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Dispersal and Renewal

Hong Kong University During the War Years

Clifford Matthews ,Oswald Cheung

Publication Year: 1998

In this volume, dedicated to the memory of Hong Kong University students, faculty and members of the Court who lost their lives as a result of hostilities in the Far East during 1941-1945, we ask what happened to the University during those years of Japanese occupation when there was only the shell of a campus left standing on Pokfulam Road.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Be it remembered

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Preface: ‘The Time is Ripe...’

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pp. xi-xviii

To explain how this volume entitled Dispersal and Renewal: Hong Kong University During the War Years came about, I think it will be simplest if I reprint the original letter of invitation I sent to possible contributors and then add material summarizing the substance of subsequent correspondence addressed to all our authors. Hopefully, this ...


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pp. xix-xx


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pp. xxi-xxvi


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pp. xxvii-xxxvi

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Prologue: ‘A Cosy Hillside Campus...’

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pp. 1-6

World war came suddenly, if not unexpectedly, to Hong Kong on 8 December 1941, coinciding with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 7 December on the other side of the international dateline. On the day on which Japan not only bombed Pearl Harbour but Signalled its general warlike intentions by commencing hostilities in the Pacific region generally, Japanese warplanes bombed Hong Kong and, ...

The Setting

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1. The Test of War* (Part 1)

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pp. 9-24

THROUGHOUT most of its half century of existence, the University of Hong Kong has had to live in an atmosphere of almost continuous international unrest. At the time of its birth the storm caused by the revolution in China had not abated, and when the distant disturbances caused by the First World War had died down, Hong Kong was swept by the cross-currents of the civil wars that raged on the mainland for years. ...

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2. An Academic Odyssey: A Professor in Five Continents (Part 1)

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pp. 25-38

The whole subsequent channel of my life was altered by a cable in July 1940 which I received shortly after I had handed in to the University of London a PhD thesis that involved, among many other things, the seventeenth-century English Civil War. It had been completed under severe difficulties, while Hitler's panzer divisions crashed their uncivil way into ...

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3. My War Years in Hong Kong, China and India

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pp. 39-50

In December 1941 I was a student in my final year at the University of Hong Kong, preparing for the mid-sessional examinations, and eagerly looking forward to receiving my BA degree in Education the following June. However, as fate would have it, my own education was suddenly disrupted by the Japanese attack on Hong Kong, an event that dramatically ...

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4. Wartime Experiences in Hong Kong and China (Part 1)

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pp. 51-60

Entering the Arts Faculty of the University of Hong Kong as a Government Scholar from Jesuit-run Wah Yan College was for me a somewhat unnerving experience. When I turned up for the first of my lectures, I was overwhelmed by the sight of nearly twenty pretty young ladies already seated in the lecture room, chatting, joking, laughing, and creating almost ...

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5. Strains of War and The Links Break*

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pp. 61-82

In control of Manchuria from 1933, Japan intensified its effort to increase its influence in China and establish what it saw as a protectorate. On the pretext of a chance exchange of shots between a Chinese garrison at the Marco Polo Bridge near Peking and a Japanese force engaged in manoeuvres in July 1937, the Japanese marched into Peking and war ...


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6. An Episode in the History of the University*

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pp. 85-104

I count it a special privilege to have the honour of being invited to deliver the First Daphne W C. Chun Lecture. My first meeting with Emeritus Professor Daphne Chun was some 35 years ago, when I arrived in Hong Kong from war-torn North China to take the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in this University. At that time she was just ...

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7. Remembrances of Times Past: The University and Chungking

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pp. 105-108

I entered the Arts Faculty of the University of Hong Kong in September 1936 full of enthusiasm and keen anticipation. My elder sister had gone to Yenching University in Peking and had brought back tales of learned and caring professors and the pleasant social life of the campus. From my own general reading of English literature I had gathered a picture ...

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8. University Days and the War Remembered

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pp. 109-114

As a Faculty of Science student from Kuala Lumpur entering the university in 1938, I was enrolled in the requisite courses of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and English. English and Biology posed no problems for me, Chemistry was somewhat of a challenge, but Physics struck fear in my non-mathematical brain. My favourite subject was Biology. ...

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9. Full Circle: University Life in Hong Kong and Beyond

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pp. 115-126

I joined the University of Hong Kong in September 1938, feeling a little out of place among my fellow students, as I came from a school which was off the mainstream of the prestigious government and aided schools and mission schools. Munsang College was a small, young, private school situated in a remote part of the colony, in the newly ...

