Getting the women and children out
Catching up with my podcast list, on 11th November HK Radio journalist Annemarie Evans interviewed Tony Banham for Hong Kong Heritage. Tony Banham's latest book - Reduced to a Symbolical Scale - records the experiences British women and children who were evacuated from Hong Kong to Australia in July 1940.
Banham makes the point in this interesting programme that while the plan for the evacuation was drawn up in Hong Kong, it was part of the response of the British government in London to the fall of France and the Netherlands, since the overseas territories of these countries were now vulnerable to attack from Japan.
Of the Newmarket families Norah Lysaught (née Murphy) and her eldest daughter, Margaret Mary, along with Chief Inspector Michael Murphy's wife and two daughters were part of this evacuation. Banham recounted the case of a wife and daughter so traumatised by the news of the husband/father's death that both had mental breakdowns and ended up in an asylum. Margaret Mary Lysaught was delicate anyhow, and when her mother became terminally ill with cancer, was moved to a psychiatric hospital.
Murphy's family fared better, though. The evacuation had been so early, over 15 months before any real threat to Hong Kong materialised, that Michael Murphy was able to take a short leave in 1941 to join his wife and children in Sydney. Whilst he was there Hong Kong was invaded and occupied, so, of course, he could not return, and remained in Australia with his family for the duration. After the war ended, Murphy was that rare thing - a senior member of the Force in robust health. He was able to return to the colony to complete his service and help in the rebuilding of its Police Force.
More information about Tony Banham's work is at hongkongwardiary
A link to the podcast is here: rthk.hk