The Occupation of Hong Kong 1941-45
- Philip Cracknell
15th September 2022
The Battle for Hong Kong lasted eighteen days. It was always going to be a losing battle. Winston Churchill knew that Hong Kong could not be defended or relieved if attacked. It had become an isolated outpost to be held as long as possible. After reaching the limits of endurance the British administration surrendered the Crown Colony on Christmas Day, December 1941. The military defeat ushered in a brutal occupation by the Imperial Japanese Army, who ruled the captured territory under martial law. The occupation lasted for three years and eight months until the Japanese capitulation in August 1945. During the occupation, there were shortages of food, firewood, and electricity. Almost everything was in short supply. The Japanese rationed necessities, such as rice, oil, flour, salt and sugar. Ration cards were only issued to those employed in roles that were supporting the Japanese concept of Greater Asia and the co-prosperity sphere. Many died in the streets from starvation and there were outbreaks of cannibalism. The Japanese set about reducing the population, by forced deportation, from 1.65 million to an estimated 500,000 by August 1945. Some were deported to work in coal mines on Hainan Island, some were put on boats which were then sunk or set alight, others were marooned on uninhabited islands.
Philip Cracknell brings his unrivalled knowledge of the ground to bear, as he did in Battle for Hong Kong December 1941 to tell the harrowing story of suffering and courage during the Imperial Japanese occupation of Hong Kong. The story follows the civilian through the battle, the aftermath, the internment, and finally liberation. It is the story of the civilian during and after the Battle for Hong Kong.