April 2 1942 – (Thursday)
Although the wind is still cold, the sky is comparatively cloudless and we may later get a spot of sun. I hope so, depressions seem to lift and settle with the weather.
The fag situation becomes, once again, a matter of extreme seriousness. It seems almost incredible that we have managed to smoke about $70.00 (Canadian) worth in the last couple of weeks. At home that amount would purchase 7,000 fags – quite some difference.
Still no word as to pay – except that there is liable to be a “slight” delay. Rations are low as well, so it means cutting down a bit. Maybe I should have cut smoking for Lent. Speaking of Lent, tomorrow is Good Friday, so our Easter season will soon be upon us. Doesn’t seem long since Christmas and New Years. I hope celebration of these feasts is carried out in a better clime next year.
We did see the sun from time to time this morning, but a cold wind proved too much for our sun bath intentions.
Bread and tea for lunch, with a minute spot of jam.
We played ball this afternoon against the Rifle Sergeants and again lost, although the decision was close – 8-7.
For dinner we had a fried fish, resembling our herrings, with a soggy portion of rice. We have been issued lately with what is called “tapioca rice” which seems a cross, as indicated by the name, but not possessing the qualities of either.
After dinner we had a surprise muster occasioned by a miscue in the book-keeping system, then bridge with Dud and Mac until lights out.
April 3 – (Good Friday) – 1942
This day dawned bright and cheery, rumour of pay helping considerably, but the sky was clear and everyone tumbled out in good spirits.
True to the old pagan custom, we managed our hot cross buns this morning. We enjoy these little gestures – they remind us of better days to come – we hope.
In connection with the approaching Easter festival, our present situation will exclude subjection to the usual monstrosities that make their debut under the flattering alias of “Style” on Easter morn.
Lunch brings us the usual bread and tea but we find ourselves satisfied easier than formerly.
The “big moment” came this afternoon. Our pay finally becomes a reality. The pay schedule is as follows – Lieutenants Y 25, Captains Y 62.50, Major Y 110. The Military Yen (MY) being worth $2 Mex. or Hong Kong means we get $50.00 Hong Kong. Not much but it will keep us in smokes. It was amusing to note the excitement that spread through the camp when the news got around. Unfortunately, arrangements for the men’s pay have not been completed and as a result, our hut was like a honey pot for those wishing to sell, loan or borrow. A mess meeting after dinner decided the messing fee would be 17 yen per month. Since this doesn’t leave much leeway for a Lieutenant, it was decided to debit us that amount monthly, payable in Canada, and spread the cost pro rata amongst the other officers, giving them credit payable by us later. This, it must be admitted, is most fair to the “juniors”.
The general undercurrent of excitement persisted far on into the night and yours truly didn’t manage to sleep until after 2 a.m. It was amusing to see fags being lit in all parts of the hut even at that late hour.
April 4 – (Saturday)
Though this day dawned dull, everyone’s spirits were sufficiently exhilarated by yesterday’s events, that such a thing as depressing weather didn’t stand a chance.
Breakfast, aided and abetted by a can of milk with the rice, was a distinct success. I neglected to mention that, immediately on being paid yesterday, a concerted rush was made on the canteen stores and, since stocks were low anyway, everything was soon disposed of. I managed to get some milk but no fags. On learning of the fag situation our local “merchants”, who obtain their supplies over the fence, immediately upped their prices from $1.00 Mex. to $1.30 for ten. Even this was no deterrent and, as a result, all fags in camp are sold out. I hope for some in tonight though.
The afternoon proved particularly disastrous for us in the world of sport. The Rifle officers administered a 17-0 pasting at softball. Blaver of the Rifles pitched a remarkable game and I “modestly” boast of robbing him of a no-hit game by connecting in the last frame.
Dinner brought the old stand-by of dry rice and some fried fish. The old stomach has soured considerable in the last week or so and when it empties as rapidly as it does on this diet, it’s not funny.
The evening was spent running hither and thither making deals and bargaining, so I was rather spent by bedtime.
April 5 – (Easter Sunday)
Although lovely and warm, Easter Sunday lacked the traditional brightness of the sun usually prevalent.
By way of a change, breakfast brought us pancakes in place of the customary rice.
There was a good turnout for Communion this morning with over 200 having partaken. The Padre mentioned that he had served some 2,500 communions since coming into camp, which is a pretty fair figure.
