Sketch by Jack Chalker

Dairy 1943

Staff Sergeant James O’Toole

TRANSCRIPT OF THE DIARY

1943

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

    5-1-43

      Feet painful at night, can't seem to get sleep.  Bill got cramp in the night and I spent an hour massaging his leg; got the knots out but the pain remained.  Hope they soon find a cure for this complaint, the nicotinic acid hasn't done much good to date, still it's early yet.

    11-1-43

      Monday :- a special parade.  All A men told to fall out in front; later B men join them.  Then the best of the C men21.  Told to pack up and be back on parade in an hour.  Told to move into Canadian lines, and wire is put around us.  Stay out on the square for about three hours first.  No Volunteers detailed yet.

    12-1-43

      Fairly comfortable in new temporary billet, managed to get my bed across.  Bill Nichol and Bashford stay as C men: Way, Saddington, Read, Meeking, Hildersley, Bloefield and me together in No 1 party A draft.  Have our throat swabbed and glass rod up the rectum to search for dysentry etc.  Not very pleasant.

    13-1-43

      Inspection T.A.B & C combined.  Still really don't know what we are on, can't be  anything else but a boat.  180 volunteers put on and all those in dip segregation awaiting swabs, including Peters, this rather surprised them as some had just got over dip.

    14-1-43

      Swab result back, would you believe it I'm positive, so off the draft, 10 of us altogether.  Moved into Jubilee South & isolated.  Boocock, Jeffery’ & myself in R.A.O.C.  Can't say it worried me much, didn't really want to go.  The draft were vaccinated today.  I missed this of course.  Feet still tiresome at night.

    17-1-43

      Moved from Jubilee to segregation compound; in a small bunk with Sayers, Jeffery’s, Boocock and Curley.

    18-1-43

      Draft on parade from 10AM to 3PM. their stuff searched, but all very fair and above board.  Rumour that they are to get 10 yen a man.  Also deck games and ----- on the boat.  They have now had two swabs, vaccination, 3 jabs, and 2 rectum rods.  Thought they were off today, but ordered back to barrack rooms.  All very cheerful.

    19-1-43

      Draft up at 4AM. very quiet and orderly, all in rubber shoes.  March off 6AM.  All luggage & packs taken by lorry, men walked, stragglers who could not make it were picked up by the lorries.  They got 80 cigs, white glove stocking, & they all had to have an overcoat and side hat; coats were taken from those not on the draft.  Treated really well.  Boat big 2 funneller.  About 1200 went.  Some of them got a bottle of beer at the ferry (Star).

    26-1-43

      In isolation no swab yet.  Half the camp, including Jubilee is to be wired off now so we moved to old hut. A.1. the first one we ever lived in.  Bag Alan's old bunk and am in charge of the hut share with Boocock.  No personnel will now be allowed South of the main road, that means that our lovely little hut in the RE compound has come to an end.  East of the Branch Road, fit men - West, Invalids, old men and Hospital.  Hope I don't have to sleep on the boards when we get out of segregation.  Can't say the boys have saved me a place, the life must be cracking them up.  It's Pretty Bloody at times.

    28-1-43

      Had to discard my home made bed, pity it has lasted a year, and still plenty of life left in it yet, those boards were carried all the way from Argyle St.  Couldn't sleep last night so had a walk and called into the M.I.room for chat with orderly.  2 natives popped in one with dip -----   one   ----  .

      Wonderful concert by portugese.  4 perfect "women", one a Chinese the other Carmen Miranda a real professional show Cafe Casanova.  They did a Hawaiian scene with hula hula dancing and said "Aloha", really excellent scenery painted with just lime and wood ash, but the chap who did it is an artist.  Wonder how the lads on the draft are getting on.

    29-1-43

      First swab, meals disorganized the bully & M&V is  to be prepared in c/house not issued raw as usual Major Ashton Rose's orders.  Did the boys moan.  But had to have it, not bad really.  Had some hectic times detailing fatigue parties to do the various cleaning up duties.  The conservancy is a very unpopular one (i.e.) cleaning the bogs.  But it's on the way alright now, until someone decides he has done enough.

    30-1-43

      Great surprise and treat - issued with 16 yen each, all our very own.  Point is now can the canteen stand the strain over 32000 yen to burn up eh!  Cigarettes available now are Hateman 15 sen. Red Lion 15 sen. Royal Leaf 20 sen. Ruby Queen 30 sen.  Bought 10 packets of Royal Leaf.  Tried to get a bottle of Vitamalt but can't get a smell, not enough comes in.  Also Wakamoto Vitamin B tablets very scarce.

      Re-organize dishing out of "seconds".

    3-2-43

      Second swab

    6-2-43

      Third swab.  Should be out very soon now, although its very comfortable in the bunk and the foods not bad here.

      Concession granted in the lines to be counted in Huts when weather is bad.  All overcoats called in why Christ knows.  Still I've given up trying to be anything like normal in this place.

    10-2-43

      Thought we would be out today, but an Inspection of the camp stopped it.  The eagles are "zooming" around again & there has to be a total blackout, except very bright exterior lights which rather spoils the idea.  Spent most of my 16 yen on VITAMALT two bottles, hope its good stuff.

    11-2-43

      Thursday.  Out of segregation at last.  Lucky to get in the room, or rather half a hut with the Maintenance Party; no boards get my spring bed and a nice space.  The two Bills in the bunk.  Great rumours of a Red + parcel.

    12-2-43

      Start putting windows in the hut, officially on the P.E maintenance staff which means an extra roll a day, also away from Herd.

    13-2-43

      Red Cross parcel issued in the evening.  This time I get a London which is slightly better than the Bermondsey; having a tin of jam.  This has once again brightened up the camp considerably.  They are a great help in every way.

    14-2-43

      Did some much needed washing and a hot wash down feel quite human again.  Manage to shave about every 5th day, the blades are ghastly very dull.

    19-2-43

      Been fitting windows to our hut since 11th.  Now change to building a pig and chicken farm have to work until 6 pm off the evening muster.  All ground to be staked and surrounded with barbed wire.  In charge of job with Mr Gilbert Canadian officer.  Still have some Red + parcel left, including the pudding.  Feet play up when the weather is warm which it has been for the past couple of weeks just like English summer with no rain.  Big inspection by Japanese supplies staff from Tokio on 26th they want the farm completed by then.  I wonder.

    26-2-43

      The inspection was a very simple affair and they did not even come and look at the farm which is a very useful affair and has had quite an amount of work put into it.  I have also had the job for  the last three days of taking the tool squad out each day & returning same at night.  Red + parcel nearly gone, tomatoes and extra tin of milk still left.  Feet a bit easier these days in spite of the fact that I am on them all day.  Arthur much better, quite his old self again.  Pigs should come in any day now talk of about 20.  Am almost sorry my work of building the farm is nearly completed.  Very glad now didn't go on that last draft.

    8-3-43

      The farm just about completed also a duck pond .  Bill is however building another to his own design.  Feet much better in this cold, hope they keep this well.  Parcel gone very little news.  My guess is 18 months to liberty almost get mobbed for saying that.

    27-3-43

      Things go on about the same, much better spirit in the camp, far more corporation with the Japanese.  This C.C. is very decent and does all he can to make things comfortable.  The food is fairly standard and health of camp generally quite good.  Bfast. Atta porridge & rice tea.  Tiffin:- Roll ¼tin (3oz) bully beef, rice, & sometimes green stew.  Dinner:- Green stew, rice tea, M&V instead of Bully on Wed & Sundays.  1 pasty per week usually Sundays.  Some talk of meat coming in, & rumours of building a slaughter house.  Chicken farm now has about 170 birds.  Few eggs though as they are pullets.  The great menace is disease, some have died already, its not so easy as some people think, no real experts in camp.  I have just raffled one at 10 sen a ticket, 60 tickets to be sold.  didn't win it.  Papers have just been allowed to come in again, not much news though.  Lieut Bush sent in from Stanley, Alan Barwell very fit.  But there is some friction there with the families, only to be expected.  Plenty of musical instruments here now, quite a good band, jazz or otherwise.

      Bill just completed a very nice pond for the ducks had a dip in it.  Now at work on a special fish pond complete with island for the C.C. should look very natural when completed.  100 invalids coming from Bowen Road Hospital.  Suppose they are just as well off here.  The interpreters tell us that all the lads who went on draft are well and happy.  Doesn't look to me as if we are going just yet.  No signs yet of us being released the end appears to be as far off as ever.  Too bad.

    26-3-43

      10 pigs (2 boars, 8 sows) Very healthy animals.

    7-4-43

      10 yen paid to us from R.E.O. and very welcome indeed.  Cigarettes still 15 sen for 10.  Pigs cost approx. 20 yen each.  actually 87 sen a lb.  Sent letter to Alan at Stanley.  Letters have come in from England, Aussi this month, but up to date have received none.  It seems our safety was made known in England sometime in July 1942.  Hope Chris is at home. 

      Kai Tack (sic) is starting again.  Camp very fit these days, little illness, no dip.  Excellent Camp Commandant does all he can to assist us.  Have been working on a fish pond for Colonel Takauado complete with 4 islands and fountain.  Very interesting work.  Now on farm again extending fence and pig farm.

    10-4-43

      Kai Tack starts 7 oclock  155 men, should be much better this time, hope I never have to go on it.

    13-4-43

      81 in from Bowen Road most of the crippled Sgt Nunn R.E. who lost a leg was with them, have been fitting up a couple of huts in the hospital compound for them to live in.  Had my first hot bath in the Japanese type wash house which they have built for us.

