Sketch by Jack Chalker

Dairy 1944

Staff Sergeant James O’Toole



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


      Soares not so well but will be more restful.


      PC to Chris tell her to have allowance put to maximum.


      All beds have to be put on South side of rooms.  I have to move over and Moores gets my spring bed lost the cut for it.  Get a corner however quite comfortable.


      Impression of war in 200 words.  Interesting.


      PC from Alan, he's quite well but thinner.


      Working party with Morosov, had fine swim and much tearing around in lorry, quite enjoyable.  Can still swim.


      Tests - weight, height, and chest measurement by Doctor Cito30.  Careful record evidently kept of our health which is good.  Get Chris to read Theatre by S.M. & The Treasure out of West & East also by S.M.


      P.T. starts again hour each morning to music, very enjoyable.


      Working party Aberdeen, passed the old house on Scutters31 did it bring back memories.  Could almost see Chris walking up the step, it all looks just about the same.  Looking forward to some more Red Cross stores, still feeling quite fit but easily get fagged out.  Ponford back from Bowen Road quite fit.  It seems that Arthur's pal Pierce of Stanley Prison was killed during the war, his wife Olive Pierce was at Melbourne and knew Chris.  Am not absolutely sure of this.  Weather has been ideal for past three months.  Very warm during the day but not sticky no rain for past 4 months, can’t say we ever get much cold weather here, good thing as feel it more now.  P.T. starts on the square after each morning muster with music.  Very enjoyable.


      Made some soap out of issue tooth and talcum powder few B.F & drop of peanut oil.  Quite a success when all boiled up.


      Post card to Christine, can't send another 'till April.


      28 yen from the Red Cross, gave up 2 yen to Central Fund.  Spent money on treacle 1 tin salt 1lb, fags 20 packs, beans 4 tins.


      VACCINATION ——didn't take (later reference).  C Read out.


      Show given in the concert hall for Japanese authority, including high ranking officers (Sat).  (Sunday) made the first rice bread by steam cooking in the old disinfector.  Will have to make a steam bakery now.


      Start on steam bakery for rice bread.  Tank for oven from Jubilee this job will take about three weeks.


      Parade on square with all kit for inspection by Japanese authorities.  Kit to be made up to standard; I am fairly well off.


      Go out on W. P. to A.32 about once a week.


      Special PT in the afternoon afterwards 92 fit men separated and have names taken me included.  What for?


      Further personnel selected from WP's on their return, bringing total up to about 300.  Anyone fit selected no matter what work employed on or nationality.


      Molar filled by Capt.Cunningham no pain.  Pork for dinner at night very enjoyable.  Steam bakery nearly completed, about another week should see it in action.


      Letter to Chris in England.


      Complete steam bakery for rice bread, had sample very successful, hope to get ration every other day.


      15 yen issued.  Bought treacle and soya milk from proceeds and ring.


      Broadcast message to Chris in Australia hope it gets to England as well.  Pigs being killed off due to lack of swill & they make lovely meals, can't describe the taste.  Arthur very fit heard from Alan again he is well.


      Draft assembles.  At work on new kitchen for officers in F lines at the time, but put on all the same.  Kit packed and examined & lodged in Group 2 F2, Arthur in F1.


      Taken off the draft at midday with Alf Pugh have to start work straight away on the kitchen again, since 21/4 we have been working from 7.30 to 5 excused all parades.  .


      Start work at Jubilee preparing kitchen bath house etc. for the Japanese.  Bags of work still to be done.


      Draft leaves Arthur33 with them shall miss him a lot, only chap I have any use for here pity he had to go.  All very cheerful & singing lustily.


      150 officers move into F lines very strict rules reference us having no contacts with them, who wants to anyway.


      Saturday evening called across to Capt. Ebbage's hut & given my 1st letter.  It's from Mother34 dated Oct 15 '42.  They are all well at home, Chris must be with her Mother and Father, great to get a letter again, hope this means some more in near future.  Young Dodwell very ill.  Frank Quinnell got 17 letters & learnt that Sid Charles35 & Baskerville36 went down on the Lisbon.  Building more cooking stoves Japanese style in Jubilee at present.


