May 24 1942 – (Sunday)
The date recalls the accompaniment of dust that we always associated with, and considered part of, the celebration of Victoria Day at home – that and the trips to Gull Lake in days long past. How it galls me to see all these holidays slipping past and not being able to take advantage of them. This situation is as bad as the Post Office.
The day opened in true 24thfashion – i.e. – decidedly uncertain until almost noon, then the sun shone in all its glory – and then the heat.
Our breakfast still brings us the porridge-rice combination – long may it continue – but lunch brought pancakes and very poor bread. We are now using flour that was used during the war in place of barriers and the result is considerable gravel in everything. Dinner gave us beef, sweet spuds and lovely gravy. They tell me we’re eating our allowance so we can expect a ration cut anytime.
What a shame to waste all this lovely weather and not be able to play volley.
Not having anything to do this evening, I went over to the Company office and played Mah Jong with the sergeants – managed to drop 2,000 points there too.
No news of any importance except that we get an opportunity to get a letter out before June 5th. What a treat it would be to get mail from home. It’s so damned hard trying to visualize how things are going there. I wonder if Glad is in Regina – Swift Current? What about finances, furniture, stove, etc.? Has she been having “in-law” trouble? -???? All I can do is hope and pray everyone is enjoying the best of health.
May 25 – (Monday)
The weather promised fair today so, after a breakfast of plain rice, we took steps necessary for a hut clean-up.
Our one man revolt against signing was taken away the following morning and we’ve heard nothing further.
Today has turned out to be perfect so Black and I take on the Roman Catholic and Anglican Padres at bridge and again managed to absorb a lovely trimming at the hands of the gents of the cloth. There must be a lousier pair of bridge artists in camp but we haven’t met them as yet.
Lunch consisted of bread and jam and dinner of sweet spuds and gravy. Sweet spuds have almost entered the staple food class here and, though I disliked them at first, I now find them, with gravy, most tasty. I’ve certainly varied my diet since I left Canada, but you can bet your hat it’s not going to be permanent.
May 26 – (Tuesday)
Another fair day in the offing which we properly initiated with the combination breakfast.
Once again I’m cursed with inactivity. I hope I wangle this hospital soon – I miss my volley. Our officers played the sergeants this morning and again took a drubbing. This regiment doesn’t seem to be able to do much besides talk with any degree of success.
The short time spent in the sun yesterday resulted in a bit of burn on my upper legs and thighs. I’ve constructed several loin-cloths, which must needs serve as underwear, and which expose portions of my anatomy hitherto modestly covered, to the sun. Some of the boys seem to be able to lap up wonderful tans here but I get nowhere fast, every day. A point which we have begun to note of late, is the abundance of grey hairs amongst the comparatively young-uns. They tell me mine are quite beyond the counting stage. Guess I’ll be ready for the chair, pipe and slippers when I get home.
Dinner tonight brings sweet spuds and sardines on toast. Rumour has it that the camp rations are due for a slice shortly. I wonder if it’s a throwback to our actions over the escape signatures?
Another day has slipped by with less than usual to report. Even the remnant of my brain succumbs to the depression created by the heat. Makes me pessimistic too.
May 27 – (Wednesday)
Well, as Tennyson cried – “Another day, another buck-forty”. Again we were favoured with a lovely sunny day and, not being one to do things by halves, I succeeded in giving myself a lovely burn in the region of – shall I say my stomach, or better, lower stomach. A pair of belted trousers is anything but comforting.
Plain rice for breakfast, rice and gravy for lunch and sweet spuds, gravy and beef for supper. – A nice day - .
Since my arm gets no better sitting around, it looks as though the x-ray is something of the distant future anyway, so I decided I might just as well play volley and did so – managing to eke out a loss from Golden’s thugs in a league match.
The grapevine has Mexico entering the war – well might you tremble, Hitler – her oil tanker fleet and those seized should be a help though. The latest latrinogram has Germany folding in the next fortnight, due to the increasing pressure of the Russian onslaught. Ain’t we the cards though? Anything for a laugh.
