Monthly Archives: July 2012

Marcus Alberto da Silva

The concluding moments of the trial played themselves out according to the best Hollywood clichés: the packed courtroom – even the corridor was full of people  waiting to hear the outcome –  the excited ‘ripple’ of reaction at the verdict, which meant the judge had to threaten to clear the court, the rush to congratulate the acquitted man… His co-defendant was duly declared innocent too, in spite of having fled in the middle of the trial (his current whereabouts were unknown).[1] It was a suitably dramatic ending to a trial that had gripped Hong Kong in late July and early August 1950. This was strange. The case was a complex one and the subject matter not particularly compelling: an alleged conspiracy to procure false evidence in an accidental manslaughter charge. Yet on the day when the ‘first accused’ appeared in the dock the account of his cross-examination was spread over three pages of The China Mail.[2]

The reason for this interest was that this ‘first accused’ was Marcus da Silva, arguably the colony’s most prominent lawyer, and, for those who cared to cast their minds back to those dark days, a war hero, who had courageously smuggled money into Stanley, spied for the British Army Aid Group, and then steadfastly resisted the violent attempts of Colonel Noma’s Gendarmes to make him incriminate himself and others.

Mr. da Silva died six years after his acquittal, at the age of 48; before the coming of the internet his story had effectively disappeared from public view but now the outlines at least are visible in contemporary newspapers from both Hong Kong and the United States.

Marcus Alberto da Silva was born on March 1, 1907 and educated at St. Joseph’s College. He was admitted to practise as a solicitor in the Supreme Court in 1930[3] and he joined Mr. D’Almada Remedios, who was then a partner with Mr. Leo D’Almada senior.[4] From 1933 onward he operated a one-man practice. He stayed in Hong Kong after the surrender, remaining uninterned because of his Portuguese nationality.

On September 23, 1945, shortly after his return from Free China at the end of the war, he was asked – or volunteered – to make a broadcast over Hong Kong radio to try to persuade people to charge a reasonable price for the goods and services they provided – the Government was aiming to restore something like pre-war prices to the Colony after the massive inflation of the Japanese occupation. In the course of his broadcast Mr. da Silva gives a general picture of occupied Hong Kong that’s very much in tune with all the other accounts in English, of the grimness and the terror of this period:

Then – Hong Kong by night was a dull, drab blot against a duller, drabber night sky.[5]

‘Fear’ and the ‘cracking of the whiplash’ were, he told the listeners, the weapons of Japanese rule:

 (E)ach and every one of us walked around Hong Kong furtively looking over our shoulders, afraid to talk, afraid to whisper – every vestige of freedom – that inalienable right of every human – taken from us.[6]

But Marcus da Silva hadn’t allowed this fear to stop him from acting. In late 1942 he approached the American Chester Bennett, who had agreed to forego the June 29 repatriation in order to remain in Hong Kong to help the Stanley internees with the purchase of extra food. Bennett had also been smuggling money into the camp and the Portuguese solicitor wanted to help:

Chester I want something to do. I want to help. I know you didn’t get out of Stanley for your health. Bennett gave him a grin and replied, ‘Marcus I’ve been waiting for you to come to me. I knew you would.’ And the big American businessman and the dark energetic little Portuguese lawyer teamed up to get money into Stanley.[7]

What follows – based on interviews with Bennett’s wife and da Silva himself – is important testimony as to methods used to raise money and smuggle it into Stanley:

They did it by having Chinese guards on food trucks entering the camp bring out promissory notes from people of standing in the community. Bennett and Da Silva would then take these notes to rich Indian and Swiss merchants and asked them to advance Jap military yen in exchange  for promissory notes, pointing out that when the  Allies won they would be worthless anyway.[8]

 Most accounts I’ve read focus on the work of the uninterned bankers in raising relief funds, and it takes nothing away from the courage and resourcefulness of men like Grayburn and Hyde to realise that Chester Bennett and Marcus da Silva were active in this field too. Here’s the rest of Boyle’s account of their smuggling technique:

Da Silva would collect the money and put it in a small basket swinging from his arm – (figure illegible- perhaps 40,000) to 50,000 dollars at a time – and walk boldly past Jap soldiers to a book store around the corner. Bennett would be waiting in the rear of the bookstore. He would take the money to another rendezvous and they’d smuggle it into Stanley by putting it in the bottom of lard cans. This went on for several months They got hundreds of thousands of yen in to helpless internees – money that was translated into food and kept them going.[9]

Bennett had been a spy as well as a smuggler, working with Charles Hyde and collecting shipping data and either relaying the information by messengers or by sending it aboard a Chinese junk which pulled out of the harbour and passed it on over concealed shortwave radio.[10] Da Silva naturally wanted to join in these activities too, but I’m not sure from Boyle’s account how far this had happened before their arrest. A shocking development threatened their ability to do anything at all.

Some time in April they were brought news of Hyde’s arrest: a Chinese secret agent employed by the Gendarmerie came to Bennett:

‘The Japanese have prepared a blacklist in Hong Kong of people they suspect,’ he warned, ‘and you and Da Silva are both on it. You had better stay under cover.’ [11]

In an astonishing act of bravery, the two men discussed the situation and decided to ignore advice to go into hiding and then escape from the Colony: they reasoned that the internees needed the money they were sending in, and that the shipping information was too valuable to the Allied cause for them to stop. They understood that their arrest was now only a matter of time, and they knew that torture would follow and death would be the most likely outcome.[12]

Instead of going into hiding they decided to tighten and intensify their operations. Da Silva agreed to take over the main burden of Hyde’s espionage work while Bennett concentrated on smuggling funds to internees. The lawyer felt that the espionage ring had been too loosely organised and set out to tighten it.

