Sketch by Jack Chalker

December 1942

Captivity:- December 1942


Tuesday 1st.

Contrary winds and tides proved too strong for them and were unfortunately forced by hunger and thirst to land on enemy occupied soil. They all escaped from Singapore after its fall. The army officer was extremely delighted to hear that his wife is also a prisoner here.


Wednesday 2nd.

The burned and charred wreckage of one of our ships was towed up the river today. Another ship sunk by bomb in the harbour is being salvaged and the job is now almost complete.


Thursday 3rd

The Japs salvaged an enormous amount of clothing out of her and dried it all in the sun – good army gear destined for use of our forces here, but went astray.


Friday 4th.

Our weekend concerts are now taking some shape and order and are gradually becoming better. Last week we had a “musical bee” and several short sketches. In addition we have always the services of L.A.C. Roy, at the piano – a talented player.


Saturday 5th

Today I felt extremely sick with fever and was removed to the sick bay, feeling in a bad way.

The cause of my fever is “Dengue” – a disorder very similar to malaria and caused by a bite from a mosquito which although not so deadly as the latter, is much, more painful, affecting all the joints while it holds its course.


Sunday 6th.

Still bad today and well dosed up with quinine. Have completely lost my appetite and I feel the full strain of my sickness and very weak about the legs. Stubbs also in sick bay with fever and a very bad poisoned leg.


Monday 7th.

Still feeling much the same although more comfortable. Trial blackout at night with guards running all over the place, shouting their meaningless gibberish. News about being allowed to write letter home.


Tuesday 8th

Anniversary of the opening up of hostilities between the Allies and Japan. A Japanese holiday to celebrate their victories after a year of warfare – it will be their last time.


Wednesday 9th.

Our lads out working at Pladjoe at the oil refinery, which is now in working order and one well is giving an output of 45000 barrels a day. Only a trickle of oil according to our news. Stubbs left for “A” Camp today.


Thursday 10th.

Today is the anniversary of the sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse, so a short memorial service was held in memory of all those brave men who gave their lives in action.


Friday 11th

Time flies on apace. Christmas will soon be on us once again. We are being allowed to write a postcard home in the near future, a brief note informing our people we are prisoners of war. 


Saturday 12th

Weather been dull and wet of late so that the river has increased volume considerably reaching right up to the roadway. Have now quite recovered from my attack of dengue.  


Sunday 13th.

Completed my postcard home – brief and to the point, written simply according to Japanese orders. When they will ultimately reach home, time alone will tell, but given a fair chance about 3 months should see them through to their destinations. That means that all the other letters we wrote were only destroyed at H.Q.


Monday 14th.

I had a long yarn with Cmdr. Clark, of HMS Repulse, about Skipness Castle. He is a brother-in-law of Mr. Oakes and has often been down at Skipness during shooting season. Intends paying me a visit next time through.


Tuesday 15th.

Knows Cameron, the head gamekeeper very well.

Town seemed empty today. Some of the brothels in the main street are packing up and the Japanese prostitutes leaving.


Wednesday 16th.

This form of entertainment is provided for the troops at the rate of 2 visits free per month, when they are received for the day. If they desire more then they must pay the price themselves. A fairly large ship arrived up the river today and unloaded a party of about 150 Sikhs armed with our rifles and in our uniforms.


Thursday 17th.

This treacherous band of Indians will probably be used as police, or guards, or even front line forces where like it as not, they will turn against their Nippon masters, when things go against them.


Friday 18th

We have now succeeded in making 4 double-decker beds for the members of our room. The frames are of old discarded wood with a rice sack stretched between and although not elegant, at least are much more clean and comfortable than sleeping on a cold stone floor which is ant and bug infested, as well as hoaching with mice and rats.


Saturday 19th.

Pineapples are now to be had in great abundance in town and fruit in general abounds plenty. As a result prices are ridiculously low e.g. 1 cent for a pineapple - approx 1/4d - a fruit which I can assure you are both nourishing and exceedingly tasty to our palates that have long forgotten the taste of sugar.


Sunday 20th.

In fact some natives when we are out working give us pineapples, saying “For our English masters, making no bones about it, even in front of the Japs.


Monday 21st.

A supply of boots arrived in camp today in a sorry condition. They were salvaged from a ship which was sunk in the river. Surprising how some of them have stood up to submersion of 10 months in good condition while others, the sewing and soles were completely rotten.


Tuesday 22nd.

Don’t suppose we will need them if the situation continues to remain good. The Japs gave each man in the camp a Christmas present of 50 cents. Those who did most work on outside working parties received 3 guilders and there was quite a considerable number of the same.


Wednesday 23rd.

We decorated our room today after a fashion with a fern like green to give it an appearance for Christmas and the festive season. In fact it looks okay for all we had at our disposal.


Thursday 24th.

We succeeded in procuring a small chicken today about size of a blackbird (for3) for our Christmas dinner. Parties of lads went round tonight singing carols which added to the Christmas spirit we are gradually trying to cultivate.


Friday 25th.

Holiday today. Went to service during morning. Had our chicken for dinner and it was excellent, well-cooked and very tender. An excellent concert was our entertainment at night when the officers from “O” Camp attended and a marvellous show was given.


Saturday 26th.

I have often paid a goodly sum to see shows not worth looking at. Our Christmas although imprisoned was as happy and good a one as could be expected under the circumstances. Sikh guard take over on Saturday, the vile, low down, cowardly traitors.


Sunday 27th

Like their Nippon counterparts, we are compelled to bow and grovel in front of them, or in their vicinity. It is certainly a humiliating practice, much enjoyed by our Nippon masters. All XDO’s staff received the handsome Christmas present of 1guilder each from Lt. Copley – a gift which was much appreciated. Christmas dinner was chicken and rice, pineapples, bananas and cream (condensed milk). 2nd course, tea.


Monday 28th.

The Christmas spirit is still among us and we are now looking forward to the New Year. I wonder what sort of Ne’er day they will have at home – not a very happy one I fear.


Tuesday 29th.

Two Dutch oil “technicians” were arrested today and taken away under armed guard. They apparently had in their possession maps and plans of all the Jap searchlight and AA gun positions around Palembang and were removed as spies.


Wednesday 30th.

How things will be with them is a matter of conjecture although I wouldn’t like to be in their shoes especially as at present our masters have increased the restrictions on all our movements.


Thursday 31st.

Hogmanay was spent in a very solemn and quiet manner – no celebration, or festivities, seen the old year out or, welcomed the New Year in. A black out was in force so the New Year overtook us in sleep.


Next Month



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