April 2 1945 – (Easter Monday)
In keeping with the festive spirit of Easter, the Yanks came over today and deposited a few eggs along the harbourfront and station area. A total of forty-two B.24’s, in waves of six to twenty, raided the colony from noon until three-thirty, dropping their loads – as nearly as one could judge – on Kowloon Docks, the railway station and Kai Tak. A more accurate estimation of damage is expected from the R.A.M.C. party which is out at the school that is to be their new home.
Another case of suicide in camp today. An American, who suffered some kind of a stroke attributed to too much sun yesterday, collapsed last evening and was taken to the hospital. Around noon today it was found that he had severed an artery in his wrist while under his blankets and he died shortly after. No doubt some sort of melancholy resulted from the heat shock, but it does seem too bad with the end in sight.
The “Bardal” tells us of another “forty-eight hour” crisis in Germany. Recent advances by both the Anglo-Americans and the Russians have rendered things extremely “critical”. (I’m beginning to lose faith in that word.) News in our papers of a day or so ago, that the Yanks in the Okinawa area are employing over a hundred and fifty war vessels, makes good reading for us. Included in this operation are twenty-eight battle ships which, with the compliment of carriers, cruisers, etc., makes a rather sizeable show of fire power.
The party of Canadians scheduled for Taipo left yesterday morning. The boys should enjoy their outing – for the scenery is said to be beautiful, the weather is fine and good quantities of food were taken. Honda went with the party so that it can be assumed that they will be treated very well. Mattresses were even supplied.
April 3 – (Tuesday)
I had intended writing up the score of yesterday’s raid this afternoon, but instead spent most of my time wondering where the next lot of bombers was going to light. A repeat raid today, employing approximately the same number of B.24’s and attacking in waves, kept us hopping from about 11:30 a.m. until three this afternoon. The raid today proved considerably more exciting than most others since their targets, Cosmo Docks and Stone Cutters Island, are of no great distance from the camp. Three attempts at Stone Cutters, evidently with the intention of silencing the guns there, proved a bit exciting for us – but the prize thrill of the day came when they turned their attention to Cosmo. The first flight to attack the docks came slowly over the camp, from the north and, flying very high, released their bombs a bit before they were directly over our heads. The whine of the descending bombs was a bit demoralizing, to say the least, and we were more than a mite disappointed to note that the missiles had fallen wide for it meant they would probably have another go at it. Sure enough, another try, again directly over camp and again a miss. On the third attempt, a change of tactics was employed and only three bombers were used. Changing their direction a bit, but still coming in directly over our heads, the trio was, fortunately for our blood pressure, more successful. Not that we have no faith in our bomber laddies, Hell NO! but the margin of safety was just a bit thin for our liking. One stick of bombs lit straight down the street from the camp, leveling a theatre and some tenement buildings. This theatre is situated three streets from the camp and part of the base plate of one of the bombs, weighing almost nine pounds, lit inside the camp area, four huts down from ours. That’s quite close enough! Results of yesterday’s raid, as confirmed by the work party, are that Taikoo Docks (on the island) and North Point, Kowloon Docks and gun positions of Devil’s Peak were given a real pasting. The record landing, of which I spoke a few entries back, seems to have been eclipsed for we hear that a Jap plane, cruising about yesterday, suddenly decided that home was the best place for him and came in for a quick landing. The idea was quite sound but the pilot rather spoiled the effect by omitting to lower his landing gear with the result that the plane crashed and burst into flames.
One of our officers, Willie Nugent, was hit by shrapnel today - the piece going right through his knee, fortunately missing his knee cap.
April 5 – (Thursday)
Another raid yesterday, again employing formations of B.24’s and this time, to our intense satisfaction, all targets were along the waterfront. The raid seemed much more intense than the previous ones and one of the work parties that was out reports that the whole waterfront area, from Taikoo to the Naval Docks, was methodically pounded. The A.P.C. installation on the island was hit and smoke and flames poured forth until the early hours of this morning. The party also reported that they had a go at Holt’s Wharf but that the bombs fell a bit wide, leaving a trail of craters that extended from Signal Hill to the roadway in front of the Peninsula Hotel and blowing all the windows out of one side of the latter.
We can see rescue workers digging amongst the debris left by the bombs that lit down the street from us, and parties passing by say they are still taking out the bodies. Rumour has it that two thousand Chinese perished in the raid of that day.
Some type of pamphlet was dropped yesterday which warned the Chinese to stay away from the Dock areas.
The latest flash from the Bardal states that two hundred transports, plus one hundred and fifty warships, are said to be off the island of Kyushu. The report adds that this makes a total of fifteen hundred warcraft operating in that area. Big Stuff!!!
Nothing at all on the German situation. Our own paper of yesterday reports that Goebbels, in a magazine article, exhorts the German people to fight till the last as they can hope to gain nothing by surrender.
Reports from a small work party that went out to Taipo indicate that the Canadians are having a royal time of it there. We hear they are quartered on the former estate of a Chinese General; are enjoying good grub; the work is light (gardening); and that they work eight hours a day, with fifteen minutes of each hour as a rest period. The work is all apportioned out ahead of time and we hear that Honda has told the boys to ease up a bit as they are already nine days ahead of schedule. Quite a nice little picnic!
Although the sky was heavily overcast today, the bombing came at the usual time and the bombers again subjected the dock areas to a heavy barrage. Because most of the bombing had to be done through breaks in the clouds, the bombardment was not as heavy as on previous days. We were again relieved to find that they had chosen targets a considerable distance from the camp for, though we have every confidence (?) in the infra-red devices for penetrating clouds, etc., we didn’t cherish the thought of them going for targets like Stone Cutters or Cosmo with any possible hindrances to their accuracy. This being the fourth day of heavy raids, we wondered if it is possible that we are to see something here after all. Could be! ……………..
April 6 – (Friday)
It’s heavily overcast again today and, although a reconnaissance plane was over about noon, there were no cloud-breaks so we saw no raid today.
