Monthly Archives: October 2013

Luk Chung Kit

Luk Chung Kit was 28 years old and lived in Kowloon’s Fook Chor Chuen Road.1

A Japanese trial summary, captured after the war by the British Army Aid Group, describes his resistance activity:

The accused LUK CHUNG KIT was out of work when the war broke out. About May 1942, he got to know the above-mentioned LUI KA YAN and when the latter went to WAICHOW to make contact with the British organization there at the end of March 1943, the accused accompanied him. LUI KA YAN later asked him to pass newspaper reports etc. to the British organization in WAICHOW and to receive funds for their work. He agreed to do this and secretly left the area in a fishing boat from SHATIN to carry out this mission.2

He was tried on the morning of October 21, 1943 and sentenced to death. He was one of the 33 courageous resistance agents executed on Stanley Beach early in the afternoon of October 29, 1943.

1 Trial Summary, Page 2.

2Page 7.

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Seventy Years Ago Today: A Personal Account

Not long after 2 pm. on October 29, 1943 – seventy years ago today – 33 lives were brought to a brutal end on Stanley Beach.1

32 men and one woman were executed by beheading. Their trial had been held in two sessions on October 19, and the interpreter provided by the court made little effort to convey to the prisoners what was going on, but at one point he did offer a rather feeble English summary of the proceedings. William Anderson, the Stanley Camp Quartermaster and one of those in the dock during the afternoon session, was able to pick up the gist of the accusations:

Anderson’s understanding was that it was primarily to do with the prisoners hindering the Japanese in bringing about a new order in Asia.2

Yes, indeed. They had all done so through contact of one sort or another with the resistance organisation, the British Army Aid Group. Most had been agents, but the one military man on trial that day, Captain Mateen Ansari, of the 5/7 Rajputs, had been a POW in Ma Tau-wai Camp and some of his fellow prisoners had been caught when a plan to free him was betrayed (it’s possible that the whole idea was conceived by the Japanese in order to trap members of the resistance).

By the end of October 19, 33 people received the death penalty; the rest, including William Anderson, got 15 years – this was simply a slower death sentence, even when it was reduced to ten later, as conditions in the Kempeitai jails were so bad that British prisoners who came out after two years were barely clinging on to life even though they’d received extra rations both openly and through smuggling. But happily most of this group were alive at the end of the war – although not David Edmondston, the number two at the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, who died of malnutrition and medical neglect in 1944.3

Like so many others my parents made the decision not to pass on the burden of suffering by telling their children about what happened to them during the war; my mother occasionally spoke about the (relatively!) lighter side of things – for example, finding a centipede in her shoe and calling my father to kill it – while my father was occasionally forced by the pressure of emotion to speak about his grimmest experiences.

It was clear to me even as a child that for him the worst time of the Hong Kong war was not the hostilities, with their constant threat of sudden death from the incessant shelling and frequent air raids, but the occupation that followed. And it wasn’t the hunger, the cramped conditions, the lack of decent sanitary and washing facilities, or the restricted life he was forced to lead that had scarred him the most: it was the fear of the Kempeitai.

No wonder. To be arrested by the Gendarmes was to enter a world of deprivation and terror that it’s hard for those of us who have known only peace-time conditions to even imagine. The cells themselves were torment enough: prisoners were packed tightly into rooms far too small for their number, the stench was foul – one or more of them was almost certainly suffering from dysentery – and it was not unknown for newcomers to find themselves forced to squeeze in next to the body of a poor wretch who had succumbed to mistreatment and neglect. In the Happy Valley Gendarmerie – where my father would probably have been taken if arrested during his time of greatest risk4 when he was outside Stanley, living in the French Hospital in Causeway Bay and baking bread for the hospitals – no bedding was provided – you had to wait for a cell-mate to die, be transferred or released.5 Some cells had natural light, others didn’t.