      The bath is about 20' x 8' x 4' deep and hot - quite possible to swim in it.  Must take a cold shower & wash first, then a hot plunge and soak, finishing up with another shower.  About the best bath I’ve ever had.  The half hut I am in now has 19 people.  Roussel (dockyard), Morosov (RE) in bunk. Bill Nichol, Bashford, (bunk), Moores, Napalof, O'Toole, Hogart Sgt Graff, Nicols, Tilison, Bonney (The Rev), Webb, Crabb, Pugh, Mr Haynes, Hall (dockyard), Felix Love, Hill R.E., and Buckly just in from Bowen Road.  They say we may get another Red + parcel at Easter - I wonder.  Managed to get two eggs from canteen.  A place to visit :- ALAN NICOLS. WHITTICKER'S CAFÉ. SKIPTON NEAR BRADFORD.  For HOME MADE CHOCOLATES AND GOOD FOOD.

    20-4-43

      Cholera jab by Ashton Rose.  Arm a bit sore.

    21-4-43

      20 more small pigs were bough (sic) on 14-4-43.  rather smaller than the last batch.  That 30 in all. 

      Local parcels still come in and is pretty hard to watch the lads who get them sitting down to a good meal, it's not exactly what's in the parcel it's something to look forward to & a contact with the outside world.  Still our only hope in this line is the Red Cross.  Still waiting for a letter they come into camp in small batches.  Lieut Taylor R.A.M.C. quoting from a letter tells me that after the fall of Hong Kong, all the garrison were given out as killed or missing & President Roosevelt held a two minutes silence for us.  Must have been bloody awful for our relations.  Much worse than what we have had to stick.  Funny to watch the men rushing up to be weighed and stuffing themselves with Wakamoto tablets and vitamin pills & taking such care.  I've had no bloody treatment at all up to date, even if I feel bad my appearance goes against me and the Quack just thinks I'm pulling their legs.  Have been very fit just lately.  Must work harder on this Camp Maintenance staff than I have ever done in the Army before.  Sometimes even Sunday is not sacred.  But the days simply fly away, and they need to with the present rate of war progress.

    25-4-43

      CHOLERA JAB.  Discovered that the one we had on 20/4 was against dysentry.

    28-4-43

      Dysentry jab - ears a bit sore have macurechrome drops put in.

    29-4-43

      EMPEROR OF JAPANS birthday - we are issued with a Red Cross parcel.  Very welcome, this will be the last until another batch come in from home.  Excellent treatment and health very good.

    30-4-43

      Letter off to Mother 100 words.

    2-5-43

      Lovely weather for past month no rain can take open air showers and work in shorts "bust".  The humidity is not too high.  Bill has had a return of the pain in small of his back very like lumbago this place certainly spots any weaknesses.  My ears have been a little troublesome otherwise very fit.  Have been exceeding lucky so far have never lost much weight even when food was bad 10 stone at present, that's not much below normal.  Still plenty of work which is good.  It passes the time & makes life worthwhile.  Health in camp now is very good, no very thin cases, and few really sick.  Major Ashton Rose the S.M.O. has done several appendix cases, takes them to a hospital outside to operate, all successful.  Mr Gilbert the Hen expert is the latest & is doing fine.  Anyone who dies in here has a post mortem ghastly affair done by Major Grey.  Should hate to be cut up like that.  Arthur has quite recovered and is full of beans again.  Helps unofficially in the Hosp Cook House, that will help him build up again.  The latest reference Volunteer wives is that Government servants under five years service in the Government will not have allowances other than their rank in Vol. carries.  This means their wives are now under the same scale as Reg Army Personnel with the same allowances.  Horrible shock to some of 'em.  Afraid the poor lads have many more to come when this show is over, wouldn't they just hate to travel home on a trooper and under their present ranks.  I can see it all coming & all.  The poor blighters think they are going to step straight back into their old posh jobs - what a hope.

    4-5-43

      Cholera jab, that should be the last.

    12-5-43

      Weather still hot and fine, I am almost black on the back & can work all day in the sun without any ill effects.  Building the garden wall for Col. Takauardo's garden, consisting among other things of pillars 6 bricks square by 5'2" high, some job to get the job to look neat and trim good fun though.  Poor old Bill still having trouble with his back, my ears quite better.  Love this warm weather don't sweat or get prickly heat.  I come to conclusion that was built to live in the tropics.  Damned glad didn't go on last draft to Japan. 

      We heard that Tunisia has fallen & Bengasia. Also Canton rumoured to have been bombed.  Wonder how Harry Meek and Alan Read are getting on.  The cripples were playing cricket (it was soft ball yesterday) they hop around on one leg, Bowl, Bat, and Field, no crutch in most cases how the hell they keep balance beats me. They've certainly got the Right stuff.

    14-5-43

      Trip out to Castle Peak to get sand.  Went about 14 miles in lorry all the hangers on had to come of course.  After loading were allowed to have a dip it was glorious just like old times.  The beach was just past the Hong Kong Brewery.  Also collected some water plants on the way back for Colonel's pond.  Very pleasant trip, could do with one every week.

    23-5-43

      The bed boards are infested with bugs chaps up all night killing em & shaking blankets, can't keep the bastards down; doesn't effect us so much as we have iron beds & by de-bugging once a week they can be kept down.

