April 3, Good Friday. The weather is finer now and we are able to wander around the camp in glorious sunshine. Capt. Barnett and I spent most of yesterday writing hymns for to-day's and Easter services. We continue to-day. Yesterday I had a naval chap bring me a lovely pair of long grey stockings and as I can wear them at services with my shorts, I feel properly dressed. I met him at this morning's service and found him to be Irish with the name of Griffith. I shall try, in some way, to compensate him later.
We conducted a very impressive communion service last evening at 7 o'clock, on one of the "blocks" near North end of camp. Capt. Barnett and I shared in it and Barnett gave the short address. About eighty men shared in the service.
This morning more than three hundred men attended a voluntary Good Friday service at 11 o'clock. Barnett opened the service, Strong read the lesson. Mark 16:, and I preached from Matt: 27: 16. "They watched Him there". What the groups about the Cross saw (1) soldiers, (2) disciples, (3) Sarabbas, (4) Centurion. What we see: (1) Saviour (2) by recognition of (1) We share in "Fellowship of suffering", and (2) are given power to endure. Hymns - "Glory be to Jesus", "There is a green hill", and "When I survey", were sung; led by the choir with piano. I conduct a ten minute prayer this evening.
On Wednesday I had the pleasure of meeting a Sub Lt of the Dutch Navy. He has written for me a copy of his National Anthem, in Dutch and English, as well as a full story of his experience on his submarine. Here is the anthem. We have them sing it at every concert. First we sing "O Canada" and then the above, while at the end the National Anthem is sung.
|Wilhelmus van Nassau|
|Wilhelmus van Nassauwe||Wilhelmus Van Nassouwe|
|Ben ick van Dietschen bloet||I am of Dietschen blood|
|Den Vaderlant Gethrouwe||Faithful unto death|
|Blyp ick tot i dendoet||To my Fatherland|
|Den Prince van Oranje||The Prince of Orange|
|Blypick vay onverseeat||I am afraid of nothing|
|Den Koningk van Hispanje||The King of Spain|
|Heb ick altyd deert||I have always honored|
|Myn schildt ende betrouwe||My shield and my faith|
|Zyt Gy O God, Nyn Meer||Are You O God, my Lord|
|Op U zoo wil ick bouwen||I put my trust in You|
|Verlast my nimmer megr||Don't ever forsake me|
|Dat ick loch vroon mag blyden||That I may remain|
|Uw dienaar c'aller stond||Your faithful servant at all times|
|Den tyranaia verdayven||Driving out the tyrants|
|Die my myn hert voorwandt||Who are making my heart bleed|
This anthem was written in 1585 by Marnix van sint Allegonde, Magistrate of Antwerp. When the Spanish troops seized the town then in 80th year battle with Philip 2nd. Fought for freedom of faith. In 1584 Prince of Orange was murdered and we swore off Spanish rule in 1581. The Prince of Orange was born at Nassau at Castle Dillengburgh in 1533.
Story of submarine 0 20 - as told by Sub Lt Anne Willem Huidekoper. Born Bussun, Holland, Oct. 13, 1918. (moved to separate page)
April 5, Easter Day. Communion service at 7:45. The three padres shared, and over two hundred received the sacrament. At 1030 I led a parade service. Barnett read the lesson - 1 Cor. 15: 1-21. Rev. Strong preached from "If Christ be not risen". Hymns were "Jesus Christ is risen to-day" and "Now thank we all our God". 1100 hrs communion when fifty others shared. Later during the afternoon I visited the hospital, and made ready for our evening service at which I was to preach.
Heavy rains came and so we have been confined to our huts. My thoughts are with Sally, the children, Florence, Stan, and the rest, To-day and my old heart has been very very lonely. Lt. Dennis has been here lying on my bed for a while, others have been around, and while there is much idle chatter, all our thoughts are at home.
On Good Friday the Japanese decided to pay all of the combatant officers in camp. One can imagine the excitement when officers of navy and army lined up to be called according to rank, for pay. The pay was by rank with the pay of the equivalent rank in the Japanese army and the issue was Japanese military yen which is of no value outside of the military district. The Auxiliary Service officers and the chaplains were not paid as the Jap army have not their equivalent, so we felt like outsiders. One naval chaplain, three Canadian chaplains, and our two M.S.O.'s were involved. Our respective messes were very considerate and are allowing each of us 25 yen per month to spend, as well as carrying us on their mess accounts for extra rations up to 17 yen per month, until we may be paid, or we get back to Canada.
Easter Day was much more pleasant in our mess because of this extra cash as it means an extra tin of milk for rice, porridge and tea. This morning, April 6 - we had rice and oatmeal porridge with milk and sugar and a huge slice of buttered toast. We anticipate an improvement in at least one meal per day, which will mean much to us all. My only regret is that our soldiers will not get paid any cash, and many of them are really in need of some comforts. I regret that I am not being paid as I would delight in using it in the interest of our sick in hospital. I have had four officers offer to loan me some money but I am determined not to borrow unless in extreme need.
April 8th. Our O.C. had been ill for some time. He had lost much weight, and we were not surprised when he contracted dysentery, that he was quite ill, but naturally we hoped that after a few days he would be well again. Loss of weight did not worry us over much although, of course there could be a maximum which we desired not to reach. On Thursday last - April 2 - it was possible to move him to Bowen Rd Hospital. Our doctors were anxious to get him there earlier, but transportation could not be arranged for him earlier, according to the Japanese authorities.
The O.C. had been very ill during the night of Wednesday and we were anxious to have him at the hospital. I helped to carry him on a stretcher to the truck on Thursday afternoon and was the last to say "Cheerio, and the best of luck!" to him. I was really very anxious and worried about him as I know how weak he really was, and as he had suffered from Malaria during the last war, while in India, there might be a recurrence and this added to dysentery, would play havoc with him, but naturally we hoped for the best.
We could not hear of his condition during the next days, and our feelings cannot be described when, on yesterday morning - April 7th - the Jap Camp Commandant came to inform us that our Colonel had died at the hospital, on Easter Monday - April 6th - at 6 o'clock. We were all dumb with amazement and shock.
