Filomeno "Meno" Baptista, March 2010

Japan surrendered unconditionally on August 15th 1945 and soon the rush to return to Hong Kong began. In early September our heroes arrived in Macau onboard a British frigate HMS Parret to reunite with their families; through them we learned that the prisoners who had been sent to Japan to work in the coal mines were also safe and were receiving medical treatment before returning home. A grand reception was held at the "Melco Club" in their honour . Music was provided by Art Carneiro, his orchestra and the "Starletts" a group of young ladies of the refugee community.

Slowly but surely families began the 40-plus mile trip back to Hong Kong onboard the MV Fat Shan. Many were welcomed back by their prewar employers , while others had the choice of a great variety of jobs to choose from in booming post-war Hong Kong.

Returning to the old neighborhoods, they wasted no time to revive their old way of life, and to produce the so-called "baby boomers". In great numbers. Softball, Hockey and Football leagues were formed, and Club de Recreio with such super-stars as the Gosano brothers, Junior Remedios and Willy Reed, soon dominated the Hockey and Softball leagues, winning championship every year.

The Victoria Recreation Club (VRC), located in the waterfront next to the Naval dry docks on the Hong Kong side of the harbor, became a favorite haunt of our boys who would walk the short distance from their offices to "work out' and swim during "tiffin" break and stop off for another dip after work, while the older men congregated in the bar at Club Lusitano for their "sundowners".

As for my generation – the 1930's brigade – together with the baby boomers , we took to post-war life with not a care, enjoying all the fun things that Hong Kong had to offer. Unlike our parents who were satisfied and had no thoughts of leaving Hong Kong, most of my generation dreamt of emigrating, preferably to America, failing that to Australia, Canada or Brazil. Our generation saw few opportunities in Hong Kong. It was a British colony and non-English residents were still considered 2nd-class citizens. They , the English, had forgotten the humiliating defeat they had suffered in the hands of the Japanese and had resumed their prewar arrogance when dealing with "locals". We could not conceive working until retirement under those conditions.

Spurred on by our cousins who had fled Shanghai after the Communist take-over and made it clear that Hong Kong was just a stepping stone while waiting for their visa to America , we turned our sights east to the West Coast of the United States. My generation was heavily influenced by Hollywood , loved American hit songs and dressed like Americans. Many of us were baseball fanatics and were crazy enough to tune into the short-wave station of the Armed Forces radio in the wee hours of the morning to listen to the World Series. Few had any interest in English sports or for most things English, yet there was enough interest to field two cricket teams for Club de Recreio. My generation was what the British referred to disparagingly as "Yankeephiles".

Poofis, you guys, the storm is fast approaching.

There was a serious riot in October 1956, the so-called "double 10th " riot when the Swiss Consul's wife was burned to death. Then in 1966, unhappy with a proposed rise of 5 cents to the First-Class Star Ferry fare, the protesters, led by an English female busybody, rioted for days and then, all passion spent, the hooligans retreated to their warrens. Frightened by those events and for the sake of their children, many families applied for visas and those of us who were unmarried but old enough, did likewise.

Then came 1967. Encouraged by the Red Guards in the mainland, the Colony erupted into full-scale riots on May 1st; this time the motivation was to get the foreigners out. The garrison was put on full alert and all leave was cancelled.

My daughter was born on April 24th and required medical attention. Very often the road to the Star Ferry was blocked by the rioters, making it impossible to get to her doctor in Hong Kong. This was serious business: I called Pan American early in May hoping to get my daughter and her mother out on the first available flight and was told that flights for ALL airlines were fully booked and that the first available opening was July 8th! I made reservation for the three of us.

On the day of our departure, there was serious rioting and as we were approaching Kai Tak Airport, Radio Hong Kong announced that the Gurkahs along the Shum Chun border were in confrontation with the Chinese. I said a silent prayer paraphrasing St. Augustine, my favorite libertine: "Oh God I promise to be good if you will get my family out of here". Of course as soon as we were airborne I qualified "But not just yet".

By the handover to China in 1997 most of our people had left Hong Kong, the majority emigrating to the United States while others were fortunate to have obtained visas to Canada and Australia. We are now scattered all over the world; in addition to the aforementioned, many found refuge in Brazil, Portugal and, yes, England.

Fifty years from now our unique community will be fully integrated into these new homelands and the only evidence of our history will be family stories, recipes handed down, names on headstones at St Michael's cemetery in Happy Valley, the written works of Tony da Silva, Henry d'Assumpção's magnificent website and Jorge Forjaz's magnum opus.

"I saw the Harbor lights, they only told me that we were parting, the same old Harbor light that brought you to me" and so Goodbye Hong Kong and if forever, forever Goodbye.