80 years ago …

On 1 July 1940 the first of the evacuation ships left Hong Kong harbour. On board were 1,500 of the 3,500 women and children that would leave the colony that week, due to threats of invasion by the Japanese.

Among those on board were George’s family – his wife, Hilda, and two young sons, David (11) and Edward (nine).

Electrical engineer at the naval dockyard in Hong Kong, George was half-way through a three-year posting, on secondment from the Royal Dockyard in Portsmouth. Hilda and the boys had joined him the previous year and thrown themselves quickly into the social life in Hong Kong.

By July 1940, Britain had been at war with Germany for ten months, and much of Europe had fallen to Germany invasion. But until that summer, life in Hong Kong had remained very much the same. There was anxiety for family, friends and colleagues back home and in the services, but Britain and Europe were thousands of miles away.

And so, until the end of June 1940, George, Hilda, and the boys, had been looking forward to the next year and a half they would spend in Hong Kong. They had no idea what was around the corner.