The Brigadier, in consultation with the Jap Commandant, made arrangements for his burial at the hospital grounds and the following officers, and burying party were allowed to attend. I was listed at the hospital as the Grenadier padre so was on the original list. When we made up a supplementary list here I asked that the R.R.C. padre be permitted to attend. We were later able to arrange for the naval padre to attend as well.
The party left here by truck at 1500 hrs and the funeral was conducted at 1600 hrs at a small plot near the hospital. The following officers and men went from our Camp.
Representing the Navy were Commodore Collinson, and the naval Chaplain Rev. Strong.
Representing the Brigade: Brigadier Holme, Major Atkinson, and Capt. Howard Bush.
Representing the Royal Rifle of Canada: Lt Col. Price, Major Bishop, Major Parker, Major Young, Capt Barnett (Padre), and R.S.M. Shore.
Representing Winnipeg Grenadiers: Major George Trist (new O.C.), Major Harry Hook (2 I/C), Major J. Bailey, Major K. Baird, Major Ernest Hodgkinson, Capt David Golden, Adjutant and myself.
Our N.C.O.'s were in charge of R.S.M. C. C. Keenan, M.M., R.Q.M.S., H.B. Seare, Staff Sgt R. Boyd, C.S.M. H. McFadyen, U.S.M. F. Logan, C.S.M. F.B. Caldwell, C.S.M. M.C. Tugby, and two buglers - McKnight brothers (twins).
Floral tributes were many and included not only those from our own forces but the Japanese as well. We arranged for Capt Barnett to open the service at the graveside with suitable selections from scripture and to read a prayer which had been given him a few evenings before by our Colonel. Rev Strong followed with the reading of Psalm 90, and I took the full service of committal before the Last Post and Reveille were sounded.
To sum up - our O.C. was buried with full military honours. I shall miss him a great deal. He was very kind to me, and showed his interest in our work. He took me into his confidence a great deal of late, and there were times when he seemed to have laid bare his soul. I can say nothing less than these words which I was able to give him a few days ago, and which he treasured, as I think of him with others in that fuller life.
"They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn
At the going down of the Sun and in the morning
We will remember them"
The prayer read by the R.R.C. padre at the funeral is as follows:
"O Lord, who hast pity for all our weaknesses, put away from us worry and every anxious fear, that having ended the labours of the day as in Thy sight, and committing ourselves, our tasks, and those we love, into Thy keeping, we may, now, that night cometh, accept as from Thee, Thy priceless gift of sleep. We ask this in Jesus Christ's Name, our Saviour. Amen".
At the end of the funeral service we were given twenty minutes in which to visit the patients in hospital. It was a rush but we saw most of them, and I was glad to see so many of the men, who were with us at Queen Mary Hospital, so greatly improved. Captains Robert and Don Philips (brothers), of our unit had been taken from here for wound treatments. Capt Don had a nerve grafted in his arm and a plaster cast put on it. He was just coming out of the anaesthetic and could only smile and say a word. Capt Robert, who was wounded with us at Wang Nai Chong, is to lose one eye for fear of it becoming diseased and affecting the other, which is now giving trouble. Major Crawford is slowly improving but still loses some weight. James, whole right leg was amputated at Queen Mary, is doing well. Major Macaulay's arm is improving, as are Lt. Laundereau's legs, but Capt Gavey, who was wounded in the lung is very poorly.
Others are ready to move to one of our prison camps. I was very pleased to see that Dr Groves, Major Templar, and Mr. Berg who were wounded, and with us at Queen Mary, are so much better, and Prof. Simpson, who was one of the first casualties, reports that his fingers are doing well, but his chest burns are still giving some trouble. We were particularly anxious to meet our two Canadian nurses - Sisters, Christie and Waters. They are both looking very well. Miss Christie told me that she had not eaten rice, to date, and in some way, she managed to keep and even increase her weight.
Thursday, April 9. Capt Pendregast went to hospital to-day for X-ray on his hand which has a shrapnel wound in it. Our hospital (camp) is crowded to-day with patients. A total of forty-two men are there. Most of them suffering from Dysentery and kindred ills. It is a terrible sight to see these men lying on stretchers on the stone floor, looking haggard and thin, and suffering a great deal of pain. I am always troubled in mind and heart each day in my visits as we are unable to get any cigarettes for them, and a cigarette is good for them when they awaken during the night. Major Bailie has arranged for me to take smokes to his men who are in hospital, but it is hard to have to taken them only to two or three out of forty or more. The padres were hoping that they could be paid by the Japanese authorities, as we had planned to spend a large portion of our cash in the interest of our men in hospital, but with no cash, we are greatly handicapped.
There is a rumour that men who are non-combatants may be repatriated and already our officers are hoping that the Canadian padres can be allowed to return home as we could do so much to alleviate the worry and anxiety of the families of our units. One Major was talking to me about it to-night, and Capt Barnett says that one of his officers came to see him about the same thing to-night. As far as we are concerned, however, we cannot act, nor will we act as we feel that, unless ordered by the Japs to prepare for repatriation, our duty is to remain here, but if our O.C.s make the arrangements be happy to go anywhere to benefit our men.
Last night I had an invitation to a concert in the next hut - Navy - I have a standing invitation. Last night's programme was as follows:
|Hut 10 Concert||North Pt Prison Camp, Hong Kong||Apl 6, 42|
|1||Overture: Schubert's Unfinished Symphony (1st Movement)||Chopin's Nocturne
(Part A L B)
|G.E. Longyear, D.D.C.|
|2||Songs||Paddy McGinty's Goat & Darktown Strutters Ball||A. Lee, D.D.C.|
|3||Piano Accordion||Selections||N. Clarke (R.N.)|
|4||Songs||King Henry VIII &
Bread, Bread, Bread
|Lt. Mitchell (R.N.)|
|5||Piano Solo||Selections||C.E.R.A. Hodge (R.N.)|
|6||Odd Stories||Lt. Brown (R.N.)|
|7||Songs||Will You Remember & Rose Marie||Cpl Willis (W. Grenadier)|
|8||Comedian||Cpl Ambrose (R.M.)|
|9||Community Singing||Annie Laurie
Deer Little Shamrock
There is a Tavern in the Town
Land of Hope and Glory
Before the programme really began, Commander Collinson spoke of the sudden passing of our Colonel, and had us stand for a minute in silence as a token of respect. To-day, Pte Gerald Mabley came to see me about his baptism. I am arranging for it at my first communion service which will be on Sunday the 12th or 19th. He is a very fine chap and I am proud to have him make his declaration of faith and partake of Holy Communion with us.