      Permission has now been given to take out all bed boards and stack them in the open, this will make the huts liveable again.  But it seems impossible to get rid of them.  Bill Nichol had letter from his father last Sunday 16/5.  Dated June 29/42.  All well.  Olive still in Australia, still that letter is a year old.  They allow a few letters to come in each Sunday small units get one per unit. God knows when I shall get one at that rate.  Excellent concert on Thursday 20/5/43, complete with chorus & leading lady.  The Portugese boys make excellent girls especially Sonny Castro who usually takes the lead, he's got it off to a fine art; difficult to believe that it is a man when in full of war paint on the stage.

      {Pages 39 to 49 contain a mixture of poems, songs, extracts from books, and medical information that James must have written down prior to the time of the next diary entry.  Not all these pages have been transcribed; those that have are included.  The diary restarts on page 50}

 

 

      CHARGE OF THE RICE BRIGADE

       

      On the square - on the square

      Stood the five thousand

      Not for them to act the goat

      Thems to answer the bugle note

      Every man with smokers throat

      Roll on the bloody boat

      Noble five thousand

      ————— — —————

      Little nips to right of them

      All set to shite on them

      Formed up and numbered

      But someone has blundered

      Old George missed two hundred

      Gallant five thousand

      ————— — —————

      Oh! where is Churchill's blitz

      This ain't no bloody Ritz

      Fall out the man with shits

      Who pinched the flour

      ————— — —————

      Thy must not shout the crap

      Just theirs to take the rap

      The Mikado won this ruddy scrap

      Three cheers for Johnny Jap

      Cried the five thousand

      ————— — —————

      No boots or army socks

      Ambling around on wooden blocks

      Little towels to hide their cocks

      On ten ozs a day approx

      No fags or beer.

      But quite a lot of diarrohia (sic)

      No pictures on the walls

      No bars or dancing halls

      No more skin left on their balls

      Who shall excel them

      ————— — —————

      Oh! what a charge they made

      Like a Walt Disney cavalcade

      Strains of martial music ring

      No one ever asked to sing

      The foe won't let 'em!  play the King

      Chan-Kai-Shek is at Fanling

      Cheer up five thousand.

      ————— — —————

      Bravely fighting Chinese lice

      Hong Kong bugs and Kowloon mice

      Eating rat shit with their rice

      Gallant five thousand

      No more Anti Nippon pranks

      No more talking in the ranks

      Ah! Where are those bloody yanks

      Poor old five thousand.

      ————— — —————

 

 

      RICE

      by Ian McGregor

       

      We hear of great victories won in the West

      And dream of release & of those we love best,

      We swallow with joy most incredible tales

      And its hardly a wonder we run off the rails,

      All illusions are shattered in less than a trice

      When someone mentions that bloody word Rice.

      ————— — —————

      We scrounge on the muck heap for brushes & pails

      Our life is an ill fated scramble for mails,

      Our senior officers wrangle in vain

      With the boys who have nothing to show but disdain,

      But no matter how heavily loaded the dice

      The fruits of defeat is undoubtedly Rice.

      ————— — —————

      We seize what we can every day thro' the wire

      And the troop gets the best from the ladies for hire

      It's a rare sight indeed to see live Brigadiers

      Grabbing buns thro' the bars, like the Regent Park bears.

      But such gluttony cannot be labelled a vice

      When we know the only alternative's - Rice.

      ————— — —————

      Some Colonels, some Majors, some Subaltons (sic) too

      But reverse the procedure we've seen at the zoo,

      And some live on memories prior to the blitz

      Of Epicurian repasts they had at the Ritz,

      But whether our manners are nasty or nice

      It's a quid to a farthing the answer is – Rice

      ————— — —————

      We've no blankets or clothes and we sleep on the floor

      We've scarcely a window to close, and no doors,

      A problem most mighty for someone to solve

      Is how to maintain some hygenic resolve,

      But who gives a hoot for the mention of lice

      So long as those bleeders keep giving us Rice

       

      {Quotation from Beverley Nichols}

       

      Diary Page 42

      {Quotation from Beverley Nichols continued.  Greenery St extract.  Quotation from Kipling}

      Diary Page 43

       

      ABDUL LE BULBUL LE MEAR

       

      The sons of the prophet were brave men & bold,

      And quite unaccustomed to fear,

      But the boldest of these was a man by the name,

      Of Abdul Le Bulbul Le Mear.

      ————— — —————

      There were heroes a plenty & well known to fame

      In the ranks that were led by the Czar,

      But the bravest by far in the ranks of the Czar,

      Was Count Ivan Skivinski Skivar.

      ————— — —————

      If you needed a man to encourage the van,

      Or to harass the foe from the rear,

      Storm Fort or Redoubt you had only to shout,

      For Abdul Le Bulbul Le Mear.

      ————— — —————

      He could play cards or checkers or chess if required,

      Or perform on the Spanish guitar,

      Make love to the ladies or dance all the night,

      Count Ivan Skivinski Skivar.

