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A POSTAL HISTORY
OF THE PRISONERS OF WAR AND
CIVILIAN INTERNEES IN EAST ASIA
DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR


VOLUME 4

HONG KONG & CHINA
1941-1946

CAPTIVES IN CATHAY

By David Tett

Volume 4 wins
Large Gold at ABPS 2008 Harrogate

Also awarded the 2008 Webb Cup by the Hong Kong Study Circle

Published November 2007
Published in November 2007, Volume 4 continues the series covering the postal history of the POWs and civilian internees in East Asia.

Hong Kong and China is the subject of this volume. Military prisoners, mostly US marines, in China were rounded up in December 1941 and placed in POW camps. 

They were joined by 100 British POWs from Hong Kong and 800 marines and civilian contractors captured on Wake Island.

In Hong Kong the Japanese commenced their assault on 8th December 1941 and two and a half weeks later, on Christmas Day, the colony was surrendered. British, Canadian and Indian servicemen were imprisoned on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

The civilians in Hong Kong were rounded up early in 1942 and after short periods in dingy boarding houses,
they were transferred to Stanley Camp. When the American and Canadians were repatriated it became principally a British Camp.

In China most civilians were not interned until early 1943, more than a year later than their compatriates in Hong Kong and other territories. They were eventually incarcerated in Civilian Assembly Centres around Shanghai, in Yangchow and in Northern China.

Mail to and from all these groups is covered and examples of their mail illustrated. Each camp had its own rules, handstamps and censors and all known examples are profusely illustrated. Mail to and from repatriating POWs and internees is also covered. 

The hardback book, published by BFA Publishing, contains more than 400 illustrations, mostly in colour, on 457 pages.
"...The author [travelled widely] gathering information on this subject. The result is of course a masterpiece"
John Tang - Hong Kong Philatelic Society May 2008

"This is the fourth volume in David Tett's series... following the same format and the same high standard"
David Hubbard - London Philatelist March 2008
Foreword by William Kwan, FRPSL

Mr David Tett thought that I was qualified to write the foreword to Volume 4 of his Postal History of the POW and Civilian Internees in Hong Kong and China simply because I was in Hong Kong (aged 8) when the occupation of Hong Kong by the Japanese began.  As a matter of fact, on the morning of 8th December 1942, when Japanese planes began bombing Kai Tak, my reactions and those of my sister and brother were “goody, no school for the day”.  However, a few months thereafter, the whole family left Hong Kong for China where in Kweilin our parents joined the fight against Japan, father joining the Chinese army and eventually rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in charge of all interpreters and mother joining the U.S. Army Air Force as a nurse. 

When Kweilin had to be evacuated, we children were left in the care of an uncle who was not many years older than us whilst our parents went with the armies.  We roamed all over south-west China, always evacuating, scarcely staying in one place long enough to go to school and eventually ended up in Kumming where the whole family was reunited.  At the end of the war, the family was given priority to return to Hong Kong in the form of an air lift because our parents were essential persons for the reconstruction of Hong Kong.  When we landed in October 1945, some Japanese were labouring to extend Kai Tak Airport, a reversal of the role undertaken by the POWs during the occupation and I remember as our bus went past these Japanese, we all spat at them. 

About 30 years ago, I bought a collection of the Occupation materials from Thomas Kwok, a noted philatelist and for many years thereafter he kept up his interest in this subject by reading catalogues and by telling me what materials I should buy.  POW mail is part of the collection and my interest waned only because I was told that I could never achieve a gold medal in an International Exhibition because the subject is too recent. 

This volume, as in all previous volumes, evokes memories of the hard times endured by the POWs, although with passing years those memories have somewhat faded for the survivors.  It is a reminder to those who are unfamiliar with the human misery, the constant hunger for news and food, and the forced labour that war caused, causes and will continue to cause.  It is also a reminder that at the end of the day human spirit triumphs over all adversaries. 

Regrettably, many who were quoted in this book did not survive, either because of malnutrition or exhaustion or because they died in attempts to escape or died through friendly fire, above and below the sea.  It is about time the stories of the POWs were told and this volume deals fully with those imprisoned in Hong Kong and China, and the text identifies also the various camps, censorships applied both into and out of Hong Kong and of course the triumph, peace and return home for the expatriates.  

Mr Tett has approached the subject of prisoners in China and Hong Kong, as in his other works on the same subject in other territories, from the point of view of postal history.  By this I mean he has researched into the subject from his extensive collection of cards and letters as well as those belonging to specialist collectors who willingly lent him the materials and gave him advice when sought.  All the camps (from Beijing to Hong Kong) are covered, including opening and closing dates and those prisoners who had to be transferred from one camp to another or to be freed as a result.  The subject also covers censorship, postal markings and directional markings. Most are fully illustrated.  The subject also covers the emotional (in particular the loneliness and hopelessness) and social story as told through the mail.  Personal stories are told, sometimes in complete chapters, sometimes in anecdotes in the text. 

The whole work provides a wonderful insight into the trials and tribulations of those unfortunate enough to become prisoners and the anxieties of those loved ones left at home.  I hope that further information and illustrations on this subject will be provided to Mr Tett as a result of this book so that the subject, if possible, could be further enhanced in the next edition.
William Kwan, Hong Kong, July 2007

Contents
Dedication v
Foreword vii
Acknowledgements ix
Notes xi
Glossary and Abbreviations xiii
Introduction xvii
Chapters
1 Prelude to Captivity 1
2 Mail to the Prisoners of War in Hong Kong 21
3 Mail from the Prisoners of War in Hong Kong 59
4 Mail to the Civilian Internees in Hong Kong 95
5 Mail from the Civilian Internees in Hong Kong 143
6 Mail from Camp to Camp within Hong Kong 177
Mail to the Prisoners in China 203
8 Mail from the Prisoners in China 247
9 The Grayburn Family's correspondence 289
10 The van der Laan Family's Correspondence 313
11 Japanese Marks and Censors' Seals used in Hong Kong and China 341
12 Some Went Home 355
13 Update to Volumes 1, 2 and 3 393
Appendices
1 The Armed Forces at the Fall of Hong Kong 404
2 Cards, Covers and Letters Addressed to POWs in Hong Kong 405
3 Cards, Covers and Letters Sent by POWs in Hong Kong 411
4 Cards, Covers and Letters Addressed to Civilian Internees in Hong Kong 417
5 Cards, Covers and Letters Sent by Civilian Internees in Hong Kong 424
6 Cards and Covers Sent from Camp to Camp within Hong Kong 429
7 Cards, Covers and Letters Addressed to Prisoners in China 433
8 Cards, Covers and Letters Sent by Prisoners in China 439
Bibliography 443
Index 453

HOW TO ORDER THE BOOK
FROM UK: If you would like to order a copy or copies of this book within the UK please send your cheque for £42 (£35 + £7 postage and packing) to any address below (or click to order via email):

D F Tett, 16 Broadway, Gustard Wood, Wheathampstead, Herts,
AL4 8LN

OTHER COUNTRIES: Orders can also be sent to the addresses below or click on supplier to send an email



For other countries please apply to D F Tett for details of post and packing charges and delivery.

To order by email, or for further enquries click here

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