Irene Braudé's reports on the Nursing Detachment of the HKVDC (aka The VADs), 1941-45
Here are notes my Mother typed some years ago.
((The following document is believed to have been written shortly after liberation in 1945.))
NURSING DETACHMENT, HONG KONG VOLUNTEER DEFENCE CORPS.
With the deterioration of the Far Eastern situation, as a precautionary measure, certain Members of the Nursing Detachment, Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps were warned for duty on Sunday, 7th December, 1941, by Lt. Col. Rose, Commandant of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps and Col. Simson, A.D.M.S., China Command, through the Nursing Detachment Commandant. Full mobilization became effective with the outbreak of hostilities in Hong Kong on Monday, 8th December, 1941.
The total establishment of the Unit on mobilization was 129 (One Hundred and Twenty Nine) Members which comprised 3 Officers, 16 Trained Nursing Sisters and 110 Other Ranks made up of Nurses (St. John’s Ambulance Certificated), Clerks, Car Drivers, Cooks, Storekeepers, Telephonists, Dispensers etc. Personnel was divided between Bowen Road Military Hospital and St. Alberts Convent Military Hospital. During hostilities two relief Military Hospitals were opened at the Hong Kong Hotel and St. Stephen’s College, Stanley, which were also staffed by members of the Nursing Detachment, H.K.V.D.C.
The Nursing Detachment Office at Volunteer Headquarters, Garden Road, was evacuated during the first week of hostilities, and certain records, equipment, etc. transferred to the Nursing Detachment Mess at Bowen Road. Three large houses, previously owned by Japanese were comandeered for this purpose, but on 17th December, 1941, damage to the property was so severe that we were forced to evacuate them completely. For the remainder of hostilities staff attached to Bowen Road Military Hospital was housed in the cellars below the Hospital. Staff attached to St. Alberts Convent Hospital, Stubbs Road, were housed in Chinese owned property adjacent to the Hospital, but were also forced to move into the Hospital property during hostilities.
On the 18th December, 1941, 5 Nurses and 1 Nursing Sister were transferred to St. Stephens College Relief Hospital at Stanley, where they served until 29th December, 1941. They were then recalled to Bowen Road Military Hospital.
On 21st December, 1941 the Hong Kong Hotel Relief Hospital was opened, and certain Members including the Assistant Commandant of the Nursing Detachment were transferred for duty. On the 19th January, 1942 this Hospital was closed and staff returned to Bowen Road Military Hospital.
After the capitulation on 25th December, 1941 it became evident that there would not be sufficient work for the entire mobilized personnel of the Nursing Detachment, Only Bowen Road and St. Alberts Convent Hospitals remained functioning. On 25th February, 1942 St. Alberts Convent Hospital was closed and the staff removed to St. Theresa's Hospital, Kowloon, which continued to function with R.A.M.C., Q.A.I.M.N.S. and Nursing Detachment personnel until 10th August, 1942, when all female staff was sent to Stanley Internment Camp, together with all female staff from Bowen Road Military Hospital. In June, 1942 there was an exoha ngo of staff, and certain members of the Nursing Detachment went to Stanley for internment, being relieved by volunteers from the internment Camp. The "in going" volunteers, with the exception of Mrs. R.E. Hobbs and Mrs. C.M. Robson (Nursing Sisters of the Nursing Detachment,), were not connected with the Unit. There were also 8 Nurses attached to the Naval Hospital who ultimately served at St. Alberts Convent Hospital, and 4 of them transferred to St. Theresa's Hospital and served until 10th August, 1942. These nurses had no connection with the Nursing Detachment, and were not mobilized by the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps.
BILLETING FOR NURSING DETACHMENT PERSONNEL.
