This is an important story which needs to be recounted, and which to date has only been told in fragments.


         It is an overview of the sequence of events in China and Hong Kong in World War II relating to the arrest, imprisonment and release of some 13,000 Allied civilian prisoners; of their experiences good and bad, their fortitude and resourcefulness in a sordid environment and harsh conditions during the three long years leading up to the Japanese surrender in August, 1945. The story describes events in some thirteen camps (officially called "Civil Assembly Centres") and five Informal Centres (of priests, nuns and missionaries).


         Some statistics will serve to put the events into perspective. From Table I (p.13) it will be seen that some 200,000' men, women and children were prisoners in Japanese Camps in the Far East during World War II, of which some 126,000 were civilians. From Table 4 (p.27) it will be observed that of the 126,000 civilian prisoners 11,550 or 9% were in China and Hong Kong. Outside of China the prisoners were predominantly Dutch ― 128,000 military and civilian, or 65% (Table 1, p.13) ― whilst in China and Hong Kong 9,326 or 81% were British (Table 2, p.14). Most significant of all are the statistics in Table 3, (p.14) which show that of the 11,550 civilian prisoners 5,864 (4,081 plus 1,783) or 51% were women and children.


         In my earlier book, Courtyard of the Happy Way, I described my experiences in Temple Hill Camp, Chefoo (1942 - 1943) and in Weixian (1943 - 1945). The latter was the main internment camp in north China. In the present book Weixian is seen as part of a larger story. The majority of the camps were in and around Shanghai.


         I am aware that the Chinese as a nation underwent indescribable suffering in this prolonged war. I have omitted to describe this, not because it is unimportant, but because it is outside the scope of this research.


         When General James H. Doolittle was asked if the full story of the Japanese War should be told, he replied, "I think it deserves to be told, not to open old wounds nor to condemn the Japanese. Rather, so that we will all remember what evils an uncontrolled militaristic government can bring to its people, and to point up what the consequences can be of our unpreparedness to meet aggression."  C.V. Clines The Doolittle Raid - America's daring first strike against Japan, Orion Books, New York, ― 1988, p.220

With that reason for writing such a story as this I am in agreement.


         In the Bibliography I have acknowledged the many books, diaries and unpublished memoirs which I have consulted, as well as the interviews which I had with former internees. For all this assistance I am deeply grateful. I am especially to the Department of Documents at the Imperial War Museum in London for placing at my disposal the archives and manuscripts available there on this subject.


         Mr. Keith Martin has kindly suggested some corrections regarding camp statistics as well as the question of international conventions. Mr. Peter Honour of the Pocket Testament League has supplied me with photos of Mitsuo Fuchida and Jacob De Shazer. Any errors and inaccuracies in this book remain my responsibility.


         My wife, Joyce, has supported me in this project, and shown infinite patience and encouragement as I have toiled on in the research involved. My son James has helped me with the intricacies of the computer in the final stages. The production of this book has been carried out with much competence by Jeff Thomson & Carole Holland.


         It is my hope that the information set out in this book will give a clear picture of the camps in China and Hong Kong, including both the good and the bad aspects.


Norman H. Cliff