April 10, Friday. The weather is getting very warm now, in fact during the middle of the day we have about 90 degrees of heat, and this will increase as the days pass. It is now 1000 hrs and I am wearing shoes, hose, and shorts, only. I expect to have a good tan soon.
This morning I visited the grave of the only soldier whose grave is within our camp grounds. A stone has been set up at the head, and on it this inscription "R.I.P." No. 1873361 Sapper B.W. Todd. Died of wounds, December 26, 1941. We are now thinking of a memorial park somewhere in Hong Kong where, after the consecration of said plot, we shall lay slabs of stone with name and number of our fallen comrades. We still have books in camp, but most of them are pretty shoddy. I have just read "Nero", a biography, and to-day get another biography of another Roman emperor.
Sunday, April 12. Capt. Spence (Dentist) returned from Bowen Rd. Hospital yesterday. He is much improved in health but very thin. He told me, to-day, that he has lost about thirty pounds in weight.
This morning the naval padre and I had our communion service at 0745. Nearly fifty men attended. This was a service of special interest to me as one of my young men, Pte Gerald Kitchener Mabley, received Christian 'adult' baptism, and partook of Holy Communion as well.
Name - Gerald Kitchener Mabley, Born at Kelwood, Manitoba, Canada. February 20, 1916. Parents - James Albert, and Elizabeth Anne Mabley.
I shall prepare a certificate tomorrow.
Our 1100 hrs service has been cancelled because of heat. We have arranged for an evening service at 1930hrs instead. This evening Rev Strong leads, I read the lesson - John 20: 19-31 and Capt Barnett preaches on this story.
I have been having trouble with my right leg during the past ten days but said nothing until to-day. Lt Dennis and I went for a walk this morning and I had to come back to our hut as my leg gave me added trouble. I consulted the doctor, who says, that a ligament near the thigh has been strained and it will take some time for it to get strong again. I will need to rest as much as possible. I am glad that it does not indicate Beri-Beri. There are a few cases in camp, and one wonders if he will escape it.
We have been able to get chocolate bars to-day, for which I am thankful, as they supplement our meals. Last evening we had a good dinner, rice, whale meat and gravy, two raisin buns, figs, and tea. Our breakfast and lunch to-day were very meagre but we hope for at least one fair meal per day. There is a rumour current that we are to be given meat daily. We shall believe it when realization takes the place of anticipation.
The week-ends are hard on some of us as home and loved ones are much in our thoughts. Our one consolation is that by this time they should have learned of our casualties, and know that the rest of us are in prison. I do pray that Mom and the children, as well as Stan, Florence, and the rest, are not painting or imagining too dark a picture of prison life. If we get out of here, and we hope to, we will need months at home for recuperation, before taking up any new duties, but such are the fortunes of war. Personally I have no regrets. I am happy to have a share in this game and shall in later years think of it as a worthwhile contribution to that Peace which we believe must, even through war, come to a torn and discordant world.
Thursday, April 16. Five months ago to-day we arrived at Hong Kong Barracks. The padres (2), and senior officers of Brigade and some of ours (2) stayed at the Peninsular Hotel for a day or two until quarters were ready at our soldiers camps or elsewhere. We were busy getting telegrams ready and having them sent home. Every man was keen on sending word to wife, mother, or sweetheart.
Now we are prisoners of war.
We can see our Kowloon piers from the waterfront of our camp, and we wonder how long we must wait before we set sail from the same docks for Canada. Rolls of barbed wire have been brought into camp during the past two days. We hear that when in position it will be electrified. This should halt any attempted break.
Yesterday we had a "Muster" parade at 1400hrs as the Camp Commandant made an inspection. The Colonel of the prison camps (Jap) was to make the inspection but changed his plans, perhaps the heat was too intense. One man only had to be taken out of the ranks because of heat.
Yesterday morning I wrote the letters of the alphabet for our B.M. who is arranging a class for a few men unable to write. There are about forty men ill now, with even a larger number on sick parade. I attended a good concert at the next hut (Navy), at the close of our service last evening and greatly enjoyed it.
It is now 8:30 a.m. and breakfast of rice and tea is up. How we would enjoy an egg, piece of bacon, and some buttered toast. Mom would come and sit with me while I ate and made ready for work. How I did enjoy having her do this each morning. I do pray that she keeps well, and that the children are kept busy at school.
I have just had breakfast, rice - not very sweet - tea, flat - and a surprise, a piece of toast and apricot jam to cover it. How happy an extra such as this makes us.
My leg has not given me much trouble for the past two days but I still have to walk carefully. The day will be very hot and with much humidity. It will be very depressing.
The Japanese salvage men are very busy in the harbour, reclaiming sunken ships. They have got two afloat near here. One is of four thousand tons, the other much smaller. Now there is a British tug being towed up the harbour. It is full of water and over on its starboard side and is giving much difficulty. The naval men say that the Japs are masters at salvage work and will make a success of even the most difficult jobs.
Sunday, April 19. The morning was very wet. We were unable to have our communion service at 0800 hrs but will conduct one at 1030.
On Friday evening the naval men were ordered to be ready to move to Shamshuipo Camp on Saturday morning at 9:30 o'clock. Every man was very busy packing until "Lights Out" at 2300 hrs. As some were leaving mattresses etc., I was fortunate in having one given to me. I was also given a blanket, a sheet, a pillow, and a pair of long rubbers. I shall be able to fix my bed properly now and get better rest.
The weather conditions were terrible. It was raining in torrents and very muddy, and the men must have been very miserable, by the time they left for the ferry. A number of our men, who had been taken prisoners with me at Wan-Nai-Chong, and sent to Argyle Street prison, and later to Shamshuipo, came back to camp. Most of them had been wounded and I was glad to see them. We shall compare notes during the coming week. Lt Blackwood who was the last officer to be wounded, and whom I fixed up before our surrender, was welcomed by us and we shall get our story of Wan-Nai-Chong fight again from him and we shall be able more fully to compare notes and get the story complete.