The ration situation doesn’t improve. Tea cut off, flour and rice cut by twenty per cent. Unfortunately, it’s the men who suffer. – We do okay. –
Nothing but Mah Jong tonight. I drop 2,000 to the company sergeants.
May 28 – (Thursday)
Another fair day in prospect and we start off properly with the rice-porridge combination for breakfast.
I spent most of the morning drawing up orders for the Provost so I missed a P.T. parade.
Lunch proved very light and consisted of tea, bread and jam.
After lunch I spent a delicious hour basking in the sun. Strangely enough, I find that I’m still quite unable to master relaxation. I find myself fitfull and indisposed to quietness just as I was in Canada. I had hoped that this enforced inactivity might unstring me just a bit.
Partook of a session of volley this afternoon but, after two games, things languished due to the extreme heat. In regards to heat, we have been quite fortunate so far since we have not experienced any degree of humidity with it. The last few nights we have been favoured by a full moon and it’s quite delightful to shower, about midnight, and relax in a comfortable deck chair (of camp manufacture, price two decks) enjoying said moon and thinking of home. Would that I had sufficient coin of the realm to take mein frau on a little jaunt out this way after the war. Tropical moons and skies seem to have a different appeal here than at home, the moon losing its softness and its rays seeming to search rather than bathe.
Another incident occurred this morning early (about 3 a.m.). We were awakened by cries of pain and terror, accompanied by heavy thudding blows. Another Chino was being taught the advantages of living under the influence of the “Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere”. His crime? – Who knows!
Rather a nice supper of rice, gravy and sweet spuds tonight. Looks like there’ll be no bridge so guess it’s Mah Jong.
May 29 – (Friday)
And here’s another weekend practically upon us. Again I marvel at the passage of time. I suppose it’s all for the best, but it does seem to lengthen the time until our release – if you get what I mean.
The morning started more or less clear with a hot, sultry breeze in evidence. We commenced a new order in the matter of parades this morning. Battalion parade, followed by P.T. at 8:30, does away with the eleven o’clock parade. This will mean a clear day from 9 a.m. until 7:15 p.m. and will avoid holding parades in the heat of the day.
Our men are again slipping in the matter of health and dysentery is taking its toll. Unfortunately, the medical supplies in camp are hopelessly inadequate and our small hospital cannot hope to accommodate the numbers thrust upon it – the result being that the men, only partially cured, are back in their huts to make room for more serious cases – thereby producing a source of contagion in the crowded quarters. Pictures taken of the men, stripped, would resemble those taken of the Armenian during their famine after the last war. The disease wears them down to nothing but skin and bones from which they have no chance to build up on this diet.
Quite unexpectedly, we were called in last night about 8 p.m. for a pay parade, something that was most acceptable, since fags are again getting to be a problem. The buying of shoes, a chair and a cane has made serious inroads into my smoking allotment for this month. A further snag comes this month as we hear we are to be assessed an additional five yen for the mess fund, leaving us about 12 yen on which to do business. In an effort to promote interest in volley in the company, and also to help myself part with smokes, I’ve had six volley teams made up in the company, to which I subscribe a fag to each member of a winning team. In addition to this, Captain Prendergast (Ax) and myself have our own teams, composed of the better players which compete for one package per game. I only mention these because – with the new assessment – financing is going to be something of a problem.
After a fair rain this morning, the afternoon turned out quite hot, so “Ax” and I played our first game, which – fortunately for my finances – I won. Immediately after we had a pick-up game with the officers, with the result that after five games of continuous perspiring and excessive usage of energy, I’m really fagged out tonight.
Blackwood, who has taken his chiropractic degree, has decided to try and relieve the pain in my arm by manipulations on the spine. Unfortunately, proper equipment is lacking but he thinks he may be able to help it some. I have told him of my neck and although he is sure of the cause of the trouble, claims it’s too risky to tackle without the proper tables, etc.
Well, again little or nothing to do tonight – think I’ll stir up some Mah Jong.
