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Reduced to a Symbolical ScaleThe Evacuation of British Women and Children from Hong Kong to Australia in 1940$
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Tony Banham

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9789888390878

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888390878.001.0001

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1941: Pre–Pacific War Australia

1941: Pre–Pacific War Australia

(p.89) 4 1941: Pre–Pacific War Australia
Reduced to a Symbolical Scale

Tony Banham

Hong Kong University Press

Chapter Four observes the evacuees’ environment as they fought to be allowed to return to Hong Kong and made the largely unassisted transition from pre-evacuation Colony to the difficulties (real and perceived) of life in Australia. They now had the social position of refugees. The eighteen months of separation before the Japanese attack meant families were immediately under strain - at the Hong Kong and Australian ends. The pressure on evacuated families was greater than on those not evacuated, added to by the continuing sense of injustice that many of the latter had deliberately evaded evacuation. The Hong Kong evacuees’ experience is contextualised through comparison with American civilians in the Philippines who were not evacuated and would eventually fare far worse. The vain hope for repatriation to Hong Kong delayed acclimatisation to Australia for many – though now more families realised that they could regain control of their destinies, by the evacuees themselves leaving Australia or by husbands who had been left behind leaving Hong Kong. Meanwhile, demonstrations and petitions calling for repatriation of the evacuees to Hong Kong grew to a crescendo.

Keywords:   Australia, Protest, Refugees, Repatriation

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