08 Jun 1944, John Charter's wartime journal

Submitted by HK Bill on Fri, 01/07/2022 - 13:11

The Anglo–American invasion of the continent has begun! What excitement. When I heard someone in the yard below yell out the news at the top of his voice I thought he was trying to be funny capping yesterday’s news of the fall of Rome! But it is true. The feeling in camp is one of great excitement. “At last”, says everyone. We know that it means hundreds and thousands of our countrymen will be killed and that is a sobering thought; but we also know the invasion had to come sometime or other and the sooner it came the sooner would this ghastly war be ended. And now the great day has arrived. Apparently it was launched on the night of June 5th to 6th. How we should love to hear a BBC news bulletin now instead of having to deduce what we can from the reports from the enemy news agencies which appear in a garbled form in the ‘HK News’.

This paper attempts to make out that Germany has long been awaiting the invasion and welcomes its advent as it now gives her the opportunity of smashing the Anglo–American forces and thus assuring her of final victory. That might well read well for a Japanese, but we know that Germany’s fear has always been that of a double front and that she launched her forces against Russia in the earlier stages of the war in the fond expectation of settling the Russian’s hash and thus obviating this dreaded predicament. We also know that after ‘Dunkirk’ the British and American commands would not dare to launch a second expeditionary force unless success was completely assured.

Premier Tojo of Japan has solemnly assured the Japanese nation (as apparently have various German spokesmen) that the German forces will soon have flung the invaders into the sea and that the invasion is already doomed to failure. I can never imagine Churchill making a sweeping statement like that – just throwing dust into his countrymens’ eyes and blinding them to the gravity of the situation. What will Tojo and company have to say when the invaders are not thrown back but continue to advance? They will have to think up ever weakening and less convincing stories of how the German Army is artfully drawing it’s enemies deeper into it’s terrain before starting the counter-offensive that will utterly destroy them. And so confidence in their leaders will gradually be lost and Japanese morale will begin to drop – not to mention German morale if that is the sort of stuff their propaganda machine is serving out to them.

Well, we know that our forces attacked in the Seine Bay between Le Havre and the Cotentin Peninsula, chiefly north of Bayeux on the sandy Normandy beaches. There will be grim and bitter fighting. The very pick of British and American manhood will be there. Now we shall anxiously and confidently await the arrival of the paper each day. If only we could be of some use here instead of just frittering away our time in a bare kind of subsistence. It is small comfort to tell ourselves we did the best we could in the circumstances in Hong Kong.

Before the blitz out here I know that I, in my ignorance, looked upon Hong Kong as a well defended and almost impregnable fortress – the Gibralter of the Pacific. But after the fall of such places as Singapore, Corregedor in the Philippines – a very powerful American fortress – not to mention Guam and Wake Islands and the Dutch East Indies, and after reading some books in camp, chiefly ‘Fight for the Pacific’ by Mark Gayne, it is quite clear that HK never stood an earthly chance and, in fact, it was rather ludicrous attempting to defend it at all. However HK was a mere pin-prick when compared with the enormous scale of the total war. Well, I hope and pray, for the sake of stupid and suffering humanity, that it won’t last much longer.

Date(s) of events described