May 30 – (Saturday)
A beautiful day graces the passing of another week. This climate (as of the last few days) under different circumstances, would be wonderful, although in our usual civilized manner (?), we’d probably be utilizing any spare time we might have in lapping up tall drinks.
As usual, nothing of any consequence occurred today. Time not taken up in the usual sessions of volley was spent lying in the sun trying to absorb a tan. Rather nice, having nothing to do but bask in the sun with a refreshing shower every half hour or so. Certainly our shower facilities are a god-send. We thought today of the inadequate bathing facilities we enjoyed (?) at Sham Shui Po and blessed the fates that chose this camp for us.
The meals continue in the usual vein with the combination breakfast, bread and tea lunch, rice and gravy dinner.
After dinner a mess meeting was held which confirmed our five yen assessment for grub. This, with our fag commitments and “give-aways”, points to a lean month.
May 31 – (Sunday)
Again our weather is perfect, though hot. Evidently our rainy season must be finished, certainly there’s not much indication of it these days. Yesterday, according to our thermometer, it reached 90 degrees in the hut and today I believe it’s hotter. In spite of the heat though, we still keep up our volley commitments, today’s portion for me being six games.
Rations were very good today. The usual rice breakfast, lunch of dry rice and sardines and a dinner of roast beef and sweet spuds.
Clothing came in yesterday and included shorts, shirts, tunics and boots – formerly our own – but much needed and appreciated just the same. While watching our company check their supply, the Canadian Quarter Master noticed a Forsythe shirt and remarked that it must have belonged to one of our officers. Imagine my surprise to find “Corr” on the collar.
Gathering around outside the hut tonight to escape the heat, we had a little discussion on the possibilities of our position. Lacking official news, it’s rather difficult to estimate probabilities, but many and varied were the theories advanced. General consensus of opinion seems to be that the battle now raging in Russia would place things in the position of being brought to a climax, one way or another, within the next six weeks or two months. So – the big question is – are we here for years or just one year?
June 1 – (Monday)
And now we are on the threshold of another month of incarceration and with the new month comes the long awaited opportunity to communicate with the homeland. The question is now – what’s to say? Actually there’s so very much one could say and yet it’s hard to try and say anything at all in 200 words. The main thing, of course, is everyone’s health, however, with an answer improbable for some months I guess any questions will be quite unanswered by the time we receive the reply.
Another hot day today. They tell me it’s been particularly dry this year and that, if we don’t get considerably more rain, we’ll be faced with a very serious shortage of water. That’s in the future however. We’re faced with something of a problem in the matter of sleep. Our hut, due to an improvised ration cupboard that quite effectively blocks the end of the building, lacks proper ventilation and it gets damnably hot at night. One awakens in the morning with that “knot-hole” feeling.
Rations today consisted of the combination breakfast, bread, tea, jam and a doughnut for lunch, rice, sweet spuds, and stew for dinner. I still managed to eat like a young horse but I guess it’s the amount of energy I burn daily.
Athletic activities today included six games of volley so I’m at least sufficiently tired physically to warrant a good sleep.
The latest dope would seem to indicate that they’re commencing to get tough in Europe. We hear of a thousand planes equipped with five ton bombs being ready to go to work on the Hun. The Russian bear also seems to be holding his own in that country. My optimism has not flagged as yet and this bit, if true, serves to raise it just a mite higher.
June 2 – (Tuesday)
Our good weather still persists though the sun is obscured by clouds a good portion of the day.
Again nothing of consequence to report aside from the effort we put on our letter for home. We had them all finished this evening – after much counting of words and deletion of prohibited subjects in preparation to the handing in at noon tomorrow – only to find that changes in regulations brought out at the last moment – necessitated everyone re-writing the whole thing. It’s a lot of hooey. Lights are on until midnight tonight so that everyone has a chance to finish before the deadline.
News is scarce again so I can’t even squeeze a few lines out on that subject.
Volley commitments included six games again today, which will ensure our retaining our girlish figures.
The unit is now equipped throughout with wedge caps, shirts, shorts and shoes, and what a difference the clothes make. On parade tonight they once more resembled an army instead of a gang of bums in tattered clothing of all kinds.