Lunch took the form of sweetened rice plus bread and jam and was most acceptable.
Efforts to get this diary up to date after lunch were discouraged, to a large extent, by buying and dealing.
A volley ball net has been set up so we made a team up and took on a Rifles officer team, trimming them handily in two games. It’s a good thing we can win at something --. A heavy shower cut short our session and we retired for dinner.
Dinner proved particularly tasty and was made up of dry rice with fried patties made from sardines and bread. Considering the equipment our cooks work with, the quality of our meals is amazing. It’s too bad the men couldn’t fare as well.
More trading and running around after dinner. The fag market is rather peculiar – there seems to be a goodly supply but at times it’s difficult to run it down.
April 6 – (Monday)
Heavy rain throughout the night and early morning put the crimp in a proposed volley ball game at 7:15.
Breakfast had an added treat this morning. This was a large slice of buttered toast with our rice.
A light drizzle keeps us indoors so we spend the morning teaching Maze and Harper the “finer” points of bridge.
The day remains dull so the first part of the afternoon was spent indoors.
Lunch will be light again, but the splendid breakfast leaves us not particularly hungry for a change. I neglected to mention that oatmeal porridge was mixed with the breakfast rice and it seems to help it stick to one’s ribs.
The day remains dull so the first part of the afternoon was spent indoors reading. After the parade, Mac and I grabbed a wheel barrow and filled up the low spots that were collecting water on our volley ball court, then again walloped the Rifles three straight.
Dinner again proved a treat and included whale steak, dry rice, gravy, catsup and bread. The excellence of our meals of late is a continual wonderment to me. The whale tonight was perfect – about half an inch thick and as tender as liver. It’s no exaggeration when I say that meals are more satisfying in their present state than those received in the mess at Sham Shui Po before the war.
My bargaining lately has brought me a variety of decent “buys”. A new wool sweater for four packages of fags, pair of shorts, one deck, pair wooden clogs, seven fags, and a big China plate for five fags. The values going are remarkable – I’ve passed up watches, pen and pencil sets and heaven knows what, all for a few cigarettes.
April 7 – (Tuesday)
This day dawned dull but warm, with the faint promise of a continuance of yesterday’s rain. Mac and I arose at 7:15 for a proposed volley game but found the others somewhat lacking in ambition in the cold grey light of dawn. I think we’ll forget this early morning sports program.
Once again toast with our rice this morning. It was almost as good as dunking toast in our porridge at home.
I managed to garner a pound of butter this a.m. for $6.50 Mex, which at present rate of exchange amounts to $3.25 Canadian. Not bad for the farmers, eh?
News came in after morning parade that the Colonel died last evening at Bowen Road. Apparently he suffered from a combination of dysentery, anaemia and malaria. I think however, that his spirit suffered most. He looked a beaten man when he left here. The quotation, “The evil that men doeth” etc. seems to hold and, though it’s not the proper thing to say at this time, general opinion seems to be that it’s for the betterment of the regiment. Funeral arrangements have not been completed but it is believed burial will take place this afternoon. In the tropics all bodies must be buried within twenty-four hours.
In relation to the above, the seniors of both regiments and some N.C.O.’s from the Winnipeg Grenadiers, as well as representatives of the Navy, were allowed to attend the burial service. Apparently the affair was a little rough, the body being wrapped in a sheet and buried in the hospital yard. To all intents and purposes however, he was buried with full military honours. Pax Vobiscum.
Dinner was again the heavy duty type and consisted of bully beef and whale meat patties.
We saved buns from dinner and christened the new can of butter by inviting Dud and Mac over for tea. It was delicious and how we splurged on the butter.
The sentries nipped one of our chaps trading tonight and apparently are a bit annoyed as we’re having a muster at 10:45 – evidently someone tried to nip out.
April 8 – (Wednesday)
(My apologies re Shelagh’s birthday).
Still another dull day in prospect, also another birthday slides by, for I believe today is Shelagh’s, or was it yesterday? We never did settle that. Anyway lots more of them for you, Shelagh. The lousy part of this business is trying to follow, in the mind, the development of the children. I have no pictures or remembrances of any kind, having lost all that in the trench. The day will come though – pray God it will be soon.
Last night’s activity was evidently the result of one of the traders having a parcel thrown to him by his Chinese accomplice outside and it dropped short. The trader climbed through the fence to retrieve it and there the sentry spotted him. Result, general muster.
