our “toys” and a box of guncotton and made our way back, still with an air raid on. Stopping at Pokfulam on the way however, we benefited by the current lack of transport to the amount of roughly a gallon of Dairy Farm milk, which could not be conveyed to town.

 

Our arrival back coincided with the arrival ashore of the survivors of the Cicala, which had been caught at last, after the thirty seventh raid, raked from stem to stern with a stick of bombs, from the last plane of a flight of nine. Incidentally the story of how five bombs hit her in line, without completely sinking her, and causing only one death (The Gunner’s Mate) changed my idea of the effectiveness of bombs, and told as it was by “Tom Thumb” later to prove the best of good fellows, gave us a good impression and a lasting one it proved of the Navy in general and also gave us a new phrase for our repertoire “Bloody Rubbish” denoting anything unfortunate, unlucky, badly managed, nonsensical, etc.

 

Dinner we had on board and an eye-opener it proved to us, after our experience at army feeding stations during the last week – plenty of good and well-cooked food on the dot.

 

We were soon appointed to our various boats – evidently our original party was growing – and I found myself aboard ‘11’ with Collingwood and Legge while Tai landed on ‘07’ with Ashby and Gee. For some measure of safety the boats were “spread” at the harbour approaches and when, in the evening after dusk they congregated we found ourselves in the midst of old friends Parsons, Kennedy and Brewer. During the same evening too, the “Navy” unwillingly played us the only dirty trick of the campaign by leaving us on Parson’s boat, while they went off on an expedition up the harbour to machine gun landing craft. They were, however, gone a short time only and on their return we made Telegraph Bay for the night, and my last sensation was one of complete comfort as I sank off to sleep in one of their super beds. Definitely the Navy had something.

 

 

December 22nd– Monday

I was awakened by the growl of the engines and coming on deck, found we were in Aberdeen harbour tying up alongside one of the HK Yaumati ferries. It was a lovely clear morning, as indeed all of our Naval days were and, on Mike and Tai setting off for town, I settled down to a pleasant morning. My hopes were dashed though by the constant interruption of shelling and bombing, and here at last my first impressions of the Navy acquired during our first visit to the Aberdeen H.Q. were completely dispelled.

 

Here was the best morale I had seen, and that too among men who had, in their frailest of craft, no protection against shells or bombs, except wits, courage – and Lewis guns for any low-flying craft. Moored as they were, all one could do was duck and hope – yet the atmosphere was most cheerful, and the relationship between officers and men most pleasant. Everyone realised that they were in a tough spot – Aberdeen was no health resort – yet there was not the slightest sign of panic or disorder, and the crews ducked or sat and smoked with an attitude of “Oh well, what a ****_ _ g life” that was most infectious.

 

The same morning too I made my first acquaintance with those heavenly twins “Navy Rum and Navy Tobacco” whose praises should be sung in verse and not in mere prose.

 

On Mike and Tai’s return, the news came that the whole flotilla – or rather what was left of it , was coming on our expedition and the same evening the crews were given an idea of what was afoot, and advice on “kit requirements”. There they were, “all sailors” many of whom we found later had done practically no walking, looking forward with equanimity to the prospect of becoming guerrillas. Packing of kit required a fair amount of tact, since each man took a deal of persuading that a load of 50 lbs. would weigh heavily even on a stalwart pair of shoulders after a few miles. Still the packing was done and the most difficult part of the business now was in trying to cool their ardour and make them see that, quite probably, they would not move off the next minute.

 

Being more or less attached to the M.T.B.s by that time I did an hour on watch, a most enjoyable one too, with a perfect night – cool breezes and utter peace and stillness, seemingly miles away from the stuffy holes in which we had been hibernating.

 

December 23rd- Tuesday

There was a general feeling of disappointment abroad this morning that nothing had happened. Their value in HK was now practically nil, fuelling was a chancy business, repairs and slipping (matters of primary importance to these delicate craft) were impossible owing to a bombed slipway, and, in addition, no new torpedoes could be loaded into the tubes. So there they were: five M.T.B.s with no work to do – one already crocked – lying about all day, a target for any Japanese “Fei Kei” (‘plane) which prowled their way and taking all the punishment without even the pleasure of having a crack back. By this time landings on the Island were in full force and the only use made of them was the use of numbers 10 and 07 as fast ferryboats to Stanley.

 

Similar to yesterday, we, in company with 07 (our junior ship) lay alongside the ferry again, after coming in on a most glorious morning, and spent the day striking in stores and dodging shells and trench mortars. The crews, as a land force, were naturally short of equipment and with this in mind Legge and I paid a visit to H.Q. and there ransacked a huge store of loose equipment, webbing etc., belonging to the dead and wounded. It was a ghoulish job, prowling over dead men’s effects and not a very pleasant experience but, after all, the stuff was of no use to them. There was an amazing collection of gear apart from regulation equipment; haversacks and pockets had spilled open and, in the general disorder, could be found chequebooks, photographs, letters, pipes etc. and in one corner, we had an amazing haul of eight packets of ‘Chesterfield’.

 

Ultimately we collected what was of use to us, and, in addition, I managed to find the webbing equipment of our snooty friend of some days previous. (Foolishly he had left it “sculling” in his office, and it only took two seconds to acquire).

 

The ground floor was being used as a clearing station and the mixture of battalions was some indication of how confused the fighting had become. Middlesex, Canadians, Royal Scots, Volunteers and the Royal Navy, parties of whom by this time were defending the hills looking for snipers and small parties of Japanese which had infiltrated through our lines – they were all there in varying numbers, with a Volunteer unit at the main entrance looking towards Shouson Hill. The Naval parties, as a result both of the dark blue uniforms and complete lack of training in this type of warfare were playing the role of “prey” rather than that of hunter.

 

T.M. fire on the road was very steady and, although having no effect on the building at all, succeeded in keeping people’s heads down. Just as Legge and I came out – we were standing admiring the general view of shell bursts – the whistle of one sounded too close for comfort – down we went – a thud only a few feet away – a dud – thank God! – The ride back down to the jetty was carried out at a speed which left one no time for wondering what was going to happen next.

 

In the evening we put behind Ap Li Chau again and again still no orders. It was another lovely evening and during my hour of watch I realised how communicative men become in the early morning. Men I had only just met and who knew me only as “Mac”, “Jock” or “Sir” according to their ideas of what I was or whether their officer was present, while sharing a watch, opened up, and gave one all details of their lives and ideas on the Navy and life in general. It was the same evening too, that I noticed the intense admiration and interest they all had for Mike. All of them regular sailors and accustomed to taking orders, they seemed greatly impressed by the appearance of someone who, while obviously in command of things, yet gave the impression of being able to do things and who could be called “Mike” by the very people he was commanding without any ‘loss of face’ or apparent loss of efficiency.

 

December 24th- Wednesday

Our vocabulary is now increasing and we have learned to use the expressions “Pongo” “Matloe” and “Pani” with accuracy. This was X’mas Eve and here we were again alongside our old friend the ferry, improving our speed in getting down especially when one shell hit the bow of the ferry, doing no damage.

 

There were one or two amusing incidents during the morning; the A.B. who, while carefully crossing the gangplank, was affected by the wave of a passing boat, fell in, and, on emerging, cursed the Navy, the War, the Japs, the Far East in general, and Aberdeen in particular, and, during the tirade, managed to find time for a detailed account of the Aberdeen sanitary system, with special reference to the ultimate destination of the sanitary engineer who had planned the same; the two small Chinese children whose air raid shelter consisted of a large wicker basket, the lid of which was closed during air raids and shelling; and our friend “Jixer” Prest (the Coxswain) who, while climbing out of the conning tower with the rum jar heard a shell coming – ducked – remembered the rum – reappeared, shielding the rum next his heart – and again carefully ducked to what shelter the thin planking of the vessel could afford. One last feat of gallantry worth recording is that of that gallant sailor Lieut. Ashby who, when a shell burst, instead of going flat, bowed gracefully showing a shiny polished blue serge “bottom” as his means of all round defence. Again, though, one had the feeling that it was good to be with such people. The whole business became a game played with Good Companions and a shell burst something to occasion a joke. By this time too, we had come fully to realise what Naval Hospitality means. In dealing with the army, one felt that they had no objection to your being with them but the navy somehow conveyed the impression that they would have objected to your not being with them.

 

And so, being Christmas eve a bottle of champagne was split among the two crews; the C.O.C. having warned troops against over celebration, and, under the impression that I was going on ahead that night with Parsons in 27 (the silent boat) as a scout I was looking forward to night, but again no orders, and so to bed, for what, although we did not know, was to be our last night in HK.

 

December 25th– Thursday

Christmas day saw another perfect HK winter day with warm sunshine and, sheltered as were by Ap Li Chau, there was no wind. We were indeed so sheltered that, in the afternoon, we managed to have a swim – albeit in somewhat oily water. Still, as the C.P.O. remarked, it would keep the mosquitoes away. Early in the afternoon rumours of a truce flag at Aberdeen started but stopped as quickly. It was for us the most boring day of the war. There was bombing and shelling going on over the hill but as far as we were concerned we might as well have been out of the war completely. So bored were we indeed that we welcomed a floating barge as a target for Bren and T.G. in which the crew had newly received instruction. The T.M. fire kept on intermittently each one sounding as Collingwood said “like a door slamming”, a very apt description.

(Note in margin: 1515 surrender)

Everyone was thoroughly browned off and even the double issue of rum didn’t help. Later in the afternoon, however, the M.G. fire seemed closer and at 5pm the signal came “Ready”. What was on now? Were we going or was there some job on? Still it was welcome as evidently there was something doing. Soon after No.10 came alongside with the news that HK had surrendered and that we were off. During this parley, figures appeared on the skyline and Legge at once grabbed his Lewis and started in. Luckily, as it turned out afterwards, my Bren had no magazine and by the time it was fitted orders not to fire were given. Evidently they were friends, but as to their identity we were to remain in ignorance as we were ordered to Telegraph Bay to contact the other three boats. As fate would have it, this was the very time our engines would not start and only after towing did they roar into life.

 

As soon as we started across the entrance to Aberdeen doors started slamming and up went a spout of water about 50 yds off our port bow. Taking the first available cover where I could be out of the way of the crew I found myself behind a depth charge with my Bren peeping coyly over. Following that doors kept slamming but each successive spout of water dropped further astern and thanks to the speed of our craft we were soon over and round the point where we rendezvoused the other two with their crews gorged on a X’mas dinner of chicken, cream etc. (The Dairy Farm was just above).

 

Obviously we could not move till dusk and we settled down to waiting. Dusk came and still no signal, 7 o’clock, 7.30 and only at 8 after what seemed hours of suspense we received orders to join the others. Out we came in one of the most beautiful evenings I have ever seen in HK. To the west over Lamma there was still a purplish afterglow – the sky was steely clear with odd stars coming out and on the starboard Lantau loomed up a dark purple mass with pinpricks of light at odd intervals. Behind us a building at Pokfulam was madly alight with masses of deep smoke showing up against the sky and beyond farther flames could be seen. There was a curious feeling of tragedy abroad – HK had fallen. Only 17 days and here we were off on a trip to China – for us at least there was the selfish satisfaction of knowing that there were to be no concentration camps.

 

The flotilla complete (?) we set off and at every angle up to Stanley fires could be seen. At that stage the night was by no means perfect – the moon throwing a path of glittering light, a queer crazy paving of sparkles over our courses. By degrees however it darkened and in the peculiar halflight it was difficult to discern the boat ahead apart from its phosphorescent light.

 

Only one incident worth recording occurred when well on the starboard bow a searchlight was seen – possibly some Jap. destroyer. Anyway it did not pick us up and in the ever gathering darkness on we went till off Ping Chau we stopped. Mike, Tai and I with Henry Hsu went ashore for any news of any possible Jap. movements in the area and by a stroke of luck Mike and Henry contacted the local guerrilla leader. Mention of Admiral Chan’s name speeded up matters and soon we had moved across to Namo where we disembarked after some hours of packing and stripping the boat of all available gear.

 

During this period of hurry and rush the most difficult task of all was to prevent the guerrillas, who seemed to have no idea of the old law of mine and thine, from grabbing all and sundry. Anything we did not want was theirs but this did not deter them from having a smack at any available articles especially arms.

 

Out of all this apparent flurry – junks appeared – kit disappeared aboard them, and the work of scuttling the M.T.B.s was carried out. This proved no easy task and we had to resort to axes. Even as it was when we left they showed no signs of sinking fast. Still it was dawn now and 6.15 saw the last party aboard a very silent launch – vaguely familiar from sailing days as one of the many craft which used to slip out of HK at dusk.

December 26th– Friday

We landed on a lovely beach and soon moved off up a valley – each man now with his own pack – stores to follow later – and in the ever-growing light by padi and hill tracks – covered 2-3 miles to our stopping place, Wong Mi Chi – a small village set among heavy trees in perfect cover. By now it was broad daylight and we could look around and see just who was who and where we were Here were our guerrilla allies with their inevitable Mausers and in addition to our M.T.B. friends had been added (Cdr.) Montague and the men of C410, and the official party of Admiral Chan, his A.D.C. Henry Hsu, Goring, Guest, Macmillan, Robinson, Oxford, McDougall and Ross. We were becoming a formidable party.

 

Breakfast was now ready and with it we had our first introduction to tangerines fresh from the tree – a delicacy I always associated with Christmas and tinfoil. The rest of the day was spent in sleep – until dusk – when, for the first time, we heard Mike’s famous – “Ready to march”.

 

Retracing our steps to Namo we took the coast track for a few miles during which it became clear to Tai and myself as rearguard that the guerrilla pace was certainly not Navy pace and that loads would have to be drastically cut down. It was, to say the least, disconcerting to find packets of ammunition lying at the path side and to see people already unable to keep up the pace.

 

From the coast we struck inland by the usual paths till after some 3-4 hours walking we reached a large village where we had our first sight of guerrilla organisation – the temple taken over and the floor laid with straw – hot tea ready and in fact, apart from the inevitable staring crowd, we could well believe that the arrival of 60 odd British sailors was an every day occurrence.

 

December 27th- Saturday

Reveille was called at 6 and after breakfast and the usual orgy of washing and teethbrushing (razors having been already packed away) – we readied to march at about 8. We were still fortunate with the weather and with a pleasant mild morning and easy going over padi spirits rose and it was a very cheerful party which strung out over the padi fields. At Wong Mo Hoi we were soon to have our first view of what J. occupation means to a village; burnt out houses being at a premium in what was, or rather had been, obviously a fairly prosperous market village. A few hours steady going saw us over the level and into the hills – a twisty trail being quite visible winding over the first range. The crossing of this proved a strain and packs which that morning had been carefully re-packed as a comfortable amount to carry grew too heavy and our following train of coolies grew still larger as overcoats, blankets and odds and ends proved to belong to the class of “not wanted on voyage”. The sun by this time was hot and it certainly was no joke climbing and Tai and I in our recognised position kept getting farther and farther in the rear. Everyone however was whipped up and after a rest proceeded down the other side in the manner of born mountaineers. Tea supplied by a neighbouring village revived us somewhat and our procession proceeded – via another smaller hill to the Tai Fung Hang Valley well in the hills. The whole countryside was lovely walking country although it was noticeable how little the fields were cultivated – again our J. friends.

 

After tiffin at Tai Fung Hang (Bully beef) and a general survey of the body – by now we boasted 3 sedan chairs – we went for our last hill, a short but decidedly steep one. This proved enough to stretch our party out and after crossing it and in the descent the party had stretched out to something over 1½ mile in length. On reaching the next valley this distance was more in the region of 2 miles and when we reached Tong Po, our last point before crossing the J. lines, the vanguard had been fairly well rested. A quick meal and in dusk we moved off – now in three parties each comprising two boats’ crew. Mike in the lead – myself in the middle – and Tai with the rearguard. Orders had been given for no smoking or talking and for our first time arms were carried ready.

 

 

Over the hill and then into what seemed an interminable plain through which ran the main road – which we had to cross – linking Tamshui and Lungkong. The feeling that we actually were in J. territory had given most of us a feeling of excitement although we could not help but feel that it would be a fairly unlucky patrol which came across us.

 

After an hour of this and fording a river we halted – it was getting cold now –then started across open moorland – crisscrossed with paths and tracks. During this stretch our nerves received a jolt when suddenly a shot clipped the silence followed by our guerrillas arguing fiercely with what we took to be one of their sentries. Nothing happened and after another hour suddenly we found ourselves crossing the road to carry on over more moorland. There was a slackening of tension now, although we were by no means clear. Gradually the moorland changed into low foothills and another river was forded. The scene here reminded me of photos of Dunkirk – the long line of men stretching from the beach into the river. Following this (about 2 miles (?) A scribbled note says:See attached sheet, and on another copy this place in annotated: Page Omitted – I can’t find it anywhere, and the original diary starts with the following mid-sentence and a note on the manuscript saying: Dec 28th –  I fear some of the 27thand most of the 28this missing for now)

Have now found in the original “Field” Diary one loose page headed ‘OMITTED’ and initialled as ‘Original’ by Pop. Transcription follows:

…about 2 miles landed us into a village for rest. This order changed to sleep and that night we slept – or rather lay on the ground – it was bitterly cold - & shivered & cursed the inhospitability of the villagers.

 

December 28th

Dawn brought the signal to move – a welcome signal to most of us who were chilled to the bone & only too willing to do anything for warmth. The wind was miserably cold tho’ & we could not get really warm until the sun came up. By daylight we were in fairly open country – fertile & well-cultivated & after crossing still another river – the countryside here seems to run with rivers – but this time by a bridge – a ½ hour’s walk by groves of sugar cane brought us to our objective the Tanshan(?)Waichow highway.

 

By this time feet and legs were going badly & the road tank trapped & covered as it was with gravel offered little comfort to feet already tender from unaccustomed poundings. Our next objective was always four miles away – cold comfort & having been informed that we were now clear the advance party moved on to make arrangements while we acted as whippers in at

…a pace of 2mph. The last 3 miles was a trial to the spirit and the flesh – tempers were getting short although the poor lads whose feet were worst trailed on with no complaint until in the end Tai and I decided to push on and get there.

 

Sun Hui proved a haven. We had our first meeting with the Chinese Army – smart pleasant looking people who were down to meet the Admiral. We were given quarters in the local Chung Hok (Middle School) for the day and about 1pm had our first meal since the previous evening. Since the village people were willing to accept HK currency (at 5-1) trade was brisk and John Collingwood earned my undying gratitude by the present of two great fresh duck eggs. After a very sound sleep we took the road again about 4.30 on a lovely afternoon. Half an hour’s walk saw us through a narrow pass guarded by an outpost of the Chinese Army. The descent on the other side brought us through some lovely scenery, wooded hills leading down to a large plain plentifully scattered with villages. The combination of relief of being really in free China and the beautiful evening had its effect and there were few laggards. The arrival of the first bicycle taxis for those whose feet had suffered too much quickened our progress and at dusk we reached our destination – Military H.Q. at Tsuen Lung(Chun Lung)– the usual temple but spotlessly clean and with every preparation made for our comfort. Dinner was a fairly hilarious affair with the General Staff proving a very poor second at lying on their bellies and grabbing at food with chopsticks.

 

December 29th– Monday

Rumours of bicycle taxis for all of us were prevalent this morning but evidently it was not to be since, falling into separate groups in case of air raid, we moved off as usual. So still in my role of Commander of M.T.B.28 we started covering the road at a good heel and toe pace. Spirits were high and the mouth organ suddenly produced by Pony Moore lifted our feet along the moorland road we were covering. One very welcome halt we had at a wayside teashop – later to prove a howff of Tai’s and mine where doughnuts vanished like “snow off a dike”.

 

And so we came to Waichow – and halted on the outskirts for tea and cakes. While there we noticed a constant stream of Chinese soldiers passing through – Yu Hon Mau’s troops who were to have relieved HK and who were now on their way to Changsa where for the third time the J’s were to be thrown back. Another – at least for us who by hearsay only knew of W.R.N.s etc – new sight was the appearance of the first of the Chinese Army comfort corps of girls whose job it is to write letters for the troops, do propaganda work among the villages and such work. (From my diary I see Edna is recorded as “First sight of Chinese woman soldier – speaks good English”).

 

Then came our parade into town – a long procession in columns of three – in the front Chinese and British flags – officers on the flank beside their crews – trying manfully to keep them in step. Impressive it may have been – certainly the town turned out to watch – but the general impression it gave me – slinking along in the rear and beginning to realise how dirty I was – was that of a Salvation Army Saturday night route march just at closing time. In addition to this I felt an irresistible urge to giggle and in this was not helped by the fact that the mouth organ band was playing the Beer Barrel Polka followed by MacMillan’s rendering of “I don’t want to be a soldier” while striding along with a definitely martial air.

 

Quarters were found in the local mission hospital and after the luxury of a real bath we were entertained to dinner and wine by the local H.Q. where it was again proved that the Navy cannot be beat – Ronny Ashby by some form of magic appearing in collar and tie and looking like a very senior Rear Admiral. And so to bed – real beds – and sleep, real sleep.

 

December 30th- Tuesday

Ranks were re-established this morning in the best Naval tradition. It did seem a pity and wholly unnecessary that after days such as they had been through where officers walked, ate and slept with their men that, on return to a more or less normal living, there came the definite split. Requests for a separate officers’ mess – the request, it must be admitted, coming from a few only – was refused tactfully but firmly and in our position of “superior civilians” we had the opportunity and pleasure of watching all the sideplay.

 

After the breakfast came the official photograph and a get together ceremony in the church which again proved that the English have no flair for the theatrical. There we were packed in the church – British on one side, and Chinese on the other. Up rose the Major and in a flow of impassioned oratory informed all and sundry that ABCD was the stuff, that Japan’s days were numbered and that soon under the Generalissimo etc etc. The toast was replied to by Commander Montague who was jolly glad to be there, appreciated their hospitality and informed them they had been decent to us. The buck having again been passed to the Chinese they piled on more points by giving us an elaborate choral rendering of the first four letters of the alphabet – extolling each in turn with the responses being given by the (written in classical Greek:; OI ΠOΛΛOI – chorus?) in the rear. Having the game well in hand now they proceed to sweep us off the court by a series of well organised cheers which would have done credit to any American college. Service came back to us but we double faulted badly with feeble hurrahs for each letter in turn and lost the second set. The final game was played at speed and with fury the Chinese sweeping all before them with “Che Lai” although we were saved from total collapse by Mike’s prompting, in an unreachable falsetto, of “God Save the King”. This made us 15-40 but our slight hopes were blasted with the presentation of huge baskets of fruit, cigarettes, towels, etc. Game, set and match for our Chinese allies.

 

This over, we managed to see the town. It has a lovely situation with low hills around and the city itself broken up by the river and lakes one of which – with islands, pagodas, and small bridges is a living example of the holiday resort poster-maker’s art. The town itself having been occupied twice consists mainly of wooden buildings in the main street and the usual narrow cobbled back streets. Prices in the shops were high – much too high for our shallow pockets and soon we were back in the hospital. The evening proved interesting in so much as it gave us an insight into the official army mind and again it was brought home to us that in the end the staff knew exactly as much as the man in the street and about one half of what the soldier does.

December 31st– Wednesday

During the morning I had the opportunity of attending a ceremony I had heard about but imagined was extinct – Mike and Leung (the Guerrilla Chief) becoming blood brothers. (A margin note here: In Feb met Mrs Leung (indecipherable squiggle) R.Lee/DB) I rather imagine that the ceremony has never been carried out in more hygienic conditions. Instead of the story book atmosphere of cutting open the arm and mixing the blood by use of a cock’s feather by the light of a guttering candle, here we had a qualified practitioner scraping the arms with a scalpel after disinfecting the skin – a slight graze – the 2 arms pressed together – application of iodine and here the ceremony was completed and over unless, as Mike suggested later, some syphilitic blood had been transferred to him.

 

Since Tai and I were moving back to Namo (Nam O)to collect the guns etc. on the following day we packed and in the evening saw the Navy off before setting out to see how Wai Yeung celebrated Hogmanay. A little whisky had been forthcoming since wise virgin Tai still had a small amount in his water bottle. The evening began with an excellent dinner following which, Al(Al Wong), in his role of guide to Waichow night life, led us to the red light district. The atmosphere there was hardly calculated to arouse any desire – both surroundings and personnel being of such a nature as to repel rather than attract – One feature was the age of the girls – some of whom looked about 13 and the extreme interest shown by all and sundry including a policeman who by this time was acting as guide and wine bearer. Midnight saw us drinking to 1942 with full honours to the surprise and apprehension of all. Evidently broken glasses are an uncommon sight. On our way home an argument arose re the time – we had been in a complete mix up re Chungking, Waichow, and HK time. The problem was solved easily enough by bringing in the New Year again according to Chungking time following which we wended a very erratic way homewards. And so the year went out, luckily for Mike, who just escaped a .455 in his foot during my gun clearing.

(This is the end of the major typed account. There now follows a more illegible (through age of paper) account up until the 7thJanuary 1942 in China)

 

January 1stto 9thinclusive (Namo (Nam O = South Cove, at Dapeng Bay)Trip)

Contacting our old friends the guerrillas we met our new mentor Ye – our interpreter and were soon on our way, and, by means of bicycle taxis pushed by willing little slaves, who sang and whistled all the way, made Tsuen Loong (previously Tsuen Lung?) (Chun Lung) in about 2½ hours. The time we made was good and we had visions of making Tong Po, through the “Nip” lines, the same evening. We were doomed to disappointment however, and had to spend the night in the local hotel, where, after listening to our guide’s recital of his previous wealth, travels, cellar, and bravery (all this after his consumption of two bottles of Chinese gin) and eating a meal prepared by him of pork chops and fried potatoes we were in bed by 6pm.

 

January 2nd

About 10 in the morning we got away for Sun Hui. At the top of the pass we were held up by the military and there seemed some doubt as to our guerrilla friends. Reaching Sun Hui things seemed still more mysterious as instead of staying in the village, we camped about a quarter of a mile out and from all appearances were settled there for the day. Admittedly it was pleasant in the sun, but there was such an air of indecision that despite assertion of our friend the “Wolf” that “I’ll look after you” we had (to?)fix him to a definite statement and only then learned that the guerrilla leader had been recalled. Time was wearing on and since this was our first lesson in patience we were still rather untrained in the art. To force the issue we went back to the Army outpost only to meet the leader coming back.

