Sketch by Jack Chalker

July 1942

Captivity:- July 1942

 

Wednesday 1st.

Our officers are all together at a separate camp under strict look out….. I wonder how many more months it will be before we receive and enjoy the fruits of freedom and peace.

 

Thursday 2nd.

Today we heard the alarming news that the Germans have advanced 100 miles inside Egypt and threatening the Suez Canal.

 

Friday 3rd.

We are hoping to get in touch with the Red Cross – at present a very remote chance, but we always hope for the best. It is amazing how high our spirits are despite the slavery.

 

Saturday 4th.

15 fighters arrived here today – 8 left for the south. Another 10 fighters arrived and four dive bombers. Although this is winter here the heat is scarcely bearable.

 

Sunday 5th.

Increased arrival activity during the afternoon – suspect allied plane in vicinity on reconnaissance duty. Still worked to breaking point. Food plentiful but, the rice of very poor quality and mixed with grit. Even the natives won’t look at our unpolished rice – estimated to be the cheapest in the market, at 5/- per 2 cwt.

 

Monday 6th.

It is this poor quality rice and the complete lack of veg and fats, which is the cause of all the stomach trouble among the lads. I myself have often, at times been bent double with pain on account of it. I hope it won’t affect us in the future.

 

Tuesday 7th.

Prepared short telegram, which we hope will get to the Red Cross for despatch home – reads thus – “safe, well, don’t worry, keep smiling.” I hope they will get through by the quickest possible route, but like all the Jap promises will be broken.

 

Wednesday 8th.

Our clothes are now covered with lice and little wonder, as we have no time to wash our bodies let alone our clothes. We are in a truly lousy, miserable state.

 

Thursday 9th.

Most of the native labour has been dragged from their homes in Java and forced to serve here for 50 cents a day. The Japs have stopped them taking up produce and fruits to sell to us.

 

Friday 10th.

Pineapples for 3 cents – what bargains. At least fruit plentiful and can be procured from the natives at extremely little cost – even that our Nippon masters have found it profitable to stop.

        

Saturday 11th.

The Japs now give us 15 cents a day for our labours but we are unable to spend same and to keep their useless paper trash is just ignorance.

 

Sunday 12th.

Exactly one year today since left home! Some of our boys are being transferred through the week to Singapore. They are all tradesmen, such as mechanics, electricians, bricklayers, etc. In addition we will shortly be leaving this camp and going back to Palembang.

 

Monday 13th.

This Singapore draft is taking away one of our pals who was also stationed at Fort Canning. I gave him my address in case an opportunity of writing home is given, then he will do his best to get word to Argyll House.

 

Tuesday 14th.

Heard wild rumour today that the Yanks had captured The Celebes – afraid such news is only too good to contain any truth, although such news keeps our spirits higher.

 

Wednesday 15th.

Tradesmen left the camp today – another 40 came up from Modin’s camp (Mulo School), among whom were the survivors of The Perth. The Jap guard beat us all up today for no apparent reason – possibly they have suffered another reverse.

 

Thursday 16th.

Heard Goering was killed during an air raid on Bremen, also news of grave situation in Egypt.

 

Friday 17th

Finished left hand side of extension to runway – now attacking the mountain proper. The hard work, long hours, poor food and adverse climate are slowly wearing us down.

 

Saturday 18th

5 Months captured today – don’t expect many more months will pass till free again. Japs sports day today- held outside our camp amid palm trees – trees planted the day before by we prisoners. All very impressive watching behind bard wire fence, the races and wrestling, jui jitsu, etc, but seeing them eat the feast was not pleasing to the eyes. Much fighting among the drunkards during the night. Officers scrapping with the men, all disciplines thrown to the four winds.

 

Sunday 19th.

Have slight attack of fever so intend having a day off tomorrow. Still no salt with our food and as a result sores and wounds take extra long to heal.

 

Monday 20th.

Receive cigarette and soap issue from our masters. Remained in camp sick with fever. Water situation serious - had no rain for long time so wash pond dry and therefore unable to wash our filthy, sweaty bodies when we return. Prickly heat.

 

Tuesday 21st.

Temperature still high – suspect that I am in for another attack of dysentery. Large number of natives from Java now working at the drome – they were transported here without any belongings whatsoever and are indeed a miserable band to behold.

 

Wednesday 22nd.

My worst fears now confirmed – dysentery, so till cured, it is simply a case of continual dashing to the lavatory.

 

Thursday23rd.

Air Comm Modin (Air Commodore Modin) left for Japan – he sent up cheering message to us and gave his home address as C/o, RAF Services Club, London. Tarbert Fair.

 

Friday 24th.

Lice have now made their appearance in colossal numbers. No water to wash with – if some dread disease does not sweep the camp then the age of miracles not yet past.

 

Saturday 25th.

Fortune gives us strange bedfellows, but few I deem have endured the noxious company of a foul smelling skunk. Such were our fortunes last night when one saw fit to stay in the hut, creating an abominable odour. The hunt began, then victim slain, but the offending smell remained for days after.

 

Sunday 26th.

Sports day for Japs more or less a propaganda stunt to impress the bewildered, ignorant natives and afford an occasion for drunkenness for the soldiers. Rumour has it that half the camp is being  removed to Japan via Singapore on the 3rd, August. Time alone will tell if such is the case.

 

Monday 27th.

Caught in the rain today en route back to camp – rain in itself a blessing in disguise, but why should we get wet? Even nature seems to work hand in hand with Nippon.

 

Tuesday 28th.

Had heavy days work on account of rain yesterday – many lads beaten up today. Heard news the Germans are fighting west of Alexandria and situation serious – surely this can’t be true.

 

Wednesday 29th.

One can scarcely understand how much adverse news affects us bringing our spirits quite down. We live and die daily many times, according to the various rumours we hear. 4 Bombers landed here today.

 

Thursday 30th.

Tarbert Fair today and oh, what I’d give in return to be able to be present there. Still working from dawn to dusk – heat daily becoming worse as sun approaches the equator. Pay day today.

 

Friday 31st

Tomorrow is the beginning of the month – how often in days gone by I heard these words. Surely many more months will not pass till we shall be free men again - free from the Japanese yoke.

 

Next Month

 

 

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[John MacMillan] [Sinking of Prince of Wales] [Into Captivity] [Captivity]

 

 

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