      ————— — —————

      One day this bold Russian he shouldered his gun,

      And donned his most truculent sneer,

      Down to town he did go where he trod on the toe,

      Of Abdul Le Bulbul Le Mear.

      ————— — —————

      Young man quoth Abdul hath life grown so dull,

      That you wish to end your career.

      Vile infidel know you have trod on the toe,

      Of Abdul ———   ————   ————

      ————— — —————

      So take your last look at the sunshine and brook,

      And hand your regrets to the Czar,

      By this I imply you are going to die,

      Count Ivan Skivinski Skivar.

      ————— — —————

      Said Ivan "My friend, your remarks in the end,

      Will avail you but little I fear,

      For you'll never survive to repeat them alive,

      Mr Abdul Le Bulbul Le Mear. "

      ————— — —————

      So this wild marmeluke drew his trusty Shabouk,

      And with a cry of "selah Ckar",

      With murderous intent he ferociously went,

      For Ivan Skivinski Skivar.

      ————— — —————

      They fought all that night neath the pale fallow moon,

      & the din could be heard from afar,

      Great multitudes came so great was the fame,

      Of Abdul and Ivan Skivar.

      ————— — —————

      As Abdul's long knife was extracting the life,

      In fact he was shouting huzzah,

      When he felt himself struck by that wily Kalmuck,

      Count Ivan Skivinski Skivar.

      ————— — —————

      The Sultan rode by in his red crested fly,

      Expecting the victor to cheer,

      But ere he drew nigh was heard the last sigh,

      Of Abdul Le Bulbul Le Mear.

      ————— — —————

      Czar Petrovich too in long robes of blue,

      Drove up in his new crested car,

      But he arrived just In time to exchange the last line,

      With Ivan Skivinski Skivar.

      ————— — —————

      There's a tomb rises up where the blue Danube flows,

      And inscribed there in characters clear,

      ‘And strangers in passing please pray for the soul,

      Of Abdul Le Bulbul Le Mear’.

      ————— — —————

      There's a muscovite maiden her lone vigil keeps,

      Neath the light of the pale polar star,

      And the name that she whispers as oftime she weeps,

      Is "Ivan Skivinski Skivar."

       

      {Medical notes, not transcribed}

      Dairy Page 45

      {The Mountains of  Mourne, not transcribed}

      Diary Page 46

      {The Mountains of Mourne continued.  Quotation from ‘Destiny Bay’ by Donn Byrne, not transcribed}

      Diary Page 47

      {Three separate quotations, the first in French, the second a profession of love, and the third the start of a description of the similarities between types of women and types of French wines.  Not transcribed}

      Diary Page 48

      {The wine comparison continued.  A quote from Bandelaine.  4 quotations about love and life. Not transcribed}

      Diary Page 49

      {6 philosophical quotations about love and life. Not transcribed}

      Diary Page 50

       

    23-5-43

      Bill's lumbago still plays him up at times and he has lost 20 lbs, bad because he was overweight in normal times.  I massarge his hip with Tiger Balm but it doesn't do much good.  The Red Cross stuff is getting a bit low.  Very little bully beef left and atta also running out.  We will be in a bad way unless some more comes along; the camp couldn't stand another bout of poor food, no reserve to sustain them now, still I think we have seen the worst in the food line.  I for one have certainly got accustomed to the rice and Chinese veg.  But then never did eat a lot.  The Colonel's wall is almost completed, looks a good job.  Want earth and turf next to complete garden, hope it means a trip out to get some.

    28-5-43

      Inspection by Japanese war minister, they all looked very smart.  All lined up together 10 deep.  Rain starts in earnest - we'll get it for months now.

    5-6-43

      Wedding anniversary, Arthur gets his first parcel from Mardulin22.  Very nice had some pineapple.

    6-6-43

      Bill gets letter from Olive mentions Chris has gone to England.  Great relief, do hope she is well.  Wonder if they know I am fit and healthy.

    7-6-43

      Letter home to Chris.

    8-6-43

      Trip out to house on Tai Po road turf & plants.  Fahenstock23 use to own the house a beautiful place, but absolutely pulled to pieces by the Chinese they even pull the tiles off to get at the wooden beams. 5 bathrooms.  Good day took a very nice party.  Capt Ebbage came with us.

    12-6-43

      P.C. to Allan at Stanley.

    17-6-43

      Arthur brought around a tin of sausages, so we two had a party.  Bill Nichol had such a bad ear that he couldn’t eat.  I reckon shall have to spend at least one more birthday in here24, although many "clever" guys think we'll be out by Christmas '43.  Poor chaps.

    20-6-43

      Bill's ear still bad.  Just read "Guilty Men” by cats.  Does it give our crooked parliament away.  Must read "Profit at Home" by Douglas Read.

    29-6-43

      RED25 and inspection everything satisfactory.  Ideal size for shorts  Width at leg bottoms 24", length from crotch 8 ½" 

    30-6-43

      Still large promises to pay the maintenance party, supposed to be all set.

