Monday, 31 August 2015


1.9.45. Lovely fine day & I went to Stanley again. Lamberts once again most kind. Dick & I had tea & cakes with the Queen Mary sisters & later once more with the Matilda sisters. Saw Swan & heaps of others. How lovely the sea looked. A grand day, full of life & friendship. Breakdown on transport back – came to Naval Yard by lorry. How good to talk to the landed marines. Lambert called into town today. Good & we gave him our ideas “Get us out of the military clutches”. Ann Senior said Dr Montgomery was at the Matilda yesterday & said the Japs were systematically stripping the place – even doors etc. All HK Police in town & took over stations tonight – poor devils straight out of Stanley. Saw A.Glanville – is going to Australia now.

 

Sunday, 30 August 2015


31.8.45. Hot fine day. Planes on the go all the time & many of them. Good to think our men are overhead. I had an extremely loose bowel which kept me active all night & I feel very exhausted today & tried to rest a bit. No breakfast & no tiffin. Goodwin who escaped from here a little over a year ago is back with the forces & we have seen him. He will be looking after us I think. Many essential service people went out today including Cock & some of the telephone people. Some people visited ships in harbour & were well entertained. I got a Craven A Cigarette from the spoils they returned with. Various ships sent up odd amounts of tobacco & cigarettes. Rice to cookhouse is radically reduced. It is impossible to record details of various things. We live in a whirl of excitement. News by wireless, up to date magazines from the Fleet & newspapers are in. Freddie Franklin has got busy publishing the local rag – WE are in control again.

 

It was our original intention to run this blog for the month of August but, because of the interest shown, we think our followers may be interested in more than that so we will continue into September, until WS leaves Hong Kong and starts his journey home.

 

Anyone who is interested in what happened in Hong Kong during the War 1941-1945 should make a point of following Tony Banham’s www.hongkongwardiary.com. Apart from being a veritable mine of information this website is friendly, easily accessible, interesting and interested.

Saturday, 29 August 2015


30.8.45. Some showers. Porridge breakfast, meat & veg stew for tiffin & a fresh meat hash for tea. Issues of a peg of brandy & two of sherry, cigarettes, the food included in the parachute supplies, butter & jam today which made a long & very busy day at the end of which I was quite exhausted. The fleet came in alright though we couldn’t see it. Admiral Harcourt visited the camp in the afternoon & there was a fine occasion when he made a little speech saying that it has been a big task of reorganisation to switch all the dispositions in the Pacific suddenly from a contemplated attack on Japan to the reoccupation of our possessions in the Far East. All the Canadians were invited on board the Prince Robert of the Canadian Navy & several people managed to contact various marines in town, & ships. We soon heard there had been a little resistance at the Naval Yard & at Butterfield & Swire’s office, with our men overcoming them with bayonets & hand grenades. So at last we are back here and I long to see the Anson – a symbol of our release & security. Got my first Gold Flake cigarette as a present from the Admiral – & I wouldn’t have chosen any other. Lots of whisky & booze generally found its way into camp tonight & I had two pegs – feeling quite dog tired. Skinner19 leaves camp tomorrow morning for the Bank – to live at Church Guest House. Various people are getting out similarly, for essential service work. Some other people are full of criticism that not enough of our forces are landed – though they don’t really know how many are. I am a little tired of hearing people who think the whole thing should be run only with regard to their particular private circumstances. In any case they ought to have confidence that our people know why they are here, & what to do if the situation changes. Gosh I was tired tonight – quite exhausted.

            19.Fellow HKVDC batman.

Friday, 28 August 2015


29.8.45. A wonderful red letter day in my life when I visited the Stanley Internment Camp. Up early & had porridge breakfast & a shave & then about 200 of us fell in & got on a good sized boat & made a very pleasant journey of over two hours via Green Island to Stanley. It rained a bit but it was pleasant. We got a royal welcome. These people at Stanley in spite of having had visitors for about ten days, just made you feel as though they hadn’t seen anybody but you in years. Lambert got hold of me & I had tiffin with them. They share a room with Mr & Mrs Wyllie of the Dairy Farm. Later I saw Swan, & he took me round to the bombed bungalow & to the cemetery. There were names on some headstones that I was surprised to see. And so round to see various ones, meeting others on the way. Many handshakes & short conversations. To Tweed Bay hospital where I saw Ann Rogers, Fisher, Miss Davies, Miss Riley, & several others. What cramped quarters they have had, & what spirit they have shown. Absolutely wonderful. How the others, too, have lived mixed up together six in a room is remarkable. Yet take Willie & Jane Lambert. They have sold all their valuables to buy food, and to see them now sharing their ration with you is quite astounding. It seems to me to have brought out the best in them, & I couldn’t have been made more welcome had I been their son. Saw John late in the afternoon. Poor old boy was I think a bit piqued that I hadn’t got to him sooner. But he has been through it, & as good as dead at one time. Early on he got sprue & for a couple of years was very unwell. I counselled him to get out of the Colony for recuperation as soon as could be. Had the great thrill just after tiffin of seeing parachute supplies dropped from a large twin engined plane. Oh the cheers & the excitement. Mostly medical comforts & then a little food. Saw Ernest & Marie Sandbach. He has been a tower of strength there. Had tea with Hey & Elsie Gelling. Hey looks reasonably well & Elsie quite so. People just simply couldn’t do enough for you & when the time came to leave again they thronged down to the pier to cheer us away. There are naturally I suppose, some scandals at Stanley, but generally people must have got a very good grip of themselves to have been able to carry on at all in conditions which so much lacked comfort & privacy. Forgot to say that the day cracked off at dawn with the sound of many planes & a little later fighters were swooping down & skimming our hut roofs in grand style. Likewise in the course of our voyage to Stanley they gave us a great show – in fact there seemed to be planes everywhere. In the early evening those at Stanley with binoculars & telescopes had distinguished naval vessels including Aircraft Carriers together with transports over under the Lema Islands. I arrived back in camp very well pleased with my day. Parachute supplies had been dropped here much as at Stanley, & we heard that Admiral Harcourt intended to come ashore in Hong Kong tomorrow at noon. Life is very topsy turvy in regard to the hours we keep, & we are living on our nerves a great deal. There will be a reaction when we get settled somewhere.

