The Rising Sun flag flies over the Bund in occupied Shanghai
Oliver & Sue Hall
Remember Lunghwa CAC
On the morning of December 8, 1941, as the Hall children prepared to board the launch to carry them off to school, soldiers of the Empire of Japan arrived to halt the crossing. They handed out biscuits "as hard as rocks" to the kids, who returned home. Meanwhile, excited shouting conveyed the news that Shanghai was in Japanese hands.
Initially, life went on under the occupation. Allied nationals were required to wear armbands identifying them as such, but restaurants, cinemas, and nightclubs carried on. The family was evicted by the Japanese from Holts Wharf, and moved to a tiny, one room apartment on Avenue Road. In early 1943, most of the British community was interned.
Sue Hall, right, with friend Elsie (surname unknown), Shanghai, 1943. The armband "B" was worn by British nationals.
Within a few months, all British Eurasian children over 13 were to be interned, and Dolly, Lilly, and Tom were interned at Lunghwa, where Oliver joined them. Despite the privations of camp, activities and schooling continued. Many internees have commented on the high degree of respect they had for their teachers in camp, many of them missionaries. Dr. Bobby Bloomfield recalls Oliver Hall in the camps: "I was amazed by Nutty Hall when I met him in the camps at Pootung and Lunghwa. He was an absolute clown, loved by all. He sewed a thousand buttons on a black suit and performed on stage as a Pearly King in a music hall act. He was our version of Stanley Holloway. It was fun to go to Waterloo where the boiled drinking water would be dispensed into our thermos flasks by Nutty Hall. Wherever he went in camp he had a kind and or funny thing to say and often he sang as he walked. Happiness and good cheer emanated from him even in some distressing times."
The 1943 Christmas show program from Lunghwa CAC
"A good few years after the Halls left Tientsin I found myself in Pootung prison camp in Shanghai, a dark and dreary place, overcrowded, unsanitary, never enough to eat. What kept us going were some fine jazz band musicians and some marvellous ex US vaudeville and English music hall performers. To me, incredibly, Nutty Hall was among them. But it was in Lunghwa camp where we were transferred that I best remember Nutty's stage appearances. His repertoire consisted mostly of comic songs: Henery the Eighth, The Body's Upstairs, Don't Have Any More, Mrs. Moore, Good Old London Town, but he also sang some soulful ballads such as My Old Dutch. I remember him bringing the house down with his Henery the Eighth." - Desmond Power
With the war's end, a slow return to normalcy ensued. Residency in the camp continued due to the severe housing shortage, but by the end of the year the family had returned to their apartment above the Butterfield and Swire offices in Holts wharf. But in China, the winds of change were blowing and the family, as well as the entire world of the China Hands, would never again be the same.
Read other Lunghwa recollections:
Rachel Bosebury Beck