Well it’s almost “lights out” so I’ll bring this most miserable of efforts to a close.
And so, in June of 1942, Leonard writes his first letter home since the fall of Hong Kong in December 1941.
My Dearest Glad,
Almost months of no correspondence I find, when at last given the opportunity, that the many questions and things I had thought to say have eluded me. My first concern is the health of you all, particularly the children. I have been most fortunate in this regard and, aside from a little weight loss in the early stages, I’ve managed to keep very fit. We have facilities for softball and volley ball which we put to good use, particularly the latter.
I suppose the younger sister will have commenced her schooling by the time you will have received this. Do have both of them add a line to your replying letter, if any. Did you receive my Christmas mail? I had no word at this end prior to the outbreak. I hope Dad was able to overcome his ailment and trust Mother and the grandmothers and your folks are enjoying the best.
Must close, so, with best wishes to all and to yourself, Shelagh and Paddy I enclose
All my love,
P.S. Cripes wot an effort.
Prisoners of War Camp
The envelope carrying the letter was first sent to Ottawa and then to the address of Leonard’s parents in Winnipeg before being sent to Swift Current. The Winnipeg address was the one given to the Army before Leonard was sent overseas.
Gladys then writes to Leonard –
Swift Current, Sask. – August 31, 1942
My Dearest Len,
You can’t imagine the thrill in receiving your first letter after so many long months. Your Dad phoned me from Winnipeg when it arrived there and I received it here today. I was so glad to hear that you are well and that you can play softball etc. I was also hoping you’d be able to have some musical instruments to play. I think I answered some of your questions in my previous letters, however since I also found them so hard to write, I’ll answer your questions now.
We are all well, aside from the mumps, Shelagh and Paddy haven’t been sick. Paddy has been in Winnipeg all summer holidays and will be coming home tomorrow to start school. She is in grade four and is also taking music lessons. I’ll have her add a note to my next letter. I received your Christmas card on Jan. 10 in Regina; also Mother received hers which I have framed and hanging on the wall as a picture. All my mail to you was returned to me. I sent three cables, two after the outbreak, which I hoped you had received.
Your Dad has been very well all summer and particularly enjoyed his holiday at Clear Lake. I’ve told you about that. I heard from Nina today. She wants to write to you also. She’s still at Thornhill – very busy – lives with Hazel and Hubert in Toronto. Grandma Hart is well, I saw her on my way to Clear Lake. Mother came Sat. to stay with me (deleted). She brought her fridgidair and sewing machine, two welcome additions.
Our house is small but comfortable, it would be complete with you here.
June Murphy is still staying with me. Everyone in town has been so kind to me and so interested in your welfare and your first letter home. Ronnie White was as excited as I when your letter came; he has been so good to me – comes up and chops my wood and does any fixing I need around the house. He’s been a real friend; says you would have done the same for him.
Must close, this is my limit. We think of you constantly and thank God you are well. May we hear from you again.
All my love,
Gladys writes again that same day – probably not knowing if her letters would get through.
Swift Current, Sask. – August 31, 1942
My Dearest Len,
I hardly know where to begin after waiting so long, to be able at last to write to you. I rec’d word May 10ththat you were a prisoner of war. I had felt somehow, all along, that you were alright, but the news was wonderful to get.
In case you didn’t get my first letter that we were allowed to write last April, we have a small house here in Swift Current. June Murphy is staying with me. Paddy right now is in Winnipeg for her holidays but will be coming back for school. Shelagh and I just came back from Clear Lake. Your Mother and Dad took a cottage and we went down and spent two weeks with them. While there I took part in a golf tournament and lost in the finals of the championships. It’s a lovely spot. I hope you and I can go there some day.
Bob and Reg each got their call to the army – but transferred to the Air Force. Bob is now (deleted) Reg and Edie are married. I don’t think Bob and Vi ever will get married. I spoke to Noreen Blackwood by telephone while in Regina – I met her last fall – also Anne Harper.
