Sketch by Jack Chalker

Dairy 1942

Staff Sergeant James O’Toole

TRANSCRIPT OF THE DIARY

1942

Where the writing is not clear the word is shown in gold

    1-1-42

      Cigarette issue 20 per man, what gold these little cylinders proved to be, some men would nearly sell their soul for fags.  More prisoners had come in each day & we had Monkton Malekin Fields Anutenid & others. Alan Read & myself did most of the work at first as the Japanese were always wanting lists and particulars.  We wangled the Corp into a little room apart about 14 of us.  This room had been part of the original peacetime Hospital.

    31-12-41

      Main body of army marched past Argyle St on their way to the Sham Shui Po camp former home of the Middlesex.

    5-1-42

      Plates spoon & a cup had been given us & in our hut was a table two benches and wash basins.  We had far more senior ranks than any other units.  Our room consisted of S/M Read, S/Scdr Fields, QMS Barham RA, S/S O'Toole, S/S Meeking, QMS Collinson, S/S Munton, Sgt Malekin, Pte Mermick, Pte Hart, Cpl Stow.  Cpl Glass, Cpl Ponford, L/Cpl Bradley & Pte Durmidge had left earlier for Sham Shui Po.

      Mr Wilson for all his failings stuck the capture very well, and showed no signs of weakness.

    10-1-42

      Now that the first excitement was over and we could be sure that we were not going to be "bumped off" ie. the Japanese don't take prisoners stuff - life began to get very boring.  News rumours were always about and the (sic) varied from the fall of Singapore to our relief at the end of March.  I took Stow on a bet that Singapore would fall by the end of February.  Having seen the Japanese troops in action, I knew that our poorly trained stuff did'nt stand a chance.  The General Routine was - Reveille 7-30, Parade 8.00 o’clock, PT 8.15 for 1/4 hour. B.fast 10am usually rice “Bus”; then if you were not on duty - Orderly Sgt or Fatigues there was nothing to do until 5.pm when the other meal came along, Rice & Beans or Rice stew.  Very occasionally there was a square inch of pork which flavoured the stew if nothing else.  We had no clothes, soap, razors, and most of the poor devils who had not been to the Mary Knoll had no blanket.  Just slept fully clothed as the nights were very cold.  I managed to get a note to Alan Barwell who was at La Salle College just across the way, he sent me in a blanket, some shorts, socks, & half a cake of soap, a great help especially the soap and blanket.  Unfortunately soon after this he was moved to Stanley with the internees, so could write no more.  Chinese used to come to the wire and sell fags at high prices 10 for a dollar.  Often you got an empty packet.  If they were caught a good beating up was the punishment.  We use (sic) to try and buy Bread or Buns, but things soon got so strict that it was impossible.  Those who had relations in the Colony sometimes got a parcel, few were lucky this way mostly Indians & Portugese.  The Indian police kept their jobs under new masters.

      We had a scrounging system working, whereby greens, rice, & veg, bits of pig if possible were acquired, at night we would light a fire in an old biscuit tin and cook up a stew.  Fields and Alan Read took the prize at this game and Stow did the cooking.  Our room was near to the Camp Commandant's Office, and there was a hole in the partition.  Parcels use (sic) to go in there for a search and those that came late would remain overnight.  Alan was entrusted with the key.  He use (sic) to pop in, go through the parcels and select a sample of each article that would stand the strain.  Unbeknown to him we use (sic) to watch through the hole and I am sorry to say he use (sic) to have a good feed before we had our share.  Once while so engaged the C.C. came back, but luckily did not go inside.  God help him if they had.  We had a guard of about 8, & flood lights were kept on all night.  On three occasions I went out on jobs and usually managed to have a feed of something.  Having quite a beard made me feel safe from meeting any Chinese that might know me, a silly thought, but there it was.  Patterson and Birch didn't have much control over the men.  A Vol Capt called Strellet came in & took over adjutant, he was worse than awful; we had some 80 Canadians and of all the scruffy shower I ever came across the (sic) just would not wash.  The weather was good.  Sunny days, cold nights no rain.  The wounded were put in what we called the Hospital, just a long hut with a little annex at one end used to operate in. {Words blacked out} Doctor Newton got some drugs and supplies.  He then operated on the worst cases, worked like a nigger and at express speed on a rough old table, clad himself in a painter's coat, what a change from some of the half baked Army Doctors; we should have lost many of the wounded if they had been in charge.  The Japanese did not take much interest, the Hospitals were full of their wounded who naturally had first call on drugs etc.  I helped dress some of the patients on two occasions and there were some pretty bad bullet & shrapnel wounds besides eyes and broken bones.  Hargreaves and a Canadian were also Doctors but not Surgeons.