The food, as I’ve already indicated, was not enough to keep anyone alive for long: it seems to have varied at different times and in different prisons, but I think that a typical daily ration would be about 12 ozs of rice, salt, and a little vegetable marrow. But the inmates couldn’t expect even this much food to be served regularly: the gendarmes used starvation to ‘soften up’ prisoners, so interrogation would often take place when the last meal was nothing but a distant memory; sometimes longer periods of food deprivation were applied.6 For similar reasons, at least one prison was kept deliberately cold. In most cases prisoners were expected to spend much of the day cross-legged, silent and staring at a wall. Beatings were handed out for the slightest deviation.

And those already enduring these unendurable conditions lived with the pain of previous interrogations and the fear of future ones. I do not intend to describe these hideous occasions in any detail; suffice it to say that a session might begin with a beating (an amazing variety of objects were used for this) and proceed to worse measures if this failed to get the desired co-operation.

It’s probable that most or all of the people who died on October 29 had been interrogated under torture. I argued in a previous post7 that in general the Kempeitai, although brutal, treated ‘European’ prisoners with a great deal of procedural scrupulosity: they were not routinely tortured, but they almost always were if they were suspected of spying, and there’s evidence that the severity and extent of the brutality depended on the degree of involvement in espionage suspected by the interrogators. Most of those today were not ‘European’ anyway, and those who were, had taken part in activities such as military espionage, the operation of secret radio sets, and the passing on of messages, some of which were from the BAAG.

The 33 who died reacted differently to this ordeal. Two are known for certain to have been unbreakable and to have told their tormentors nothing – I think it highly probable that many more also said nothing, or only admitted to what was already known, trying to give the impression of providing information without putting anyone else at risk. We can be sure that, whatever was wrung out of them, almost nobody told everything they knew: there were many people involved in resistance whose activities were known to some of these prisoners, who were never suspected. Only one man is believed to have broken completely and attempted to spy on his fellows for better conditions and in the hope of a reprieve (which was not granted). Those who are certain they would never have done the same may wish to condemn him.

Most of those who died seventy years ago today had been arrested in the period from late April to late June – as far as I know at the moment Charles Hyde was the first and Thomas Monaghan the last, but I have very little information about the arrests of the non-Europeans. The main investigations ended around August 19.8 After that, the prisoners were probably left to await trial and then the carrying out of the sentence.

At about 2 pm on October 29 the condemned were taken out of solitary confinement and assembled inside Stanley Prison. They were refused a visit from a priest, but were allowed five minutes together to compose themselves. Captain Mateen Ansari gave an impromptu talk:

We will die strong and healthy for an ideal; not as traitors but nobly in our country’s cause.9

Wong Shiu Pun, who had worked at St. Paul’s College, led prayers. Then it was time to go.

The prisoners had their hands tied behind their backs and were roped together in groups of three. They were taken to the prison’s administration compound and put into the large prison van.10 They set off on the short drive to Stanley Beach soon after 2 pm; the blinds were pulled down, and the van was followed by two Japanese staff cars.

The American Chester Bennett was briefly interned in Stanley before being released to buy extra food for the Camp. War reporter Hal Boyle tells the next part of the story from Bennett’s perspective:

He gave the note ((a final message to his wife)) to a friendly guard and soon it was time to go. The crowded black van pulled out from the steel gates of Stanley Prison and moved slowly down the rough, narrow road leading to the small bay where British redcoats had planted the empire flag more than a hundred- years before.

As the van passed a number of internees toiling up the slope someone put his face up to the rear wire grill and called out: “Goodbye boys. We shan’t be seeing you again.” ((Believed to be Scott or Fraser.))

