Monday, 15 August 2011

Amanuensis Monday - letter from Bill Hudson to Peggy August 30, 1945

My grandfather Bill Hudson worked as a prison officer in Hong Kong from 1921 to 1941. He was still in Hong Kong in December of 1941 when the Japanese invaded and occupied the colony. My grandmother Peg and my father Peter had been evacuated to Australia in July 1940. Peg kept the last couple of letters Bill wrote from Hong Kong prior to the Japanese invasion, along with the letters he wrote immediately after liberation.

Most of the letters are long, so I'm going to serialise them over the next few weeks.

This is the letter written by Bill on the day Stanley Internment Camp was liberated by the British Navy.

Prison Dept
My Darlings,
            I don’t know how to start this letter, I have so much to say – and I want to say it all at once.  Well my Sweethearts – thank the Lord we have pulled through successfully.  I never for one moment thought we would lose the War, but I had a horrid feeling they would do something to us.  

First I must start from the beginning in 1941.  When War came I was in HK at the V.R.P., returning here on the 9th December – just in time to enjoy 9 Jap bombs being dropped over our Qrs, one hit the Doctors house up the Hill, two others fell behind the Hill side, 6 others fell from K Block to the Indian Qrs, luckily nobody was killed, only one coolie hurt.  I returned to HK at 12 M.Night of the 11th Dec, staying there until Sat 13th Dec.  By that time Kowloon had been captured, and the Machine and rifle fire was terrific at times.  Every day we had Jap planes over bombing, our only 4 planes had been put out of action when they bombed Kai Tak on Monday the 8th Dec, so the Japs had the sky to themselves, doing as they liked.  On the evening of the 18th Dec, they landed at Taikoo Docks, no opposition, not a shot fired and by the morning of the 19th they had landed guns – mules and waggons – with thousands of men.  It was then we were called up in the Volunteers, although Begley, Ryan, Spoors *, LeTissier *, Harrop, Taffenden, Jamieson, Perry, not fat Perry, Bond *, Drewsey *, Doxford *, McCursach *, went to Battle HQrs on Monday 8th December. (* In Japan as prisoners of War).  

The letter continues here.


  1. Very interesting. I am looking forward to the next installment.

  2. Thanks so much for transcribing and uploading this wonderful letter. It's as close as you can get to the history.
    One of many interesting things is how vividly Mr. Hudson remembers the role of the Stanley Platoon in the desperate final defence of the peninsula even though it took place over three and a half years before he was writing.
    And the way the letter breaks off so that he can attend the Harcourt flag-raising ceremony - as I said you don't get closer to history than this.
    The diary of Mr. Hudson's fellow Prison Officer R. E. Jones is available online:

    Thanks again.
    Brian Edgar
    P.S. My father probably baked some of the bread that the letter mentions!

  3. I've been passing on news of your blog to those interested in the Hong Kong war and as a result I've come to hear of a person who can identify someone in one of your photos and would dearly like to be in contact with you.
    If you are willing to respond to this, than please follow the link below - at the bottom of the page you'll find my contact details and I'll put the two of you in touch.
    I know of other cases in which your grandfather's letters have been passed on to relatives of those mentioned, and I'm sure you're aware from your own experience how much this can mean, so thanks again for all the time, effort and skill you've put in.
    Brian Edgar