A big rumour (credited to the Bardal) says that Premier Koiso and some of his cabinet have resigned. General Minami mentioned as a possible successor. We seize hopefully on items of this kind as indications of possible deterioration. Another Bardal report is that the Anglo-Americans and the Russians have effected a juncture at Coburg, Germany; also that Okinawa has fallen. Of local interest is the rumour of some kind of move affecting this camp and the Officers camp next door. Some say the two camps are to be merged, others that the Canadian Officers are to be moved over. It seems likely that the former may be correct. Personally, I’m quite happy as we are now.
April 7 – (Saturday)
Our rumour of the Cabinet change was confirmed by today’s paper which headlines the news as follows: “Koiso Cabinet Resigns En Bloc: Imperial Command Given Baron Suzuki To Form New Government”. The editor comments that, “The Koiso Cabinet had been rather weak in facing the situation, hence its resignation.” Of course it’s a bit early to predict just how the new set-up will fit in with Japan’s present war policy, but we recall the fact that Admiral Suzuki was against the policy of the Militarist Party, and as such was the victim of an attempted assassination during the “Purge” of 1936, when that party seized power. We think that this bit of news is the most significant as far as we’re concerned, that we’ve had to date, coming as it does on the heels of Japanese denial of “peace feelers”.
A little “bird”, which we consider reliable, whispers that Germany has finally capitulated. Late Bardal news tonight tells us the Benes has set up a Czech government and that the Nazis have gone “underground” and are busy exterminating those whom they consider have “given up”. The same source mentions that Tokyo is being bombed night and day and is pretty much of a shambles; also that the Yanks have two airfields operating on Okinawa. All very good stuff!
April 9 – (Monday)
News concerning the projected move into the other camp, of which I spoke in the last entry, is still forthcoming – but it does look as though we are to do some shifting. Officers from the other side have completed their move to what was formerly our hospital “c” lines and we hear that we are to be transferred “sometime before the Taipo party returns”. Unfortunately, this means the end of the woodchopper gang on the hospital side and, commencing Thursday, Prendy and I join the ranks of the unemployed. Since our kitchen still functions, the shifting of the officers has given us the opportunity to converse across the wire and we have renewed acquaintances with Dud, Mac and others whom we met at North Point. From what we can gather, conditions are pretty good with them and the only big difference is the matter of rations. Evidently the manner of ration distribution prevalent there, which is said to be the result of a sort of mutual distrust, prevents their eating in the rather high standard to which we are accustomed.
Incidentally, the Japs didn’t take too kindly to the intercommunication across the wire and an order was issued that anyone found doing so was to be shot at by the sentries – the result, one man was shot in the arm and another was given a jab with a bayonet.
It would seem that those “forty-eight hour” forecasts don’t mean a thing for Germany still hangs on although a report credited to one of the Bardals claims the Allies have entered Berlin. The other Bardal goes to bat with the story that the Allies are now ten kilometres from the city, so we can take our choice.
Everyone was surprised and shocked at the news of Roosevelt’s death on Friday. We feel his loss will be particularly evident at the post-war parleys and hope that Churchill will be spared to do his bit.
Our heavy weather finally cleared Thursday and “Albert” was over two or three times doing a spot of reconnaissance. Friday, nine B.24’s came over and after circling the colony once or twice, dropped their loads on a ship which had been beached on the near side of Stone Cutters for plate repairs. Only one stick of bombs was dropped and though they failed to score a direct hit on the ship, they were close enough that she quickly developed a list and settled her stern on the bottom. Considering the height of the planes, we thought it a pretty good bit of shooting. After dropping several small loads on points around the colony, the bombers departed. Continuance of good weather gives us an alarm every day about noon, but the planes pass over to some objective in the direction of the territories. It looks as though we have little excitement to look forward to in this line for awhile.
Our paper tells us that a British task force is operating off the northern tip of Formosa and lists four or five of the big carriers taking part.
I forgot to mention that the Bardal is quoted as saying that Togo (Japanese Foreign Minister) was visiting Molotov in Moscow; also that twelve hundred B.29’s have been pounding Tokyo recently.
April 25 – (Wednesday)
I had decided to discontinue further entries until something concrete in the way of news turned up, hoping thereby to eliminate a small percentage of the repetition which characterizes these entries. Our paper of late has taken to featuring the news from the European front and we find that we don’t have to place the same reliance on the Bardal as formerly. Yesterday the Bardal scored a bit of scoop with the news that a million and a half Russians had entered Berlin and now occupied fourteen districts in the city. Our paper, received after supper, featured the same story although lacking some of the details, and stated that the Russians, in large numbers, had entered the city from the north-east and were advancing toward the centre of the city along Uter Den Linden, under cover of a terrific artillery barrage which was preceeding their advance. The paper quotes speeches by both Hitler and Goebbels in which they exhort the people to fight to the last man etc., but methinks they are a bit late…it will avail them little now.
I believe we can safely assume that the European phase is finished, at least insofar as future supplies of planes, etc., are concerned and we now relax and wonder what the Frisco confab will produce.
Definite news today of our move to the next camp. We hear that thirty-four Canadian Officers are to be included in a group of fifty scheduled to move tomorrow. We can only hope that we are not included among those listed for a change.
Being unemployed has its drawback and we find time lagging. Today and yesterday I have been filling in for Blackie on the lines woodchopper gang as his stomach has been acting up a bit lately.
The air raid siren has just blown, the first in some days – but no sign of planes.
April 30 – (Monday)
This is being penned from our new surroundings as a result of the fulfillment of our move rumour. Friday afternoon we received the order and by that evening we were installed in our present quarters. So far the change seems to have been for the better and, with the exception of a few minor details, the look for the future shows promise. One unfortunate result of the move was the break-up of our little mess syndicate due to Mac’s staying behind to superintend the woodchopper gang. The main point of difference between the two camps is in the matter of food. Being used to the system in which all rations are turned over to the cookhouse for cooking, we are now faced with a different manner of handling supplies for we find that such rations as oil, sugar, salt and some beans are given to the individual in the raw state due to a spirit of distrust that seems to pervade the camp. While this system does have the advantages of discouraging any “rackets’ in the food line, and ensures that every man gets his full quota, it also means that we have to do without some of the tasty stew, chow fans, and cakes, etc. to which we were accustomed. Products of the camp gardens are distributed to individuals and so far we have received several heads of lettuce and some cucumbers. Small fires are not sanctioned officially but eyes are discretely turned so that we don’t do at all badly. The menu is unvarying and reads as follows: breakfast – a porridge of rice and ground beans; tiffin – plain rice and cooked vegetables (boiled); dinner – rice-bean-porridge on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and rice “bust” the remaining nights. A new innovation just prior to our arrival is the serving of tea at 7:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. instead of the usual tea with meals.
