A gap of nearly a year happens in Leonard’s diary. It’s not clear whether he stopped writing - as he suggests in his entry of June 12, 1942 – or whether whatever might have been written was lost after the camp was liberated. Apparently several of his friends knew of the existence of the diary and helped him recover pieces that had been hidden throughout the years of imprisonment. But in July, 1943 the diary continues…
July 3 1943 – (Friday)
Events of the past fortnight seem worthy of mention, so once again I’ll take pen in fist and record them.
Item #1 – is of rather a minor nature but since it’s a trifle unusual, I’ll give it a line or two. For a short time, up until a week or so ago, we experienced something of a petty crime wave, mostly thievery. Unfortunately for one chap, who was suspected of having converted ¥10 to his own use, the men decided that existing methods of justice were inadequate and took matters into their own hands. The method chosen to teach this chap the error of his ways was a good old-fashioned tarring. Considering the difficulty experienced removing said tar from the body with the means at hand, it’s quite likely the gent in question will probably think twice the next time temptation gives him a nudge.
Item #2 – concerns working parties. All able-bodied men in camp now go out to work, in gangs of approximately 250 men per day. The work now being utilized is the enlargement of Kai Tak Airdrome. For a day’s work, each man receives the magnificent sum of 10 sen per day, plus a ration of fags while on the job, varying from two to six cigarettes, depending on the whims of the guards. The work consists of removing sod, hauling crushed rock and gravel and the making and laying of cement for new runways. Extra rations in the form of buns and meat, plus a portion of barley water or broth, are served at the noon meal. The men work hard, but the joy of getting out of camp (it’s a twenty minute ride across the harbour) plus the fags and rations seems to be ample compensation. Certainly it has lifted the men out of their mental ruts tremendously.
Item #3 – concerns our celebration of “Dominion Day”. A full program of sports had been lined up, to include baseball, volleyball, baseball throw and horseshoe pitching. All Star teams for volleyball were chosen to represent the following – Winnipeg Grenadier Officers, Winnipeg Grenadier Men, Winnipeg Grenadier Headquarters, and the Dutch Navy. In the baseball field, an all-star team representing the RRC’s was to tackle a similar team from the Grenadiers in an exhibition game. Eliminations in volleyball, run a day or so previous, brought the Grenadiers’ Officers and Men together in the finals, the Officers winning in three very close games. Unfortunately, the weather man intervened and a regular cloudburst, from noon on, washed out the remainder of the sports events.
The feature attraction of the day, a Minstrel Show, complete in every detail, managed to squeeze itself in – between showers – and was very well received. The whole show was, to everyone’s mind, a masterpiece, the costumes were good, the chorus excellent and the individual artists put their stuff across with all the aplomb of experienced troupers. A stage, complete with curtains, frills and backdrops, was erected – no mean task, as the cast included a chorus of thirty, a five-piece orchestra, four end-men and a half dozen performers turned up, from heaven only knows where. Certainly old mother necessity has the tricks up her sleeve. The whole show went on without a hitch, which in itself is remarkable, since through lack of space, the usual rehearsal as a group, was denied them.
The All Star ball game, played a few days later resulted in a healthy defeat of the Winnipeg Grenadiers by a score of 14 to 3.
Item #4 – is one which has the whole camp agog. Lieutenant Wada came down a couple of days ago with the statement that the Canadians were to be exchanged or repatriated, possibly by the next trip of the “Assama Maru”, which left here a day or so ago with U.S. and Canadian nationals on board, bound for Laurence Marques. How true it is remains to be seen but it’s certainly started a buzz around camp. A visit this morning by Colonel Tagonaka, accompanied by two supposed Red Cross officials further stepped up the tempo of things so that we are now practically ascending the gang plank.
July 23 – (Thursday)
I think perhaps that, instead of cutting these lines altogether, I’ll add from time to time anything that might seem momentous enough to report.
Since the last writing the only item that rates any space is the weather. It seems to me that, somewhere in my diary, I mentioned the fact that the rainy season was finished and we now hoped for clear weather. Unfortunately it seems we were a trifle optimistic. Commencing on July 1st, a heavy rain set in and, with the exception of two days, July 3 and July 18th, it has rained continuously day and night, up until this morning. I’ve seen more rain here in the last three weeks than we get at home in three years.