The morning was spent gossiping in the company hut with the Sergeants. Rumour has the British making four separate landings in France, and apparently the capitol of Ceylon was raided with the loss of 57 Jap planes.
I officiated as score-keeper for a ball game today then had lunch of cocoa, bread and biscuits. We later took on the Navy at volley and trimmed them.
Dinner was another mark up for the cooks. Sardines, large - on toast, plus dry rice. Truly a lovely meal.
Most of the evening I spent running down cigarettes to pay my debts. A chap we’re keeping out of trouble in the “klink”, (he’s nuts) until he goes to hospital, created a little diversion by climbing walls and fences.
As it turns out, April 8 is not my birthday. But one can understand the confusion of months and years with the way Dad was spending his time. Even with the entries in the diary on a daily basis, it must have been overwhelming to keep things straight.
I was two years old when my father left Winnipeg for Hong Kong and so I have no recollection of him or what having a father in your life was supposed to mean. I rely on pictures and notes in letters between my parents during this period to put into context what was happening to us in 1941 – 1942.
At this entry in the diary, my mother still doesn’t know what has happened to the men who were captured in Hong Kong. I know from her letters to Dad that she has left Winnipeg, (her relationship with the Corrigan in-laws was not great) and gone to Regina, Saskatchewan to be with her mother and step-father. But she is obviously unsettled and uncertain as to where she should be – given the unknown of the war. Her story must have been repeated all over the world as wives and children were left to try and collect themselves with husbands fighting on the war fronts.
Not only were my parents separated because of the war, but my older sister Paddy was also in and out of my life at that time. She spent some time in Winnipeg going to school while she stayed with my Corrigan grandparents – and then would be back to Swift Current for the holidays. My mother may have been working in Swift Current, but I was too young to know what was going on around me.
My saving grace, and a huge comfort for me, was my time spent with my mother’s parents. They were the haven for unconditional love, though I’m sure I tried their patience over and over. Some of my first and best memories of that time are sitting in Pop McDonald’s big arm chair and having him read the “funny papers” (comics) to me. He was the male figure in my life at that point.
Dad makes reference in the diary as to when my birth date actually was. Apparently I arrived at midnight on the 7thand 8thof May, and there was some question as to which day was my correct birthday. May 7thwas decided on and became the official date.
April 9 – (Thursday)
Prospects of a bright day for a change were evident this morning, so I started the day off with a brisk shower. After breakfast a session of volley provoked a sweat-up, so another shower was in order.
The latest rumour has the English landing a million and a quarter troops in France. Even quotes the casualties at 40,000. A naval action between Jap and Yank fleets is also reported. Wish half our rumours panned out.
Lunch consisted of tea and baking powder biscuits but the latter seemed to have taken on some of the qualities of sponge rubber and weren’t so hot.
Dinner, however, was a jackpot meal and consisted of rich mutton stew, rice, a piece of toast, a large bread biscuit and stewed dates. For almost the first time in history, I was unable to finish my portion.
After dinner, Maze, Mac and I were invited to a concert by the Navy as guests of Dud and Mac – and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I do relish the company of these two lads, in fact there are six of them, all R.N.V.R. who mess together and they’re all “tops”. Dud is a tall, lean, angular chap from Australia who, before the war, managed a steel import and export firm here. His mannerisms and speech are somewhat along the lines of a western cowboy, in short, very colonial and, since he’s been stationed in such places as New Guinea, Singapore, Malaya and Shanghai, he’s quite interesting to chin with. Mac, on the other hand, is his very opposite. Built somewhat on the lines of Rooney, he strikes me as being just the type of chap Jack would like to be. An Honour student at Cambridge he was, before hostilities, in government service as sort of Cadet Governor – i.e. his promotions and positions would eventually work up to some governship or other. Very quiet compared to Dud. Still he manages to carry his quietness well enough that there is no suggestion of aloofness. All in all, he’s the perfect gentleman and one of the finest chaps I’ve ever met. The other chaps in the mess with them are very much above our standards educationally, numbering amongst them a young architect, considered one of the finest in the Colony, two doctors and sundry managers of quite important businesses of the island. Taking in these considerations and knowing the reputation for cliques in the Colony, I feel quite happy about the open-handed way Mac and I have been welcomed by the lot of them.
Well, another step toward the goal, so again it’s -30-.
