Frederick Ivan Hall

On March 6, 1943, a Saturday, R. E. Jones recorded in his diary the marriage of Emily Bliss and Frederick Hall. He presumably knew one or both of them as the day before he’d described what sounds like an anxiety dream:

 Dreamt of being hanged by Plumb and Steve, watching machine gun fire & being at school & of Rosen & me having a turn to do at Hall’s wedding with guitar and mandoline.

 Emily Bliss was a stenographer, recorded as 33 years old in the Spring 1942 Camp list. Frederick Ivan Hall (aged 27) was a Lane, Crawford Butchery salesman,[1] which might have meant he was a departmental manager like Thomas. They almost certainly played for the same company bowls team: on August 5, 1941 the Lane, Crawford bowlers defeated the Hong Kong Electric Recreational Club by 68 shots to 57 in a moonlight match at Ming Yuen.[2] Thomas and his friend Harry Randall were definitely playing, and alongside them is listed ‘Hall’ – no initial, so the identification can’t be certain but it seems most probable that it was him.

 In Stanley he worked in the canteen. This, and his courageous willingness to engage in highly dangerous activities to help his fellow internees, led to his death. Along with the health inspector Frederick Bradley he was the Camp end of the chain organised by Alexander Sinton from town.[3] Messages, and probably drugs and perhaps spare parts for radios, came in and out on the ration lorries, carried by the Chinese drivers, who’d either been bribed or who worked for the British Army Aid Group.

In March 1943 one of these drivers, Leung Hung, told Camp Quartermaster William Anderson to expect a highly secret message he should pass to Hall, who would know what to do with it.  Anderson received the cigarette package containing the message and gave it to Hall as requested. The message contained instructions from the British Army Aid Group to listen in on one of the secret radios on the 40 metre wave band. Hall in turn passed on the message. But Leung Hung seemed nervous and said that he believed that Chinese spies were watching the truck, especially at the canteen. Hall was warned to stay away from the truck, but ignored this advice (Wright-Nooth, 155).

 At about 6 p.m. on June 28, 1943 Bradley and Hall were arrested by the Kempeitai.[4] There’s nothing specifically about Hall in the sources currently at my disposal.  Like the others he was probably tortured, but if so neither he nor Bradley revealed anything, as, to the best of my knowledge, the next batch of arrests did not involve people connected with the ration truck message system.

 He was kept first in G Block of Stanley Prison for questioning, then in August moved to B block to await trial.[5] It’s probable that interrogations no longer took place in B Block, but life was still tough enough: miserable rations, and most of the day spent sitting cross-legged facing the wall, contemplating the ‘crimes’ that had brought one into the cell. Those left behind in Stanley would have tried to get Hall extra food, but so little was given to prisones that Sir Vandeleur Grayburn died after 5 months on those prison rations even though he was sent supplements by both legal and illegal means.

 Hall and 26 others were tried on the morning of October 19, 1943. The verdicts had been decided in advance, and Hall was sentenced to death. He and 32 others were beheaded on Stanley Beach on October 29, 1943.


[2] Hong Kong Daily Press, August 6, 1941, page 7.

[4] George Wright-Nooth, Prisoner of the Turnip Heads, 1994, 160.

[5] Wright-Nooth, 1994, 170, 178.

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  1. Pingback: G. W. Mortimer | The Dark World's Fire: Tom and Lena Edgar in War

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