Len Corrigan's Story

CHAPTER FIVE - Life at North Point

I have just managed to scrounge a cigarette, the first in two days, so once again I’ll try and add a little to the old journal. Life in general, in our present status, is sometimes just a bit hard to cope with and, in the absence of smokes in particular, I find it most difficult to maintain any degree of concentration on a task such as this. Reading too is extremely difficult as there always, in addition to the natural restlessness of the imprisoned, is the babble and noise of some seventy fellow officers to contend with. So – while my intentions are good, the reader must bear with me in the wandering and lack of continuity evident in my writings. We are now finishing the third day of March and looking back over what has so far been put to paper, I find in most cases my powers of reconstruction to be sadly deficient. Deficiencies noted however, I will be able to a certain extent, to make up by word of mouth so that, even that which I have recorded will have served its original purpose – which was to have been solely a means of passing the time.

I have in my narrative arrived at North Point and, without making any attempt to bridge the interval between our arrival and the present, will endeavour to present the happenings of an ordinary run-of-the-mill day in our present, sometimes tedious life. Reveille comes shortly after day-break, about 7:30 a.m. and by the time we complete our ablutions, it’s time for our first roll call at 8:15. This procedure occupies some twenty minutes and is a direct result of the break-away of some seven Navy officers shortly after our arrival here. Immediately after parade, we partake of breakfast, which usually consists of sweetened rice, a dish to which I am very partial. Immediately after this, junior officers are required to go to the men’s lines to supervise the distribution of the precious rice to the men. Next we have at 10:30, P.T. parade consisting of ten minute periods of P.T. drill and games. This period is something of a waste as the men seem to have lost all sense of discipline, personal pride and decency in appearance. Due to the fact that our only punishment instrument is a session in the guard-room, which the men enjoy because they miss parades and can lie on a bunk all day, the periods are just sessions in which the officers are reminded that they have little control over the men. The remaining time until lunch (at 12:30) is spent doing as little as possible and the main topic is, as always, “food”. The result being that when our mug of tea does arrive, our appetites have been whetted beyond all hope of satisfaction and our lunch seems too inadequate. After lunch is usually spent walking the compound or reading and, at 3:30 we again have roll-call. Dinner is served at 5:30 and provides our second rice meal, usually garnished with some kind of vegetable sauce, after which we again supervise the men’s meal. Then more walking, reading or what have you, until lights out at 10:30 p.m.

It will probably be noticed that the ordinary day leaves a large percentage of time in which we are left to our own resources. This, plus the fact that time taken up by parades, etc. is something of a loss, serves to accentuate the restless, caged feeling one gets – hence my reason for seeking the refuge provided by the composition of this journalistic abortion. I have been particularly fortunate in that I have managed to get out of camp on two occasions on work parties. These parties while entailing a lot of work and expenditure of our scant body reserve of energy, proved so exhilarating mentally that it’s a day or so before one settles back to the norm.

My second trip downtown seems noteworthy enough to record since, for the first time since before Christmas, I was actually filled to capacity with food. About twenty of us set out about 10:30 by truck and were taken to the Dominican College at Rosary Hill, whose buildings had, since the outbreak of war, served as a hospital. Our task was to evacuate all hospital equipment and personnel as the Dominicans were again going to take over their buildings for private use. We worked hard loading the trucks at the hospital then unloading them again at the docks downtown until about 1:30 when we were told food was being served in the basement. Down we went to find stew, bread and butter and sweet rice awaiting us. The rice, in particular, was extremely delicious, as we had cans of sweetened (thick) milk to go with it, and I’m a little ashamed to have to admit to having three servings. To top off this marvelous repast we were given a Canadian cigarette by the Padre, an almost unheard of luxury, since our sparse supply was usually made up of cheap tobacco (?) rolled in brown toilet paper. Needless to say, after such a sumptuous meal, we were quite able and willing to move anything – and we did just that until 6 p.m. The remainder of the day was not entirely fruitless either, as we managed to salvage almost a truck-load of pots, pans, etc. to say nothing of a piano and about twenty tins of milk and an equal number of packages of salt, for the camp.

Well, this almost brings the effort up to date, although I did have a number of episodes which I now can’t recall and which I meant to list. Henceforth I will try to make this the form of a personal diary, written daily, something which I have never kept and which, in these circumstances, will probably prove anything but entertaining to read – or write. So – here goes nuttin!

March 4 1942 – Wednesday

Reveille brings the prospect of another cigarette-less day although McCarthy succeeded in chiseling a small packet of “Golden Dragons” last night. Our little syndicate has become enlarged and now embraces Maze, McCarthy, Harper, Campbell and myself – and a newcomer – Captain Terry (paymaster) whom we welcome to our fagless faction. Ten fags, split six ways, don’t go very far, so after breakfast, we had the last of our left-overs from yesterday. I wish the Navy would get in a supply as I’ve managed to borrow some Canadian money and they’ll take it for cigarettes (at half the downtown rate). We don’t mind being hooked though, so long as we smoke.

We were treated (??) yesterday with some storage duck eggs and I understand we have more today. I couldn’t manage to get close enough for a taste but sight and smell were quite sufficient. One of the eggs had 19-7-09 marked on it, but that may have been an exaggeration, it didn’t smell over fifteen years old.

Rumour has it that the rice ration is to be increased by one third, which means ⅔ pounds per day per man. I hope so – I must have twin tape worms.

I neglected earlier to state that, since my arrival here, I’ve added several new taste sensations to my somewhat limited gastronomic repertoire. The Nips send in the odd bit of fish to supplement our meager rice ration and so far I’ve had the pleasure of partaking of whalemeat– (fried, very nice), mullet – (terrible odour), squid – (smells a bit but rather good), garupa – (filthy smell, ditto on taste). It is also rumoured that some eel is in the offing, so I have that to look forward to.

Our search for smokes today unearthed a new brand, “My Buddha”. For the benefit of posterity I’ll list a few I remember. “Silver Dish, Flag, Spear, Swordfish, United, Ruby Queen, The Leaf, Golden Dragon, Gold Crown, Coronation, DoorFook, Pirate, May Blossoms, Horse (more truth than poetry in the choice of that name). These are only the few I can recall, there are dozens more. We know they contain some tobacco – because it says so on the box.

Another interesting development occurred today. One of the officers felt a little itch, searched his clothing and – yes, you’re right – “lousy”. On searching, half the hut found themselves similarly afflicted. Some, particularly one bed-ridden chap, were very bad. I found none today but did pounce on one a week or so ago. Not a very nice sensation!

We’re hoping we can get some authentic dope on the D.E.I. situation. There’s evidently been quite a naval skirmish there according to the “Hong Kong News”, the local paper – Well, enough for my first interlude with “Dear Diary”.

March 5 – (Thursday)

This day started off a little more promising than the last few, inasmuch as it seemed a little milder. It’s surprising how cold it can become here, most of the last month resembling our cold, wet fall days at home. Heavy mist over-hangs the harbour almost all the time, even on rare days when the sun does come out. That same sun, incidentally, has a very intense heat and very little subjection to it gives one a lovely head-ache.

Two new brands of fags came to light in our scrounging today, “Heaven’s Temple” and “Gold Stamp”, the latter being a mild form of knock-out drop.

The morning was spent in our weekly “clean-up hut” campaign. All beds are moved out and the hut washed and sprayed with creosote. Moving back brings a re-allotment of space which leaves us not quite so crowded. Maze and I share two “uppers” since he has no blankets. McCarthy and Harper share a lower under the same conditions.

I had rice for lunch and some kind of smelly fish for dinner (which I traded for rice).

Heard today that Black and Nugent were sent to Sham Shui Po due to congested quarters here. I was certainly looking forward to Black’s arrival here.

News tonight that Canada is to have a plebiscite on conscription – good old democracy -. Have started to read “The Diary Of A Slave” by Rastam Khan-Urp. Seems good.

 Conscription Plebiscite - 1942

Word of a plebiscite in Canada on the matter of conscription turned out to be accurate news.