There is another subject, that of the current rumour crop, for which I’ll spare a line or two. Lieutenant Wada’s statement, as mentioned earlier, really put our rumour mongers on their toes. For example, one of last night’s late editions presents the following gem. A Ration Sergeant (Japanese) came into camp on a truck yesterday and spoke to a group of men of “C” Company, RRC. In the course of his remarks, he held up his hand – with three fingers extended – and said, “Canadians – Home”. The boys then asked what the three fingers were meant to indicate – years, months, etc., and the reply was “weeks”. Therefore, by this time next month we fully expect to be breasting the ocean waves. The remarkable part of this story is that the circumstances are true, though the substance may be false.
July 24 – (Friday)
Another rumour comes in this morning that, since it is a confirmation of yesterday’s, deserves mention. While in the garden this morning, Harper was accosted by one of the guards who, quite unsolicited, volunteered the information that the Canadians were to be exchanged on a two-to-one basis for Japanese in Canada, and the approximate date of our leaving was to be August 18. In order to have this verified, Harper called Dunderdale over and he too heard the statement. – Can you beat it? -
July 26 – (Sunday)
It would seem that I’m unable to abide by my decision to cease my weak efforts as a chronicler but it’s Sunday and I find time a bit heavy so I decided to add a few lines.
Since it’s almost a year and seven months to the day since we started prison camp life, I’ll try and record the effects, or results of this first stage of an existence which, we hope, will not prove too lengthy.
The first subject with which I’ll try to deal is morale. If you will remember, I was quite wroth at the sad condition the war and surrender had left our boys. Conditions at Sham Shui Po didn’t help their frame of mind at all, and it was not until we were moved to North Point that anything like a resurgence of spirit could be detected. The realization that there were possibilities of eating something other that their fare of plain rice on the mainland no doubt played a major role in any evident change, however, some measures of renewed hope that rose in each breast can be laid to the camp itself. Perhaps because this was “new territory”, I don’t know, but somehow Sham Shui Po seemed steeped with the atmosphere of a poorly organized graveyard. Everything there was a reminder of the life which we must put behind us – the parade squares and playing fields, while offering us leg room for exercise, seemed more a mockery in the new life we were forced to lead.
As mentioned, the new and better scale of rations proved the major restorative and later, when rations were cut, we were to witness an ebb in the general spirit of the camp. But there were other points as well that contributed in no small measure to the rejuvenation. The one man who can lay claim to the honours in this respect is George Porteous, the YMCA Associated Sports Officer attached to our regiment. Through his untiring efforts, a library, sports, concerts, contests of various sorts and educational classes were started and, what is more remarkable, kept going. Later rations were cut and the men’s spirits slumped accordingly and it was in the depressing times that George’s real energy was called upon. To get men out to participate in sports that only served to emphasize their body wants was an almost super-human task, but be it to his credit that the thing was done and now survives – enthusiastically supported as the reward of his efforts.
With the commencement of work parties, a new era dawned that was to find the men in the best mental phase since our capture. Men going out with the first parties returned exhibiting such effusiveness that one might suspect they had been out picnicking. Immediately, those who had missed the first party were struck by the enthusiasm shown and, sensing that they might be missing something – those who had for months been using various disorders, real or fancied to escape parades – suddenly made miraculous recoveries and reported for work. Naturally, the first exuberance gradually eased down to normal but, since the work was not too regular, due to the weather and the number of men required, as a whole it is still very popular. Of course, the big attraction is that for about eleven hours, the men are away from the unexciting monotony of camp life.
Another feature that plays no small part in the state of our morale is our old friend the rumour. In the main, rumours are accepted as “one of those things” and as such are not given too much credence. Taken in such a manner, they are invaluable as topics of conversation and subjects of humour. Lately, however, the rumour of our supposed repatriation has managed to implant itself fairly solidly in the minds of us all, and it’s quite possible that harmful effects may be the result if the dream is unequivocally shattered. However, only the future holds the answer so, to pass the time, we listen to and hand on little stories, always of betterment for us – until time again proves us wrong.
