Hong Kong: D-Day 79th Anniversary (1944-2023) – Remembering Master Chan Tin Sang (陳天生) During WWII! (6.6.2023)
Our Chinese grandfather - Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) fought as part of the 'People's Militia' (with his Section also known as the 'Hakka Resistance') in the Hong Kong and New Territories region. When he recalled these events years later – he often described this time period (1941-1945) as ‘The years covered in blood.’ - as there was never a time that he was not covered in his own blood or the blood of his enemies. Hong Kong had been under the imperialist rule of the British from 1841-1941 - when the Imperial Japanese Army successfully overran the area - killing thousands of ethnic Chinese POWs and civilians in the process! Thousands of ethnic Indian and 'White' British soldiers were killed in combat, wounded and taken into captivity (where many were tortured). What follows is description of what the ethnic Chinese people experienced throughout Hong Kong and the New Territories – a reality either deliberately ignored or simply not known by Western historians and biographers. Part of the problem is not simply political bias or historical preference (although these two issues undoubtedly play their part) - but rather that not ALL ethnic Chinese people understood fully what was happening! The ‘White’ British Administration did not trust the ethnic Chinese population – as they were afraid of homegrown uprisings – but positively detested the Imperial Japanese! This is why the British Authorities ‘refused’ to arm the ethnic Chinese population at the beginning of the Japanese troubles! Rumours of a fifth column in Kowloon turned out not to be true (these groups were comprised of Japanese sleeper cells activated to meet and assist the incoming Japanese troops).
As the British Authorities did not arm the local ethnic Chinese populations with modern firearms – these people (comprised of the Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien and Teochew ethnic groups amongst others) had to rely upon their traditional martial arts skills to fight the Japanese invaders. This was NOT a problem as the ethnic Chinese attitudes were still very ‘feudalistic’ at the time and the martial arts incredibly effective on the battlefield and in self-defence encounters! How did (modern) British arms enter the area? This seems to have been through a behind-the-scenes agreement between the CPC and the British government. The People's Militia was organised by the Communist Party of China (CPC) - as the Nationalist government had no interest in Hong Kong being part of a united China again (for the British this must have been a tricky business as the CPC was not formally in power in China - nor was it ‘recognised’ by any ruling government outside the USSR). It is remarkable that given CPC troubles being experienced in Central and Northern China at the time (fighting the Nationalists and the Japanese) that it was able to 'project' its power into what was then a very distant and remote area – but the understanding that had been reached between the CPC and the British allowed a small trickle of UK arms into the region to be used by the local Chinese people! This 'Resistance' movement against the Imperial Japanese was permitted providing the CPC power structure (together with the British arms) be 'withdrawn' from the region following the eventual defeat of the Imperial Japanese!
Our Hakka Chinese family clan in Sai Kung suffered terribly at the hands of the brutal Japanese - with women and girls routinely 'raped', 'tortured' and 'murdered'! Not only do we possess eye-witness accounts of this barbarism - but long before the internet the Japanese liked to 'photograph' (and sometimes 'film') their crimes for all to see! These are crimes that the Japanese committed all over China and Asia - and which the Japanese government has yet to properly acknowledge and apologise for! Chan Tin Sang was 17-years old in 1941 and 21-years old in 1945 - when the war ended. During that time, he lost most of his immediate relatives and was accustomed to fighting ‘hand-to-hand' with the fanatical Japanese soldiers - using his Hakka martial arts skills to survive (his father died fighting in this manner in 1944). Later, in search of a better life - Chan Tin Sang came to England in 1956 when he was 32-years old. He worked hard for 10-years in what became London's 'new' Chinatown and finally saved up enough money to bring his wife and daughters to the UK (as they already possessed 'British Citizenship') in 1966 (when he was 42-years old). He passed away in 1993 when he was 69-years old - which was quite old at the time - but many believe that the years of deprivation (and continuous violence) he experienced between 1941-1945 definitely shortened his lifespan. Sometimes - as individuals and groups - we possess no choice. By the time the Western allies were landing on Normandy 79-years ago – the Japanese Occupiers were still strong and effective throughout Hong Kong and the New Territories! It would be with the entry of the Soviet Red Army (during late 1945) into Manchuria that begin the demise of the Imperial Japanese Army and signal the return of the British to Hong Kong!
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.