      Have had some fun draining the area where the new Japanese kitchen is situated, the rain makes it all rather difficult, but it's coming along.  The bath is the next thing and will not be quite so easy.  Young Dodwell37 died after all he was 6'7" and only about 22, had outgrown his strength.


      Few more letters all at once couldn't believe my eyes.  4 from Mother at Nara, Nascot Wood Rd. and one from Mary Hampton.  Wonder why I haven't had one from Chris, she seems quite well.  Can't see why Mother doesn't mention Dad, have a hunch he has gone I wonder.  Pity they haven't heard from me.  Heard about the landing on continent today at last it has come, great calculations & hazards as to how long Germany can last, the most popular is 6 weeks.  I say Christmas, they're a tough crowd and certainly knew and prepared for this.  Keeping very fit and plenty of work.  Started recently to parade at 7.30 for P.T. check 8.00 o'clock.  That means we miss parade & check, & start work at 7.30.  Soon get used to it though.  About 950 in camp now that's not counting the officers who have their own camp & have nothing to do with us at all.


      17 yen from Red Cross.  Beans, milk powdered still come in about once a month from Red Cross.  My weight now is 132 Ibs.  Not too bad still quite fit.


      Cholera 2 injections.  July 3 TAB 1 dose.


      Get plenty of anti Cholera injections also weight taken regularly mine remaining fairly normal.


      Cutting channel thro sea wall, large lump of granite to dig out.  Fell in the sea at high tide, very nice.  Working under electric fence hope they don't switch it on by mistake.  Awaiting cement to complete bath.  Camp very optimistic about news, certainly does look as if things are happening can't be too soon for me.  Mrs Duffold has not yet heard about Sam via Bill the Bastte & Dorothy


      Letter home to Mother at Watford.


      Had a couple of very big blows lately also plenty of rain.  Card from Alan says all's well, seems his people are living at Hilcote, Towcester.  Wonder why Mother left there for Watford, Dad I suppose?


      Rained heavily all day.  Jove we've had some wet weather this year.  Chat with Frank Taylor his leg not too good, also fell down & cut his lip, can't get about too well.  Considers best at Bowen Road, cheerful as ever.  My weight remains constant at 130 lbs hope it remains so until the end.  Saw Smith38 of any snags fame he looks about the same, is senior now in that mob.


      Out of camp 'till 10 o'clock.  Special permission to use showers as very hot & dirty.  Building 4 cookers in two days some going.


      Letter to Chris via WATFORD.  Hope she is happy and well.


      Has rained like hell for past three days.  Haven'nt been able to do any work at all, rather fed up with it.

    22 AND 24-8-44

      Due to power being off the Refrigerators of H.K. are out of action, so pheasant was sent in our X'mas 1941 stock - very nice too.  Many had never tasted it before.


      Canadian RED CROSS parcel issued. containing. Bully, Meat Loaf, Salmon Sardines, Jam, Butter, Milk, Biscuits, Sugar, Prunes, Raisins, Salt, Pepper, Chocolate, Coffee, Cheese.


      Snipe worked out at half a Bird each.


      Very sick & squillters during night, goo sick, food poisoning, thought at first it was snipe later proved to be Olives that Fidia gave me.  Have to go hospital, no food for 3 days.  Pugh, Felix Levy and Napaloff also ill, but not so bad.


      2 more parcels issued as perishable stuff is going off.


      Letter from Mother.  Mary39 has son Feb 44 John Anthony, well done Mary.  Tongue came in very nice.


      Out of hospital today & lost 5 lbs will soon make that up.  Was actually quite ill, like cronic sea sickness.


      Start on course one vitamin capsule per day.  30 days.  Hope it stops this damned itch it drives me crazy at night.  European news very good.  Great propheting as to release most think Xmas, but I can't see it much before six months at very least.  Hope I'm wrong.