Thursday, 27 August 2015


28.8.45. Humid day. Porridge sugar & oil breakfast, grand meat stew for tiffin, & fried steak for tea. I got an extra one for supper too with fried sweet potatoes. Various things came in today. Issues of 2oz butter, a fandacio, a towel of the same material, a pencil & two boxes of matches – welcome little strangers. Additionally we got a fluid ounce of both brandy & gin each from the Japs as a present. Little but good. Still more fresh meat came in. We are feeding quite well & I am already putting on weight quite noticeably. My stomach has taken everything without rebellion so far. Two heavy planes came over at mid-day & we stood by for parachute supplies – but nothing doing. At tea time two fighters gave us a thrill by coming very low over the camp. We cheered & signalled. The Colonial Secretary (Acting Governor) broadcast over the local radio this evening; congratulated the King & the forces; said he was taking over in collaboration with the Japanese, & said he was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the relieving forces as there were local problems particularly currency. Lots of news & lots of talk. Evening with Jones & Dick. Our own fresh roasted & ground coffee beans make good drinks of that beverage. Every Tom Dick & Harry taking down particulars of whether we want to stay in Colony, occupation etc. Peace has brought the typewriters into action again & Camp Office is pushing out reams of typed stuff.

 
27.8.45. Dull humid hot day. Porridge sugar & butter for breakfast, veg stew tiffin, & a real good meat stew for tea. Altogether about 3lb per head of fresh meat in camp today from the Japanese & the contractor – much more than we can cope with. Arrangements made to give all excesses of food to Chinese Hospital & Sisters of Poor. They will be able to get rid of it alright. Issue 2oz Australian butter today, 1lb peanut oil & 1lb of demerara sugar. Very busy day. Pete spent the day in town with his girl – he said he could hardly believe it to be true – in a house with carpets & real furniture. Planes over today but nothing dropped – a little disappointing in view of wireless news that supplies already dropped. We hear too that the Yanks are already in Shanghai. Then too we know pretty certainly that the Japs are selling & sending away stocks of all sorts of things including Red Cross supplies. There is but little policing of the town & we know that empty houses are being looted. The town generally is pretty quiet though – no rioting or anything of that sort. Hammy is very worried about the stuff still remaining in his house, & blames our people for not coming out in force & taking over. I argued with him that they have no authority – & in any case you need to be armed in case of a showdown. CSO is trying to get organised in liaison with the Japanese, but it is obviously not the simple process that the impatient critics believe. Bateman told me of his wife, who although she sent in parcels to the end, was really on the very verge of destitution, and also in an extreme state of nerves. Always the worry was that they didn’t know when the gendarmerie would rope them in on unknown charges. These women have been very brave indeed & the camp is very much in their debt. They have horrible stories to tell of the treatment of various women throughout the Japanese occupation.
 
 

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


26.8.45.Sunday. Dull day, some rain but tending to clear. Porridge sugar & oil for breakfast, some fresh meat & veg stew for tiffin, so I forsook rice, thank goodness, & had a slice of white bread with the stew. Meat & sweet potato fried with rice & issued as a very nice chow fan for tea & sweet camp cake for supper. A plane came over during the morning & we stood by for parachute supplies. But the ceiling was low & nothing further happened. Later we heard an Aussie broadcast that supplies had been dropped today. Anyhow we expect the real stuff tomorrow. St Teresa's has been taken over as a hospital for the Indians, who are being concentrated in the old Indian Camp including those who worked for the Japs. Wing Commander Sullivan is, I hear, to take over Kai Tak tomorrow. Issue of 2oz of butter today sent in by the contractor. Pre-war stuff I suppose, certainly Australian tins. Had a long talk with Loyd Jones in the evening. He is not too well in the tummy for the moment. One of the S&S Home billiard markers turned up today & saw LJ & Arthur Brown – so he has been given the job of doing what he can to keep an eye on the place pro-tem. Wonderful how they manage to turn up. Already we have trouble in the camp. Five people have got VD after visits after dark just outside the wire. Just mad I suppose.

Monday, 24 August 2015


25.8.45. Extremely heavy rain. Porridge sugar & oil breakfast, rice & greens tiffin, & rice & an ounce & half of butter issue for tea. I also had a fraction of a beef steak with two boiled Irish potatoes from Pete – a taste of what his girl, despite the weather, brought out to him. It was marvellous. Camp issue of a brew of coffee at 11 this morning. Excellent. Parcel of small white loaf & a tin of locally canned beef from Kwong Cheung Hing this evening. I went to the wire to see the pair of them – they were thinner but not much changed. They have all been through it one way & another. Terrible time in the store today with our very leaky roof. London wireless early this morning said we are due to have parachute supplies dropped here tomorrow. Certainly the Japanese have made a big POW mark on the ground near Jubilee Buildings. In the evening it was notified that people with relatives & friends in H.Kong & Kowloon would be allowed to visit them as from tomorrow, & organised walking parties would also be permitted. This was later whittled down so that, tomorrow at least, only 30 will go, only if they have real relatives & priority to those whose relatives are sick. Anyhow things are moving towards normality.

