Sketch by Jack Chalker

September 1942

Captivity:- September 1942

 

Tuesday 1st.

The sequel to all this was all English prisoners were thrown out of their various camps at 5 mins notice and bundled en mass together in the Chung Wha School, while the Dutch were transferred to our billets and in the process, removing all gear with them.

 

Wednesday 2nd.

Comdr. Reid and Col. Hill were put into solitary confinement and rations cut down to a minimum, a stricter guard set and all working parties stopped. At least they succeeded in splitting the Dutch from us and good riddance to the foulest of scum.

 

Thursday 3rd

Today things came to a head – no rice, no firewood, so Wing Commander Wills Stanford advised us to sign and informed the Japs to the effect that, a condition of duress had now arisen and a signature under pressure meant absolutely nil.

 

Friday 4th

The sick were thrown out of hospital, medical stores removed from sick bay and things in general looked very bad for the future.

 

Saturday 5th.

Given numbers by Japs, my number being 426. We are to be treated as convicts from now on although I cannot see how much worse they can treat us.

 

Sunday 6th.

Twenty men a day now go out of the camp to sign Red Cross forms and other documents, so at least there is a slight chance of us getting in touch with the Red Cross and our names being forwarded home as prisoners of war.

Memo  

Had church service today and largely attended.

 

Monday 7th.

As expected, the Japs have given us another chance to sign the document. This time our officers refuse to give us any advice, thus by acting on their advice before, we were all landed in this mess and now they have not got the guts to take the responsibility to get us out of it.

 

Tuesday 8th.

Today we signed the fatal document en masse, so our condition should improve considerably in the next week, although at present it seems to be deteriorating as we have no firewood to cook the next meal and Japs won’t supply any till Thursday.

 

Wednesday 9th.

Small rations are still the order of the day – it is wonderful how we survive. Heard lecture tonight by Lt. Col. Long, on fighting in the N.W. frontier and it was extremely interesting.

 

Thursday10th.

Our naval tea-planter officers I’m afraid are really too, too busy to think on addressing the lads in such a manner.

 

Friday 11th

The natives every night about midnight, switch on the wireless, giving English music from San Francisco, especially for our benefit. We greatly enjoy the programme and often wait up well into the night listening to the great songs and music.

 

Saturday 12th.

The Jap authorities have refused to pay us for the work done in August as a reprisal for not signing their document at the first opportunity. Concert at night.

 

Sunday 13th

As no working party went out today the church service was packed. The actual service is not elaborate by any means – mostly a few hymns and prayers, which reminds me of home and all the joys that we miss there.

Memo 

At times violent attacks of homesickness overtake us, although they are short lived and brief and keep us going for a few days.

 

Monday 14th.

Had interesting lecture tonight by Captain Colquhoun (of Luss) on the general life and deeds of the Gurkha’s. His lecture was well delivered and extremely interesting. He is near relative of Sir Ian Colquhoun, of Luss.

 

Tuesday 15th.

Expect payment today for the previous month’s work. At present a permanent member of the heads party – a rather unsavoury job with a foul, offending smell, but fortunately one of short duration.

 

Wednesday 16th.

50 of us were up at the Jap H.Q. signing our documents where some of the “skates” did some pilfering of tinned milk. As a result we were lined up – the culprits caught and punished accordingly i.e. stand at attention for 72 hours with tins tied round their neck.

 

Thursday 17th.

Today they were publicly beaten, each receiving 10 strokes across the rectum.

 

Friday 18th.

Now 7 months captured today. The strokes were administered by the M.A.A., one swipe- two swipe – until 6. It was no doubt a very interesting scene to witness in our times, an instance of corporal punishment.

 

Saturday 19th.

Col. Hill and Comdr. Reid were released from their spell of solitary confinement on Thursday. The Japs did all in their power to persuade them that the men did not like them, etc, etc.

 

Sunday 20th

We are now forbidden to have any dealings with the Malays, not even being allowed to speak to them when out working. Several Malays can be seen daily, tied to telegraph poles, etc. The punishment meted out by the Japs for stealing rice, etc, from the docks.

Memo

Church service today. Now have an Roman Catholic priest present in the camp.

 

Monday 21st.

Had talk today with Lt. McMullan, a Pay Master in the Malayan Navy. His people came from Machrihanish, so immediately I was in with him, coming from Kintyre.

 

Tuesday22nd.

Given a very interesting lecture by Sqdr. Leader Clouston DFC, on The Battle of Britain and he revealed many very alarming facts to us about the actual position of affairs. However, he left us in good spirits with the assurance our pilots and planes are definitely the best in the world in quality, performance and endurance.

 

Wednesday 23rd.

Lieutenant Leggett died today in hospital and his remains buried in the new European cemetery in Palembang.

 

Thursday 24th.

A Japanese representative attended the burial along with several of our own officers. Violent thunderstorm at night.

 

Friday 25th.

Out during afternoon on firewood party – proceeded up country to load the lorry. While returning home in middle of violent thunderstorm and torrential rain, the lorry skidded on the slimy clay while going down a steep decline. Firstly we crashed into and broke a telegraph pole and then ended up half way over the bank on the other side of the road.

Meanwhile, I was on top, sitting on the wood, swaying violently from side to side within an ace of death’s door. A cat has nine lives, but already I have exceeded that number.

 

Sunday 27th.

An army prisoner was court marshalled today and found guilty of several charges and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment and dismissed from the service. He actually only committed a trivial offence but refused to obey our officers – later assaulted Col.Hill and in general went berserk. He was duly tried and found not guilty on the first charge, yet his own foolishness was his undoing and he received his just reward.

 

Monday 28th.

A very unusual and unnatural phenomenon occurred today when for few hours before sunset the sun was a brilliant pink colour. I have often seen it dull red, but never light pink as was the case today.

 

Tuesday 29th.

RAF Flying Officer died today and was buried in Palembang with large baskets of fruit on the grave according to Japanese custom. 120 men were taken today as lorry drivers to be used for convoys up and down island, thereby aiding directly the war effort of the Japs.

 

Wednesday 30th.

Our rations are now slightly better – get 500 grams rice per day. In Singapore we lived to eat, but here we are forced to eat to live. Never have white men survived so long and worked so hard on this miserable ration before in history.

 

Next Month

 

 

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