'They've got some things wrong here,' says Harva James Yapp, as he peruses the blurb inviting people to his 95th birthday party at the Foreign Correspondents' Club. 'I was born on January 28, not 26.' And Jimmie Yapp likes accuracy. Yapp was a journalist at three of Hong Kong's English-language newspapers: the long-defunct China Mail, the Tiger Standard, and the South China Morning Post. He covered murder cases at the magistracy, fires in godowns, and headed the China news section for the Post, following a brief career in propaganda during the second world war. He nearly met John F. Kennedy. Until recently he was still contributing to an Australian magazine and has always preferred a typewriter to using a computer. At the FCC on Thursday, several former colleagues recalled his penchant for lighting his pipe, which he smoked for 20 years, with a match, which often went, still burning, back into the matchbox, producing some interesting office fireworks. Yapp was born in Cape Town in 1914. His Chinese father had married 'a Thai girl, who was possibly a princess'. His businessman father died while he was a child and Yapp was sent by an uncle back to the motherland 'so that we can make a Chinaman out of you'. But his time in his Guangdong home village ended when he revealed that the local mayor was corrupt. Yapp hid in a lychee tree and escaped. After spells as an excise officer in India, and a pest exterminator, he turned to journalism. 'Instinctively, it was all I ever wanted to do,' he said. During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, he escaped with 13 other journalists in January 1942, across Japanese lines and on to Chongqing. Yapp worked for the British Ministry of Information in China during the war. 'My job was putting out propaganda,' he said. In the 1950s and 60s, he recalled, many fires plagued Hong Kong, in both godowns and slum areas. He only had a primary school education and learned English listening to BBC news bulletins and dramas. He worked as a reporter, leader writer, assistant news editor, headed the Post's China desk and was editor of Sing Tao International among other posts. In 1977, he was awarded an MBE for services to journalism. In 1963, he toured the United States with other journalists, courtesy of then-president John F. Kennedy. On the day they went to the White House, they were delayed and arrived as the president was flying out in a helicopter. 'We talked to his brother Robert Kennedy,' he said. 'Then we were given a phone link to the helicopter and he wished us, I think, a nice time in America, things like that. Then on the day that we were flying back, we heard that he had been assassinated in Dallas.'