 

About 5 o’clock we did move and moved fast leaving the Tamshui road for the moors just on dusk. The general atmosphere was not encouraging. First of all we lost our way, the party, by this time some hundred strong including some women, were using torches freely and holding frequent arguments re the correct route. Frequent halts occurred for no apparent reason – it was a miserably cold night – Tai’s feet were going and all in all tempers were being rather frayed. Luckily we got across without mishap, reached Tong Po about midnight and I, for one, did not wait for food but hit the hay – in this case, literally.

 

January 3rd  

Efforts to find a chair for Tai were all in vain and we set off back over the hills to the sea. Peculiarly enough, while on the level the guerrillas went at a speed which was quite fast enough for us, on the hills they were much slower; so much so in fact that we finished at the top sometime before the main body. Over this we were cheered to find that the second range of hills did not need to be crossed as we were proceeding down the valley to the coast at Sha U Chung (Sha Yu Chung which was the landing point for subsequent BAAG operations)thence by junk to Namo. It was a long walk, but a pleasant one, although the “Wolf” persisted in pointing out short cuts which let us in for some two miles more than the others. Once aboard the junk however, we could relax and sail along pleasantly. The quiet of the trip being disturbed only by the occasional shots the guerrillas kept firing at innocent birds ashore.

 

At that time we fancied we would be taken to Shataukok that evening to try and contact the remainder of our group with whom we had arranged previously that, in the event of our non-return from Shing Mun that No.4 would be the rendezvous. On arrival at Namo, however, where the half sunk M.T.B.s were still visible, we were informed that, before we could be taken there, a man had to be sent ahead to find out location of (“Japs” crossed out, replaced with “Je’ “Boon Jai”).

 

The night was spent in the guerrilla G.H.Q. where we acquired M.T.B. beds, ‘Three Castle’ cigarettes, and an excellent dinner before going to sleep.

 

January 4th

The first entry in my “Field” Diary reads “Looks as if we are getting somewhere” but it was another case of our not yet appreciating how things are done in China. Awakened, we fed on cocoa and soda crackers, followed by a meal of sausages, tinned soup and cold salmon. For a moment I actually felt grateful until I remembered that this, after all, was part of the stores that we were there to collect.

 

After breakfast we slid off to view our stores and began (and as it happened later finished) by viewing the ‘radios’. They were OK but, “Where” said we “are our guns?” “Oh, the guns”. “Yes, the guns”. “Ah, yes” said the guerrilla Number One “There were guns, weren’t there? But now very secret place”. “Oh yes” said we, “show us the place”. “Oh belong very far walk”. “Can do” said we, gallantly sacrificing our feet for king and country. “More better not, only two piece man savvee, belong very secret” and so, after arguing fruitlessly for an hour and finally succeeding in extracting his promise that the guns would be delivered to us the night we would be ready to leave, back we went to Namo and, after seeing that our food stores, which, although sadly depleted, were there, sat down to (await?) the return of the Shataukok envoy. Still no news and after a most boring evening to bed.

 

January 5th

After an excellent breakfast “Old Wolf” certainly looks after our bellies – we inquired after our clothing stores. Here was definite evasion, and our efforts to find our suitcase of “toys” proved just as unavailing. It was fairly clear now that quite a part of our stores had evaporated, but still “toys” and radios were the important part, and we felt fairly sure of finding the suitcase.

 

The sudden appearance of a Japanese Seaplane overhead, very low and obviously spotting, provided us with our first view of guerrilla reaction to such. There was a speedy general exodus of the guerrillas to the hills to an accompaniment of “M’pah” (“Don’t be frightened/worried”)to us. After machine-gunning a few junks – including the one bringing our envoy back from Shataukok (he, incidentally arrived back very wet but quite cheerful) - it flew off towards HK leaving us wondering what results this visit would have – Tai was of the opinion that it spelt trouble for Namo in the near future whereas I felt it was mere routine reconnaissance. We both however, agreed that this would probably speed things up, and, with this in our minds, began trying to get things moving. The report from Shataukok was discouraging. They could not get us there – according to their information the village was garrisoned and the surrounding areas patrolled – so there was nothing for it, but to get our stores and get ready to move, hoping that they might change their minds about the Shataukok trip before we actually left for Wai Chow. “Could we move that night?” “Oh no, not enough coolies”. “OK” said we “We’ll take what you have to Sha U Chung, go on ourselves, and wait in the hills for the remainder. Roars of laughter “Plenty robbers, at least a hundred and fifty”. Finally, although we had our own ideas as to who the robbers in the hills actually were, we agreed that we would move the following afternoon with complete stores.

 

There was a peculiar air of suspense that evening – guards had been doubled and mysterious messengers kept coming in and out the whole night.

 

January 6th

What with my bed breaking during the night, and with ideas of Japanese landings, I actually lay awake sometime, and sure enough, while at breakfast, a rumour came in that a Japanese Naval party was landing and a general evacuation took place to the hills behind the village. On our way inland which, for the first mile and a half, kept more or less parallel with the sea, we saw a Japanese Cruiser and Destroyer rounding Mirs Point, obviously Namo bound. So evidently the guerrillas’ intelligence had arrived just in time.

 

Our first destination was about three miles inland in the little village of Punti Wan, a perfect spot for all-round defence, lying as it does in a thickly wooded grove, completely shut in by hills with two entrances only both easily guarded by a small number of men. Defences were arranged with speed and a smartness which would have done credit to a regular army battalion on manoeuvres. Guards and pickets were placed round the rim of the bowl, with a heavier concentration facing the sea, and one noticeable feature was the way in which, once in position, those pickets were absolutely invisible.

 

In the village itself, there was the usual congregation of women, children, household goods, with a small guard of the younger guerrillas, noteworthy among whom was a small boy with an old Japanese rifle exactly the same size as himself. During the morning, on planes coming over, it was amusing to observe the camp followers ideas of cover. Preferring to stay out of doors as we did, under one of the many huge trees around, we were rather unpopular since their reasoning seemed based on the theory that an air observer cannot see through the roof of a house, where they collected on any sign of aircraft, but that he could certainly detect any group sheltering under a tree with inevitable destruction for all.

 

It was a miserable rainy morning – our luck seemed to have changed completely even as regards the weather – and the time passed very slowly, with, however a few amusing incidents which helped to while away the time. The “Wolf” having disappeared at the first appearance of planes we were now in the charge of one pleasant faced guerrilla who had gained a great deal of face with his companions by having in his possession a complete photographic set of film stars (feminine) especially one of Pat Paterson who in the guerrilla’s eyes, seemed to possess all that a woman should. This same lad previously had been a HK taxi-driver and, ere leaving him he won from me a promise,  that after the War he should call at my office and show me the night life of HK although what views the Director of Education might have on this arrangement was discreetly kept out of the conversation. The village, like practically every village we visited, had its quota of old sailors, most of whom seemed at some time in their careers to have sailed in the “Blue Funnel”. They were all immensely proud of their papers and insisted on showing them. It was an eye opener to me to see, by looking at their Discharge Books, the amount of money which they could collect. Most of them seemed to have retired and built fairly substantial houses in their own villages but, distrusting Chinese banks as they did had unluckily deposited their cash in the HK banks. There was no question as to the side on which their sympathies lay in the present trouble and indeed one could not but feel grateful to the various skippers under whom they had sailed for the liking they had for us British and the resultant hospitality they afforded us.

 

Tai, by repairing a Lewis gun which the guerrillas had effectively jammed, gained a great deal of face as a small arms expert and the gentleman who was singing Tai’s praises to me very politely softened the blow and gave me a share of the praise, by informing me that although Tai was very clever I was “Gam Dai Lik” (very strong).

 

The rain kept coming down steadily and we began to wonder just when we could get back to Namo to collect any stores although on this subject we were beginning to entertain very healthy doubts as to our ultimate success. The landing and the bombing were going to provide an excellent excuse for non-delivery of stores. Already indeed, we had been informed that the Japanese landing party had (a) asked for the two “Foreigners” who, their information had it, were living in Namo, (b) had ransacked the village and taken all stores in the village (c) had bombed the village of Wong Mei Chi which contained the radio sets and (d) on landing had proceeded directly to the spot where the guns were hidden (This of course, was known only to two men!). A traitor must have seen them hiding the guns and for this they were ,”Plentee Sorry”. Although, to say the least, we had a feeling that the truth was being handled rather carelessly there was nothing much that we could do about it, since we were for the time being completely dependant upon them for assistance and removal of the stores which had already been “Lost”!!

 

Towards dusk, after a Staff meeting the decision was reached to evacuate the peninsula. This was actually a very reasonable plan since, with the landing on the Mirs Bay side, and a possible similar landing in Bias Bay the peninsula of Tai Pang could be effectively isolated. This evacuation was by no means an evacuation only of the fighting men, but included women, children and all possessions.

 

We moved off, just on dusk – after a fortnight’s glorious weather it was raining heavily – in a downpour of rain, and with night coming on fast. The first part of the trip was simply a procession on wet slippery paths slipping over rocks and generally making very slow progress with conditions underfoot nearly as bad as they could possibly be. Going in the direction we were, our first leg took us back right behind the village of Namo again and it was during this stretch that one realised how good their “March Discipline” was. As I have already said, it was no small party, comprising as it did whole families, but, during the one stretch where trouble was anticipated , the most one could hear was the slither of feet, and an occasional order passed back in a whisper from the vanguard. The atmosphere was perfect, and certainly was typical  of the book descriptions one reads of such guerrilla activities with absolute blackness, - the odd splash, as some poor devil slipped, a muffled cough now and again, mysterious whistles coming out of the darkness ahead – and overall a general air of secrecy and stealth.

 

After about two hours of steady walking by hill and padi path alternately we reached Sun Hui – a market village – now a mass of ruined houses as the result of Japs. having left their visiting card. There our numbers increased by the addition of two similar bands and as we moved off first by flat ground and thence by lovely sandy beaches, round to Tang Po Sheng, (Tang has been left untouched but above it is written ‘Tai’) proceeding as we were, with the help of a moon which by now was making a watery way through the clouds, I felt that the Israelites, with their trek to the promised land, had nothing on us.

 

The rain had stopped, and it was now a question of walking,  and walking.  Our path led us further along the shore and over some half submerged dikes until we finally reached a point, which to my eyes seemed to be 5,000 bloody miles from nowhere. Where were we going from here? All one could see was water and marsh, and plenty of both, with absolutely no paths showing except in the direction from which we had come. The problem however, was solved by the appearance out of the mist of a large dumb lighter, moving as far as  we could make out of its own accord, since there was no human being on board although it was moving directly towards us. It was no time however to quarrel with any means of conveyance which saved us from walking and as we stepped aboard and the magic craft moved off, the problem of propulsion was solved in the most prosaic manner by a Chinese Charon walking on  the bottom and pushing the boat along, with the freeboard providing complete cover.

 

Our sea trip was short and from the other side a mile and a half’s pleasant walking, on a fine sandy road, among long sand dunes brought us to the walled town of Tang Pung Shing. We entered it through the West gateway set in a wall 20 feet thick, and continued over the tiny cobbled streets of a typical old Chinese fortified town, where, peculiarly enough, a fair percentage of the population seemed to be walking around as if it were 5 o’clock in the evening and not 1.00 or 2.00am. Hopes of a bed here got a rude shock when we carried on out of the East gate and continued walking – by now on a lovely moonlight night – for a further mile or so to our ultimate shelter – a large Buddhist temple of the usual type, sitting in lovely grounds. Tai and I found beds in front of the main altar and vaguely realising that the place was packed with armed men, slept the sleep of the just.

January 7th

Today saw us, or rather me, rising in a filthy temper, which was not helped by the group of gaping guerrillas who appeared to derive infinite amusement from the sight  of a “Sai Yan” putting on his pants. Some good hearty cursing, and a wash up, saw me back in good temper again only to fall from grace immediately as, with the sleep washed out of my eyes, I saw some of the Lewis guns which the Japanese had “stolen” the day before lying here and there throughout the temple. However our protests met with the usual evasive answer and, on being taken back to Tai Pung Shing for breakfast we found ourselves the centre of discussion by the staff. Evidently they were prepared to stay here for an indefinite period and since it was obvious by now that they had a perfect reason for retaining all the stores their main desire was to see us back on our way to Waichow again, although one day before the hills had been infested with robbers who, we had been assured, were “Very bad men”. Now as our escort on the return journey we (were) given three men – quite unarmed.

 

There was nothing for it but to go and so, after mutual expressions of goodwill and polite assurances from them, assurances which we gracefully accepted, that any stores or guns which they “managed to find” would be sent on speedily under full guard, we took the back trail to the hills via the same route which we previously covered with the Naval party.

