Date
26 July 2017
Lt. Donald W. Kerr (right) picked up some useful Cantonese words (left) and peppered his journal with illustrations. Photos: Donald W. Kerr journal
Lt. Donald W. Kerr (right) picked up some useful Cantonese words (left) and peppered his journal with illustrations. Photos: Donald W. Kerr journal

US flyer’s war journal gives new insight into HK resistance

If he had not been shot down by the Japanese, American flyer Donald W. Kerr might have been blamed for the destruction of Kai Tak airport.

Kerr, a lieutenant in the US Air Force during World War II, was on a mission to bomb Kai Tak airport on Feb. 11, 1944 when his plane was brought down by the Japanese who had taken over Hong Kong.

He ejected from the stricken plane and landed in the hills of Sha Tin, with Japanese troops in pursuit. 

Kerr’s wartime exploits give a fresh insight into a facet of the Pacific war thanks to his son David who collaborated with a Hong Kong guerilla group to publish his memoirs.

The book, Journal Of Donald W. Kerr, written in Chinese, was published on Aug. 5 by East River Column, a group of Hong Kong resistance fighters, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender.

Kerr mainly devotes this section of the book to his rescue by the resistance group and Hong Kong villagers.

He was first spotted by a boy who was a message courier for the East River Column guerillas.

With their help, and after his heroic attempt to learn the local language, Kerr finally managed to return to the US military base in Guilin on March 29.

Kerr entered his recollections in a journal in which he showed some grasp of Cantonese, writing “shiih-fan” (eat), “haang” (walk) and “taang” (walk).

The book comes with illustrations and hand-written maps.

Kerr had been a map maker in the US Army before he joined the air force.

David and a group of East River Column researchers took seven years to put the tome together, interviewing surviving guerillas and retracing his father’s escape from the Japanese.  

– Contact us at [email protected]

DY/JP/RA

Lt. Donald W. Kerr is shown with Hong Kong guerillas after his rescue. He was on a bombing mission when he was shot down by the Japanese. Photo: Donald W. Kerr journal


EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe