If Japan goes to war there is not the slightest chance of holding Hong Kong or relieving it. It is most unwise to increase the loss we shall suffer there. Instead of increasing the garrison it ought to be reduced. Japan will think twice before declaring war on the British Empire, and whether there are two or six battalions at Hong Kong will make no difference. I wish we had fewer troops there, but to move any would be noticeable and dangerous. (Winston Churchill in January 1941 to General Hastings Ismay).
|Major-General Maltby with Brigadier John Lawson|
After the surrender, Maltby was incarcerated as a prisoner of war in Hong Kong, Formosa, and Manchuria. He was incarcerated for three-and-a-half years until liberation in August 1945. He was firstly held in Sham Shui Po POW Camp and then in April 1942 moved to Argyle Street Officers Camp.
|A crayon drawing depicting Maltby's hut in Argyle Street Camp.|
|Flagstaff House today (Source: HK Govt.)|
|Drawing by Lt Alexander Skvorzov (Courtesy of Luba Estes) |
The photographs below show Major-General Maltby looking thin and strained but happy following his release from POW Camp.
|Major-Gen. Maltby and Sir Mark Young both looking emaciated after liberation in Sept 1945|
|Maj.-Gen. Maltby with American troops and holding a captured samurai sword still in possession of the family today (IWM)|
|Photo of Major-General Maltby from Passport to Eternity (1956) by Ralph Goodwin|
He just made up his mind to make the best of a bad job, and although he knew the place to be indefensible, I never once heard him complain. To add to difficulties, he got a very sore throat from the dusty atmosphere in the Battle Box, and for about five days he lost his voice completely. This must have been quite exasperating because he was unable to telephone himself .........and had to rely upon some third person to speak for him. The whole garrison loved him, and they were filled with admiration at the way in which he used to walk about by himself, visiting troops, apparently completely oblivious of the shells which were bursting all around. He had many narrow escapes; he was standing on the lawn in front of his house [Flagstaff House] when a shell burst on the roof and demolished the end rooms; on another occasion a large bomb burst in his garden and frightened the wits out of the people who were with him, but he seemed so completely unperturbed. He did his very best, but the defence scheme had been cut and dried by the War Office for so long that there was so little that he himself could do, and the Japanese had so many troops that the odds were hopelessly against us from the start. However, it is entirely due to his courage and determination that we lasted out for [eighteen] days.
James Barnes for additional information sources.
Luba Estes for the sketch of Michael Maltby drawn by her father Lt A.V. Skvorzov, HKVDC
Article on Major--General Maltby by Tony Banham in Dictionary of Hong Kong Biography (2012) edited by May Holdsworth and Christopher Munn.
Private Papers, consisting of a commonplace book and a scrapbook, held at the Imperial War Museum. The commonplace book is dedicated to his two daughters who he affectionately calls the rabbits.