Japan marched into Hong Kong at the outbreak of the Pacific War on December 8, 1941. On the same day, Graham Heywood was captured by the invading Japanese near the border while carrying out duties for the Royal Observatory. He was held at various places in the New Territories before being transported to the military Prisoner-of-War camp in Sham Shui Po, Kowloon. The Japanese refused to allow Heywood and his colleague Leonard Starbuck to join the civilians at Stanley.
Heywood’s illustrated diary records his three-and-a-half years of internment, telling a story of hardship, adversity, and survival of malnutrition and disease; as well as repeated hopes of liberation and disappointment. As he awaits the end of the war, his reflections upon freedom and imprisonment bring realisations about life and how to live it.
“Accounts of life in the internment camp differed widely. One friend, an enthusiastic biologist, was full of his doings; he had grown champion vegetables, had seen all sort of rare birds (including vultures, after the corpses) and had run a successful yeast brewery. Altogether, he said, it had been a great experience … a bit too long, perhaps, but not bad fun at all. Another ended up her account by saying ‘Oh, Mr. Heywood, it was hell on earth’. It all depended on their point of view.”
Book event Heywood’s daughter Veronica will be giving a talk entitled “History, Heroism and Heritage: Wartime Memories of Graham Heywood” at the Hong Kong Observatory, 134A Nathan Road, TST, Kowloon at 3:00pm on Monday October 19th, 2015. Following the talk, discussion and tea, a memorial service will be held at St Andrew’s Church next door to the Observatory. All are welcome to both events. There is no charge, but please let Geoffrey Emerson know if you are coming: emerson (at) netvigator.com or 6012 0700.