Captives of Empire

         The Japanese Internment of Allied Civilians in China and 
         Hong Kong, 1941-1945
                               

   

  On the morning of December 8th, 1941, thousands of American, British, Dutch, and other civilians of the Allied nations living in China awoke to find their countries at war with Japan.  A hemisphere away from their homelands, they were cut off, isolated, and faced an uncertain future.  The Japanese advance created an empire from the Aleutian Islands in the far north to the southern regions of New Guinea, and from western Burma to the mid Pacific Ocean. 

 

     Japan soon held some 125,000 civilian prisoners, approximately ten percent of which were in China and Hong Kong.  Their prisoners included the first American civilian to be captured on American soil since the War of 1812, and Britons in China became the single largest British contingent under enemy occupation outside of the Channel Islands.  As the rigors of life under the occupation increased, they were eventually herded into internment camps known as Civil Assembly Centres.  There, accommodation was overcrowded, frequently squalid, and with few amenities.  Poor treatment and lack of food contributed to the death rate, and internees suffered many privations, as well as occasional cruelty, torture, and execution.  Yet despite an absolute lack of many of the essentials of civilized life, the internees rose to meet the challenge of survival.  They organized kitchens and hospitals, started libraries, engaged in subtle forms of resistance, educated their children, and placed their hope in the future.  In internment, they were an example of the strength of human endeavor in the face of adversity. 

 

     Between 1941 and 1945, Japan held over 13,500 civilian men, women, and children as captives in China and Hong Kong.  Each one has a story to tell.  Captives of Empire is their story.

 

      Captives of Empire: The Japanese Internment of Allied Civilians in China, 1941-1945 fills a major gap in the annals of World War II and that of prisoners of war.  Here for the first time is a definitive history of the internment of Allied civilians in China.  Private papers, diaries, letters, and official reports, many long hidden, were utilized to bring a complete picture of internment to light.  In preparing to write this book, Greg Leck combed through thousands of pages of documents from archives located in Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Japan.  In personal interviews he listened to scores of internees describing their experiences.  He researched, in depth, the histories of each camp, as well as the stories of many internees.  Through first hand accounts and photographs, paintings, sketches, newspapers, cartoons, entertainment programs, maps, bulletins, posters, and other illustrative materials, a portrayal of what daily life was like for internees under the Japanese emerges.  Common themes of the internees struggle are reviewed. 

 

     Together with Desmond Power, an Old China Hand and ex internee himself, information was organized and sorted to produce a database of the over 13,500 internees held in China and Hong Kong.  An overview of each camp and a nominal roll completes the picture.  The result is a revealing and immensely fascinating look at the world of the internees.

 

     Captives of Empire gives you an inside look at the internment experience.  From the idyllic life of the expatriate, to the shock and surprise of the Japanese victories and rule, to imprisonment and eventual liberation, it covers the panoply of this little known chapter of the Pacific war.  Utilizing internees own voices, we see the food, the housing, the work, as well as the entertainments, games, escapes, births, lives, and deaths of the camp.  Profusely illustrated with maps, photographs, drawings, and scarce and rare internment camp related ephemera, this is a monograph that will serve as the definitive reference work on the subject. 

 

     Greg Leck is one of the foremost experts on Japanese internment camps in China.  The grandson of an Old China Hand who served in the Chinese Maritime Customs, and the son of a woman who was one of the last Britons to leave Shanghai, he grew up hearing stories of China and internment. 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

Foreword

ix

 

 

Acknowledgements

xi

 

 

A Note on Transliteration

xii

 

 

Glossary and Abbreviations

xiii

 

 

A Note on Currency

xiv

 

 

Introduction

19

1

 

Halcyon Days

27

2

 

While Storm Clouds Gather

The Shanghai Volunteer Corps

The Badlands

Showing the Flag for Empire

37

42

44

48

3

 

8 December 1941

            Last Boat out of China          

            The SS President Harrison Crew

55

58

64

4

 

Under the Shadow

           The Pao Chia

           The BRA

           Santo Tomas Transfers

           Stranded in Shanghai

           The Italians in China

73

76

82

87

96

98

5

 

Bridge House

105

6

 

The Best Possible Home

121

7

 

Housing

           Pets in Camp

137

142

8

 

Food

           The Food Queue

153

158

9

 

Work

177

10

 

Medical Care and Health

            A Trip to the Dentist

            Bedbugs, Mosquitoes, and Pests

187

194

201

11

 

The Authorities

            Guards

Roll Call

205

209

224

12

 

The Red Cross

229

13

 

Law and Order

            The Black Market

239

248

14

 

Sports and Activities

255

15

 

School and Education

261

16

 

Entertainment

273

17

 

Repatriation

            From Within the Empire

            The Amazing Saga of Edgar Whitcomb

283

296

301

18

 

Newspaper, Mail, and Communications

307

19

 

Religious Life

317

20

 

Escapes

323

21

 

Resistance and Collaborators

            The Lunghwa Riot

347

350

22

 

Humor

367

23

 

Children

             Families Divided

375

376

24

 

Liberation

385

25

 

Last Moments of a World

407

26

 

Epilogue

419

27

 

The Camps

              Ash Camp

              Canton Camp

              Chapei Camp

              Columbia Country Club

              Haiphong Road Camp

              Lincoln Avenue Camp

              Lunghwa Camp

              Pootung Camp

              Shanghai Religious Centers

               Stanley Camp

                        The Stanley Tiger 

              Weihsien and the North China            

               Yangchow A Camp

               Yangchow B Camp

               Yangchow C Camp

                Yu Yuen Road Camp

427

428

434

438

444

448

456

460

466

474

478

480

484

498

502

506

512

28

 

Nominal Rolls

                        Ash Camp

                        Canton Camp

                        Chapei Camp

                        Columbia Country Club

                        Haiphong Road Camp

                        Lazarist Procuration

                        Lincoln Avenue Camp

                        Lunghwa Camp

                        Peking British Embassy

                        Pootung Camp

                        Sacred Heart

                        Senmouyeu Nuns’ Residence

                        Stanley Camp

                        Weihsien Camp

                        Yangchow A Camp

                        Yangchow B Camp

                        Yangchow C Camp

                        Yu Yuen Road Camp

                        Zikawei

519

521

528

529

549

550

555

561

567

592

593

613

614

615

655

685

690

696

705

718

 

 

Bibliography

721

 

 

Index

731

 

 

Credits

738

 

 Ordering Information

 Captives of Empire: The Japanese Internment of Allied Civilians in China, 1941-1945.

 publication date: June 1, 2006

Shandy Press   SAN  2 5 7 – 0 1 8 1

ISBN:   0-9772141-0-9

Library of Congress Control Number: 2005906868

8.5 inch by 11 inch, hardcover with illustrated dust jacket
738 pages
665 color and black and white illustrations, 20 maps

 Nominal Rolls of internees in China and Hong Kong with biographical details - 13,544 individuals listed.

 Index, extensive bibliography

Price (direct from author, all prices in US Dollars)

 $125.00 plus shipping

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Bangor, PA  18013
                                                
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