    4-7-43

      Fine concert last night straight play "Here Comes Charlie", starring Sonny Castro & the Canadians considering the heat, they are heroes to stick those impersonations of women's parts, especially Sonny.

      At present working on an operating theatre for the camp.  Should be ready in couple of weeks now.  Bill's ear quite better.  Bashford had letter from sister at Hounslow.  Nothing for me.  Great optimism in camp over Winston's speech in which he is going to smash Germany.  Many think it is all over but the shouting & that we will be out by Xmas.  Can’t see it myself I say Xmas 44 at least.  The Japanese will be very hardy and difficult people to beat having some of the best infantry soldiers in the world, with almost super human endurance and an infinite reliance in their Emperor & the cause.

      Arthur looks new man these days, has a nice little job in the Hosp C/house .  Very popular there & gets good food.  Gulley had to have four teeth out to get rid of absess in mouth.  Caploon still has his bad stomach or thinks he has.  Read Prophet at Home, certainly spills the beans & how.  Wish they would buck up & pay us, right out of fags do like one after meals.  Get issued since Xmas with 2 lbs sugar per month, very welcome.  Believe it is being cut to one during this month.

    14-7-43

      Hair cut and shaved.  Very much cooler.

    16-7-43

      Complete operating theatre.  War going great guns in the med. - great optism in the camp.

    24-7-43

      Dangerous to drink water.  Clorine short in Colony, that means more hot tea of which there is plenty.

    22-7-43

      Start simple exercises from a book called "Start Today”, Your Guide To Physical Fitness" by C. WARD-CRAMPTON M.D.  Dedicated to Franklin Delano Roosevelt of U.S.A. 1941 Jan.

    26-7-43

      Start an operating lamp of 1000 watts & 30 reflectors with Moores.  Bill's eyes too bad for fine work.  This will need 200 1/8" rivets.

    27-7-43

      A.R.P 5.30P.M. just after evening muster parade.

    29-7-43

      Same again at 3.45P.M.  made us knock off work.

    30-7-43

      We're going to get 24 yen from Red +. But some snag has delayed it, asked to give 1 yen to General Fund for camp use. There is still talk of maintenance party being paid. But I don't think it will ever come off.  Great expectations by lads of show being over by X'mas due to Mussohini going.  But X'mas 1944 is my guess.  Super pessimistic they all say to that poor sap.  Dentist Capt Wallace had look at tooth said not to bad may fill it later.  "Temples of Costly Experience" by DANIELE VARE.  Very good. "400,000,000 Customers", Carl Crowe.

    1-8-43

      Start course of 2 nicotinic per day acid tablets for ten days for my feet.  First treatment I have ever had.  Food not so good now - atta porridge for breakfast keeps the old pecker up.  1lb of sugar has to last a month now.  Arthur gives me his share which helps a lot.  Feel quite fit & will remain so if food doesn't go down any more.  Plenty of work with only Sunday off.  Hot bath a week, 2 showers a day in hot weather, very little soap though.

    2-8-43

      SM. Knightly RAMC goes a bit strange & sent to Bowen Road.

    3-8-43

      Another draft about 546 men. G.MP.. AA. RAF. RE'S, and Canadians, no fuss at all just paraded & segregated.  24 yen now certain but must wait until draft goes. Hope I don't have to leave here couldn't stick cold weather, quite happy here with plenty to do.  Strange that I never get a letter, hope they know at home I am a POW.  Balls rather sore itch like hell, scratch them at night & gets skin off & they weep.  Tiger Balm might fix up when money comes.  Webb taken off maintenance party for draft, also Rogers & Robertson of Sheffield.  Parker in this room former BA (Sheffield) Ammunition Examiner in RAOC.  Find exercises a very good waking agent in the morning.

    11-8-43

      Payment of 24 yen.  Fags still 15 sen for 10 so plenty of smokes in the wind, other stuff expensive margarine 12.50y lard lb 9y.  Canadians got extra 30 yen from people of Canada, that's the second lot they have had from same source.

    13-8-43

      Has rained like blazes for 3 days.  Should soon be clearing up for our spell of good weather up to Christmas.  Completed the operating lamp & tested it, quite satisfactory.  Plenty of work to do and the days do not drag.  Hope I don't get put on a draft.

    15-8-43

      Draft leaves. Luggage taken by lorry, small ship, all seemed quite happy.  Hank Mayberry went.  Had my hair cut all over again, shall keep it so 'til X'mas at least.

    19-8-43

      Letter to Chris in England, wonder why I don't get one.  Canadian Officers above Captain and some Captains also Captain Valentine leave for Argyle St.  Sicily falls; have evidently been evacuating the place since 10th.

