Long Night's Journey Into Day: Prisoners of War in Hong Kong and Japan, 1941-1945

Front Cover

Sickness, starvation, brutality, and forced labour plagued the existence of tens of thousands of Allied POWs in World War II. More than a quarter of these POWs died in captivity.

Long Night’s Journey into Day centres on the lives of Canadian, British, Indian, and Hong Kong POWs captured at Hong Kong in December 1941 and incarcerated in camps in Hong Kong and the Japanese Home Islands. Experiences of American POWs in the Philippines, and British and Australians POWs in Singapore, are interwoven throughout the book.

Starvation and diseases such as diphtheria, beriberi, dysentery, and tuberculosis afflicted all these unfortunate men, affecting their lives not only in the camps during the war but after they returned home. Yet despite the dispiriting circumstances of their captivity, these men found ways to improve their existence, keeping up their morale with such events as musical concerts and entertainments created entirely within the various camps.

Based largely on hundreds of interviews with former POWs, as well as material culled from archives around the world, Professor Roland details the extremes the prisoners endured — from having to eat fattened maggots in order to live to choosing starvation by trading away their skimpy rations for cigarettes.

No previous book has shown the essential relationship between almost universal ill health and POW life and death, or provides such a complete and unbiased account of POW life in the Far East in the 1940s.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Hong Kong Chronology
1 Hong Kong before 8 December 1941
825 December 1941
3 The PrisonerofWar Camps and Hospitals
4 PrisonerofWar Life in Hong Kong
Life and Death in the Camps and Hospitals
7 The Overseas Drafts
8 POW Camps in the Japanese Home Islands
9 Less than Perfect Soldiers
10 The Journey EndsBut It Never Does

5 Trying to Cope with Too Little Food

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page xxii - Quebec radiol: radiological, radiology RAF: Royal Air Force RAFVR: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve RAMC: Royal Army Medical Corps RAMCR: Royal Army Medical Corps Reserve RAOC: Royal Army Ordnance Corps RASC: Royal Army Service Corps RASCR: Royal Army Service Corps Reserve RCAF: Royal Canadian Air Force RCAFR: Royal Canadian Air Force Reserve RCAFVR: Royal Canadian Air Force Volunteer Reserve RCAMC: Royal Canadian...
Page 8 - Grasett informed me during our conversation that the addition of two or more battalions to the forces then at Hong Kong would render the garrison strong enough to withstand for an extensive period of siege an attack by such forces as the Japanese could bring to bear against it.

About the author (2001)

Charles G. Roland was Jason A. Hannah Professor Emeritus of the History of Medicine at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.

Charles G. Roland practised general medicine, was senior editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, and served as chair of the Department of Biomedical Communication at the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota. He was Hannah Professor Emeritus of the History of Medicine at McMaster University and author of Courage under Siege: Disease, Starvation, and Death in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Bibliographic information