April 10 (Friday)
Early evidence of a bright cheerful day were enhanced by a good breakfast of rice and porridge.
Rumours were rampant early and the beauty of the day was somewhat dimmed by their advent. The Jap paper featured the loss of two cruisers and forty-four Merchantmen in the Indian Ocean and the imminent fall of the Philippines. News of this nature, if true, doesn’t make things any too inspiring for us, in fact, the general situation as we know it is none too bright for the Allies, at least in the Pacific. I still cling to the hope that we’ll be out of here by fall, though I must admit that I can hardly base my hope on any concrete course of action we’re liable to take. Just the good old Irish wishful thinking, I guess.
Nine heavy bombers pass over at noon going southwest and caused considerable buzz as to its probable destination.
Lunch consisted of pancakes with jam in lieu of syrup and was, to my notion, rather filling but tasteless.
Meals are attaining such a high standard generally that I’m afraid they’ve almost passed out of the picture as items of news value.
This afternoon proved very hot so I spent the greater part of it flat on my back.
Dinner consisted of rice, baked beans, a light meat stew and baked dates. Once again, I was forced to admit I was licked and couldn’t finish my dates. I’m afraid I’m liable to lose my amateur standing as a big eater if this keeps up. I had myself weighed today on two different scales and found I had lost 24 pounds. I had imagined I was gaining some too. Must be getting soft.
Tonight’s scrounging brought me a mattress for six decks, so I’ll think I’ll drop this and give it a try.
April 11 – (Saturday)
This last day of the week started rather dull, with indications of rain. With another week rolled back I again marvel at the passage of time.
Today’s Jap paper adds the aircraft carrier “Hermes” to the two cruisers reported sunk yesterday. – Not good - . I wonder just what Russia’s commitments are in return for the planes, supplies etc. which Britain drew from her Pacific posts. Surely it must mean some measure of retaliation, by way of Vladivostock, on Japan. That seems almost our only way of striking back in this sphere. I just can’t see the United States sitting back for very long allowing the Nips to pick off units of the British Fleet as they have been doing. It would seem that something should be starting soon.
The afternoon I spent in research testing my new mattress. Seems to work okay – I hope it isn’t lousy though.
Dinner was again A-one – rice, gravy, delicious whale steak, baking powder biscuits and stewed dates for dessert.
A drizzle of rain spoiled the usual Saturday night concert so I spent the evening chin-wagging at the Company hut. Hope it clears tomorrow, these rainy days are a bore.
April 12 – (Sunday)
Another week in the offing. I started the week as usual with communion then chatted with Dud for an hour or so. The weekly news summary was nothing to get excited about and served to confirm most of our adverse rumours of last week.
The day remained dull throughout so we took advantage of the coolness and had a couple of games of volley before lunch.
Today we inaugurate the daily “quiet hour” or siesta time, between the hours of two and three. We of course haven’t as yet contacted any great heat, but later I understand the rest period will be necessary.
How I’ll manage to find anything of sufficient interest to put to paper when the hot weather comes, I don’t know. Heaven knows it’s been dry enough reading so far. Every day is a repetition of the one previous and in this environment, my mind just won’t wander.
Dinner consisted of “whaleburger” with dry rice and more dates.
After dinner we held the first of our evening services of the Rosary, those of mid-morning being discontinued on account of the heat. Rather an unusual occurrence in regards to religion developed this evening. With a radius of 200 yards, three religious services were in progress simultaneously – Catholic, Protestant and Buddhist, the latter consisting of a group of the guards walking around in a circle, officers and N.C.O.’s in the centre and all chanting and singing as they marched.
I can’t help but note the friendlier atmosphere in our group as a result of the Colonel’s absence. Major Trist and Major Hook as officer Commanding and Second-In-Command respectively, have a much better understanding of officer handling, particularly the latter, and the difference is apparent to everyone.
April 13 – (Monday)
Another day has wasted away. This one – judging by our standards was one of almost feverish activity. Taking advantage of a promise of sun, we spent the morning cleaning hut and placing our beds in a new allotment scheme. The cleansing activities occupied most of the forenoon until parade, after which we partook of a much-needed volley practice.
Lunch consisted of very soggy pancakes and jam and was most disappointing. It seems a recently constructed grill failed to measure up.