April 24, Friday. The weather has been dull and a bit chilly, but while the days are cool, the nights are much better for rest. The food has been below the average for the past few days and we all long for meat, or fish, in larger quantities, so that we won't need to pull our belts in any more. The Jap Commandant came to the camp this week with samples of dry goods. Most of the officers ordered something. I asked for shoe laces, shoe polish, and two pairs of undershorts. When we shall get these things is difficult for us to say. Maybe to-morrow, and maybe in two weeks time.
Lt Dennis has been sent to hospital with a hurt foot. He will likely have it in a cast as we fear that the piece of heavy timber falling on it crushed more than a nerve or artery.
I have been able to get the list of Japanese ranks and they are as follows:
|Red Stars||Different class of private|
|Red Stars||1st class private|
|Silver Stars||Warrant Officer 2nd class|
|Silver Stars||Warrant Officer 1st class|
|3 Golden Bars||2nd Lieut (Shou e)|
|3 Golden Bars||1st Lieut (Chou e)|
|3 Golden Bars||Captain (TI e)|
|4 Golden Bars||Major (Shou sa)|
|4 Golden Bars||Lt Colonel (Chou sa)|
|4 Golden Bars||Colonel (Ti sa)|
|All golden||Brigadier (Shou shaw)|
|All golden||Major General (Chou shaw)|
|All golden||General (Ti shaw)|
The pay of Jap Lt is 25 yen per month.
The pay of Jap Capt 62.50 yen per month.
The pay of Major 110 yen per month.
The pay of Lt Colonel 162 yen per month.
We were handed a few Japanese magazines and periodicals to-day, so will have a bit of Japanese propaganda to read, which will be a change at any rate. It is now 4:30 p.m. We just came off parade, and wait for supper at 5:30 p.m. Our poor stomachs ache but we will not and do not complain one to another. The usual comment after a meal is "Well, if that's supper - or dinner I have had it".
April 25, Saturday. Today we begin the fifth month since our surrender. We wonder how many months must pass before we hear of our liberation and home-going. The huts are pretty quiet today. It has been raining hard during the night and morning, and men confined to huts are reading, writing, resting, or playing card games. Bridge and Cribbage seem to be leading in choices, but Chess is just making an appearance and so will undoubtedly become popular. I have a small table by my bed - 24 x 18 inches - and one of the boys has offered to mark out a checker board and cribbage board on its top for me.
I have been reading one of the Jap magazines called "Contemporary Japan. A review of Far Eastern Affairs", and I quote from its leading article on "March of Events" from February 1942. The Crown Colony of Hong Kong, which had been the base of British exploitation and aggression for the last century, surrendered to the Japanese forces on December 25. This was preceded by the occupation of Kowloon opposite Hong Kong Island, on December 12. Landing on Hong Kong in the face of stout opposition was effected on December 18. The Japanese forces brooked no delay in starting violent attacks, and as a result, the British troops proposed unconditional surrender on December 25. The following day the island was completely occupied by the Japanese. The prisoners taken number 11,241 and the dead 1400. The spoils consisted of 5 airplanes, 120 guns, 15 heavy guns, 19 tanks, 1070 motor cards, 309 railways cars and many other war materials.
I spent a long time this morning looking at my family's photograph. I know that Florence and Grayson are a wonderful source of strength to their mother, and together they will keep cheerful and look forward with interest to my return.
Before the naval men left the camp some of them asked for my home address. I may sometime hear from them. They also thanked me for the messages which I had given. Following is the list of names:
528983 Cpl J. Edmunds (A splendid tenor singer) 43 Yetcalfe St Caeran, Bridgend, Glamorganshire, S. Wales.
E. A. Fry (Our concert chairman) C/O The Commodore, H.M. Naval Yard, Hong Kong.
W. C. Knight (Baritone soloist) C.E. Dept, Naval Yard, Hong Kong.
F.E. George (Member of choir - Naval Lt - Salesman) C/O G.P.O. Hong Kong.
G.E. Longyear (Pianist for church services, concerts, etc.) Homestead, 7 Station Road, Drayton, Cosham, Hants. England.
Mrs. Longyear is now in Vancouver, and lives at 3500 Willow St., Vancouver, B.C.
Alfred Reginald Lee (Good soloist and keen on Irish songs) C/O H.M. Dockyard, Portsmouth, Hants, England.
W.L. Short, C/O S.M.S.O. Priddy's Hard, Gosport, Hants, England.
F. Crothers (Very considerate and ready to help, gave me long rubbers) 312 High St., Sheerness, Kent, England.
J. Broady, 112 Broadway, Gillingham, Kent, England.
P.R. Holloway (Keenly interested in our work and ready to help) C/O. Mrs. H.E. Atkins, St. Percy Road, Southsea, Portsmouth, England.
Sunday, April 26. Communion was held at 0800 hrs today, and more than forty of our men attended. Since lunch it has just rained in torrents, but cleared for an hour or so which I spent visiting huts. We planned for a service at 1915 hrs but rain is coming again (1800 hrs) so it will not be held. Capt Barnett and I will later go to the hospital for a service.
Rumours are making the rounds again now, and today's gem is that British, U.S.A., Russian, and Japan are negotiating for terms regarding the Pacific war. Another which came out of the air, yesterday was to the effect that U.S.A. and Russia had told British to get busy and do something extra in this war. These rumours make for topics of conversation and help to pass another hour or so.
Sunday, May 2. It is now 0935 hrs. Breakfast of pancakes, syrup and tea is finished. We had planned for a communion service at 0745 hrs but it was raining in torrents from early morning until breakfast time. It is beginning to clear. I can see patches of blue sky through the clouds so we hope to have our communion at 1030 in the workshop and our regular worship service this afternoon at 1600 hrs.
Our men are keenly interested in softball these days and as there is a play-off between the men of E. Co. Grenadiers and officers of the Royal Rifles, excitement has been high for the past two days. They are to play three games and the winner of two games gets the prize - maybe of cigarettes. Two games have been played and each has a game to credit. This will mean keen interest and we are looking forward to tomorrow's game.
Yesterday the road next to our compound was closed to traffic for a while as a Japanese Prince was to pass along the route. All prisoners of war were ordered to remain indoors, so only from our windows could we see the advance guard on motor cycles, the cars containing His Highness and party, and the rear guard of armed soldiers, in trucks, pass.
Since our officers have been paid, the food in our hut has improved, as our orders have been filled, and this means an extra once in a while, I enjoy a breakfast of porridge (rice and oatmeal) toast and tea. The rations have been fair of late, and we were fortunate in having an extra allowance of whale meat. We did really enjoy the whale steak. Of course we would not be partial to it at home but since it tastes good when men are hungry, we are happy to have it.
I have been reading fiction, etc., during the past few days and was happy to get a copy of "Cappy Ricks comes back". There is lots of humour in it which brings the occasional chuckle. One story will suffice. "Six men were adrift at sea, on a raft, and after days, were swept ashore. Two Irishmen, two Englishmen, and two Scotsmen, comprised the crew of said raft. When they reached the land, the two Englishmen were not on speaking terms because they had not been formally introduced; but the two Scots had formed a Caledonian Society and were very happy". Peter S. Kyne has Cappy speak of a business man who is so mean that if he were asked for three cheers he would ask for two back.
May 9, Saturday. We learn that the Japanese are apprehensive of an air-raid on Hong Kong by U.S.A. bombers from somewhere in China, at any time. Already necessary precautions are being taken around our camp, and we have had our first test - Blackout - me placed in particular places where they are to remain, stretcher bearers and other parties made ready for emergencies. Naturally we are hoping that if a raid is experienced by us, the U.S.A. have already been given proper information about us so that the camps at Stanley Fort, Shamshuipo, North Pt, and Argyle Street, as well as men in hospital at Bowen Road may have a measure of safety.
May 19, Sunday. Mother's Day. Most men in camp today are thinking of home and their mothers, as well as the mothers of their own homes. I think of last year and of the carnations and chocolates sent to Bamfield for Mom and the children. It is now four o'clock. We planned for a service at 4:45 but it is very wet and disagreeable so will have to cancel it. We will conduct a brief payer service at 7 o'clock, in the workshop, but only about forty men can be accommodated there, standing.
Today the Hong Kong New came to camp and we note one item of interest. It is to the effect that Ottawa says that Canadian prisoners are being well treated. Trucks are allowed to go out for rations as well as vegetables, etc., ad that we have our own ovens built for the baking of our bread. We do hope that our families have seen such a note so that their hearts may be easier and minds no so perturbed. The "News" also tells of a battle in progress in the Coral Sea - N.E. of Australia, and near New Guinea - The Japs report many of our ships are lost without receiving any damage themselves. We receive this with a question and reserve for reasons known to us.
May 12, Tuesday. Today the padres have been asked to try to ascertain fuller particulars regarding any of our men killed, missing or died of wounds. Barnett will deal with the R.R.C., Delourhey the Brigade, while I deal with our Grenadiers. This afternoon I got my list from S.Sgt Boyd and tomorrow will begin working on the individual cases. Tonight Capt Bush and I have been talking about Wan Nai Chong, where we both were throughout the fight. Around this death trap most of our men were killed. Staff Boyd told me this afternoon that they had me listed as dead. Major Crawford, on this visit to Queen Mary Hospital told me the same. Of course it was thought that we were all wiped out in Wan Nai Chong.
Friday, May 15. The weather is getting much warmer now and even hot during the day. We sleep now in our pyjamas (if we have any), and with a cotton sheet over us. As sheets are very few most of us will be sleeping on our rubber ground sheets. This morning I was up before 0730 hrs and had my first morning shower. It felt good after the exhausting heat and humidity of the night. Meals are good now because of purchases made by officers who have been paid. One certain days we have the extras which help me to be able to get through our rations with a bit more relish. Our kitchen staff is really doing a good job. I am happy to note an increase in weight and I do feel a great deal better now. There was a time when I felt pretty miserable but kept quiet about it as I hoped to be on the upgrade after I could make some adjustments and adapt myself to certain foods. We have had cucumbers served with our rations on three occasions of late. At first I determined to try them for the first time ever and have enjoyed them not from choice but from necessity.
The R.R.C. padre and I have been continuing our prayer service each evening at 1900 hrs and although we have to muster for parade at 1915 hrs we have quite a few men attend for the brief service. We have been reading the parables of Jesus and making comments and drawing a lesson from each parable. The Jap guards are fairly considerate of the prisoners but the odd Chinese gets into difficulties outside the guard gate. Some have been killed because of broken rules or regulations.
I attended a concert at Brigade hut last night and greatly enjoyed it. The fellows entered into the spirit of the hour and gave themselves to it with zest.
Saturday, May 16. The day begins with fine weather but black clouds are gathering and rain may fall before noon. I was up and out for my shower before 0730 hrs. For breakfast I had rice and oatmeal with milk and sugar, a bun, and tea were also served but I did not take the bun.
Our hearts are saddened by the treatment meted out to a Chinese family during the night. The father, mother, and daughter had been searching round some scrap-heap near here. The father was killed, and the mother and daughter are now tied to an electric light pole just across the street.
During the past week we have been interested in our men at the hospital regarding cigarettes. At first our Grenadiers (Officers) decided to pay 30 yen per month into a fund for smokes four our sick men on condition that the R.R.C. officers would do the same. They refused. Now an order or recommendation has come from the Brigadier saying that each company commander must be responsible for his own men. Some of us think the pooling system would be better as each is sharing the others burden. Some of our Company's may not have men there for weeks whereas other Cos perhaps with less officers have many men there. The pool would have all share.
Our A.S. Officer (Capt Geo Porteous) has been having some difficulty in financing his sports. After a while he devised a splendid solution which was readily adopted by our senior officers; i.e. the sale of 5 military yen for one Canadian dollars with the guarantee (written) of reimbursement of any loss by these senior officers, if the rate of exchange was incorrect, on arrival in Canada. The Brigadier was approached by the A.S.O. and at first agreed but since has suggested a reduction in price - $1 Canadian for 1 yen 80 sen - (Japanese military). To many of us this does not seem fair since the cash - military - is available and men are willing to accept it with the guarantee of protection. Our A.S.O. even offered to give the A.S.O. of the R.R. of C. fifty per cent of proceeds for his use but apparently the Brigadier wants his will be done.
George has since told me that the Brigadier is reconsidering and likely things will be worked out on an equitable basis later. The cash is used for smokes for men who share in concerts, on entertainments, sports., etc. and is meeting a real need. 2100 hrs.
The whole day has been fine and hot with just a sprinkle of rain this afternoon. The sky is overcast tonight which may mean rain before morning.
Today we were interested in a Japanese movie outfit taking moving pictures of a landing of troops near our camp. We are situated in the vicinity of the first landing of the Jap forces and today a party was landing again. Of course this picture was taken in daylight whereas they landed their first party at night. Today's show did not look or sound very realistic as there was no opposing force. I do think that some heard some machine and others guns and saw a smoke screen. However the picture will impress the Japs at home and be good propaganda.
Sunday, May 17. I led in Holy communion at 745 hrs on Concrete block. 48 shared. Our evening service hour is changed from 1645 to 2000 hrs because of excessive heat. Sunday seems to be our loneliest day as we think of weekends at home with our families. I dreamt of home last night. Stan has been much in my thoughts of late and I wonder if he has been transferred to the coast. My sister Florence has been with me in thought also. I do pray that she, Billy, and Bob are well.
I have been to the hospital today to see our men. There are several new ones including four sergeants. Some are very feverish which may indicate Malaria. I went through all our huts this morning and did not get back to lunch on time but the sergeant was good enough to keep it for me although we are supposed to be in at the proper hour.
We had decided to change our service hour from 1645 to 2000 hrs and tonight we were well repaid. Our voluntary service was attended by well over two hundred men. Capt. Barnett was in charge. We sang "Breathe on me Breath of God" and "Unto the hills around do I lift up my longing eyes". I read the lesson - John 15, last part - "But when the Comforter etc.,". I spoke from John 19: 41 - "In the place where He was crucified there was a garden".
This afternoon I played my first game of Volleyball. We have a series of games arranged and a league formed. Our team won the game this afternoon. Most of us are new to the game but will enjoy it as it will give us the needed exercise.
May 23, Saturday. We begin our sixth month of captivity today. The weather is clearing and we hope for a pleasant weekend after a week of fitful weather or rain, cold, and winds from the North.
Today our Brigadier, Adjt Major Atkinson, Lt Col. Price, Major Young, Lt Col. Trist, Major Hook, Capt. Bush and Capt. Billings have gone with some Japanese military official (presumably the officer in charge of prison camps) for an outing and a conference.
Our camp had an exhibition of handicraft articles made - mostly wood-carvings - today. Some are exceptionally well done. I will ascertain the number later in the day.
I have been reading the biography of the Duke of Wellington and just finished it. It portrays him as the greatest military genius England has produced. It portrays of sterling qualities, and in private and public life he seems to have been above reproach. The author was George Robert Cleig. He served in the army with the Duke 1813-14. Ordained in 1820. Chaplain of Chelsea Hospital, 1834. Chaplain General of Forces, 1844-1875. Died 1888. Book was published by Everymans. Some of the sayings of the great duke are interesting. Amongst the outstanding were
(1) Be discreet in all things, and so render it
unnecessary to be mysterious about any.
(2) Animosity among nations ought to cease when hostilities come to an end.
(3) He is most to blame who breaks the law, no matter what the provocation may be under which he acts.
(4) One country has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of another, non-intervention is the law, intervention is only the exception.
This afternoon the whole camp was called to parade before the Japanese Prison Commandant, Col. Tokunaga. He spoke to us through his interpreter and told us that we were expected to sign a statement to the effect that we will make no effort to escape. All with the exception of Cpl Porter of the R.R.C. signed it. Of course it was done under duress and therefore cannot be considered an act of disloyalty to our King, or the breaking of our pledge of loyalty . Porter has been taken by the Japs for further questioning and possible trial.
May 24th, Sunday. The day began fine. We were able to have our communion service outside one of the huts on concrete block at 1100 hrs. I had to visit the M.I. room today because of a slight infection on my left arm. I had quite a few similar infections on my face last week but as they did not itch, gave me very little both and soon cleared up.
I have been able to get the list of contributors to the exhibition yesterday which is as follows and in order of merit.
|1||E30318||Rnf Bernier, R (H.Q.) R.R.C.||R.R.C. Crest||1st Prize|
|2||H6754||Sgt McCarthy, G.T. (H.Q.) W.G.||Cribbage Board||2nd Prize|
|3||H6016||Sgt Payne, J.O. (H.Q.) W.G.||Cribbage Board
|4||H612||Sgt Kitkoski, J. W.G.||Chess game||2nd Hon|
|5||C5898||Rfn Wellman, D. (A) R.R.C.||Cigarette holder,
|6||Pte Krajenchuk (A) W.G.||Leather shoes|
|7||H6708||Pte McBride, T. (E) W.G.||Calendar|
|8||Rfn Johnson, J.S. (H.Q.) R.R.C.||Drawings of camps
|9||Cpl Perreault, A. (D) R.R.C.||Memoriam of officers|
|10||H6036||L/Cpl Falcon (C) W.G.||Rings from coins|
|11||H17550||Pte Rollick, P. (H.Q.) W.G.||Knitted socks and mitts|
|12||H30614||Rfn Generous, L. (H.Q.) R.R.C.||Painting crests on
|13||Sgmn Alastair, Brigade H.Q.||Pencil sketching|
|14||G.P.O. Smit, B.H.Y., Dutch Navy||Map of world|
May 25, Monday. Stan's birthday. How I thought of him today.
May 26, Tuesday. On Saturday evening Capt Barnett and I began the story of the Apostles, at our devotional service at 7 p.m. I began with the story of Peter and we have continued with Andrew and John. Tomorrow I may speak of Mark, and so on.
Since a few of our men are feeling the effects of weather and food, and our camp hospital is now crowded with patients suffering from dysentery and other ills, our Canadian doctors are worried because of the lack of supplies for our hospital. Tonight we hear that our rations are being cut by twenty per cent. This will mean very meagre living for all. We have had no milk or sugar in tea for days and while our officers kitchen staff have been doing splendid work they cannot do the impossible.
We heard today that we shall be allowed to write one letter home, per man, per month. This is good news to all of us and we do pray that these letters reach home in good time. Our first lot will go out on or about June 6. We are also informed that we may get mail and parcels from home. If this be so, but it sounds too good to be true, we shall go wild with delight to see familiar handwriting.
May 29, Friday. Yesterday was my birthday. Three officers of the R.R.C. had theirs as well - Capt. Banfield (M.O.), Capt. Dennison, and Capt. Price. The day was very hot, meals were none too good so one can imagine my thoughts. I wondered what Mom and the children were doing and I did hope that they had a cake etc., for my sake. We do hope that we don't spend another birthday here. The Japs issued a piece of soap, one tooth brush, a small hand and face towel, and a small portion of tooth powder, to each man in camp. I did not take my tooth brush as I still have a good one.
The nights are very warm now and one needs very little over him. Many of our men are off parade because of temperatures, dysentery, etc., and at present forty men are in hospital her as well as a number at Bowen Road. Each prisoner has been given a number to be worn on the right breast of his shirt or tunic. My number is 4452.
June 1, Monday. We have been all excited over getting our first letter off to our families. I typed mine yesterday and just wrote more of a general letter. I did not want Mom to be very worried about me. I know that she will be very happy to get it and to know that I am alive. Stan, Florence, and the rest of the families and friends will be interested.
I led communion service yesterday morning at 0745 hrs, and had fifty men present. We had more than two hundred at our evening service, and I spoke from Exodus 33: 14. I especially emphasized my conviction that life in this camp for many of us is harder than the glamour of battle. I spoke of my four days in the hell of Wan Nai Chong and how one night many of our wounded became nervous and how I spoke quietly to them about never getting beyond the circle of God's love. One badly wounded boy spoke up and said "Padre, the worst of it all is that we think of God at the wrong time".
We have battalion parade twice daily now. At 0815 hrs and 1930 hours.
I have my shower every morning before parade, and feel fresh and fit, although I have lost abut twenty-six pounds in weight since being captured. This is largely because of the food and heat, and hard living. We all have numbers to be worn on our shirt or tunic.
June 3, Wednesday. The King's birthday. Last night after we had all finished our letters, the Jap camp commandant came to say that no letter was to be more than two hundred words, so lights which are ordered out in the mens huts at 2230 hours and in our huts at 2300 hrs were kept on until midnight in order to give us an opportunity to re-write our letters. We were all indignant but of course had to abide by regulations. I had typed my first letter of four hundred and seven words, but decided to write my two hundred words in block letters. We were later told - today - that our letters had passed the Japanese censors. We wonder how many weeks will pass before they reach home.
Some time ago some of our men were chosen by lot to broadcast to Canada. One of our officers was elected to broadcast, as well as four men from the Royal Rifles of Canada, with one of their officers in addition to Brig. Holme. Our men were Major J.M. Baillie, C.Q.M.S. Laidlaw, Sgt McCulley, Pte Bires, and Pte Forsythe. They were away quite a while and enjoyed the change and new experience. We can imagine the pleasure in many homes in Canada when these recordings get through.
We have all had an issue of shorts, shirts, boots and tunics - if needed - and our men certainly showed a better appearance on parade this evening. We have been getting a bit of news today which heartens us and makes us think of our release earlier than we are first anticipated.
From the first I have said that I wanted to be home for Dec. 20th - Florence's birthday, as I knew we couldn't possibly be free by July 6th, Grayson's birthday. Wont' it be great if I can be home for Christmas, and Mom's birthday on January 2nd. I wonder if Stan will be in the West then. If so, I will be wanting him to visit us during the Christmas and New Year. Won't we have a pleasant time if all is well at home.
The nights are very hot and we are very restless. The bugs are making their appearance and some of us have found them in our beds and fly netting. We try to keep our beds and huts clean but apparently they like clean beds as well as any other. Tomorrow I will take my mattress outdoors and made a good search.
June 6, Saturday. Our numbers at camp hospital have decreased during the past week, but the numbers of R.R.C. have increased. Today we have eleven and they twenty-three. Four men are on stretchers outside our hut now waiting to be taken to Bowen Road Hospital. The batmen are now cleaning our hut while all officers remain outside from 1000 to 1100 hrs. My batmen - Fines - has been suffering from Beri-Beri, and is off duty for a few days. Another splendid fellow - Schnell - is doing his works while he rests.
While at camp hospital this morning one of the boys - Swartz - who was taken in yesterday suffering from dysentery, said "Padre, I would like to be home now". I laughed and tried to cheer him up by saying, "Why, Swartz, home was never like this". I chatted with him then and helped him to be brave. He is a good athlete and will likely fight his complaint successfully. It is just natural for any of us when we feel hungry, which is daily, and weary, to long for home, but we must be brave and cheery, amidst all of our ordeals. Last evening I read Psalm 137 at our fellowship service and noted that while the Psalmist, who was in exile, said in reply to his captors about singing "How shall I sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" but then he remembered the goodness of God. He challenged his heart and determined not to forget Jehovah.
The Hong Kong News - Japanese controlled - is
brought into camp once in a while. I notice a long list of regulations
governing this city of Hong Kong. Some of them are amusing. I have
culled two or three.
No. 10. "Making any unnecessary noise, lying down or getting drunk in any place of traffic.".
No. 55. "Making water in a street, park, or other publicly visible place, or compelling another person to do it".
The guilty person will be liable to three months imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 500 yen.
Sunday, June 7. Sixty men attended our communion service this morning at 0745hrs. I visited the camp hospital at 1000 hrs. Pte Porter of the R.R.C. who refused to sign the declaration brought to the camp by the Japs, two weeks ago, and was taken to prison, returned to our camp yesterday. He must have suffered much as he is worn and pale and thin, and shows loss of weight. He was at communion this morning and told me that he intended to attend in future as he has much to be grateful for. I understand that he hasn't been attending services of any kind for nearly forty years. He told me that for the first five days he, and the six others, from other camps, who did not sign the papers were not given food or drink. For fifteen hours each day they were compelled to kneel with faces to the wall of prison and at night were allowed only three hours sleep, after which they were aroused each hour. The prison guard - Portuguese - were used by the Japs to beat them.