The greatest attraction here, as far as I’m concerned, is the musical opportunity. On arrival here I was presented with a sax which is in pretty fair shape and I’ve already indulged in considerable playing. The first evening we had a “session” in the concert with a combination which included a piano, sax, clarinet, accordion and drums, and many were the favourable comments it provoked. The next afternoon I rehearsed with the camp orchestra which consisted of four violins, three saxes, two altos and a tenor, cello, flute, piano and drums. This latter group is presenting a concert on Friday. I have also committed my rather scanty knowledge of sax to the effort of helping a Portuguese officer, Captain Bottillio, who is interested in the tenor. All in all, it looks as though most of my leisure time is to be taken care of. With the exception of such permanent fatigues as sanitary, etc., the remaining fatigues around the camp are done on a voluntary basis so that if a person requires a spot of exercise he has the choice of any one of a dozen or so jobs to which he may be suited. I’ve already taken part in a barrel shifting fatigue, plus a spot of road building. So far I’ve found the days have fairly flown by and if the present temp is kept up, the months should roll by pretty rapidly. A much easier spirit prevails in this camp than we had hoped to find and with everything run on a sort of communistic basis we notice that a better feeling of fellowship exists here than across the wire. Most of the Canadians are bunked down in one hut and that too is to our liking. I believe that most of us would not take the opportunity of returning to the other side if such a thing presented itself.
General news remains much the same, although we read that they have finally caught up with old Mussolini. News from the Burma front indicates that things are pretty close to the finish there, as they seem to be in Okinawa. We await the results of the Frisco conference and wonder what the next step taken by the Yanks will be.
May 4 – (Friday)
We hear that Nimitz had met the different unit commanders at Okinawa and that they had discussed the ways and means of the rapid transportation of two million men from the European front to the Pacific sector. We hear too that Tokyo has had almost eight hundred thousand homes destroyed, thus rendering homeless almost four million people. That’s a lot of destruction! Yesterday’s paper tells us that Hitler has finally caught his. What a nice job Donets has as his successor. We still think the Japs will probably do a bit of thinking before they decide to emulate Germany.
May 7 – (Monday)
This date, by reason of its being something of a birthdate special for the Corrigan clan, rates its special entry and I extend my special best wishes to Shelagh, Grandma Hart, Nina, et al. Due no doubt to coincidence of this collective celebration, I’ve come to look on this date and this month of May as one of special interest for we-uns in here and for myself in particular. That this year is to be no exception is borne out in a concrete manner by news of the collapse of Germany. A more personal manifestation was the consummation of a little clothing deal by Prendy which netted the firm some nine hundred yen.
The final capitulation of Germany is, of course, the main topic of conversation these days and there is much speculation as to whether Japan will elect to carry on or follow the more sensible course in emulation of Germany.
A five-star latrine-o-gram this morning had the Americans delivering a five-point ultimatum to Japan with Japan considering the acceptance of four of the items but rejecting the fifth. We also hear that the mass migration of bombers from the European sector to the Far East has got under way. Our own paper, a few days ago, mentioned a change in air strategy out here which involved the transfer of all B.29’s in the Pacific sector to base in the Mariana group, from where they will be utilized against Japan proper. The paper added that B.24’s will take over the bombing tasks in the South China and Malayan sectors.
Camp life in our new home continues as enjoyable as ever with the time fairly jumping along. A light attack of fever slowed me up for a day or so, but aside from that I’ve been very much on the go.
Trading continues apace, after a very slight interval occasioned by a bit of local scandal involving the sentries. Evidently some eleven of them were mixed up in a small burglary affair in which a quantity of silk and paper, stored in the empty huts in camp, disappeared. Two of them are said to have escaped, taking with them a half million yen as their share of the booty, and the remainder of them were taken out securely bound, to Stanley Prison. Their fate we can only guess. The net result of the escapade, as far as we are concerned, was a noticeable slackening of trading activities for a day or so due to the patrolling of the lines of supply into camp by the Gendarmerie. The boys are now back in force again, however, and we took advantage of the fag market to dispose of the last four packages of our Sweet Cap stock at ten eggs apiece.
May 7th– my sixth birthday. A momentous year was beginning for me. I was to start school in September and – although I had no idea at this date – my father would be liberated from prison camp in Hong Kong in August of 1945. Many changes coming!
Even when I was very young, I have always thought I had a great “birth” date. May - because spring seems to have a good start – at least on the prairies, so you can feel the air getting warmer and the plants coming to life. And the 7thbecause that was always thought of as a lucky number.
But I had no idea until I read my father’s diary that he had come to look on May 7thas something of a special occasion as well. With the three birthdays happening on the same day – my Great-Grandmother Mary Hart, who had a special relationship with my father – and his sister, my Aunt Nina, he speaks of good things happening on this date. What a shame that he didn’t share that memory with me – we didn’t have much to build a relationship on after four years. But these things get submerged in post-war times when people have to just get on with their lives.
And, unfortunately, the three May 7thbirthdays never did get to celebrate that date together.
May 11 – (Friday)
Proof positive of the efficacy of our “lucky 7th” belief is given in yesterday’s paper with the announcement that the armistice with Germany had been signed on that date.
With the cessation of hostilities in Europe we are subjected to a flood of rumours concerning the war in this end of the world. Our latest buzz is that Okinawa is finished, and that the Japanese Diet had convened in an extraordinary session after which Suzuki is said to have had an audience with the Emperor. Of local interest is another of today’s crop which states that Rangoon and Tonkin have been occupied by our people, and this one has a rider attached that says that Hong Kong and Amoy are next on the list. (It’s remarkable how free the Yanks are with their plans of campaign!) Also of interest to us are the contents of some pamphlets dropped during an air raid the day before yesterday. Unfortunately, a heavy bit of ceiling prevented our seeing the raiders but they did drop somewhere on the other side of the island. One of the work parties from the other camp, which was downtown at the time, reported seeing some of the pamphlets which were dropped during the course of the raid and they report their contents to be roughly as follows: pictures of different types of Japanese warcraft sunk or in the act of sinking, in Manila Bay and Amoy; also a statement showing Jap ship losses in the recent campaigns. A shaded map of the Okinawas discloses that the Yanks are in control of all the island with the exception of two very small bits at the northern and southern tips of the island. Pictures of the damage wrought to Tokyo by the recent bombings were also included, as was a commentary showing the general position of Formosa and Hong Kong in the general war situation. Last but not least, was the usual bit of propagandizing intended for the “forgotten man” which included, in this case, an alluring picture of a Geisha girl with appropriate texts considered conducive to establish that “Home Sweet Home” frame of mind. Some people claim that the leaflets also make mention of impending action in this particular section in the near future, but we can’t confirm this addition and dismiss it as a bit of wishful thinking.
Some idea of the stimulus given to the camp musical efforts by the arrival of Neal Bardal and myself can be had by considering the sudden burst of activity which at present features in music circles. Aside from the “big” orchestra, which handles the classic end of things, we now have a swing band which operates about four or five nights a week and we are at present busily engaged in writing music for a jazz band consisting of three saxes, three violins, clarinet and flute, accordion and piano and drums. In addition to this, Neal is organizing a plectral sextet, composed of guitars, banjo and mandolins. In addition to this, Neal and myself have embarked on a teaching career (old stuff for Neal but not for me) and it means that, aside from my other musical activities, I listen to about two and a half hours of scales a day. What with practices, sessions and lessons, I find that my time is pretty well taken up, though I have found time to take up the manly art of self-defence as well. Sweeney has been over to assist in one or two of our sessions and we are looking forward to a visit from Alla as soon as he recovers from a bout of malaria and jaundice.
May 20 – (Sunday)
A short entry to make note of an occurrence which could, and may yet, have a most serious effect on camp. Thursday, Major Hook of the Grenadiers was taken to hospital in a state of collapse, suffering from what was diagnosed the next day, to be spinal meningitis. Preventative measures were adopted at once and the occupants of Hook’s hut, which is just across the nullah from ours, were promptly quarantined, in order to check the possible spread of the disease. The camp hopefully awaits the fulfillment of the incubation period to see whether any further cases result. The recently received Red Cross drugs proved a blessing and we can thank Heaven for the miracle-working Sulpha drugs.
The gravity of the food situation has again become apparent and commencing next month we embark on a new ration schedule which will entail considerable curtailment of our present food supply. Our oil ration is to be reduced by two-thirds, our bean ration is to be discontinued altogether and the green vegetable allotment is to be reduced by some undetermined amount. To offset this reduction, we hear that our rice ration is to be increased by three or four ounces per day, which will help, but unfortunately beans and oil are the only means we have of deriving our supply of protein and vegetable fat so that the loss can be considered serious for us. We are consoled somewhat by the thought that the end should not be far distant. Our personal supply of Red Cross foodstuffs is not yet exhausted, thanks to Canuck fags, and we still have sufficient eggs to last the coming week so we consider that we have sufficient reserves stored in our systems to meet the needs in the thin days to come. I consider that I have done exceptionally well to date and am prepared for anything. My weight shows an increase of one pound since my arrival in this camp and the present figure of 167 (which is sans beri-beri) represents what should be my camp norm.
Beautiful weather these days and nights, a fact that doesn’t help relieve the urge to be up and about.
News from the war fronts is quiet these days and features the movement of planes, supplies, etc. from the European theatre to this. Fighting still continues on Okinawa Island and every day’s paper indicates an ever-increasing number of planes and raids over the Japanese mainland. A very strong rumour has persisted for the past few days that a landing had been made on Kyushu, but so far we have been unable to verify it, and consider it a hopeful fabrication. We do read however, that two task forces have been operating in the waters adjacent to that island, and that planes from these carriers – in conjunction with bombers from the Marianas, have been indulging in considerable activity these past few days. Wednesday, so we hear, a total of fourteen planes raided objectives on Kyushu. The Bardal is credited with the report that the number of planes in the Pacific sector is to be boosted to six thousand by the arrival of some three thousand planes of all types from the western front. Mention is also made of the transfer of sixty thousand tanks, plus and incredible amount of small arms and ammunition. The little lads will waken with a fair-sized war on their hands if they persist. A beautiful buzz from one of the work parties says that the Chinese outside expect a landing in the colony – by the British – on Empire Day. Now that is a gesture which we could certainly appreciate!!
Reconnaissance flights by “Oscar” nightly, but nothing in the way of local excitement.
The loss of our concert hall temporarily put a damper on boxing and musical activities but we hope to have the further use of it next week.
May 27 – Sunday
The observance of the Sabbath in this camp permits a bit of relaxation from my arduous (?) duties of road and path building and music lessons, so I’ll utilize the opportunity to scratch out this entry. I’m pleased to be able to record that Major Hook continues to show improvement and is now out of danger, and that no further cases have developed in camp.
Last night we staged the first of what is intended to be a weekly series of entertainment, in the form of a radio hour broadcast, and it was very well received.
A great surprise last night was the receipt of two hundred pounds of beef, which, so we hear, is to be a weekly feature to offset the losses of the beans and oil. Very good! It isn’t much but every little bit counts…..
Nothing in the way of excitement these days though we are pleased to hear that the Chinese have a force of ninety divisions, officered by some three thousand Yank officers, based within two hundred miles of us – these to be used, according to the paper, in conjunction with the much-publicized landing attempt on the China continent. Report credited to the Bardal also states that an American mechanized artillery unit is included in this array. Looks as though we may yet see some action in this area. But when?
A late buzz last night announced the final fall of Okinawa, so if true, we can look forward to some land operations on Kyushu very shortly. With the array of power which is being diverted to the Pacific these days, it would seem impossible that our stay can be of any very great length and as a result, impatience again has me in its coils. Days and weeks gone by seem to have travelled at an incredible speed but when looking at these days and weeks still to come, it seems that time is at a complete standstill.
May 28 – (Monday)
A continuation of yesterday’s effort to record one or two events of minor impact. First and foremost is the rumourthat we are to receive Red Cross parcels sometime before the 8thof next month. We think this is a bit wild but a breath of authenticity is lent to it by the fact that the story is laid to the man responsible for the rumour of the beef coming in (whoever he might be) and who, because of his infallibility on his one scoop, has now assumed the status of an oracle.
Some rather meaty bits of info are credited to last night’s Bardal, one item being that over four hundred bombers gave Tokyo a terrific pounding a day or so ago. Figures were also given of the naval strengths of the Yanks and British navies. When you start to compute naval ships in the hundreds about all that can be said is that it’s colossal. We hear too that a landing attempt is imminent on another island north of Okinawa and about one hundred and fifty miles from Kyushu. The Japs seem to be making much of the allegations of “Yank propagandist” that they (Japan) have been circulating “peace feelers” - in fact their denials are so vigourous that one is inclined to think that perhaps there is something in that story after all. The same malicious sources are credited with the spreading of the rumour that the Soviet declaration of war against Japan is imminent and the Japs offer several “sound” reasons why the Russians would not want to tackle Nippon at this stage of the game. We wonder what’s behind it all, but of course that is as far as we can go…
A couple of “specials” tonight are rather worth repeating. Some of it is either a duplication, a continuation or an exaggeration of the earlier bulletin but I’ll pass them on “as received”. The first item has to do with the Tokyo bombing and there are two versions – first that a thousand B.29’s were employed; two that it is the biggest raid in history. It is said that as a result of the trail of desolation left in the wake of this raid, the special Diet session, due to meet tomorrow, is faced with the problem of having no suitable quarters in which to hold its meeting. A bit of “crying” is indulged in by the Japs when they deplore the fact that the vessels now operating in Japanese waters outnumber the planes in the completely special Attack Corps, thus rendering it impossible for this group to completely annihilate the enemy with their crash diving tactics. They note too that some forty countries are now aligned against Japan and express concern that Russia may be forced into the hostilities due to the economic pressure applied by the Yanks. Reasons for this fear are said to be as follows. The toll of the European war has resulted in benefits of the Russian “Five Year Plans” being nullified with the result that the Soviets, in their rehabilitation efforts, are faced with the lack of various raw materials – unfortunately controlled by the United States, and the Yanks are cunningly attaching strings to these which will force Russia to declare her hand against Japan in order to procure them. Just why is hard to say, but mention is also made of the terrible bombing which the German city of Dresden underwent in which six thousand planes were employed and some two hundred thousand people were said to have been killed. This dope, incidentally, is said to be “pukka” stuff, a point which we should be able to check tomorrow, but even if it is, where does it all lead? It “could” be that it is all part of a build-up for the packing-in we have been hoping for, however, it still seems a mite fantastic.
June 14 – (Thursday)
This is being penned from the old familiar atmosphere of the hospital. The complaint this time is that hardy nuisance, malaria, and I’m here as a result of a rather peculiar set of circumstances. I have mentioned previously Major Hook’s attack of meningitis and his subsequent emergence from the more serious aspects of that disease. Unfortunately, Harry’s recovery suffered something of a set-back with the development of a rather stiff attack of malaria, and this further complication proved such a serious drain on his system that it was deemed necessary for him to have a blood transfusion. Colonel Blaver and myself, being two Canucks considered most able to dispense with a pint of blood without two much trouble, were therefore typed and it was found that my sample blended perfectly. Fortunately the M.O. recalled my light bout of fever the previous week and, though the slide taken at the time proved negative it was thought that as a precautionary measure I should have another slide taken to ensure that I pass on nothing that would further aggravate Hook’s condition. The result of this slide was definitely positive and suggested that I was fairly teeming with the parasites. This of course rendered my donoring out of the question and the M.O.’s had to cast about for another suitable candidate. Strangely enough, some thirty people were typed before one was found whose blood merged successfully – the final choice being Art Campbell, with Dick Maze and Wells Bishop ready to go in a pinch. The transfusion incidentally was a success and Harry’s temperature took a healthy drop at once. So – after waiting for the completion of a concert last night, I’m once again in the coils of the M.O.’s.
Tuesday last we were the recipients of something out of the ordinary in the way of air-raids when twenty-odd B.24’s came in over the forenoon and dropped incendiaries on the island. To us it seemed strange to see the bombers circling their targets and, shortly after, to see columns of smoke arise though we could hear no explosions. Reports from work-parties downtown at the time indicate that the damage and loss of life was most severe. With the exception of certain districts such as Wanchai, Causeway Bay and West Point, in which large concentrations of the poorer dwellings and tenements provide firetraps, most of the buildings in the colony are of stone or concrete and therefore are not readily combustible. Unfortunately, either by accident or design, the districts mentioned above were severely smitten and we hear the resultant casualties quickly filled all available hospital facilities, exhausting the supply of morphia in two hours. Casualties are said to have numbered over twenty-three hundred. Not being in a position to guess the strategic intent behind the raid we can only suppose that the seemingly useless loss of civilian life must have been justified in some degree.
Our local paper having been stopped the first of the month, we find we must now rely wholly on Bardal rumour for any scraps of information received. Actually we have been hearing some pretty healthy stuff lately, particularly in the South China area. It is with hopeful pleasure that we hear that the Chinese, aided by American air-borne divisions have set up their operational base at Hunming and it is believed that their drive in South China is about to get under way. From the obscurity of numerous rumours etc., we gather that a three-pronged drive on Canton is in the making and a buzz yesterday says that a Yank aerial unit dropped paratroops at a point some miles north of Canton. This has not been confirmed but if true, it means a lot to us, or rather it could mean a lot to us. We also hear that some Canuck volunteers are on their way out here – it would be nice if they could pull the liberation act…
Today, those personal parcels belonging to Canadians on draft to Japan, were distributed pro-rata throughout the camp. My allotment consisted of four fags, a razor blade, a pencil and a pair of socks.
Prices of commodities have risen to ridiculous heights lately, and having nothing of sale value, Prendy and I borrowed ten pounds Sterling apiece, which netted us a total of five hundred yen. This magnificent sum enabled us to purchase three pounds of sugar, four pounds of salt and one hundred fags.
A late buzz tonight says that concentrations of aerial transport equipment have been observed at Clarke field and Kweilin. I forgot to mention that a day or so ago it was mentioned that an American tank unit had assisted in the capture of Waichow, perhaps indicating that their drive was already underway.
My light bout of fever last week cost me eight pounds so that I now scale under the 160 mark.
June 27 – (Wednesday)
A dull drizzly day prompts an entry to help pass the dreary hours. Since the finish of the German show a most pronounced “drag” has set in with the result that people are beginning to display symptoms of impatience, lack of concentrative ability and general boredom. In my own case, the lack of physical activity, rendered impossible by the anti-malaria treatment, seems to have aggravated an already existent mental depression. My stay in hospital was short, due to the accommodations there being taxed to capacity by a minor wave of malaria which is going the rounds, and I was permitted to continue treatment in the lines, with the injunction that I take things easy since the drugs used are quite toxic and liable to affect the old “ticker”. This taking things easy is okay to a point, but it does tax one’s patience. However I finished the course yesterday and if the results of my slide are negative, I should be ready for action by the first of next week.
Perhaps the best reason for our rather pessimistic outlook these days is the news – or should I say the lack of news. Having become used, in the past months, to being bolstered periodically by news of new landings, vigorous advances and successful political manipulations, we find that the present campaign seems to have become – by comparison – almost a stalemate. With the tremendous difficulties presented by distances, it’s rather hard to discern in the day-to-day news evidence that the wheels are slowly turning which will bring our ultimate release. Anyway, three and a half years is a long, long time! Consideration of those vast distances and transportational difficulties they present has a very sobering effect when we contemplate the possibilities of that early release. Of course we are not really as pessimistic about our chances as the above might indicate. In fact, wagers involving goodly sums of money are being bandied around these days, most of them supporting the belief that our release will be a matter of, in most cases, two months or less. This view is being nurtured by sporadic flashes which indicate that the Chinese armies are really slowly coming this way in what the Japs say is a drive to link up with a landing attempt by our people. From the northern sector we hear that Okinawa has finally passed completely into our hands, on the twentieth, and that the Americans are busy concentrating supplies for their drive to the Japanese mainland. We hear too that the Americans are changing their bombing strategy to some extent forsaking their bombing of the larger centres and concentrating on the medium industrial cities. From our purely selfish viewpoint, the only news that will really give us a lift is that of a landing attempt. Yes, three and a half years is a long, long time…..
One or two bits of purely local guff are worth passing on. Last Saturday, we heard the startling rumour that a Vickers machine gun, in position at Jubilee buildings, had been stolen. We were inclined to scoff, thinking that there must be some limits past which the sentries would hesitate to step, but sure enough after evening parade we were ordered to stay on the road after the count while the camp sergeant and interpreter made a very cursory search of our huts. Subsequent information revealed that the culprits included a belt of ammunition and a couple of revolvers in their loot. Only last week, the huts which the Japs had been using for storehouses in camp, were looted for the second time. Between trading activities running off and the odd bit of burglary, these Formosans seem to be a bit of a headache for our hosts. Another interesting bit of gossip concerns a shell fragment which the Japs brought into camp for identification purposes. The story, quite unofficial of course, is that sometime on the 14thof this month, a war vessel of unidentified category shelled Lantau Island for a short period and the Japs hoped that identification of the fragment might shed some light on the type of ship etc. The interesting part to us is that Lantau lies only some eight miles to the west of us – in plain view from here because of the height of its mountains. Still another local item, and of extreme import because it deals with the ration supply – commencing today the tea issue has been discontinued until further supplies are forthcoming. Of course we Canucks will not suffer to the same extent as our English cousins, but we will miss it. This camp has also found it necessary to borrow wood from our next door neighbours and we hear too that the rice situation is very critical. Whether the state of affairs is due to scarcity of supplies in the colony, lack of transportation facilities or just plain non-cooperation on the part of the Jap supply branch, we can’t say. Perhaps I should clarify the last mentioned possibility. As mentioned previously, we now receive a small weekly supply of fresh meat to compensate us for the withdrawal of beans from our rations. This weekly ration amounts to between six and seven hundred pounds of beef for the two camps, so it’s quite evident that when spread between fifteen hundred men there is not too much danger of protein poisoning. One can imagine then that it was with some justification that our own ration people were a bit put out to find that about a hundred pounds of choice meat had been hacked off last week’s supply, prior to delivery. A complaint was duly laid with the camp commandant and it must have resulted in some sort of chastisement for the ration people concerned, for the individuals at once became very “shirty” in their dealings with us. Rumour has it that the rice ration for the future is to be cut by approximately a third, commencing next month. Certainly hope not, things are looking a bit grim now.
Just in case circumstances do not permit, I include birthday greetings to Mrs. C. in this entry. Many happy returns on your ?thbirthday (Saturday) Mrs. C! After watching so many of these anniversaries slip by I’m beginning to see why people resent having their age recalled to them. So old, and so much to do (Deep Sigh). Oh well, it (or we) can’t last forever.
After a good spell of glorious weather we settle down to our couple of months of the rainy season.
July 2 – (Monday)
No Dominion Day celebration in this camp so Prendy and I paid Mac a visit next door and watched Canada win a hard fought game of volleyball from “Great Britain”.
July 8 – (Sunday)
Again this is being pounded from hospital surroundings. This time the old stomach complaint. Apparently I have been working up to this for some time, having been visited frequently these last two or three months by periodic spells of uncomfortableness. On the night of July 1st, pains of more than usual intensity set in and increased to such an extent that I was sure I was really in for something. By Thursday I was ready to welcome even the knife, if it promised relief, and reported sick – with the result that I again languish “in dock”, enjoying (?) a two-hour feed schedule of ground rice. The mush diet seems to be doing the trick and, with the exception of the odd waking period during the night, the pains are now pretty well under control. Long hours of idleness in hospital accentuate the problem of occupations to while away the time and strangely enough encourage a desire to write. Unfortunately stimulation and inspiration are two widely different forces and the former doesn’t seem very efficacious when it comes to projecting a thought or subject to write about. I feel for the song-writer who responds to the urge to create a masterpiece and who gets no further than rhyming June to moon. Reading, while it does give a certain amount of pleasure, fails to satisfy that creative urge which a person experiences when forced to remain abed, hence some of these atrocious bits I’ve turned out while hospitalized. I greatly regret that my misspent youth precluded the development of that most useful commodity, the power of expression. Perhaps my children – reading these poor efforts will profit by my shortcomings. Lying on one’s back seems almost conducive to day-dreaming, with the subject, as can be imagined, centering chiefly on the future we hope to pursue on our release. The fact that any and all fanciful plans must necessarily terminate in blind alleys due to our ignorance of the present and it’s possible bearing on the future, seems to be no deterrent whatsoever, except that one loses the satisfaction attendant to planning because of the impossibility of fruition.
My particular problem is to evolve some compromise which will permit me to partake of some holiday trip, in which I can again become acquainted with my family, and at the same time enable me to formulate concrete plans for earning my daily bread. The first consideration I believe most necessary, as there is no question about our needing a period of rehabilitation before we settle down to our life of drones again, if only to preclude the possibility of our getting in to a “rut” too quickly. The second however, is the pressing problem. I believe that for my health’s sake, I must cast about for some other means of employment. Handicapped by the lack of business experience, a profession of any sort and that most essential commodity – influence – I can’t quite see prospective employers falling all over themselves in the rush for my services. How then may I reconcile the loss of two or three months valuable time which should be utilized in getting a new start in life? The old, old problem of the cake and eating it…
Life runs its tedious course here, utterly devoid of anything exciting to furnish us with a new topic of conversation. The weather seems to have settled into typical monsoon weather, with sporadic showers and heavy skies. Indications of a possible typhoon last night rather stirred things up around camp as people scurried about battening down doors and windows. Fortunately however, after some rather hefty squalls of wind, things again settled down to normal.
Our news remains quite unspectacular, the main item seeming to centre around the daily increase of bombing activities on Japan. Two buzzes, both unconfirmed, drifted in today. The first that Russian troops are again massing on the Mongolian border, falls among thorns for we’ve had so many reports of the Ruskies massing on borders in recent months that I’m sure Stalin must be experiencing difficulty rounding up sufficient manpower in Russia to ensure enough Volga boatmen to make up a chorus. The second, I’m afraid, is almost as remote as the first, and has the Yanks giving the Nippos until the twenty-fifth of this month to cry “Uncle”, after which they promise to really settle down to the business of destruction, threatening to leave no one stone upon another! Of course “we” are quite amenable to any suggestions of finishing the business any time now and hence hope our hosts are of the same mind.
I’m beginning to slow up a bit. Just had my temperature and pulse taken and the latter registers a measly forty per. A good jolt of rum would be in order.
July 26 – (Thursday)
This entry is made in order to record a combination of rumours, news and facts from which it is just possible, may arise circumstances having a great bearing on our future destinies. Food, being a matter of prime importance to us, will serve as an introduction! Tuesday morning we heard rumours of an administrational change in the handling of our ration supplies. Henceforth, so we hear, we are to receive these supplies through the Governor’s Office, instead of through the army, as at present. We think it highly unlikely that we will gain materially from this move, but we do think that it serves as an indication that the general war situation has begun to influence political policies. Tuesday evening we were further pleasantly surprised at the arrival of a small quantity of fresh (?) fish and we were uncharitable enough to express the opinion that it must either be a mistake or that the work is progressing even more favourably than we had hoped. We were even more startled Wednesday morning with the arrival of approximately a thousand pounds of beans and a like amount of bran, neither of which, so it is said, emanated from the local Red Cross. I might add here that the local Red Cross representative, Mr. Zindle, had recently expressed his sorrow at being unable to maintain the usual monthly supplies of beans, bran, etc., these last few months for the very simplest reason – lack of funds for the purchase of same. The lack of these supplementary items in our diet has been sorely missed of late since it means confinement to a pound of rice each, per day, plus a small amount of vile greens. Another “administrational change” rumour concerns the possibility of our being moved to Macao and being re-interned there by the Portuguese. Apparently, so we hear, the Japs have been negotiating for the return of the passengers of the “Awa Maru” which had been “high-jacked” a few months ago when that ship was either sunk or captured, but the Yanks refuse to cooperate, claiming that the Japs have violated the international agreement concerning POW’s which states that they must be repatriated after a specified term of captivity. Our optimists are of the opinion that we may be used as “exchange”. And now for the general news picture.
First, we hear that MacArthur and Mountbatten had conferred in Manila and that with the arrival of the Yank Fifth Army in the Philippines, the American Pacific strength is boosted to the million mark. Another conference took place somewhere in China in which nine Chinese generals met, evidently to discuss the coming offensive. Some British mechanized force which made a name for itself in Burma has arrived in Chungking from where it will be sent to the different Chinese armies to act as spearheads in the coming continental drive. Shifting our news locale northward we hear that nine task forces are operating against Japan, four air-fleets and five others comprised of capital ships. The Jap mainland recently underwent heavy bombing and shelling at a point just north of Tokyo and it is noticed that in the last couple of days some 4,500 planes have participated in operations against the mainland. All this is pretty invigorating stuff but the political news raises our hopes even more. In a news article alleged to have been in one of the Tokyo dailies, the Japanese people were warned that they might expect very disquieting news from the Potsdam Conference and they were told that, in the event of Russia deciding to enter the war, Japan would be placed in a critical state. Another item in the same vein (it may be a different version of the same article) and credited to either Koiso or Suzuki, states that Japan had been given terms by the Yanks, through the mediation of Russia, but had refused same as having been too severe and that, if Japan refuses to comply, she (Russia) might find it necessary to revise her policy of non-intervention in Pacific affairs.
Can we be blamed for a bit of overt optimism in the face of these cheering portents? All we have to do is establish their veracity!
Another rather peculiar instance, though I can’t vouch for its accuracy, is reported from C.B.S. It seems that Dr. Saito, the Jap army medical chief who has his offices at C.B.S., by some simple stratagem enticed Colonel Bowie away from his office for a short time the other day and in his absence burned the hospital records and case sheets. Now what do you make of that?
Well Mrs. C., another celebration date rolls around next Tuesday with the 31st– marking the twelfth (I think) anniversary of the hitching date. My what a lot of celebrations I have to catch up with on my return.