Shelagh is getting tall as also is Paddy. I am sending you some snaps of them in my next letter. Enclosed snap was taken last spring. I never did find your camera in Winnipeg so have to borrow one.
I miss you terribly and hope and pray that you are keeping well. Once I get your letter it will be easier to write – so much has happened and it’s been so long – I really don’t know what will interest you except that I’m just waiting for the time when we can be with you again.
God bless you and keep you well.
Swift Current – September 7, 1942
My Dearest Len,
I just heard the news last night that we could write once more to catch the ship, the sailing having been delayed, so here goes.
I haven’t much more to say since I last wrote – a week ago. Everyone in town was very pleased that I heard from you – so many people stopped me and again asked about you and were so glad you were well.
The golf tournament is on today and I’m playing this afternoon. It brings back so many memories of the many Labour Day tournaments we played in. I miss you so when I think of things like that, however it’s the same everyday.
Mother is still here staying, she may be here all winter until Father gets settled. Paddy came home from Winnipeg and we’ve been busy getting her back to school. Nina sent her some new music books to start her lessons with. You spoke of Shelagh, she’s only three last May so she can’t write yet. Had you forgotten, Len? I read Tom Blackwood’s letter in the “Leader” but didn’t see Harper’s name or Maze’s. I hope they are all well, also Black, give them my regards. Your mother is talking of selling the house here and buying a cottage at Clear Lake, it’s a lovely spot to live.
Well, I really must close. Our days here are so much the same, there’s not much to write about keeping house and minding the kiddies. I hope you are keeping well and may it not be so long before we hear from you again.
All my love, always
Swift Current – October 22, 1942
My Dearest Len,
It’s time I was writing another letter. I have been hoping I’d hear from you but I guess it will be a long time yet. I seem to find it so hard to write anything interesting unless purely personal. I am working for awhile at Sykes Piano Co. just while Mother is here…I don’t intend to keep on working. Your mother is coming up from Wpeg this coming week…she is going to try and sell the house and straighten up her affairs; she hasn’t been very well lately.
Paddy and Shelagh are fine as you can see from the enclosed snaps and are getting to be big girls. It won’t be long before it’s your birthday. I’ll be thinking of you more than usual that day. I wonder if you’ll get this before Xmas? We had such a lonely one last year without you…it isn’t a happy time now and won’t be until we’re together again. It will be strange for you without any snow. Paddy and Shelagh speak of you daily. I keep your picture where they can see it everyday.
Bob is down east now…Jack Rooney and Carlie are married. He works at Thompson’s Auto Supplies and always asks for you. I see more lists have been published lately. Joe Hanel’s name was there, also met Mrs. Noland from Tompkins, she asked me to ask you if you knew her brother Orville Hallquist, his name was in the latest official list. I hear from Noreen Blackwood, and I write to Ann Harper, we have so much in common now. I hope the boys and yourself are keeping well.
It’s snowing here today and I guess we can expect winter anytime now. Time doesn’t seem to matter…one day is like another…I guess it must be the same with you also. I can’t say more, only I miss you terribly…I’m trying to keep my chin up and be a mother to your girls…God keep you well and safe.
All my love,
I hope you are well, Shelagh and I are having a good time. I am in Grade 4 now. I hope we hear from you soon.
June 3 – (Wednesday)
Another day that must be recorded. What a task it’s becoming. I find myself dreading the daily stint I have set for myself – however, what mus’ be, mus’ be.
Due no doubt to the setting back of “lights out” last night, I managed – along with several others – to be late for parade this morning, a circumstance that brought about a reminder as to hours of parade from the Colonel. Very brief and to the point he was too! – It’s a tough life. –
Today again brought forth nothing new. We played our usual six games of volley and in the afternoon were given our weekly inspection by the Camp Commandant.
Whether due to heat, diet or too much sporting activities for the tropics I don’t know, but I find I have broken out in a mass of small blister – like pimples.
Our news of a day or so ago has been confirmed and immediately everyone becomes a confirmed optimist.
Heavens – this bit is even worse than yesterday’s. I’ll have to start a rumour.
