Padre Laite's Diary


Oct. 27th, 1941. Left Vancouver with Force "C" for Hong Kong but sailed under sealed orders.

Oct. 31st. Pte Schrage of R.R.C. died on board - buried at sea.

Nov. 2nd. At Honolulu.

Nov. 4th. Submarine sighted.

Nov. 5th. Crossed International DateLine. (Lost a day).

Nov. 6th. Lecture by Brig. J.K. Lawson.

Nov. 8th. Ship's guns fired in practice. Lecture by Capt Dennison.

Nov. 11th. Lecture by Capt E.E. Dennison.

Nov. 13th. Nearing Philippines. Funeral of Awatea seaman. Blackout lifted at night. Lt Young put on a mock broadcast.

Nov. 14th. Manila - confined to ship - U.S.A. chaplain on board. Re-fuelling and water - Escot "Danae" - Blackout again enforced. Major Linden lectured.

Nov. 16th. Sunday. Arrived at Kowloon. Met by planes and M.T.Bs. Docked at 8:30 a.m. disembarked at noon. Men confined to barracks until 1800 hrs on Nov. 19th. I spent two days at Peninsular Hotel and on the 18th rejoined my unit at Shamshuipo Camp - Hankow Barracks.

Nov. 18th. Cable from Halifax, from Stan.

Nov. 23rd. First Sunday Church Parade. 315 men at Church. Subject - "Spiritual Reserves" Matt: 25. Lt. Parks in charge.

Nov. 28th. Designated H.K.I.B. (Hong Kong Infantry Brigade) and responsible for the defence of Hong Kong. The other forces (British) designated Kowloon Infantry Brigade.

Nov. 29th. Cable from home - 3677 West 19, Vancouver.

Nov. 30th. Sunday Parade. Subject - "More than conquerors" Rom: 8: 37 Major Hook in charge.

Dec. 2nd. Cable to Florence in receipt of cable.

Dec. 3rd. Attended meeting of Committee "Service Section" Y.M.C.A.

Dec. 4th. Visited twenty men in Hospital. Attended lecture at Chinese Fleet Club, by British Colonel from Ministry of Information, on War Conditions.

Dec. 6th. Visited C.A.M. Hospital - 25 V.D. patients. Visited Bowen Road Hospital - 60 patients. Special interview with three in a group and one alone. Blackout.

Dec. 7th. Church Parade. Over 200 present. Text - Ezekiel, 2: 1 "Stand upon thy feet". Sudden call to man positions on Hong Kong Island. Evening - Kai Tak Airport bombed.

Dec. 8th. War began. Planes overhead at 8 a.m., and our Hankow and Nanking barracks bombed. Two Canadian casualties. Later in day took truck load of supplies to Wan Chai Gap where our headquarters established.

Dec. 9th. The last plane of China National Airways came to Hong Kong and returned. Late in the afternoon D Co: of W.G. came to Kowloon.

Dec. 10th-18th. Spent time at H.Q. and at different Co: H.Q. Serious shelling and bombing daily but military personnel sustained no losses.

Dec. 11th, 1941. Evacuation of Kowloon Mainland.

Dec. 12th. Complete occupation of Kowloon Mainland by Japanese (except Devil's Peak).

Dec. 13th. Japanese ask for surrender of Hong Kong. Visited D Co. on return from New Territories with Major Trist.

Dec. 16th. Heaviest air-raid of war, on Aberdeen. At "B" H.Q. - Major Hook. Visited men at different stations as well as R.C.A.M.C. at For Folun.

Dec. 18th. Japanese again ask for surrender of Hong Kong. Attempted first landing but repulsed.

Dec. 18th-19th. Night landings of Japanese on Island, and first British prisoners taken.

Dec. 18th. In afternoon sent to see Lt. (Rusty) Young and men at Aberdeen and had dinner with them after which left for Little Hong Kong to visit "A" H.Q. - Major Gresham. Shortly after arrival Brigade H.Q. telephoned for CO to be ready to move. The order was cancelled later, but within two hours another order came through to say that enemy at Jardine Lookout. Within a few minutes Major Gresham and his H.Q. staff were on the march. I went with them and expected to see action with them. After an hour or so, while resting by side of road near Wang-Nei-Chong Gap, and waiting for other Co. platoons to contact him, he met a runner - Kutot - from D Co. and advised me to go with him and remain at D Co. H.Q. for the rest of night. We certainly walked into what, later in morning, and for four days became a veritable death trap.

Capt. Bowman and his Co. went into action shortly after my arrival, and during early forenoon, Capt. Bowman was killed and his 2 I/C - Lt. R. W. Philip and Capt. Bush, seriously wounded. I took charge of any wounded brought in and applied field dressings to them. Later in day it was learned that our Brigadier had been killed near his H.Q., just across the way from our H.Q. That night we moved our wounded from H.Q. shelter to the kitchen, hoping to be rescued but spent until the fourth day there in a veritable Hell fire. Bombs, snipers, hand grenades, trench mortars, and shells were played on our section, and on Monday the 22nd, our men were out of ammunition and forced to surrender. At that time we had more than thirty wounded men in our shelter including Col. Reg Walker of the H.K. Volunteers, Lt Philip, and Lt. Blackwood. During the four days the few men left displayed marvelous skill, courage and daring.

Monday, Dec. 22nd, at 7:30-8 a.m. we surrendered. The enemy officers, with interpreter, came and took me up for questioning, and later had me go to Brigade H.Q. and other places to find men, ammunition and other supplies. They gave me water for my wounded, and later allowed me to take six tins of milk to them as well. They left me with the five serious cases for about two hours and then led me to their H.Q. where they fed me biscuits, meat (Bully) and water, and later sent an N.C.O. and three riflemen with me through their lines. This experience was more harrowing than the four days and nights with our men under fire. In such times we forget wounds or death in the thought of serving others, and in that service a new comradeship was born.

Note: Found body of Brigadier Lawson, and was permitted to remove his armband.

Later that day I reached the Naval First Aid Station at the Grandstand Racetrack, after being taken in by a Chinese resident, and fed biscuits and milk. At the station Dr. Selwyn Clark, the D.M.H. took me in Red Cross car to Queen Mary Hospital, and ordered me to bed, and quiet for three days. I was there for twenty-nine days when, with forty-seven other patients from different units, I was sent to Shamshuipo Military Prison Camp. After two days all Canadians in this camp were taken to North Pt Camp on Jan. 22nd.