Barbara Anslow's diary

Submitted by Admin on Sun, 12/25/2011 - 09:29

This is Barbara's diary of life in Hong Kong in the wartime period. She has also added later comments, ((shown in italics & double brackets, like this)). 

Here is Barbara's introduction:

First, details of the Redwood family in 1941:

In November 1941, Mum was 46, my sister Olive 25, Mabel 18 and I almost 23. 

Dad had died of a heart attack in Hong Kong on 23rd July 1940 - while Mum, my sisters and I were in the Philippine Islands and about to be transhipped to Australia - under the Hong Kong Govt. Evacuation Scheme.  We returned to Hong Kong a few days later and were able to avoid re-evacuation, but had to leave our flat in Naval Dockyard  area and moved to a flat in Gap Road, Happy Valley.  

Olive and I both worked as stenographers for HK Govt., she in Food Control Dept, and I in the Air Raid Precautions Department.   Mabel also a stenographer, in Army Office at Fortress HQ.  Our combined wages kept all 4 of us quite adequately, including paying the rent and two amahs.

Olive was engaged to Sam ('Topper') Brown of the Royal Artillery; Mabel had a serious boyfriend in the Royal Scots Band, Harry Hale (known by his second name 'Sid').  I had an unserious boyfriend - Band Sergeant Arthur Alsey, also of Royal Scots.  In Nov 1941 the Royal Scots were camping in the New Territories.

We had a chow dog 'Patsy' who had just had pups in November 1941.

Here's a photo of us taken at the Civil Service Club, Happy Valley, early in November 1941:

1941 Tennis at Civil Service Club

Back Row, left to right: My sister Olive; her fiance 'Topper' Brown, R.A.,; my Mum; Mr V Garton and Mr W Skinner (both Govt.servants)

Front Row, left to rightH. Hale ('Sid') of Royal Scots; my sister Mabel; Arthur Alsey of Royal Scots; myself.

My detailed diary comes to an end at the end of Dec. 1942 as after then I became fully occupied with the various Catholic activities (as well as working half-days in the hospital office.).  We had study clubs, each one catering for a different age group and sex; choir practices and socials.  My particular interest was writing little plays for the RC children to perform, conducting rehearsals.  Through this I made a great many friends of various nationalities whom I would probably have never met in Hong Kong - American,   Eurasians, Dutch etc. camp was certainly an education to me.
I just have a summary of 1943; a day by day but sketchy of 1944, then a very wordy 1945 until 1946.

Book type
Diary / Memoir
Dates of events covered by this document

Sample pages

((I've included this with Barbara's diary, but it's actually an extract from a letter she wrote. She'd describing the trip from Hong Kong to Manila, along with all the other women who were evacuated from Hong Kong. Over to Barbara:))

Below is part of  an account of the Evacuation I wrote on 23rd July 1940  to my friend in England during the time we were staying in the Philippine Islands awaiting onward transport to Australia:-

..'Since Italy entered the war, we…

Churchill says if Japs and USA come to grips, Britain will follow USA 'within the hour.'

I'm a bit afraid that Xmas won't come.

Reply from Home Government about evacuation – no chance of people coming back yet.


The rumour today is that the Japs are coming on Saturday.


Barbara Anslow:

I am now typing the 1945 diary, which is much fuller than that for 1943 and 1944, that is because I got hold of more writing paper - toilet paper!   The usual t. paper the Japs issued was fawn paper, very rough; but then we were given some sheets of incredibly thin paper, still in sheets, and I made the 1945 diary out of that.

Hi Julian,

Yes, Barabara not only very generously agreed to share her diary with us, but also typed it up from it's original handwritten version. Since then she's kindly helped answer my many questions for clarification about names in the diary.

You'll also see Barbara regularly replies to messages and questions posted on the Stanley Camp discussion list.

Regards, David