July 28 – (Wednesday)
In the light of ordinary routine events attendant to camp life, this day must certainly attain the “Class 1 Extraordinary” degree. Firstly, we were thrilled last evening by the visit paid us by some twelve or more aircraft of the Allied Fleet. At approximately 5:30 p.m., six bombers and six or more attendant fighters appeared over the Colony, flying extremely high. Due to the confusing patter of ack-ack fire, we were unable to judge the amount of bombing indulged in by the raiders, but some camp members say they heard or saw, bombing activity over the north-east sector of the island. According to eye witnesses, small bombs were dropped by the escorting craft on Stone Cutters Island, which is directly opposite the camp and about three-quarters of a mile away – at least two of which hit the island, raising a huge cloud of dust and one landing in the water between the island and our camp. Quite naturally, this bit of diversion has resulted in a complete blackout, but strangely enough, we don’t mind. Item #2 consisted of a repeat order of yesterday’s raid, except that our visitation took place immediately after muster this morning. In this raid, some inmates claim to have heard and felt the concussion of very heavy bombs but, being in the M.I. room at the time, I heard and saw nothing. Though the sky was clear and the heavy drone quite audible, most of us were unable to spot the raiders so they must have come and gone at a terrific height. Item #3 presented itself in the form of news from Europe. The paper announced that on July 24th, Mussolini had resigned and King Victor appointing Badoglio as his successor. The paper quoted the new Premier as saying the war would be continued, but we feel that – due partly to the internal flare-ups which were admitted in the news – it will only be a matter of time until the collapse of Italy as an Axis partner will have been accomplished. The anti-Axis forces seem to be slowly forcing the defenders of Sicily into the Messina sector, so we imagine that there too, it remains a matter of time. The last item and certainly not the least, interests us even more personally. It was announced on parade tonight that the sum of 24 yen per man was in camp and would be distributed tomorrow. Though canteen prices necessarily limit the men’s purchases, it does mean they smoke for a while. A late order shows postponement of the distribution of said money but the boys aren’t disheartened much because of its presence in the camp office. Well, as I said, it’s been a very productive twenty-four hours and needless to say, we don’t feel much the worse for it.
July 31 – (Saturday)
This date, marking the ?th anniversary of my joining the ranks of the Benedicts, I feel calls for a commemorative entry. I shall refrain from any facetious remarks concerning my straight-forward manner of living in the very recent past and its relationship to the expected fidelity of the happily married couple. Surely this deletion in itself is a sign that, by such small tokens as the subjugation of my alleged sense of humour, I am gradually coming to learn the ways of matrimony. Guita celebrated a birthday yesterday so this evening we had something of a joint ceremony, in which he provided lunch and I provided the drinks (coffee). Incidentally, a piece of lovely cake and a couple of slices of fresh pineapple – received from Guita’s friends outside – went down exceedingly well. Our friends of the Yank Air Force paid us another visit on Thursday afternoon and gave us a thrill by dropping a few “eggs” rather close to us. The bombers, of a very heavy type and numbering about twenty, are alleged to have dropped quite a number of bombs on such objectives as shipyards, etc. downtown, one claim being that eleven hits were registered on Taikoo docks. Judging by their efforts at an oil depot across the bay from us, we decided the Yanks either had tremendous faith in their accuracy or they didn’t give a durn for we poor prisoners, because from their great height, a very small margin of error would have made a nice mess of the camp. However, aside from putting a bit of wind up in some with the whistle of bombs, it was a very successful demonstration. The different war fronts seem to be marking time as far as we can see and, though heavy losses are claimed for the anti-Axis, particularly in Russia, we feel we must be doing all right, certainly we’d be hearing about it if we weren’t. We hope August will prove as uplifting as July has been.
August 6 – (Friday)
One or two developments of a minor nature are the incentives behind this entry. The general war situation remains much the same on all fronts with the possible exception of the political aspect, which is marked by the granting to the Burmese – by the Japs – of their independence following which the country immediately declared war on Britain and the United States. This move, as we see it, paves the way for a remarkable bit of face-saving, which we believe will become apparent when the expected Allied drive in Burma gets under way…as well as giving the Nips something concrete to boast of in their greater East Asia political aspirations. Italy, by their decision to keep up the fight, is something of a disappointment to us, but we believe that they will be effectively “influenced” to alter their policy in the near future. A paragraph in yesterday’s paper gives rise to much speculation. Whether by accident or design, a paragraph which quotes a German major as saying the Luftwaffe, by their harassing tactics, were forcing Americans to resort to night movement of troops and supplies, appears under the caption of activities in the Balkan area. Mention is made of heavy Yank air raids on Romanian oil fields yesterday and the day previous but up to now, no mention has been made of any land operation. We are at a loss as to whether the paragraph has through some error of the typesetter, become incorporated in a column dealing with some other front or whether the Allies have made a landing in Greece or adjacent Balkan territory. Today’s paper may provide a clue. – Tuesday morning the Canadians were called out on parade and, after a cursory inspection which weeded out approximately 150 permanent cripples and obviously unfit men, the remainder – some four hundred - learned that they were to form a draft scheduled to leave next week sometime. The total draft number is in the neighbourhood of five hundred and fifty and includes besides Canadians, R.A.’s, R.A.F.’s and R.A.M.C.’s but only three officers. Captain Bardal (Winnipeg Grenadiers) and Gordie Gray are the lucky Canucks. This leaves, including hospital, approximately three hundred and fifty Canadians, plus officers in camp. She’ll be a dead old hole for awhile.