At the bottom of the hill the prisoners were forced to dismount and follow a trail winding around the edge of the bay. It must have been torture at every step to Chester Bennett. Rope burns on his left leg had become badly infected, the leg had become gangrenous and needed amputation. But he walked upright and limped only slightly. To all outward appearances he was utterly calm. The prisoners marched in single file to a small clearing. Ringing the hills around them were scores of Chinese gravestones. Before them in the center of the clearing the prisoners saw two trenches dug by Indian warders and knew how they were to die.11

They were all blindfolded. Captain Ansari, Walter Scott and John Fraser ward led forward first. The others followed, also in groups of three. The whole business lasted about an hour. The beheadings began, but the executioner tired and the swords lost their sharpness: some of the victims had to be finished off with bullets – some internees heard the shots and believed that the prisoners had all been executed by firing squad. Anne Ozorio describes the unflinching demeanour of Wong Shiu Pun as these dreadful events were playing themselves out:

By the time it came to him the swords were blunt. But he kept praying.12

There was no intention on the part of the executioners to cause their victims additional suffering; just incompetence and indifference.

There were 33 victims in total: seventeen Chinese, eight British, four Indians, one Canadian, one American, one Portuguese, one Eurasian. 32 were male; Lau Tak Oi, the wife of resistance leader David Loie, was the only woman.13

After it was all over, the Indian guards filled in the graves, while the Japanese became very serious, and bowed deeply as water was sprinkled on the graves. Then they returned to the prison for a raucous celebration.14

October 29, 1943 was one of the few war-time experiences my father spoke to me about. He could obviously never forget this day on which he was with Mrs Florence Hyde while her husband Charles was being executed on Stanley Beach.

My memory is that my father told me that the victims were forced to dig their own graves. I now know this wasn’t true – the graves were pre-dug, but I don’t know if the mistake in memory was mine or my father’s. And did he actually watch the executions? My memory is that he told me he did, but I find it hard to believe that Mrs Hyde chose to do so. I’ve read a few accounts that link her death from bowel cancer in 1944 to the terrible events of 1943 – her husband’s arrest, brutal torture and execution. But none of these accounts mention that she actually watched the beheading. Nevertheless, Wright-Nooth makes it clear that some internees did see the prisoners leave the van and march with their guards to the place of execution, and most sources agree that this could be seen from some parts of the camp. I’ve never read a first-hand account written by anyone who claims to have actually witnessed the beheadings, though, so I have an open mind as to whether my father actually saw them or if my memory betrayed me.

He had presumably got to know Mrs Hyde during the time they shared in Stanley Camp’s Bungalow D, although it’s possible the acquaintance began before they were sent to Stanley, when he was living in the French Hospital and she in the Sun Wah Hotel. He must also have felt a strong affinity with another of the brave men who went to their deaths today – his fellow Lane Crawford employee Frederick Ivan Hall. Mr Hall was in the company butchery department and at some point was living almost next door to my father in Morrison Hill Road (they probably had company flats). They were both also in the Lane Crawford bowls and cricket teams. And both had married Eurasian women earlier in the occupation.

The events of that day still haunted my father more than twenty years later. Why bring them back now? There are many reasons, one of them to me absolutely compelling.

While awaiting execution Douglas Waterton scratched a calendar on the walls of his cell – every morning he wrote the date and crossed out – ‘EXECUTED DATE CALENDER15 STOPS’.

Mr Waterton also recorded some basic facts:

ARRESTED STANLEY CAMP JULY 7 1943
COURT MARTIALLED OCTOBER 43 AND CONDEMNED DEATH
NO DEFENCE

His fellow prisoner, William John White, did something similar: he inscribed all the names he knew of the condemned with sometimes a little information – for example, after Alexander Sinton’s name he put ‘SD’ for Sanitation Department. (Both of these document can seen at the alternative version of this post:
http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=865422869407099982#editor/target=post;postID=5702523406503006879;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=0;src=postname)

These men, and I’m sure the 31 others who died alongside them, wanted their story to be told. In the grimmest of circumstances, with a hope of survival gone, they began the process of historical recording that those of us who live in the world made possible by their courage and sacrifice must continue in humility and gratitude. Thank you for reading this post.

1 For some of these people see:

https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/alexander-christie-sinton/

https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/thomas-christopher-monaghans-resistance-work/

https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/charles-hydes-resistance-work/

https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/chester-bennett-the-american-hero-of-hong-kong/

https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/lau-tak-oi-gladys-loie/

2 George Wright-Nooth, Prisoner of the Turnip Heads, 1994, 182.

3https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/1944-4-two-deaths-a-move-and-a-release/

4February 1942 to May 1943.

