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

Submitted by brian edgar on Thu, 01/12/2012 - 21:13

In the Kowloon Hotel they don't need to be told about the surrender; Arthur Hansom writes to Edith:

Beloved all is quiet. There has been no guns firing since yesterday evening and we are all of the opinion that it must be because HK has surrendered. We had about 100 people brought over here from HK last night most of them were from Stanley way and they had very depressing news with them. {This was presumably the group from the Repulse Bay Hotel.}


At Argyle Street Camp, Dr. Newton writes in his diary reflections that probably many would have echoed:

The surrender is probably for the best as it saves more slaughter, but goodness knows it means a prettty grim prospect for us until this war is over.


Marie Paterson ('Pat'), the nurse who slipped out of the Jockey Club yesterday night, has alerted Dr. Selwyn-Clarke:

In rushed one of the girls who had been raped during the night, crying 'Hide me quickly!' Before we could do so, a dishevelled soldier ran in and grabbed her, saying 'Go Jap.' She tried to cling to me, crying piteously. I motioned to the soldier to release her, saying 'No can, plenty work to do.' But he dragged her away, and they were halfway down the ward when there was a sudden shout from the entrance. He let go of the girl and dashed away. Released, she ran back to us. Then we saw why - a group of officials were {coming} into the ward. We recognised, with overwhelming relief, our Director of Medical Services, Dr. Selwyn-Clarke, with another European and two Japanese offficers.

It's agreed that the Jockey Club post will be evacuated with the nurses going to Queen Mary Hospital and the patients being distributed between two other hospitals. Marie Paterson's courageous escape has brought help just in time.


The Maryknoll Fathers and a few other Catholic ecclesiastics - thirty four in all - have been locked in a garage with their hands tied behind their backs. Two men, considered neutrals, are not tied up, and they help some to loosen their bonds, while others manage to do so themselves. But some spend the whole night tied in this increasingly painful way. Two have dysentery and no-one's had anything to eat. They start trying to get food from the sentry at 10 a.m. and eventually Father Toomey trades a valuable watch for a half-full water canteen. Later another canteen is handed in and at 4.30 they get their first meal since 11 a.m. on the 25th. - hardtack biscuit and evaporated milk.


For many of Hong Kong's civilians today will be the day when they encounter the conquerors for the first time. Even the Chinese-army general and hard-bitten adventurer Morris 'Two-Gun' Cohen feels 'more frightened than I'd ever been in my life'. He's in his favourite haunt, the Hong Kong Hotel, and he and the others there are dozing on chairs or on the floor of the hotel lobby. At about midnight there's a rattling and a banging on the doors and a Japanese officer with a pistol followed by two soldiers with rifles at the ready enter and ask for Cohen. T. B. Wilson, who's in charge this evening, hesitates to answer, so Cohen reveals himself. He's taken to a temporary HQ in a near-by office block and politely asked for the whereabouts of a number of prominent Chinese Nationalists. He replies that he doesn't know, and is released. Realising that he's been set free in the hope that he'll lead the Japanese to his associates, he gets messages to everyone to keep away from him. He returns to the Hong Kong Hotel and stays there, growing more and more 'frantic', until  the January 5 assembly on the Murray Parade Ground.


Bill Ream is at Queen Mary Hospital:

On 26 December my grave-diggers failed to turn up. Two of us had the very unpleasant task of burying five Canadians who had been blown up by a hand-grenade tossed into a pillbox.


Soldier's wife Jean Mather is with her mother at the Gloucester Hotel. They watch the large dining room fill up with Japanese soldiers - 'a stunned and somewhat bedraggled looking set of "guests"'.


The bakers - Patrick SheridanJames Hammond, Thomas Edgar and Serge Peacock -  are in the Exchange Building. Captain Tanaka, the Japanese officer in charge of communications, takes control of the building. Nobody is allowed to enter or leave, but Tanaka treats his prisoners humanely, providing them with good food and eventually arranging English-language film shows in the Café Wiseman.


Frederick Ivan Hall of Lane, Crawford manages to get out a cable to his family back in England:

Quite well: home soon.


Alex Summers of MI6 sends his last radio message out of Hong Kong. He will go to Stanley Camp where he will succesfully maintain his cover as a local businessman throughout the war. He later noted that the Japanese displayed a definite interest in the wherabouts of the former MI6 head Charles Drage (see  below).



Kowloon Hotel: Allana Corbin, Prisoners of the East, 2002, 113

Dr. Newton: Oliver Lindsay, The Lasting Honour, 1980 ed., 164

Jockey Club: Mabel Winifred Anslow, It Was Like This, 2001, 97-98

Maryknoll Fathers: Maryknoll Diary, December 25-26

Cohen: Charles Drage, The Life And Times of General Two-Gun Cohen, 1954, 287-288

Ream: Bill Ream, Too Hot for Comfort, 31

Mathers: Jean Mathers, Twisting the Tail of the Dragon, 1994, 18

Bakers: Thomas Edgar, article in The British Baker, September 13, 1946 (see also today's entry in Sheridan's hostilities Diary)

Hall: Derbyshire TImes and Chesterfield Herald, 14 September 1945, 5

Summers: Keith Jeffrey, MI6, Chapter 17.


Charles Drage's book on Cohen quotes its subject to the effect that 'On Boxing Day we knew it was all over. In the afternoon the news of our surrender was broadcast'. This chronology is followed by Cohen's later biographer Daniel S. Levy, and if it is correct the events described above took place on the night of December 26/27. However, I think it's probable that Cohen's memory was deceiving him and that they really took place on the night of December 25/26.

Date(s) of events described