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10. Pursuing Science in Hong Kong, China and the West

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pp. 127-142

When I first joined the university in September, 1937, it was a small school with about 600 students. There was no Faculty of Science but Chemistry and Physics were taught in the Faculty of Arts, Mathematics in Engineering and Biology in Medicine. Thus, a sort of protofaculty of Science was already in place. Having always wanted to ...

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11. A ‘Yellow Fish’ in Wartime China

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pp. 143-150

The attack on and the capture of Hong Kong in December 1941 came a few months after I had graduated from the University of Hong Kong and started teaching in Queen's College. Like many others, I found myself in a quandary as to what I should do next. During the siege, we had been told on the radio that Chinese armies were coming to our ...

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12. A Lifetime of Science in China

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pp. 151-158

I was born in Swatow but my parents moved to Hong Kong when I was a year old. Thus I grew up in Hong Kong and received all my elementary and middle school education there. When I was at King's College, my father became involved in business overseas in Singapore and Indochina and my mother and two younger brothers moved back to ...

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13. HKU, Macao and the DGS

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pp. 159-168

The University of Hong Kong alumni share a common bond in their admiration of, and respect for, their alma mater, which has helped shape their lives for useful work as graduates in Hong Kong, China, and throughout the world. The university is in our blood. Pre-war Hong Kong University was particularly alive and flourishing, attracting many ...

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14. ‘The Test of War’*

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pp. 169-176

Chapter Six of The First Fifty Years was written by Sir Lindsay Ride, then Professor of Physiology. It was entitled 'The Test of War' and dealt generally with the impact on the University of the disaster which struck Hong Kong when the Japanese invaded and conquered the colony in December, 1941. It also tells of the manner in which the ...

Prisoners of War

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15. An Academic Odyssey: A Professor in Five Continents (Part 2)

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pp. 179-192

After the surrender, on 29 December some 2000 POWs marched via Shaukiwan to North Point camp on the island. There I managed to acquire, from books brought in from a neighbouring school and the Hong Kong Electric Club, a Complete Works of Shakespeare in 1312 pages of cramped print: I later resolved to read it through five times while a ...

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16. Mount Davis and Sham Shui Po: A Medical Officer with the Volunteers

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pp. 193-202

I was born in Russia in 1916. Following emigration to China with my family I went to an English school in Shanghai in 1932/3, sat examinations for entry to the University of Hong Kong, and embarked on medical studies there in January 1934, at the age of 17. During my six-year medical course, I lived in a university hostel (Lugard Hall); of the ...

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17. A Hong Kong Doctor in War and Peace

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pp. 203-208

Born in Hong Kong on 5 November 1911 to Luiz Gonzaga Rodrigues and Giovannina Remedios, I was unfortunately orphaned at the age of nine when my father died. My mother had succumbed to puerpural fever a few weeks after my birth. So my subsequent family life was with one of my uncles, who had seven children and lived near the Racecourse ...

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18. A Sham Shui Po Episode: The Sufferer Called ‘Angel’

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pp. 209-212

The Christmas of 1942 was approaching and in Sham Shui Po Camp many prisoners were sick with beri-beri and pellagra which were the scourge of long-standing malnutrition and lack of vitamins. In my free time from forced labour and other work, I often visited my sick friends and acquaintances at the main hospital. It has to be pointed out ...

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19. Working on the Railroad: Siam-Burma

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pp. 213-220

I was born in Russia in 1915, leaving with my family when I was about five years old. I spent my youth in Harbin, Manchuria, North China, graduating from the Russian! American YMCA School in 1932 when I left for Hong Kong to enroll in the matriculation class of the Diocesan Boys' School, taking my London Matriculation Examination at the ...

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20. Hullo, Again, Hong Kong!

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pp. 221-226

What started all this was a letter from the University of Illinois popping through my door on a hot July morning in 1995, at my home in Lewes in England reminding me of the fiftieth anniversary celebrations of the liberation of Hong Kong taking place in September. My name was on a Volunteers' list and would I be going? asked Clifford ...

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21. Life Experiences: From Star Ferry to Stardust

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pp. 227-246

My student days at the University of Hong Kong began in 1938 with two events, quite ordinary in themselves, that I now see established the pattern of my whole subsequent life. The first of these - registration - started me off on my career as a student and teacher of science with a deep interest in the humanities, while the second - the Vice-Chancellor's ...

