Letter: Last handover of Hong Kong

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: Your coverage of the Hong Kong handover has failed to mention one vital series of events in Hong Kong's history.

Between 15 and 30 August 1945, prisoners of war from Shamshupo PoW camp and civilian internees from Stanley internment camp came out from these camps and recaptured Hong Kong from the Japanese. In doing this they forestalled a plan by the Americans and Chiang Kai-Shek to remove Hong Kong from the British Empire. That this was a well thought-out plan (which had the approval of Roosevelt) was made clear in the few days after 15 August, when American and Chinese Nationalist flags appeared everywhere throughout the Colony and instructions to all PoWs and internees were dropped from American aircraft, under the orders of General Alfred Wedemeyer.

When ships of the British Pacific Fleet, under the command of Admiral Harcourt, finally sailed into Hong Kong harbour on 30 August, no one was more surprised than the admiral to be met by Franklin Gimson, Acting Governor of Hong Kong (later Governor of Singapore). Harcourt was even more surprised to be handed the first post-war edition of the South China Morning Post.

The story of how Franklin Gimson, working in close partnership with Colonel Simon White of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Scots (who had effectively taken over the command of Shamshupo PoW camp) wrested control of Hong Kong from the Japanese has still to be told. However, to them is due the fact that it is Britain which is now handing back a miraculously vibrant Hong Kong to the Chinese.



The writer was a member of the 2nd (Hong Kong) Battalion, The Royal Scots, 1939-46