 

There was, however, a great difference between this and the previous trip. Then the guerrillas pace had been set to ours, whereas now they made the pace and to such good effect that, leaving at 12 o’clock, by 4 pm we were in Tung Po a distance which during the former trip had taken us practically a day’s walking. It was a marvellous day and with Tai’s feet recovered, it was a pleasure to be out in the hills and with only one stop (to clean a village out of cakes), after a quick meal at Tung Po , where our number diminished …(the last sheet is badly torn, missing all of the top left corner, and a margin down the left hand side)....was when the local guerrillas, or rather robbers……us, decided to collect their local tax by means of……us along the road, waving their firearms and……(il/l?egitimate dues. This is the only occasion on which I’ve…out of his calm. His feet were going, we were feeling….(whole situation, and the combination was such , that Tai….uttering heavenfelt prayers that the Ba****ds would try…all vain threats however, and we reached Sun Hui without…chance to vent his spleen. Incidentally it is rather…how guerrillas in their own area are honest God-fearing…law and order, administering justice, and, as a slight recompense) …trouble, collecting a small fee as payment for their….against the hordes of armed bandits who lurk behind every tree)…whereas when a small fee is demanded of them in some other…the same fa(ci)lities, it is invariably “Robbery”.

(possibly the 8thJanuary now – see notes below)

…Sun Hui after some trouble and the washing of Tai’s feet in the public…street a chair was found to carry him over the hill to Tsuen Loong and..(h)ere we discovered that even the guerrillas are not averse to being carried, our one friend who was left with us immediately finding two other chairs for himself and me. And so we set off in cavalcade but I, myself complete with “Tommy gun” and pack proving an impossible burden for the three decrepit old “Birds” who had contracted to transport me, was forced to walk consoling myself in a sour grapes way that it was healthier anyway.

 

It now being impossible to reach Waichow that evening we put up again in the hotel, not without some qualms as on the last occasion the room had not exactly been spotless but received a pleasant surprise in the form of clean “Mintoi’s” (quilts) and once again as far as sleep was concerned it proved to…..”Twelve Hour Hotel”.

 

From January 8thon there is only the “Field” diary in shorthand note form, and even this is mutilated with a cut-out chunk at the foot of each page.

 

January 8th

Up free from bugs and wash. T’s feet washing of interest & usual crowd but smaller & more select than usual. Gt.bowl of breakfast chicken soup (hot & exc) – delay while whole meal is cooked – 2 ½ hours. Off at 10 – pl. walking – terraced hill – note how many symmet. hills one sees. T’s feet bad on road but fairly good pace. (Cheung yan/chewing gum?) & excitement for a few minutes – even to (tuetatune?) & T so browned off as to welcome but peters out after walk thro’ valley – now 3 and onto S’hui – chair yes & what ch. T’s feet in public street  - bright lad who deduced diff. to walk. Singabo yan – I must have …peculiar accent – seems to be any bl. Place – I’m beg. to….gun – better keep eye on it. Event.chairs for 3.The….their comforts – jesting as I dash mine – 3 men old boys….and sooner walk hill and soldiers friendly – stopped again –evening superb and walk 2/3 way anyway. Vill. Big and well made but again BTs burns – amusing progress T.G. on knees – only make T.L. and hotel – room much cleaner & (bring/buy seqs? + aid of army) reward and back for food – great stuffing + oranges and beng – wash esp. feet 1sttime sleep and pants off – big occasion snugged down by 7 – bket and min toi – hymn singing next door & off beautiful sleep.

 

January 9th

Up feeling really fresh to ge. (mng?)& by 8.15 sun out – feeling clean for once – looking forward to tea shop. Sugg. 12 Hour Hotel sleep each time – wonder what kind of slaves we have today – L. looking as immac. as usual – lovely little pack and all creature comforts. Meal out at wayside inn – j.fengei and 2 sets of explosives – where? And why? – v. pleasant outside at side of road and no bl.wind. Really warm at last. No bikes and local hill – usual rest at teahouse – Mike & Al – nr. of HK refugees and stores going into bridges blown & W.Chow. Meal and (Hpetme?) & report – Evid. dw. of openness between us & G. – bath won by matches – new clothes bl. Rubbish – clean up and T. to Col.C + dinner – lovely site in (asnal?) temple – evid. disagree bet.our and Q’s story. Shunkwan day….tomorrow – out + Al by East Gate & cakes. Home & real bed.lovely. Tai…..after dark.

 

January 10th

(Cols?) & shave & haircut – gt. ch. in appearance – refugee centre & inf. of HK – rather miserable sight of drizzling rain – although evid. most going back to village – orderly and well run by young Chinese – interest.old bldg.school – news of HK. Street clean and internment of soldiers- out of HK away – Runners in evening- farewell –big eats & drinks – (fosmaent? & achagement? sit) by Gen. pl. old boy. Evening goes off merrily – great playing of fingers and & ‘gam be’-ing – catch ‘yum sing’ & ‘ching…….careful. Tried out Cant. – fluent as evening goes on. Ch. ar…..smart and selves v. handsome in new suits. T. OK but Mike & self bl…..

 

January 11th

Clean up at hospital – autographs in books – flowery speeches by Naval people – signing in Chinese characters midst much giggling – Chinese booze(?) no hangover – perf.mng. of week bef. bkfast – evid. dinner this evening before set out. Runner at 3. Clean ammo + aid of Ch – show a gun & all keep in wored (?)- sentry at door – salutes everywhere even when out to ‘chee saw’(lavatory)- quite a fine temple & most beautiful surrounds. Bk. Hospital & farewells of our little nurses & to boat – not palatial enough (HC) – dinner & what a dinner. Wild cat soup- roast chicken – roast duck (exg wild?) garoupa & sweet sour sauce….(pork crisp & fat – chow fan – superb tea – oranges & pomelo. A….remember & only a little of their bloody wine – off to boat - ……cabin for 4 of us snugged down for night, some reading material)….K.M.Banks – Lantau – Readers Digest – grand….(the next page is almost completely ripped out, a fragment of the top right page remaining)….& out of sched.palaver & the…..they did come – ashore for……..wooded banks – cormorant….food – sunbathing in…..oranges and off again…..’fei gei’(aeroplane) then on to the next page which would appear to be a continuation of

 

 

January 15th

……squealing pigs  & screaming children – bl. rubbish. Long haired engineer hair, trim at last – small dog washed – Lovely day but usual bl.rubbish with engine – promise of beef stew & h’burgers – 5.15 -25 Good impression of town – must get rest of articles reg. Shunkwan (?) teaching Mag. Small slave English & Ch.v.v. – passing boats being poled with cry of polers – good timing but bl. waste of time – simp. no alternatives Roads will destroy many of the picturesque means of transport – amuse Clabby (?) with glasses but see Mossie coming and dodge below – some lovely scenery now – bamboo groves v. pretty and river busier.

 

January 16th

Moving by night bumping every other boat in river  & some good hearty cursing – cty – hillier –prettier woods. Stop for Maj. set – shave by barber – ex. stew  M. at bkfast. – tongue – Maj. will have ham – (fl.place?)& old keep on little island on curve of river. Public gdns – temple & balcony – masses of children  - central school – b’ball and p.pong – mug of cho(cstg?). Pec. old village – old (carlleach?)by door sensible only to sun – faces diff. again – children rosy che(eked?) – unbombed – school ch. healthy and all in uniform inc. girls in black…….days new headdress. Arab – old men like prints of old China – be……..rev. looking – Pirate of Golden Dragon. Watchmakers – dentist – stationer(?)and sporting ………beng shop – now 3 bowl man – lot of craft both sides of …….back streets and open sewer crossed by little steps to houses – ch……….Cesspools and pigs (sailo & broom chasing pigs out of house – extra beng and home by tortuous path – marv.(?)refl. of fires in water.

 

January 17th

No wind – milk and cakes – last day of voyage? Traffic jam – poles and people in water – some places only “ deep – skipper thinks MB (eleugh/sleigh?)Bl.rubbish – Als M. Jg (?) & rules again – M. sick again. Pec. small houses all alone by river – why? Nothing done without lots of shouting & swearing. Inab. of Ch. to give direct answer. Als scheme – no (faran?)gweis (foreigners)at hiring of truck crafty. Moving like crab and amused by Clabby & MB skipper exchange of pleasantries. River v. broad. First all clear Peng Woo – idea of hiring small slave – feasible – pleasant little soul & willing – unlike C’s horde which is (a daisy/ > chancy?)evid. in army but can get leave – take him on as small Jeeves  & continue his English – lovely afternoon  & finally long Tsuen – military depot. Mike malaria? Little Dr – pall of Waichow So (shot & sleep/short of sleep?) Walk grand – meal in usual joint – queer how many new wooden bldgs – tracker route. Roadhouses – truck by road – Ford & Chev. Large bridge river – blown but repaired. Al off to hire in Lo Lung. Nr. of pagodas – queer how they don’t know channels in river.

 

January 18th

Mike seems rec. …….chee saw(toilet)so far – bkfast lost owing to servants – excuse bl. rubbish…….claims for more cash & exasp. delay. Truck ½ full of goods……(oking) o.r.petrol – smell of leaking & in small window – fair (joets?.........as)  in place of gas masks. Some sickly faces but recovery made. Halt at teashop. Road not too bad – superior cart trail – wooden bridges and tracks (One place No.2 driver adjusts trails). Steep climb by lovely glen – N. W. Highlands – narrow and passing other lorries fair art – (Travel now by MTB foot cycle chairs cargo boat truck) Chung(?)Shan for night– great meal & bed in hotel inner courtyard & rooms in balcony – comf. beds & cl. sheets. Lounge ground floor & newspaper. Small sailo (fac?) head hands & banana visible only.

January 19th

7.15 off. Tk. Rearranged but not much better – hills thickly wooded & steep – hairpin bends & road visible long distances behind and before. Clear streams & ex. walking – old trail up valley – road round at mid level. Mag. view at top of rise – troops sick – busy fertile valley – change after moor of yesterday – Ping Lik bkfast – walled vill. good state – walls and gates E.W. Cobbled streets and cannon on ramparts. Hidden from main road – roadhouses outside (med?meal?) honey in b’boo flasks – food cheaper now. 11.15 off by other hills – really big (lads?)– loop on loop of road – bl. dusty. Tea growing – tea in real teahouse and 1st paper. Burma invaded & S’pore in danger. Better going but still dusty – slight stick on river – to Yung Yuen. Hotel (….) cubicles & complete wash. Sailo busy & bed ready soon – pec. cu(…..d)& old fashioned hangings. Shoes washed. Lorry driver v.g. in bl(…..)drink of cold water at mountain stream – small (…….)roadside – peculiar how (bing jan?) aff. by truck. Insignia on collars. German influence? Vary in efficiency. Mecca tomorrow? Distances in kilometres. Joke of Ying Kwok Yan (Englishman). Mike recovered.

 

January 20th

Evidently to become boat dwellers. Mike’s dream – Bobby & (Tans/Tam?) Eddie. Good going – steady climb – (wr?cr?) of rivers – Sentry box & v. smart pongo – tin hat – left to his (Lieut.?) – evid. all such duties by M.P.s. Mild mg but raw later – no sun & frost – hills vary from large to small conical limestone like child drawings – v. poor paddy – small & stunted growth. Tai Hang How – lately burned out  - b’boo bldgs – station of old Canton Hkow railway – trace of track – Shwan by tiffin – feeding of dog – off at temple – marv. & huge idols – pity no one knows symbols. Huge & gilded – variety of expr. From benevolence to threats – 5 terraces to final praying hall – mats & (mamay?) lovely tapestry & white jade idol – Buddhist monks at various crafts – little orchards – gardens & gt. central pool. Midd. temple quite futuristic in design – sea as frieze with large array of smaller idols. Smug look on most faces. (First?Fluent?)in K’tung – Any amount of small rooms refectory etc. Ch. army resting tough and f. armed – brens & heavy M.G. – seem q. cheerful – cty. level now (…) at Customs – large flock of black goats – sailor suits – new bldgs like(…..) chalets – healthier? (cplete?) shanty town – bombed a bit lately – fine (…….) & hull of boat. Scrupulously clean adorned by movie (…….) trimmings.(Sim.?) to hotels – people clean too – River wat(er?......)quiet mooring & tel convenient - $30 daily

 

 

(SOE was disbanded and Kendall, Thompson & others were transferred out of China.  Holmes, Holroyd & McEwan were left behind to join the BAAG as the Field Operations Group (FOGS) teaming with Francis Lee, Vincent Yeung, Osler Thomas & Al Wong.)

 

This section ends here. There are then brief entries as follows:

 

July 1st(Wed)

Pouring. Jack (?) Burchett. R.A.F.(?) Pay off hotel. B the B Bryan &/of (?) Wedderburn. Reason for Wing Comm? – success now but may work. Exc. Cantonese dinner & iced drinks. Train no can. 1stcar ride in Kweilin, 2ndin China.

 

July 2nd

Tiffin & photo. Cig. pipe. Yarn (?) Br. & Pete. Ten geh. most pl. place. Leave ev. 4th. W.Com & M.C.? of keeping people in place. Polite & familiarity.

 

July 3rd

Beaut. Day. Cpl Tweedie. (Rechie?) factory pretty surrounds – (Trits?) in city – kit packed again – meeting with R.A.F. Fairly lively dinner. 5 & 6 (crimes?cr wines?) – cleinvent? cors?

 

July 4th

Air alarm 2 am -  Bl.R – again 8. Town quiet – everyone to hills. Perf. bombing weather. R.A.F. gin no can. to LKS.

 

July 5th

McC & Sgt. Russell. Terrific feasting & rammy  in (…?)Wong Hwang (Nat.Res.)