August 15 – (Sunday)
With the departure of the draft this morning we enter a new phase of our monotonous camp life. Nothing has come about as yet to indicate what changes we will have to undergo, but movement of drafts and subsequent re-allocation of living quarters are usually synonymous. The draft evidently is not to travel deluxe as the last did, for, according to those who landed rations, the boat is very small with a tonnage of approximately 1200 tons. Rather grim for 500 men in weather like this. The men comprising this draft were in far better physical shape than the last so, if they’re fortunate enough to get good grub in their new habitation, it wouldn’t be too long before they put on a bit of flesh. Rumours of another draft circulate already but again we hear “no officers going”. Incidentally, Bardal and Gray were taken off at the last moment. – The past week, as far as I’m concerned anyway, has been rather on the hectic side, due to a money issue and the fact that I’m Winnipeg Grenadier hospital canteen man. Not only did the previously mentioned 24 yen materialize, but an additional 30 yen per man for all Canadians was also forthcoming, giving Canucks a great gob of money to get rid of. Two special canteens and the regular weekly one meant that I helped the boys part company with about 3,000 yen. The limitations imposed by the outlandish prices can be seen in the following figures. Syrup (2 lbs) – 5.75 yen; dripping (1 lb) – 9.00 yen; jam (8 oz) – 2.55 yen; canned mutton (12 oz. tin) – 7.50 yen; margarine (1 lb. tin) – 12.50 yen; sugar – 3.00 yen per pound; salt ( 1 lb) – 1.70 yen; pepper (1 lb) – 4.70 yen. I think we’ll have to get Safeway Stores in to stabilize prices.
News from the war fronts remains in most cases unchanged. Vague references to the re-shuffling of the Germans’ Soviet line lends some authority to the rumour of the Germans “shortening” their lines, in the Orel sector and authenticity to the rumour of two Russian “break throughs”. So, we assume the Russians are giving them a bit of “What For”. Though the paper each day stresses the huge losses being suffered by the Soviets, we note that despite this fact, the Russians still continue to launch attack after attack. A statement that the Italians intend to accomplish their intention of delaying the enemy in Sicily, coupled with the news that the Allies are within 35 miles of Messina, seems to indicate the finale in that area. We hope that F.D.R. and Churchill, in their present conference in Canada, are discussing the strategy for a last big push that will terminate this business.
My rustling around last week left me somewhat puffed up due to this infernal beri-beri, so I must needs do a lot of sitting around for awhile. It would be amusing to an outsider to see Mac, Black and myself in the mornings, particularly Black, with our eyes partially closed due to the puffiness of cheeks etc. and looking like we had been on a month’s drinking bout.
A rumour circulated late last night that the Russians had accomplished three break-throughs in the German lines. This gem was followed closely by another saying the Germans were seeking terms. The rumour to end all rumours came at lights out and we were greatly relieved to hear that the Germans had capitulated at 7 a.m. yesterday morning. Tsk, tsk, I still may have Christmas shopping to worry about this year.
Swift Current, Sask. - August 22, 1943
My Dearest Len,
Once again we have been told that we can write to you – so I really do not know where to begin.
We moved back into the house and we are in the same place – seems now that we have never been away, except that you are not with us.
Paddy and Shelagh are well. Hubert has joined up (deleted). We were terribly sorry to hear of Blake’s death.
Things go on the same here. We miss you terribly and pray you are well. This is all the space I’m allotted, so will close.
Hoping we hear from you,
All my love,
P.S. I never could print decently.
Swift Current, Sask. – August 25, 1943
My dearest Len,
I wrote one letter the other day but as I did not have the proper address, I thought I had better write again.
I hope you are well, we are all fine here. Your girls are growing like weeds. Paddy will soon be as big as I am. She is in grade five this year.
Your Dad and Mother seem to be keeping quite well also. We are back in the house again, same suite – seemed so much like home – as if we had never left.
Bob and Vi were married last Monday. He is home on leave just now – always asks for you.
Must close. I do hope we hear from you. We miss you so much.
All our love,
The dates on the letters indicate a whole year has passed without communication since Leonard’s first letter of June, 1942.
August 19 – (Thursday)
When our “hosts” make up their minds to do things they waste a minimum of time. This morning, with no warning whatever, the word came around that all Majors and up, and six Captains of the two Canadian regiments were to have all the baggage packed and ready to move by 10:30 - their destination – Argyle Street Camp. The actual departure was delayed until around six this evening, but the whole move was a distinct surprise. Just how our new set up, which leaves approximately 15 Subalterns and three or four Captains per unit, will work remains to be seen, but those of us staying have as yet displayed little sign of any great emotional strain.
August 25 – (Wednesday)
Something in the way of extra fare was served up this morning in the form of a bombing raid, at about 9:30 a.m. No rumours of the damage done have come in as yet, but we hope to glean something from one or other of the work parties out. Eight heavy bombers accompanied by an escort of four fighters lazily flew across the island in our general direction, dropping their loads in the vicinity of the docks on the mainland.
The work parties mentioned above include one group to Aberdeen, on the south side of the island, employed in shifting aviation oil from one dump to another, the other party to Kai Tak Airport, where grass on the runways is being cut. The airport project is actually immense. When one sees how much has been already accomplished and is able to visualize just what is still to be completed it almost staggers one. I was out Monday and was treated with a visit of two P.40 recce planes which rather stirred things up for awhile. I broke off for supper and had no more than seated myself when the drone of planes was heard. Rising to the windows we saw the seven bombers but to our knowledge no bombs were dropped. Word from the airport party is that at least six hits were registered on the Kowloon dock and shipyard and four or five hits on an ack-ack battery just behind the dock. Further good news comes in the paper with word that the Germans have evacuated Kharkov. Ironically enough, today’s paper carries a special bulletin from Canton which states that a large formation of Jap bombers carried out a devastating raid on Kweilin, the airbase of the American airfield. It must be presumed that the planes used in today’s raid on Hong Kong have been flying around since Kweilin was damaged yesterday and have no place to land. Strange as it may seem, on the day of our last heavy raid, the paper had a similar item which disclosed the fact that Kweilin had been rendered useless by a raid the previous day. A rumour circulating tonight alleged to have come from the Chinese paper, says the Germans have suffered the biggest set-back since the beginning of the war, on the Soviet front. Keep pushing Joe!
Two deaths, one on Monday and one this morning, serve as a reminder that ours still is a struggle for survival. The first death which, so we hear, had worms as the first contributory cause, brought to light through autopsy, the fact that though the victim was of the robust type with an exceptional physique, his internal organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys were in a very poor state. Makes one wonder just what the after-effects of this will be on some of us in later years. The death this a.m. was the result of malignant malaria which we hope will not become widespread. Evidently since our troubles last year commenced about this time, this must be a crucial point as regards health. The general health standard though is much better than that of a year ago. Since the departure of the seniors, the Captains and Subalterns have devised a new monetary scheme which pools all pay and gives everyone a small allowance for personal thing such as fags, the rest going to a general amenities fund and messing (? if any – we lost our officers’ kitchen). Plans almost went through that would have established something of a precedent in the Canadian army. All watches, jewellery or anything of saleable value was to be put in the common pot, thereby we hoped, assuring a sizeable amount of money to buy much needed medicines, etc. Unfortunately no means at present exist for obtaining said supplies “over the fence” so our communistic venture came to naught. It would have been interesting to watch.
August 27 – (Friday)
The cruel hand of destiny dispenses some terrible blows and today the camp sorrows at the thought of one which – to us who are used to fate’s buffetings – seems to be as cruel and harsh as we’ve experienced. This morning while engaged in cleaning the camp area, a young Frenchman, Matthew by name, touched the electric wire surrounding the camp and, despite almost four hours of artificial respiration and other methods of resuscitation, all efforts were decided useless around two o’clock. This chap was physically and mentally probably the most fit man in camp and was one of those cheery, bubbling Frenchies that make themselves immensely popular wherever they go. Being something over a six-footer and proportionally well–developed, it was hoped that his physique would pull him through. These circumstances, by themselves, seem sufficiently sad when one looks back at the obstacles we’ve had to surmount in the last twenty months, but in this case our sorrow is felt for Matthew’s wife. Only last night he was in playing bridge with Blackie and “Boots” and was excited – as only a Frenchman can be – because he had seen his wife for the first time since his incarceration while returning by truck from Kai Tak with the work party. He could hardly contain himself, particularly since today was his fourth wedding anniversary and it was remarked on afterwards that it was a treat to see a man so genuinely happy. Again at muster parade this morning (9:00) his wife took her chances and came close enough to the camp for him to get another glimpse. Less than forty minutes later the anniversary which meant so much to both of them was to be turned in to the brutal tragedy related above, by the thoughtlessness of some sentry who neglected to turn off the “juice”. As though to mock us for our helplessness, the fates ordained that she come again at evening muster but, of course, this time she was to go away unanswered. Maybe I’m getting soft but to me the whole affair is the saddest, cruelest thing I’ve witnessed for years. How maddening to those loved ones outside within a half mile of us, thinking of the sufferings and privations of their men in here and being able to do nothing about it. Thank heaven that if I should be called, time and distance will have dispelled any untoward grief that might be felt by my family.
August 28 – (Saturday)
The work party returning from the airport reports seeing Matthew’s wife this evening, looking very cheerful and searching each truck for a glimpse of her husband. Matthew was buried at three o’clock this afternoon.
September 2 – (Thursday)
This is being written amidst the posh comforts of the hospital area, spring bed, window and all the trimmings. After a somewhat lengthy lay-off in things athletic, I allowed myself to be persuaded to play ball on Sunday, with the result that – due to an amateurish slide into second base that removed some skin from my foot – I suffer (?) from a spot of blood poisoning. This is a wonderful country in that respect, almost any kind of a cut or bruise turning septic without a moment’s notice.
News these days is, more than ever before, a veritable fountain of hope. Even the smattering of items which --------- pardon me ----------- At this point I was disturbed by the air raid siren so I moseyed to the door to see if I could spot the planes. We finally managed to see ten aircraft, eight twin motored bombers and two fighters flying high and coming in directly across the camp. When the planes were almost directly overhead we heard, and felt, a terrific concussion and brought our eyes earthward just in time to see five direct hits on the Standard Oil installations across the bay from us (roughly half a mile away). I’ve heard of the accuracy credited to the Yank bomb-sights, but not having seen I would never have believed the feat we witnessed was possible from the height of today’s machines. The Standard plant is fairly large with perhaps a dozen tanks plus loading docks, warehouses, etc. But even so I think it remarkable that not one bomb hit outside the installation area. Needless to say, huge billows of smoke and flame were soon pouring skyward and as I write, the fire rages unabated, punctuated by minor explosions as smaller tanks go up. Some of the burning fragments are causing hurried precautions to be taken in camp lest the wind shift and send them our way. As the two fighters circled and dove down, presumably to estimate the damage and discourage the firemen, their m.g.’s churning up the bay as they came down to within twenty or thirty feet of the water then rose and disappeared behind the hills. Wotta Day!
Now to get back to the news, whose importance seems to have flagged somehow. The Russian situation seems rather obscure but the fragments we have been given seem to indicate a very heavy offensive which, in some areas at least, has resulted in substantial gains for the Russians. Reports in yesterday’s paper admit the evacuation of a city, 50 miles west of Rostov, by the Germans and also state that the German lines are being shortened to facilitate etc. etc. The general unrest in Occupied countries is gleaned from Denmark, Sweden and we surmise even Germany, and leads us to believe these people must feel the opportune moment has arrived.
|Monday, August 23||12 p.m.||2 P.40’s Recce|
|Tuesday, August 24||1:30 p.m.||2 Recce planes|
|Wednesday, August 25||9:30 a.m.||8 bombers (heavy)|
|6:00 p.m.||7 bombers||Reported hits on Tai Koo and Kowloon docks|
|Thursday, August 26||2 p.m.||2 Recce planes|
|2:45 p.m.||14 bombers (heavy)||Numerous hits on Kowloon dock area|
|4:45 p.m.||1 Recce plane|
|5:15 p.m.||2 Recce planes|
|Saturday, August 27||2:15 p.m.||4 Recce planes|
|5 p.m.||? planes||Distant concussions|
|Sunday, August 28||2 p.m.||? planes||Siren blown downtown|
|5 p.m.||4 planes|
|Tuesday, August 31||3:30 p.m.||7 planes||No bombing|
|4 p.m.||? planes||Small tanker burned and sank after one attack of two planes, also m.g.’s not far from camp|
|Wednesday, September 1||2:45 p.m.||? planes||Oil depot or refinery in mouth of river set afire|
|4:45 p.m.||5 planes||Concussions heard, possibly on the island|
|Thursday, September 2||1:45 p.m.||10 planes||Standard installations completely demolished|
September 4 – (Saturday)
The local paper covered the raid with a small paragraph tucked away in the interior of the paper and it read as follows:
“Yesterday about ten enemy planes appeared over Hong Kong dropping some bombs. A fire was started but no casualties have been reported. Our ack-ack fire drove off the raiders.”
As a matter of interest, the installation is still a mass of smoke and flame. Rumour places the casualties at around a thousand, but I think that’s a bit steep. Something in the way of opposition appeared yesterday with the arrival of four fairly new Jap fighters. Should see some fun next raid. The Yanks are giving us a rest after the excitement of the previous days.
Some points in Churchill’s Quebec speech, some of which appeared for the first time in yesterday’s news, helped clarify one or two points for us. The death of Boris, according to Winnie, wasn’t as natural as it might have been. He also mentions significant political development in the Balkans. Evidently the strategy decided on includes an intensification of the battle of the Pacific.
September 8 – (Wednesday)
Not much of further interest except the landing on the Italian mainland and the general withdrawal all along the Soviet front of German forces. Coherent reports are lacking so we have no idea whether the retreat is being well executed or whether it’s the result of some smashing break-through. Today’s paper should shed some light. Despite almost four days of rain, the fire across the bay still smokes away. Bus service in Kowloon has been abandoned as a result of gas shortages. The siren blew today around 2:30 but we heard no planes.
September 15 – (Wednesday)
This date finds me still in dry-dock although the foot is back to normal. Guess I’ll be turned out tomorrow. Yesterday I thanked my lucky stars for such blessings as infected feet since my ailment served as an excuse to avoid an inspection parade that lasted nine and a half hours. At 8:30 a.m., fall-in blew for everyone except bed patients in hospital and all were herded onto Jubilee Square where they stayed until 6 p.m. – without food, water and from noon on, smokes, under a boiling sun. Needless to say, they were thoroughly washed up by evening. The reason for all this was a thorough search of the camp by the Gendarmerie in an effort to locate a radio alleged to be in the area. The net result was a vast collection of heaters, tools, bits of iron, etc. Our local newspaper has been stopped and, of course, we all assume the reason to be adverse (for the Nips) reports on the war. The last issue we saw admitted a landing in Italy but mentioned nothing about Russia. I guess we’re destined to finish up without being able to follow the trend of events. Rumours naturally fly back and forth but we’ve bitten so many, many times that we’re inclined to be skeptical.
Sunday the work party at Kai Tak were given a thrill when seven P.38’s swooped in over the bay and gave an exhibition of machine gunning on a freighter and on the Kowloon dockyard. They said it was beautiful to watch. Five planes, flying high, appeared over here yesterday afternoon but they merely circled the Colony and disappeared. Lovely clear days and equally lovely nights enhanced by a full moon revive my “live in Hong Kong” trend of thought.
October 9 – (Saturday)
In the last entry I mentioned the probabilities of my being parted from my nice spring bed and my pleasant surroundings and my return to the lines. Such was certainly the case and the next day found me “ready for duty”. My stay proved a short one though as a sudden fever, developed on my second day out, found me once again hospitalized. I had no sooner re-settled in my former soft bed when symptoms of dysentery began to manifest themselves, with the result that, next morning, I found myself transferred to dysentery hospital where I’ve languished these past three weeks. Fortunately, I have had no great degree of physical discomfort to go through, but I find that, in picking my complaint, I have chosen Amoebic Dysentery instead of the ordinary, and the cure is by comparison somewhat complicated. Evidently the only cure is a drug name “Emetine” which is usually administered by injection. Unfortunately, this drug existed – in very limited quantities – only in capsule form and after four doses, during which I was unable to hold it down for sufficient time to complete it’s work, the M.O. gave up. He is at present trying some kind of Japanese pill course which Mac was able to procure from one of the volunteers, but evidently he doesn’t put too much faith in them as he has me slated for Bowen Road on the next draft. Oh well, anything for a change.