      The Japanese gave us a Band Concert one day and very good it was too played quite a bit of European music including “Invitation to a Waltz.  At the end they played the King, then their own national anthem.

      The various adventures people had during the war were told and retold in vivid colours some quite amusing others ghastly.  Sgt Betts MX told the one where he proudly shot the stomach out of a Chinese at Sheko with a Tommy Gun, because said Chink had asked too much for a hair cut.  Another story from the same unit about a party who wouldn't fag in but kept on giving em Big Licks.  When the main body of prisoners passed our camp I was lucky enough to have a few words with Bill Nichol and Harry Way up to that time we had been given up for lost and presumed killed in the ambush, they were very surprised to see & hear that we were quite well, with the exception of Capt Bonney.  I might add that many men who had actually been killed turned up very much alive.

    18-2-42

      Singapore falls taken with same ease as this place; the usual muddle and mistakes, only this time they couldn't cover em up, had a real enemy to face, & what a pretty show we made of it.  The Great Fortress of Singapore, Sentinel of the East, Guardian of Australia etc.  Just a lot of Bloody Gas, absolutely useless when it came down to a decent fight.

    24-1-42

      Break up of Argyle St camp.  The Indians went to a camp of their own thank God, the Canadians to North Point, HK civilians if any to Stanley.  All volunteers and regulars marched off to Sham Shui Po camp.  Here we met all the old hands and were very glad to be together again.  Bill N had plenty of cigarettes and some tinned food that they had bought over the wire, but also had plenty of clothing & their watches as they had not been captured but surrendered when the colony gave up under General Maltby’s orders.  Lucky chaps, had never had the pleasure of thinking they were going to be shot.  Sham Shui Po camp had been the barracks of the Middlesex Regt pre war.  It consisted of Hankow and Mankin10 barracks, half for an Indian Regt the 7th Rajputs.  Also a large 4 story set of flats known as Jubilee Buildings which used to be married quarters.  At outbreak of war when the two regiments marched out give battle, the Chinese marched in & simply tore the place to pieces, they literally took everything as only a Chinese can.  Door frames, Window frames, switch boards, Roofing, Copper Electric wire, Beds, Bed boards, netting all fixtures; just left the Bare Buildings standing; the place was in an absolute shambles.  No light, no cooking facilities, nothing.  As there was only rice this was soon cooked in old oil drums with a fire underneath; the windows of huts covered over with palm leaves, straw, bits of rag etc.

    25-1-42

      The hut that R.A.O.C. had been in was now too small so we moved into a large one in Hankow Barracks.  The Officers lived in Jubilee Buildings & up to this time had been rather subdued & quiet as they were no better of than the troops, had to fight to buy stuff over the wire with the best of 'em.

    27-1-42

      Build small fire in Alan's bunk at the end of hut to heat up tin stuff.  We were at once accepted into the Tiffy “gang & the food divided with us.  Bill Bashford & Nichol had the most money as they had never been searched.  Our Party now consisted of Alan Read, Nichol, Bashford, Saddington, Way, Meeking, & myself; & it was decided to use the tinned food only to help the morning rice down in this way it would last about three months.  It was at first possible to buy food, mugs, camp beds, etc. over the wire surrounding the camp but as things tightened up things became more and more risky.

      The camp is bounded on two sides by the sea and two sampans use (sic) to come up to the wall in the very early morning with tinned stuff & sugar.  You had to be in the line about 3.30am to have any luck, Charlie Grey former dance hall owner did interpreter.  For $10 you could get 1 tin milk, 1 tin fish, 1tin peas, the fish helped the rice down best & one tin made a meal for the 7 of us.  Sugar was $1 per ½ lb.  I had managed to pick my money up again on capture & pay book also photo of Chris, so had some $80 which bought food for the common goal.

      I soon went in search of Arthur11 & Gerald who had just come in from North Point; they of course thought I was dead and were overjoyed to see me.  We had some hearty chats.  Gerald had been made a 2nd Lieut in R.A.S.C. for his work in war.  Arthur was fit.  The Japanese now began to organize {Words blacked out} parades and counting started.  First parade 8 o’clock.  Formed up in threes in units on the parade ground & counted by the Japanese.  Took hells own time at first could never get the numbers to agree.  Counted again at 7pm.  6.00pm in the Winter.  All gap in the wire mended, more sentrys around the camp.  The San Pan was caught & owner shot, the derelict boat drifted around for weeks a pitiful sight.

      Food got better, beans or veg came in for one meal a day, later meat.  Escapes continued and were now missed. this began to really worry the Japanese, they said conditions would never get better unless we were good. {Words blacked out}

    28-2-42

      Garages and walls of huts etc pulled down to obtain material for living quarters.  Great work was done with corrugated iron & a little skill.  Doors and windows of same appeared on the huts.  We built a Cook House for the small units which comprised R.H.O.C., R.A.S.C., R.A.P.C., A.E.C., C.M.P.  The Red Earth (multy) of China used as mortar & we built 4 very fine cookers using 40 gall oil drums as containers with circular draught around each; this was exclusive Tiffy work with Bill Nichol as No. 1.  These cookers put ---- the RE'S had built to   shame, and we were in great demand.  The officers were now coming into their own again; the RE yard was born & an ordnance depot full of old rags.  Red tape was fast coming into its own oh yes they loved it all the Brass Hats.  Every blasted little officer blossomed forth and loud were the shouts now that all danger was over.  If you wanted a bit of wood or a pair of shorts a chit had to be signed by the Brigadier & the C.R.E.  Oh such a busy man don't worry me now.  Bill had many Battle Royals with them & as usual our poor Colonel was to windy to open his mouth.  Colonel Hopkins A.Q.O.S. HK and Shai Area the bigest R.H.O.C. big shot had to take us on parade.  He had to hand to the Japanese counter a chit with our parade state on  it.  When the poor man heard of this he was quite put out and admitted on parade that it was more than he could do, he would sure to make a mistake.  Mr Wardle had to be at his elbow while the great task was carried out by our Colonel.  No wonder HK fell & the British Empire for that matter must have all been of the same kidney; what price the Local purchase, or the whole ordnance machine under the able care of well words fail me.  The officers on the whole were a pest, they upset men, grabbed all they could, always faking in trying to look busy, a general nuisance.

    5-4-42

      Easter Sunday.  For many weeks we had been promised flour so the Volunteers set to work & made an excellent Baking Oven for Bread.  At last the flour came but no yeast.  But a culture was made with sugar, flour and a little yeast that had been brought from North Point.  On Easter Sunday we had our first bread & very good it tasted. N.B. Once you have yeast, it goes on growing if fed so that problem was solved.  The ration was half a loaf per man per day. 

      Sugar ½ oz per two days per man, meat average twice a week. Dates and veg also.  We in the meantime were busily engaged on another cook house for the officers.  An annoying incident occurred one evening; we had been given a “Date Duff” for services rendered.  Bill & I were taking it across the square when a sentry stopped us and started to prod the pud with great suspicion, satisfied at last we were allowed to go & breathed again; would have been rather tricky if they had been nasty about it, no one can realize the state that P.O.W. will get into over food12.  The way men change it matters not their station or breeding.

    18-4-42

      Officers leave for Argyle St.  On 16-4-42 Four people escaped so they stopped all local parcels coming in, this only effects prisoners with relations or friends outside.  This escape also accelerated the the officers on their way.  It was of course quite wrong for officers to be in the same prison camp. {Words blacked out}  But they certainly wanted to do things properly.  The G.O.C. at the surrender had asked to be with his troops, & he certainly did all he could for us, but I am afraid at times that his staff rather lost sight of the fact that they were P.O.W. therefore their efforts were not to successful.  Just before this date the officers were paid by the captors.  They had to pay back money for their food and keep, but were still left with a surplus & the General ordered that a percentage should go to a central fund according to rank of each officer.  The total to be shared out among the other ranks; this worked out at about $2 per month per man.  The scheme was not favoured by many officers.  The long promised canteen for being good boys at last came into being, prices rather high of course, but then money value had completely gone to hell.  The colony was flooded with military yen and $2 was worth 1Yen both being accepted currency.  There was actually quite a sum of money in the camp, some brought in by individuals, also a great deal in the hand of the Army Paymaster, he had divided some of this amongst the officers, the Hospital, & Troops had one pay day in three months this was before I arrived in camp.  Most of the troop's money had gone by this date & they were very glad of this new allotment small as it was.  We were now about 4000 strong, no Indians; and although many of us thought things would be a lot better if the officers were sent away, it came as a shock when on the morning parade of 18/4 when they were told to pack up & be ready in five hours no other warning at all.  We had just completed a very excellent cook house for them.  No doubt the continued escapes which the Japanese put to the responsibility of the officers was the cause for this latest move.  After each escape we would have many check parades, sometimes in the dead of night.  The place they were going, our first prison Argyle Street did not compare with Jubilee Building.  Many Chinese lavatories, wooden huts, few showers & little space to walk around.  That's one thing about Sham Shui Po camp, it is very large with plenty of space for exercise, a fine view from three sides with Tynao Shan (3300 ft) away in the distance.  16 officers were left to here to be our connection with the C.C. Col Fredricks.  Major Boon, Capt Badger, Capt Ebbage on the staff.  All army M.O.'s were allowed to stay & the RC Priest he was told to go but put on a Red  Cross Arm Band and stayed with the Medical Corps. Well done Capt Green .  He did great work & has a fine little church in a hut complete with pulpit, candles, vestments, and all that is dear to our church; no seats of course but we gladly sat on the floor.  There are 700 catholics here, mostly Portugese volunteers who helped a lot in making the church.  Some are quite artists & they did the “stations”. Very nice indeed .  St Michal (sic) the Archangel & the “parish” is seen just as in normal times.  Mass each day at 6.45AM, evening service 8.P.M.  Sunday mass 6.45AM and directly after the muster parade.  Also instructions, choir practice, processions, & a Retreat.  Some comments have been received including a chap I know from the trade school called Bevington.

      It is Interesting to note the Japanese method of solving the problem of Poverty and Beggars in the colony.  Anyone who had no means of livliehood was asked to quit the colony at once or else?  Thus in a very short time the population was down some 500,000 souls. 

    20-4-42

      Start some date wine to Brew. 

    23-4-42

      The Tiffi's move from Big Hut to RE compound, small quarters vacated by white Rapput officers.  A Great Improvement, soon have windows and doors in.  Bill Nichol, Bashford, me and Harry Meek in one room. 

      {There appears to be one or more pages missing here}

GENERAL

    25-1-42   --   1-7-42

      I came into this camp with one pair of KD slacks, 1 shirt, 1 army pullover, 1 pair sox, a good pair of boots as issued to me at Hilsea - six years ago was lucky to have been wearing them.  A blanket given me by Alan and two planks carried from Argyle St. $80 in cash these were my worldly goods.  Use to sleep all on including boots on my two boards placed on a couple of bricks.  Ate the rice out of an old tin plate & water out of a tin.  Lived in a long hut with rest of R.A.O.C. no windows no doors.  Rice cooked in half an oil drum over open fire.  Wash House no tap water running all the time with all sides gone and half the Roof Blasted off.  All lavatories were of Chinese squat type no main drainage, just a tin container.  It should be realised that a great number of the Troops had surrendered at the general order, & they brought in all they could carry, but I'm afraid many of them sacrificed clothes for tinned food and cigarettes.

      The Japanese sent in several lorry loads of assorted junk, quilts, sheets, shoes, slacks, towels, boots, socks, and this went into an Ordnance Depôt & was brought on charge.  Six buses had been parked on the square and in no time they were pulled to pieces.  In the end we took all the tyres off, wood and aluminium and stored it in the Depôt.  I made an excellent pair of sandals from a Rubber Tyre and others soled their Boots with it.  The Aluminium was made into rice servers, scoop ladels, pots, pans, cup, and containers by our Tinsmith Mortimer.  Bill Nichol and George made two excellent containers so that we could draw our food in bulk this was a great success although some of the --- didn't seem to think so thought we got extra or something.  Soap was a great problem at first, especially for washing the clothes later we had a monthly issue of two small tablets of Chinese stuff full of soda.

      In the cold weather when we had to wear & sleep in our clothes, lice began to show up so Lice Inspections were started, they disappeared in the summer, as we wore no clothes, just shorts or jockeys, & shower twice a day no soap of course, only when absolutely necessary.  Arthur gave me a packet of nacet Razor Blades as he couldn't stick my beard any longer.  Owens gave me a razor and I bought a brush for 4 cigs.  Decided to shave twice a week, the beard certainly use to runaway with the soap - it was like washing a dog.

      One of the first things I did was to make a bed by nailing my two planks to cross pieces, and fixing some strong wire over this; later it grew legs as I won the wood.  Obtained some old quilts from the depot & a rattan mat, this made things comparatively comfortable.  An ordnance w/shop was started but Mr Wilson was such an old woman that we would have nothing to do with it until he went away.  We use to call him Snow White as he had a long beard and looked just like one of the dwarfs.

      The outlook of the Average Prisoner of war goes something like this.

      They say a man is his true self when drunk, well you should see em go back to the raw in here.  Very few are the same men after six months, and that goes for all classes, what they are really made of just comes out.  The first thing they get into their heads was that rank didn't count any more we are all equal now. Therefore discipline is out.  The big majority just want to lay on their beds all day, read, play cards, get up to eat & watch the next chap to see that he hasn't got a bit extra, this state of mind is awful and applies to most of us unless you get something to do.  You get sick & tired of the same faces around all the time, the same fool arguments rage over nothing.  In fact I found myself taking a delight in saying cruel and sarcastic things to people just for the sake of seeing them squirm.  The snag being I have a nasty fork that way & can really upset some people.  Had to take it in hand and shut up.

      {There appears to be one or more pages missing here}

       is the Hong Kong serenader.  The Harmony three Ali Khan (master pianist) who used to play at the Parasian Grill H.K.  The Welsh Choir, Russian Choir & R.A.O.C. Choir, The Memory Man, and Les Gibson the magician, in fact quite a talented band.  So there should be, as most of the Europeans and a number of the Eurasian population of the colony are in here, lately from July the concerts have been cut down to half a month.

GAMES

      Have not been lacking although most of the gear is now worn out.  Football, Cricket, Hockey went great Guns and soft ball was popular with the H.K.V.D.R.  Boxing started in a mild way but the MO's said it was dangerous due to lack of injury treatment.  A knockout Football competition was sponsored by the C.C., with a cup for the winners and fags for the winners and runners up.  Some fine football was played under difficulties, hard ground, soft shoes, poor food, lack of Vitamin B.  Harry Meek played cricket for small units several times until the bats cracked and the ball came to pieces.  All replacement had to be bought by the officers & on this ground the balls last no time.

      Mitchell & some volunteers started a chess club the game has become quite popular, chess sets being whittled out of old pieces of wood, some inserted bits of tooth brush handle to gain a professional touch to the job.  Bridge and solo go great guns we sometimes play crib.  Can't say I care for cards though never have, laziness no doubt.  There was some talk of a sports day but it has come to nothing yet.  Footwear is a problem. I find bare feet ---- satisfactory in the summer & am saving my boots for the winter.

      After about a month in Camp the AEC.13 started lectures on various subjects, and they were very well attended.  They rounded up all the clever people, & we have most of them here including the pick of the schools and universities.  So courses were started & you could take from boiler making to Spanish.  I took Aeronautical Engineering, also attended the "talks" especially a Renys give by Lieut Hill MX late of Oxford he was really excellent the G.O.C. always came along.  But as usual just as things were getting into their stride and Regular Courses under way when the Japanese put a stop to all large gatherings of men, as they could not credit soldiers would be so keen on just lectures.  later on they stopped the Courses too, although some still go on in a very small way.  We did get Mr Hill to come to our hut and give us a couple of talks privately on the History of Europe and another on America, it was grand to listen to him.  Mr Hayward of the observatory he also wrote "Rambles in Hong Kong", came along and talked to us on weather maps and his mark generally.  In this camp there is a member of every nationality so you could learn Russian, Portuguese French, German, Flemish Chinese, Spanish, Italian or what have you.  Actually the Japanese do not work us at all, & the camp is actually run by our people under the Camp Commandant who gives his orders thro interpreters.  There is quite a bit to be done to keep a camp of this size clean and properly run.  It is split up to appropriate units where possible.  The R.A.S.C. do rations.  R.E.S. any building or plumbing, Pay Corps -accounts & handle all money audit the canteen returns.

      Ordnance hold all clothing, paper, soap, in fact the usual stores as in peace time when there are store to hold Ha!

      The artificers so far have been on cookers and general cook house equipment, and have not been otherwise bothered.  Fatigues are done by the camp in general & by all personnel not otherwise engaged.  S/M Read being senior runs our section and does not worry us much.  At first working parties were called for to fill in holes on Kai Tak airport, also repair the Tai Po road they were paid 25 sen a day for this privates 15 sen.  But since these jobs have been completed, there have been no more working parties except a few of the R.A.S.C. that go out each day to load the rations.

    On 17th May 1942

      We were all given a camp number to be sewn to our shirt or outer garment  mine was 1665.

      In April the Japanese brought in loads of timber & planking rotten old stuff and with the help of R.E.C. put long wooden platforms down one side of each hut about 18" above the floor - this solved the bed problem but started a bug colony.  Our hut being a small one not included, lucky again.  White ants are already in the wood.  Books could also be written on the "Rumour" situation.  Thousands of them circulated around the camp & some poor suckers take 'em all in.  They started during the war with Chan Kai Chek with a Chinese army coming to aid us, this was actually published in Command Orders.  Trouble is Chan Kai Chek didn't know.  Then Churchill was going to get us out in three months, or was it Roosevelt.  One day Germany had collapsed, the war was over in Europe.  Wavell was rushing across india with a vast army to drive Japanese out of Burma & retake Singapore.

      Wavell played around out here for quite some time, always winning great victories.  When a little gun fire is heard it is either an American Battleship, Yanki plane, or the Chinese army attacking at last.  The Japanese don't seem to worry, and even have HK lit up all night; yet it is surprising the number of our men that believe the piffle and firmly believe that we will be out at the very latest by November.  It was March when we first came in, they thought I was crazy to say at least 18 months.  I cannot in the name of common sense see that it could be sooner.  But if it helps people to stick this out I suppose it does not matter what they think or how much they kid themselves.  If I can get out with a whole skin and alive I shall be very satisfied even if its June '44.

      Our unit lost 43 killed out of a total of 144 pretty high all a mistake of course the usual.

      Royal Scots about 100 out of 700.

      Middlesex about 200 out of 700.

      Other units I am not so sure off, tho knew the Ko Inacian were  almost wiped out at Wong Nei Chong that’s where Bert Ailes14 was killed a fine chap.  There certainly never was a war like this one.  Met Polly Perkins naval Artificer on Sculten was quite fit although a bit ragged.  I have managed to read a few very good books "4.30 Victoria" & "They Wanted to Live" by Cecil Roberts.  "The White Company" Conan Doyle. "Fens Suss"; The Virginians" by Shackley.  The Japanese also sent in large bales of American newspapers & periodicals, they contained some very good reading, the latest paper was Sept 1941 and to read some of the articles by leading Americans top in the particular subject they used to write about, they proved beyond any doubt that Japan just couldn't go to war & back it up with miles of statistics & data.  The only answer to all this is surely that the God Almighty Westerners , the salt of the earth, have been asleep for many long years - because Japan was exhausted long ago by her efforts in China; yet she took all she wanted in the Pacific in a flash, long before we or the Yanks quite realised what it was all about.  There's some excuse for us we always make a "balls" of everything at first.  But really the Americans what ever could have happened.

      Some of the troops are married to Chinese wives, some have Girl Friends of the same race, & they bring parcels of food, cigarettes etc. two days a week this is the concession of course.  It's surprising the people who have these so called Girl Friends, quite an eye opener.  They come under the collective name of "contacts".  It was stopped in April we were naughty boys.  Although the poor devils have come up to the camp each week no parcels are allowed in.  It is a mystery wherever some of the girls who are being "kept" by men in here, are now getting the money to buy stuff and send it in, because no money is allowed to leave here, except in exceptional cases where a man can prove that his wife is absolutely in need of help.

      Here is the Japanese values of various currencies. 

      Canadian dollar

      ——————

      2 yen - 40 sen

      Australian pound

      ——————

      2 yen  - 00 sen

      American dollar

      ——————

      1 yen  - 25 sen

      Manila Real 

      ——————

      30 sen

      Hong Kong dollar

      ——————

      50 sen

      The Pound sterling used to fetch $16.  A light lunch at the Matsuoka Bar (late Gloucester Hotel) costs 1 yen 50 sen that gives some idea of how useful the English pound is at present out here.

       

      END OF 1ST SIX MONTH

     

    12-7-42

      Japanese come into church during mass and take photographs.  The altar does look really nice and it would be difficult to tell it was home made.

    14-7-42

      Another racket - due to the jump in dysentery the Camp Commandant offers 10 cigarettes for every 100 dead flies produced.  By nightfall the Return is 1760 flies.  Funny to watch the chap squatting down behind the latrines buckets swatting flies with their side hats, towels, or bits of rag.  Care has to be taken not to disfigure the insect too much.  All books to be handed in for censor and "chopping" 15.

    15-7-42

      Rained all day - some 4" fell quite cold too 78ºF.  We have our own rain gauge.  Trade in flies commences :- 50 can be bought or sold for 3 cigs.  More stocks come into the canteen, including milk powder at 2 yen 50 sen ½ lb, which equals 5 yen a lb.= $2.00.  How times change.  Chris used to buy a 7 lb tin of klino for $9.  Should have been an inspection by No. 1 Comdr Col Tokauado but the rain cancelled it.

      Have been making a side had16 for the last couple of days.  Bill Nichol is supervising the job as he is an expert at needlework.  I do all the sewing am getting quite neat, ought to complete the job today.  Will only need washing will then work the Corps badge on it, this will not be so easy lucky to have some coloured silks which I found at Mary Knoll.  Just finished off the last of the cocoa.  We have a small out-house near here and light a small fire to cook tea and toast, sounds good eh!  I can safely say there are worse prison camps.  200 lbs of sugar stolen from rations store.

      Harry Way just finished making a mandolin, he is tunning (sic) it up at the moment.

      Bill Nichol is busy on his Japanese he started 21-6-42 and can say "that pencil is black".  "My dog is not dirty, my dog is black".  He takes a great interest in it and was very handy with his Chinese before the war.  Got us out of many a tight hole when hiking especially

      {Page 25 does not follow on from page 24 and it looks as if one or more pages are missing from the diary}

      Apple pudding, condensed milk (Nestles) sugar curried mutton; very small tin cheese, golden syrup 5oz. 2oz tea (Lyons), bacon, meat, gelatine, creamed rice, tablet of soap, ¼lb bar plain chocolate.

      Arthur came in and made a fine stew with the M & V17 rations.  It was top.  Poor old Arthur doesn't look at all well, his feet are painful.

      Father Green is in hospital, looks very frail, some folks just can't stand up to this treatment.  The parcel should help anyway. Young line got the address of the packer on his parcel box -E.LAZELL, 15 OAK RD, GRAYS, ESSEX.

    2-12-42

      Arthur collapsed on parade had to be carried off.  The parade was a rehearsal for a Very High Ranking, the camp has to be super clean.

    3-12-42

      Arthur goes back to Dip hospital, whatever illness it was he had, has left him with a funny heart, must have at least two weeks in bed.  Hope he is going to be alright.  This is hells own place to be off colour.

      Light P.T. started again today, our party consisted of six, feel better for it; the old foot is a bit better in appearance but aches badly.  The men that have cracked are so numerous and varied that it is difficult to work out why any of us are.  Fit men who could have eaten me have gone to a shadow, must trace right back through the ages to our grand parents, just something that others haven't got.

    4-12-42

      Very High Ranking Officers inspected the Camp seemed quite satisfied.

    7-12-42

      Local parcels allowed to come in again, first time for many months.  Red Cross send in some clothing, 2 vests,  2 KD. cardicans sleeveless, 1 shirt, 2 shorts.  Quite good stuff.  Luckily I have accumulated a fair stock by this time.

    9-12-42

      The parcel is looking a bit sick, but still have some left.  It has been a Godsend; very fine selection too.  Put together by people who knew what they were about, a better parcel would have been difficult to compile.  They have caused great joy and happiness, throughout the camp.

      We are at it again building a new cook house from scratch this time, there are 12 boilers to build.  Quite an order for three of us.  George Saddington came out of Dip today.  Arthur still looks ill, it's hell if you once get a bit down such a temptation to let things slide, and that attitude is fatal.  Bill Bashford is poorly with a variety of complaints mostly feet, nothing serious yet.

    11-12-42

      All the invalids who are not quite hospital cases have been moved into Jubilee North.  Cooper, Bull, Hillman, Standin, Malekin, Hewitt are all there.  S/M Eley is in hospital in a pretty bad way, he is one of the bed-downers right from the start conserving his energy so to speak, used to laugh at us wearing ourselves out on jobs.  He'll have to take a good grip to pull through.

    13-12-42

      Arthur still in dock feet keep him awake at night.  Some nicotinic acid came in, this is reputed to cure pelagra, according to an article in the Readers's Digest. We’ll see.  My feet have started to ache and stab in real earnest especially the right one; hope this acid does the trick as the bad feet can soon pull you down.

    14-12-42

      Weighed today 10st 7lb- that's three lbs more than before the war, so I should be alright, no wasting away yet, not much guts though.  Allowed to send Christmas cards to Stanley.  Sent to Alan Barwell, Joan Whiteley, Peggy Harrison.

    18-12-42

      Feet been giving me gyp the last two days and nights; seems to make the old heart pound too.

      Christensen18 a Volunteer & Mormbyion died today in his hut, has had bad feet for a long time, no other reason known, may have had a weak heart.  Just passed away in his sleep.

    19-12-42

      Camp Commandant announced at the Concert that there would be no more working parties for 8 days.  You should have heard them cheer. 

    20-12-42

      Cooked Gordon & Arthur some eggs and bacon, had some myself first since prisoner of war it sure did taste good; very little real food fills me right up, shall have to be careful when we get out?  When we get out.  Ha!

    22-12-42

      Sgt Makelin19 A.E.C. died today of dysentry, his wife and baby are at Stanley they used to live above us in Kennedy Road; always thought him quite a tough egg.  But who can say.  Japanese send in 2 Christmas trees for the churchs.

    23-12-42

      Live ducks 17.  Hens 15, Geese 2, come in to start a poultry farm, they were actually bought out of the camp funds.  Jeep has 3 ducks, but discovers  two of 'em are drakes - too bad.

    24-12-42

      At least it is going to be Christmas than last year when I had a good meal of rice.  A parcel came in for me from a Rev Ream from Stanley can't think who he is, but it must be something to do with Alan.  A fine cake of Lifebuoy soap just the ticket.  A white shirt. up to date we have had for Xmas day, 3 eggs , 1 tin M&V, ½ tin bully, a bag of biscuits, 4 cigarettes not so bad.  The chow should be good tomorrow unfortunately we have just changed cook houses.

      Going to midnight mass.

      Had a chat with Jackson the chap who hit Gerald.  He had a hard time in Stanley prison 12oz of rice per day, looks quite well though.

    25-12-42

      Christmas Day.  Large crowd at midnight mass, had to stand outside; two priests, some fine singing.  Lights out at 1AM.

      Breakfast consists of 2 eggs.  Rice and stewed dried fruit for bfast.  Tiffin tin of M&V and piece of pudding can't say much about that.  Capt Ebbage gave us 20 cigarettes.  Letters came in from England, a few got them in our unit.  It appears that some of the wives are in England.  Hope my Chris is one of them, far happier for her.  One chap had six letters all posted in July 42.  The first letters had no mention of them having any news of us.  But the last of the six letters did say that they had been officially notified, that means they must all have known about the middle of July.  But then there will be another great worry when they hear of the sinking of the Lisbon Maru20 , wish to hell it would all finish up.  Blast their eyes.

    30-12-42

      Arthur still in hospital.  Cooked him some more bacon & eggs; Gordon Horrop looks very frail almost a shadow, he is nearly blind but quite cheerful.  Every time Arthur gets a little money from Gordon he shares it with me I do what I can for him, but afraid it is very little, he's looking very washed out, his feet keep him awake a lot, they give him morphine three times a week, that gives some idea how bad the feet are.

      Japanese camp staff came in and played baseball against the rest of the camp took a licking in very good part.  We are now re-constructing yet another cook house, for ourselves this time, although it takes a strong will to stick it with these feet. Wonder how much longer we are to be here, my guess of 18 months does not look too rosy now.  This year has passed quickly, still a letter from home would be welcome.

      We are so out of touch with the whole shooting match.  Do so hope Chris is in England.  Poor kid, I don't dare to think what she must have endured during the past year.  I'll make it all up to her if I get the chance.

      Bill's daughter Andrea 2 years old today.

    31-12-42

      Lights out 12.30 the camp staff taken out by CC to his house for dinner and a drink.  We finished off my date wine, horrid stuff, but we toasted the new year & our wives and those at home.  Also went once to the small hut and sang Auld Lang Syne with Mitchell & Co.  Roll on the end of the bloody business.  Another six months has passed away & it has certainly been more trying than the first six, the illness has been high and the most peculiar complaints of which the Doctors knew nothing.  Pelagra and malnutrition especially aching feet has certainly got them all at sea.  But there are many other forms of pelagra.  It attacks the corners of the mouth makes them very sore, the tongue & inside of the mouth.  Also the foreskin.  Many chaps have had to be circumcised to enable them to pass water and to prevent disease.  Diptheria also effects other parts than the throat (ie) the scrotum, legs, face, arms, chest, in fact anywhere the Germ happened to find a way in.  Some what suffer with sore balls they get quite raw and they have to walk all astride.  Very painful.  Sores break out everywhere and are hell to heal up.  And the eyes are effected too half the camp wear dark glasses and many are almost blind.  Vitamin A is the thing for this or halibut oil if we could get some.  The worst of all are the electric feet as they cut out sleep and wear the sufferer gradually down.  Doesn't seem to be any cure for them. {Words blacked out}  I am either tough or lucky.  Have had some tongue and mouth have just started getting the feet, so can't grumble.  Let's see what 1943 brings forth, I think we are more or less used to the grub now so should pull through.  I've got someone to thank for my constitution and I've a good idea who it is.

    Notes:

      10 - Looks like Mankin, but presume it should be Nanking

      11 - Arthur Peaker, a pre-war friend of James, who worked in the Hong Kong Government Stores Department.

      12 - When James was in a home in his later years, and was invited out for a meal, he would first eat the meal provided in the home and then enjoy a second one with his hosts.

       13 - Army Education Corps

       14 - No trace in CWGC records. Possibly spelled wrongly, but obvious alternatives also drew blank.

       15 - It is not evident whether this means this diary.

      16 - Written as ‘had’ but probably should be ‘hat’.

      17 - Meat and Veg ?

      18 - Lance Bombadier Neils Orskov Christensen HK Volunteer Defence Force died 18Dec42 age 37 (CWGC)

      19 - No trace found in CWGC records.  The name possibly spelt wrongly.  Note a Malekin is also referred to in the diary

      20 - The Lisbon Maru was a Japanese POW ship which sailed from Hong Kong for Japan on 27 September 1942. On board were 1816 POWs and 778 Japanese soldiers.  The Lisbon Maru was torpedoed by the submarine USS Grouper on 1 October.  As a result over 1000 officers and men lost their lives, some at the hands of the Japanese.

______________________  __  ______________________

 

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1943

 

 

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