Tony Banham

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Tony Banham
Tony Banham.jpg
Born (1959-07-24) 24 July 1959 (age 57)
Morley, Norfolk, England
Residence Hong Kong
Nationality British
Known for Hong Kong War Diary

Tony Banham is founder of the Hong Kong War Diary project, which studies and documents the 1941 defence of Hong Kong, the defenders, their families, and the fates of all until liberation. His published books:

Are considered to be examples of some of the best research on the Hong Kong experience during the Second World War.[1] Mr. Banham is also very active in the "human side" of historical research relating to the era and often speaks at various symposia on the subject and carries on an active dialogue with survivors of the conflict and their families. He also maintains a close association with various diplomatic services, government agencies, and other official parties associated with providing care and services to those involved in the conflict. He serves, at the request on the Government of the Hong Kong SAR, on a special government panel which reviews and grants the payment of pensions to veterans ( or their survivors ) who served Hong Kong during the period.

Private life[edit]

Banham was born into an academic family in Norfolk. He is nephew of architectural historian Professor Reyner Banham and great nephew of 1945 Member of Parliament Edwin Gooch. He graduated in Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire and had an initial career in research & development with Royal Dutch Shell and the European Space Agency at ESRIN. At the age of 30 he moved to Hong Kong, working there for a variety of software vendors including Informix and, today is a senior executive based in Hong Kong with Oracle. He is a licensed pilot and is married with two sons and has made Hong Kong his permanent home.

Hong Kong War Diary[edit]

Hong Kong War Diary began as a simple attempt to locate and centralise documentation relating to Hong Kong's wartime garrison, but soon evolved into the core of a community of interest around this group of people. What started off as purely a centre of information exchange, grew into a historical network that helps today's descendants of the defenders place their ancestors' experiences in context, offers a service to other researchers, and reunites families split by war. His website has more than 10,000 regular readers and he is generally acknowledged as the authority on Hong Kong's POWs.[2] The central ethos of the project has been to catalyse the open exchange of all information from disparate sources for the benefit of the maximum number of people.

Banham's core interest is in the impact of war on society at both the micro and macro level. This interest runs the gamut from studying the civilian casualties in the London blitz to writing about the concept of the island of Tinian (where Banham has conducted on-site research) being, as the location where the final assembly of "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" took place, the geographical segue between the 'old war' (of tanks and marines storming beaches) to the 'new war' which has dominated civilisation since Hiroshima. Hong Kong, while perhaps not the central theatre of the conflict, offered an opportunity to study a small population in the context of the critical path to victory that dominated the core of the Pacific War.

Banham is currently a PhD candidate at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), Canberra.

Published work[edit]

Banham's books – spin offs from Hong Kong War Diary – avoid the traditional historian's analyses. Instead, they set out to construct the most accurate possible chronology of the events concerned, populated almost entirely with the words of the people who experienced them. In "Not The Slightest Chance", a reference book laid out as a war diary, Banham documents the attempted defence of Hong Kong against Japanese invasion. "The Sinking of the Lisbon Maru" takes up the story of those defenders taken prisoner afterwards, who were then put on this vessel to be taken to POW Camps in Japan. "We Shall Suffer There" documents the remainder of the POW and Internee experience. Future volumes will cover the secret war for Hong Kong (the escapees and invaders, and the irregular forces that many joined), and the civilian evacuation of the then Colony in 1940. Banham has also contributed to a large number of other books and publications, including the history of the HKVDC: 'Serving Hong Kong', and is a contributor to Hong Kong's new Dictionary of National Biography. Mr. Banham's works are produced to the highest standards of historical and academic accuracy and have been widely read by both academic historians and members of the general public. However the narrow audience for the books limit the scope of sales and each work has been a "labor of love" as opposed to a financial bonanaza for the author.

Banham has also appeared on or assisted with documentaries for TVB Pearl (Hong Kong), ATV (Hong Kong), RTHK Radio (Hong Kong), Phoenix TV (China), the BBC (UK), the History Channel (US), Breakthrough Films (Canada) and others.


Book Publisher Year
"Potato" Jone's Diary Battlefields Review 2001
Life Moves On, Time Moves Forward Battlefields Review 2001
Not The Slightest Chance Hong Kong University Press 2003
Serving Hong Kong – The Hong Kong Volunteers One Chapter 2004
A Small Story in a Big War Journal of the Pacific War Research Group 2004
WWII Ordnance in Hong Kong Journal of the Pacific War Research Group 2004
Where Old War Met New Journal of the Pacific War Research Group 2004
In Search of The Lisbon Maru Journal of the Pacific War Research Group 2005
Hong Kong Volunteer Corps, No 3 Coy. Royal Asiatic Society 2005
The Sinking of the Lisbon Maru Hong Kong University Press 2006
We Shall Suffer There Hong Kong University Press 2009
Ship of Death Discovery Channel Magazine 2009
Short History of the HKDDC Royal Asiatic Society 2011
Hong Kong Dictionary of National Biography Various contributions December 2011
Walking the War Publisher to be announced Expected 2012


  1. ^ Halladay, Laurel. "Canadian Military Journal". Retrieved 9 September 2009. 
  2. ^ "Researching FEPOW History". Retrieved 200-09-09.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)