Bowen Road Military Hospital - Pre-war arrangements for housing Members of the Nursing Detachment at Bowen Road had been investigated by the Military Authorities and we were allocated three houses belonging to Japanese Nationals, which were to be comandeered when required. The interior of the property had not been inspected by the Military Authorities and when we arrived on the 8th December, 1941 for service the most appaling conditions faced us. There was no proper sanitation, no furniture or equipment ready and certain rooms were locked. Col. Shackleton forbade us to open such rooms. After a great deal of hard work under extremely difficult conditions (shelling, air raids etc) the Quartermaster managed to make parts of the property habitable for the Nurses. Due to the ago of the property it did not stand up to modem warfare and we soon had to vacate the main house and live in the cellars. This accomodation was very unsatisfactory in every way. We had no guards posted to this property by the Military Authorities so I detailed d/r J.R. Yee, seconded to me for duty from the Corps Signals, H.K.V.D.C. to do sentry duties nightly. Eventually, on 17th December, due to enemy action we were compelled to evacuate the property, and house ourselves in the cellars below Bowen Road Hospital. We had a great deal of difficulty in recovering members effects from the property, due to the O.C. Hospital refusing permission for its collection. This resulted in many of the Nurses losing their possessions in this property which was eventually taken over and looted by the incoming Japanese troops. In my opinion this loss was unnecessary, as R.A.M.C. personnel were prepared to take the risk to salvage it for us. The accomodation allotted to us under the Bowen Road Hospital was very unpleasant, but at least it afforded us protection from Air Raids, etc. and ensured a minimum amount of movement. The Anderson Shelters were used by us for Messing Quarters.
St. Albert's Convent Hospital, Stubbs Rd. - This section of the Nursing Detachment, H.K.V.D.C, was housed in modern Chinese owned property adjacent to the Hospital, but after enemy action in this area the entire staff was moved and billeted in the Hospital itself. Here again a number of nurses lost their effects due to damage to the property on 16th December, 1941 which necessitated them leaving the building for a time and upon their return they found looters had been at work.
Hong Kong Hotel Relief Hospital - The small staff was housed on the first floor of the Hotel where the Hospital was situated, and were comparatively well catered for.
St. Stephens College Hospital, Stanley - The official Mess was one of the College Bungalows, but this was only used for a short time due to the hazardous conditions. Staff was eventually compelled to remain in the Hospital building. When this Hospital was stormed and eventually evacuated the staff lost all their effects.
With few exceptions these were good during hostilities. Our own cooks attended to our messing and in spite of air raids, shelling etc., and notwithstanding the fact that from the beginning of hostilities all our food had to be carried through tho open to the Anderson Shelters where we messed, we never went without meals. After the Capitulation of Hong Kong the standard of food deteriorated as the time went on, until Army supplies were exhausted and we were on to Japanese rations, which consisted of rice and inferior vegetables in very small quantities. Meat and Fish eventually became a luxury which we rarely saw.
During hostilities the health of the Detachment was good, very few re porting sick. Subsequent to actual fighting dysentry was common amongst the personnel both at Bowen Road Hospital and St. Theresa’s Hospital Kowloon. One member contracted diphtheria, but fortunately she was allowed serum and a cure was effected. A number of nurses underwent operations all of which were successful. Considering the adverse conditions under which we were called upon to function, particularly at St. Theresa’s Hospital, it is surprising that sickness was so negligible.
With the exception of HK$5.00 per head paid to 36 Nursing Detachment Nurses at Bowen Road Hospital on 25.1.42, no actual pay has been received by the Unit. When the Japanese announced their intention to pay P.O.W. Officers, there was a strong indication that all Nurses, Nursing Detachment and Q.A.I.M.N.S. personnel, would be paid. However, there was considerable unreasonable arguments of discrimination between Nursing Detachment Nurses and Q.A.I.M.N.S. Nurses put up by the Matron and O.C. Hospital. They argued that Q.A.I.M.N.S. were Officers and entitled to pay and were not prepared to accept Nursing Detachment Nurses on the same basis. I am sure that this attitude resulted in the Japanese dropping the question of our pay to the disadvantage of all concerned.