      To cut and set saw:- Front face of teeth should be slightly undercut at less than 90°.  Sharpen the tooth set towards you with file at small angle towards the saw handle.  Sharpen in a series of small cuts all along the saw, rather than trying to cut each tooth completely.  Set with small pin punch on soft wood.  {Small outline of piece of saw framing the word ‘THUS’, and the word ‘handle’ with an arrow beneath indicating which way the teeth should lie}

    20-8-43

      Camp now about 1500 - poultry and pig farm still going strong; not that we ever get anything out of them but the hospitals get eggs.  Arthur now has a permanent job in the c/house (Hosp) in/c veg preparation - he looks very much better these days.  2 w/parties go out each day to Kai Tak H.K. Brick Hill, they quite enjoy it.  Charlie Gray and his brother, correct name Sequna (a Maltese) telling Bill and I all the difficulties of the cabaret business, he is on the farm.

    25-8-43

      Arp.2.  As raids they are junk and I am convinced that it purely showing the flag & that H.K. will never be seriously bombed. To hear the camp rave you would think the sky was black with 'em instead a measley 7 or 8.  It leaves me cold.

    27-8-43

      Some bad luck today.  Pierre Mathieu26 while clearing the nullah near the hospital got hooked up with a live fence & was electrocuted.  they worked on him for 1½hours with no results.  Its not quite clear how he came to get such a show & the current is not very high.  Why he wasn't pulled off sooner by people with him I can't think, still it easy to criticize.  T Simpson27 also dies in fact we have had three in the past few days but then that only makes 7 all this year.  Very good.  Frank Haines is ill & looks very thin & weak, up to now he has stuck it very well, is going to Bowen Road, hope he recovers, good old chap just 60.  Capt. Ebbage has nasty sores on his leg getting a little worried about it, doesn't rest enough.

    31-8-43

      Frank Haynes Bowen Rd. looking very washed out.

    2-9-43

      A.R.P. - 1.45PM.  SACONIY oil installation at Lai Chi Kok.  Quite heavily bombed, a great cloud of heavy black smoke went up & darkened the sky.  Fire lasted over a week.  We had to take precautions in camp against fire as it is only just across the bay.  This is certainly the most damage to date.  Buses & motor traffic were stopped in colony due to lack of fuel only military and taxi continue.  Admitted large loss to Hong Kong but of no consequence to war effort.

    10-9-43

      Rained like blazes all day, will be short wet spell, bit late actually for this type of weather.

    11-9-43

      Complete strength of camp now 1611.

    14-9-43

      Large search lasted 9 hours - kept on main square all the time, got very sunburnt, hungry & thirsty.  My kit very carefully searched, but nothing damaged or thrown about.  Very fair and no grumbles.

    16-9-43

      Cholera jab ½cc by Ashton Rose.

    23-9-43

      Floor of bakery oven burnt thro so Bill & I repaired same.  Had to work right inside, could only stick it for 15 minutes heat terrific, working height about 12", & oven next door in use.  Completed in 6 days, couldn't have stuck much more, sweat poured out all the time.

    1-10-43

      Turned quite fresh in evening, this will be the end of humid weather, although still hot sunny day, cool evenings & nice breeze ideal climate at this time of the year.  If it lasted for 6 months HK would have best climate in the world.  Strange that change takes place almost overnight.

    2-10-43

      Major stomach operation carried out in camp opp theatre.  Duodinal ulcers.  Ashton Rose surgeon, Capt.Coombes gave ether, took 1½hours.  Patient E. S. Hall Chartered Accountant.  Was sudden & at night, our lamp saved the day ahem!  Opp successful although Rose had little hope at close of wound.  Had great difficulty to find ulcers.  Fed with glucose intravenously for 5 days. later went to Bowen Road, but then out of danger.

    6-10-43

      First litter of pigs born.  6.  Very healthy & highly successful.  Killed one of the old boars and made stew for 1611 men.  Just about got a smell.  Very fit due to little extra grub while working in the Hosp kitchen on boilers, have brought quantity down to such a minimum that least extra makes huge difference.  Very lucky to have stomach that can drive body on low consumption & poor class Fiscle.

    13-10-43

      2nd  batch pigs.  10.  all healthy.

    14-10-43

      TAB inoculation.  Also 3rd batch pigs 5.  OK.

    15-10-43

      At last the working party are to be paid but lots of snags.  It starts 4 months back & is at 15 sen a day so should get 16.80.  But many more are employed than the Japanese recognize such as 16 in bath house in spite of no hot baths.  So although we sign for 16.80 only got 13.60 poor show 'eh!  Just typical of this camp.

    7-10-43

      Letter home.  none received yet Bashford got one.

    17-10-43

      Big sports day for Japanese held in camp , they certainly look very fit & well.  Were not allowed to watch.  The pig farm which cost some Y600 to stock is now worth Y25000 due to rise in price of pork.  Matches 30 sen.

    22-10-43

      2nd T.A.B. I.C.C no ill effect.  building new duck farm at present.  Camp Commandant perfect gentleman help in every way no matter what the subject may be.  We have really first class concerts due to his help in many ways.  At present the health is excellent and men bright & cheerful, all have employment which is quite easy with short hours.  Very glad I am in camp and not sent on draft.

