Captivity, Flight, and Survival in World War II

By Alan J. Levine | Go to book overview

2
Flight before the Enemy: Asia and the Pacific

Even more than in Europe, the tide of conquest in the East in 1941-1942 produced many dramatic escapes as Allied servicemen and civilians fled from the Japanese. Japanese atrocities against the Chinese were already well known, and many believed that almost any risk, however fantastic, was better than falling into their hands. How right they were will be seen later. To avoid Japanese captivity, many plunged hundreds of miles through enemy-held territory, crossed thousands of miles of ocean, and struggled to exist for months in deep jungle.


BREAKOUT FROM HONG KONG

Long before Pearl Harbor, the British colony of Hong Kong was isolated deep in territory dominated by the Japanese. Although it was clear to many even at the time that Hong Kong could not hold out for long, the British and, even more inexplicably, the Canadians foolishly reinforced it, insuring that thousands of men would be lost right at the start of the war. Some of these men were already thinking of how to get away, and one small naval force had the chance to do so.

The light naval forces at Hong Kong included eight craft of the 2nd Motor Torpedo Boat (M.T.B.) Flotilla, similar to American PT boats. The M.T.B.s were early models with many faults; among other things they were leaky. Although never properly equipped, and lightly armed, they fought well in the defense of Hong Kong, sinking many enemy small

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