In April 1943, not long before their own arrest, they designed an ambitious three-pronged resistance program and sent it off for approval by higher authorities. They planned to set up an intelligence section to gather information about the movement of shipping in and out of Hong Kong, to incite resistance among the local population against the Japanese –  partly by arranging the assassination of Chinese and Indian agents of the Kempeitai as a warning to other traitors –  and to retain the loyalty of Indian troops being used to guard the Canton railway by raising enough money to secretly provide each soldier with ten yen a month  to buy cigarettes.[13]

By 1946 Marcus da Silva had come to think that the enterprise was always doomed:

I believe now that it is impossible for Europeans to conduct espionage successfully by themselves in a predominantly Oriental community occupied by other Orientals…It is too easy for them to check your associates and torture them into giving you away.[14]

Before they received a reply as to their three point plan, both men were in prison.  At 7 a.m. on May 14, 1943 Marcus da Silva was arrested at his residence,[15] and later on the same day the Gendarmes came for Chester Bennett.   In his 1945 radio broadcast Mr. da Silva said a little about his experiences as a prisoner, held in a tiny cell in Mongkok Gendarmerie:

In May 1943 the Jap gendarmes took me in as a political suspect for a period of two months and they gave me everything they had in the way of tortures and beatings.[16]

He wasn’t exaggerating; to start with, he was whipped and accused of getting false Portuguese papers for his neighbour George van Bergen (also arrested on May 14) so that he could remain at large and act as a British spy,[17] a charge the solicitor denied even after the war. Howard Torr – a notorious Chinese assistant of the Kempeitai – tried everything he knew to break Da Silva, but he refused to admit to anything or to incriminate anyone else.[18]

He was also accused of being a British spy himself and in contact with Colonel Lindsay Ride; when he denied everything he was burnt above the right knee with a hot poker and subjected to other hideous tortures. When Torr threatened to bring in his younger brother Carl and his (Marcus’s) family, da Silva pointed out that he and Carl had been friendly with Torr before the war, and that the Chinese had even been an ‘occasional client’ of his.[19]

It was his religion – presumably Roman Catholicism – that kept him going during this unimaginably dark time. In his 1945 broadcast he said that in his suffering he almost came to feel that there was no God – ‘almost’ because without that belief ‘it would have meant sheer madness, the madness and insanity of blackest despair’. There are, indeed, a number of accounts of people driven to insanity by the squalid cells, the meagre rations and the brutality to be found in a Kempeitai prison. Others sought refuge in death.

Mr. Da Silva won his freedom in a remarkable way; unfortunately the details are not fully clear, but the general picture can be pieced together from a number of accounts. Boyle’s is the most straightforward: after all efforts to break him had failed, a Chinese Gendarme – presumably Torr – offered him his freedom for $5,000. The solicitor smuggled out this information to his wife, who approached Mr. Hattori, the Japanese head of the Foreign Affairs Department, who ordered da Silva’s release and the arrest of the Gendarme.[20] Colonel Noma, the head of the Gendarmerie at the time, gave a different version at his post-war trial for war crimes: he claimed that he’d ordered da Silva’s release because of insufficient ‘proof’, and that he refused an application for his re-arrest for the same reason. He took responsibility for the escape of this ‘very important spy’ and said so in a report to the Governor General.[21]

Another piece of the jigsaw is supplied by American author Emily Hahn in her autobiographical China To Me (1986 ed.,  417-8) Ms. Hahn, writing originally in 1944, tells us that she can’t give the full story, and it seems that Marcus da Silva’s name might have been one of the things she left out. In her account, Howard Tse (aka Torre/Tore/Tau/Tse Chi – I think the accounts that use these names are all about the same man), the Chinese Gendarme who tortured Mr. da Silva, had been terrorising the Portuguese community by arresting men and making their families pay bribes to get them out. These releases did actually happen, except in two cases in which Hahn thought Tse/Torre harboured old grudges – perhaps something had occurred to annoy him during the social and business encounters mentioned above, or perhaps Hahn was wrong and Torr knew that, unlike most of his other victims, Mr. da Silva really was a member of the resistance. In this account, it was Hahn who took details of Tse’s activities to Hattori – the Portuguese were the charge of the Foreign Affairs Department – and urged him to act.  Hattori was a decent man who did what he could for those he was responsible for, but he was understandably scared of the Gendarmes. Hahn pressed him and eventually, with great reluctance, he ‘went to bat for the Portuguese’, steadfastly staying at the wicket until the match was won. Tse fled and ‘his little private extortion prison’ was emptied. My guess is that both Mrs. Da Silva and Emily Hahn urged Hattori to act, and that Noma’s account, self-serving although it undoubtedly was, is probably also true: Hattori was a civilian with zero authority over the Gendarmes, who were a branch of the Army, and only someone as senior as Noma could have released Da Silva against the will of Tse’s Japanese ‘patrons’ in the Kowloon Gendarmerie. In any case, it seems that Torr ended up in prison, where he nevertheless continued his pro-Japanese activities.[22]

Whatever the details of his release, in November 1943 Marcus da Silva fled with his family to Macao. I don’t know if his escape had been planned long in advance, or if it was a response to the assault on the Portuguese community that began at that time: Charles Henry Basto was arrested on charges of spying on November 1 (he was executed the next year) and Portuguese bankers began to be seen by the Stanley internees in the grounds of Stanley Prison some time before Christmas.[23] In any case, his flight came just in time. The Japanese soon realised they’d made a mistake in releasing him and sent four agents to Macao on a fruitless mission to kidnap him and bring him back.[24] Eventually, the solicitor made his way to the safety of Free China.

The escape was organised by BAAG operative Mr. William Chong, who took him out along with another prominent Portuguese citizen, probably Leo D’Almada, Marcus da Silva’s old boss:

They both are very famous people in Hong Kong which I never met them before, I don’t know who they are because I wasn’t in Hong Kong long enough to know them, so I brought them out…to safety but I, my job, I never ask them for their last name. I never tell them who I am or what I am doing. All they know about me is “Bill” and they, ah, I don’t know this person is Leo and the other one’s Marcus da Silva… So they are very important people in Hong Kong. They were…captured by, tortured by the Japanese, and they escaped, and my job, I brought them home[25]

After his escape, Marcus da Silva sent a messenger to Mrs. Bennett suggesting she accompany him to the safety of Macao, but she declined, and was arrested in 1944 on suspicion of continuing her husband’s activities. She survived, and both she and Mr. Da Silva acted as witnesses in war crimes trials.

Mr. da Silva returned to Hong Kong from Kunming on September 9, 1945 and joined the British Military Administration as Prosecutor on behalf of the Crown in the cases of those accused of treason and collaboration. He had worked as a one-man practise since 1933, and he resumed this a few months after his return. At the time of his arrest in 1950 he’d built up an extensive practice with twenty staff [26]

In February 1946 he was given the honour of leading for the Crown in the committal proceedings that launched the Colony’s first war-related trials. Six men were involved, including the notorious George Wong (executed), J. J. Richards (15 years), and a Swiss man, a Red Cross official to boot, [27] – the accusations against a neutral European made the case an international sensation at the time (charges against this man were withdrawn under an amnesty, but Mr. da Silva, again appearing for the Crown, made it clear that he was still considered guilty, and the next week he was deported for life from Hong Kong). Two Chinese Gendarmes, So Leung and Tsui Kwok-ching, were accused of a number of outrages, including taking part in da Silva’s own torture.

