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.