Born in Hong Kong in January 1928, Keith John Martin was the son of Alf Martin and Enid Craik. His father was born in Kennington in 1893, his mother in Hong Kong in 1899. Alf came to Hong Kong with his family probably in 1902. Alf & Enid were married in St John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong in 1923. Keith was also christened there in 1928.
Alf died in 1940 and is buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Happy Valley. Enid sent her children to Shanghai to live with her sister and was interned by the Japanese in Stanley, Hong Kong from 1942 to 1945. She married John Michell, an Inspector with HK Police, whilst in camp. Enid & John returned to the UK after the war. Enid died in Winchester, Hampshire in 1988.
Japanese Occupation and Internment
Keith made audio recordings and they are included below
(Please click on to listen)
In Shanghai, Keith and his sister lived with their aunt Gertrude Jewell and their cousin. Keith attended the Cathedral Boys School under Headmaster the Reverend PC Matthews.
At the outbreak of war the Japanese took over Shanghai, along with every other foreign national Keith was forced to carry an identity card and wear an armband identifying him as a British National.
In 1942 school continued as normal at the seperate boys and girls Cathedral School, but then the Japanese requisitioned the boys school the boys moved in with the girls school.
Prominent civilians began to be imprisoned and all foreign civilians interned by early 1943
In 1943 he was interned in Yangchow C “Civil Assembly Centre” along with his sister, aunt, cousin, headmaster and several school friends. Keith sat his Cambridge Certificate in camp along with several others of his age, the papers having been developed by the school teachers in the camp; Cambridge reviewed the papers after the war and allowed the results to stand as valid.
In November 1943 a summons to the camp commandant required an on the spot decision for his future, an opportunity was given to journey to Hong Kong to join his mother. It was turned down.
The Japanese guards were unobtrusive except at roll call.
Food and fuel, initially sufficient, became a problem as the war progressed.
There were few deaths in the camp.
Even the young showed a comradeship that grew directly out of their situation, in digging a grave.
Although the children were kept busy, boredom was a problem for the adults despite having to work around the camp. Religious practice was an important part of camp life.
At last news of ‘the big bomb’ filtered through and supplies were parachuted in before they finally returned to Shanghai
In September 1945 the internees from Yangchow returned to Shanghai. Keith and his sister travelled on to Hong Kong where his mother almost failed to recognise the seventeen year old she had not seen for years. The family returned to the UK.
Keith joined Royal Dutch Shell in 1945 and served in the Philippines, Malta, Singapore, Pakistan and the USA (amongst others) before retiring in 1984 in the UK. He was chairman of ABCIFER (the Association of British Civilian Internees, Far East Region) from 1995 until 2004 and was instrumental in gaining reparation payment from the Labour government of the time to all surviving Far East internees.
Keith died 2009
He is survived by his wife and three children.
Tessa - Daughter of Keith Martin
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