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22. Stanley: Behind Barbed Wire

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pp. 247-286

When the Second World War broke out in Europe in 1939, it did little to disrupt Hong Kong's normal routine, but after the Allied retreat from Dunkirk in May 1940, the realization came that if, or rather when, trouble reached the colony no help from Britain could be expected. Preparations against such an emergency, begun in a somewhat desultory fashion after the Munich crisis and the fall of Canton in 1938, assumed ...


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23. The Test of War* (Part 2)

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pp. 289-302

Long before the threat of the Japanese invader many of our graduates had taken up post, temporary or permanent, in China to help her become a modern nation. The first product of Hong Kong higher education to serve modern China was of course Sun Vat-sen himself. The next graduate of the Hong Kong College of Medicine to serve with ...

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24. With the BAAG in Wartime China

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pp. 303-312

Born in 1921 and educated in Hong Kong so that I speak both English and Cantonese, I joined the Medical Faculty of the University of Hong Kong in September 1938, and soon after enrolled in the Field Ambulance of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps (,the Volunteers'), a unit commanded by Colonel L. T. Ride, who was also the professor of physiology at the University of Hong Kong. ...

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25. Wartime Experiences in Hong Kong and China (Part 2)

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pp. 313-334

My father as head of the family was probably the one hardest hit by the outbreak of war. The almost complete destruction of the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour followed by the sinking of the Prince of Wales and the Repulse off the Malayan (now Malaysian) coast must have convinced him, and, indeed, even the most optimistic believer ...

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26. Wartime Intelligence in China

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pp. 335-344

In August 1942 my family ran out of money. In Hong Kong my father, who had worked for Shell since he graduated from the university, found himself out of a job. As for money in the bank, the Japanese allowed withdrawals of one quarter of deposits. Matters were made worse by a 50% devaluation of the Hong Kong dollar, and later by another 25%, ...

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27. In India, in China and Twice in Hong Kong

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pp. 345-374

The editors of this compendium have stretched their guidelines a bit in order to let me write a piece for them about my wartime life and meetings with students and graduates of the University of Hong Kong, and its teachers and prospective teachers, during the war in China. I had no qualifying connection at the time -not long out of Oxford, a raw young ...


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28. The Phoenix Arises from the Ashes*

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pp. 377-388

At the conclusion of his chapter entitled 'The Test of War' in The University of Hong Kong - the First Fifty Years, Sir Lindsay Ride wrote that the phoenix had arisen from the ashes, and the University was no longer at war. In thus expressing his feelings, one wonders whether he was aware that, in China, the phoenix is seen as a symbol of longevity ...

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29. Dispersal and Renewal: Hong Kong University Medical and Health Services

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pp. 389-396

On 8 December 1941, the medical and health services in Hong Kong were thrown into disarray. It was the beginning of the winter holidays and at 8 a.m. Japanese war planes could be clearly seen bombing Kai Tak Airport. Queen Mary Hospital, the main hospital for the general public, was not adequate to take in all the expected casualties. The Great ...

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30. Controversy over the Re-opening of the University of Hong Kong, 1942-48

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pp. 397-424

Less than two months after the fall of Hong Kong to the Japanese, a letter appeared in the newspaper which served as one of the principal mouthpieces for the occupying forces 'to express the common wish that the Hong kong University may be re-opened.' The University was described as 'the most gentle and civilized place in Hong Kong', and the ...

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31. A New Start*

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pp. 425-440

On the 6th August 1945 the Americans dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima; two days later Russia entered the Far Eastern war against Japan and the Americans dropped another bomb on Nagasaki. After the interval of shock and the counting of dead and dying, the Japanese capitulated on the 14th August. The University began reassembling ...

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Epilogue: ‘A Bridge between East and West’

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pp. 441-446

Appropriately enough, the preceding collection of papers on the war years and after ends with a chapter 'A New Start' from The University of Hong Kong: An Informal History by Bernard Mellor. Sadly, Bunny Mellor (as he was known to us all) died in Oxford this January at the age of eighty. Although Bunny had no prewar experience of the University, he ...


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pp. 447-448


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pp. 449-462

Chinese Calligraphy

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E-ISBN-13: 9789882201026
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622094727

Page Count: 508
Publication Year: 1998