Our meals are none too good these days. This morning we had rice porridge, toast and a cup of tea without milk or sugar. For lunch we had a small piece of tinned mutton, plain bread without butter and a cup of tea with milk and sugar - small portions. I thought of Mom and knew how she used to enjoy having good meals for her family. We look forward to these days again. I have just been looking at our photograph again and long to see Mom, Florence, and Grayson again. This evening we are to have a special - meat and vegetables.
Service at 2000 hrs. Capt Barnett preached on "Ye are the salt of the earth." For fifteen minutes before the service began our band gave us some very good music. They are planning to continue this each Sabbath evening prior to our service.
Sunday, June 14. About sixty men were at communion this morning at 0745hrs. Nothing unusual happened during the past week, but we learned this morning that about two hundred men are being sent out daily in charge of an officer or two, and under Japanese guard. Undoubtedly they will be doing manual labour somewhere around Hong Kong. On Wednesday night a small group of us had a chat with our O.C. about the beliefs and teaching of B.P. It was a very interesting evening. This morning we were all pleasantly surprised by having coffee and cinnamon raisin buns for breakfast. Tonight we had meat (beef and onions), which was a real treat. The bread was sour so I did not eat any. Subject of evening service (Our lives dedicated to Christ). Text "Except a grain of wheat."
Sunday, June 21. Communion service at 0745 - Capt. Barnett - 45 present. At the evening service, Barnett preached on Christ and the need of his disciples on the Lake, and our need."
During the week parties have been going out to work. The Japs are pleased with work accomplished. As many as 204 men go some days, under the command of our officers (5). I am hoping to go some day soon. It will be a change of scenery anyway. Life inside these barbed wires gets very tiresome at times and one longs for a release. I am grateful that my faith holds and I know that He who has been my guide and strength will give me power to see this experience through.
During the past two nights I have been at home in my dreams. On the first night I dreamt that I found on my arrival that Mom had gone away with Bertie Hodge and had taken the children with her but had left a little woman to care for me. She came to see me a few days after my return and while my heart was breaking, she seemed very content over the whole matter. During the second night I went home to Vancouver and was told by a senior minister that I was to be offered a good church, and then went to his home to see Mom. She was sitting in a chair, with her back turned towards the door. As I entered I went quietly towards the chair, and leaned over her shoulder, and kissed her. The folk in the house teased me, but I just said "Well, it is a long time since I saw her." The dreams were very vivid and while the first made me sad for most of the morning, after the second dream I awoke with a gladsome mind and carried the picture of me in that chair, with me ever since. Daily the whole family (Stan included) is in my thoughts, and how I long to see them all. We are all alike here and in my contacts with the men I find that the two chief topics are "The time of our release" and "How our families are."
Monday, June 22. Six months ago today I was one of the group that surrendered at Wan Nai Chong at about 0800hrs, after which, later in the day, they sent me through their lines. It was an awful experience. I have been discussing the day with some of the men during this afternoon.
During the week we had a concert at the CO's hut, Major Baillie (O.C.) The best part of the programme was a mock broadcast. (Moved to separate page)
Sunday, June 28. Life goes on as usual in our camp. Every morning Roll Call at 0815 hrs, hospital visitation 100-1030 hrs, errands, etc., for the odd fellow, reading, chatting, and games, as well as a quiet time from 1400-1500 hrs. Dinner at 1750, and roll call at 1930 hrs. The rest of the evening is spent in an attempt to get cooled off before going to bed at 2230 or 2300 hrs. Bedbugs, lice, etc., show themselves sometimes. So far I have seen them only. The officer next to me - Capt Bardel - found a great many in his burlap mattress yesterday, and had to have everything on his bed boiled, in order to clean them up. So far I have been immune, but expect them later in the seasons.
I spent yesterday with four other officers - Capt Pendregast, Lt White, Lt MacKechnie, and Lt Corrigan, in charge of 250 men, as a working party on the Japanese Airport here. It was my second time outside the camp - the other to attend the Colonel's funeral - and I was very happy to cross the harbor on a ferry, and spend the day. Left here at 7:45 and returned at 6:30 p.m. - working on the airport. Officers are just to direct the men and keep them working just fast enough to prevent the Jap Guard from interfering with them. I had a funny, or rather peculiar type of Jap with me and my sixty-four men. He would get agitated quickly, but after I studied him for a while, I had no trouble with him. In fact, he would come and take me by the shirt sleeve, and show me what he would like done, and so we got along together very well. From 1200 to 1400 hrs we had lunch and rested. We take our own lunches on these trips, which consist of buns made into meat sandwiches, if meat available, and water. Before 1400 hrs they gave us unsweetened barley water - very insipid, and at 4:30 p.m. work stopped, for a bowl of soup. It reminded me of the scratch feed we used to feed our chicken. I question if it was washed, as the liquid was the color of dish water. I had plenty of sugar in it, which made it palatable. I know that Grayson feeds his dog much better than his Dad gets fed. I would be glad to have Snuff's supper tonight.
This morning I had a communion service at 0745 hrs, forty men attended. Tonight Capt Barnett leads, but I read the scripture and shall preach from "And some on broken pieces of the ship, escaped safe to land". Acts 27: 44. Hymns are "Unto the hills" and "Glory to Thee my God this night", and our Vesper "Holy Father in Thy Mercy".
My family was very much in my thought today. I wonder, oh, how I wonder about them. I only wish that Stan may be on the coast and can see them sometimes. If so, I know that Mom will be happy. I do know that wherever he is, they are his constant care. God Bless them all.
Report has come to our camp that Estevan has been shelled from the sea. I can well imagine the commotion along the coast.
During the day I visited Detention, with Capt Barnett. Life in camp is not easy, and the odd fellow breaks rules, and so must pay the penalty. Detention runs from seven to twenty-eight days. There are 28 men in hospital suffering from dysentery, fever, etc. We learn today that all American and Canadian embassy staffs are leaving tomorrow, for their homes, via West Africa. We hope the the day when we shall be exchanged or liberated.