80 years ago tensions were high as war with Japan seemed inevitable. On December 8th, those fears were confirmed when Japanese planes attacked Kai Tak, and Japanese soldiers crossed the border into the New Territories. The fighting continued until the British surrendered on Christmas Day.
The end of the fighting marked the beginning of the Japanese occupation, a time of great hardship for Hong Kong's residents. They would have to endure for three years and eight months, until the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, and Hong Kong was liberated shortly afterwards.
What was it like?
Let the people who lived through these times tell you themselves.
A new cycle of Hong Kong's wartime diaries has just begun, where a daily email message shows you a selection of diary entries written 80 years ago.
If you look at yesterday's diary entries, from 4 Dec 1941, you'll see Barabara Anslow doubting that war could be averted, the Ziegler family moving to the 'safety' of Kowloon from their house on Cheung Chau, and Alec Potts busy handling transport for the HKVDC.
You can click here to sign up and receive the day's diary entries by e-mail each morning. It's free of charge, your details stay private, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
But if you stay subscribed, you'll follow the authors through the fighting & surrender, the long internment in Stanley Camp with its highs and lows, then finally the liberation in 1945. It's a different way to get an idea of what the diarists experienced, following them day by day over several years.
The first cycle started back in 2011 with just two diaries, plus Brian Edgar's thoughtful commentary. Since then we've added many more diaries, so if you subscribed several years ago you may want to subscribe again to see this extra material.
The diary entries from 8 Dec 1941 show how the project has grown. You'll see they start with the original three: R E Jones's diary, Brian's 'Chronology', and Barbara Anslow's diary. But scroll down and you'll see entries from 13 more authors that have been added since.
More examples of the daily messages
Here are extracts from the messages you'll receive:
- 7 Dec 1941: "There must be something in the wind, G.H.Q. staff are preparing to move into Battle HQ, a huge underground structure just behind the Garrison Sgts. Mess."
Extract from Barbara Anslow's Diary: "war had been declared"
- 8 Dec 1941: "I started my birthday with a war. Kowloon bombed about 8AM."
- 10 Dec 1941: "Sid has been wounded. Bullet through shoulder. He told Hospital to phone Mum at the Jockey Club and she went to see him."
- 13 Dec 1941: "We hear rumours that <Read more ...>