All Members were eventually interned in Stanley Internment Camp. A long period elapsed during which no financial assistance was received. In September, 1942 the Officers at P.O.W. Camp "N" started a fund to assist Nursing Detachment Members and on 6th September, 1942 the first remittance was received. As a result of their generosity we received regular monthly remittances which continued until 19th March, 1945, when the Japanese Authorities stopped further remittances. Over the full period a total sum of MY7,034.00 was received, which assisted a great number of the Nursing Detachment Members. Our gratitude for this assistance cannot be too strongly stressed, particularly now that we know under what difficult conditions P.O.W. were living.
LOSSES OF PRIVATE CARS
During hostilities the transport section of the Nursing Detachment capably carried out their required duties, not only for the Nursing Detachment but also for the R.A.M.C. and other Units. I consider that the Drivers themselves displayed extreme courage and no matter what task was required of them, and there were many difficult ones, they carried them out without complaint. Without their services, not only the Nursing Detachment but many R.A.M.C. personnel would have been badly handicapped. On the third day of hostilities the Q.A.I.M.N.S. Sisters vacated their Mess adjacent to the Bowen Road Hospital and housed themselves in the Hospital itself. Mrs. C.M. Peers (Driver) maintained a daily service between their quarters and the Hospital in order to carry their rations, under severe war conditions. After the capitulation our cars were parked in the precincts of the Hospital and were ultimately taken by the Japanese. (Details of the vehicles used for Nursing Detachment work and ultimately confiscated have been given to the Hong Kong Police Authorities in Stanley during internment). Cars belonging to Mrs. A.S. Muir, Mrs. M.J. Cassidy and Miss E.M. Gray were confiscated.
STANLEY HOSPITAL (ST. STEPHENS COLLEGE)
This relief Hospital was opened on 18th December, 1941 and 5 Nurses and 1 Sister from the Nursing Detachment were transferred there for duty. In view of the incidents which took place at this Hospital, I am recording the verbatim report of a Member of the Unit who was serving there at the time.
"18th Dec. 1941 - We arrived at St. Stephens College Hospital with 5 patients, and the first day was spent organizing the Hospital premises.
19th Dec. 1941 - Patients arrived. Staff comprised O/C Dr. G.D.R. Black, Capt. Whitney, Dr. Ashton Rose, Lt. Balean, Sisters Fidoe and Gordon, Nurses E.M. Begg, A. Buxton, W.J.L. Smith, G.G. Simmons, I. Andrews Levinge.
22nd Dec. Approx. - Shell hit Theatre. Orderly killed. Patients removed to Prison Hospital, but staff remained. Nurses Quarters situated at Bungalow "B" (Dr. Pope’s) had to be vacated for Canadian Headquarters during night. Took up quarters on the floor of the Hospital. Tried to use Officers Mess at Bungalow "C" but due to shell-fire could not remain.
23rd Dec. 1941 - Were accomodated in store-room on left side of main hall at back of building.
24th Dec. 1941 - Approx. eighty patients, including Indians, being attended. Conditions rapidly deteriorating, shelling very heavy. Dr. Black remained with us until about 3 a.m.
Stanley Internment Camp,
22nd August, 1945
We, the undersigned, who were serving as nurses in the Hospital known as St. Stephen’s College, Stanley, Hong Kong, at the time it was stormed and captured by the Japanese Forces, do solemnly state that Mrs. S.D. Begg, Mrs. H.T. Buxton, and Mrs. W.J.L. Smith were removed by Japanese soldiery from the room in which they were imprisoned at various times after 6 p.m. on the 25th December, 1941, and were never seen alive again by us. From evidence known to us at the Hospital on the morning of the 26th December, 1941 and subsequently, we have no hesitation in asserting that our three comrades were put to death by the Japanese Forces some time after the official surrender of the Colony.
- ????, Sister, T.A.N.S.
- G.G. Simmons, Nurse,
- ?. Andrews Levigne, Nurse
Witness to the
- EMB Dyson, Matron, Q.A.I.M.N.S
- I.M.S. Braudé, Commandant, Nursing Detachment, H.K.V.D.C.
((The fololowing document is believed to have been written in 1954.))
HONG KONG VOLUNTEER DEFENCE CORPS
"Good things come in small bulk” can be a misleading statement. When the war came to this Colony, the. Nursing Detachment of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps went into action 129 strong, consisting of 3 officers, 16 Trained Nursing Sisters and 110 other ranks made up of Nurses, Orderlies, Clerks, Car Drivers, Cooks, Storekeepers, Telephonists, Dispensers, etc. The role for which it was trained and prepared, was to augment the nursing personnel and relieve, as far as possible, the male nursing staff of the British military Hospital in Hong Kong. It also fell to their lot to help establish, and man, relief military hospitals in other parts of the Colony. But I am anticipating my story!
This being Centenary year, it is felt that the present Force might like to know something about those Units of the old H.K.V.D.C. which preceded them. The V.a.Ds, the name by which they were known to the public, were formed in 1934. At the very beginning they were looked upon with a certain amount of suspicion by the male members of the Corps, who felt that the Corps was a man’s show which could have no place for the weaker sex, and were openly referred to as "Dow’s Darlings", after their sponsor; Lt. Col. Dowbiggin, and the "Gaiety Girls". They were soon to change their views and, during the war days to follow, the Unit earned a respect from all fighting men with whom they came in contact.
As I have mentioned above, the Detachment was raised with the intention of augmenting the Military Hospital Staff and, later to relieve as many Nursing Orderlies of the R.A.M.C. as possible so that they might fill the ranks of the Field Ambulance, a regular unit which was commanded by Col. Ride during the war. The success of such a scheme depended entirely on the efficient training of each and every member. There was no scope for "learning on the job".
The initial problem was to enrol as many trained Nurses as possible. These were drawn from ladies in the Colony who had married and given up the nursing profession. Apart from the willingness of so many, this presented many problems. First of all they had to be sufficiently young and active to be able to undertake the arduous tasks that would be imposed upon them in war. Again, they had to undertake to remain in the Colony in the event of the evacuation of women in an emergency. Lastly, they were required to devote many nights a week, away from their families, to the training of those untrained members of the Detachment. In spite of the many demands from the civilian services, the almost impossible was accomplished. It was a great tribute to this nucleus and to Col. Ride, who gave up so much time in lecturing, that the war found them all trained, holding St. Johns Ambulance Certificates, and having had considerable full-time experience in actual hospital duties at Bowen Road. I have no doubt that this same keeness still pervades the new Force, but it was truthfully said, during those dark days immediately preceding the war that, where husband and wife both served in the Corps, they had to plan their joint engagements well in advance of the actual date!
Upon the outbreak of war, the Detachment was mobilised and immediately took up duties in the British Military Hospital. In fact, one group was already on duty doing their fortnight’s tour of duty. Almost at once a group was required to move into a planned auxiliary hospital at St. Albert’s Convent, Stubbs Rd., or as it is now better known, Rosary Hill. On the 13th December, 1941, another group was moved out to St. Stephen’s College, Stanley, which had been turned into a relief hospital for East Brigade. On the 21st December, it was found necessary to open up another relief hospital in the Hong Kong Hotel, to deal with the large number of casualties that were pouring in from the lower areas. This latter hospital did not close down until the 19th January, long after the fighting had finished.
Of the war itself there is so much to tell; of the superb individual courage in adversity; of the bombing of the hospitals and the casualties. Our first casualties occurred at Rosary Hill Hospital when a Q.A.I.M.N.S. Sister was killed and one of our VADs was wounded. Then came the deaths of Lt. Col. G.D.R. Black, a Volunteer transferred to tie R.A.M.C., who commanded the Stanley Military Hospital, and VADs Begg, Buxton and Smith. And, finally, the Stanley tragedy which should surely shame our erstwhile enemies.
After the fighting came internment and after a long time — freedom. A fitting climax to this story of endeavour came when the Nursing Detachment of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps was represented at the Victory Parade in London, in June, 1946. As we marched with the rest of them through the streets of London, our thoughts were with the best of them, and the heavy rain, coursing down our faces, helped to disguise our real feelings of sorrow and pride.
This is our story, briefly told. There is much food for thought for the younger generation - and inspiration too. The womens Units of the new Force should be proud to remember, when next they march through the streets, that they themselves, have a banner to carry, if they will only tarry a while to pick it up.
((The following doument was written in 1995))
HONG KONG 8TH DECEMBER, 1941 - AUGUST, 1945.
Since writing my original brief story of the formation and ultimate mobilisation of the Nursing Detachment of the HKVDC, many years have gone by and those of us who are still fit enough to make the long journey to Hong Kong are returning to meet up with friends and comrades to commemorate those dark days of uncertainty and fear, and to pay our respects to those who did not survive to enjoy the freedom which came so unexpectedly on an August morning in 1945. Our short 18 days of war were brutal in many ways and devastating to the entire community, and those of us who did survive the fighting and the incarceration in different camps, owe a deep debt of gratitude to all our fighting and service forces and to the stalwart people who did their best to make the long years of waiting for freedom as bearable as possible, under the awful conditions in which we had to live.
One of my most lasting memories is of Monday morning 8th December, 1941 as I was looking out of my bedroom window at Seven Sisters, which is immediately across Kowloon Bay facing Kai Tak - donning my nurses uniform ready to proceed to BMH via_Volunteer H.Qs in Lower Albert Rd., when, to my complete horror I watched several 'planes swoop across the old small runway and drop their first bombs. We had been officially mobilised on Sunday 7th, but it was difficult to realise this was war, and I have to say that as my Husband and I proceeded in our car into town, many people we eventually spoke to didn’t believe what I had to say at first. We'd known the Japanese were across the border in China, but of course we couldn’t appreciate that all of this was combined with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
I didn’t see my Husband again until after the end of hostilities on 25th Dec. but each night after dark I managed, to return to my isolated home in the hills to ensure that the two babies - my own daughter and. my God-daughter - as well as my wonderful servants and much loved dogs - were still relatively safe. However towards the end of the first week I observed a large gathering of small craft in the bay off Kai Tak - to me this meant just one thing, invasion of the island and the obvious landing would be on the sea front right below my home. I conveyed this information to my Husband and he organised transport and a despatch rider to accompany me, and with my precious cargo of two babies, two Amahs and as much rice, food and whatever else I could manage I drove them to the top of the Peak where an empty flat in Peak Mansions was to be their next home. Unfortunately, not for long, because a bomb went through their room killing the inmates above, but the Amahs had grabbed the children on hearing the ’planes and had gone down into the basement so they were saved although their room was completely destroyed. They were moved to Dr. Black's house opposite and, again they attracted a bomb and finally landed at the Matilda Hospital where the cellars had been converted into a temporary creche.
Prom then on my duties kept me at the BMH where we also slept in the excavated cellars (couldn’t stand upright) and nursed many of our patients there too, because the roof was bombed and made the top floor unuseable. I had already had to obtain all the dark shirts and trousers Lane, Crawfords could provide for my Nurses to wear, as their white uniforms made them s target for snipers when they had to walk along the verandahs of the hospital or go outside for any reason.