Most of our quiet hour I spent getting my belongings in some semblance of order, although I did read a bit of “The General” by C.S. Forrester. The book, by the way is rather good and one I would recommend for Dad’s pleasure.
McCarthy, Maze and I, in a moment of weakness, organized a game of baseball, which kept us occupied until parade at 4 p.m. After parade we still had sufficient energy left to play volley until dinner – so my athletic activities for the day included three showers, seven games of volley and a game of baseball. Ain’t life hell in a prison camp???
Dud and Mac dropped in after dinner and we did a spot of chin-wagging. If we come out of this on the right end, Mac is going to show me around, in fact we more or less planned a week in Peking, a city he claims to be perfection.
April 14 – (Tuesday)
Arising more or less fresh from a particularly good sleep, I found the new day promising in regards to weather – although we were evidently to be denied the enjoyment of lolling in the sun. I find this business of acquiring a suntan almost vexing at times. We manage to get nicely browned up one day only to lose most of it before being given an opportunity to “stabilize” it.
The weather remaining cool, we played volley until parade at which time I played a game of “Hand” football with the men in their P.T. period to round out my sports program for the day.
A lunch of a bun and some jam, supplemented by a chocolate bar, proved very tasty. The arrival of supplies brightened the “eats” future.
Again the quiet hour proved a nap, after which we played a practice game of ball with the Sergeants until parade. Time again hung heavy, so I organized another game of volley before dinner.
Dinner tonight, while not giving possibly as much quantity as other of our meals, was, I think, the most completely satisfying meal since capture. Naturally rice provided the main course, garnished with a gravy of meat, vegetables and celery, and a large bun served as a side dish. Dessert brought forth baked dates with un-wateredcondensed milk as a sauce and a large chocolate biscuit, almost an éclair, to top it off. Charming repast, what?
Dud was in trying to trace down or confirm a couple of disturbing rumours circulating through the Navy. He heard the Nips had made landings in Ceylon and Aden which, if true, would be anything but promising to us. Another spot, slightly more favourable, has the Yanks retaking Guam.
I’m afraid our captors are fast learning our western methods of doing things. Two truck-loads of barbed wire arrived tonight, plus generators – presumable the latter to be used for the purpose of charging said wire. We weren’t going anywhere anyway!
Read a book, “At Your Beginnings”, rather good, then retired.
April 15 – (Wednesday)
Today holds more promise of lots of sun, so we played volleyball all morning lest it be too hot this afternoon.
Rumour has it that there will be a movement shortly of either the Navy or some Canucks from this camp. I hope not as I do enjoy the company of some of our Navy friends. Speaking of the latter, it seems that Dud and Errol Flynn worked together in the same firm down in the East Indies somewhere, and were more or less buddies.
Letting my thoughts run wild last night before sleeping, I find that I’m of a slightly different frame of mind than that of two months ago. Perhaps I’ve managed to finally adjust myself to our present mode of living. At any rate, my plans for the future have altered somewhat. Remember the Chicago trip? I’ve become more conservative now. My plans include now the purchase of a new car and the taking of about three months off for a leisurely motor trip to California or Florida. How would that register Mrs. C? Of course, a lot would be dependant on the length of time we are stuck here. Present indications are such, although contrary to my private intuition, that it would appear quite likely I’ll be able to finance a car on my return, with the shekels accruing during my tenure here. I’m only frightened lest my age should prevent the obtaining of a drivers’ license.
The day did turn out bright and warm but we were denied the luxury of sun-bathing by a visit of the Jap prison Commandant. Evidently he found things to his satisfaction, so we’re okay again for awhile.
Dinner again proved a treat – dry rice, a bun and a baked mixture of fish and rice, topped off with stewed dates. It’s significant that the steward was unable to dispose of a single second helping in his rounds.
Dud and Mac dropped in to invite us in to a Navy concert in Hut #10. Jolly good it was too. – Well another day goes west. I do hope I’ll get something interesting in this blasted thing soon. – So far ---- not good.
April 16 – (Thursday)
And still another glorious day in the offing. We have not so far, experienced any great amount of the humidity usually prevalent at this time of the year. In fact, we are assured it has been particularly dry to date. Someone among our Navy friends cheerfully informed us last night that, if the typhoons hold to their usual cycle, we could expect a dilly this year. Although I understand this spot is a particularly un-healthy one in a blow, I’d still like to experience a “good one”.
