Slice of Life
Compiled by Sandra Lowe
From the South China Morning Post this week in: 1948
Rain dampened celebrations for King George's birthday in Hongkong on June 11, with ship captains agreeing that 'it was the King's birthday but scarcely King's weather'. The heavy rain cancelled the morning military parade at Happy Valley. However, over 1,000 guests attended the reception at the Government House. The function was originally to be a garden party, but the rain forced the event indoors to the ballroom.
The Governor, Sir Alexander, and Lady Grantham, who wore a dress of pink organdie, received guests in the hall. Sir Alexander wore a morning suit with grey pin-striped trousers. The ballroom was thronged with people and the scene presented was a colourful combination of the latest creations in ladies' dresses and headgear against a background of Naval and Military uniforms and morning suits.
On Wednesday, June 9, Russia made her bid to send military observers into Palestine. Andrei Gromyko, Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister, told the UN Security Council it was ready to send her observers along with the US, Belgium and France to monitor a truce. The three western powers were asked to provide observers at a meeting in Lake Success in New York.
Meanwhile, the Council received a report from the UN mediator in the Middle East, Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden, who delivered an ultimatum to the Jews and Arabs to make up their minds in 48 hours whether to accept the truce. On Friday, UN Secretary General Dr Trygve Lie formally announced that the Arab and Israeli governments had agreed unconditionally to the cessation of hostilities for 28 days, beginning at 6am GMT.
Alas, the ceasefire was not to last. On June 15, the truce in the Holy Land hung in the balance as Arabs threatened 'a general attack on all fronts' if the Jews did not strictly keep the peace, according to reports from Damascus, quoting the Syrian Prime Minister.
The ultimatum gave the Jews until 2pm to observe the truce. If they did not, the Arab armies would resume fighting. A despatch from Haifa quoted a UN truce observer saying fighting had ceased everywhere in Palestine, but an official Jewish statement said the Israeli Army 'had been compelled to renew its activities in the north'.
Meanwhile, the cruiser Phoebe arrived in Haifa and will be the headquarters of General Sir Harold MacMillan, British Officer Commanding, during the last few days of the evacuation of the Haifa enclave. All but 5,000 to 6,000 British troops had been evacuated earlier in the week and the last contingent might leave by the end of the month. The garrison originally numbered more than 800,000.
On a more light-hearted note, the Queen's Alhambra theatre in Hongkong is showing what it billed as 'the biggest picture in 10 years' in advertisements. MGM presents Green Dolphin Street starring Lana Turner, Van Heflin, Donna Reed and Richard Hart. This film has it all: 'conflict, tidal wave, drama, earthquake, tribal warfare'. The ad boasted 'a cast of 5,000 taking two years to film'. But a small review panned it, saying the best-seller adaptation, located partly in New Zealand, had an impressive cast, large backgrounds but an unconvincing plot.
In Canton on June 11, a ban on dragon boats imposed since the war was lifted. Canton reports that as many as 30 boats from Kwangtung districts have arrived to race in the Canton River for The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival. Before the war in many villages and cities, the festival was accompanied by the most rousing celebrations and sometimes a race would lead to a village fight. Such violence led to its ban in Canton and other places.
In the Colony, however, there were only four boats, which raced in the harbour at North Point facing the swimming pavilion between 3pm and 5pm. The same boats - two representing Shaukiwan, and one each representing Wanchai and Kowloon - raced off Kennedy Town opposite the Chung Sing Swimming Beach between 11.30am and 2pm.
In a rare event in cricket, the 'Don', Donald Bradman, was out for a duck when Australia defeated England by eight wickets in the first Test match at Trent Bridge on June 15.