Padre Laite's Diary


Oct. 7, '42. Shamshuipo Camp. We have been here since Sept. 26, and have been trying to adjust ourselves to the new conditions. When we left here in January, windows were in many buildings but now I have not been able to find a pane of glass anywhere. The British troops quartered here before us built bricks into the window space and put sheet galvanised iron outside to keep rain out. We were not allowed to bring our beds with us so have either slept on the concrete floor or on iron beds picked up around camp. I have one and find it solid but uncomfortable. One of our C.Q.M.S. told me that when he entered the British Army many years ago he was told that he would have solid comfort. We are finding the beds solid and staunch. Our beds of North Point camp have been brought here and all but three or four of them have been placed in the hospital. The others have gone to the Brigadier, our O.C., the Brigade Major, and the acting O.C. of R.R.C. - May they rest in peace.

On arrival we found an epidemic of Diphtheria in the British camp and every day they had funerals. We have been here eleven days and to date we have had about twelve funerals. Two were buried today and another funeral is to be held tomorrow. Many of our men have beri-beri, others have dysentery, and others have other ailments such as electric feet, etc. I visit the wards every morning and keep i touch with our men as much as possible.

Today Pte Habb died. He was a very splendid type of man with deep religious convictions and principles. Another chap, L/Cpl Clarence Stephens is very sick. He is of like calibre. I shall be very sorry to see him go. Thinking of these men who went through the scrap on the island of Hong Kong and now see them go out here convinces me more than ever that they are not dead. Somewhere - with lives hid with Christ in God - they live.

Most of the deaths are caused because of lack of proper food. We have not had meat of any kind since July and with just a rice, bread, and sometimes a fish diet, it is hard to carry on. The officers fare a bit better than the men if the compradore comes in but there is not enough to pass around. There are over thirty officers in our mess and when we have been able to procure bully beef we have used it as stew. Imagine how much each one gets when we put two tins into stew enough for thirty men. The gravy is all there is, with the taste of mutton or beef.

Capt. Barnett is still in Bowen Road hospital. On our arrival I found Padre Strong of the Navy, and Capt. Davies of the Middlesex Regt., here. They had hoped to have gone to Japan with their men who left here on Sept. 27th but were told that no padres could go.

We co-operate in all our worship services. On Sundays communion services are held at 6.45 and 8.15, a preaching service at 1230 and an evening service at 7.30. Two of us always share in the two latter services, while one will take the morning communion service. Mine was at 8.15 on Sunday last. We also hold an evening service at 8.15pm and conduct a fifteen or twenty minute service. They have been very well attended but because of the working parties now our groups are smaller. I conduct this evening service.

All of our men have been tested (swabbed) for Diphtheria and now we have an isolation hut. The officers have also been tested. We shall know tomorrow about our test. It means that if any of us - officers and men - are "carriers" we shall be isolated for about three months. I learn today that there will be some anti-toxin (Diphtheria) sent into camp. This will lower our mortality rate considerably for which we are grateful.

The Japanese have a habit of giving the funeral party cigarettes or fruit after the funeral service at the grave. Yesterday they gave us ice-cream. There were thirty of us as we had three bodies for burial - 2 British and 1 Canadian. Today we were given cigarettes.

Monday, Oct. 12. During the past week we have had many deaths from Diphtheria and dysentery. Yesterday - Sunday - four Canadians and one English soldier were buried. The four Protestants were taken to the church hall where a brief service was held by Capt Strong of the Navy, and myself.

The father of the English chap is in camp and attended the service. The mother and sister are at Stanley prison camp at Hong Kong and do not know of the soldier's passing. It was pathetic to see the old father kiss the boy's coffin three times, once for mother, once for sister, and once for himself.

We were late in having the funeral - 6.30pm - and it was quite dark at the cemetery and we found it difficult to bury the bodies. Rainstorms came up which added to the difficulty. Later our truck broke down and we had to walk about three-quarters of a mile in the rain. Another truck was sent for us and we reached home at nine o'clock, drenched.

Today I have been suffering with a stiff neck but feel better tonight. Today I buried three Canadians. We are praying and hoping that the epidemic will soon be over. The doctors are doing marvellous work with very inadequate material. Suspects are placed on isolation, swabbings are going on and within a few days all carriers should be segregated from others, while infected ones will be in hospitals.

We learn that American surface craft attacked and sank a convoy of transports, north of here, on Sept. 28. In that convoy we - Imperials - had 1800 men. More than 1000 were lost. The loss to the Japs was much heavier, according to reports since, one large cruiser, two light cruisers, many destroyers, and other ships, were sunk. Apparently Uncle Sam is busy on this side of the waters.

Our meals are very light now and we have a real fight against hunger. I felt terribly hungry this evening and could have eaten the poorest food. I would have gladly exchanged places with Snuff at home as I know that he was well fed.

On Sunday we held a memorial service for the men who had left this camp on Sept. 27th, and were lost at sea on the 29th, enroute to Japan in convoy. Padre Strong led the service, Padre Davies read the lesson - John 21, and I gave the sermon from "And when the morning was now come Jesus stood on the shore". A very large number of men attended.

It is now 8.45pm. Lt Dennis has just come in for a game of cribbage, after which I retire and hope to dream of those whom I long to see and who mean more to me than ever before. Tiny Tim's prayer is ever on my lips - "God bless us every one".

Oct. 18. Time passes and we are still at this camp. We think that we shall remain here possibly until the war is over. Since my last note we have had tragedy added to tragedy every day. Our men have been contracting Diphtheria, and many of them have died. More than twenty have died since we came from North Point camp, and while we pray that few deaths will be recorded from this date, we find our hospital full. About 160 men have been placed in isolation as carriers. At the same time we have 252 in the three hospitals for Diphtheria, Dysentery, and Diarrhoea, and convalescence. I make my rounds of the whole hospital every day, either morning, afternoon, or night.

This afternoon I went to one of the Diphtheria wards and gave communion to Pte Oake. A year ago he was at home with his wife and attended services with her, and wanted to celebrate again today. He is a splendid fellow and has put up a good fight against the three D's. For a while we despaired of his life as the Diphtheria crushed him considerably, but he has the will to live and he will win, we hope. It is heartbreaking to bury so many of our men who fought well in the fight of a year ago, and now because of malnutrition must succumb to these new diseases. We have been given some serum but not sufficient. Apparently our captors are not interested in supply us with ample food or medicine. While the officers fare a bit better than the men - but not much - we find that the least cold or temperature sends us to our beds.

I had a slight cold for this past few days but yesterday went to the burial of five of our boys, and on my return decided to sweat the cold out, so went to bed and wrapped in an extra blanket, and sweat most of the night. Instead of aspirins I ate garlic. Today I feel better.

Today we hear more rumours about U.S.A. successes over the enemy and that 150,000 troops have landed in the Philippines. We joke about them but pray that there may be a bit of truth in them as we dare not think of another year under conditions such as ours here.

We are sometimes treated unkindly and unfairly by our captors. Yesterday Major Crawford who, with his capable staff, is giving his full measure  of devotion to our men, and some of his orderlies were slapped in the face by the Jap doctor, as they were blamed for health conditions in our camp. Since he is an intelligent man he should know that the cause of all of our health condition is lack of proper food and necessary vitamins. I cannot think that men who are prisoners in Germany, Italy, or elsewhere are treated worse than we are here. The fact is that, at the present time our two Canadian units have nearly half of the men under medical care.

Some weeks ago we were told that Red Cross parcels had reached Hong Kong and that we could expect them soon. Day has followed day but no parcel has come to our camp. We hope that the Red Cross authorities in other parts of the world are more energetic and active in the interest of the prisoners of war than are the representatives in this part of the world.

Amidst all the stress and strain our faith holds. We have regular services on Sunday as usual and on each week evening as well. I conducted this evening's service - vespers - hymns - "Jesus where'er they people meet", "Rock of ages", and "The day is past and over", with a vesper "Hail gladdening light". Today at noon we had our Harvest service. Padre Strong preached from "Seedtime and harvest".

While I write tonight I have my family photograph before me. It is nearly a year since I said goodbye. I wonder if they have received the casualty list. If so, they know that I was not listed as dead or missing, so they will live in hopes of seeing me again. What a fine boy Grayson will have grown in that year, and Florence will be more charming than ever, while Mom will be the same lovely gift of God to me. How I do love them and long to see them. Then there is Florence at Moncton, daily wondering about me, and dear, true, noble and faithful Stan standing by ready to help by word and deed. God bless them everyone.

Oct. 24, Saturday. During the week we have had other deaths in camp and the total number of Canadians dead since coming to this camp on Sept. 26, is thirty-seven.

The weather has been a bit chilly at night and since we have no windows and only parts of, or makeshift doors, it is difficult for anyone to keep warm. The men in hospital have pretty chilly nights. Last night was the worst as a very high North, or North West wind blew all night. This meant clouds of dust all through the camp. I visited the 250 men in camp today and they spoke of the awful night. It is a bit sunny but chilly today and with the wind velocity still fairly high. I cannot begin to think of how we shall fare during the winter months if extensive repairs are not made in every hut in camp. There is a large building in our camp - Jubilee Bldg - and it accommodated the H.K.V.C. and others including the R.A.M.C. Two days ago they were given notice to vacate the place immediately and now they are across the lines from our camp. Most of their moving had to be done at night because of daily work, fatigue, ration, and other parties having still to function. We were told weeks ago that Red Cross parcels are in town but to date they have not been brought into camp. We wonder why.

Fruit - bananas and pomelo - had been brought into camp a few days ago but the bananas were taken away again. We enjoyed the pomelo last evening and, believe it or not, this is the first fruit - apart from a wooden apple brought in months ago - we have tasted since our surrender on Dec. 25, 1941. This fruit is citrus and was very much appreciated and enjoyed by all the men. During the past few hours we have been trying to make our diggings a bit more comfortable. Last evening I found a suitable door and had it brought here. Later we hinged it and today have closed any other openings around our room which measures 10 x 20 x 7 1/2 ft. Cpl Sheffer is putting brick half way up our window and since we have a bit of glass we hope to have half a window of light anyway. Planes have been flying high for the past few days and Dame Rumour says a great many things, e.g. that Canton is being bombed, Americans in Philippines, Chinese Army coming from Burma, local Chinese paying Yen105 for $100 H.K., etc. It gives us something to discuss but we just patiently wait for our release.

I visit every patient in our Canadian hospital huts daily. They are facing the fight against the three D's with good heart and we hope to win. We have more than fifty orderlies caring for them and great credit is due these men as they work amongst their comrades and care for them in a commendable manner without thought of themselves. They may be forgotten but theirs will be a record of which any men may be proud. We had our fifth swabbing for Diphtheria today.

Sunday, Oct. 25. Twelve months ago today - I was spending with my family at home in Vancouver. This morning we were at Dunbar United Church together and after lunch Rev. Gay and family took us for a drive in his car. The rest of the day was spent at home. Two months later, and since, we have been prisoners of war.

Today at 1540hrs the first friendly sound was heard when American planes came over and dropped bombs in Hong Kong harbor and on the shoreline. A blackout is ordered for tonight as from sundown. The sky is now clear of planes but they have been active all day. This morning a large number of Japanese planes flew towards Canton where there is fighting. Orders have just been issued by the Japanese to the effect that all are to remain within huts unless necessity requires work outside. If a man is caught outside, unless on duty, he will be dealt harshly with - maybe shot. My thoughts are at home today. I wonder if this activity spells our freedom and how soon.

Our services of this morning were well attended. I led the regular service at 1200hrs and Capt. Davies preached from "If a man die shall he live again". Our men suffering from Diphtheria have all been taken to the Jubilee building and, after a few adjustments have been made, will be much more comfortable than in their huts. I visited them all during the day as well as the Dysentery, Diarrhoea and other patients. We are all in good heart and hope that our freedom is near.

Saturday, Oct. 31. Another week has passed. Friendly planes have made two visits during the week and dropped more bombs. I never thought that I could come to the place in my experience when I would welcome death throwing machines. Now we welcome them and only pray that they know where the prisoners of war are located in this area. Rumours have come to us that a portion of the British fleet may be expected in the Indian Ocean soon. This will hasten the end of hostilities in this part of the world.

Every day finds me busy visiting the three hundred - plus - patients in our camp hospital. I have been able to take candy, brought by or officers from airport work, to our patients, every second of third day. The men certainly appreciate the sweet tooth. We only get enough to give each an a single sweet but it is a blessing as we have lacked sugar from the beginning. In this camp we are hourly facing the grim and stark realities of starvation and death as well as intense suffering. We certainly are in the front line and on twenty-four hour duty. Men who today are active and helping, are tomorrow in hospital and men who may today be showing signs of improvement may quite suddenly collapse and be buried the following day. I have two funerals today.

Last evening I took a tin of tomato juice to one of the boys. He shared it with another and this morning he asked me how it would be, heated. I encouraged him to have it done. I was able to get a tin of jam yesterday, for my former batman who is in the Diphtheria ward. Our batman of two days ago is also there. Suddenly the men are stricken and so the tragedy deepens and we wonder when it will, or where it will end.

We have blackouts every night after 8 or 9pm so we have our evening service immediately after evening muster and roll call - about 5.30 - quite a few men share. It is in such experiences as this that the shams of life which were, by too many, called real life, are left aside, and the reality of life, time, and eternity, become uppermost in many minds. In these times there is testing of men's faith and many are standing the test very, very well. Never before in my experience have I been so certain of God. His grace helps me to carry on at times when I feel physically like giving up. Service for the sake of, and on behalf of others, is Christ in action. If He uses me as a blessing I am content. Capt Barnett is still at Bowen Rd hospital but expects to be here soon. Capt Deloughery is in the isolation section but Capt Green of the Imperials is doing his work.

Thursday, Oct. 29th was Mother's birthday. She still lives in my memory as an inspiration.

Large parties have been going out of camp during the past three or four days handling Red Cross parcels. Eventually we hope to see some of the parcels in our own lines. They will mean new life to all of us.

Sunday, Nov. 1. One of the Imperials was killed at Kai Tak airport during the week. Yesterday afternoon the Jap officers (10) in charge of our camp arranged for a special memorial service for him. The padre of Middlesex - Capt Davies - conducted our regular funeral service, after which the Jap officers, who had arranged a shrine in the church hall, surrounded by floral wreaths, paid tribute to the deceased. It was interesting to see them bow before the photograph of the soldier, placed on the shrine.

This morning we had communion at 8.30 and our regular service at noon. Capt Strong conducted the hymns and prayers, while I read the lessons - Heb. 11, and Rev. 7, and preached on Matheson's hymn - text; Rev. 3:4.

Another Imperial and another Canadian died during the night. Our church funeral service has been held and now we await the call for the burial service.

Japanese planes are scouting overhead as I write. We hope that our own bombers come over soon.

We have had a new food brought into camp. It is called Ghi (Ge) made like a lard from Indian buffalo milk. It is really good for frying purposes and contains vitamins needed.

Sunday, Nov. 8. This has been a busy camp during the past week. Work parties have been out to the airport on two or three days. Ration parties and Red Cross parties have gone out regularly. We have been hoping that Red Cross parcels would have been brought into camp ere this date, but it is slow work handling the packages for Indian Red Cross, and we do not expect ours for a long while. It may be near Christmas time before ours come into camp.

There is however a fat called Ghi, made from the milk of the Buffalo, which came for the Indian prisoners, and some of it has been given us. After proper preparation at the cook house it is used on our rice, or bun and is quite good and makes the food much more palatable. We are allowed 1/2 oz - later 1 oz - per man per day. The fat is really what is needed by us all as many are suffering from sores, impetigo, dried skin, electric feet, etc., because of lack of oils in our system and now we begin to feel the benefit of the ghi. It reminds me of ordinary beef fat.

The Japs are now interested in propaganda pictures and we were to be ready today to have them take silent pictures of contented (?) and happy (?) prisoners at worship and at play. They planned to take a purely Canadian picture at nine o'clock this morning. Two hundred of our men with twenty officers were asked to attend a special Canadian service of worship to be conducted by me. We held the service but no photograph came. I planned the service to be a commemoration of Nov. 11, and so had lessons, prayers, and hymns suitable for the occasion. I wonder what they would have thought if they had come and heard us praying for our King, our forces, etc. The Imperial forces were to hold a service at twelve o'clock noon. The service was conducted but no photographer made an appearance. He may come tomorrow.

This afternoon I went to the Diphtheria hospital and gave communion to three of our men who requested it. These services mean a great deal to them and to me. More and more we learn the meaning of the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. Men fail in health here because of malnutrition chiefly. The other diseases are the result. Truly we have the halt, lame, and blind in our midst.

Monday, Nov. 9. Today the Japanese authorities had our men arrange a football  and softball game which was photographed by the movie camera. They also had a band present themselves to be photographed while they played. It was all staged for the sake of propaganda purposes. It was amusing to us when we saw on the band stand fellows with instruments, who could not play a note, posing as bandsmen.

Today about thirty of our men went to Bowen Rd Hospital, while forty-seven came to us from there. We learn from them that Lt Blake Harper died at the hospital on Saturday, Nov. 7. We are all feeling his loss keenly as he was well liked by all and during the fight did good work as a ration officer. Diphtheria was the cause of his death.

Wednesday, Nov. 11. Yesterday at noon the Middlesex Padre and I were called to the cam commandant's office and told to dress as we would for a funeral. As I had just finished a funeral service in our church hall for two of the R.R.C. men, I was ready with shorts and shirt on. All my other clothes including my gown and chaplain's scarf had been lost in the fighting at Hong Kong hills.

Later the interpreter came and took us in his car and out to the headquarters of the Japanese Camp Commandant and from there we went to our cemetery where we met our Scots padre - Bennett - and a number of Japanese officers and party. A grave had already been dug and in it was a box containing the ashes of an American airman. They asked that we conduct the funeral service. Each of us took part. Photographs were taken of us during the service. When we were finished the Japanese officers paid their proper respects by passing by the grave and placing clay in the grave after the manner of our committal - Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust - and then bowing twice before retiring to their former positions around the grave. Later they asked that we form a group with them for another photograph. Beautiful floral wreaths and a floral cross were placed on the grave. Later in the day I went to the same cemetery for the burial of the two men of the R.R.C. - mentioned above - and with Major Parker, who was in charge of the funeral party, visited the grave of the airman.

I have had a septic arm for the past two days and have had to bathe it in hot water in order to prevent poisoning. For the past thirty-six hours I have had pains under my arm - left - but it feels better this afternoon.

Lt Vic Dennis was taken ill while on parade this morning and has since been sent to our Diphtheria section, suffering from that malady. Capt Terry was sent to Bowen Road a few days ago suffering from serious infection (H.K.B.).

A unit inspection was made by the Japanese Commandant this morning. It is difficult to think of the outcome. We do not expect any improvement in conditions but may be surprised.

We know that the food stuffs sent by the International Red Cross are in our area but while our men are being taken out daily to work at them, nothing is being sent into camp. The food is just what is needed especially the meats, vegetables, vitamin tablets, etc. Hunger, malnutrition and kindred diseases are all because proper food is not being given to us. It is a sad chapter to write but it must be said that men suffer and die here for the lack of food which has been sent by friends and is only within a few minutes walk of our camp. Still we cannot get it. We may get some at Christmas time.

We have had 402 Canadian men in our camp hospital but with proper food and medicine this number would be considerably lessened in short time. I have not been able to visit for the past two days because of funerals yesterday, and my poisoning which gave me fever last evening and night. I fought it by going to bed early and rolling myself in the blanket, sheet, and towel, and sweating most of the night. It left me very weak this morning but I feel better this afternoon.

I often wish I could have a movie camera here. Folk will never believe what we may be spared to tell but sitting in my room and watching the common road through the camp, one sees lame, halt, blind, stretcher cases, etc. In our huts are men with septic arms, legs, etc., men with voices lost completely, men being slowly paralysed, as well as men blind, or nearly blind.

One's heart bleeds at such sights and can well imagine the truth of the New Testament which tells us that "When Jesus saw the multitude He was moved with compassion". Out of the 3000 in this camp there are cases that would melt one's eyes to tears, but we carry on as cheerfully as possible and long for freedom and Home.

Friday, Nov. 20. About ten days ago a swelling came on my neck - left side. At first I thought it was a boil but it gave me so much pain that after a couple of days I asked the doctors about it. Their first prescription was hot fomentation, and for days I kept the neck hot. Instead of a boil, they fond that a gland had swollen badly. Since Monday the M.O.'s seem to have been more worried and have seen it twice daily as well as supplied me with hot water bottle and confined me to bed. this is the longest while I have been off my bed for a week - 30 minutes - and now I am waiting for my batman to come with hot water for bottle. I may be sent to Bowen Road Hospital when the next lot of men are sent.

Capts Strong and Davies of the Imperials have been very good to me and took funerals, etc. during the week. Barnett is still at Bowen Rd. I do hope that he comes home soon so that if I go there he will be able to carry on and so take over from me. I have been pretty weak and miserably upset during the week but will not lose heart. So far since Tuesday I have taken fifty tablets for my condition. I suppose they are to help purify my blood.

Saturday, Nov. 21. My condition is slowly improving. I was hoping that I would not have to go to Bowen Road Hospital but this morning Dr. Reid came in to see me and to say that he had seen Dr. Saito, the Japanese doctor and I am to go tomorrow or on Monday. This will means a few weeks there. Possibly Christmas will find me as a patient but anywhere with the assurance of new health is better than here with no certainty.

Red Cross rations of meats - bully beef - came into camp today and all are looking forward to a good evening meal. This will be the first beef the men have tasted since July so it will be a red letter day in their lives. Today I was fortunate in being able to procure two hen's eggs from our mess. I had them for lunch and have felt like cackling with pleasure ever since. They were a real treat as it is a long long time - many months - since last I saw one.

Capts Davies and Strong have kindly offered to perform any funerals for our Canadians while I am away and until Barnett returns. It is very good of them as they are now busy padres and have ample work to do for their own men. I am also asking Capt Strong to take care of this diary for me. If I take it with me it may be taken from me at Bowen Road, since it is so large that I cannot carry it in my side pocket. I only wish that I could pass it in to 3677 West 19th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. even though I had to go on through to the Shaughnessy Military hospital. How Grayson and Florence would be interested in reading my scrappy story of the past year. Some day I hope to write it more fully.

Men are on the move today as many who have been Diphtheria carriers and were in isolation for the past two months are being released. They are trying to re-settle in their first huts. Many of them look very well indeed. In fact some of them look as thought they were off on holiday. The fact really is that most of them were category A men and had nothing to do while in isolation but eat and rest and a few minor fatigues so did not use up very much energy while there. Many of our B men had to carry duties which, if these men had been free, would have been taken by them. However we are glad to see them looking so well.

Monday, Nov. 23. Memories of the yesteryears come crowding in today - my sister's birthday. What a marvelous wife and mother she was and a wonderful sister to me. Her home was always open to all, and an influence for good kind Christina living always pervaded that home. Truly "To live in hearts of those we leave behind is not to die".

Dr. Reid comes in every day to check on my neck and still orders me off my feet, but he does not tell me why. The tablets - more than 60 now - have done me much good but I still feel very weak. I am thankful that my appetite is good and for the past two days our meals have been a bit better.

Our Pioneers have been able to fix up a bathtub in our cook house where the officers may have two baths per week. My hours are at 11.30 on Tuesday and Saturday.

This is a glorious day and one wonders if loved ones are experiencing such weather in Canada and especially on the coast. Japanese planes are very active over this area today. Lights are ordered out early every night so maybe another raid will be staged soon.

Nov. 26. Capt Terry who went to Bowen Rd hospital on the 11th died there on the 14th. We are all very sorry as he was liked and although he had suffered a great deal, pup up a good fight.

The poison in my neck gland is absorbing slowly, so much so that I do not go to Bowen Rd. The doctor was just in and after examination said that it is improving. I asked him how much longer I would need to rest and be quiet and he said for at least another week. I am still keeping hot water bottle on my neck. I think that the doctors were worried about Septicemia from the neck gland. My bed is terribly hard and after sitting or lying on it all day it seems to much harder to rest on during the night.

Nov. 29, Sunday. This has been a very happy day in the life of our camp. Red Cross parcels, which came to Hong Kong at the end of July, have at last been distributed and today each man in camp received one. They were more less standard packages. Mine was packed at Bermondsey, England, and contained 1 tin Galantine (Jellied meat),  1 tin tomatoes, 2 oz Maypole tea, 2 packets sugar (4 oz), 1 tin margarine, 1 tin cheese (4 oz), 1 apple pudding (16 oz), 8 oz golden syrup, 1/2 lb bacon, 1 lb minced beef and vegetables, 1 tin condensed milk, 1 creamed rice, 1 tin biscuits, 1 soap, 4 oz chocolate.

On Thursday a party was sent to Bowen Road. I had improved so much that I was not sent. Later in the day, however, my neck began to enlarge again and I had to send for Dr. Reid who put me back to bed and poured more tablets into me - 20 in 10 hours. The swelling has gone back a bit and I feel much better today. I still take 1 tablet every two hours until 8 are taken and then am to rest overnight and begin again with a new day. I am grateful for the rest of last night. It is the first night's rest I have had for more than a fortnight and I feel much better because of it. Another night or so like it will mean much to my state of health.

Three of our Canadians are being buried today. Capt Barnett is still at Bowen Rd and this means that the Imperial padres are doing extra work. I long to get back to work amongst the men.

Dec. 8, Tuesday. One year ago today (yesterday by day of week) war began, and our camp her at Shamshuipo was bombed in the early morning. Fortunately most of our Canadians had gone to Hong Kong on the previous day and were taking up positions in the hills, for its defence.

One year has passed.

Many changes have been seen by us since then. The greatest change has been in the appearance of men since becoming prisoners of war. Because of short rations and rations to which we cannot become accustomed and which do not give us the necessary vitamins, men who a year ago were in first class condition are now either dead or suffering from diseases of one kind or another. We seem to be adding to our D's daily. We began with Diarrhoea. To this we add Dysentery, Diphtheria, and Dementia.

Lt Dennis is now ill from Diphtheria and Dysentery. Capt Bardal was taken with Malaria two days ago but is much improved today.

My neck is improving but the doctor keeps me in bed and resting with hot applications still, but he is pleased with my present condition and hopes to have me back on the job soon. It has been a long four weeks trying to get the swelling down. My appetite is good and I rest better since last week so by Christmas time I should be ready for work again.

Our death rate has dropped considerably of late but we still have many who are very sick. With the rations which have been supplemented by Red Cross food we may do better while the added rations last.

On Dec. 3rd we were inspected by the Colonel (Japanese) in charge of prisoners of war in this area. On the following day we were again paraded to the "square" for an inspection by an outstanding Japanese general. We noticed that both he and the colonel were wearing British decorations of the war of 1914-1918.

Capt Deloughrey who was in the isolation camp for the past two months was allowed back to our lines a day or two ago. He kept fit while he was there and looks very well. Capt Barnett is still at Bowen Rd Hospital.

Dec. 9. Dr. Reid was in to see Capt Bardal and me this morning. Bardal is improving but is being kept on quinine for another day or two, while I still have to rest and keep the heat to my neck. The gland is getting much better though, and I feel that I will win out. Capt. Reid teased me this morning about my living after all. I know that for a few days he was a bit anxious, but now I have beaten the germ. Today I have planned to make a blind for our window if Capt Walker finds a burlap - or some other - sack for me.

Dec. 13, Sunday. I am still kept indoors because of my gland but feel that another week should see me back at work. I miss visiting the men in the hospitals, as well as our worship services on Sunday and every evening. Rumours have been coming to camp about successes of our arms in North Africa, and our planes over Germany. We do hope they are correct as successes there will mean an earlier end to hostilities everywhere.

We have just had supper - meat and vegetables - (tinned). Our cook tried to give us a chocolate cake and while it was not "as good as mother used to make" it was very good, and a change. Since our Red Cross foods have been coming to camp we feel much better physically and mentally.

The Japanese authorities are arranging for band instruments and are allowing concerts in camp again. The first concert was given in our church hall last night. It will be repeated on Wednesday.

In our room now are Capt Bardal, playing his guitar - he is much better of malaria, but is still on quinine. Capt Pendregast is resting on his bed, Capt Walker is lying on his bed reading "Clive of India", while Capt Philips of the next room is sitting by Pendregast. Sgt Sinclair of our kitchen staff just came in, so food will be the topic for a few minutes. Most of us have eaten most of our Red Cross parcel but are keeping something for Christmas. I am keeping my pudding to eat on Sunday next - Florence's birthday - unless I change it for my bacon. The other will be eaten on Christmas Day.

I do hope that I will be well enough to go to church service on Sunday next. Florence will be in my thoughts a great deal during the coming week. I know that I shall see great changes in her and Grayson, on my return home. I do know that they are being good to the best of mothers. We sometimes discuss our plans for our arrival at home. Today we agreed that we shall make it a Christmas event even though it be in midsummer.

Dec. 16, Wednesday. My neck is not well yet. Capt (Dr.) Reid came in two days ago and ordered me back to rest with hot water bag to be applied until the swelling has completely gone. My appetite is good as is my general health, but apparently Dr. Reid is not yet satisfied. My appetite is so good that at lunch time today, when we had a good helping of Konji (boiled rice mixed with boiled vegetables and peanut oil, and all cooked together) I was not satisfied but opened a tin of tomatoes (small size) and heated it with a duck egg fried, made an extra large meal. Capt Bardal said that I had an archbishop's appetite, but with a curate's salary - The Japanese haven't paid the padres yet.

We learn today that there is to be a daily inspection of our camp, until further notice - culminating in a special inspection by some official from Tokyo. It is intimated that the official from Tokyo may be the last Japanese consul at Ottawa. We hear that he made a worthwhile impression amongst the diplomats of our Canadian Capital.

Dec. 19, Saturday. One year ago today I was with D Co at Wan Nai Chong, under heavy fire from the Japs who landed about midnight and early morning - naturally our thoughts are centred around that area today. I think especially of the splendid fellows who fought there and of how they, inferior in numbers to the enemy, fought until all ammunition had been exhausted, on the 22nd, and how on that day only four men came out without wounds. Lt Philips (now Capt) had been wounded a year ago this afternoon at 2 o'clock, while the O. C. Capt Bowman was killed at 9 a.m.

Rumour has it today that Turkey has entered the war on our side. If this be true, we are nearing the end of hostilities and this coming year should see us free.

Parcels have been sent in to certain members of this camp by friends in this area. I was one of the lucky ones, and had 2 tins soya beans, 1 bottle Australian honey, 1 tin bean curd, 1 tin beef, and 1 cake of Palmolive soap, sent from Doreen Xavier - no address. I regret that the address is unknown as I would like to send a note of thanks to her.

Dr. Reid was in to see my neck this morning. It is daily improving but he says rest is required in order for it to be cured. I think, however, that I may be free by the New Year. Capt Bardal is better now but feels pretty weak.

Dec. 20, Sunday. Dear Florence: I have been thinking of the bonny baby girl who came to our home sixteen years ago and this is to wish you many happy returns of that day. What a fuss Mom and I made over you, but you were worth it as you have brought much joy and happiness into our lives since then. I am satisfied today when I think of how you have grown and developed into such a lovely girl, without causing any shadow to cross our hearts or minds. I wonder what you are all doing on this birthday of yours. I do hope that "all is well" at home and that Mom - the best of mothers - and Grayson - a brother of whom you will be proud as I am - are giving you a present for my sake, and that you are trying to enjoy our separation as a brave mother and children.

I decided to have something special for lunch today for your sake so kept a tin of fig pudding from my Red Cross parcel, for lunch, and it was exceptionally good. With it I had honey as a sauce, and enjoyed every morsel.

I know that you are doing well at school and will continue to do so. I can imagine how much you have grown during the past year and can, in fancy, see you with Mom getting nice clothes, etc. for you. We hope this old war ends soon so that we can get home to you all again.

If we are to spend any time here before we embark for Canada, I hope to be able to find something nice for each of you. I shall think much of you during this Christmas season and shall daily look at our photograph. You can imagine my thoughts.

From the time of your birth I have considered you my little sweetheart and trust that always you will have just as large a place in my affection as you have at this hour, and in return ask that you will always think of me as a Dad who is worthy of your love and affection and will continue to be worthy of it.  - Dad.

Have not been allowed away from my bed yet but hope to be out by the New Year, as my neck is daily improving. Out of the parcel received yesterday, have sent 1 tin of bean curd, and 1 tin of beans, to two of our boys in hospital. Had a nice note from one of them this afternoon. He was baptized by me at North Point P.O.W. Camp. the other fellow was a very brave soldier and helped to save the day at Wan Nai Chong. He, with others, deserves special recognition.

Dec. 22, Tuesday. We were called on parade yesterday morning at eleven o'clock, for an inspection by the Japanese O.C. prison camp who was accompanied by two Red Cross representatives, and while the inspection lasted but a few minutes, we were kept on the parade square for fully two hours. Because of my weakened condition, I felt pretty miserable for the rest of the day and night but am much better again today and hope to be out by the New Year. I am hoping too be be able to attend communion service on Christmas morning.

At last evening's parade (4.30-5.20) two of our men - orderlies at hospital - failed to report and the O.C. of their company was called out by the Japanese for questioning. Capt Norris gave his report but apparently it did not satisfy the camp commandant and so the Captain was smacked by one of the Jap interpreters - known to us as the Kamloops Kid, as he was born in Kamloops, B.C. and returned to Japan eight years ago. His face is marked and swollen today. Major Atkinson of the Brigade was also kicked in the knee and is unable to be on duty today, and so life goes on in our prison camp. We hear that the Red Cross representatives asked some pertinent questions as they made their inspection, and we do hope that the correct answers were given. It is understood that they were told, after the inspection of the Imperial hospital, by one of the Imperial officers, that there were 250 Canadians in another building, in a worse condition than those already seen. The result of the inspection remains to be seen.

Our batman has just finished cleaning our room. He had our cots (4) taken outdoors, aired our bedding, and gave the room a good scrubbing. The floor is made of rough - or coarse - concrete and quickly harbors dust, but he manages to keep it fairly clean. It is much too small for four officers and under normal conditions two men would occupy it but we are P.O.W.'s now and are accustomed to cramped quarters.

Capt. Porteous (Y.M.C.A.) is in today with a touch of fever. We do hope it is not malaria. By this date nearly every man in the camp has been smitten by some kind of malady through lack of food and medicines and my heart bleeds as I watch the men hobble past. I have been nearly two months shut in because of my poisoning and long to get out the see the boys in hospital.

One year ago today I was experiencing the harrowing experience of being taken through the Japanese lines, down Happy Valley. What a day! The rest of the officers and men were being tied up at Wan Nai Chong by the enemy and at night were marched over hills to North Point Camp, and from there taken across the harbor, and on to Argyle St. Camp. Some of us have been comparing notes today.

Dec. 24, Thursday - Christmas Eve. I was deeply grateful today when the doctor told me that I can go around a bit next week. This means that my work begins, and increases as my strength increases, and with care, I should be back in full time work in a little while. The eight weeks have been very long and trying, but now that I am well, I will forget, and find joy in renewed service. Today, through the International Red Cross, 10 yen were handed to each Canadian soldier as a Christmas gift from Canada. The following message accompanied the gift, and was read on parade this afternoon.

Geneva, Nov. 19, 1942.
Minister External Affairs Canada asks us to communicate all Canadian prisoners and internees the following message:

"The Prime Minister of Canada requests the International Red Cross Committee to convey to all Canadians in prisoner of war, or internment camp, on behalf of their relatives and friends in Canada, and also on behalf of the Canadian government and Canadian people, heartfelt Christmas greetings, and best of wishes for the New Year.

The Prime Minister desires to assure them, one and all, that the thoughts of the Canadian people were never more, of them and with them, than they are in the greetings they send at this Christmas season, and in the wishes they send for the New Year.

Kindly communicate this message to prisoners representatives in camps, to be distributed at Christmastime.

International Red Cross.

Plans have been made to give the men in camp special meals tomorrow. Sgt Ray Squires, whose home is at 1035 Bewdley Ave., Victoria, B.C. is in charge of Jubilee Hospital, under supervision of Capt Pendregast and doctors, and is doing excellent service. He has given me a copy of tomorrow's menu.