5http://gwulo.com/node/8235

6https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/part-4-of-hal-boyles-series-on-chester-bennett/

7https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/how-did-the-kempeitai-treat-british-civilians-in-hong-kong/

8Wright-Nooth, 1994, 177.

9 Wright-Nooth, 1994, 186.

10Wright-Nooth, 1994, 186.

11https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/part-4-of-hal-boyles-series-on-chester-bennett/

12https://www.facebook.com/groups/308617469269780/

13https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/the-executions-of-october-29-1943-update/

14Wright-Nooth, 1994, 187.

15 Sic.

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

Chan Ping Fun

This is what the Captured Japanese Document, a trial summary which is sadly my only source for Mr Chan, has to say about his contribution to the resistance:

The accused CHAN PING FUN was a member of the Former Reserve Police Force. From June 1942 he was employed as a construction engineer at KAI TAK Airfield. About the end of January 1943 he happened to run up against the late CHAN FEI,1 with whom he was already acquainted, and the latter asked him for information about the airfield. He promptly gave him information in his possession, about various installation projects, although he knew this was espionage activity on behalf of the enemy.
2

The same document tells us that most of the Police Reservists were recruited between April and June 19423 (although the group might not have begun full-scale operations until the end of 1942) If the section on him is accurate, it seems that Mr Chan was not recruited until late in that year; however, we must remember that almost the entire document consists of confessions obtained under torture, and that as far as possible the victims would have sought to deceive the Japanese, and in particular to minimise their own role and that of others. It’s possible that Mr Chan was spying from the start of his time at Kai Tak Airport, but we obviously can’t know the truth.

The Japanese extended this airport using forced labour from Shamshuipo; two brave men dared to tell them that to make POWs carry out war-work was against the Geneva Convention (which Japan had not signed but sometimes claimed to abide by). We know that one received a severe beating and a lesson in logic: he should have realised that his own reasoning proved the airport extension must be for civilian purposes! No doubt a similar lesson was handed out to the other.

The courageous Chan Ping Fun was probably arrested in the spring of 1943; he was tried alogside 26 others during the morning of October 19, and sentenced to death. The sentence was carried out on Stanley Beach on October 29, 1943.

His name appears on the Stanley Military Cemetery as Chan Ping Fan, and his wife is given as Leung Yuk Ming of Hong Kong.4 The Captured Document gives his age as 44 and his address as ‘Ching Yip’ Pass Mui Hing Street.

1Obviously a BAAG agent, but I have no other information about him at the moment.

2Page 8.

3Pages 3 and 6.

4http://www.roll-of-honour.org.uk/Cemeteries/Stanley_Military_Cemetery/html/c.htm

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Yan Cheuk Ming (James Kim)

Yan Cheuk Ming (James Kim, James Kun) was an Australian-Chinese agent of the British Army Aid Group. He was executed at Stanley Beach. His wife, Annie Choi (Annie Kim, Annie Yan) avoided imprisonment, torture and perhaps death alongside her husband as a result of a rare act of compassion on the part of a member of the Kempeitai (Gendarmes).

A Japanese trial summary captured by the BAAG after the liberation of Hong Kong, gives us an account of Mr Kim’s ‘crimes’:

The accused YAN CHEUK MING was employed as a clerk in the harbour department by the former HONGONG government and was a section leader in the Reserve Police Force. After the fall of HONGKONG he worked as the manager of a building firm. About April 42, he attended a meeting of former members of the Reserve Police held by TSO TSUN ON1 and after TSO TSUN ON had gone into the interior for consultation with the British organization in China,2 when informed by LOIE FOOK WING3that he should maintain liaison with the British organization in the interior, he agreed. He then collected funds to help carry on their activities, and in March 1943 he illegally went to the British organisation in WAICHOW4 and reported on conditions in HONGKONG. From April to June of the same year, on five or six occasions, he received documents from the British organisation in SHIU KWAN (KUKONG5) via the British organisation at WAICHOW for transmission to Capt. FORD and Lieut. GREY in the SHAMSHUIPO P.O.W. Camp, and to Colonel Newnham in the KOWLOON Fort P.O.W. Camp6. He employed the P.O.W. Camp truck drivers LEE LAM7 and LEE HUNG HOI8 and others to deliver these messages and to bring out replies In this way he strove to maintain liaison between the British organisation and the P.O.W. Camps.9

In other words, he was one of those Police Reservists who played a crucial role in forming and maintaining an effective resistance, and his role seems to have been particularly wide-ranging and important. More can be read about communications with the P.O.W. Camps in my posts on Lee Lam and Lee Hung Hoi, and a detailed account is contained in Passport to Eternity by Ralph Goodwin (1956).

His arrest came on June 5, 1943, in the wake of that of Loie Fook Wing (David Loie), the leader of the Police Reservist group. The Gendarmes came for both him and his wife Annie, but one of them allowed her to remain in their flat because she had a four month baby.10 She was held under house arrest for a month, but seems otherwise to have escaped retribution – it seems highly likely that she too played a role in the resistance, as the Japanese did not always arrest the wives of agents..

Some of the words were rendered illegible on the orders of a pro-Japanese Indian warder. At the top is written:

I LEAVE ALL TO MY DARLING WIFE ANNIE CHOY YUK YITY
JAMES M KIM
23 x 43

1943

And beneath we find:

GOD BLESS MY WIFE ANNIE (KIM) (YAN)
AND OUR BABIES BETTY {word in brackets illegible but given by Henry Ching as ‘Cissy’}
DIANA EDMOND, FRANKLIN,
I LOVE YOU ALL DARLINGS

GOOD BYE DADDY JIM

The date is repeated, there are a few Chinese characters, some of them illegible, and the address of Annie Kim. The message ends:

LOVE TO EVERYONE GOODBYE ALL
(obliterated) FOR EVER (obliterated)
CHINA ALWAYS (circled)
He was tried on the morning of October 19 and sentenced to death. On October 23 he scratched on the wall of his cell what George Wright-Nooth calls ‘both a will and a final touching message of love ….to his family’.11

(The original can be viewed at http://brianwedgar.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/yan-cheuk-ming-james-kim.html)

This document is not only deeply moving but also an inspiring testimony to the unbreakable spirit of James Kim. We can only imagine what he must have suffered under interrogation (the physical pain magnified by the inevitable worry as to the fate of his wife and children), while on October 23, the date of the inscription, he was imprisoned in dreadful conditions and under sentence of death (which was carried out six days later). But his mind is filled with love for his family, and the ‘handwriting’ is clear and strong, showing no traces of the effects of his past or present ordeals. Those final circled words (‘China Always’) show that his resistance work was motivated by his Chinese patriotism as well as his support for the British.

Mr Kim was from Casterton in the Australian state of Victoria.12 At the time of his arrest he was living on the second floor of 60, Nga Tsin Wai Road in Kowloon.

On October 29, 1943 James Kim was executed alongside 32 others on Stanley Beach. He was 44 years old.

1https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/tso-tsun-on/

2The resistance organisation, the BAAG.

3 Also known as David Loie, probably the most important figure in the Hong Kong resistance. He committed suicide before he could be interrogated and thus avoided giving any information to the Japanese.

4BAAG field HQ.

5Another BAAG HQ.

6Argyle Street Officers’ Camp.

7https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/lee-lam/

8https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/lee-hung-hoi/

9Captured Enemy Document, Page 5 – part of the Ride Papers and kindly sent to me by Elizabeth Ride.

10Testimony of Annie Kim, China Mail, March 12, 1946, page 1.

11Prisoner of the Turnip Heads, 1994, 185.

12 Henry Ching, ‘Australians in Hong Kong in the Pacific War’. Hong Kong Volunteers and Ex-POW Association of New South Wales, Occasional Papers 8. This is also the source for ‘Cissy’ (see above).Link http://www.rhkrnsw.org/publictn.htm

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Lee Hung Hoi

Lee Hung Hoi was a bus driver who became a British Army Aid Group Agent, helping continue a line of communication between the resistance and the POW camps that had been set up by Lee Lam.1 A Japanese document2 summarising one of the trials of October 19, 1943 gives a clear picture of his work:

The accused LEE HUNG HOI drove a bus for the Kowloon Omnibus Company. When asked by the above-mentioned LEE LAM to assist in conveying documents to the P.O.W.s in the camp, he agreed, although he knew these activities were connected with espionage on behalf of the enemy. From the end of April 43 to June 43 he secretly introduced documents on numerous occasions to the P.O.W.s in the Camps; and he also received secret documents from the P.O.W.s and handed them to LEE LAM.

The ‘Camps’ were presumably Shamshuipo and ‘Kowloon Fort’ (probably Argyle Street, the officers Camp), as these are mentioned in the section on Lee Lam.

He was recruited by Lee Lam after he (Lee) ceased to be a driver:

In April 43, after the company for which he worked made him a watchman, after mature consideration, he approached and made use of the accused LEE HUG HOI and others who now drove the bus his company rented to the P.O.W. Camps, and thus continued his operations.

The Captured Document tells us he lived in Fa Yuen Street, Kowloon, and was 30 years old.

The route into the Camps was suspected or penetrated in late May or early June 1943:

We {the resistance in Arglye Street} did not know what had happened, but early in June we received an urgent ‘cease operation’ signal. There was nothing more, no explanation, just that blunt warning.3

We know from the account of another member of the resistance in Argyle Street (who dates this event a little later in mid-June) that this message was sent by Lee Hung Hoi.4

Lee Hung Hoi was probably arrested soon after; he was tried and sentenced to death on October 19, 194, and executed alongside 32 others on October 29. Sadly that’s all I know about this brave man.

1https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/lee-lam/

2Part of the Ride Papers and kindly sent to me by Elizabeth Ride.

3Ralph Goodwin, Passport to Eternity, 1956, 51.

4John Harris and Oliver Lindsay, The Battle for Hong Kong 1941-1945, 2005, 195.

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Filed under British Army Aid Group, Hong Kong WW11

Lau Tak Kwong

Lau Tak Kwong was the brother of the subject of the previous post. The Captured Japanese Document1 that summarises one of the trials of resistance workers held on October 19, 1943, describes his ‘crimes’:

The accused LAU TAK KWONG was a fireman in the HONGKONG Gendarmerie. He is the brother of LAU TAK OI. About the middle of April 43 he was visited by LOIE FOOK WING2 who was living together with LAU TAK OI, and asked to help in espionage work against the Japanese on behalf of the British. He promptly agreed. Up to June 1943 he investigated and reported on fire brigade of the Gendarmerie and on the progress made in restoring various kinds of industry in HONGKONG. He also allowed his house to be used as a repository for various secret articles to be passed {to} LOIE FOOK WING.

The Captured Document gives his address as in the Chong Chin Ward, and his age as 38.

He was arrested for these resistance activities, probably in June 1943.

On a Sunday early in August, 1943 he was put in a cell (number 4) in Stanley Prison. His sister was put in cell 35 and John Fraser, the former Defence Secretary, were put in cells close by at the same time, so it’s reasonable to assume that, like them, he’d been previously held in the Gendarmerie in Stanley Village.3

He was tried October 19, 1943 as part of the largest group of agents to appear before the court that day.

The Stanley Military Cemetery Roll of Honour tells us he was the son of Kong Chat Koo of Hong Kong.4

He was executed alongside his sister and 31 others at Stanley Beach on October 29. In spite of what seem to have been his courageous and wide-ranging services I’ve been able to find out no more about him.

1Part of the Ride Papers, kindly sent to me by Elizabeth Ride.

2See previous post.

3George Wright-Nooth, Prisoner of the Turnip Heads, 1994, 172-173.

4http://www.roll-of-honour.org.uk/Cemeteries/Stanley_Military_Cemetery/html/l.htm

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Lau Tak Oi (Gladys Loie)

A Japanese Document captured by the British Army Aid Group1 after the liberation of Hong Kong gives a summary of the largest of the three trials of resistance agents held on October 19, 1943; this is what this document has to say about one of the accused, Lau Tak Oi:

The accused LAU TAK OI lived together with LOIE FOOK WING from about April 1940. When, in March 1943, the latter went over to the British organisation in China, as explained above, the former helped to maintain communications with him, well knowing that he was engaged in espionage operations against the Japanese forces.

The Document also tells us Lau Tak Oi was 33 and lived in Lockhart Road.

Loie Fook Wing (David Loie) was perhaps the leading BAAG agent in Hong Kong – another page of the Captured Document states that he set up the ‘Hong Kong Command Post’, an espionage group consisting mainly of former police reservists, in late 1942.

Gladys Lau (or Loie), as she was known to the British, was a former Government nurse, who qualified on December 1, 1932.2 She was also on the 1940 list of midwives.3

It sounds from the Captured Document that she kept in touch with David Loie when he ‘went over to’ Waichow or Kukong in March 1943 to get instructions from the BAAG. However, contrary to ‘as explained above’, there is no clear statement that he made such a trip, and, in any case, it seems likely that, given Mr. Loie’s central role, for which he was posthumously decorated, she did many things that the Japanese never found about or didn’t record.

She was eventually arrested for her resistance work, probably in June, 1943.

She was taken into Stanley Prison and put in Cell 35 on a Sunday afternoon in early August. She was placed in the cell next to William Anderson, the Stanley camp Quartermaster who already been trying to remove an iron rod (formerly used to support hammock hooks) so that he could communicate with that cell. Soon he heard the new female prisoner picking from her end. The second day after she arrived, Mrs Loie deliberately dropped a basin of water in front of Anderson’s cell door and asked to be allowed to clear it up; luckily Anderson was watching from the ‘spyhole’ in the cell door and he was able to hear what she said to him:

Please try to get the rod out. If I cannot speak to some one I will go mad. I have a strong piece of wire and when I pass your cell again I will drop it and kick it under your door.

The third time she passed again the wire was kicked through to Anderson, and two days later the rod was loose enough to allow the two brave and resourceful prisoners easy conversation.

Mrs Loie asked him about her husband– she’d had no news of him since his arrest on May 31. Anderson suggested that as no-one had seen him, he might have escaped; in fact, David Loie had committed suicide on the day of his arrest by jumping from the roof of the Gendarme Headquarters in the former Supreme Court Building. This courageous and determined act made sure that he betrayed none of the people he’d recruited.

She also told Anderson about her own arrest and torture. She’d been in a ‘filthy makeshift cell’ in the Stanley Gendarmerie, so that was presumably where she was interrogated. In the next cell was Hong Kong’s Defence Secretary John Fraser, and she talked to him a lot, mostly about family and friends. She was also able to describe the extraordinary fortitude with which Fraser bore his repeated interrogations.4

She was tried in he first and largest group of BAAG agents on October 19. Her brother Lau Tak Kwong was condemned to death alongside her.

Lau Tak Oi was the only woman amongst the 33 courageous people who were executed on Stanley Beach on October 29, 1943.

The Stanley Military Cemetery Roll of Honour – and presumably the Memorial in the Cemetery itself- lists her as the ‘son’ of Kong Chat Koo of Hong Kong .5 This mistake should be corrected.

1Part of the Ride Papers; kindly sent to me by Elizabeth Ride.

2GA 1939, no. 70, Roll of Nurses (Male and Female)

3GA 1940 no. 52, Roll of Midwives.

4George Wright-Nooth, Prisoner of the Turnip Heads, 1994, 173.

5http://www.roll-of-honour.org.uk/Cemeteries/Stanley_Military_Cemetery/html/l.htm

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Filed under British Army Aid Group, Hong Kong WW11