The Military Service Act of 1917 had proven to be a divisive political issue between the French and English population and in the west in Canada. It was also considered to be a failure, according to military historian, J.L. Granatstein.

When the issue arose again with the war in Europe in 1941, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King decided to deal with the problem by holding a plebiscite “asking Canadians to release the government from its anti-conscription promises”. Again divided along French and English lines, on April 27, 1942, 72.9% No votes were registered in Quebec and 80% Yes votes in the rest of the provinces. Bill 80 was passed “authorizing conscription for overseas services if it were deemed necessary”.

Writing in the Canadian Encyclopedia, Richard Jones describes King as hoping he would not have to invoke Bill 80 but was doing so in order to save his government. Relations between the French and English worsened once more with the second conscription crisis. By 1944, J.L. Ralston, Minister of Defence who felt conscription was necessary – was replaced by General A.G.L. McNaughton, a supporter of voluntary service.

The number of conscripted soldiers actually sent abroad during the Second World War was 12,908.

Source – The Canadian Encyclopedia

March 6 – (Friday)

Another day dawns bright and warm, so I celebrate by taking a shower before breakfast. The result is so invigorating, I’ve decided to do it every morning with 15 minutes of P.T. thrown in. Wonder how long it will last?

Not much activity here today so I sat in the sun and read my book. Grenadier Officers played Headquarters Company at softball and took quite a pasting. We haven’t lost a league game yet though. Four of our good players are lost to us through lack of shoes and I hope the sport is abandoned as mine are wearing a bit. I’ve also lost considerable skin from sliding, etc. and I’m afraid of infection.

Read again after dinner and finished my book about 4 p.m. It was good.

The Nips have been using one of the sunken vessels in the harbour for target practice in dive-bombing all day. Seems rather odd to watch them and not have uppermost in our minds the thoughts of our own safety, which we experienced the last time we witnessed this sort of thing.

Again we had the pleasure of duck eggs tonight. This batch was fairly good and I, having tasted them mixed with curry sauce and rice, regretted having traded mine for bread.

The recollection that Dad prophesied the army would give me a liking for tea and my absolute certainty of the contrary, gives me the odd chuckle. Meals with which tea is served, finds me drinking at least two cups, usually straight, but once in a while with a little sugar – a form to which I’m quite partial.

Why – I couldn’t say, but all day I have been almost bubbling over with good spirits. Perhaps we’re going to hear some good news – I hope so – I’ve felt all along that mid-summer or fall would see us out of here and I just can’t seem to let myself become too pessimistic in the matter of a long stay here. Maze, McCarthy and I discussed the possibilities of a week in New York or Chicago for the double purpose of replenishment of wardrobe and relaxation…when this business is over. It would be a nice holiday which you’ve undoubtedly earned Mrs. C. – Maybe my Irish flights of fancy don’t permit me to view this situation realistically enough.

March 7 – (Saturday)

This day oozed in with a cold drizzle, so all my grandiose plans of yesterday, re the body beautiful, went by the boards. I did take my early shower though.

Our table has been looking forward to Saturday as it is our turn for “first for seconds”. By way of enlightenment, we have four tables of roughly ten per, which take turns by days, on being first in the servings of second helpings. Unfortunately, a slight miscalculation at supper last night resulted in there being no seconds – but also leaving us a scanty “first”, so we were hungrier than usual after the meal.

Dinner, though light, proved quite a treat. We had three pancakes and a slice of bread – with syrup – and all agreed the pancakes were superior to anything to be bought at Childs. Absolutely delicious, although so finely textured that they didn’t go far toward filling the void. Perhaps we’ll have extra rice tonight to make up for it. I understand squid is on the menu as well.

I spent some time before and after lunch on Sweeney’s sax, with Bardal on the guitar and the remainder of time warming up for an impending Bridge tournament which commences this evening. Remind me to have Sweeney and the lads up sometime for a jam session.

Supper brought us our squid, in a sauce, which I traded for rice after one taste. There was a marked similarity between the flavor of the squid and that of a Goodyear inner tube.

If my hunches and good spirits are going to have any bearing on things here, I’m turning pessimist. I was all a’tingle with expectancy yesterday and what happens? Last night the Nips mount additional guards and chase us off our exercise ground (parade square) at 8:30. Added to that is the horrible rumour that the flour issue has been cut off. – What a thought to finish the day with. –

McCarthy and I won our game against two Naval officers and a very close one it was. The scoring was a total of five rubbers and at the end of the third, there was a difference of ten points. The game was decided by last game last rubber etc. I guess our razzle-dazzle system got ‘em.

March 8 – (Sunday)

This new week I started by going to Communion. It’s remarkable how the time flies. Days and weeks simply rush by, but months seem as years. It seems ages since we embarked at Vancouver on this fruitless enterprise. Perhaps we should be thankful to be alive, but I would have liked to have had a little more honest to goodness scrapping, with some semblance of organization and a better type man with which to work. – Oh well. As long as we don’t receive any worse treatment than we have so far we won’t suffer much, most of the harshness is mental, so I guess if we can keep the old noodle thinking straight we’ll be okay.

No smokes again today – which means we’ll feel the pangs of hunger that much more. It’s really remarkable the difference smoking makes to the satisfaction of appetites and I never would have believed we would become as dependant on them as we are. What a treat we’ll have – later!

Played ball against the Rifle officers and muffed a chance to assume the league leadership by being trounced 12 to 5.

Supper tonight was heaven-sent for McCarthy and I. We two Micks are notorious rice polisher-offers and, since the rice was dry and plentiful with not a great deal of vegetable sauce, we had numerous offers of left-overs, the result being that we have finally had a filling of rice. To touch off this repast, we had a pancake sandwich, with jam inside, and tea – watta feast!

Tonight the hut sounds like a meeting of the Altar Society, our bridge tourney is in full cry and, since we have better accommodation than the Navy, most games are being played in our hut. Tonight’s session had twelve tables.

I decided to sacrifice some more Canadian money on smokes this afternoon, so we again light a weed. (no pun either). A new name is added to the brands we’ve smoked. “White Rose”. I might add the names shamelessly mislead the prospective smoker.

I think I’ll spend the remainder of the Sabbath evening trying to take some money from the Company sergeants. We play “push-pull” at a nickel (Canadian) a game and the book records a profit of $1.35 for Corrigan. “Lucky at cards, etc.”??? Managed to wriggle out of the push-pull with a nickel profit.

The news tonight was anything but encouraging. Rather looks like a long, long time awaitin’.

So far Mac and I are the only Army winners in the bridge tourney. I guess we’re good – for one more game.

March 9 – (Monday)

Another dull day today, although it isn’t raining. The Nips started their bombing practice early today and a plane zooms over the hut every three or four minutes.

McCarthy and I had another field day at lunch. We had brown rice and soybean sauce and it was rather hard to get down, the results being that, though I don’t like the sauce, I did get scads of rice.

I spent the great part of the afternoon playing bridge. I haven’t played much since I started my “stretch” so Mac and I decided we’d better get some practice playing together. We are now sufficiently acquainted with one another’s style that we are able to get thoroughly muddled in our bidding before we have reached the “slam” brackets. Incidentally, we are the only Winnipeg Grenadier team to win first game.

Supper again afforded us a chance to go “all out” on rice, we had squid again in a sauce, and it was bloody awful. The rice, though plain, was a bit more palatable (??) than at noon so we enjoyed our second filling of the day.

More bridge again tonight. Twice a day is once too many. Too much thought.

I had a chap in from the Navy who seemed to know considerable about terrain, relative strengths and conditions in general where fighting is now taking place. He is of the opinion that September or at the most – the end of the year – should see us out of here. I hope he’s proven too pessimistic. The only possible glimmer of satisfaction I can salvage out of this business is that by the end of September the government will owe me one thousand bucks of back pay. Nice pickings eh? What a way to earn it though. There must be easier methods to practice economy.

The war situation definitely is not good tonight. Maybe the government will owe me more than that.

March 10 – (Tuesday)

Still another dull day and we did get a light rain about 9:30.

The bombers are going strong again this A.M. What a stupid waste of time and money this war business is. Somebody manages to come out ahead of the game usually. After seeing the side of the Army that I have, for the last two or three months, I’m convinced that 90% of all the officers in the Army, particularly from Lieutenants up, join for purely selfish reasons. Perhaps we have here a particularly poor group to study. I’m sure we must have lower than average, but it’s amazing to note how much of the talk and general conversation hinges on the gratification of personal desires and appetites. A neutral person listening to such talk would, I’m sure, form the opinion that “joining up” opened a way to the satisfaction of these desires, as in most cases civilian life would not have allowed, through one circumstance or another, their gratification. Granted that, in view of our circumstance here, talk of this nature is not unnatural, still I’m sure the listener would agree that it’s carried considerable beyond the normal, in fact it becomes damned annoying. These last sentences are not meant to prove the selfishness in joining that I mentioned earlier, as innumerable other incidents have prompted me to form that opinion, I merely mentioned them as a side issue. Naturally I include myself in the group mentioned above.

Rain is falling quite heavily so I guess parades are “out” this morning.

I don’t feel particularly robust this a.m., think I’ve managed a slight (I hope) touch of dysentery. We have been particularly fortunate, so far, in respect to this disease as, though we have quite a number of cases in camp, they are of the mild type. Even so, by the time the men get over a bout with it they look like living skeletons and unfortunately, on our present diet, they have no chance to be built up to normal again. Were we to go home now we would indeed present a sorry spectacle.

The Nips “asked” us to turn in all flashlights, tools, cameras etc. today. Don’t know what’s behind it but they’re gone. I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but if I haven’t I’ll do so now. We have nothing to complain about in the treatment accorded us by our captors. They aren’t passing out too many cigarettes or giving us week-ends downtown, but outside of that I believe that, according to their way of life, we are doing all right. Naturally the big drawback is the vast difference in our mode of living. Certainly I believe we are receiving better treatment than would be meted out by most of our enemies in this conflict.

Wonder of wonders – we actually had a small pork chop for supper. Needless to say we enjoyed it immensely. We had a lovely rich gravy with it and, by application of a little imagination, I almost believed the rice to be potatoes. A slice of bread would have topped it off nicely. – Never satisfied are we? – Actually, while very nice, I’m of the opinion that in these circumstances it would have been better to spread it farther by making stews – chops seem a mite on the luxury side.

The men had their squid fried tonight and it’s a peculiar looking animal to have to eat. They came back for more though. Guess they get pork tomorrow.

Mac and I spent the evening playing more bridge with our Naval opponents of the other evening. Dudley and MacDowell were their names and they’re both damned fine chaps. We again demonstrated our bridge superiority.

March 11 – (Wednesday)

Still a bit on the dull side but no rain this a.m. Much activity in the way of cleaning this morning. Some Jap big shot is paying us the honour of a visit at 10 a.m.

The Jap paper announces the successful termination, for Japan, of the Java and Burma campaigns. Nothing official yet but the last we received indicated things were far from good in both places. Certainly credit must be given our erstwhile opposition. They had everything planned down to the most minute details and knew how to execute their plans. Our general defensive policy doesn’t seem to stand up at all, although I imagine lack of air support is the answer. It will be interesting in years to come to follow the details of this eastern campaign in a magazine like “Time”, just to see how they treat the whole affair. Events in Java, Singapore and Burma, which to us seem to be of vital importance will, in all probability, rate very little copy in America, depending of course on the strategy of the Yanks. Naturally we are definitely prejudiced here and apt to place too much importance on the different places that fall, possibly because every loss seems to us to be a few more weeks or months added to our stay.

Our visitor this morning proved to be the Commandant of Prison Camps in Hong Kong and his visit started the rumour train again. Apparently he did mention that we were fortunate in our treatment here as Japanese nationals in Canada and the United States were being under-fed. He also intimated to the Colonel the possibility of the men being allowed to work, with pay, and the opening of a canteen – both in the indefinite future. We have heard these before so are not placing too great hope in either. All reading material is called in, presumably for censure.

I wound up the day with pork gravy and rice for supper and a session of push-pull after. The push-pull developed into a gossip session, so I broke even financially.

Once again, no word from the “great-outside”. Guess they are being cautious.

March 12 – (Thursday)

The weather is still dull, but there’s no rain. I wish it would do one or the other.

I’m Orderly Officer today but duties consist mainly of meal supervision so it makes no great difference.

Forgive my continual relation of items on our menu, but after all there isn’t a great deal else to provide material for a diary. Every day is a repetition of the one previous and, while I’ve tried so far to get away from a straight line or so entry, it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid without repeating.

I think lunch today provided our tastiest meal to date – it consisted of fried sole and dry rice. Whether the fact that the fish was fried in peanut oil made the difference or not I can’t say, but it was delicious.

After our enforced diet of rice here, we’ve had our eyes opened to the possibilities of the grain, both as a staple vegetable and dessert. Served with cream and sugar, syrup, jam or chocolate sauce, it makes a tasty dessert and as a vegetable the scope is almost unlimited. We have had it with all types of fish, from sardines to squid, as well as bully beef, pork, beef, peas, beans, meat gravies, sauces made from greens, soybean sauce, curried sauces and even plain, with or without salt. I don’t know how the price would affect things at home but at breakfast for example, sweet rice would be a good substitute for cereals or porridge. The ease and speed with which it can be cooked should make it acceptable as a main course for those meals which have to be made at the last minute due to bridge or golf. It’s an idea anyway. I hope I manage to retain my taste for it.

Mac and I were ousted, most emphatically, from the bridge tourney this afternoon. Such cards – wow! We bid only two hands all afternoon.

The local paper today plays up the loss of the East Indies and Burma and says it’s a foregone conclusion that Australia will follow without any trouble. Our situation here wouldn’t appear to be the most hopeful in the world, would it? Do we let it get us down? Ixnay, ixnay.

Makes one wonder how things are going at home. Why we haven’t enough sense to appreciate our standard of living without having to go through something like this is beyond me. Still – we’re very much alive and that’s something! My sympathies are with those at home who won’t have the boys coming back, particularly the brother combinations, of which we had three or more wiped out. Again I say – we’re lucky. –

Once again as I try to throw these few lines together, the hut buzzes with bridge tourney gab. The event is going well.

Again we are out of smokes – but do we decide we had better quit? No, something is bound to turn up. Strangely enough it usually does.

Well, that would seem enough for one day so – 30 -.

March 13 – (Friday)

Time marches on and we hit our second “unlucky” Friday of the current year. As long as they get no worse they’ll be okay.

An hour or so of the usual dull weather was quickly dispelled by brilliant sunshine this a.m. and immediately everyone’s spirit brightened. It’s quite remarkable how much the weather influences the general feeling.

Dinner was no hell and consisted of plain rice, a little mushy, and peach jam. Flour has once again come in, in limited quantities, so we also enjoyed one slice of bread.

Most of the afternoon was spent lapping up vitamins in the form of sunshine. I think our diet, if it could be held at its present high standard, contains most of the ingredients necessary for a reasonably healthy existence. If we are able to withstand the tropical diseases during the wet months, I think there’s the possibility that we’ll get out of here an extremely healthy group, the officers I mean. Certainly most of us are in finer shape than for years, paunches and surplus weight have come off and, with abstinence from liquor and lots of rest, we’re really better off than normally – from a physical standpoint. Naturally our diet does lack things but, I don’t think, too seriously. I mention the officers as a group because they have definite standards of cleanliness not practiced by the men – since most of the Eastern diseases seemingly hinge on cleanliness. At any rate, God willing, it may be just what the doctor ordered for some of us.

Another ball game this afternoon and we were on the short end of an 8-4 score.

Supper was another gastronomic orgy. We had pork pie, rice, turnips and cooked lettuce. I didn’t even try the last two articles mentioned but the remainder was delicious. I don’t know how long they can keep up this good meal schedule, but I’m all for it.