As this and the subsequent trials – both for treason and for war crimes – proceeded, Marcus da Silva played a prominent part as prosecutor and as witness.  And then, in the strange reversal with which I began this account, he appeared in the dock himself, accused, along with film director Shao-Kwai Tam, of conspiracy to bribe a witness to give false evidence in the case of an actress, Cheung Dik-chan, accused of manslaughter as a result of a driving accident. The trial opened on July 24, 1950.[28] Appearing for Mr. da Silva was H. G. Sheldon, once a thorn in the side of Franklin Gimson in Stanley Camp, but now a pillar of Hong Kong’s legal establishment. The man Mr. da Silva was charged with attempting to bribe was disgraced Hong Kong policeman William Henry Cowie – variously described as a rogue, a rat and a man of evil reputation[29]– and Sheldon seems to have had little difficulty in destroying his credibility as a witness, and with it the Crown’s case. It seems that Marcus da Silva had a number of influential enemies in the legal world, or so Sheldon suggested, hinting that his client had been set up. Perhaps that had something to do with his hot temper: at one point he apologised to the court for a former outburst,[30] and I get the impression of a man of huge energy and dynamism who might seem rather intimidating to anyone standing in his way. It’s sad that the last years of Mr. da Silva’s life were darkened by this allegation, but the trial ended with his complete vindication and the resumption of his distinguished post-war career.

Marcus da Silva became ill at the end of 1955, but insisted on carrying on his work.  He died at St. Paul’s (‘the French’) Hospital in Causeway Bay on Monday, February 20, 1956. Two days later tributes were paid at a special sitting of the Full Court. The sub-headings of the China Mail report speak for themselves: Able Advocate-Sheer Hard Work- Great Courage-Penetrating Mind-Strong Personality-Wonderful Man-Rare Combination.[31] Acting Attorney-General Arthur Hooton, who had prosecuted him in 1950, said that no man ever worked longer hours – 80 hours were not a full working week to him – and that he never came into court unprepared as to either facts or law.

He was a man of indomitable courage, who had insisted on carrying on the fight during the war even when he knew the odds were completely against him. It’s not surprising he always expected to beat his illness and get back to work.

[1] China Mail, Saturday, August 5, 1950, page 1.

[2] August 1, 1950, pages 3, 4 and 13.

[3] China Mail, February 22, 1956, page 10.

[4]Hong Kong Telegraph, December 19, 1930, page 14.

[5] China Mail, September 24, 1945, page 2.

[6] China Mail, September 24, 1945, page 2.

[15] China Mail, June 26, 1947.

[16] China Mail, September 24, 1945, page 2.

[17] China Mail, June 6, 1947, page 2.

[18] China Mail, March 8, 1946, pages 1 and 5.

[19] China Mail, March 8, 1946, page 5.

[21]China Mail, February 12, 1947, page 3.

[22] George Wright-Nooth, Prisoner of the Turnip Heads, 1994, 260.

[23] G. A. Leiper, A Yen For My Thoughts, 1982, 189-190.

[26] China Mail, August 1, 1950, page 3.

[27] China Mail, February 20, 1946. For the withdrawal of charges see China Mail, April 18, 1946 pages 2 and 5, and for the deportation, April 24, 1946, page 2.

[28] China Mail, July 25, pages 3 and 11.

[29] China Mail, August 2, 1950, page 3.

[30] China Mail, August 3, 1950, page 11.

[31] China Mail, February 22, 1956, paged 10.


Filed under British Army Aid Group, Charles Hyde, Chester Bennett, Hong Kong WW11, Portuguese in Hong Kong, Stanley Camp

Dr. Frederick Bunje

Doctor Frederick Bunje, another member of Selwyn-Clarke’s ‘team’, came from what seems to have been a well-established Hong Kong family (for a note on the family, see a future post).

I’ve not been able to find much about his early life. On January 1, 1917 The Hongkong Daily Press announced that Mr. F. Bunje was one of two men appointed Public Vaccinator. The title ‘Mr.’ and the position awarded might suggest he was in medical training at this time but not yet qualified  You didn’t need to be  a doctor to become a Vaccinator. He became qualified to practise in Hong Kong on February 25, 1927 (

My sources relating to the inter-war years deal with non-professional matters. In September 1936 Dr. F. Bunje was one of three judges in a Hongkong Telegraph photographic competition, giving a talk on the winning entries at the Gloucester Hotel[1] In 1939 he visited South Africa, spending more than two months travelling widely in Cape Province; The China Mail for March 21, 1939 reports his return on the steamer Boissevain.[2] He was greatly struck by ostriches and ostrich farming; he talked on this subject to a Rotary luncheon on May 2.[3] One incident during a visit to an ostrich farm led him to mention the old saying about ostriches sticking their heads in the sand when they wished not to see something unpleasant, which may or may not have been a comment on Hong Kong’s reluctance to face up to the inevitability of a Japanese attack! Towards the end of his talk the doctor advocated a revival of the ostrich feather industry, purportedly killed because hats big enough for such adornments couldn’t be easily carried in motor cars.

Tony Banham’s website, Hong Kong War Diary, has two listings that probably refer to him. The first places him, plausibly, as a senior member of Lindsay Ride’s Field Ambulance Unit:

Bunje, F. Major[4]

It seems he was appointed Major on May, 19, 1941  (

The second suggests that after the surrender he was held at St. Paul’s Hospital (aka The French Hospital):

Bunje, F. 44, Doctor SPH[5]

This entry is from the Nonuniformed Civilians list, but this isn’t necessarily a problem, as the Japanese were surprisingly relaxed about the distinction between combatants and civilians, at least in the days following the surrender, and sometimes status was determined solely by being in or out of uniform at the surrender. Ironically his wife seems to have been classed as a combatant nurse, as she’s on the Uniformed Civilians list:

Bunje, Mrs. M.L. (St. Paul’s Hospital)[6]

She was in the Auxiliary Nursing Service, stationed at St. Paul’s. On the BAAG list of Britishers living there in December 1942, Mrs. Bunje is the only recorded wife, apart from Hilda Selwyn-Clarke, so it might have been the case that the the Bunjes found themselves together there at the start of the years of occupation.

According to a British Army Aid Group report, Dr. Bunje was a Eurasian and therefore allowed some freedom while living at St. Paul’s. He applied for a permit to go to Kwang Chow Wan – for escapes by this route see the post on Staff-Sergeant Sheridan –  but unfortunately while waiting he was approached by his chauffeur, who asked for a certificate saying that he (the chauffeur) had served as a volunteer driver during the war. Bunje refused, presumably because he knew this to be untrue, and in revenge the chauffeur went to the Japanese and said that Dr. Bunje had paid $8,000 for an escape. Bunje was arrested and for two days wasn’t allowed to sleep; instead, he was beaten with a baseball bat, chased with dogs, and forced to run around. Dr. Fehilly said that at the time of his own departure from Hong Kong Bunje was waiting for his September pass to be renewed, and ‘it would be necessary to help him out’ – presumably to assist his escape rather than give him financial aid (Ride Interview with Fehilly, 18 December  1942).

On June 7, 1943, a BAAG report listed those who’d recently been arrested. Dr. Bunje is reported to have been taken by the Kempeitai from the French Hospital on May 2, the day of Selwyn-Clarke’s arrest:

The first 3[7] were taken to the Gendarmerie H. Q. Bunjee (sic) was manhandled and fainted.[8]

The H.Q. was in the former Supreme Court Building. The fact that he was taken there means he was probably tortured, but I have so far not been able to find any details of his interrogation, trial and sentencing.

His arrest and subsequent imprisonment mean that he was very likely helping Selwyn-Clarke in his medical smuggling operation, but I think that everyone in the French Hospital was playing a part, and I don’t know why he was one of those suspected by the Kempeitai.

Those not arrested – including Mrs. Bunje, already no doubt traumatised by her husband’s arrest – were subjected to a terrifying ‘lock down’ as the Kempeitai searched the Hospital for evidence of spying. Those not implicated, 18 in number, were sent to Stanley on May 7, bringing news of the arrests:

Frid 7th

Fine. People from French Hosp arrived 2 PM. Drs Selwyn-Clark & Burgie/Bungie [?] detained in town in connection with money swindle?[9]

Perhaps R. E. Jones was being cautious. Or perhaps his informants from the Hospital were, as some at least of those arrested were suspected of espionage, something the Japanese took much more seriously than financial irregularities. Mrs. Bunje seems to have been allowed to carry on living out of camp, as I can find no record of her in Stanley.

Japanese Medical officer Colonel Saito said at his war crimes trial that there were three doctors in Stanley Prison: Selwyn-Clarke, Talbot and Bunje.[10] I think this means that Dr. Bunje was the ‘well-known’ Hong Kong doctor who befriended imprisoned banker Andrew Leiper, as Talbot wasn’t in prison for long enough to match the account, and there are a number of reasons for ruling out Selwyn-Clarke. Saito also said that he made as much use of the doctors as possible, but that might have been because he was  accused of criminally neglecting his medical responsibilities. Leiper was able to share in some of the benefits acquired by the doctor for his occasional medical assistance to the Japanese.[11] He notes that his friendship with the doctor continued for several years after liberation.

Dr. Bunje resumed his practice after the war. When policeman Norman Gunning wanted to return to the UK, it was Dr. Bunje who examined him and declared him healthy for travel. He was practicing on the fourth floor of the York Building in Chater Rd.[12]  The China Mail for August 24, 1950[13] announces a forthcoming talk by him on the subject of euthanasia. Interestingly, in an audience containing a number of clerics, Dr. Bunje makes no religious arguments in his opposition to euthenasia, (sic) but claims, as many doctors still do today, that legalisation would ‘strike at the very heart of our medical profession’. He felt that morphine could control pain and that soon science would have the cure for all diseases anyway.[14]

So far, that’s all I know.

[1] The Hongkong Telegraph, September 29, 1936, page 7 and October 27, 1936, page 23.

[2] The report seems to be on page 1, but it’s listed as page 25.

[3] Hong Kong Telegraph, May 3, 1939, page 5. See also The Hongkong Daily Press, May 3, 1939, page 7.

[7] Doctors Selwyn-Clarke, Bunje and Nicholson. Nicholson is documented in Stanley Camp later in the war so he was presumably released without charge or served a relatively short sentence.

[8] Tony Banham, We Shall Suffer There, entry for June 7, 1943.

[9] Diary of R. E. Jones.

[10] China Mail, April 12, 1947, page 3.

[11] G. A. Leiper, A Yen For My Thoughts, 1982, 209-210.

[12] Norman Gunning, A Passage to Hong Kong, 203.

[13] Page 3.

[14] Hongkong Daily Press, November 8, 1939, page 6.


Filed under Hong Kong WW11, Selwyn-Selwyn Clarke

John, Barbara and Maureen Fox

Another of the five people marked ‘probably S. D.’[1] on the British Army Aid Group list of those living at the French Hospital in December 1942,is John Alexander Fox, 33 years old in 1945,[2] the only one of this group to have his wife with him – if the list is accurate in this respect, which is not certain as it leaves out Evelina, who after her marriage on June 29, 1942 was a British citizen and living in the Hospital.  Mrs. Fox’s full name was Barbara Bridget Fox (30 in 1945).

Mr. Fox’s job is given as civil servant with the Hong Kong Government According to Greg Leck’s Stanley Roll[3] they had a daughter in camp, who was born in January 1945 and died in August 1945. This is wrong. Happily she did not die in Camp but lived for many years after, becoming a midwife and an active Rotarian![6]  What little I can add to these bald facts about the Fox family comes from an online article by Maureen on a Rotary Club website (published in 2011).[7]

John Alexander Fox came originally from Raphoe, in County Donegal, the smallest cathedral city in Europe. I know nothing about his pre-war experiences in Hong Kong, or of what happened to him in the war before his appearance on the British Army Aid Group list of uninterned Allied citizens. Maureen Fox tells us that her father was in ‘the Colonial Service’, and, as he’s also listed as a Civil Servant, it could be that he did not work for the pre-war Sanitation Department but nevertheless had some kind of public health related expertise that was required under occupation conditions.

After his period living in the French Hospital, he and his wife were sent into Stanley, probably on May 7, 1943.[8] They shared room D1 with Thomas and Evelina. Mrs. Fox became pregnant a year or so later:

When my mother was pregnant and while feeding me, my father gave her half of his daily ration.

What this means can best be understood by describing a typical day’s ration from 1944: about 12 ounces of rice, an ounce or so of fish, 0.4 ounces of peanut oil, a slice or rice bread perhaps, and meagre monthly issues of beans, sugar, tea, salt and curry powder.[9] The sacrifice involved in giving up half of such a starvation diet can only be imagined.

As to the ‘war after’, it’s a familiar story:[10]

(M)y parents seldom spoke of these three dreadful years.

The family was deeply rooted in Hong Kong, as Maureen Fox was the fifth generation to be brought up there. There are many people named Fox buried in Hong Kong cemeteries,[11] but I don’t know which ones were relatives.