 

July 6th

Hospitality & how. Prov.bank dorms – feeding & bath. Truck? of paying Wong. When they’re good they’re v v good.

 

July 7th

K.Kong again – Frc – old boat – new (dope?) by (Doc?Rex? Res? Rec?) – Ronnie now – comfort. (Evening/Evasion?). Ba & McC – set up explained.

 

July 8th

Heep Pat – new racket – news of others from Lui – dinner and L.Yan – Radio – Alexand. better

 

July 9th

Rain – Pat again. Govtt. Servants?? – stores & writing.

 

July 10th

Pat. Footballer, schoolboys etc – who doesn’t know me? – Chow Koxik (?) – news of Fred Rees. Cplete set up looks good. Bryan arr.

 

July 11th

Hat(?)– quite a city now – tennis – civilised tea by court – local cocktails & fairly merry evening. Poker + $50.

 

July 12th

Hottest yet. 96’ – pouring sweat. (Tea? Ten?) & Lui, Chow, Tang etc. News of Ed.Dept– SW Liang- RE, YP. Wah Yan Yu (W…….?) I.S.Wan in Kweilin. Maxie & Hooper. (Uppin? tiffin?)& Brand.

 

July 13th

Cooler – pack stores. Elsie now a spy. Effie & Susan. Still no home mail. Gin (he komm?)

 

[Among my father’s papers is a lone carbon copy of 1 page, numbered (2) with dates from the 14th to 23rd. These I can now see relate to July 1942. They are entered here in green to distinguish them from the handwritten versions]

 

July 14th

Really  cool – nearly ready to move. Dinner out & home by trailing 2 scared pongos. Torch essential.(Preparing to join BAAG AHQ Wai Chow).

!4th

Really cool – nearly ready to move – dinner out and home by trailing two scared pongoes. Torch essential.

 

July 15th

Cooler. Up town – prices/ . Passes? Old Game??? Lt. now?

15th

Cooler. Up town – prices soaring. Passes? Old game??? Lt.now?

 

July 16th

No passes. Leave sailo? – May mail got home (cable) (Lo fy?) Dinner Lui – (some?/soup? ppking?)M& H over wall + language. H. v. interesting about home & army – good career.

16th

No passes. Leave Sat.? MAY mail got home (cable) – HO FY [very fast AMcE]– Dinner LUI – pumpkin soup – M(Maxwell Holroyd& H(Holmes)over wall plus language(Holmes’ ability to speak good Chnese).H v interesting about home and army – the Customs (Chinese Maritime Custom ?)Dis quite a career. 

 

July 17thd

H. coming too. Passes? cl.accts $135 George – nr of classes doing – what? Nr of K.C. schoolboys. Big party in town.

17th

H coming too. Passes (?) (They needed Passes from Chungking Government to move from place to place) close accts $135 GEORGE – nr of clerks doing what (?) Nr of K.C. Schoolboys. Big party up town

July 18th

Really going tomorrow. Everything fine & bed early.

18th

Really going tomorrow. Everything final  and bed early

 

July 19th

Off & (hail?). Customs & (Sheeter?)& aid of H.(Holmes)– Al.(Al Wong)the b. & (Roadest?)truck – cool on move & Loong San/Seen OK. Rather pl. place – diff. from previous trip – can see, scenery diff. Summer v winter.

19th

Off and HOT. Customs and shelter plus aid of H. – AL the B and loaden truck – cool on move and LOONG SEEN (Xien = county) O.K. Rather pleasant place – different from previous trip – can see, scenery different summer v winter.

 

July 20th

Up 4 – leave 4.55 am – hean?/Lean?Ping (Lin Ping & Chung Shun are two hilly areas)  (honey tea – Chungshan) (O’Brien) Good going & hills worth the trip – rice paddy rife & plains mass of produce – marvell. day & cool breeze. Skill of driver – (wr?)of walled villages & forts – v. highlanders?? Heavy rain – rice flattened and road full of landslides – wooden bridges & peelings/pulleys?. Low Loong(Lo Lung). Brandy & Bed.

20th

Up 4 – leave 4.55am – LEEN PING (Honey tea) – CHUNG SEEN (O’BRIEN). Good going and hills worth the trip – rice really ripe and plains full of produce – marvellous day and cool breeze. Skill of driver – nr of walled villages and forts - ? v highlanders. Heavy rain – rice and road full of landslides – wooden bridges and feelings – LOW LOONG ) Brandy and bed

 

July 21st 

Boat son. Customs are a good travel bureau. Lees tale of Ch.Reg’t – main street well paved. Venetian touch about small river – (take 2 days?). Tiffin v. good. D.R.F. bicycle odyssey. Gil.Major  & bike over shoulder. Francis gives them hell. Off and down river. (little drawing of covered sampan here) – rowing & v. fast & comfortable. Good cooking & honey in coffee – pleasant trip Payment of shirts to British Consular Agent – must explore Lao Loong some day. Full complement of sail neatly stowed.

 [Here there is another smaller notebook with entries from ½ way thro’ 21stJuly to 28thSeptember – not clear which is the original – the smaller notebook entries are typed here in blue and are a little bit more complete making me believe they may have been written up a little later?]

July 21st(c)

..comfortable. Exc. cooking – honey in coffee & (act?) makings of v pleasant trip – payment of shirts & Br. Consulate agent – must explore Lao Loong some day. Seamanlike boat & full complement of sail stowed neatly.

21st

Boat soon – customs are a good travel bureau – LEE’s (Francis Lee) tale of Ch.Regt(Chinese regiment)– main street well paved – Venetian touch about small river – trip 2 ?? days. Tiffin v good. D.R.F. Bicycle odyssey. Gallant Major plus cycle over shoulder. FRANCIS gives them hell and off down river – rowing and very fast and very comfortable. Good cooking and honey in coffee – pleasant trip. Payment of shirts to British Consular Agent – must explore LAO LOONG some day. Full complement of sail neatly stowed.

 

 

July 22nd 

Cool night – pouring now. Stop Lam How– new style ‘Cheesaw’ – (sacking?seeking?)– matey. Ho Yuen – stroking of arm – tea a la Suisse – (stack?) in woods – swim. San fa. Rain later – speeches.

July 22nd(Wed)

Cool night. Now pouring – stop Lam How – short time only. New cheesaw (little picture) & sacking round companionable place for chat with cook – terrific tiffin & Ho Yuen – stroking of arm – tea a la Suisse – steeking(?) in woods – swim – Sam Fa – cool evening and rain later – good speech

22nd

Cool night – pouring now – stop LAM HOW – new type CHEESAW – sacking – matey – HO YUEN – stroking of arm – tea a la SUISSE and stalk in the woods swim – SAM FA – rain later - speeding

 

(Wai Chow was severely flooded by rain when the main party of the BAAG arrived.  FIGS under Paul Tsui as well as a Medical & Relief Group were already in place & operational earlier.  Paul Tsui had set up FIGS at the Rectory of the Catholic St. Joseph’s Church & Hospital at Shui Tung Road near the riverside.  Wai Chow became Advanced HQ upon the arrival of Major Duggie Clague (later Sir Douglas, founder of the Hutchison-Whampoa Group). A week or so later, the BAAG obtained the use of the quarter of the Medical Director of the American Adventist Wai On Hospital nearby to serve as the Officers’ Mess of AHQ.  FIGS remained operational outside of the Officers’ Mess at St. Joseph’s)

 

July 23rd

15 miles N.Waichow. River v. up & boat drifting – Waichow R. (floveliest?)Catholic Mission(St. Joseph’s) – ½ pongos (?) washed out. Town beats Venice – by boat really deep?dark?– small alleys tributaries flowing at speed & navigating  R. currents v. tricky. Clothes out in streets  - cigarettes & lipsticks (90) – whole place changed – houses more wrecked. Biggish Rooms RC of Kweilin.

July 23rd

15 miles N Waichow – good speed. River v up & boat drifting down by self. Waichow Irish Catholic Mission – ½ full soldiers washed out by flood. Into town – Venice beaten – by boat – really dark – small alleys absolutely rushing with water and swinging round corners at great speed. – amt. of clothes out on streets – pl. cigarettes Players(?) Rich(?) & lipsticks (9d) – whole appearance of place changed – houses more wrecked looking than ever. Biggish room & down for night. RC of Kweilin

23rd

15 miles N WAICHOW – river v up and boat drifting – WAICHOW 12 flooded Catholic Mission and ½ pongoes washed out – town beats VENICE – by boat really deep and small alleys tributaries flowing at speed and navigation round corners v tricky – clothes out in streets and lipsticks (9d) – whole place changed – houses more wrecked. Biggish rooms R.C. and KWEILIN

 

July 24th

No mgtoes. D & D to General– v. smart – (heat?)– 100BS – Wai On– loss of face big change – busy now. House v.g. (lant?but?)– meeting OK. Dinner tonight – like before? Terrific but brutal – fiercer than of old – drink to Islands & Revelry. Home by night, by street, by boat, by luck – tomorrow again – what have we come to.

July 24th  

No mosquitoes- D & D (Duggie Clague & Dick Hooper with Paul Tsui as Interpretor)  off to General (Maj.Gen Cheung Kwong King & Chu Lai Chuen)– v smart – good thing – heat – 100BS. Wai On HL (House at Wai On Hospital as AHQ Officers’ Mess) – loss of face – big change – busy now – house v.g.but? – meeting OK – dinner tonight – like before? – dinner terrific (feasted by the Chinese Generals at the Sam Yuen Restaurant) -  but brutal – even fiercer than old crowd. quite a party – drink to Islands of/&? Revelry – home by boat by luck, - again – tomorrow what have we come to?

 

July 25th

Pouring. Gen. air of remorse – fairly strong – miserably wet. Evening scare unfounded (party?) reasonable. Go evil habit of Gam Bai. Poor old host & responsibilities – home in good order.

July 25th(Sat)

Still pouring. General air of remorse – but fairly strong. Miserable & wet but river going down. Scare of this evening’s party – fairly reasonable but the G (General) has an evil habit of Gam Bai (Bottoms ups) – poor old host seemed to feel called upon to do likewise & Evid. not too keen about it at all – home fairly soberly.

 

July 26th

Rain. Out walk – flooded – new B. funnel(?)  old lad – quaint old bldg – entrance hall – courtyard – main bldg – move (pigs?) for foreigners shelter. Wai On OK – v.(cflate/aflater?). Maxie(Holroyd)on way. Letters Mother & Rebe (?). Cables Mother & Beth. Bottle home brandy – Fr Me move tomorrow.

July  26th(sun)

Rain. Out walk – everything flooded – new. Blue Funnel old boy – quaint old houses – entrance hall – courtyard – main dwelling – move pig for foreigners shelter. Wai On OK. Good news as v cftable. (comfortable). Maxie on his way. Letters off Mother &/of Rebe(?). Cables Mother & Betty. Bottle home brandy from old Boy? Move tomorrow.

 

July 27th 

Evac. Wai On – old ‘pang you’ – has Alharmonicas? – 1stChin Command 1 Ban Jeung& 9 men sweeping – missionaries are business now – accts about (Lo doh?lup sup)[load of rubbish?] – pl.cpound. Grass & trees – abundance – well. Pears, cigs & $5 troops. Move & sunbath. Sailo “Fatty” Red Nose. Beaut. evening.  Pec. birds  & more (pec-noises?)

July 27th

Big evac. to Wai On – old pang yau – hope Al (Al Wong)has his mouth organs – Ist Chinese command – 1 Ban Jeung (Sargeant)& 9 men – sweeping – Missionaries must be somewhat of business men – lots of accounts etc – ho doh lap sup (lots of rubbish) – rather a smart compound – grass & trees in abundance. Paying of troops – pears, cigarettes & $5. (1hr?) & sunbathing.  Maxie not here. – small child “Fatty” then “Red Nose”. Really fine day at last. Beaut. evening & cool. Pec. birds & more pec. noises

 

July 28th

Gl.day. Settled in. Bathroom? move? what am I doing  tea in bed by OC – checking of kit. Big Lee & son “Mr H you nearly killed me” New house very picturesque & romantic. Things moving. Ship & mail sunk

July 28th

Gl.day. Getting settled in. Bathroom? & move? What am I doing? Tea in bed served by OC. Clearing of kit. Big Lee (Francis Lee was sent to HK and was arrested by the Japanese, tortured and sentenced to death, before escaping and returning to AHQ) reappears & son  & story “Mr H you nearly killed me” Evid. new house in view v picturesque & romantic. Things moving apace. Sinking of ship & mail.

 

July 29th

M & Al here & Lulu. Cool. Test Lulu etc. OK.  .45 no can unless clip. Fra(?) in bed – any nr of HK. Traders

July 29th

Maxie & Al arr. - & Lulu. Cool & breezy. Test Lulu etc – OK. .45 (weapons)no can unless proper clip (?) FR.(?) (Francis Lee recovering from his severe torture) in bed – bl.- nuisance(?) Quiet day & early bed. Seen any nr. of HK traders.

 

July 30th

Cool. Just waiting now. – prices in town bl. rubb. – gives indic. of how looting is non selective – silver teapots & old books. Pec. faces among hawkers. Diff. between regulars & HK vendors to foreigners – off hand but friendly(Lots of HK refugees at Wai Chow).