      Front tooth filled dentist doubted success of venture.


      Sent letter to Mary at Watford.


      Garden started.


      First letter from Chris, must reply next issue.




      Cholera second dose.


      Rumours may be moved to Canton.


      Since 24 April have been working at Jubilee all the time on various jobs from 10 stoves & a complete cook house for 150 men.  that was the first job. then draining the area outside the kitchen, bashing through a seawall to gain necessary flow angle to drainage pipe.  2 Japanese still baths with furnaces all cement rendered but muddy laid.  Duck and chicken farm, pig farm, rabbit farm, odd jobs such as nullah around stone hut, repairs to roof of Jubilee top flat.


      Big draft from Bowen Rd. Gordon Harrop on it had to make bed stands in a Hurry.


      Make Jubilee Bath House weatherproof with Eurolite sheets taken down from no mans land.


      Another draft from Bowen Road. including Tommy Hunter.  No water up there reason for shift to this side.  More bed stands made.  Have had garden going since 1-10-44. Planted 14 tomatoes & carrots not in co with anyone.  Later another bed with 9 tomatoes and 4 rows carrots.  Benfon from pig farm Jubilee - up to date plants doing very well.  Still having vitamin capsule hope it continues.  Some hope of parcel by Xmas as Red + ship reached Kobe on 14/11 may take longer to get stuff here.  Not feeling so well these days get very listless. Grub poor very little of it in HK.  Treacle 48 yen a tin hopeless, must stick it out now.  my guess is Christmas 45 out, most of camp say long before this, but then up to date I have never over estimated, wonder how my Xmas for Germany will pan out.


      Dysentry inoculation.


      Build store in piggery some talk of closing it down.


      Vitamin B pill reduced to every other day.


      Weighing I remain constant at 130 Ibs.  We are weighed each month & a record and graph kept by the Japanese doctors.


      Been made small units Representative to cook house sort of liaison officer.  Groups 1, 8, 9, 10, 11 & officers a very thankless job, but it all helps to pass the time yes.

      Making & putting in windows in the huts in the lines, has been very cold the last two weeks extra blanket, 4 in all.  Have sent X'mas card to Alan.


      Letter home to Christine allowed every six weeks.


      Meals for X'mas day.  Breakfast.  Ground Rice & Bean Flour Porridge, sweet 5% tea.  Tiffin. Salt Fried Fish & Potatoes diced.  Rice, Pork Bone and Bean Gravy.  Tea.  Dinner Pork, Beans, Carrots Fried no water added.  Rice tea, cake 12oz. contains (Peanut Butter, Ground Rice, Ground Beans Fruit thins Bran). Very nice too.  Chow is rather frugal these days especially veg.  Had nice meal X'mas eve with Moors & Nap had some of my garden carrots.  This liaison job makes me late for all meals.  Many more Raids these days sometime three.  Bill Nichol hit by a splinter X'mas eve ”above left eye, standing in the door with me, very silly, but must look see raid.


      30 - Presumably a Japanese doctor.

      31 - Stonecutters ?

      32 - ‘Working Party to Aberdeen’ probably.

      33 - Arthur Peaker was shipped to Japan and spent the rest of the war there working in the coal mines.  Afterwards he went back to Hong Kong and resumed his career.  He was eventually awarded the MBE.  He died in 2000.

      34 - James’ mother apparently lived in Nascot Wood Road, Watford, for the whole of the war.  She is shown on the Electoral Roll there in 1946.

      35 - Serjeant Sidney Charles RE died 1Oct42 age 42. (CWGC)

      36 - WOII Albert Thomas Baskerville RA died 1Oct42 age 38. (CWGC)

      37 - Gunner Michael C Dodwell, 2 Bty H K Volunteer Defence Force, died 15May44 age 21. (CWGC)

      38 - Col Smith ?

      39 - James’ sister.  She had married Anthony Cunliffe in 1938.  Their son John Cunliffe lives in Windermere.

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