Maureen Fox made her career in nursing, specializing in midwifery. She trained at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast and worked in the nursing service for many years, retiring in 2000. Of her ‘happy years’ at the RVH she writes:

My closest friends today are the colleagues from those years in the “Royal”. They provided me with the “family” that I didn’t have in this country as my parents and relatives were in Hong Kong.

 She married an Ulsterman – becoming Maureen Magowan – and moved to Limavady in County Londonderry in 1968. She continued to visit family and friends in Hong Kong, but Limavady became her home. As well fulfilling as her professional duties, she held several positions in the Rotary Club: for a photograph of her at work for Rotary see and

[1] Sanitation Department.

[2] Full names and ages in 1945 from Greg Leck, Captives of Empire, 2006, 626.

[3] Leck’s source is unclear but my guess is that it’s compiled from a number of documents in the National Archives.

[9] John Stericker, A Tear for the Dragon, 1958, 169. Other sources give even lower figures: e.g. the Jones diary for July 11, 1944 reads Veg (nil food value) 8.5oz per head daily.

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Leslie William Robert Macey

Note: This is another post that deals with those men and women kept outside Stanley camp to work on public health issues with Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke. It deals with public health official Leslie Macey. Except where otherwise indicated, this post is based on material from Mr. Macey’s daughter, Ruth Sale, who very kindly sent me scanned copies of her father’s archive and supplied me with information from family tradition. There is another interesting and moving story to be told in a separate post: the determined efforts made by Mr. Macey’s widowed mother to find out what had happened to her son.

Leslie William Robert Macey was born in Frimley on September 16, 1905,[1] the eldest of 6 children. He grew up in the seaside town of Minehead in Somerset. His mother, Beatrice Anne, was widowed in 1925. When her husband, William Henry, died she was left in a difficult situation with her two youngest children still of school age. During the war she worked as a companion to elderly people in the Home Counties and London, and her son lost her latest address during the hectic seventeen days of fighting, which made communication even harder than for most of the other internees.

Much of Mr. Macey’s early working life was spent in the army, for whom he boxed. He first appears in the Hong Kong press in 1930 as a hockey player and  features regularly in the next year or so and occasionally thereafter in that capacity.  At some point he became a health inspector – his daughter considers this a rather surprising choice: when he married in 1948 he listed his job as Colonial Transport Officer and on returning to Britain he worked with figures, and public health officer  doesn’t seem an obvious station on such a career trajectory! However, he’s documented as having sat and passed an exam (‘Inspectors of Meat and Other Foods’) at Leeds University in 1937.[2] The Hong Kong health authorities obviously had an arrangement with Leeds, as Mr. Macey was one of four residents who passed that exam: the others were Stanley Poole, Arthur Foster, who was interned in Stanley, and Alexander Christie Sinton, who probably also lived in the French Hospital, and who was executed for his resistance activity on October 29, 1943.[3]

Mr. Macey was one of the Essential Workers, ‘reserved’ from fighting, during the 17 day Japanese assault:

(I) had quite an exciting time and one or two close shaves, but apart from losing all I possessed I managed to weather the storm alright.[4]

According to Tony Banham, there were 23 health inspectors in Hong Kong at about that time[5] and only five people recorded as probably[6] from the Sanitation Department on the December 1942 BAAG list of people living in the French Hospital.[7]

Leslie Macey’s letter to his mother of September 3, 1945 gives a good overview of the experience of all of the twenty or so adults in the French Hospital:

During the first eighteen months of the Japanese occupation about a dozen of us were not interned but were engaged in Public Health work under our M.O.H., Dr Selwyn Clarke who has now been awarded the C.M.G. During this time we were allowed to work in our offices during the daytime but had to return to our billets at night. This eighteen months was not very pleasant. We had difficulty in obtaining food and the Japs, who have a very strong spy complex, had us under suspicion the whole time, which was not very good for our nerves, as we were always expecting to be arrested by the local Gestapo at any moment.

I’ve written about fear of the Kempeitai (‘the local Gestapo’) in a number of posts,[8] and I’ll discuss the deteriorating food supply in occupied Hong Kong in the future. The two fears – of arrest and starvation – seem to have been widely, perhaps universally, felt amongst the ‘Stanley Stay-outs’.[9] The fear of arrest and subsequent torture was probably the stronger. The public brutality meted out to the Chinese from the start was a reminder of what might happen, but at first the Japanese treated the British civilians with caution, even respect.[10] To the best of my knowledge, the only ones arrested by the Kempeitai in 1942 were four escapers from Stanley Camp, and, although these experienced rough treatment in appalling conditions it’s probable (although not certain) that they weren’t actually tortured.[11] Even when Sir Vandeleur Grayburn and E. P. Streatfield were arrested in March 1943 for trying to send money into Stanley they weren’t tortured. It was only with the arrests of suspected spies in April and May 1943 that the brutality began, but, of course, none of the health workers in the French Hospital or the bankers in the Sun Wah Hotel knew that this was how things were going to work out, and they were, I’m sure, terrified right from the start, experiencing an intensification of fear as 1943 went on and the Kempeitai ‘strike back’ against ‘illegal’ activities got into its stride. We know from a number of sources that Selwyn-Clarke expected to be arrested from a relatively early stage in his operations and the same expectation must have been widespread in the French Hospital.

Unfortunately I’ve so far been able to find out nothing about the nature of the work carried out by Mr. Macey or any individual sanitation officer. Something is known, however, about the general Japanese public health measures introduced in 1942, and these too I’ll write about in the future, but as to Mr. Macey’s exact role in implementing them, only speculation is possible. Given the certificate in the inspection of ‘meat and other foods’ it’s possible that he helped oversee the attempt to move meat and fish sales from street hawking into markets, and then to set up a meat importing consortium.[12] But it’s highly likely he had other areas of expertise and, as by all accounts Selwyn-Clarke was allowed to keep out only a ‘skeleton staff’, it’s probable that all of the four inspectors carried out a number of different tasks.

It soon became clear to the uninterned British citizens that only a great effort on their part could avoid large scale deaths in Stanley and the POW camps – even with their help many POWS died in Shamshuipo in 1942, the worst year in that camp. The bankers, under the leadership of Sir Vandeleur Grayburn, the Chief Manager of the HKSBC, and the health workers in the French Hospital responded with great courage and resourcefulness. The bankers raised large sums of money which was spent by Selwyn-Clarke on medical supplies and essential foods which were then smuggled into the camps. It should be noted that much of this money came, at great personal risk, from wealthy Chinese and Indian residents, who helped out in spite of the fact that they had been the victims of the endemic racism of pre-war Hong Kong. Some of the money they contributed came as loans to be repaid after the war, and were a reasonable investment as they were made in Japanese Military Yen, which might well be worthless when the British returned, but would be repaid in Hong Kong dollars.  Much of it, however, was simply offered out of charity, slipped to the banker surreptitiously during a legitimate transaction.