After the end of, the fighting I accompanied the Director of Medical Services down to the headquarters established by the Japanese in the main banking hall of the Hong Kong Bank in Queen's Road, in order to try to get some permits which would allow certain hospital staff to move about the Colony to locate people and co-ordinate various activities. On my own relying on my nurses uniform to give me protection, I made two trips on foot into firstly the town to find my Father who had been doing food distribution (I did find him in a horrible Chinese Hotel near the Central Food Market) locked in with others and awaiting further developments, and next I found my Mother who had been moved first of all from the French Hospital to the Queen Mary Hospital, and was ultimately in a large house with other sick patients in the mid-levels area awaiting further instructions. I might add she was very distressed, very afraid and just over a major operation.
My next outing was to walk alone, up the Peak to the Matilda Hospital to see for myself what could be done for the sick, elderly, new born babies etc, including my own daughter Pat and my god-daughter Jean who were both there. Once it was established we were destined to go out to Stanley it was obvious this group of people were not going to be able to WALK anywhere, and certainly not down the Peak to the mustering point at the Cenotaph on the seafront. I was so lucky to have and extremely kind and co-operative regular RAMC orderly at the Hospital who realised the problem and, as there was an abandoned open truck in the vicinity of the Hospital, he volunteered to drive me up to the Matilda Hospital. It was a risky trip particularly for him, but we arrived and eventually managed to load the truck with the maximum number of needy cases, and drove them down to town.
A little digression here to say that once the regular nursing staff began to return to the Hospital, and because food was beginning to be a problem, the CO of the Hospital, Col. Shackleton was pressing me to send all my nurses to Stanley. Many of them agreed but but quite a number remained to continue nursing, but by August, 1942 the Japanese insisted all my members and regular serving nursing staff should be interned in Stanley.
And so began a strange and uncertain existence in the comparative isolation of Stanley in various accommodation depending where the Japanese decided you should go (I was in a very small room with three babies and four ladies) fortunately, ultimately including my Mother. My Father was in a totally different area. I might add, the buildings were unfurnished! It was left to the internees to organise kitchen facilities to provide us with water for drinking (domestic wash boilers were used for this purpose) and for cooking weavil flavoured rice and whatever vegetables etc. the Japanese chose to send in. The odd spoonful of rock salt or peanut oil came in now and again and we could draw some of our rice uncooked which we could grind on large granite hand grinders, which we could then use as a substitute for flour.
We had two daily distributions of food - 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. with water to drink at separate times. Eventually a canteen was set up with various food items etc. available, but it all depended on people having money in the form of military yen, which was the currency we had to use and it wasn’t any use outside of the camp.
So, after a fairly short time, it became necessary for people to sell possessions they had in order to get the yen, and this became more difficult as the time went on. As always, in situations of this kind, wherever there is adversity there always people with an eye to business and money making, and Stanley was no exception. A black market developed and many people, from sheer desperation and hunger, signed I.O.U’s against their money outside in bank accounts, in order to acquire the Yen to spend, but unfortunately when freedom eventually came in 1945, many of those IOU’s were never honoured, which is rather sad. A lot of the people let down were women who sold their jewels to less fortunate friends. You live and learn and I hope we never have a similar situation again.
As time went by electricity was restricted likewise water in the tap, and we were forced to store water in whatever kind of containers we had and when the precious liquid had washed teeth, people, dishes and clothes, it fell to the able bodied few to mount the toilet during the day and last thing at night in order to fill the cistern, so flushing could be done. This was a vital "chore" for the health safety of all concerned.
Life revolved around rumours from any source, and in the beginning the slogan was always "in a couple of months we’ll be out of here" but I'm afraid as months grew into years we realised we were certainly part of the "far flung Empire" and nobody was going to come to save us. Although some other nationals were repatriated and it was rumoured that British women and children were "going to go to Goa" hut we didn't hold our breath, and in the event we didn’t go anywhere.
In spite of all our precautions, there was illness in the camp, hut thanks to all the Doctors who were interned with us as well as the Nurses from various Hospitals they cared for us as well as they could without drugs or any equipment of much use.
