Bitterne Local History Society Talk – Saturday 12 November 2022

A Weekend to Pack: The Fall of Hong Kong (1940 – 1945) – A Bitterne family caught up in the Second World War in the Far East Saturday 12 November 2022, 7pmBitterne United Reformed Church, 446 Bitterne Road, Southampton, SO18 5EF The house in the photograph is the Bearman family home. It’s in Redlands Drive,Continue reading “Bitterne Local History Society Talk – Saturday 12 November 2022”

1 July 2022 – 25 years since the return of Hong Kong to China, 82 years since the first evacuation ship sailed in 1940

Today, 1 July 2022, marks 25 years since Hong Kong was handed back to China after 156 years as a British colony. The handover ceremony – attended by Prince Charles, the UK’s then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and the Chinese President Jiang Zemin – began on 30 June 1997. At midnight Chris Patten as theContinue reading “1 July 2022 – 25 years since the return of Hong Kong to China, 82 years since the first evacuation ship sailed in 1940”

“I’ve just been playing that silly game of being sorry for myself”

On 19 April 1941, George begins his letter to Hilda:  “It’s 6 o’clock Saturday evening, and I’m writing in the office while waiting for my lads to come back – yes, I’ve been working this afternoon and now it’s nearly time to pack up. “I’ve just been playing that silly game of being sorry forContinue reading ““I’ve just been playing that silly game of being sorry for myself””

Signing copies of ‘A Weekend to Pack’ at the Imperial War Museum

It was really exciting to have been asked to sign copies of A Weekend to Pack in the shop at the Imperial War Museum in London. It was inspiring, too, to see the other books on the shelves and all the amazing titles.  I also took the opportunity to visit the museum’s newly opened SecondContinue reading “Signing copies of ‘A Weekend to Pack’ at the Imperial War Museum”

80 years ago today, the Japanese launched their attack on Hong Kong

On Sunday 14 December 1941, Hilda wrote from Australia – 18 months since the evacuation crisis had seen the 3,500 British women and children evacuated from Hong Kong, and 18 months since she’d last seen her husband George – “Weeks and weeks of waiting and hoping – and then on Monday morning last my landladyContinue reading “80 years ago today, the Japanese launched their attack on Hong Kong”

FEPOW75 Southampton Commemoration 18 November 2021

In 2020, Roger Townsend set up the FEPOW75 website to mark the 75th anniversary of the repatriation through Southampton of prisoners of war from the Far East following the end of the Second World War (1939-1945). The Commemoration event Roger Townsend had planned for 2020 was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic and restrictions, butContinue reading “FEPOW75 Southampton Commemoration 18 November 2021”

95th anniversary – George and Hilda’s wedding, July 24th 1926

Earlier this month I posted a blog marking the 81st anniversary of the first ship to leave Hong Kong during the evacuation crisis of July 1940. Today is another anniversary to mark – but this time remembering a happier original event than the departure of the Empress of Japan from Hong Kong in 1940. BackContinue reading “95th anniversary – George and Hilda’s wedding, July 24th 1926”

81 years since the first evacuation ship left Hong Kong

Eighty-one years ago today – on July 1st 1940 – 1,500 British women and children were boarding the Empress of Japan, the first of the evacuation ships to leave Hong Kong following threats of attack from Japan. The word ‘evacuee’ usually evokes pictures of young children trailing in crocodile from inner-city school yards – namesContinue reading “81 years since the first evacuation ship left Hong Kong”

A Weekend to Pack is out on 28 April 2021!

I’m excited to announce that A Weekend to Pack, while having been available to pre-order for a while, is out on 28 April 2021! You can order through Sabrestorm Publishing or any of the usual book outlets. And I’d love it if you could join me for my talk, organised by Sabrestorm on Friday 7Continue reading “A Weekend to Pack is out on 28 April 2021!”

Everybody safe so far, and No. “37” still going strong – George, January 1941

In 1939, prior to sailing with the boys to join George in Hong Kong, and who had begun his posting to the colony six months earlier, Hilda put their furniture into storage and arranged for their home – 37, Randolph Road, Portsmouth – to be rented. The family also left behind in Portsmouth friends, relatives,Continue reading “Everybody safe so far, and No. “37” still going strong – George, January 1941”