The sun began to sizzle this morning a bit, so we had our morning volley session right after P.T. parade. I was called up after the game to take charge of a party to clean up one of the godowns, preparatory for use as an annex to our hospital.
The above work party didn’t materialize due to a visit of the Camp Commandant, to inspect the new wiring system. Evidently there have been several recent escapes from Sham Shui Po, with the result that a general tightening-up has come into force. Our wire here has been reinforced and heightened and, to further discourage wanderers, electrified. This afternoon brought an amusing incident in regards to the working party. The godown which I was ordered to clear, is adjacent to the building now used as a hospital and was formerly connected to it by means of an archway, since bricked up. The work of clearing the building being well in hand, we commenced opening the arch and had advanced to the point where we had a lovely hole about five feet square punched through. At this point the guard commander appeared and almost blew his top when he realized that he had permitted an opening to be made that hadn’t been accounted for in the laying of the wire. Result – we had to rebrick the new-made avenue of “escape”.
News today fails to substantiate rumours of yesterday re Ceylon and Aden, but neither did it give us cause for excessive jubilation.
I’ve meant to mention a small item regarding funerals for some time. I believe I mentioned, in a letter home, something about the funerals before the war, with their bands and banners and quaint ceremonies. How totally different things are now. Dozens of coffins pass daily but, instead of the elaborate processions of pre-war times we find the majority made up only of those men carrying the body, without even mourners – although on one or two occasions, I have seen a woman, presumable the wife walking behind. The coffin, a huge heavy-looking wooden affair, is usually carried by either two or four coolies, suspended between them by ropes and carrying poles. These pall bearers are usually dressed in peculiar conical-shaped straw hats and pale blue jackets, the latter usually open to reveal a very dirty shirt or chest in similar condition. Apparently this pale blue and white are the colours of mourning in China – and the general effect is not enhanced by the filth of the coolies’ pants and feet. I’d like to get hold of some really authoritative book on these people. They have some strange ways.
Dinner tonight, in the light of recent feasts, was almost common and consisted of whale stew, dry rice and dates.
Dud dropped in after dinner and the remainder of a lovely day was spent gossiping.
April 17 – (Friday)
This morning dawned in a way very reminiscent of home. Dull and with a stiffish breeze that caused dust to swirl, it was just one of those mornings that one might say, “No, don’t feel much like golf today. Think I’ll read instead.” That’s exactly just what we do here, only we didn’t have the choice.
After a lunch that provided something of a change – i.e. cocoa with honey and toast – I spent considerable time in a horizontal position on my bunk. I’ve often wondered just how a lengthy stay, such as we might have to undergo, will affect us in subsequent civil life. The longer we are here, under present conditions, the more pessimistic I become in the matter of re-adjustment later. Even here, with time on our hands, everyone has become alarmingly lazy. For example, this is a wonderful opportunity to better ourselves mentally, by way of language and mathematics classes, but we find that, after one or two lessons, interest dies and people don’t attend.
The Nips are making remarkable progress on the sunken hulks in the harbour, having raised about six so far. The channel here is a mile or so wide and there still remains a dozen or so to be raised – so it’s quite a neat bit of salvage. Unfortunately, either because of incompetence or their smug, contented disparagement of the possible capabilities of their enemies, the British failed to destroy most of the industrial plants, etc. on the island, with the result that it has become quite a rich prize for its captors. Vital works such as dock-yards, dry-docks, oil depots and even ship yards were left virtually untouched. It’s almost time some of Britain’s colonial policies had something besides the profit motif as their foundation. If the news from India be true, it might well mean the beginning of the much prophesized breaking up of the Empire, a prophesy that doesn’t appear quite as fantastic, even with our brief contact with the East, to us here as it would in Canada.
Late in the afternoon, news came around that the Navy was being moved to Sham Shui Po in the morning. This will mean that, with the exception of a few Dutch sailors, the camp will be Canadian throughout. The move will also alleviate accommodation to some extent, freeing about five huts for our use. At present each hut sleeps about 160 men, which is just about double the normal capacity. Another good feature of the move will be that Black, Blackwood and Nugent will be joining us from the other side.