Dec. 25, 1942 - Christmas Day

Christmas Menu - 1942  
Breakfast Stewed Pears
  Oatmeal Porridge
  2 Fried Eggs
  Sweet Cocoa
Tiffen (Lunch) 1/2 Tin Bully Beef
  Canned Tomatoes (Fried)
  Boiled Cabbage
  Roast Yam (Vegetable)
3 p.m. Tea and Raisin Cake
Dinner 1Tin Meat and Vegetable
  Christmas Pudding
  Jam Sauce


Tonight at 1145 there will be a Choral Service, with carols, in our Church Hall, and the services of tomorrow, conducted by Padres Strong and Davies - Imperial Padres. The services are announced as follows:

8.30am - Holy Communion
10.00am - Holy Communion
1200hrs - Carol Service
2000hrs (8pm) - Evensong and Carol Service

Christmas Day. all hearts are at home today and we hope that our loved ones are well and enjoying the festive season to the full. I am thinking of the joys of the yesteryears, and am certain that the most wonderful and glorious days of my life were those with my lovely family. Tiny Tim's prayer for them and us is mine today. "God bless us every one".

The services were well attended. I was able to go along to the 12 noon service, and to the short evening service. At the close of the latter, we sat on the floor and sang Christmas carols. Our meals today were special for today. The men in the lines also had better meals, and at noon, tables were set up between two huts and most of the men sat at them, and ate, while the officers helped to serve. Our evening meals was our "heavy" and took the form of a mess dinner. Each officer had a menu which will be taken home as a worthwhile souvenir.

  Christmas Dinner Menu  
  Individual Meat and Vegetables  
  Fried Potatoes  
  Plum Pudding with Cinnamon Sauce  
  Tea with Milk  
The King   Our Dead
Brass, Capt Porteous   Lt Black
Song Cpl Harvey  
The Officers Christmas Dinner, Dec. 25, 1942. Six o'clock P.M.
  In Attendance  
Lt Col G. Trist Major H. W. Hook Major E. A. Hodgkinson
Major J. A. Baillie Major K. G. Baird Capt J. A. Norris
Capt R. W. Philip Capt E. B. Walker Capt N. O. Bardal
Capt A. W. Pendregast Capt D. G. Golden Lt H. L. White
Lt J. E. Dunderdale Lt J. E. Park Lt H. E. MacKechnie
Lt R. A. H. Campbell Lt R. W. Queen-Hughes Lt R. Maze
Lt T. A. Blackwood Lt A. S. Black Lt L. B. Corrigan
    Lt J. D. McCarthy
Capt H. A. Bush Capt G. M. Billings Capt G. Porteous
  Capt U. Laite  
Capt D. G. Philip Lt F. V. Dennis Lt W. F. Nugent
  In Spirit  
Lt Col J. L. R. Sutcliffe Major A. B. Gresham Capt A. E. Bowman
Capt L. T. Tarbuth Capt E. L. Terry Lt G. A. Birkett
Lt C. D. French Lt G. B. Harper Lt J. A. V. David
Lt R. J. Hooper Lt E. L. Mitchell Lt W. V. Mitchell
Lt O. W. McKillop Lt H. J. Young  


Dec. 27, Sunday. Last night I dreamt that I was at home for Christmas and saw lots of parcels, etc., around the home. Florence, Grayson, and Mom were very happy to have me home again, and did I enjoy buying a huge turkey. I wakened to have rice and chocolate sauce for breakfast. For lunch we had vegetable soup only, and for supper we had rice, meat and vegetables, and a biscuit - underdone - with tea.

I have been thinking of Moncton today. I only wish that I could send a birthday message to Florence, as I know that she is wondering about me. She has a good husband in Bob, a very lovely boy - Billy - and a good home, and so I don't need to be anxious about her. She has been a wonderful sister, and I long to see her. How our chins will wag when we meet again.

Monday, Dec. 28. Sgt T. H. Sinclair, in charge of kitchens, has just handed me the Men's menu for Christmas Day. It is as follows:

Menu December 25, 1942


Rice and Chocolate Sauce


Individual Tin Meat and Vegetable
Fried Potatoes
Plum Pudding and Cinnamon Sauce
Bread, Tea, Rice


Vegetable Soup
Corned Beef - 3oz for each
Pear Turnover


The camp was visited yesterday by several Japanese high ranking officers, including one Lieut. General, several Colonels, Lt Colonels, and Majors. The camp was supposed to be doing the regular routine. A concert was in progress at the church hall, while games were being played on the parade square. Men were assigned to huts, while officers were asked to be in different places in the camp. Some were at the concert, others at the games, and others in their huts. I was glad to be left in charge of our hut. Our batman - Ray Fidler - came over and made a cup of tea which I enjoyed.

I was able to conduct our evening service in our little chapel of St. Francis - one of the huts, used as a chapel, with a few seats and an altar set up - I am happy to be in harness again, and visited the general hospital this afternoon.

Dec. 30, Wednesday. Attended a communion service conducted by Padre Strong, this morning at 8.45. Spent most of the forenoon visiting our organist for Sunday - Mr. Longyear - at Jubilee building. Met there a Mr. Gill of the engineering department of the dockyard corps, who, while he is not a British Israelite, knows a great deal of its origin, and the career of its greatest supporter - