Essential Web Sites
Two essential Hong Kong web sites I would recommend on the history of Hong Kong with much regarding the period I’m writing about are Hong Kong War Diary by Tony Banham and the excellent Gwulo web site maintained by David Bellis.
The Canadians played an important part in the battle against the Japanese in December 1941. There are a large number of Canadian web sites which commemorate and give detailed accounts of the brave men who fought, died or were captured during the battle and were imprisoned in Hong Kong and Japan. The Canada at War website has a very good account and finish on a sobering note, ‘In all, more than 550 of the 1,975 Canadians who sailed from Vancouver in October 1941 never returned.’ Even more disturbing is that of those who died, nearly half died as POW’s. Many who died are buried in the Sai Wan Bay Cemetery or in the Stanley Military Cemetery as detailed by the Canada Veterans and you can see these in Film 3 on the Canadian Films page.
However the very best site for information is the Hong Kong Veteran’s Commemorative Association which is a Canadian web site which is a mine of information.
Here you will find three 15 minute videos which give some live action of the war and what the Canadian forces faced.
Atrocities in Hong Kong and Japan
One subject which I explore in my novel is the hardships suffered by both the captured troops and the civilians imprisoned in the Stanley internment camp. The massacres at Eucliffe and St Stephen’s College (as mentioned above in Film 3) are based on fact, as are some of the tortures described by the subsequent War Crimes Tribunal. I would only read these if you are interested in history and have a strong stomach.
The sinking of the Lisbon Maru
A dramatic true event which I have built into my novel was the sinking of the Lisbon Maru by an American submarine. The mistake was due to the fact that it looked like a Japanese troop ship as 800 Japanese soldiers were on deck. Unknown by the commander of the submarine, beneath decks were 1,800 British and other allied troops. When the ship was attacked the prisoners were battened down by the Japanese and eventually only about 800 survived. An account of this tragedy is backed up by the story of the last known survivor published by the Daily Telegraph in 2012.
There is an interesting War Diary of an Irishman who fought in Hong Kong against the Japanese and brings a new insight into the trauma suffered by many of the British and Canadian soldiers.