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Hong Kong Internment, 1942-1945

Life in the Japanese Civilian Camp at Stanley

Geoffrey Charles Emerson

Publication Year: 2008

Life in the Japanese Civilian Camp at Stanley tells the story of the more than three thousand non-Chinese civilians: British, American, Dutch and others, who were trapped in the British colony and interned behind barbed wire in Stanley Internment Camp from 1942 to 1945. From 1970 to 1972, while researching for his MA thesis, the author interviewed twenty-three former Stanley internees.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Series: Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Studies


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xi


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p. xii


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pp. xiii-xv

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p. xvii

The appearance of this volume, the third in the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Studies Series, signifies a tremendous achievement by a large and dedicated group of people — not least the author himself, Geoffrey Emerson. Stanley Civilian Internment Camp is something most people have heard of but know very little about. ...

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New Preface

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pp. xix-xxii

Since writing my Thesis in 1973 — Stanley Internment Camp, Hong Kong, 1942–1945: A Study of Civilian Internment during the Second World War — I have been asked two questions many times. ‘Were you there?’, meaning was I an internee, and ‘How did you become interested in Stanley camp?' ...

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New Introduction

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pp. 1-30

Soon after I began my research in 1970, I read in a Hong Kong newspaper, the South China Morning Post, that a lady who had been interned in Stanley Camp was in Hong Kong from Australia for the publication of her autobiography. The lady was Mrs. Jean Hotung Gittins, daughter of Sir Robert Hotung, well-known philanthropist and multi-millionaire businessman.1 ...

Stanley Internment Camp, Hong Kong, 1942–1945: A Study of Civilian Internment during the Second World War

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p. 31

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pp. 33-34

This thesis tells the story of a group of people who found themselves caught in Hong Kong on 8 December 1941, when the Pacific War began. This group, non-Chinese nationals of the countries at war with Japan, consisted almost entirely of civilians, and most of them within a month of the surrender on 25 December 1941, found themselves in Stanley Internment Camp. ...

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pp. 35-53

On Monday morning, 8 December 1941, Japan attacked Hong Kong and seventeen days later, on Christmas afternoon, Hong Kong surrendered. At this time there were approximately 3,000 non-Axis, non-Chinese civilians in the colony.1 During the fighting most of the British civilians had various jobs, such as nursing or helping with food distribution. ...

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1. Politics

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pp. 55-77

From the beginning of internment until January 1944, the Camp was under the control of the Japanese Foreign Affairs Department, a civilian administration, with offices in Hong Kong. On 1 January 1944, the Camp came under the control of the Japanese military, and its designation was changed from Civilian Internment Camp, Hong Kong, to Military Internment Camp, Hong Kong. ...

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2. Life in the Camp I

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pp. 79-130

The three basic requirements of man are food, shelter and clothing. Although the internees had cause to complain about their shelter and clothing, the greatest complaints centred on food. ‘Of all the hardships and privations to which the internees in Stanley were subjected, the insufficiency and unsuitable nature of the food provided were the worst.'1 ...

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3. Life in the Camp II

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pp. 131-150

After the war, one of the most frequent questions asked of Stanley internees was, ‘What did you do all day?’ To someone who has never been interned or imprisoned, the idea of being confined to a limited space may bring forth visions of sitting around bored with little or nothing to do to keep amused or entertained. ...

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4. Life in the Camp III

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pp. 151-163

One of the outstanding features of Stanley Camp was the black market. ‘Outstanding’ because it undoubtedly prevented the death toll from increasing dramatically and because almost everyone participated — from the victorious Japanese and their Chinese, Indian and Formosan guards, to a large majority of the internees themselves. ...

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5. The Final Months and Liberation

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pp. 165-176

1945 had begun with the tragic bombing of Bungalow C. Then, during February and March, the food problems, already very bad, worsened because of a serious shortage of firewood. Everything combustible in the Camp, including most of the parquet floorboards, dead trees and all the grass, had already turned to ashes. ...

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6. A Summing Up

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pp. 177-179

Although undoubtedly few of the Stanley internees would have said so during internment, they were in many ways fortunate. No one starved to death; the food was extremely bad and there was never enough of it, but the fact remains that every day of internment there was something to eat. ...

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A Note on Personal Interviews

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pp. 181-182

Personal interviews were held with twenty-three former internees in Hong Kong and in London. On nine occasions a tape recorder was used; only one person refused to be recorded, and for that interview notes were taken and another interview was held several days later to go over the notes. ...


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pp. 183-215

Additional Appendices

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pp. 217-226


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pp. 227-230

Additional Bibliography

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pp. 231-234


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pp. 235-244

E-ISBN-13: 9789882205499
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622098800

Page Count: 268
Illustrations: 88 b/w images
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Studies
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OCLC Number: 711004298
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Hong Kong Internment, 1942-1945

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Subject Headings

  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Concentration camps -- China -- Hong Kong.
  • Stanley Civilian Internment Camp.
  • Concentration camp inmates -- China -- Hong Kong -- Social conditions.
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