Statement by Sgt. Herbert Peasgood, RAMC
|St Stephens College|
In my research at the Hong Kong Public Records Office, I came across this letter dated October 1946 from Mrs Fidoe addressed to the Adjutant of the HKVDC. She had been employed as a Private Nurse and in 1936 had joined the Nursing Detachment (ND) of the HKVDC. She was mobilized on 8th December when the Japanese Army invaded the Colony.
In the letter she describes her repatriation to the UK was by way of the Hospital Ship Oxfordshire in October 1949. The fact that she was repatriated by hospital ship implies she must have been in very poor health by the end of the war.
There was also a copy of a letter from Irene Braude who was Commandant of the Nursing Detachment of HKVDC to Mrs Fidoe written after the Japanese surrender in September 1945 whilst she (Irene Braude) was still in Stanley Internment Camp awaiting her own repatriation.
The letter thanks Mrs Fidoe for her service in the HKVDC and in it she refers to the abuse Mrs Fidoe experienced at the hands of the Japanese soldiery on that fateful Christmas Day in 1941.
"I should also like to say how sorry I was that you had such a dreadful experience while serving in at our Relief Military Hospital at St Stephen's College, Stanley, during hostilities and trust that you will have no lasting ill effects".
I looked for Mrs Fidoe in the various lists of civilian internees at Stanley Camp. These lists included:
The Log of Internees held at Imperial War Museum
The list of internees in Greg Leck's book "Captives of Empire"
Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Internees
Official List of Internees prepared by Colonial Office (1942)
She was not listed and so I assumed she must have been out of Camp. This would suggest she was a third national possibly Irish. Japanese occupied Hong Kong was not an easy place to survive in. Perhaps she was looked after by one of the Roman Catholic institutions such as the Italian Convent. We don't know where she found sanctuary and how she survived.
Geoff Emerson responded to a posting I made by saying that on one of his Stanley lists he had the following entry:
"Fidoe, E A Mrs. British Trained Sister HKVDC, VAD - Neutral believed in HK"
This suggested that she was categorized as a third national from a neutral country and the reference to "in HK" meant in town and not in Camp.
A series of postings on the popular Hong Kong local history web site "Gwulo" soon revealed more information see http://gwulo.com/node/16130
David Bellis who set up and manages the web site advised that she was a prosecution witness in the 1948 War Crimes Trials and yet only three years later she died, no doubt due in some measure to the privations she experienced during the wartime. Henry Ching (whose father Harry Ching) had been Editor of the South China Morning Post and had survived the tense period of Japanese occupation, responded that:
"Elizabeth Appleton Fidoe, also known as Emma Appleton Fidoe, died in the Queen Mary Hospital on 7th December 1950. She was apparently living, at the time, at 17 Bowen Road. This information is on the probate application for her will".