Sunday, 23 August 2015


24.8.45. Very heavy rain & general typhoon conditions. Stanley party cancelled. Will unfortunately be certain to spoil the minesweeping & parachute supplies programme. Porridge & sugar breakfast, tiffin of rice greens & oil. Meat came in today – not from Japs but from an Indian contractor Abbas Khan with whom we are in touch. So had rice & meat stew for tea. A little butter came in from the same source. Japs supply root veg every day now which is welcome enough. Got a chit from Ann Rogers – quite cheerful. Wireless news very confusing – meeting in London re the future of Hong Kong; our assertion that we don’t intend to give it up. Seem to be new dates all the time for the final signing in Japan. Really beginning to seem as though it may be weeks before we are relieved. Many are getting quite impatient, which I think may be very natural, but also very unjustified. We do long to see the fleet all the same. It is amusing to watch our “staff” getting on with the organisation – a very stumbling affair. It is to begin with quite shameful the way the officers on the whole have stopped all work such as wood chopping, veg cleaning, bean picking etc. Very promptly & contentedly, as of right, this has been handed over to the men in the other camp, chaps who for years have been out for very long hours daily on Japanese working parties. One would have thought they had earned a little leisure. It appears that Major Boxer, Dixon & Commander Craven who were taken out from Argyle Street at the time of the wireless incident didn't do quite so badly after all. Boxer went quite fat, & strangely for the whole time he was in Stanley Jail he was permitted to listen in to Japanese wireless news every day. When it was discovered that their pay was reduced by so much a month for “keep”, they were then put on to Japanese ration scales which included pork & other things we never saw. You never quite fathom the Japanese mind. Well – roll on release.

 

Saturday, 22 August 2015


23.8.45. Fine day but signs of a change. Porridge sugar milk breakfast, rice greens & oil tiffin, & rice oil & sugar for tea. We all got small parcels today from Kwong Yue Loong & from Kwong Cheung Hing today18. Japanese nibbled at doing us well today & sent in demerara sugar & saki. Issue of 1lb of the former & 2½ ounces of saki – which I enjoyed. Some tins of coffee came in too. In evening saw Joney & Dick & had coffee with them – excellent. Wrote chits to the Gellings & Ann Rogers which Hammy delivered for me today.

            18.Harbour Office colleagues

 

Friday, 21 August 2015


22.8.45. Fine day. Porridge & milk & sugar breakfast, tiffin rice & greens, & a chow fan of rice sweet potato & onion for tea. Quite good, but it is noteworthy that Pete’s girl who shared his with him thought it was awful – which is a good commentary on what our food generally has been, as people outside have found it very hard to eke out a living. Wireless news told of arrangements for minesweeping in ports from Japan to Penang & including H.Kong & also for the dropping of supplies of food, medicines & even medical personnel on POW camps on 25th inst. I wasn’t clear whether this latter applied outside Mountbatten’s area. I developed my first catarrh & cold in years today & consequently didn’t enjoy the concert that John Jones took me to. People who went to Stanley today enjoyed themselves, & came back full of enthusiasm, & I got quite a long chit from John.

Thursday, 20 August 2015


21.8.45. Another hot fine day. No exciting events. Porridge with milk & sugar in it for breakfast. Rice bananas & sugar for tiffin, no tea but a meal fried up in Hammy’s workshop at 6.30. Consisted of two fried eggs & a slice of fresh white wheat bread fried. Then a chow fan of liver & rice. This meal was rendered possible by receipt of a parcel from Wing Tack16. I was called to the wire with Garland17 & we got five parcels for our two selves, Hammy, Dick & Loyd Jones. Each had about a lb of lovely white soft wheaten bread, six eggs, six bananas, some lychees, eight packets Ruby Queen cigs (the best now obtainable) & two boxes of matches. I recognised Wing Tack immediately, & we said we would pay when we got settled & asked him to bring the same in three days time which he promised to do. It was good to see one of the old faces. Then some liver found its way into camp from a contractor Abbas Khan with whom we are trying to deal. I got three slices & shared them in the chow fan with Hammy Pete & Charley Matthews. From the parcel I gave Jumbo & Hobby two eggs & half the bread. How good it was to strike a match again – & feel you could afford to do so. After supper we burned a big wood fire in the workshop & had a comfortable pow-wow over a cup of tea. Concert on again. Our short wave set came in & the news is that landing at Naval Bases & Airfields will commence in Japan on 25th, & that steps are being taken to take the surrender in Hong Kong & release the prisoners. This is a happy life. More people went to Stanley today, & came back with stories similar to yesterday. I got a long chit from John – was hoping he had some more up to date news from home, but no luck. I was very glad to have his note. Ann Rogers he tells me is not the woman she was – gone very old, & Ann Senior had a bad burning accident a year ago. Looks like, as far as the Japs are concerned, Stanley had much the same treatment as we did. Similar rackets went on, & many have made fortunes on trading & cheque changing. No European food has come into this camp yet – in spite of their promises. Veg do come in & are of better quality & include many onions & sweet potatoes. That is something. The best that can be said for them is that they are leaving us more or less alone & not doing us any dirt. No sentries about – entirely withdrawn. Dick much better. Am enjoying these few days. Chinese are at the wire begging the whole while & there is trading with them for fish from the sampans.