The day after my hitting this place, McKinnon opened his new show “Shooting High”, which from all sides is claimed to be the “best yet”. As a member of the show orchestra, I was very disappointed to miss the presentation but very tickled to hear it so widely acclaimed. The show of the musical revue type, replete with chorus girls et al, didn’t allow an idle moment from beginning to end and this, with snappy tunes and music and superb settings and lighting effects, combined to make the show the most popular of the series. The new winter season promises a Portuguese show on the 20thof this month, a Christmas Panto and New Year Frolic, as well as three other shows which budding producers await the opportunity to exhibit. We’ve certainly been most fortunate in the entertainment field. Lieutenant Bardal and the HKVDC presented a classical concert by the camp orchestra last Saturday and Monday which was very well received. The public was saved the agonies of a solo by yours truly by the timely intervention of the malady which at present keeps me an active member of that exclusive organization known as the “Knights Of The Bed-Pan”.
What an enchantingly beautiful place this colony is at this time of the year. Lovely clear days and nights, not too hot, not too cool, make it an ideal vacation ground. My “Live in Hong Kong” ideas received a jolt in a conversation with a fellow inmate who has spent some twenty years out here, when he declared that the climate is very hard on the opposite sex, particularly for reasons unknown, the blonde type. According to my informant who has raised two daughters, girls seem to thrive and flourish up to the point of development into womanhood, at which time they seem to wilt visibly, under the rigors of the excessive heat. In the case of this chap, domestic life for the past ten years has been almost non-existent since his daughters and wife have spent the big portion of their time in the old country, where the girls are being educated. Yes, he too married a blonde.
Optimism still surges through the camp over the war news from distant fronts. Stalin seems to be quite capable of clearing Russia of all Germans before many more weeks pass, unless the Huns bring up something startling in the way of reserves – but how this will affect a rapid conclusion to the European war is hard to say. Militarily, my personal opinion is that the establishment of a continental second front of some magnitude is essential if we are to hope for an early victory, and it would seem that the time in which that could be accomplished is almost past. Our only other solution lies then in the internal condition of Europe – particularly Germany. Ifthe general unrest in the Occupied countries is sufficient and ifGermany has been suffering sufficiently in regards to manpower and equipment in Russia and deteriorization of war industries, through bombing at home, thenI can see a possibility of internal collapse and suing for peace. These later points I must admit, are mostly supposition on our part or perhaps wishful thinking would be the more appropriate term since our news isn’t calculated to cause us to believe the Anti-Axis unbeatable. However, we do see, or believe we see, items from time to time, that lead us to conclude that things can’t last very much longer. On the eastern stage, the settings seem to be almost ready for the opening of the promised offensive against Japan. Steady inroads are being made in the south Pacific which step by step, shorten our lines between bases and the expected fronts. News concerning the Pacific area is very sporadic but since the monsoon season has just concluded in the south and good weather is in full swing generally throughout the East, it is felt that the next four months should see definite action which will prove decisive in the Asiatic sphere of the war. Whatever happens you can be sure that we’ll be sitting around making wild predictions on how it will end and when we’ll be free.
As a side note, an R.A.M.C. Sergeant has just moved into the next bed suffering from the same complaint as I and here are a few points of interest on the disease. The disease manifests itself in the form of tiny amoeba which attach themselves to the walls of the intestine and then start developing in a sort of growth which, if unchecked, finally perforates the intestinal wall. If the growth is checked by Emetine, a scar forms in its place, leaving that part of the intestine unable to perform its proper function of absorption of foods. A danger arising from this parasite is its entry into the liver where it is impossible to apply the cure and, as a result, the liver ultimately collapses. As mentioned previously, Emetine is the only remedy and for complete cure a course of thirty needles is necessary, requiring approximately four months. One course of ten needles, however, is what we’ll probably receive, which effectively checks the malady for six months.
October 12 – (Tuesday)
This last bit has been written while waiting to go to Bowen Road Hospital. I’m eagerly looking forward to the trip now as it will bring about a change that should help pass the next few weeks more rapidly.