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Sir Mark Aitchison Young GCMG (楊慕琦, 30 June 1886 – 12 May 1974) was a British administrator who became the Governor of Hong Kong during the years immediately before and after the Japanese occupation of the territory.

Mark Aitchison Young

Mark Aitchison Young.gif
21st Governor of Hong Kong
In office
1 May 1946 – 17 July 1947
MonarchGeorge VI
Colonial SecretaryDavid Mercer MacDougall
Preceded bySir Cecil Harcourt (Acting, Military Administration)
Succeeded byAlexander Grantham
In office
10 September 1941 – 25 December 1941
MonarchGeorge VI
Colonial SecretaryNorman Lockhart Smith
Sir Franklin Gimson
Preceded bySir Geoffrey Northcote
Succeeded byTakashi Sakai (under Japanese occupation)
Personal details
Born(1886-06-30)30 June 1886
British Raj
Died12 May 1974(1974-05-12) (aged 87)
Winchester, England
Spouse(s)Josephine Mary
Alma materKing's College, Cambridge
Professionsoldier, colonial administrator
Mark Aitchison Young
Traditional Chinese楊慕琦
Simplified Chinese杨慕琦


Early life, service in warEdit

Young was educated at Eton College and King's College, Cambridge. He entered the Ceylon Civil Service in 1909 and served in the British Army with the Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own) during World War I from 1915.

Colonial administrationEdit

Young served as principal assistant colonial secretary of Ceylon from 1923 to 1928, then as colonial secretary of Sierra Leone from 1928 to 1930. From 1930 to 1933, he served as chief secretary to the Government of the British Mandate of Palestine.

From 5 August 1933 to March 1938, he served as governor and commander-in-chief of Barbados. From November 1937 to February 1938, he served in the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. Then from 1938 to 1941, he served as governor and commander-in-chief of the Tanganyika Territory British Mandate.

Hong Kong governor, prisoner of warEdit

He served as Governor of Hong Kong between 1941 and 1947. During his term, which coincided with the Pacific theatre of World War II, Hong Kong came under the threat of Japanese invasion.

At 08:00, 8 December 1941, several hours after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Hong Kong came under fire by Imperial Japanese Forces. The battle lasted for 17 days, and ended when Young surrendered the colony to the Japanese General Takashi Sakai on 25 December, known as the 'Black Christmas' by Hong Kong people, who were then subject to Japanese rule for the next 3 years and 8 months. Young rebuffed several attempts by General Maltby and others in the military to ask for terms and discuss surrender as early as the 18th. This was in part based on clear instruction by Churchill directly to Young, advising him that "Every Part of (Hong Kong) Island must be fought over and the enemy resisted with the utmost stubbornness. Every day that you are able to maintain your resistance you help the Allied cause all over the world."[1]

Young was a prisoner of war in Japanese hands from December 1941 to August 1945. He was initially held in the Peninsula Hotel and subsequently incarcerated in a prisoner of war camp in Stanley, on the southern shores of Hong Kong Island. Shortly thereafter, he was later transferred, with other high-ranking Allied captives, including General Maltby, to a series of POW camps in Shanghai, Taiwan, and Japan, then to a camp near the Chinese-Mongolian border, and finally to a location near Mukden (modern Shenyang) Manchuria, until his liberation at war's end. Despite being the colony's highest-ranking official, Young was mistreated by his captors. Japan was defeated and surrendered in September 1945 and the British regained control of the colony.

Post-Japanese occupation governorshipEdit

Young resumed his duties as Governor of Hong Kong on 1 May 1946, after having spent some time recuperating in England. After returning, he proposed political reforms that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to directly choose a 30-member representative Legislative Council. He envisaged that the new Council would handle everyday affairs and that its decisions would be immune to the Governor's veto. Young, echoing the plan of Sir Geoffry Northcote, called for the promotion of local Chinese civil servants to the senior posts. These initiatives were eventually abandoned under the term of Governor Sir Alexander Grantham, an ardent conservative.[2] Young retired from the governorship in 1947.

Personal lifeEdit

Young and his wife, Josephine Mary, had two sons and two daughters.

Young, Sir William Robinson and Christopher Patten are the only governors not to have been honoured in Hong Kong after completing their post. This is likely as most of Young's time in Hong Kong was spent as prisoner of war, with only a brief period from 1946 to 1947 as governor.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Snow, Philip. [2004] (2004). The fall of Hong Kong: Britain, China and the Japanese occupation. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10373-5, ISBN 978-0-300-10373-1
  2. ^ Goodstadt, Leo F. (2004). "The Rise and Fall of Social, Economic and Political Reforms in Hong Kong, 1930—1955". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch. 44: 70.

External linksEdit

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir John Robert Chancellor
High Commissioner of Palestine
1931–1932 (acting)
Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Grenfell Wauchope
Preceded by
Harry Scott Newlands
Governor of Barbados
Succeeded by
Sir Eubule John Waddington
Preceded by
Harold Alfred MacMichael
Governor of Tanganyika Territory
Succeeded by
Wilfrid Edward Francis Jackson
Preceded by
Sir Geoffrey Northcote
Governor of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Takashi Sakai
Masaichi Niimi

as Governor-General of Hong Kong
Japanese occupation of Hong Kong
Preceded by
Admiral Sir Cecil Harcourt
as Administrator of Hong Kong
Governor of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Sir Alexander Grantham