June 4 – (Wednesday)
After the feeble attempts of the last few days, I almost decided against continuance of this abominable epistle, that wouldn’t be cricket though, so mustn’t do that.
We still revel in our good weather. Today was bright but not too hot, a typical June day at home. Wonder how the crops are coming by the way? ---
We started the day with the combination breakfast, followed by a lunch of biscuits and rice cakes and a dinner of sweet spuds and gravy.
Athletic endeavours included the usual six games of volley and a strenuous evening of ping pong. It seems strange bouncing back into sport after a lapse of so many years. Makes me feel young again – almost – certainly it has brought the realization of what I’ve missed these ten or more years. I still retain the old crowd phobia though, that was the original cause of its discontinuance.
Yesterday several of the camp members went downtown to make the transcription for the radio previously alluded to. I don’t know what’s wrong with the Brigadier – some are of the opinion that circumstances are slowly unbalancing his reasoning – but at any rate he is reported to have officially petitioned the Canadian government, in his broadcasts, to have us repatriated and sent to some neutral country like Chile. Can you beat it? If the Nips let that through, which I doubt, it will give the people of Canada some fine ideas about us as soldiers. Particularly in view of our rather stinky show here. From what I’m given to understand – maybe my informants are prejudiced – the Brigadier’s idea seems to be to get us home regardless of how or why, so long as it’s soon. It’s told that he’s not above hope we lose, providing it’s soon and it means our freedom. Oh well, just one of those things. – We still keep up the old optimism.
Books worth reading are becoming increasingly hard to locate and I find time dragging a bit more than it used to. The days are usually warm enough that perspiration on the arms plays heck with endeavours of the pen, so there’s little left but reading. Sometimes I miss the old days before pay – when all the spare time was utilized scrounging smokes. We humans do take some satisfying don’t we?
June 5 – (Friday)
This day dawned with a nice juicy rumour – Germany has folded up once again. They certainly have their ups and downs in that country. The Jap paper of yesterday characterizes recent British raids on Germany as barbarous, claiming they were directed at women and children, as well as other un-military objectives. The same page of the same paper quotes a dispatch describing a German air raid on the “Cathedral City” of Canterbury. Probably looking for militant churchmen. “Life” Magazine is quoted as having stated it would take at least seven years for the United States to clear up the Pacific situation. What a lousy way to save $10,000. Come on you Russians! ---
A beautiful day afforded us the opportunity for considerable sport and we added a game of soft ball to the usual six games of volley. It’s a good thing everyone doesn’t indulge in sports to the extent that a few of us do or we’d eat them out of house and home. Speaking of eats – today’s menu was the same, word for word, as that of yesterday.
This afternoon I commenced my official war diary, and what a task. It’s quite bad enough writing for so-called fun, but it’s quite different again when one “has” to do it.
I was over in “A” Company hut listening to the trumpet trio practice tonight and they’re pretty fair. I’ve been toying with the idea of taking up the trumpet as a means of whiling away the hours since, due to my reed problems, I don’t bother with the sax. – Depends on my fag situation.
Have often wondered just how much difference plowing around on wooden shoes most of the time will make in the size of shoes we’ll require when we reach civilization. I’m afraid some arches will have taken quite a beating.
Listening to the music tonight brought the pleasant thought that we are spared the listening to of the many new tunes that one was formerly subjected to by the radio. Wonder whether the dances will have changed much. Guess it won’t cramp my particular style of corn-treading.
June 6 – (Saturday)
Again a week of captivity slips by and leaves us that much closer to “Home”. Speaking of captivity, our one man rebellion arrived back this morning – allegedly looking somewhat the worse for his efforts. According to his story, the Nips – in their endeavour to make him see the error of his ways – and sign, had him kneel from 9 a.m. till noon, facing a wall, then, from noon on – at intervals of one hour through the day and night – “persuaded” him by means of kicks and slaps that “best he should sign”. This accompanied by cut rations and lack of sleep, resulted after nine days, in a change of mind on his part. Admirable, but I’m afraid a little pointless.