Family tradition states that Leslie Macey was one of those who smuggled drugs into the camps, and although there is no documentary evidence that this is correct I think it almost certain that he acted in this way, courageously helping others in spite of the fearful consequences of being caught and never expecting any reward or even acknowledgment. One of the reasons for believing this tradition to be true is simple: the fact of the smuggling of medical drugs by the small group in the French Hospital is now well documented, but it’s not something that anyone unfamiliar with the literature of the war in Hong Kong would be likely to invent.

Both bankers and health workers paid a heavy price for their courage: the accountant Charles Hyde was executed (he was also a leading British spy), Grayburn and his deputy Edmondston died in prison, while five other bankers served sentences in hideous conditions; Selwyn-Clarke was tortured for months but refused to incriminate himself or anyone else, while doctors Bunje and Nicholson were arrested (Bunje ended up in prison, but Nicholson probably released – I’ll provide the evidence in a future post). An unknown number of Chinese doctors from the French Hospital and elsewhere were also taken by the Kempeitai.

Family information suggests that Mr. Macey’s boss was beheaded in front of him. One possibility is that this was his Chinese boss in the Sanitation Department – I am aware of a number of cases of summary execution of a Chinese national, and it was not unknown for the Japanese to execute even their own officials for spectacular failure. Another is that the ‘boss’ was Alexander Christie Sinton: many sources say that the executions on (or very close to) Stanley Beach on October 29, 1943 were at a spot visible from the camp, and some add that a number of internees actually witnessed them, and  it’s certainly possible that Mr. Macey was among them.

The same family source also says that the Japanese “pretended” they were about to chop off Mr. Macey’s  head too. From his own account (see below) he was not suspected of spying by the Japanese Gendarmes and military who searched the French Hospital after Selwyn-Clarke’s arrest – except no doubt in the general sense that the Gendarmes believed the Hospital was a ‘hotbed of espionage’[13] – so this terrifying threat was probably made at some point during the 16 or so months he was working in occupied Hong Kong. The reference to the ‘mental strain’ of the war years (see below) was obviously understated.

My guess is that the worst of that tension, almost unimaginable at the best of times, came in early May, 1943, when the Gendarmes arrived at the French Hospital to arrest Selwyn-Clarke, who they’d long believed to be the British spymaster in Hong Kong. They were wrong, he was only involved in non-military ‘illegal’ activities, but on May 2, 1943, the Japanese thought they were cutting off the head of the Allied resistance. This is Mr. Macey’s account, in a letter of September 3, 1945, of the dramatic events of that day:

(O)ne Sunday morning early in May 1943, the Gendarmes swooped down on us, arrested several and the remainder were sent to the internment camp at Stanley where the other H.K. civilians had been interned since the occupation. We felt much happier in the Camp, because there seemed to be safety in numbers and it was more pleasant to be living amongst British people rather than amongst hostile Japs and Chinese. Several of our party who had been arrested were eventually executed by the Japs and others received 15 years imprisonment. I was very lucky and, as far as I know was not suspected by the Japs and, apart from being placed in internment that was all that happened to me.

This is of great interest, as the only other eye-witness description of these events I’ve ever come across is that given by Selwyn-Clarke himself in his autobiography.[14] Mr. Macey shows a sensitive concern for his family by not describing the terror he and his colleagues must have felt at the early morning arrival of the Gendarmes, and the arrest of three of the small band of British citizens and an unknown number of their Chinese colleagues. I think that it was the same desire not to dwell on the most unpleasant parts of his wartime experiences that led to his telescoping of events by leaving out the five days locked in the Hospital while the Japanese searched for evidence of spying.[15] The documentary evidence as to this period, which ended on May 7, 1943 when 18 people were sent into Stanley, is solid, and there can be almost no doubt that Mr. Macey went though this dreadful ordeal. His relief on getting into Camp no doubt had a special quality because of the grim alternative possibility – counter-balanced by the continuing concern as to the outcome of the investigation of those arrested – but it seems to have been shared by most others who began the war outside Stanley:  from Gwen Dew, who was only in town for a short time, to Andrew Leiper, who was sent in a couple of months after the French Hospital people.[16]

In Stanley his camp number was 2441 and he lived alongside Thomas and Evelina in Bungalow D; he was in Room D3, they were in D1. Mrs. Eileen Hyde was in D5, Lady Mary Grayburn in D4, and Hilda Selwyn-Clarke in D6; all of these women had husbands in the hands of the Kempeitai during the first months in Stanley, only one of whom was to survive. Most of the bankers ended up in Bungalow E, but at least one of them, Alistair Mack, was in the same room as Mr. Macey.[17]

Mr. Macey’s first postcard (as far as I know it’s the only one to survive) is dated May, 1943. My guess is that he wasn’t lucky enough to be told immediately on arrival, as Thomas must have been, that the authorities were allowing a card pre-dated April 30 to be sent out so that another one could go out later in the month[18] – the May card sounds as if it’s the first written since internment. Mr. Macey informs his mother that he’s ‘very well’, which, in view of the post-war letter quoted below, might not have been too much of an exaggeration. Intriguingly part of the letter’s been blacked-out by the censor; I was always aware of the possibility of erasure by either the Japanese or British censor, but this is the first actual example I’ve seen. My guess, from the context, is that the forbidden words referred to the time before being sent into camp.

In the letter of September 3, 1945 Mr. Macey gives an excellent brief account of the 28 months that followed the journey, probably on the back of a truck,[19] down the Stanley Peninsula:

The life in the Camp was rather monotonous. The days seemed like weeks and the weeks seemed like years. Food was always very meagre and not the least bit nourishing. There were many cases of malnutritional disease, but apart from getting a little thin and a few minor sores and boils I managed to keep fairly fit. Actually in my own case the mental strain has been worse than the physical.

That last comment is very interesting; just a hint of the growing fear of those left in the occupied city, the terror of the five day lockdown in May 1943, and then the anxiety of the closing stages of the war when the internees were aware of the possibility they’d all be gunned down by the Japanese rather than allowed freedom.[20]

Perhaps to reassure his Roman Catholic mother he wrote:

We had two American priests in the Camp. They were both splendid fellows. We had daily mass and the usual Sunday Services the whole time.

Whether or not he actually attended these services, the tribute to Father Hessler and Father Meyer was well deserved – I’ll write about these men, who turned down both the chance of repatriation and of leaving the camp with the other Maryknoll Fathers, in a future post.

