News of Hong Kong in England (5) December 18, 1941

Hong Kong gets on the front page again today, December 18, and the Mirror provides a suitably tough looking image of the Governor – the real one, Sir Mark Young, not C. F. Norton, the mountaineer they’d elevated – hideous pun intended – to this position in an earlier report. Readers are informed he’s 55, which is hard to believe from the picture of a well-preserved 40 year old.

 The theme for the day is the Governor’s ‘no surrender’ stance.


 SIR MARK YOUNG, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Hong Kong, sent this telegram to the Secretary of State for the Colonies yesterday:

 “After some further bombardment, I have received another letter signed by Japanese military and naval commanders-in-chief, asking me to confer about surrender on considerations of humanity.

 The following is the text of my reply:

 ‘ ‘ ‘ The Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Hong Kong declines most absolutely to enter into any negotiations for the surrender of Hong Kong, and he takes this opportunity of notifying Lieutenant-General Takaishi Sakai and Vice-Admiral Masaichi Niimi that he is not prepared to receive any further communication from them on the subject. ‘ “

 The Secretary of State (Note: Lord Moyne) replied:

 “Your refusal to consider the Japanese commanders’ request to negotiate terms of surrender of Hong Kong commands the respect and approval of his Majesty’s Government.

 “Your resolute leadership, and the stirring conduct of all defenders of the fortress, are being watched with admiration and confidence by the whole Empire and by our Allies throughout the world.”

 Helped by the Governor’s defiant stance, that Chinese army has fought its way to the top of the main story, which takes the form of a summary of news from different Asian fronts:



 CHINESE forces are battering the rear of the Japanese besieging Hong Kong.

Reinforcements of the Japanese going to the attack on our colony have had to be diverted…


“Advance towards Kowloon at any cost” is the order given to the Chinese Army, said Chungking radio last night.

 That report seems more realistic; as far as I can make out from Phillip Snow (The Fall of Hong Kong) and Dick Wilson (When Tigers Fight) the Chinese did manage to harass the Japanese rear, although they were prevented from doing much more by a cleverly timed assault on the major city of Changsha in Hunan Province.

 After briefly discussing other fronts, the article returns to Hong Kong:

 ‘Hong Kong last night was quiet apart from some shelling in the early hours of the morning, and has been followed by a day in which there has been no change,’ said a communiqué issued in Hong Kong yesterday.

Bomb explosions were occasionally shaking the city, it was reported, but little actual damage was done.

 The people are placing great faith in the British heavy batteries, which have retained superiority over the Japanese batteries in a sharp duel.

 We silenced two enemy gun positions in the morning and another in the afternoon. Our batteries suffered no damage.

 The article goes on to quote German radio to the effect that fires had started in some parts of Hong Kong. It returns to that Chinese army in a continuation that spills over onto the back page, claiming that the Chinese and British are fighting in close cooperation:

 Plans for such cooperation have been under discussion with the British military mission in Chungking and are already being put into effect.


 The Express leads with the Japanese invasion of Portuguese Timor, and runs a similar ‘no surrender story’ about Hong Kong:


Hongkong spurns surrender and London wires:

Hold on!

A FTER Sir Mark Young, Governor of Hongkong, had rejected another Japanese call to surrender yesterday, London telegraphed him to “Hold on!”

This is the reply Sir Mark sent to the Japanese military and naval commanders…(as in Mirror)


Express Special Correspondent A. C. Greeves reported from Hongkong yesterday that Japanese aircraft in addition to heavy bombing, scattered thousands of ‘surrender’ leaflets over  the island fortress.

Hongkong’s afternoon communiqué said: “No change in the situation. The artillery duel continues intermittently.”

 And the Chinese army’s had more successes north of Hong Kong, of course. In Hong Kong itself there were illusions about this army, some of which outlasted the actual fighting. But banker/Volunteer soldier Andrew Leiper knew the truth as early as December 16; after the war he recorded his private response when told about the advance of the Chinese Seventh Army marching towards Kowloon:

 Nobody said so, but I was sure they all shared the thought in my mind, that, even if the report was true, the Seventh Army would arrive too late.[1]

 The Express page one round up of Far Eastern war news is shaping up well. The local headline is Hong Kong Ordeal and there follows a disturbing assessment:

 COMMUNICATIONS with Hongkong silent since Friday, were restored yesterday….

 Hongkong’s ordeal has only begun. The Japanese will bring up many more siege guns to pound the citadel.

More air raids too will be coming as the enemy improvises airfields in the mainland behind Kowloon.


[1] G. A. Leiper,  A Yen For My Thoughts, 1982, 49.


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