Meals again followed the exact pattern of those of yesterday except that a doughnut added and cocoa substituted at lunch, pepped that meal up considerably.
No general news the last day or so and we’re wondering how the Russians are faring. It would seem to us that almost everything depends on their stand. A wonderful new rumour reared up tonight. Germany sent – or is planning to send – a delegation to England, presumably to seek peace. Someone claims to have read it in today’s paper.
Saturday night again brings us our weekly concert. Tonight something entirely new and different was the stellar attraction. Somewhere or other someone produced two pairs of boxing gloves so we had several short bouts at intervals through the show. A comedy bout, starring Mulvaney of the Winnipeg Grenadiers, was a wow.
Well, must cut it short and grab a shower before lights out.
June 7 – (Sunday)
Began this Sunday as is usual, with Mass. I just happened to think this morning what a fine chap our Padre is. It occurred to me that I had not heard anyone criticize him for anything since we hit camp. That fact alone, in a hot-spot of petty jealousies and eternal bickering such as this place has become, is something of a recommendation. I’ve asked several Rifle officers how he acted during the show and apparently he was okay. The other two Padres have long lurid tales of their own great roles (haven’t we all), but of his, he says nothing. The Padre attached to us was a most abject coward (at least while he was at Wan Chai - I hear he did a good job with some wounded at Wong Nai Chong), and spent most of his time cringing under tables, etc. in shelters. Most pathetic.
The meal parade gave us breakfast of plain rice, lunch of bread, jam and tea. Dinner provided beefsteak, sweet spuds, beans, gravy, suet pudding and date sauce. What a repast! It does burn one to eat a meal like that and then have to inspect a measly mess like the men eat. I still can’t see us getting the same ratio of rations as the men. It would seem to me that the minute quantities of meat the men get in their stews is somewhat out of proportion to our steaks.
The usual two sessions of volley left me rather on the washed-up side, so me thinks I’ll lay off for a day or so.
News that filtered in last night was more or less encouraging. Evidently the Nips tried to re-take Wake Island but were beaten off with heavy losses. Comparative inactivity on the Libyan, Russian fronts sounds fair too.
The band dished up a pretty fair band concert tonight before church and we spent the remainder of the evening discussing rumours.
June 8 – (Wednesday)
For a change, the weather is dull this morning and everyone hoped rain would come up in time to spoil the P.T. parade. It did – just in the nick of time. We were just able to make the huts when the rain came down in earnest and until 10:30 we were subjected to a near cloudburst. Considerable electricity accompanied the rain and a bolt of lightening hit the hill across the road.
More news re the Wake sea battle trickled in last evening. It seems we managed to pick off three aircraft carriers and damage three battleships seriously. We can stand lots like that.
Well – best I should get on with my war diary.
My good intentions re the war diary went by the boards. My tongue started to unlace and I found myself embroiled in a gossip session that lasted all afternoon.
The meals today included the combination breakfast, suet pudding for lunch and dry rice, gravy, buns and dates for dinner.
After parade, Sweeney, the three trumpeters, myself and Bardal had a bit of a session in the hut which I enjoyed thoroughly.
Again our news filter lets in a few gems. According to Yank claims, the Wake Island episode counted a fourteen or fifteen warship loss to the Nips. This is total, of course, including those losses mentioned earlier. Our losses were one carrier damaged by bombs, one destroyer sunk. Yanks claim the victory will swing the tide of battle in the Pacific. We hope so. News of the presence on the Russian front of both Hitler and Ribbentrop and the rubbing out of Himmler, would seem to indicate that things might not be any too rosy there.
June 9 – (Tuesday)
This day looks more promising from a weather standpoint. Having missed my volley session yesterday, I experienced difficulty sleeping last night.
After a breakfast that brought us only bread and jam, due to a shortage of milk, we played a couple of games of volley. Whether due to the lay-off or not, our team played the lousiest game of its career. Most fortunately for us, our opponents were just as bad.
The remaining meals were a trifle on the lean side, lunch being a repetition of breakfast and dinner bringing us bread, bully and sweet spuds.