Still in hospital on the ground rice diet, but I hope to make it out of here by the end of next week.
We’re in for a bit of a food shortage until the end of the month due to our having run out a day or so ago. With the arrival of five bags in camp to tide us over, we’ll be able to manage by cutting the ration in half for the next five days. Another notch in the old belt….
July 31 – (Tuesday)
One can hardly allow such an important event to slip by without a commemorative entry of some sort. It comes as something of a jolt when one faces the realization that one-third of one’s married life has been spent in the confines of a prison camp. Whether for better or worse remains to be seen. By way of celebration, the “gang” puts on the nosebag for a bit extra in the way of chow tonight. Our last can of M&V, hoarded against this occasion, will provide the main course aided and abetted by a cake of Prendy’s manufacture. Mac and Edo are coming over from the other side to help us celebrate what we confidently expect to be the last of such anniversaries under these circumstances.
The weather, so decidedly unpromising at the beginning of the month, rather gave all the amateur prophets a shock by turning out to be bright and sunny for most of July, rendering the days most enjoyable – but the nights something of a bit of torture. Our huts are very low and when combined with a hot sun beating down all day on a tarred roof, and the resultant evening temperature, it would do credit to a good bakery. One result of this condition is that a good two-thirds of the camp suffer from the agonies of prickly heat.
I’m afraid I must report that the last entry’s crop of rumours etc. seems to have been the product – to a degree – of someone’s hopeful imagination. Some of the points however did have substance to them – the most important of which was the ultimatum delivered to Japan by the United States, China and Great Britain. We now understand that a nine-point manifesto was issued which was to be the final possible chance for an arranged peace, the result of the refusal to be the complete desolation of Japan. From our point of view, the terms seem to contain some degree of fairness, but how the Nipponese will react may be an entirely different matter. The net result for us is a burst of hopeful optimism punctuated by wild rumours of cabinet resignation, acceptance of terms, refusal of terms, etc. etc…….
With the arrival today of rice supplies it is to be hoped that we will again return to the normal rations after these few lean days.
Prendy, Mac and myself wangled a deal involving seventy pounds of Sterling, (collectable post bellum), which enriched us by some three thousand yen and which we at once turned into a supply of beans and bran. Prices: beans – 150 yen per pound; bran (100 yen per pound); sugar – 300 yen per pound (too expensive for our purses). Some amazing deals have come to light in the last few days. People fortunate enough to possess rings and watches at this late date have been unloading same and then negotiating deals which will enable them to exchange yen now for Sterling after the war. Two fair bits of capitalization I’ll record. For a watch, which didn’t run, one chap was able to get twenty-three thousand yen, which he promptly exchanged for a promise of six hundred pounds of Sterling. Another chap sold a ring whose original price was ₤2.10 and after a similar transaction netted himself nine hundred pounds. Not a bad stroke of business, I’d say.
With the number of “old school tie” men that we have in camp, it’s been something to note the effect produced by the election results from England. To be fair it must be admitted that a good majority of them will concede the need of a pretty drastic change “at home”, but it was almost comical to listen to some of the old “die-hards” who can conceive of nothing but ruin and the complete submergence of Britain as a big world power. Perhaps the latter wouldn’t be a bad idea at that.
I cleared from the hospital Sunday but I still retain the ground rice diet. (I’m afraid tonight’s little celebration will probably rebound.)
FromLieut. L. B. Corrigan
ToMrs. L. B. Corrigan
Post Office Box 1313
Swift Current, Sask.,
Your letter, with pictures of girls enclosed, received recently; also comfort parcel. Growth of girls, as evidenced by snaps, almost amazing. Excellent health being maintained with work and sports. Hope interest in golf and music being maintained by yourself and girls. Am looking forward to big golfing holiday on return. Collection of previously mentioned magazines important. Belated best wishes to Bob and Violet. Everything fine for Noreen. Best luck and health to parents, relatives, friends and postal gang. To yourself, Paddy and Shelagh,
All my love,
Within days…Gladys was to receive cards from many sources with this same message, as well as a small recorded voice message from B.O. South of San Francisco, California…..
Voice from Hong Kong…..
“Lieut. Leonard Corrigan of Swift Current, prisoner of war of the Japs in Hong Kong in the ill-fated Canadian expeditionary force, is well and looking forward to coming home – some time. His voice was heard over the radio last week. Mrs. Corrigan got a card from people in Idaho saying they had heard the broadcast last week; since then she has had similar messages from Texas and California. Leonard said he was well and had received pictures of his two daughters, which Mrs. Corrigan had sent in a letter, also Christmas parcel. He said he was looking forward to a “golfing” holiday soon and judging by recent successes it may not be so long at that.”
I just heard a message from your husband, Lt. Leonard Bertram Corrigan, W.G., read over Radio Tokyo by the announcer. He said in part, “Dearest Gladys, Your letter with pictures recently received. Also comfort parcel. Growth of girls unbelievable. Hope interest in golf and music maintained by you and girls. Want golf holiday when I return. Collection of previously mentioned magazines important. Belated best wishes to Bob and Violet. Best to you, girls, Patty and Shelagh”.
May God bless him and return him safely to you.
Mrs. Ernest Grumm
Short Wave Listening Post – G.C. Gallagher, San Francisco, Cal.
July 23, 1945 – 8:30 a.m.
Your letter, com par…received recently. Hope Beatrice…music…maintenance yourself and Bill…Please reserve? Magazines. This is important…Best love and health yourself Bill and Sheilah?...”
Message in part, mostly unintelligible here, received over short wave radio from Lieut. Bert Corrigan of the British Army, now interned in POW camp at Hong Kong. Address is this camp, c/o International Red Cross, Geneva.
Above heard by writer and relayed with best wishes. Please acknowledge……
Yours truly G.C. Gallagher
With this welcome information, Gladys and the girls, Paddy and Shelagh had a renewed sense of hope that Leonard would indeed survive and be released from his three and a half years of imprisonment at Hong Kong.
Newspapers would certainly be full of information on the progress of war in the Pacific and the pressure being put on Japan to surrender.
But on July 31st, 1945, Gladys would spend her twelfth wedding anniversary without Leonard – a third of their married life apart.