            16.Harbour Office colleague                17.Major Neill Garland, Harbour Office colleague

 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


20.8.45. Very hot fine day. Porridge & sugar breakfast. Jones invited Jack Wilson & I to a curry tiffin & I enjoyed it exceedingly, & was glad to find I could tuck away a really large quantity without undue discomfort in the tummy. All the same I required no meal at five o’clock & didn’t eat our first issue of camp cake made of ground rice (155lbs), ground beans (45lbs), bran (10lbs), sugar (55lbs) & some yeast. Am already putting on weight, 118lbs today. I didn't record that, under orders, I shaved off my beard last Friday morning 17th which I have had continuously since Dec 18th 1941 when I was wounded, except for the one occasion I took it off to take the Longinus part in the Passion Play at Easter 1943. I shall never enjoy having to shave. About half a dozen fighter planes swooped down this morning & one packet of chocolate & some six packets of Philip Morris cigarettes dropped into camp. One came low enough to get a clear view of its marking – a white star on a circular blue background. The Japanese have not fulfilled their promise to send in supplies of European food & today the matter was raised with Mr Zindel who visited the camp with Matsuda (Cardiff Joe). They promised to take the matter up. I believe Matsuda was given a genuine handshake – he is working in the foreign affairs bureau now, which is a typical Japanese move in view of the fact that he showed himself more friendly than the others during the imprisonment, & even got into trouble with his own people for it. Fifty people went to Stanley today, including Hammy. Sent a chit to Sandbach & one to John15. Hope to hear from them this evening. Later. When the people from Stanley got back we were all delighted to hear their reports that the women & children, especially the latter, were in pretty good fettle. Most of the atrocity stories we had heard are apparently untrue – for instance the one about Fraser the Defence Secretary being burnt alive is replaced by the cleaner story that he was shot. Of course they’ve had other troubles than ours by reason of having women & kids about, but they have had compensations in having better quarters, more space & facilities for swimming. Several fathers saw their children for the first time. They looked like a happy Bank Holiday crowd arriving home, tired out & happy. Bus broke down near Wong Nei Cheong & many had to walk to Repulse Bay Hotel to meet the other one returning for them. We had heard that Nomura had been particularly nasty to women & kids whenever he went out there, but it seems the story is quite untrue. Long chat with Dick & a good concert late in the evening in the main road. We have been promised a good short wave receiving set for tomorrow. Our public loud speaker is not very successful, fading etc. Wireless news is being misquoted about the place & some take a gloomy view as to very early release. Apparently there is still some more signing to do in Japan. I rest absolutely content myself.

15.John Angwin, a friend in Hong Kong with whose sister in Cornwall Carrie & Jenifer lived for some time during the War.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015


19.8.45.Sunday. Warm close day. Porridge & sugar breakfast, rice & good meat & root veg stew for tiffin. Rice, oil & sugar for tea. News is getting through on the wireless now, & a loud speaker is being rigged. Issue of ¾lb sugar & 1lb of oil today – & not too particular in the store when we weighed it out either. What a change. When the issue was (say) 3¼ ounces per man we had to be careful of the last spoonful for a whole hut. Many conferences going on today. It is evident that the Japanese are making no bones about the surrender in this part of the world, & one suspects they must have been very near the end of their tether in making believe that the Colony was still in running order. Many further gruesome stories of atrocities, & the activities of the Gendarmerie. Among our lesser delights is the ability to have tea to drink at almost any hour of the day, – good strong tea too; no more secrecy about news; ability to check up on what we hear; throw away butt ends as we’ve had an issue of 12 packets of reasonably good local cigs. It is all too good. A postscript in a card from Stanley says they have seen the British Navy. Bugle calls in camp are just music to the ear, and I wish dear old Dad were still alive for me to tell him so too. I do hope that soon we shall be able to get cables away to our dear ones – I know that Carrie will be excited & longing to get one. And then for air mail letters. Probably she will already have been able to get one in the post & it will be here before we leave the camp. Concert in the road again tonight, with flood lighting. It is an alfresco sort of life for the moment & extremely pleasant. The big-wigs of the camp managed to get to Stanley & back today, & brought back many messages, one of which I got from Sandbach13. Said all well out there & early re-union is the universal hope. Listened to the wireless relayed from San Francisco – poor reception but gathered that the wording of the Emperor’s Rescript conferring peace on the world is not popular, & that the Japanese have run true to form in procrastinating at the last minute. Nevertheless they have come to Manila to sign on the dotted line. Even tonight people were fearfully asking you whether you were still confident about the war being over. They give me a pain. It might take a few days longer than one might have expected – but then we are dealing with the Japanese, & whoever knew them to do anything at the appointed time or in the usual manner. Relatives with one another all day at the gate – there was even some dancing. It is a fact that more than one former cook-boy has turned up to see the old boss, also office clerks, works foremen etc. I believe the Chinese in town are jubilant & our chaps who have been out in the lorries were cheered all the way. Novikov14 went out today with special permission I think to see his wife who had to go into hospital. He said the town is in a very horrible condition, gone to rack & ruin. It depressed him.

            13.Revd J.E.Sandbach, Methodist Minister     14.Fellow HKVDC batman

 