July 30th

Cool. Just waiting now – up town – bad select. of prices bl. rubb. gives indic. of how looting must always practically be non selective – silver teapots & odd books. Women selling – some pec. faces for hawkers. Diff. between vendors & regular residents as v foreigners – quite off hand & friendly. Home – rain again.

 

July 31st

Lovely day. Francis better, looking lively. Bread? Gray  & Steve. Terrific party. Jeui mau(?)(finger guesing game for drinking)– bust head & hand. Maxie’s eye. Du(?) & R out of it all – feet first. Dick i/c salvage, bicycle, stove(?), Mauser rifles, well, gatekeeper bandages. Wine into water. Singing to stringed instruments.

July 31st(Frid)

Lovely day. Francis better – looking q lively. Baking of bread. Gray & Steve. Terrific party – jeui mau – bust head, hand & bruises – Maxie’s eye again. D(Duggie Clague)& R (Ronald Holmes) out of it. Dick(Dick Hooper)i/c salvage operation – bicycle, stool, mauser – gun. bandages. Racket of wine & water – singing to stringed instruments.

AUGUST ‘42

Aug 1st(Sat)

General air of depression – full tale – apologies fromH.Q. why? ?of (hotel/hitch?). Seems to be history but hushing up – V. quiet day & afternoon scene of sleeping corpses. Calm evening – salt pork. Seems THE party of local season. TG Machiavelli off on tour.

Aug 1st

General air of depression & full tale being told. Apologies from HQ. Why? ? of botch(?) Seem to have made history but all v hushing things up. V. quiet day  & afternoon  scene of sleeping corpses. Calm evening. Still it seems to have been THE party of the season. TG Machiavelli himself  is off on tour.

 

Aug 2nd

Moving tomorrow – next day. Meet my Major apparent pl. lad – full of lit. quot. “Fight to become friends’ & tale of Marco Polo’s envoy who was beaten up (Hon. by parallel) Tea drinking and mutual compliments. Tales of war. factory at Canton. wire (?) at S’hai. (? toys)

Aug 2nd(Sun)

Moving tomorrow or next day. Meet my apparent/opponent(?) Major bl. little lad – full of lit. quot.”Fight to become friends” & tale of Marco Polo’s envoy who was beaten up (Honoured by parallel) Great tea drinking & mutual compliments. Int. tales of war. Factory at Canton and wire at S’hai (? later with toys)

 

Aug 3rd

Off tomorrow. Packed (Hotel claim $48) HK news – bl. rubb. – spacious gdns & (green?) fields – garden city “Unnecessary noise when drunk” & “lying in Road” Walk by River – lad on buffalo back – pullers (5) of boat upstream – pl. paths by trees. Francis out – OK but rather quiet.

Aug 3rd(Mon)

Off tomorrow. Packed. (Hotel damage $48) HK newspapers bl. rubbish – spacious gdns & pl. fields – garden city. “Unnecessary noise when drunk & lying in Road” Method of ages. Several Banzais (?) Walk up river. Lad on buffalo back – pullers (5) of boat upstream – pl. paths by trees. Francis out – seems OK but quiet.

 

Aug 4th

Sticky. final preps. Diary sep. Mess v.pansy(?) – off in evening & guide. Packs? & slow tho’ road to Chan Lung. carriers – Batt.HQ – sleep in old farm temple feet.

Aug 4th(Tues)

Sticky. Final preps – Diary separated – mess v housing(?) Off in evening & guide. Packs? & slow going tho’ road to Chan Lung. ?. Carriers – Batt. HQ – sleep in old farmhouse in temple – feet?

 

Aug 5th

Rest all day. – dusk – wet underfoot & worst show of misjudg. of distance – Li,Turqs & Goong Li. Bl. Rubb. S. Lue & out of army. tel left by wayside – all night & by eving 7.10 to L.Kong. Security? L.K. big but gutted. In G.H.Q. village – sleep day. Pec.crowd. Wing (NZ) (later to get his. Vill. v. interested in us – house pawnshop – tower & barred windows. Feet better.

Aug 5th

Rest all day. Leave dusk – wet underfoot & WORST exhibition yet of misjudgement of distance. Li(Chinese mile), Tirqs(?)(Tong about an hours’ walk) & Gungs(Gung Li – kilometre). Bl.Rubb. Sun Lue & out of army. – all night and by img(?) 7.10 – to L.Kong(Lung Kong). Security? L.Kong big but gutted. In G.H.Q. village – sleep vill. day & night. Pec. crowd. Wing (later to meet him). All the vill seem to be interested in us. Feet better.

 

Aug 6th

Lie around – not much doing – pretty hayfield behind. Social evening with wives – the Lulu of Pongo  who does business out of uniform. pl.bobbery – Song& story – day of no privacy with blanket hung up – off tomorrow. Damned few q’s.

Aug 6th

Lie around. not much doing here – pretty hay field behind wall. Social evening with song. Wife & Lulu (Soldier who does business out of uniform catch plenty bobbery. Leave tomorrow.

 

Aug 7th

Day cleaning up and off at dusk – easy going tho’ muddy. Ret. to Suns(?) H.Q. (San Hui) near W. Kong(Wang Kong). lovely bath in stream – grand place well hidden away & commanding view of valley. Stay here day or 2 – can do. Better than L.K. – concrete but dull. Toothache. Lighter packs by removal of tinned (goods?) etc

Aug 7th

Daycleaning up and off at dusk. Easy going tho’ muddy at begin. Road & over to Sim’s/Sen’s(?) & H.Q. near Wong Kong – lovely bath in stream – seems grand place by self. Stay here day or 2 – can do. Better than last lot. Concrete bed & all. Bl. toothache – aspirin & o// (?) Packs ourselves now on. Lighter by tinned goods & 50cl rum.

 

Aug 8th

Pl. place – big cheese arrives – No 2 seems more efficient. Men seem OK tho’ usual ills. Admit untrained but say willing. Ha Ha. Gun. Feet chance to recover. Can go N.T.? make contact (?). Train for mfs – too fat to run fast – in dark

Aug 8th

Pl. place by daylight – big chief arrives – No 2 seems more efficient. Men look OK tho’ normal diseases. Admit untrained but claim willing. Ha Ha. Gun test not so good chase/chance(?) to recover – evid. another day yet. Can go N.T.(Reconnaissance trip to the New Territories & hills of Kowloon to plan for massive rescue of PoWs at Argyle Camp? Yes.(approval)Train for mfs (?) (training) – in dark/duck(?)

 

Aug 9th

Going by N.T. Claims under control (control by Red Guerrillas) – rest by sea. Showed afeast(?)afraid? trip up. Like to leave but glad of day for feet. M Pa & Ho (Holmes) [No worries & Good? AMcE] Sunbathing & bathing

Aug 9th

Leaving tonight – changed tomorrow – N.T. off ? of whether S has such control as claims – mines. Like to leave but quite glad of extra days feet rest. M Pa & Ho.

 

Aug 10th

Off tomorrow. N.T. no can. mines? general laziness & fine duck eggs for meals

Aug 10th

Def. tomorrow night in party. Lovely bathing & gen. laziness – they certainly picked a spot.

 

Aug 11th

Off 3-4 – easy at first by valleys then 1000 in 1 crack – worst yet - top by dusk & upland valley to descent to Mirs Bay at Chan Hay(?) Chuflis(?) v Rubber shoes – long slither down on wet night – night sense rather lacking. Finish by stream. No can go boat need by bar – West Indian v pleasant & feed (Chicken$60) Living? seems pr. hard(?) More old customs guards(?)

Aug 11th

Off 3-4, easy at first – then 1000 all at once – worst yet – top by darkness & by upland valley to descent to Mirs Bay . to (blank space). Clumpies v rubber shoes on wet night. Night sense rather lacking on paths not absolutely known. No can go boat. Tide v boat in lagoon. Night in house – wife West Indian v pleasant & feed (chicken $60). Living seems pr. hard. More old customs guards.

 

Aug 12th

Showers but gl. sea bathe (25th Dec) – lovely to be in salt water again. It’s “British waters now” (HK waters – Mirs Bay & Double Haven) Leave 5 – 2 armed boats (Marine Guerrillas transport junks) – Lulu taken over. Lovely cool night & Kato(Kat O= Crooked Islands)Tea & Tap Mun(island off Sai Kung). Going places now.

Aug 12th

Showers but glorious sea bathe – boy oh boy – magnificent to be in salt water again. It’s “British waters now” Leave 5 – 2 armed boats – Lulu taken over. Lovely cool night & Kato – tea & then Tap Mun for night. Going places now.

 

Aug 13th

V good feeding, fish & crabs – evid. trade earlier. Packs(?) of cigs. Prosperous village – stay in all day – proposed curfew to let Maxie go cheesaw – old American papers. – 5 & up East L.Harbour (Chek Keng Village) – met ashore & over Pak Tam On(?)(Pak Tam Au)(Brit. Territory now) – to Rqs (Red Guerrillas) H.Q. at (blank space)(Chek Keng or Cheung Sheung). Pals(pro-KMT guerrillas who had been escorting)not allowed over river – v business like tho’ not one desired/resident? contact – youngish & full of zeal – strict watch.

Aug 13th

V. good feeding – fish & crab – evid. a point of trade – lakhs of cigarettes – stay in all day – proposed curfew to let Maxie go to cheesaw. Old American papers. Leave 5 & up East. L. Harbour – met ashore & over pass (Pak Tam On?) to Rqs H.Q. – our pals not allowed over river – v.business like altho’ evid. not exactly our desired contact. Youngish crowd – seem full of youthful zeal but v strict watch.

 

Aug 14th

Wakened 4am by chorus – Rise bef. dawn – climb hills 1 ½ hrs – feed (Dawn & Dusk dangerous times) Pl. day. Maxi working moving wonders. Move to (blank space) – safer place till contact made. Hamlet tucked away in hill side.

Aug 14th

Wakened 4.30 by chorus. Evid.rise at bef. dawn – (Dawn Dusk dangerous times) Hill climb 1-2 hrs then feed. RI – day – moving again tonight to safer place till contact made.

 

September ‘42

1-12th Mixed convalescence (Maxwell Holroyd suffered from a bad leg & was escorted back to AHQ Wai Chow by McEwan prematurely) & office work. Really OK but evid. no use. Ronnie on move(continued reconnaissance with Red Guerrillas on Lion Rock & peaks in Kowloon). Al back not persona grata (Al Wong got into trouble with some Red Guerrillas & was declared Persona Non Grata) & Lee (Francis Lee) went off with message helped by Yip??? office work fairly boring & Dick (Hooper)away Kukong – set up seems f.q. [?] with Gen.working [easy?] Wonder if he can do anything with the qs – shouldn’t trust self still birds of a feather. (Soliciting support & co-operation of the KMT Military for the Argyle Massive PoW rescue operation)Evid. big clean up. [June Hall thro ] – glasses & rather marks the old June. [?]

12th

Lee Lup back – no can – Al. – when go – today no can – speed office up & ready dawn tom. – out of office at last – Buck passed F (Francis) & H. (Holmes)Wonder what trouble is? don’t like set up – still Sai Yan (Westerner – Red Guerrillas preferred to deal with British officers)may be OK. Read R’s (Ronnie’s) reports.

Sep 1-12th

Mixed. conval. & office. Rick/Dick away no news. – why not go back. Lee. has gone

SEPTEMBER

12th

Lee L. back – no can. Al? – go – when - today no can. Speed office up & ready for early tomorrow. T.G. out of office at last. Buck passes/passed to F & H [?] Wonder what is trouble – don’t like set-up  - still Sai Yan/Lan may be OK. Read Ronnies Ref RSC self [?]

Sep 13th

6.10AM – Bicycles – lovely hills – [protection & teahouses?]. Tam 12.5 Maj.Woo & Col. [illeg] – lobster – 1.45 off San Hang 3.45. Kwanchung 6.10PM Wong not too overjoyed – bit out of his boots – boat no can? message 10 days – bl. rubbish – late argument. Mrs W &  restaur. Lulu – mosquitoes

Sep 13th

6.10AM – Bicycle? – Hill lovely – protection – Tam.12.5. Col W & tiffin Maj.Woo Lobster CRub – quick – 1.45- Sai Hang 3.45. KwanC.6.10PM. Wong not too overjoyed – bit out boots – boat no can? message 10 days. bl. rubbish – late argument – gun – Mrs W & rest.Lulu – mosquitoes.

 

Sep 14th

Rain. W. bette – adamant on boat – message 3-4 days not stay Kwai[Kwan?] – 2 mess. & news – R left 10. – back 15th + M & F – still no can stay Mrs W. – concubinage & illness. How many lies & promises – can’t stand this diplomacy. – jumped up little guttersnipe of a robber of blind beggars bowls. Troops good tho’. Mqtoes again Mock Fan Sang – Big party. Triumph of virtue by lying – very ruthless Major – what a boaster but can’t drink.

Sep 14th

Rain – W better – adamant on boat – message 3-4 days – not stay Kwan- 2 hrs – news R left 10 – back 15th - + M & F – still no can stay. Mrs W – concubinage & illness. How many lies 7 promises – can’t stand this diplomacy – jumped up little guttersnipe of a robber of blind beggars mugs. Troops good tho’. Mqtoes again. Mock Fan Sang. Big party. Triumph of virtue by lying – what a boaster but can’t drink!!!

