27 Dec 1941, Chronology of Events Related to Stanley Civilian Internment Camp

Submitted by brian edgar on Wed, 01/11/2012 - 15:01

On this day, or hereabouts, policeman Norman Gunning, his wife Nan, their 6 month baby Richard and others in their party are expelled from their quarters by the Japanese. They seek refuge for the night in the house of an important Government official on the Peak, but they are turned away. They are welcomed into 357, the Peak, a former HKSBC house  which has been taken over by an American family, the Larsons.


The bulk of the police are confined to their stations awaiting a Japanese decision on the organisation of policing. George Wright-Nooth finds it hard to feed his men, but his friend Lance Searle (at a different station) does manage to get a pass from a Japanese general for this purpose.


The Maryknoll Fathers are still confined in a garage. They finish yesterday's meal of hardtack biscuits and evaporated milk for breakfast. During the morning they're given a few more biscuits and a pail of water from a nearby well. In the afternoon the guards untie their hands for an hour so they can eat their biscuits and drink their water. They are also allowed an hour's exercise and given permission to send a party to the well for more water and another party to their House to get clothing and blankets. After supper their hands are tied again, this time in front, so they sleep more comfortably.


The two day Christmas break spared the British press from having to report the fall of Hong Kong. On the front pages today the Daily Mirror both laments and celebrates The Heroic Tragedy Of Hong Kong, while the Daily Express notes the surrender of the 'gallant garrison' . Page 4 of the latter carries reports from both Japanese and British sources. The British report is a history of the fighting provided by the War Office. The Japanese is understandably more vivid:

A Japanese cable from Hongkong yesterday said that “Sir Mark Young and the commander of the garrison surrendered unconditionally at 7.5 p.m. Their parley with the Japanese military and naval authorities had begun at the Peninsular Hotel at Kowloon at 6.50.

Sir Mark stayed at the hotel overnight under the protection of Japanese troops, and returned to Hongkong, to prevent the destruction of establishments and materials in the colony, with the Japanese staff officer Tada.”

But my guess is that it's the Daily Mirror's page 2 columnist Cassandra who, if he could have been read in Hong Kong, would have found himself speaking for most of the defeated:


The defenders of Hong Kong put up a brave show. The Governor takes his place in history and many courageous soldiers died in the same tradition that is honoured by the name of Calais.

I suppose this loss of life was unavoidable.

The British Government advised Sir Mark Young to "hold on," and then after a week's desperate fighting, they told him to let go. It seems a pity that we couldn’t have made up our minds some time ago as to whether Hong Kong was a reasonable defensive position.

The Japanese provided a sharp and cruel answer.

We never stood a chance.


Gunnings: Norman Gunning, Passage to Hong Kong, 2009, 126-127

Police: George Wright-Nooth, Prisoner Of The Turnip Heads, 1994, 69-70

Maryknoll: Maryknoll Diary, December 27, 1942

Date(s) of events described