Monday, 17 August 2015


18.8.45. Close steamy day. Ceremony of hoisting the Union Jack in camp was held at 8am with a full parade & band. O God our help, & the National Anthem were sung. It was very affecting & I should have cried had I tried to sing. An emotional moment and an unforgettable occasion. Plenty of cooking salt came in this morning – at least two months former rations. Also a record quantity of fresh meat – 550lbs. Porridge breakfast with all my sugar; rice & a tin of Pete's sardines & tomato juice for tiffin. Church & Alec Black, technicians released from Stanley a week ago, came to the gate today. I couldn’t get there but Church looks well. Horrible stories of events at Stanley – if correct then we just haven’t seen a thing. Tokunaga & Zindel in for a long conference today with our people. We have a wireless set in camp, & will try to make or get a transmitter. Yeung, the Secretary of HK & Yaumati Ferry Coy has put himself at the service of the camp & we now have two lorries & a launch at our disposal. So we are beginning to get somewhere. Several reunions between husbands & wives between the two gates of the camp – mostly Portuguese – very good to see, & very sad too in one case where the man was minus a leg. They brought in a lorry of pumpkins this afternoon, whilst two of our lorries are out looking for good food. I do hope they find Red Cross parcels which have such varied contents. We know that the Dairy Farm was handed back to European staff a few days ago, & all milk is sent to Stanley. Relatives & friends are coming freely to the compound at the gate & we are hearing many things. The town is quite desolate it seems, and there are very few habitable houses, certainly for Europeans. Pete saw his girl for some hours, & there is no doubt they have all been through a long & horrible experience. Town & Stanley stories leave no doubt that the most cruel & horrible atrocities have been committed by the Japanese on all & sundry. It would seem that we POW, relatively speaking, haven’t seen or suffered a thing. Torture & starvation have been the order of the day, & it is good to think that the day of retribution has come. White has demanded to know the whereabouts & state of health of all officers who have been taken out of camp, & I fear an ugly story is about to be told. Our greatest thrill happened at 5pm when about twenty (American?) fighters appeared & scattered leaflets all over the camp. They were not high, but also not low enough for our liking, but we waved & shouted. I got one of the leaflets. Hurrah. Incidentally the message on it to POW & Internees immediately modified the Staff’s attitude to the Japanese – & quite properly I think. Our food foraging party under Major Ryan RA which had made arrangements to stay overnight at the Peninsula Hotel, returned to camp instead. It had secured a wireless receiving set, a little evaporated milk & a few other trifles. However plenty of peanut oil has been found in the Japanese store in the camp – 16 large drums which is more than we require, & also 2000lbs of excellent white sugar. Why these things were never issued will never be known, and only a fortnight ago we were glad to get an ounce each from the drain sump. Lights were on to any old hour tonight, & the freedom to move about within camp bounds is just wonderful. Beef tea in evening.

 

Sunday, 16 August 2015


17.8.45. Fine warm day. We awoke to a different reveille call this morning & had breakfast of porridge as usual. It is said that today’s paper reports that “three ships” will arrive today. Major Boon of the other camp was arrested & brought over today. If the Canadian Officers & the other camp get their way he will face very serious charges indeed. Funny story of Kiteyama & Sgt Nakamatsu coming to Col White & after mentioning that they understood Nomura was not wanted here Kiteyama asked about his own position. Told that he could come in & out whenever he liked, Nakamatsu nudged him to put in a word for him too. So he too was told the same thing in Col White’s bluff way & both, more or less holding hands, departed down the road with broad smiles. As it should be I think. This morning fires were started up to burn rubbish & old odds & ends of clothing etc. Chinese kiddies collected at the wire by Cheungshawan as of old & it was good to hear their cries & chittering. They got several things thrown to them & wanted more. Poor little devils. Col White went out to see Col Tokunaga. Forbidden to go about in fandacio rig except when doing manual work. Had a pleasant tiffin with (& on) Charley Matthews, of rice & a stew he had made with a tin of bully, tin of beans & a little curry & bran & mint. Hammy & Pete completed the foursome. A Jap fighter flew over during the meal. It appears that Tokunaga wants to consider that we are still POW, & I suppose that from the point of view that they are responsible for us until we are handed over, he is correct. Anyhow I believe that both he & Honda are annoyed at our people for assuming control so soon. I think perhaps it would have been wiser if our CO had made his requests in a more diplomatic manner, asking for this & that whilst still acknowledging their position & responsibility. I think the sooner the relieving forces arrive, the better. Dick gave me a nice pair of woollen socks which he had knitted himself. Our first visitors from the outside world – two American Naval Officer prisoners – came into camp today. They were taken up the coast somewhere & don’t look well. They were taken out again & then returned to camp once more & put in hospital for rest & quiet. Enough good quality fine white sugar came in this afternoon to give a ration of 5½ ounces per head – & a promise of more to come. Also 300lbs of beans – the sight of which we are becoming sick of. Probably we shall get more European foods soon & oh boy are we longing for it. Officially told that Tokunaga has at last told them definitely that the war is over & that the armistice made with MacArthur ended the fighting in this part of the world at 3 o’clock this morning. Major Boon’s stooges in the other camp put into protective custody today & I understand they will be court martialled. Wing Commander Sullivan came along to tell me this morning that “he admired the way a man of your position & intelligence had done the work you have done for the camp”. I was glad of this & thanked him. After all I have done most kinds of work for them. They had all their farm pigs in a grand pork & bean stew this evening in the other camp. Hammy & I visited Joney & got a good portion from him – he being in the cookhouse. Then we were joined by Dick & had a small peg of real whisky & water. This was about a one third bottle of stuff that Hammy has kept as medical reserve throughout the whole imprisonment. It tasted fine. Late to bed & much later still to sleep. Still smoking at 2 o’clock actually. Alleged news that Kowloon is to be handed back to China & Hong Kong internationalised. Still no sign of relieving forces. Some sugar came in – 5½oz per head. The clothing store in the other camp was taken over & quite a lot of Red Cross shorts & shirts brought over.

Saturday, 15 August 2015


16.8.45. Fine day, but heavy showers at midday. Most people found it difficult to get to sleep last night, & for me I found that the quantities of beans we had eaten yesterday made for an uncomfortable tummy & sleeplessness. Quite early this morning we heard they had got the paper in the other camp carrying the news of the Imperial Rescript concerning Japan’s surrender on the basis of the Potsdam Ultimatum. The remaining sceptics as to the news surrendered too. Immediately people started to pass to & fro between the two camps quite freely. On parade as usual at 8am & instead of Col White being alone in front of us he had Cmdr.Vernall & Cyril Owen the interpreter. Lt Wada11 & Kiteyama approached wearing grins, but noticing the change, looked sombre. Anyhow White asked Wada into the office, while Kiteyama carried on with the count. He went. Later we learned they had asked point blank whether the rumour that the war was over was correct. Poor old Wada hedged, confirmed & denied nothing and said he had no instructions. He must have had an uncomfortable time. Later in the morning we had the full text of the Imperial Rescript translated & read out quietly in each hut, plus reports of all the cabinet meetings held in Tokyo leading up to it. So that is that at long last. I don’t know what our gallant Colonel Eric Mitchell thinks now of his recent prophecy that we wouldn’t get out before the end of next year. Barnett too said to Pete yesterday that we “might be out in three months”. Porridge breakfast this morning, & Pete held quite a tiffin party today. He had a tin of HampĂ© reserved for his birthday next month, & decided to have it today together with two tins of Red Cross parcel tomatoes. Hammy & Hobbs were invited. However Hammy chipped in a tin of Red Cross biscuits, tin of cheese & tin of meat paste, & so Charley Matthews & Jumbo Smith12 joined us. It was a damn fine lunch. Early afternoon Wada was in for another conference with White, & unofficially admitted the war was over. Col White requested to see Tokunaga immediately, said we would do no more parades for them, or night watches either. Requested food & clothing to be sent in, sentries kept outside the wire etc. Wada said Tokunaga was busy at the Governor's Office. So we must await the next move. I am sure Carrie will be expecting a message from me soon, but I reckon it may easily be a few days before we are relieved, or even a week or two. Yet H.Kong I imagine means a lot one way & another, so maybe it will be very soon. We are now (late in the day) promised lights until 10.30pm, a newspaper etc. White told Wada that we did not wish to see Nomura in Camp as he was not liked & “we could not understand his English very well”. I wish Cardiff Joe had been asked for as we all liked him. Kiteyama is to carry on as interpreter. It would be impossible to record all the casual & cheery conversations of the day. Just marvellous it has been. I spent the evening with Dick in the other camp – no-one to say us nay now. Small fires & cooking everywhere – they had had a double ration of rice today with sweet potato & oil as a chow fan. Then there was a great “sing” in the main road ending with God Save the King at about 10pm. After we piped down I was almost immediately asleep for the first time in some while. No evening parade today – the sort of little thing that indicates a big difference.

            11.Camp Commandant.            12.Fellow batmen

 

Friday, 14 August 2015


15.8.45. Hot day, with some showers. Good porridge breakfast, rice & pork – greens stew for tiffin, & rice & bean pot for tea. “Bean cake” for supper. Paper of yesterday's date carried a little news of fighting at borders of Manchuria & Korea & in Sakhalin. Also of bombing in Japan on 12th & 13th. Of course, on the face of it this gives the KO to my belief that the war is over, but there is very little such news, & none of the remainder of the fronts such as China, Borneo etc, & anyway I think they would keep up a pretence locally that the war was still on in order to keep things quiet here. No recce planes about – there is literally just nothing doing. Everything is just extraordinary. Today the first working party came back at about 3.30pm & reported same news from town, & also that they had had to wait three quarters of an hour at the gate to get into camp. Whilst there they saw a group of Japanese officers round a table listening to a radio speech. This was interesting enough, but when the other parties got back they had many details to tell of relatives coming up quite openly to the party & giving the time at which peace (?Armistice) had been signed. Indians called out “All finish – comrades again”; all flags down from public buildings including H.K.Bank which is Governor’s Office. Last but not least all working parties are cancelled – which draws the teeth of the disbelievers who argued the news could not be true because working parties were still going out. One story was that ceasefire occurred at 2pm today. It does look like the end. Japanese twin engined transport plane came in at 7pm. Officers are getting their gear out for cleaning & there is generally a damn good atmosphere. I fancy my beard won’t last long now – discipline again.

Thursday, 13 August 2015


14.8.45. Very hot day. Porridge for breakfast. Tiffin of rice, an egg from Pete's parcel and my last Red Cross parcel tin of tomatoes. Good. Rice & a bean & greens pot for tea, & bean & rice cake for supper. This morning we were told that someone in the camp had got a written message from outside to the effect that Japan surrendered on 10th inst, Mikado thought to be dead, and Royal Navy expected here tomorrow. This message certainly came in. Some people are finding these few days a very severe strain on the nerves – they live from rumour to rumour & violently fluctuate in their beliefs. For instance if they hear a report of bombing in Japan on the 12th, they immediately lose faith in the peace report. One interesting bit in the paper today, other than some trifling war news from Manchuria, was that Chiang Kai Shek had ordered all Chungking & Yunnan troops to stand fast in their positions & to await further special orders. That sounds good anyway. Working parties today returned with similar stories as for the last few days. Personally I believe the war is over & if I am asked why we’ve seen no sign of a relieving force, well it is a big & complicated affair & takes time to arrange. The absolute quiet in the Colony persists. After all we would not expect them to come in & tell us honestly what has happened. The highlight today was that at the time of evening parade a roll of American toilet paper per man came in. Seen nothing like it since we became POW. Strangely bumf came into the canteen today at approx 25sen a sheet. The roll each, they had the cheek to say, was a three month’s supply. I incline to the view, on general principles, that we shall get Red Cross supplies for the relieving force to see when they arrive. Anyway whatever the war or peace situation may be, Col White gave orders today for our remaining two young pigs to be slaughtered for tomorrow’s stew. Alive they weighed 56 & 48 lbs. Also half a dozen non laying chickens. Furthermore tomorrow morning’s porridge will get a heavy increase in bean & bran content from the local Red Cross supplies we have in hand. Record low weight – I am only 115 lbs.

 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015


13.8.45. Fine very warm day. Usual porridge breakfast, rice & greens tiffin & rice & some fried small fish from reserves for tea. In view of the news Pete & I started using our beans & had an extra “cake” in the evening with ground roast beans in it. ’Twas fine. An exciting day. At about 12.30 Kiteyama8 came in to the Colonel &, after a bow (which was unusual) he said that Col Tokunaga would inspect the camp at 1.30. The Sergeant ordered too, that some tea should be brewed for him & also that the small spare room at HQ which the Japs have always insisted should be kept as a Conference Room, & which has never been used, should be swept out & chairs placed. Naturally we thought the big moment had arrived & were very excited. But the afternoon wore away & Tokunaga did not turn up. At 4pm a Japanese plane, I think the twin engine transport plane, flew low up & down the harbour. We felt a bit flat at that. But later, after parade, Kiteyama actually apologised for the trouble caused & thanked us, in the name of Tokunaga, for making the camp ship-shape. This has never happened before. Working parties in the evening brought in afresh the same stories – various people had told them the war was over. Rumours that the control of the town is now in the hands of the Japanese Navy. I went over to the other camp in the evening & saw the two Jones9.& Dick10. Dick has been out today & recounted being told war over by a lorry driver & a Japanese NCO. So we are still without anything authentic. Still it is very exciting. Got a camp circular, confidential, today on discipline & arrangements with regard to our position when a relieving force arrives. Some argue from this that the Colonel knows more than we do – but I doubt it.

8.Interpreter     9.Eddie Loyd Jones, Harbour Office colleague, also referred to as Joney and LJ & Capt John Jones Manager Holt’s Wharf.                 10.Dick Collings, Harbour Office colleague & close friend.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015


12.8.45.Sunday. Fine warm day, I had two spoons of oil with breakfast porridge. Rice & greens as usual for tiffin & rice & our private fish soup in the evening. Confidence in the general situation is still very strong as we got news of Molotov's statement to the Japanese Ambassador in Moscow at the Declaration of War. This morning, too, a launch came into Cheungshawan Bay flying a brand new Chinese flag – the first time we’ve seen it in years. Later the Japs delivered a sweat towel & a pair of cotton socks for all paid officers plus a cotton vest & packet of tooth powder for Majors & higher ranks. Straw in the wind. By the way Pete got his parcel as usual yesterday including a very small bottle of honey. There is a very peculiar quietness about the colony – no sounds from the shipyards or the garages at the back of the camp – not a plane moving or any motor boat in the harbour. When the working parties came back in the evening they had the same stories to tell – & named certain people in town who had told them the war was over. One variation was that there was a 48 hour armistice to give Japan a chance to make up her mind – expiring tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock. So the whole story is very persistent & our optimism is at a high level. I don't feel excited, but it is a fact that I took a long time to get to sleep last night & I was awake abominably early this morning. Lots of people have picked over their stuff & packed what they really want to take away with them, though we have endless discussions as to whether whoever takes us away will allow any of our gear to go with us on the assumption that it must all be bug ridden etc. Then there is the problem of people with relatives locally – shall we all be shipped out, say to Manila willy-nilly, – will they get a chance to speak to relatives first. Pete is liable, I fear, to think the very worst in this matter. But he is quite happy, so confident has he suddenly become, to get on & eat our reserves of food such as beans etc. Hey-ho here’s hoping. I, in common with most others, sold my pair of socks & sweat towel, which though for paid officers were whacked out among the whole camp, each for 100 Yen. It is quite astounding how much of this worthless money is about. The sentries handle lakes of it.

 

Monday, 10 August 2015


11.8.45. Usual meals of porridge & a spoon of oil for breakfast, rice & greens for tiffin, & rice & a pot of grated water chestnuts, beans & curry for tea & our “cake” for supper. Issue of 4oz of oil per head today. About tea time we began to get news of the greatest importance. A sentry told Pinna “War – No”. I had just returned from a quite bright concert put on by McAlister, a sort of “Co-optimists” show. Harry Odell made a big hit in it as a very happy & optimistic Jew & we had original turns from some Canadians. Well we got news from the other camp that the outside working parties had today had shouted to them the fact that the war was over. There is no doubt about this, but of course it may be a false rumour in town. All the same many of the circumstances give faith in the story – & obviously it is not impossible. The camp took it quite soberly. During the evening various sentries said the same thing to people in this camp. Many yarns got round – such as that the British fleet would arrive tomorrow, but disregarding stories of that sort I think we all felt that even if the war is not actually over at this moment, then it will be in a very few days. Hobbs6 & I sat out as usual (in fine weather) clear of the huts & looking towards Cheung Hue & talked of many things. For instance if when the relieving force arrived we got a chance to get a letter home and only a few minutes to write it. What would I say – but then I think the moment would supply the inspiration. It all seems too good to be true. Got £5 from Galpin's fund at a rate of 65Yen to the pound – & bought some cigarettes.  That is £20 total I have now had from the fund, the first £10 of which was through Hammy7. The other ten is on my own pay book. Hammy's £10 is in process of being transferred to my pay book in which case I shall not owe it to him – but probably that business will not be completed in time if the war collapses immediately. What a grand state of mind we are in. Sgt Major Honda, for the first time in a long while took the parade this evening & was very dignified & military about it. We wondered if he had anything to tell us, but no. I believe I forgot to say that about 150 pairs of shorts & about 100 shirts of S.African make came in a day or so ago. I expect they have been lying in store since 1942 & we have been walking about in rags the whole while. Still I am glad they are playing ball at this stage of the game – they might have got very nasty. Air raid alarm 5.30 this morning.

            6.K.W.Hobbs, fellow batman.               7.Capt K.C.Hamilton

Sunday, 9 August 2015


10.8.45. Dull cool day. The “blow” is petering out at last. Porridge breakfast, rice & greens tiffin & rice & bean pot tea. By noon we all knew that Russia had invaded Manchuria at midnight 8/9th. I had a spoon of precious peanut oil with my tiffin to celebrate this additional promise of early release. Surely they will pack up soon. The implications of Russia's act for the future I can only guess, but I am tired of trying to think into the future of this rapidly changing world. Sufficient for me at the moment is the prospect of early release, return to civvies where I can count myself the equal of anybody I meet – & to home & Carrie & Jenifer. Received an unexpected few tins of oil from the Japanese this afternoon. First fruits? – & if so what comes next.

Saturday, 8 August 2015


9.8.45. Heavy rain on & off & and very cool. Porridge breakfast, rice & greens with an ounce or two of salt fish which one of the traders gave me in the store. I sported the couple of spoons of peanut oil necessary for Pete to fry it. Heard of the new “atomic bomb” used on the city of Hiroshima. Evidently it was not an empty threat that the immediate destruction of Japan would be proceeded with if she failed to accept the terms of the nine point Potsdam Ultimatum. Hopes run high again.

Friday, 7 August 2015


8.8.45. Very showery day & heavy squalls from SE. Typhoon filling up somewhere I think. Usual meals of porridge, rice & greens, & rice & pot. Our postponed concert was held in old hut 7 in spite of the weather. Very pleasant & our quartet of Bill Stoker, Jimmy Sutcliffe, Baker Brown & myself were well received. I do like the last one we sang How can I leave Thee – old Thuringian folk song. Napoleon5 took the evening parade – not pleased to have him back. Not much news. Yesterday a “present” of curry came in - maskee we've never received our stipulated ration thereof. Whacked out today at 4oz per head.

            5.NCO on the Japanese Staff

Thursday, 6 August 2015


7.8.45. Wet day & very boisterous. Porridge breakfast & usual meals. Got 310Yen for 10 ounces of old wool – three worn out socks with no heels & a pair of hose tops. Bought pound beans 162.50 & a packet of Ruby Queens at 30Yen. Sunday’s postponed service was held tonight – Confirmation Service at which six officers and two batmen were confirmed into the C of E by Padre Strong.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015


6.8.45. Wet day & cool. Porridge breakfast, rice & greens tiffin & rice & a pot for tea. Today the vegetables delivered included 26lbs of onions for a change. Pumpkin, squash & ling choi have kept us going for some time now. One gets hungry enough. We get no sight or sound of warlike activity these days – no planes by day or night, no ships, no lorries. Just dead as a doornail & we are inclined just to go to seed. I am glad I have a job of work to do. It is difficult to imagine the outside world where there is plentiful & varied food, tea with sugar & milk in small china cups, comfort, newspapers, entertainments, wireless, houses, proper beds, cleanliness, privacy, changes of proper clothing, and women & children. Thank God we have the assurance these things will be ours again. It is horrible to think what would have been our fate if we had lost the war. I doubt if we would ever have been shipped home again.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015


5.8.45.Sunday. Day of heavy showers. Church cancelled for flooded hall. Porridge breakfast, rice & greens tiffin & rice & pot tea. Easier day in the store & managed to get the afternoon clear & play two games of chess with Jack4 – one of which I actually won. Very little news percolating through these days. Various details of new Labour Government, daily heavy raids in Japan, & end of Potsdam conference. I feel though that this very one sided war can’t go on a long time, but they are difficult to get at. The camp is simply lousy with Yen by sale of various clothing & treasures, but price of beans etc is naturally rising all the time too. Communication with the other camp is fairly free, people visit one another in the evenings quite a bit – often with the knowledge of the sentries.

            4.Jack Wilson HKVDC, an old friend.

 

Monday, 3 August 2015


4.8.45. Cool day with rain threatening. Porridge breakfast, rice & greens tiffin & rice & a little steamed salt fish which came in today in lieu of meat, for tea. Heavy rain in evening & concert cancelled. The inspection this morning was a Red Cross inspection & the usual thing happened. Mr Zindel, surrounded by a solid mass of Japanese walked through the camp, into a couple of huts, to the hospital & so away. In the hospital he asked questions which the Japs just didn't answer. He was allowed however to give Col White3 a quotation of lettuce seed prices at 10,000Yen a catty. Let us hope this will be the last.

            3.Lieut Col Simon White M.C. The Royal Scots. Camp Commander.

Sunday, 2 August 2015


3.8.45. Very cool day with rain off & on. Porridge breakfast, rice & greens tiffin & rice & a pot evening. In the evening a 7oz bar of soap per man came in, & a little dubbin for “immediate distribution”. We guess therefore that Tokunaga's1 inspection tomorrow morning of which we were warned is really a Red Cross inspection. The Yen continues on it’s downward course & a few Canteen prices are as follows. Tin syrup 650Yen; Chinese Tobacco 75Yen an ounce; peanut oil 810Yen per pound; brown sugar 320Yen a pound; tea 340Yen a pound; washing soap 192Yen a bar; salt fish 420Yen a pound; rock salt 50Yen a pound. Trading is extremely active in camp in beans, miso & cigarettes etc. Pete2 & I have about six pounds of fresh beans at the moment. A further issue of 3oz oil today making 9¼ total.

            1.Colonel Camp Commandant.           2.K.W.Pedersen, fellow HKVDC batman.

Saturday, 1 August 2015


2.8.45. Phenomenally cool day, & little rain. Porridge breakfast, rice & greens tiffin & rice & a pot for tea. I like the new rice which is big grained & very white. It does not “bulk up” much in cooking & so most people in camp think that somehow & somewhere they are being swindled out of part of their ration, & they come to the store in droves wanting to know the exact figures of this & that, & the slide rules are running hot. Sugar ration of 7oz per head issued today & was changing hands at 20Yen an ounce. Price of whitebait from traders is up to 240Yen a pound. The “Galpin rate” is 50Yen to the £1 sterling.