Conditions generally in Stanley Camp were better than in the other H.K. Camps. Having the women and children with us did much to keep up morale. We heard rumours of the finish of Japan about the 14th August but as we had heard the same sort of rumour for about two years , we were afraid to believe it at first, but within one or two days friendly planes flew over the Camp and then we realised that the news was true.

Rumours of a dreadful new bomb having been dropped on Japan, a story treated with some scepticism, are recorded by other internees on August 14.[21] This first letter he wrote on liberation gives a glimpse of what was going on in his mind at this joyful but still uncertain and unsettling time:

Released from Stanley Camp 31/8/45. I am in good health but very tired. I don’t think that I will be able to come home for some time. Have already started work and we are all busy trying to clear up the mess made by the Japs. Hope you and all the family are well. You have always been in my thoughts during these past three years and I am very anxious to see you all again as quickly as possible, but shortage of shipping and lack of fit men have made that difficult for the time being. (Letter to mother of September 2, 1945).

Naturally his first thought was as to how quickly he could get back to home and family, but, just as he’d been in Essential Services during the fighting, his public health expertise was required in the frantic efforts to make Hong Kong ready for something like normal life. The letter continues:

I will try and write a longer letter to you soon, but just for the moment the Postal System is disorganised because the Japs only cleared out from the main parts of the City last night, there are no stamps for sale and no proper money in circulation at the moment.

After liberation, he was in the ‘second wave’ of essential personnel to leave Stanley. Some brave pioneers – nurses and colonial staff, for example – went out into an anarchic and dangeerous Hong Kong to begin to restore some kind of normality before the arrival of Admiral Harcourt’s fleet on August 30. Mr. Macey left Stanley on 31st August – a time when Hong Kong was still far from safe and orderly – to help with the clear-up operation:

Working conditions are very hard and we are all finding it very difficult to start work again. The Japs are still in control of Kowloon but I think they will hand over to our Navy soon. (Letter of September 3).

That note of anxiety was justified: Harcourt had about 550 armed men to start with, and there were almost 20,000 Japanese just over the harbour in Kowloon!

We worked for three weeks trying to clear things up and get the Colony going again. It was a terrific strain and we were glad to see our relief arrive from home so that we could get away.

The letter was written from the Hong Kong Hotel, where Thomas and other essential workers were also billeted – I give some idea of the conditions for these personnel in

Mr. Macey left by aircraft carrier on 21st September 1945 but had an unexpected stop-over of a few weeks in Colombo as he was suffering badly from malaria:

Most of us are short of clothes and are rather ragged, but we hope that the Red Cross will fix us up with Winter clothes before we arrive. Otherwise do not be surprised if you see a scarecrow arrive.

He eventually left Colombo on 19th October 1945 on the Highland Monarch. He soon returned to Hong Kong – he’s documented there in August 1947, giving his address as c/o The Urban Council, Post Office Building, Hong Kong. The Urban Council worked with the Legislative Council to provide the legal framework for the activities of the health and sanitation departments.  He married in 1948 whilst on leave in the UK and returned to live in Kowloon. He left Hong Kong in 1950, and his daughter Ruth was born in 1956.

On return to the UK he continued in Local Government,  but now in a clerical  capacity and dealing with figures not foodstuffs. He eventually worked in the Treasurers Department of the District Council in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

Like so many of those who passed through the dark world’s fire of occupied Hong Kong he didn’t speak about the war.


Ruth Sale has told me that recent family information suggests that Mr. Macey was also involved in the smuggling operations that enabled a number of radios to be set up in Stanley. Like all the other ‘traditions’ this is plausible because such activity is documented elsewhere. The same source claims that immediately after the war he still looked behind him as if he feared being followed – another reminder of the high price paid for such courage. For  interesting light on such a habit, see my forthcoming post on Marcus da Silva (and those with access to Emily Hahn’s No Hurry To Get Home might also look at her account of her final meeting with Mrs. Weston).


[2] Royal Sanitary Institute List, recording the results of an exam that took place on June 4/5, 1937.

[4] Letter to his mother, September 3, 1945.

[5] Information given to Ruth Sale.

[6] It seems that the names on the list were provided either by Dr. Court, or, more probably Dr. Selwyn-Clarke and that whoever typed them up for the BAAG added ‘thought to be SD’ after the names of five workers (one with a wife). A. C. Sinton is listed just below these names but without this annotation.

[7] BAAG documents kindly supplied by Elizabeth Ride and Tony Banham.

[9] See for example Andrew Leiper, A Yen for My Thoughts, 1982, 169-170.

[10] See Phillip Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong, 140-141; 186.

[11] This was the opinion of a British doctor who eaxmined them in prison.

[12] Robert S. Ward, Asia for the Asiatics?, 1945, 104-106.

[13] Emily Hahn, China To Me, 1986, ed., 405.

[14] Footprints, 1975, 83.

[17] Imperial War Museum Stanley Camp List.


Filed under Hong Kong WW11, Selwyn-Selwyn Clarke, Vandeleur Grayburn

Frank Angus (and a note on the Angus family)

One of the best documented of the workers who stayed out of Stanley to help Dr. Selwyn-Clarke with his public health measures – and in all or almost all cases with his humanitarian smuggling – is Frank Angus.

Mr. Angus seems to have acted as Selwyn-Clarke’s ‘front of house man’ and general assistant. Ellen Field, who’d avoided internment by claiming to be Irish, had a husband and father in Shamshuipo, so she naturally did all she could to get food to them. During the fighting she’d been helped by a couple of Canadian soldiers, and on her visits to the Camp she was moved by the plight of these men who’d come to Hong Kong so recently that in most cases they had no friends or lovers to ease the harsh conditions of military internment by gifts of food and other essentials. She’d heard about Selwyn-Clarke’s relief work, so decided to try to enlist his assistance in her plans to help them out:

I would need a personal interview. I knew that Frank Angus, a former school friend was attached to the skeleton staff which together with Dr. Selwyn-Clarke was exempted from internment in order to do welfare work under Japanese supervision.

I went along to his office, on the top floor of the former National City Bank Building.

‘Anything I can handle?’ asked Frank pleasantly, when I was shown into his office.

‘No, Frank,’ I answered stubbornly – ‘I must see Doctor Selwyn-Clarke himself!’

‘Well,’ said Frank smiling, ‘in that case I’ll see what I can do.’

He came back in a few moments to say that the Doctor would see me.[1]

In 1957 the National City Bank Building was on Queen’s Road Central between Ice House Street and Duddell Street.[2] The meeting was the beginning of a fruitful collaboration between two extraordinarily courageous and resourceful people.