After dinner, considerable time was spent bidding adieus to friends made in the Navy and exchanging addresses, lest circumstances later prevented our meeting. Mac and Dud particularly I shall miss tremendously and I think there was considerable disappointment on both sides at the abrupt severance of new-found friendships. A farewell concert was hastily organized and we enjoyed this and the accompanying sing-song tremendously, then sojourned to Dud’s bunk for a spot of tea. Something of a coincidence occurred at the end of the evening. Word was passed around quite late, that a kit inspection of those going out would be held in the morning and articles of rubber, electrical goods, tools, rapids (?) flashlights etc. would be confiscated. Shortly after my leaving the Navy hut, Dud came over to ask if I should mind keeping a pair of binoculars for one of their blokes. Telling him that I would, I took them from him and returned to my bunk where Harper, noticing the bulge in my tunic became curious as to make, etc. Showing them to him, he expressed the opinion they were Canadian issue, a point with which I disagreed as I had thought they were Navy. To settle the issue, I took them under a light to look for possible verification and almost went through the floor when I discovered my initials cut into the frame. The last I had seen of them was at McAustin Barracks when I had tossed them over a cliff to prevent their further use by the enemy. – I hope I can manage to bring them through now, I also still retain a hope I can pick up my sword again.
April 18 – (Saturday)
What a day for a move. A cold, dismal rain fell all morning, making things utterly miserable.
Unfortunately I didn’t see Dud or Mac this morning as they moved out quite early to the car barns across the street for inspection. The ratings are not so fortunate however, and have been standing on the square for the last hour and a half in a pouring rain, their kit becoming pretty well water-logged.
This morning we find the general move involves minor ones as well. Six junior Subalterns from each regiment are being moved into a quarter hut available next door. The six being, of course, those newly joined.
Black and Blackwood arrived just at dinner, so the remainder of the day was spent exchanging news and views. Incidentally, all Imperial officers were moved to Argyle Street today and we’re wondering if we too might be separated from the men - hope not. Our boys, as usual, report lousy relations with the Imperial officers at Sham Shui Po, particularly the Royal Scots, so they’re quite happy to be here.
April 19 – (Sunday)
Another spongy day in the offing. Evidently our weather is stabilizing itself.
The peace of our Sunday morning breakfast was disturbed by a surprise visit of a delegation of military big-wigs, headed by a Major-General no less. Our first inkling was the opening of the hut door by a sentry and the entrance of some twenty officers who slowly made their way through the hut. Not a word was spoken and we just arose hastily and gaped.
After breakfast we had another surprise, a muster parade – and many were the probable reasons for this strange sequence of events.
The remainder of the day, after lunch, we spent moving beds etc. to the hut next door – our future home. The new set-up promises to be homey. We have some sixteen Subalterns of both regiments occupying half a hut and they comprise a goodly crowd. We also have the piano stored in our hut and had a little sing-song tonight for a start. I’m afraid we might get too comfortable and settled then have to move to some other camp. What a change not having to climb to the attic portion of a double bunk for my nightly repose.
April 20 – Monday
Again a prospective dull wet day confronts us, although it hasn’t yet begun to rain.
Breakfast, due to a shortage of sugar, failed to live up to its usual high standard but we had date juice in its stead so it wasn’t too bad.
Due to the buzz of getting things ship-shape – i.e. sleeping quarters etc. for the newcomers, no P.T. parade was held this morning - for which we were very thankful and made good use of the time further establishing ourselves in our new home. As mentioned yesterday, the new set-up at present seems almost too good and our one fear is that we might be moved away from the men to some other camp.
Rations have not been forth-coming the last few days, so dinner consisted of meat stew with dry rice – very good too.
Since the rain persisted all afternoon, we took the opportunity to delve into the intricacies of Mah Jong, and, rather enjoying it as we progressed, we played most of the afternoon and evening, although we don’t by any means feel we are yet fully acquainted with the game. It’s an enjoyable pastime though and I must try to take back a good set with me. Nugent’s arrival fills our compliment of officers from the hospitals.
April 21 – (Tuesday)
Another day has crept in and, as though in shame at its lack of accomplishment of anything momentous, is as silently slipping out.
The day has been dull throughout and, on the whole, a bit depressing, This morning we started a bit of ball practice, but being plagued by pains of unknown cause in my chest and right arm, I enjoyed it not a bit. One of the Jap Sergeants started to toss the ball around with us so we picked up two teams and had a game, the Nip standing his sword against the fence and taking the first sack for us. Very good he was too!
After P.T. parade we had a session of volley which further aggravated whatever hurt I have done my arm – so I spent the remainder of the day quietly.