Nothing of import to narrate today except that I attended a concert in “A” Company hut and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The strain of having to put up with “some” of our fellow (?) officers is beginning to tell and I fear, ere long, something is going to give. There are one or two in particular that absolutely nauseate us. About the only degree of satisfaction I derive is the fact that feelings are probably mutual.
June 10 – (Wednesday)
Another beautiful day in the offing, hot and sunny but not too humid. Certainly if this year’s weather can be classed as the usual, there’s not much wrong with this climate, Days or nights that are clear are really beautiful too.
I’m getting restless again. My feet the last few days have had a definite itch, so I do the next best thing – travel in fantasy. I was just thinking tonight how delightful a motor bike trip around Europe would be after this is finished, presuming of course that we get an opportunity to look the East over while we are here. I can imagine how Mrs. C. would appreciate that idea. – By gad, maybe she would at that. These wars have produced many varieties of situations. I wonder how things are going on the home front now? This experience should prove a good testing ground. I think I’ve held my end up – of course I’m prejudiced.
The good weather brought a resumption of volley and my day’s efforts included four games.
Meals, still lacking milk, seemed a little thin today, breakfast consisting of pancakes and syrup, a combination I can’t condone in the mornings. Lunch brought bread and jam and dinner, sweet spuds, meat pie and bread.
This afternoon we had our usual Wednesday inspection by Lieutenant Wada, the Camp Commandant. I must say we are most fortunate having a man somewhat sympathetically inclined over us. He has cooperated no end in satisfying our needs when doing so lay within his power. The interpreter, his right hand man, was educated in the States and has some understanding of our mode of living and reasoning, so that in him too we have a somewhat sympathetic ally.
Nothing to read or do so I think I’ll retire early this evening.
June 11 – (Thursday)
Again the weather man smiles on us. What a lovely day to have spent at some quiet bathing beach with a couple of “tall ones” – (no I don’t mean blondes!) Methinks, after this enforced celibacy, blondes and their counter-parts, the brunettes, will hold little for most of us – or will they? – How wonderful to be able to go through life as completely independent of the fair sex (or hex) as we are here. – More wishful thinking. –
One of the other “juvenile” officers has just learned that the Colonel has made the statement that “no diaries, notes or the like may be taken with us from this camp”. It wouldn’t be that some truths about the regiment might leak out??? I’m afraid there’s so much of the truth seared into peoples’ skulls that they’d be able to quote it backwards. It will be curious to note just how much attitudes will change and how much will be forgiven and forgotten of the numerous small acts that feed the fires of our resentment here. So many – many – useless small, almost childish, activities are indulged in here that it almost brings one to tears to think of them. The Junior officers, particularly those new to the Winnipeg Grenadiers, have more or less been brought together by the attitude of those higher up. Fortunately, we Subs are still able to view things through the innocent eyes of youth, in such a manner as to still detect the humour of the situation. Our only worry is that someone, someday, will be unable to see the joke and there will be trouble.
My, what a lot of lather one little statement raises. – Human nature again?
I managed to borrow some milk from the Rifles this morning. So we again enjoyed the combination breakfast. Lunch provided some kind of canned fish and bread and dinner – the usual sweet spuds, gravy, etc.
Company concert tonight so I’ll have to bring this to a close.
June 12 – (Friday)
And so – we come to the end of this miserable effort. I have decided, in view of what was mentioned about diaries, to bring this one to a close before I become too rash and put down libelous material. There are so many stupid things coming out of the effort to “organize the camp” that contemplation of them almost makes one ill. We may not have been good soldiers when the bullets flew, but we’re certainly the men of the hour in a situation of this kind.
The latest tid-bit is an order prohibiting the playing of musical instruments in the huts after 7 p.m. unless it be done as a part of an organized effort by the A.S.O. This will knock out jam sessions of an impromptu nature, also any practices such as the trumpet trio used to have in the evening.
And – again – so – hoping this effort has not been entirely wasted and that it will provide a means, in later years, of refreshing my memories of the weary days and months spent as a prisoner of war. Certainly it has helped the passage of numerous otherwise fruitless hours.