    2-11-43

      Bill has letter from his wife Dorothy.  It says Chris arrived safely in England.  no letter for me yet.  Gardener who left here before the war has not been heard of by his wife .  This letter was July 1942.

    3-11-43

      Dysentry inoculation .  start building extension to piggery - 12 more sties to be made.  Brick 9" walls.

    15-11-43

      Sent letter to Alan & 1 yen.  there is some talk of them being sent away, hope so, for news of my safety & well being to reach England.  Lovely weather no humidity, sunny all day.  Health in camp very good men full of optomism and the papers come in regularly so we get the news, this stops all those silly rumours.  Now allowed to write 25 words on a p.c. twice in three months, to Stanley counting as a turn.  Letters come in every Sunday as a rule.  Camp runs very smoothly.  Working parties still go out but no trouble and all treated very well, in fact many enjoy going.  Good place to stay for Holiday Society of Friends recommended by Bill Nichol.  Arthur has had no letters.

    12-11-43

      Letter from Alan.  Very cheerful & fit has heard from home and Betty28.  2 from home.  Frank Haynes. about 27/10/43.

    15/16-11-43

      A.R.P. 11PM. 1PM.  Construct boiler for C in C.  Quite a change to work in new place job completed 17-11-43.

    18-11-43

      Dys inoculation later for us due to being outside on job.  Very high wind almost like a young typhoon, blowing dust into everything.  My HQ number is now 2847 - this supercedes 1665.  Blackout for past two nights, this will make the concerts rather a difficult problem.  Blackout suspended to usual so concert OK again.

    26-11-43

      10 yen from Red +.  Also physical fitness test on the square had to run 100 yards, chin the bar, height & weight taken.  I of course passed it with flying colours.  A man29.  Very fair test and most of the men were good all invalids sniffles etc. were exempted.  This immediately started the rumour of a draft, in fact it had been in the air for sometime now.

    27-11-43

      All A men now have to go on W. P. even the working parties in camp.  Its my turn today.  Quite a change, & very interesting nice sea trip.  It should only work out about once a week.

    30-11-43

      Signature from Alan Barwell for yen I sent.  He is quite well.

    7-12-43

      Cholera inoculation.  Starts rumour of draft.

    8-12-43

      Prepare 8 huts with shutter and doors.  Looks like something.

    9-12-43

      Personnel selected & segregated to new huts. about 200 crips the rest volunteers.  Very orderly and no fuss RAOC have now only about 15 here the following are on

      Parker, Mitchell, Jefferys, Standen, Smith, Wright, Bocock, Eley, Malekin, Whitmore, Hewitt, Buckley, Pickles.  The first draft on which were none of our people was 3-9-42.  Then 25-9-42 which was the ill fated Lisbon Maru.  The CC allowed a special revue concert to be given for the draft the batmen opened their eyes “some” when they saw our "Girls".  Two blankets are taken they all are in good spirits.  no letter yet.  Send card to Alan Barwell.  Johnny Sayers put a couple of X'mas bells on it.  Baptista is the man for X'mas cards etc. & scenery.

    15-12-43

      Selection leaves.  Smith & Wright taken off, also Jefferys who had malaria.  All given wind-breaker and two blankets all quite orderly.  Marched off after breakfast.  Taken by tug from Bamboo Pier to boat so they didn't have to walk through.

    16-12-43

      Inspection, all to be provided with beds.  Wooden if necessary.

    17-12-43

      Complete bathroom for C. C., complete with windows.

    19-12-43

      Aberdeen WP with Bill Nichol, quite enjoyable day.

    25-12-43

      No letter or card.  Menu atta (chocolate) fish, pork stew, cake, pastry, bully stew rice.  We had tiffin with Moors and Nap Napoloff.  Very nice too especially the pork.  Papoloff the hospital cook made them a super spread, but then he's from the Hong Kong Hotels.  Major Ashton Rose let us go to the Hospital Concert in the evening, they gave Pap a cheer.  Very nice Christmas.  I went to midnight mass on Christmas eve.

    30-12-43

      Bit of bother over some missing wind breakers soon sorted out the culprit and the C.C. fixed everything with complete justice he's a jewel to have as C.C.  We are now our own party No. 1 with Bill Nichol in charge very good idea too.  Mal Shaw taken ill with malaria and moved into hospital that makes us 19.

    Notes:

      21 - Were the POWs graded by standard of fitness?

      22 - Presumably a place, but the name is not recognised.

      23 - The name is clearly written, but means nothing. Person or commercial company?

      24 - 17 June 1943 was James’ 35th birthday.

      25 - RED   ?

      26 - Gunner Pierre Benjamin Mathieu, HK Volunteer Defence Force, died 27Aug43 age 32. (CWGC)

      27 - No trace found in CWGC records

      28 - Betty Barwell, Alan’s wife.

      29 - Fitness category?

______________________  __  ______________________

 

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1944

 

 

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