Someone unearthed a ping-pong set, so we have that to add to our athletic ventures.
This afternoon I started a book translated by Pearl Buck, “Shui Hu Chan” or “All Men Are Brothers”, and since it contains some 1,300 pages, I expect it to keep me quiet for some time.
Tonight, having read my fill, I spent the evening gossiping in the men’s hut, then back here to finish this miserable effort, and so to bed.
April 22 – (Wednesday)
And still another dull day in the offing. Although we’re not having rain, the threat is ever-present and discourages any untoward activity.
Breakfast returned to normal this morning with the arrival of a small supply of sugar yesterday – once again permitting sweet rice.
The morning I spent reading my new Chinese book but I’m afraid it’s not going to be as beneficial as I had hoped. I had imagined that it might contain considerable useful information of things Eastern but so far I’ve been disappointed.
After P.T., I foolishly played volley and further aggravated my chest and arm.
Lunch consisted of sardines on toast plus dry rice – quite a departure from the usual bun and tea. After lunch, being somewhat lackadaisical, I slept until just prior to parade time. We were again inspected by the Camp Commandant today and heard no complaints so assume he was satisfied.
After a dinner of dry rice and fish I again betook myself to my book until almost bedtime, when for some unexplained reason I felt suddenly unwell. I barely managed to get out of the hut before vomiting, so suddenly did my illness come upon me. The cause of this disturbance I still don’t understand as there was nothing I could have eaten that should affect me alone. At any rate I had two further upheavals toward early morning.
April 23 – (Thursday)
Due to last evening’s disturbances no doubt, I awoke feeling none too refreshed and, as the day was again dull, I decided I had better skip parades – lest I be again taken unawares.
Lunch consisted of buns, fishcakes and jam – for which I had little taste, although I did finish my share. I wouldn’t like to fall from the habit of eating.
The afternoon I spent making up for sleep lost the night previous and though my stomach still wasn’t exactly normal, I did peck away at rice and meat sauce for dinner.
April 24 – (Friday)
Last night brought further recurrences of the previous evening’s unpleasantness, so I was particularly empty this morning. The doctor suggests a laxative and a cessation of eating for a short time, so meals of the day are of no great concern.
Last evening we had something of a round-table conference, consisting of Black, Maze, Campbell, Blackwood, Nugent, Harper, McCarthy, Terry and myself, during which we discussed our various roles in the war and compared notes on specific incidents. I think perhaps the less we re-construct and re-fight the war, the better state our peace of mind will be in. Last evening’s session merely served as a reminder of the horrible incompetency of our noble “peace time’ army and again re-opened the old sore caused by our transfer from the South Saskatchewan Regiment.
Today has been cool and dull with intermittent showers that spoiled the morning as far as sports were concerned. After lunch Terry and Nugent took our measure (Black and I) at bridge, and since I’m not attending parades, I slept from the end of the game until dinner.
Nugent brought us a fair bit of news re the bombing of four Japanese cities by the Yanks, but aside from that, even our rumour crop has been most unproductive. The old standbys of Germany’s collapse and war between Japan and Russia are again circulating, so low is our supply.
Blake and I take on Harper and Maze at bridge so that will pretty well use up another evening.
I managed to get hold of “My First 2,000 Years”, by Viereck and Eldridge, an autobiography of the wandering Jew and supposed to be quite good and, though I haven’t finished my Chinese book, I’ll let it slide for a few days. Instead of the educational angle I sought, I find the subject matter of “Shui Hu Chan” to be concerned mostly with robber bands and killings.
April 25 – (Saturday)
Another week-end rolls around, this one enshrouded in mist and, at intervals, heavy rains.
Due to my indisposition and the rains that kept us in huts all day, there’s even less to relate than usual today. Breakfast due to the sugar shortage, brought us stewed prunes and toast, which as an invalid I found most palatable.
After breakfast, Black and I played Bardal and Trist in the Bridge Tourney, losing by a good margin. Again after dinner Terry and Nugent took us for a ride. We’re consistent anyway.
My illness (so-called) seemed to diminish today and I’m looking forward to eating the regular meals any month now. Tonight’s repast was very satisfying for them as likes them, there were sweet spuds and cabbage plus whale steak. The latter I enjoyed in a bread sandwich.
Rain spoiled our usual Saturday night concert so, aside from bridge, the evening was without event – and so passes another week in durance vile.