 

Sep 15th

5.40AM. pouring – SH – 7.55. Leave 9 AM. Dan Che (on bike) – see technique of protec. guards – lad who looked after [losses & deluf.?] Louie & 77. (David Louie No.68 aka Lui Ka-yin also using the name of Li Fong aka Loie Fook Wing, & 77 = Chan Kwok-kwong)Bingo? (A very big loss & set back for the BAAG) Torrential rain &  [illegible here – ‘Col fast as always’] – boat  2PM. meal & cigs (140) Boat & grand sleep.  

Sep 15th

5.40. Pouring. SH. 7.55. L.9. Dan Che – stop at protection – shed – see technique (BAAG AHQ stepped up protective security with a team screening against infiltration by enemy agents) – Louie & 77? Bingo. Torrential  & Tam.12/.15. Col. as always fast tel. – boat 2 – meal & cigs (140) Boat & fast sleep 11 hours. grand. (David Louie, Leader of BAAG Group M of former HK Police Reserves, established stealth liaison with PoWs at Argyle & Shamshuipo PoW camps (documented by PoW testimony immediate post-war) but were arrested subsequently and made the supreme sacrifice.  Chan kwok-kwong belonged tp FIGS Group B under Chan Yeung & the Tsang Brothers using Post Z Kwong Hang Store at Shamshuipo, operated by Red Guerrilla Leader Raymond Wong Chok-mui MBE, as meeting place & communication point, but the team was also decimated).  

 

 

Sep 16th

Ret.5.30 AM – Kotewall– ret.Dougie – back to toil – Real RA? of where complain – refugees & still more – hot & still wet. Os[?] letter from Gen. re compass. Strange errant/arrant NCO – quiet day

Sep 16th

Back – rain – Kotewall(Agent Jimmy Kotewall) – ret.Dougie (Clague) – back to toil.? of where complain – refugees & still more – hot & still wet – P’s [?] letter from Gen re compass – [strap?] of arrant NCO – quiet day

 

Sep 17th

Rainy – [?] for fighting forces – 2 more errant NCOs – better get a rattle – signature now OK C McEwan RMF Tanshand[?] T.G. my bet OK. solves worries – court martial. Chinese prisoner speaks only after sentence – not bad idea. Begin P.T.19th. Cant. improving. 5 minutes + Cap.Sin. Diary & bed

Sep 17th

Rainy – volunteer for for fightiong forces – 2 more errant NCOs – better stop this. signing of indial [?] ok C McEwan R.M.F. Tam (Wireless Military Transmitter?) – T.G (Tommy Gun)(or, ThankGod? AMcE) my bet ok. – solves worries – court martial Ch.custom prisoner speaks only after sentence – not bad idea. Begin P.T. on 19th Cap.Sin. – Cant – improving – 5 minutes unaided. Diary & bed.

 

 

Sep 18th

Return of F.O.G. Thin but fit. Boils? Main job OK, other 2 still.17 + Luger. Plenty news. Decent weather seems here now. More HK refugees.

Sep 18th

Return of F.O.G. Thin but fit – boils? Main job OK. Other 2 .still. 17+ Luger[s]. Plenty news. Decent weather. seem here now. More HK refugees

 

 

Sep 19th

Gl. weather. Old boy  & c’bine[?] Memory 15 years behind

Sep 19th

Gl.weather. Old boy + c’ubine [?]. Memory 15 years behind. Rip Van Winkle. Car wheels [?]. 90 odd & 100 carriers & 34 chairs. Protection lacking their crops. People coming out now of $300 a month type – servers then OK [?} Tales of [illegible – pandreoken?] & Free China. Bl. rubbish. Thompson & police. OK to work for H.B’s. BR. of Lee Wai Tong. What now? Dec/Rec. – Kunn. – busted arm.

 

 

This journal stops again with the 1 line on Sep 19th while the other continues until Sep 28th Then the other journal has pencilled notes for October & November (see later)

 

Sep 20th

Weather now marvellous. Big rush. Tale after tale. SW Liang seems fair. def N.O.K. ½ day  [&finished? spirited?] by [?] Terrif.curry tiffin & all trimmings. Feeling really energetic. Gramophone  - must get dance going  Note from Lui K L– job. Must start report tomorrow. House v. full now.

 

Sep 21st

Full house again. Weather ‘dai yat’ [1st class- ed] & run in mng.

 

Sep 22nd

Really settled weather – bl. refugees – all [matey?] & tales of pro China. Time they proved their credentials. Break of police. Cap. Sin & off. Bl.Rubb. Why not jail.

 

Sep 23rd

Set a thief to catch a thief. Old Shanghai sailors – good lads – Norway & hailstones – wounds from shovel.= - leave for reason of working too hard in Wavy Navy – what a navy – I wonder why we were so bl.lenient – same reasons for failure to report simply ludicrous. Wavy navy sparker & mother in Pokfulam Rd. R.E. lad with nail in foot & 2 months leave..

 

Sep 24th

A curse on all police & dockyard workers. Old girl up to collect pension. Feel like a Buroo [Scots slang for Bureau – of Social Security] man. Bl.job. Mrs Wong & slave arrives. Moon festival – much good clean fun. What a mess missionaries have made. Prefer le général’s party at West Lake but absolutely beautiful evening. Sword dance.

 

Sep 25th

Sleeping staff. More tales - ? people now – another tale of absolute desertion. Time some severe action was taken. We are absolute suckers. Turning up by families – feel I’m going to blow up soon. If nothing is going to happen soon better back with SO in India. Position v unsatisfactory. The nights & early mngs just now are absolutely wonderful.

 

Sep 26th (Sat)

Unlucky day – usual in mng – more shysters – one Pol. two Military [?] – pity we cldnt get really tough – Malaria again – my luck seems out – Kwaichung? where mquitoes wear boots. Bed & more injections with great syringe. Lads out to show – ev. vg Lake party 10-1 [no/w duck/check?]

 

Sep 27th (S)

Much better tho’ kept to bed – what hypocrites some missionaries are – student scholarships & constant reminders re [Fathers Rent fleur/flush?] at last. Maxie off tomorrow night – get mail ready – up in afternoon OK. [Fierq.] casts/custs into jail. hes/Les going  & Maxie. Dick back in kukong.

 

Sep 28th

Gl.day – not back office yet – bl. doses of quinine to be swallowed yet. Dinner w Gen in ha.FOG – good & quiet. Lake after. Wonderful place. 1st men from S’po.Int. [fcle]. L & Maxie off.

 

 

October

11th – 18th

Usual spell with nothing of amusement except a few odd yarns – under Miscellaneous. Dinner to Madame Wong – full of admiration for our cultured table talk. well – invitation back – [not yet a view of sudden battle]  of Mirs Bay. Wong the  man of [batt?]. Another damned turn of malaria – off in a few days. Should be cleared up now. V pleasant evening walks by river. Les/Yes my darling daughter arrives . Wah the wicked – out – but not without some recompense. Scheming of Doc & Fergie to outwit the villain of the piece & his sudden disappearance. Typing of minutes – boring office work – wish some [purpee/purple] spell would come along. Biggest air raid so far – 6 planes – 1 bomb behind office – small stuff – ARP work – [dressers] vg but our pongos NBG. Trials of Doc – what a place for [guests]- Addition to staff of Pinky (Pinky Lam) & David Lam(BAAG staff). Tales of [Govt house?] – [wuthe] as batman – news of Argyle St – seems quite a place compared to Spo – Mabel [II?] appears. Al the protector of [friendship?femininity] in distress – staff seem incapable of showing a stern face to any damsels. My Peruvian friend of [dungalen] – for $200. Scots Chinese also appearing.

 

18th – 25th

First dancing party – New life for Waichow – some order in my affairs – much more satisfactory  with someone responsible to hand over to. Kaitak and real dope. Tale of [60] British women at KT – [ak. force Qs] scared wife to Star Ferry.

Arrival Laycock(Doctor who tookover Medical & Relief works) & Chapman 23rd & then Morrison & Fenwick(Escapees helped by BAAG agents). Great rejoicing & I go down with malaria again – what has [happened]now & in addition I miss the whisky. Plenty news now & damned good escape – Sq[Go] certainly has turned up trumps this time. Rather a feather in Duggie’s cap – good one too. I miss the revelries. Tales of Wong [ere regular] – chopping of heads & now [??heffowerd al] – avoidance of the tax racket. [Assam] by Laycock of tales of refugees from Burma. Maxie escorting nurses along railway. [Missen] out – what price stores? More of our garrison away & South African cook. More villains of civil servants  & [lerhe] of overseas Jamaican Chinese (Vincent Yeung was Chinese-Jamaican) - ? amount of money remitted monthly £20. Tea Party on 28th – will it be a tea party or what? Great speech making fiesta – what a habit of speaking they have – copy of meeting attached.

 

26th – 31st

Most strenuous week yet – HK bombed & arrival of 2 Americans – [Cun mq of Mchich] – out of shot plane – good show altho’[others/afters] handed over by puppets (pro-Japanese Chinese collaborating government )– terrific boost to morale & the 2 lads the heroes of Kwantung – good lads & a chance to hear of other places – marvellous flying trips they make – 3 terrific feasts & 1 tiffin – home – getting very pally with the locals – teachers [merepe & rules], bankers, etc – ‘ho pang yau’(Good friends). Everyone out to gain face – the face is getting rather hot tho’ – Americans off in terrific style (31st) joke of time they took to come & to go back. General in very good form. Impression of eating & drinking their way out of the town. Some very fine speeches – were in/a  helluva good crowd of lads. Weather fine but still rather cold. Health still bearing up. Warning of what will happen when we leave.

 

November ‘42

1st – 7th

The feasting continues with Madame Wong – luckily reasonable drinking and bed by 10. Good meal & ‘mo haak hay’ (feeling at home) – afternoon spent at Church at Baccalaureate ceremony – all the little [noises] in white doing goose step – at last the song has stopped

Feeling really recovered now – thank goodness the weather is so much better. Ronnie still abed – Doc Laycock v good lad & fitting in very well.

4th Arrival of Duggies Indians – 5 bloody great Sikhs – tremendous impression on locals – ‘Mo Lo Kwai’ (derogatory referring to Indians by Chinese) now & not ‘Hung Mo Kwai’ (Red Beard Ghost) – General tickled over it all – if they are first captured Indians out – should provide excellent propaganda material – More & still more overseas Chinese reporting – what families they reach & what names. Pat will soon be livid if we keep on spending money like we do.

Still our curry has arrived at last. [Letter/later] to Reeves(British Consul in Macau who actively aided BAAG operations). peculiar war we are running down here – what the regular army will be like after this heaven alone knows. Good news – Solomans & Africa – Stalingrad – a mag. show.

General good feeling at moment  - [gfr] of beef – smuggled cattle

First real curry for months & boy oh boy - & Can do plenty – McEwan Sahib – D & Les [order]. Dinner to Magist (Magistrate) – Duggie tells him about [Indian]

8th -14th 8. big day – more Indian bread & Mag. for dinner – string a middle east set of value collapse of allied power. Descript. of fighting on Shai front in ’37.

Glorious weather & early morning walks superb – get over river. [Nem exe] – big [change] – Africa – Darlan(?) captured – dinner at [Magistracy] & family party but ‘’Goh Bow’ again. Curse this reputation of [boosing]. [Trea dig] in/on Chinese official toes with Americans. 12th [Su fail]birthday of [14th Armishe] 7 day we get news of Americans in NW Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Sep 13th

6.10AM – Bicycles – lovely hills – [protection & teahouses?]. Tam 12.5 Maj.Woo & Col. [illeg] – lobster – 1.45 off San Hang 3.45. Kwanchung 6.10PM Wong not too overjoyed – bit out of his boots – boat no can? message 10 days – bl. rubbish – late argument. Mrs W &  restaur. Lulu – mosquitoes

Sep 13th

6.10AM – Bicycle? – Hill lovely – protection – Tam.12.5. Col W & tiffin Maj.Woo Lobster CRub – quick – 1.45- Sai Hang 3.45. KwanC.6.10PM. Wong not too overjoyed – bit out boots – boat no can? message 10 days. bl. rubbish – late argument – gun – Mrs W & rest.Lulu – mosquitoes.

 

Sep 14th

Rain. W. bette – adamant on boat – message 3-4 days not stay Kwai[Kwan?] – 2 mess. & news – R left 10. – back 15th + M & F – still no can stay Mrs W. – concubinage & illness. How many lies & promises – can’t stand this diplomacy. – jumped up little guttersnipe of a robber of blind beggars bowls. Troops good tho’. Mqtoes again Mock Fan Sang – Big party. Triumph of virtue by lying – very ruthless Major – what a boaster but can’t drink.

Sep 14th

Rain – W better – adamant on boat – message 3-4 days – not stay Kwan- 2 hrs – news R left 10 – back 15th - + M & F – still no can stay. Mrs W – concubinage & illness. How many lies 7 promises – can’t stand this diplomacy – jumped up little guttersnipe of a robber of blind beggars mugs. Troops good tho’. Mqtoes again. Mock Fan Sang. Big party. Triumph of virtue by lying – what a boaster but can’t drink!!!