Sammy Shields even did great service tending our teeth as best he could. Frequently the Japanese made us have innoculations, and often we would have a roll call at odd times, when they thought somebody had escaped. But such events helped to relieve the monotony.
Some of the internees set up a Concert Party to entertain us, and others tried to provide schooling for the older children, Mr. Zindel, who was the Red Cross Representative in Hongkong made periodic visits to the Camp and tried as best he could with the restrictions placed on him, to alleviate some of cur problems. Also, when he could, he would tell these of us who had menfolk in one of the other Camps if all was well.
After about a year we were permitted to write a 25 word postcard to the other Camps in Kowloon, but often much of the subject was "blacked out" and they took about 6 months to arrive, However, it was a small indication that our contacts were alive, but that did not always apply because of the time lag in delivery.
From a purely personal point of view, after my Father Stuart Deacon had died suddenly in April, 1942 at the relatively young age of 57, I had my Mother to care for due to her bad health aggravated by the awful food we had to eat and two small girls of l year and the other 7 1/2 months so I had little time to sit and wonder, except to hope my Husband in Argyle St. Camp was managing to keep well. He and Col. Simon White of the Royal Scots tended a garden where they strived to grow vegetables in order that their sick fellow prisoners would have a little extra food, and in addition he was in charge of the working party which was demolishing an obstruction at the end of Kai Tak runway.
One small concession the Japanese made was to allow us to swim daily in the mornings till 11 a.m. down at the beach below the prison building (a very steep climb down and up), but it was wonderful for the children living as they were in such deprived and cramped conditions, but it eventually came to an end when the Americans started carpet bombing the Colony and sometimes the "boom" which was off shore from the beach. There was always an armed guard with us also. Needless to say, the bombing was greatly welcomed by all of us, and I don’t think any of us really felt any fear - all we did feel was at last, somebody was doing something to free us.
Ultimately, after the atom bombs had been dropped we had a surprise in the form of a real roll of toilet paper given to each of us - the first we had seen for 3 years and 8 months! At first we couldn’t immediately understand what had happened, but quite quickly the bamboo wireless soon got going and we realised freedom was in sight. The days which followed were full of elation, but also a certain amount of apprehension by many of us, because the Japanese still had the control and we didn't know when real protection would arrive. We really didn't know just how the Japanese would behave towards their prisoners, realising that their own glory days were over. Fortunately, the prisoners in Shamshuipo and Argyle Street took things into their own hands and made it clear that conditions had changed, and weak as most of them were after forced 1abour and practically no food, if transport was available, those prisoners with dependents in Stanley Camp should have priority to cross the harbour to visit. It was a wonderful gesture and we were all over the moon when the day arrived. Next, the Japanese issued us with some extra food, and eventually Sir Cecil Harcourt sailed in with the Navy and assumed the Government control of the Colony once again, and we all felt at last our lives were beginning again.
For all those who were in the Camps - they know the story, and fortunately have lived through it, but for those who were not there, it is perhaps a small insight into what happened to almost an entire community in a very small Colony in the China Sea.
We had tried with everything at our disposal and with all the bravery and sacrifices of our fighting forces to save Hong Kong, but we were greatly out-numbered and with no help at all in sight, so, in order to save the civilian population from further suffering we felt we had to surrender on Christmas Day, 1941.
My last comment as a very long time resident of Hong Kong I would like to pay tribute to those mobilised members of my Nursing Detachment, HKVDC, who, without hesitation left their homes and. everything they possessed and reported for duty as asked -most of them never saw their homes again and many lost Husbands or other family members during the fighting or in the Camps, but their contribution to the care of the many casualties was magnificent, and many of them continued to help the community in Stanley Camp for the duration. My added sorrow was losing three of my friends who were Nurses serving at St. Stephens College Hospital in Stanley, and who were brutally murdered on Christmas Day by the Japanese.
Nursing Detachment, HKVDC.