Harris, John Robert (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 22679
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 90, Number Of Items 3
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British officer served with Royal Engineers in GB and Hong Kong, 1938-1941; POW in Hong Kong, 1941-1945

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Hersham, 1919-1939: family; education; employment; reasons for joining Territorial Army, 1938. Recollections of period as officer with Royal Engineers in GB and Hong Kong, 1939-1941: mobilization, 1939; commissioning into unit; period at Woking during Dunkirk evacuation, 6/1940; reaction to posting to Hong Kong; German Air Force attack on Aldershot telephone box; voyage from GB to Hong Kong, 1940; initial impressions of Hong Kong; allocation to unit; lifestyle, 1940-1941; construction work he was involved in. REEL 2 Continues: Recollections of operations as officer with Royal Engineers during Battle of Hong Kong, 12/1941: start of Japanese air attacks; destruction of communications by Allied troops; start of Japanese ground attack; orders to go to Wong Li Chong Gap; Japanese treatment of British officer carrying white flag; fighting around Aberdeen; Christmas lunch with nuns; Japanese treatment of Chinese civilians; destruction of champagne supplies. Recollections of period as POW in Shamshuipo and Argyle Street POW camps in Hong Kong, 1941-1945: initial contact with Japanese troops; conditions in Shamshuipo Camp; plight of POWs who had been in front-line; pollution of food and threat of thefts; General Maltby's role in enforcing discipline. REEL 3 Continues: removal to Argyle Street Camp; example of Japanese guard's sense of humour; method of smuggling messages in and out of camp; how intelligence network was broken by Japanese; story of secret radio hidden in Argyle Street Camp; consequences of escape and fate of escapees; improvement in conditions; return to Shamshuipo Camp; disappearance of Japanese guards, 8/1945; situation in Hong Kong on liberation; physical condition on liberation. Attitude towards period as POW during Second World War.

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