The Elizabeth Ride Archive

Bouncing off from my previous blog posting about Baptist University’s storymap website, I recently came across another new online resource which chronicles the activities of the British Army Aid Group (BAAG), the MI9 in China ‘who did the best things in the worst of times’. The Elizabeth Ride Archive aims to document the activities of the war-time organisation through the papers collected and described by Elizabeth Ride, Sir Lindsay Ride’s daughter, who has devoted her life to publicising and disseminating this history. Here you’ll find information about Allied strategy, speeches and diaries from Sir Lindsay, as well as memoirs and war stories from the Hong Kong Defence Volunteer Corps, including recollections from a Portuguese Captain; a Chinese Private, and this British signalman.

The BAAG / Elizabeth Ride papers are duplicated and fragmented around the world, and can be accessed primarily in Australia, Britain and Hong Kong. The website has a handy finding aid showing which collections are available where.

New Online Resource: Hong Kong and the British Army Aid Group

Sir Lindsay Tasman Ride

In an age of Covid-19, at a time when many libraries and archives remain closed, online resources can feel like a lifeline for researchers marooned at home. (For an excellent account of the impact of Covid on graduate research, read Colourful Histories‘ viral blog post). Digitised records, free journal access and e-books can help keep the wheels of research turning.

So it was with great joy that I came across – via good ole Twitter – the Hong Kong Resistance: the British Army Aid Group (BAAG) storymap, which introduces the history of BAAG, its wartime activities and the impact of the organisation on the Allied war effort against Japan. Led by Lieutenant Colonel Lindsay Tasman Ride, the BAAG was an underground resistance organisation active in Hong Kong and South China from 1942 to 1945.

On 8 December 1941, 35,000 Japanese troops, supported by heavy artillery and air and naval elements attacked Hong Kong, as part of Japan’s undeclared war against the United States, the British Commonwealth, and the Netherlands.

The interactive website is divided into chapters, each chronicling important junctures in the history of BAAG, from its formation in early 1942, Col. Ride’s heroic escape to China, and finally, the liberation of Hong Kong. The website has a particularly interesting section on Hong Kong’s POW and internment camps, with an interactive map showing the location of each camp (Stanley, Argyle Street, Sham Shui Po, Ma Tau Chung, North Point), illustrated by photographs and digitised records.

The new website, hosted by Hong Kong Baptist University, is the brainchild of the indefatigable Professor Kwong Chi Man.

Refugees: Forced to Flee

A new exhibition opening in September 2020 at the Imperial War Museum (IWM) will explore a century of refugee experiences, from Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews, to the Calais ‘jungle’ and the dangerous crossings across the Meditterranean. First-person accounts and deeply personal experiences confront and challenge common perceptions of the refugee plight. The exhibtion makes use of oral histories, artefacts and photographs to tell the story of refugee journeys, showing how war and conflict radically alters ordinary lives.

Ordinary people are forced to make extraordinary decisions – should they stay or go?

The exhibition is part of IWM’s ‘Refugee’ series, which explores refugee experiences throughout history and the ongoing challenges faced by the 17.5 million people who have fled Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Refugees being escorted out of Mostar, Bosnia in June 1992 © Kevin Weaver and IWM

China Families

Professor Robert Bickers has introduced his latest online resource: the China Families site, which features over 6,000 searchable (and free!) records for genealogists and historians, and anyone with an interest in China history. The site features an ever-growing body of information about ‘men and women of many different nationalities, professions and ages, who lived and worked in China between the 1850s and 1940s’.

As Professor Bickers writes:

It is easy to forget the scale of the foreign communities that lived in China in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Very many families in Britain, across Europe, North America, and in Australia and New Zealand, can trace family journeys through China. Many lived there for decades, and some for up to five generations before 1949 and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. These lists are testament to the intimacy of the close relations that developed between China and foreign countries in this period, under the shadow of the might of the British and other empires.

Asylum-seeking Journeys in Asia: Refugees in Hong Kong and Bangkok

51BGzYfc1WL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_Between 2008 and 2017, the number of refugees in Hong Kong and Bangkok increased by approximately 15% and 20% respectively.

Terrence Chun Tat Shum’s comparative study of refugees in these two bustling Asian cities provides a stark warning about the effects of prolonged displacement, societal exclusion and marginalisation, while examining the mechanisms that allow such exclusions to take place.

Shum’s ethnographic approach focuses on asylum-seeking journeys. It examines the process and events of refuge, as well as the social worlds of urban refugees. Hong Kong and Bangkok, he argues, are both places of limbo for refugees ‘haunted by terrifying memories of loss and seduced by a longing for resettlement and stability’.

‘Asylum-seeking Journeys in Asia’ gives voice to the modern refugee and their unique migration experiences. It enriches our understanding of asylum, the meaning of displacement and urban refugee livelihoods in an Asian context.