The Colliers, two Canadian missionaries who remained out of Stanley due to a mix-up, were told about Selwyn-Clarke by a Norwegian colleague, interviewed by one of his assistants – almost certainly Dorothy Lee[3] – and helped by the doctor to get a pass that allowed them to leave the flat in Kowloon where’d they’d been effectively prisoners. Round about October 1, 1942, they needed to see him in person and went to his office:

The doctor was not in and we had to wait a couple of hours for his return, but he had a young Englishman as office assistant who made the time pass quickly and pleasantly for us. He gave us very much news of the outer world which we had not heard and told us much about the conditions in the various internment camps. He had himself been released from Stanley to help Dr. Selwyn-Clarke but was so thin and pale that we imagined he could have hardly endured the camp conditions much longer.

From him we learned much of the splendid work that Dr. Clarke was doing and the terrible handicaps under which he was working, flouted and hindered by the Japanese, who were all the time suspicious of him, or jealous of every effort he made to relieve the sufferings of the soldiers and civilians in the camps.[4]

Frank Angus played an important role in these efforts:

(H)e {Selwyn-Clarke} kept with him a youngster called Frank Angus.

And Frank would come over and I would hand him ten thousand dollars and  just put it on the passbook, ‘ten thousand’. I didn’t know who it came from. Then he would bring in receipts for mosquito netting, blankets, peanuts, rice, and anything he could get hold of. Some of the stuff was (put) into sand bags and taken by the ladies of the bank up to Bowen Road Hospital. Some were sent to Kowloon where people like Sophie Odell and Susie Potts would take it on and deliver it to the hospitals there….that went on all the time we were in the Sun Wah Hotel.[5]

Frank Angus was sent to Stanley probably on May 7, 1943, alongside Thomas and Evelina and 15 other people from the French Hospital.[6] He lived with his mother and brother in Block A1, Room 10. There are two glimpses of him in camp in the sources available to me. The first is from the autobiography of Dr. Selwyn-Clarke himself. The Medical Director was brutally tortured after his arrest on May 2, but he steadfastly refused to incriminate a single person, withholding all information about Frank Angus’s money couriering activities and the myriad other things that had gone on in that brave network of humanitarian smugglers. He was eventually imprisoned in Stanley Goal next to the internment camp:

In the last few months of my imprisonment I myself became too ill to take any exercise, or move without assistance. Once in a while, a guard would help me to a concrete plinth just outside the cell-block, to sit for a short time in the sunshine. The plinth was visible from a hill in Stanley camp beyond the prison-wall, and there a watch was kept for my appearance. So soon as I was seen, the watcher would run as fast as he could to the bungalow where Hilda Mary shared a very small room,[7] used in peace-time by a Chinese Amah, with Margaret Watson, my chief almoner and our dear friend. Mary would be hurried to the hill, where two brothers, Ginger and Frank Angus, would pretend to throw her from one to the other to make her laugh. Her joyous laughter came to me over the prison wall and did me a world of good.

Finally, on May 7, 1945 Barbara Anslow recorded a piece of camp bartering:

Bought 4 ozs. tomatoes from the Anguses for a pound of rice.

 Barbara confirmed in a recent note that this was from Mrs. Angus and both her sons, and gives Frank’s age at his time as 36.[8]  It’s probable that the Angus’s had a ‘garden’ in which they grew the tomatoes, and even on day in which rumours of German collapse and of Hitler’s death circulating in Stanley the ordinary business of getting something to eat had to go on.

Towards the end of the war, he was obviously planning to set up in business on the arrival of peace, as he asked Barbara Anslow to be his secretary in a new venture; the offer was declined. A shipping manifest shows him returning to England in 1957, possibly on leave, and giving his address as teh Effingham Golf Club.

Frank Angus died in Sydney in 1987.[9]

Note on the Angus Family

Frank’s brother Herbert Alexander (‘Ginger’) and his wife and mother are on a Stanley Camp Roll that was probably drawn up about June 1942; Frank himself isn’t there, so he was taken out of Stanley before that, perhaps back in January or February. On January 1, 1946 Herbert was honoured for ‘services during internment’,[10] probably on account of work he did in the office of Franklin Gimson, the leader of the internees. In 1947 he was awarded the OBE for ‘conduct and devotion to duty in Stanley’.[11] After the war he married an Australian woman, Sue. In the late 1950s he became the director of the Hong Kong Government Commerce and Industry Department, a position he held until 1962. [12] At some point he was awarded an MBE.[13] There’s a story in Emily Hahn’s China To Me[14] about Mrs. Angus having been the object of the attentions of a Japanese soldier soon after the surrender. Hahn gives her age as 65 and doesn’t give a first name; she appears on the Camp Roll as Mrs. M. (in fact Mathilda[15]) Angus, and Barbara Anslow gives her age (presumably in 1945 – see below) as 72 but this is certainly the same woman: Hahn also tells us that ‘Chrissie Angus’ had her wrist watch stolen by a Japanese soldier, who gave her a can of peas in exchange, and this must be her daughter, Christina. Mathilda and Christina were also present at a terrifying New Year’s Eve celebration at the home of the Weill family, which was interrupted by a group of perhaps Formosan ‘camp followers’ masquerading as Japanese soldiers, who tied up some of the participants, including Christina, while they searched the house, slapped Mrs. Weill, and made threats. Christina married the architect W. W. C. Shewan, and she appears on the Camp Roll as his wife, profession ‘secretary’.  She died in the late 1970s; another brother, George, a field company engineer with the HKVDC,[16] died in Nagoya POW Camp in Japan on January 29, 1945[17]. George’s wife, Hilda, a nurse, was also in Stanley. Finally, Mathilda’s husband Peter, an inspector with the Hong Kong Police, had died in 1925 at the age of 51, and she herself died on October 1, 1947.[18]


This post was updated with information kindly supplied by Barbara Anslow and Phillip Cracknell:

[1] Ellen Field, Twilight in Hong Kong, 1960, 86-87.

[4] F. D. and H. F. Collier, Covered Up In Kowloon, 1947, 69-70.

[5] Testimony of S.W.P. Perry-Aldworth, cited in Frank King, History of the HKSBC, Volume 3, 1983?, 613.

[7] Bungalow D6. Thomas and Evelina were in D1.

[11] China Mail, April 16, 1947, page 2.

[14] Emily Hahn, China To Me, 1986 ed., 287; 297-299.


Filed under Hong Kong WW11, Selwyn-Selwyn Clarke, Stanley Camp