Once again nothing in the way of news, so we take us to bed feeling none too optimistic.

March 14 – (Saturday)

By way of a change, the sun peeked out while we were having breakfast and now it is damned hot.

We had an inspection by the Guard Commander at eleven o’clock as the Commandant apparently was none too pleased in the other day’s turn-out, and he’s returning Wednesday. This was evidently a dress rehearsal.

I had a hair-cut this morning, so will have to watch the sun for a few days. Some of the boys have shaved off their hair and, with the general appearance of thinness, some of the resultant sights are rather on the grotesque side.

It’s my day to shave today, which means I must hack away at a two-day growth with a dull blade. Our shaving equipment unfortunately, is at a minimum and blades, brushes etc. are passed from one to the other to alleviate the situation.

Today I’m nursing a sore arm – slipped while running bases in the ball game yesterday and took some skin off my elbow and, though I put iodine on it right after the game, by this morning infection had set in. This gives an idea of how careful one must be in this country.

The cigarette problem is again acute and today our scrounging brings forth still another brand, “Blue Eagles”.

Mac and I, discussing our situation, both remarked on the fact that penned up as we are in our little enclosure, we still – strangely enough – don’t seem entirely displeased with our lot – barring the question of food and fags. That may seem funny – actually it is – but no one has the desire to get out of camp such as they would were we on duty, say at home, and confined to barracks. There may be some truth in “way to heart – through stomach”.

The afternoon proved very hot and not wishing to take a chance with “Old Sol”, I slept until parade.

We again resumed Saturday evening concerts tonight and the standard of entertainment is strikingly high. Sweeney and the lads are very popular and some of their stuff is good.

Again no inkling of how things are progressing, but I guess it really doesn’t matter. If things go well we get too optimistic and if not we go to extremes the other way. I’m afraid men are very strange and selfish animals.

March 15 – (Sunday)

Well – Paddy – many happy returns on this date, hope we have the next one together. I have ample time here to ponder on the things I should have done in these nine years. I hope also that things have been progressing smoothly since my departure. May we meet soon anyway, Paddy.

Communion and Mass this a.m. and just managed to finish when it commenced to rain.

I still can’t get used to the “no Sabbath” of the East. Small, the Chinese are noted for their expressionless faces. Without a Sunday morning sleep-in to look forward to, I’m afraid we’d all become sour-pussed, sooner or later.

Dinner consisted of two eggs, two slices of bread and tea. We hope this is followed by a nice bulky supper – we’re seconds!

Thinking of Paddy’s birthday brings to mind the days at Swift Current. I wonder if Bob “joined up”, married or what? – and Rooney – will he have found his “groove” yet? Seems years and years since I ceased working (?) for a living. I hope my Christmas cards and letters managed to wriggle through before the war struck. Seems rather odd to be in our position, people not knowing whether we’re alive or dead. Makes one wonder just how much concern was shown by so-called “friends”. This is like being detached from the general picture and not being able to make out the details. Too bad our families can’t be informed, one way or another, although I guess that will come – maybe it has already.

We did have our bulky supper. Plain dry rice, rice and cheese (like macaroni and cheese) and a slice of bread. Fortunately the cheese content was not too high so I managed to enjoy the mixture. Had seconds too, and left the table satisfied.

Rumours are again rampant – the latest is a reported 48 hour truce between Japan and Britain and the United States for discussion of terms. We even have the details. The reported separate peace between the two would be dependant on Japan being allowed to retain Singapore and Hong Kong. She, in return, would keep all but the vessels of these two countries out of the Pacific for trading purposes. Refusal of these terms would result in the Japanese conquest of Australia. Acceptance of course would mean our immediate release. Beautifully simple, isn’t it?

News did come through tonight that a Compradore would be in camp in the morning to take orders for food, etc. The only drawback is lack of money. Arrangements seem to be under way for a pay though so we may eventually have some.

Well, this seems to about exhaust my mental capacities for the day – so we’ll just wind up the Sabbath with a little prayer that it won’t be long now.