Gomes, Arthur Ernesto (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 21131
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 340, Number Of Items 8
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

Portuguese volunteer served with Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Force in Hong Kong, 1938-1941; POW in Hong Kong, 1941-1945

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Hong Kong, 1917-1938: family; education at St Joseph's College; employment as trainee motor mechanic; description of pre-war Hong Kong and character of British rule; influx of refugees from China; evacuation of military wives and children. Aspects of period with Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Force, 1938-1941: reasons for joining unit, 1938; national composition of unit; character of training; defence situation in Hong Kong until 1941. Recollections of operations as volunteer with 18 Platoon, 5 Coy, Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Force in Hong Kong, 1941: arrival of Canadian volunteers; lack of naval defences. REEL 2 Continues: role of HMS Thracian; state of air defences; character of the Gindrinkers Line and pillboxes; story of how Japanese managed to map coast line whilst salvaging wrecked ship; Japanese espionage; underestimation of Japanese military abilities; character of Japanese mortar fire, artillery and uniforms; character of training at Fanling Camp, 6/12/1941- 7/12/1941; arrival of machine guns and live ammunition; taking up positions at Kong Hill; withdrawal to Kowloon; reporting to Clube de Recreio, 7/12/1941; mobilisation, 8/12/1941; taking up positions in pillbox on Mount Davis; conditions in pillbox; opinion of British refusal to surrender, 12/12/1941. REEL 3 Continues: reaction to withdrawal from Kowloon; orders to take patrol to defend unit member's families; meeting with wife; threat from Triad criminal organisation; Chinese VIPs escape from Hong Kong in civilian aircraft; role of motor torpedo boats during battle; story of escape of Admiral Chan Chak in motor torpedo boats; role of the elderly members of the volunteers in defence of North Point; destruction of 6th Coy on Hong Kong Island during Japanese attack, 18/12/1941; role of his company in reserve; reasons why his company did not move to Wong Nei Chung Gap; heavy casualties amongst 3 Coy at Wong Nei Chung Gap; return to Mount Davis; shortages of ammunition and rations; obtaining food; degree of knowledge about progress of the battle; opinion of Japanese fighting skills. REEL 4 Continues: Aspects of surrender of Hong Kong Garrison, 25/12/1941: orders to surrender and instructions to lay down arms; reaction to news of surrender; move to St John's Place. Recollections of period as POW in Hong Kong, 1941-1945: character of march to Shamshuipo Camp, 30/12/1941; conditions in camp after looting by civilians; further details of surrender and march to camp; initial problems of cooking rice in bulk; layout and organisation of camp; initial role cleaning camp; lack of medical supplies; problems of constipation amongst POWs; arrival of rations; work parties at Kai Tak Airport after 2/1942; character of march from Kai Tak Airport to Shamshuipo Camp; aid given to POWs by Chinese workmen; work routine; character of guards; Japanese encouragement of civilians to leave Hong Kong; his wife's move to Macau. REEL 5 Continues: communication with wife during Japanese occupation of Hong Kong; situation with Red Cross parcels; contents of first Red Cross parcel, 9/1942; character of camp concerts; removal of officers and Indian POWs from camp; loss of POWs aboard Lisbon Maru; reaction to removal of officers; religious life in camp; reasons for Japanese beating of Catholic priest Eric John Green; reasons for Japanese beatings; early escapes from camp; Japanese reaction to escapes; method of supplementing rations and Japanese reaction to the success of the venture; mutual support amongst POWs; health situation in camp. REEL 6 Continues: role of camp doctors; method Major Grey used to control disease; use of hidden radios; increase in US air raids; reaction to bombing of Standard Oil installation and role in cleaning up after raid; rumours that the war was over, 15/8/1945-17/8/1945. Aspects of Japanese surrender and liberation of Hong Kong, 1945: how Japanese were denied entry into camp, 18/8/1945; obtaining food; parade held by ex-POWs, 18/8/1945; instructions to stay in camp; air supply of camp; reprisal against Japanese in Hong Kong; evacuation of camp, 30/8/1945; supply of food to civilians; arrival of refugees in Hong Kong; aid received from UNRRA; return to his flat; fear of Chinese takeover of colony, 1945; revival of trade in Hong Kong, 8/1945; treatment of Japanese POWs. REEL 7 Continues: fate of Japanese war criminals; amount of evidence available against Japanese war criminals; treatment of Allied ex-POWs; issues of compensation. Reflections of period with Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Force, 1941-1995: role of unit during Battle of Hong Kong, 12/1941; relationship between unit and Canadian troops; early release of Chinese unit members from POW camp, 1942; role of fifth column in Hong Kong, 12/1941; award of Member of the British Empire for work with unit; disbandment of Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Force, 1995; memorial stone at site of Shamshuipo Camp. Reflections of Chinese take over of Hong Kong, 1999: reaction to plans to hand over colony to Chinese; opinion of last Governor Chris Patten. REEL 8 Continues: character of hand over ceremony; reaction to lowering of British flag and raising of Chinese flag; continuation of economic activities in Hong Kong after hand over to China, 1999. Story of Masonic activity in Japanese POW camps in Hong Kong, 1941-1945. Question of lessons learnt during captivity.

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