In the late summer and autumn of 2017 I wrote about the Hong Kong Signal Company and the bravery of one of its number, Signalman Arnie ‘Topper’ Topliff BEM. Since then there has been much interest in the stories and I have examined the battle in more detail for the chapter in the book, ‘The South East Asia Theatre‘. In consequence I have been able to update some of the details on the Signal Company story, including a rewrite of the roll of those who served with it and with the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals of ‘C’ Force, the Fortress Signal Company and Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps Signals. The roll is linked to the image.
In addition to a re-examination of the information on the various websites linked in the first post, I have been able to scrutinise the Company’s war diary. It was compiled by the Chief Signal Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Eustace Levett while in captivity and it also records the details of the officers of all services held as prisoners and the fate of the men of the Signal Company. The original documents are now held by the Royal Signals Museum but they were transcribed after Levett’s death by Lieutenant Colonel Monty Truscott, one of the Company’s survivors and the driving force behind the Company’s reunions. It is a superb record of the Company’s work in the battle. I have to thank Vic Ient, the son of Sergeant A. V. Ient, for sending me a copy of the diary.
A second source that is worthy of greater exposure is the story of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals detachment, part of ‘C’ Force, which arrived on Hong Kong just before the Japanese invasion. Beyond the Call was written by D. Burke Penny, the nephew of one of the Canadian signallers, Corporal Donald A. Penny. Penny has an excellent blog which provides a huge amount of additional information about the role of Signals in the battle and about the men who took part. The book is available through the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association of Canada and is highly recommended.
Highly recommended is the story from the point of view of the Chinese fishermen who rescued survivors and who hid several prisoners who finally escaped. A Faithful Record of the Lisbon Maru Incident is a translation of the original Chinese publication by Major Brian Finch, an officer of the Middlesex Regiment who has done much to contribute to the memorialisation of the sinking of the Lisbon Maru.
Finally, below is an updated bibliography, which includes various articles that have appeared in The Wire over the years.
From The Wire:
‘The Torpedoing of the Lisbon Maru’. March/April 1967, p 118. (An account of the sinking of the Lisbon Maru by 2325210 Signalman W. T. E. Bevan.)
‘Lest we Forget Hong Kong- December 1941’. July/August 1969, p 260. (An account of the battle using extracts from Levett’s diary.)
‘Notable Diaries Presented to the Museum’. January 1982, p 11. (The presentation of the diaries compiled by Lieutenant Colonel E. O. Levett OBE.)
Hong Kong Signal Company Reunions:
‘Survivors of Hong Kong Signal Company (1939-49) meet for their first Reunion’. July/August 1969, p 260.
‘Hong Kong Signal Company 1939-45’. July/August 1970 p 289.
‘Third Reunion of the Hong Kong Signal Company (1939-45)’. August/September 1971, p 294.
‘The 4th Annual Re-union of the Hong Kong Signal Company 1939-45’. October/November 1972, p 409.
‘Filth Reunion of the Hong Kong Signal Company 1939·45’. October/November 1973, p 448.
‘Sixth Reunion, Hong Kong Signal Company 1939-45’. November/December 1974, p 483.
‘Seventh Reunion of the Hong Kong Signal Company 1939-45’. November/December 1975, p 374.
‘8th Reunion of the Hong Kong Signal Company 1939-45’. November 1976, p 378.
‘Ninth Reunion of the Hong Kong Signal Company 1939-45’. November 1977, p 486.
‘Tenth Reunion of the Hong Kong Signal Company 1939-45’. November 1978, p 357.
‘Hong Kong Signal Company 1939-45—11th Reunion’. November 1979, p 473.
‘The Hong Kong Signal Company 1939-45—Twelfth Reunion. November 1980, p 533. (The final reunion at Blandford.)
From Other Websites:
The story of Sergeant Albert Ient Royal Signals, who survived the Lisbon Maru sinking, may be found on The Ient Family website.
The most important source of information about the battle and the fate of the prisoners is the series of three books by Tony Banham. His website Hong Kong War Diary has details of these and a huge amount of additional information.
A large amount of information has been amassed on the website of Gwulo: Old Hong Hong, including the original POW records compiled by Tse Dickuan BEM, part of the Elizabeth Ride Collection.
For information about prisoners of war in Japan and the camps in which they were incarcerated see: Center For Research Allied POWS Under The Japanese.
An extensive research database may be found at the charity COFEPOW.
Details of the prisoners taken to Japan may also be found at the POW Research Network Japan.