 

Sep 15th

5.40AM. pouring – SH – 7.55. Leave 9 AM. Dan Che (on bike) – see technique of protec. guards – lad who looked after [losses & deluf.?] Louie & 77. (David Louie No.68 aka Lui Ka-yin also using the name of Li Fong aka Loie Fook Wing, & 77 = Chan Kwok-kwong)Bingo? (A very big loss & set back for the BAAG) Torrential rain &  [illegible here – ‘Col fast as always’] – boat  2PM. meal & cigs (140) Boat & grand sleep.  

Sep 15th

5.40. Pouring. SH. 7.55. L.9. Dan Che – stop at protection – shed – see technique (BAAG AHQ stepped up protective security with a team screening against infiltration by enemy agents) – Louie & 77? Bingo. Torrential  & Tam.12/.15. Col. as always fast tel. – boat 2 – meal & cigs (140) Boat & fast sleep 11 hours. grand. (David Louie, Leader of BAAG Group M of former HK Police Reserves, established stealth liaison with PoWs at Argyle & Shamshuipo PoW camps (documented by PoW testimony immediate post-war) but were arrested subsequently and made the supreme sacrifice.  Chan kwok-kwong belonged tp FIGS Group B under Chan Yeung & the Tsang Brothers using Post Z Kwong Hang Store at Shamshuipo, operated by Red Guerrilla Leader Raymond Wong Chok-mui MBE, as meeting place & communication point, but the team was also decimated).  

 

 

Sep 16th

Ret.5.30 AM – Kotewall– ret.Dougie – back to toil – Real RA? of where complain – refugees & still more – hot & still wet. Os[?] letter from Gen. re compass. Strange errant/arrant NCO – quiet day

Sep 16th

Back – rain – Kotewall(Agent Jimmy Kotewall) – ret.Dougie (Clague) – back to toil.? of where complain – refugees & still more – hot & still wet – P’s [?] letter from Gen re compass – [strap?] of arrant NCO – quiet day

 

Sep 17th

Rainy – [?] for fighting forces – 2 more errant NCOs – better get a rattle – signature now OK C McEwan RMF Tanshand[?] T.G. my bet OK. solves worries – court martial. Chinese prisoner speaks only after sentence – not bad idea. Begin P.T.19th. Cant. improving. 5 minutes + Cap.Sin. Diary & bed

Sep 17th

Rainy – volunteer for for fightiong forces – 2 more errant NCOs – better stop this. signing of indial [?] ok C McEwan R.M.F. Tam (Wireless Military Transmitter?) – T.G (Tommy Gun) my bet ok. – solves worries – court martial Ch.custom prisoner speaks only after sentence – not bad idea. Begin P.T. on 19th Cap.Sin. – Cant – improving – 5 minutes unaided. Diary & bed.

 

 

Sep 18th

Return of F.O.G. Thin but fit. Boils? Main job OK, other 2 still.17 + Luger. Plenty news. Decent weather seems here now. More HK refugees.

Sep 18th

Return of F.O.G. Thin but fit – boils? Main job OK. Other 2 .still. 17+ Luger[s]. Plenty news. Decent weather. seem here now. More HK refugees

 

 

Sep 19th

Gl. weather. Old boy  & c’bine[?] Memory 15 years behind

Sep 19th

Gl.weather. Old boy + c’ubine [?]. Memory 15 years behind. Rip Van Winkle. Car wheels [?]. 90 odd & 100 carriers & 34 chairs. Protection lacking their crops. People coming out now of $300 a month type – servers then OK [?} Tales of [illegible – pandreoken?] & Free China. Bl. rubbish. Thompson & police. OK to work for H.B’s. BR. of Lee Wai Tong. What now?

Dec/Rec. – Kunn. – busted arm.

 

 

This journal stops again with the 1 line on Sep 19th while the other continues until Sep 28th Then the other journal has pencilled notes for October & November (see later)

 

Sep 20th

Weather now marvellous. Big rush. Tale after tale. SW Liang seems fair. def N.O.K. ½ day  [&finished? spirited?] by [?] Terrif.curry tiffin & all trimmings. Feeling really energetic. Gramophone  - must get dance going  Note from Lui K L– job. Must start report tomorrow. House v. full now.

 

Sep 21st

Full house again. Weather ‘dai yat’ [1st class- ed] & run in mng.

 

Sep 22nd

Really settled weather – bl. refugees – all [matey?] & tales of pro China. Time they proved their credentials. Break of police. Cap. Sin & off. Bl.Rubb. Why not jail.

 

Sep 23rd

Set a thief to catch a thief. Old Shanghai sailors – good lads – Norway & hailstones – wounds from shovel.= - leave for reason of working too hard in Wavy Navy – what a navy – I wonder why we were so bl.lenient – same reasons for failure to report simply ludicrous. Wavy navy sparker & mother in Pokfulam Rd. R.E. lad with nail in foot & 2 months leave..

 

Sep 24th

A curse on all police & dockyard workers. Old girl up to collect pension. Feel like a Buroo [Scots slang for Bureau – of Social Security] man. Bl.job. Mrs Wong & slave arrives. Moon festival – much good clean fun. What a mess missionaries have made. Prefer le général’s party at West Lake but absolutely beautiful evening. Sword dance.

 

Sep 25th

Sleeping staff. More tales - ? people now – another tale of absolute desertion. Time some severe action was taken. We are absolute suckers. Turning up by families – feel I’m going to blow up soon. If nothing is going to happen soon better back with SO in India. Position v unsatisfactory. The nights & early mngs just now are absolutely wonderful.

 

Sep 26th (Sat)

Unlucky day – usual in mng – more shysters – one Pol. two Military [?] – pity we cldnt get really tough – Malaria again – my luck seems out – Kwaichung? where mquitoes wear boots. Bed & more injections with great syringe. Lads out to show – ev. vg Lake party 10-1 [no/w duck/check?]

 

Sep 27th (S)

Much better tho’ kept to bed – what hypocrites some missionaries are – student scholarships & constant reminders re [Fathers Rent fleur/flush?] at last. Maxie off tomorrow night – get mail ready – up in afternoon OK. [Fierq.] casts/custs into jail. hes/Les going  & Maxie. Dick back in kukong.

 

Sep 28th

Gl.day – not back office yet – bl. doses of quinine to be swallowed yet. Dinner w Gen in ha.FOG – good & quiet. Lake after. Wonderful place. 1st men from S’po.Int. [fcle]. L & Maxie off.

 

 

October

11th – 18th

Usual spell with nothing of amusement except a few odd yarns – under Miscellaneous. Dinner to Madame Wong – full of admiration for our cultured table talk. well – invitation back – [not yet a view of sudden battle]  of Mirs Bay. Wong the  man of [batt?]. Another damned turn of malaria – off in a few days. Should be cleared up now. V pleasant evening walks by river. Les/Yes my darling daughter arrives . Wah the wicked – out – but not without some recompense. Scheming of Doc & Fergie to outwit the villain of the piece & his sudden disappearance. Typing of minutes – boring office work – wish some [purpee/purple] spell would come along. Biggest air raid so far – 6 planes – 1 bomb behind office – small stuff – ARP work – [dressers] vg but our pongos NBG. Trials of Doc – what a place for [guests]- Addition to staff of Pinky (Pinky Lam) & David Lam(BAAG staff). Tales of [Govt house?] – [wuthe] as batman – news of Argyle St – seems quite a place compared to Spo – Mabel [II?] appears. Al the protector of [friendship?femininity] in distress – staff seem incapable of showing a stern face to any damsels. My Peruvian friend of [dungalen] – for $200. Scots Chinese also appearing.

 

18th – 25th

First dancing party – New life for Waichow – some order in my affairs – much more satisfactory  with someone responsible to hand over to. Kaitak and real dope. Tale of [60] British women at KT – [ak. force Qs] scared wife to Star Ferry.

Arrival Laycock(Doctor who tookover Medical & Relief works) & Chapman 23rd & then Morrison & Fenwick(Escapees helped by BAAG agents). Great rejoicing & I go down with malaria again – what has [happened]now & in addition I miss the whisky. Plenty news now & damned good escape – Sq[Go] certainly has turned up trumps this time. Rather a feather in Duggie’s cap – good one too. I miss the revelries. Tales of Wong [ere regular] – chopping of heads & now [??heffowerd al] – avoidance of the tax racket. [Assam] by Laycock of tales of refugees from Burma. Maxie escorting nurses along railway. [Missen] out – what price stores? More of our garrison away & South African cook. More villains of civil servants  & [lerhe] of overseas Jamaican Chinese (Vincent Yeung was Chinese-Jamaican) - ? amount of money remitted monthly £20. Tea Party on 28th – will it be a tea party or what? Great speech making fiesta – what a habit of speaking they have – copy of meeting attached.

 

26th – 31st

Most strenuous week yet – HK bombed & arrival of 2 Americans – [Cun mq of Mchich] – out of shot plane – good show altho’[others/afters] handed over by puppets (pro-Japanese Chinese collaborating government )– terrific boost to morale & the 2 lads the heroes of Kwantung – good lads & a chance to hear of other places – marvellous flying trips they make – 3 terrific feasts & 1 tiffin – home – getting very pally with the locals – teachers [merepe & rules], bankers, etc – ‘ho pang yau’(Good friends). Everyone out to gain face – the face is getting rather hot tho’ – Americans off in terrific style (31st) joke of time they took to come & to go back. General in very good form. Impression of eating & drinking their way out of the town. Some very fine speeches – were in/a  helluva good crowd of lads. Weather fine but still rather cold. Health still bearing up. Warning of what will happen when we leave.

 

November ‘42

1st – 7th

The feasting continues with Madame Wong – luckily reasonable drinking and bed by 10. Good meal & ‘mo haak hay’ (feeling at home) – afternoon spent at Church at Baccalaureate ceremony – all the little [noises] in white doing goose step – at last the song has stopped

Feeling really recovered now – thank goodness the weather is so much better. Ronnie still abed – Doc Laycock v good lad & fitting in very well.

4th Arrival of Duggies Indians – 5 bloody great Sikhs – tremendous impression on locals – ‘Mo Lo Kwai’ (derogatory referring to Indians by Chinese) now & not ‘Hung Mo Kwai’ (Red Beard Ghost) – General tickled over it all – if they are first captured Indians out – should provide excellent propaganda material – More & still more overseas Chinese reporting – what families they reach & what names. Pat will soon be livid if we keep on spending money like we do.

Still our curry has arrived at last. [Letter/later] to Reeves(British Consul in Macau who actively aided BAAG operations). peculiar war we are running down here – what the regular army will be like after this heaven alone knows. Good news – Solomans & Africa – Stalingrad – a mag. show.

General good feeling at moment  - [gfr] of beef – smuggled cattle

First real curry for months & boy oh boy - & Can do plenty – McEwan Sahib – D & Les [order]. Dinner to Magist (Magistrate) – Duggie tells him about [Indian]

8th -14th 8. big day – more Indian bread & Mag. for dinner – string a middle east set of value collapse of allied power. Descript. of fighting on Shai front in ’37.

Glorious weather & early morning walks superb – get over river. [Nem exe] – big [change] – Africa – Darlan(?) captured – dinner at [Magistracy] & family party but ‘’Goh Bow’ again. Curse this reputation of [boosing]. [Trea dig] in/on Chinese official toes with Americans. 12th [Su fail]birthday of [14th Armishe] 7 day we get news of Americans in NW Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

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Comments

Great work, you have at last posted the Diary! Thank you, and David, and Lawrence. Felix

My annotations were done quite some time ago.  I'm sure I know more by now and they need some editing and updating in due course.

Lawrence

 

Hi Lawrence, I am sure Alison will be very very pleased if you put that idea to her. I too will be very grateful for your update, as will the Descendants and Friends. Felix

Many thanks for this.

Could the crossed out ‘earliest’ replaced with what looks like ‘earnest’ in fact be ‘eeriest’?

Bravo! 'Eeriest' gives the narrative a new feel! Felix

Having looked again at the original I think you're right - "eeriest' works better too!

Thank you.

 

3rd paragraph 'Still our curry has arrived at last' - The sentences following this are about letters -"courrier" arriving. So I am wondering, since McEwan knows French, might he have written "courrier" in this instance? Since he elaborates on the letters that have just been brought in. As opposed to "curry" which is what he relishes in the next part of this entry? Maybe if Alice, David and Lawrence have the manuscript in front of them, they might notice the slight difference in the transcription? Felix

Phyllis Harrop (author of 'Hong Kong Incident') was one of those who was with Betty Kendall at the Gloucester Hotel on or around December 20th. Another was Mrs. Anson - 'a charming American-born Chinese'. I don't know if these are possible readings for the illegible names.

Sorry -defintely 'curry' - knowing my father this might have seemed more important than a courier!

Well done again - it can defintely be Phyllis Harrop, and then 'Mrs' what still looks like a capital 'C' unless it's a bracket - followed by a lower case 'a' ?'s' 'i/t' 'n' 's' - your guess is beter than anything I know....

Looking again at Harrop's book, Mrs Anson = Betty Kendall. There were four of them together at the Gloucester Hotel, and I think the third was a woman Harrop calls 'Jane', who she says was an Australian but I've very tentatively identified as an American called Katherine Dorrer. The fourth was probably Mrs C. 

When I have more time I'll post some passages from Hong Kong Incident, as they form a nice counterpoint to the diary (which is fascinating, so many thanks).