Monday, 22 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.

Page 1 is here

First we went to Johnnie Purves old bungalow belonging to the College, then on Dec 21st we moved to the village, just opposite the Police Station and the school on the little hill.  For 4 days up Dec 24th life was not too bad, we were shelled and bombed a little, Lyle and McErdle being wounded.  Then the nightmare came at 8.50pm on Xmas Eve.  They attacked the Village with small tanks, and thousands of troops, it was hell let loose, machine guns every, some of the Volunteers defended the left of the Village and the Mary Knoll, but the attack came direct for us from the Beach and Lower Beach Road for 3 ½ hours we fought so, with lulls between, then they would come on again screaming their heads off, just to be mowed down.  By this time we had lost McLeod-Carr-Gowland with Foster, Cottrell and Stevens missing.  Major Forsyth i/c had been killed, so Fitz-Gerald was i/c, I told him we had better fall back to the first Bungalow overlooking the Village, as we could hear firing and hand grenades bursting back by the Prison, they had managed to break thru along the Beach and pass some Godowns they had built there, Pearce, Crighton and Crofton who were down by the Beach must have left their post, as they never saw any Japs pass them.  This was 12.30 am so joining the Middlesex Regt in front of the Bungalow, we stayed there until 2.30am. Firing was getting intense behind us, so to save being cut off, we fell back over the College Football field to the Fort Road outside the Prep School.  I mustered and still found Foster, Stevens and Cottrell missing - Winterton right hand was shattered, since cut off.  It was impossible to get back to the Club, so with other Troops we got up the Fort Road by the Pumping Station on the Hill overlooking the Gaol, this was 4.30 am Xmas Day, it was there we lost Murphy and Crossan.

The next page is here.

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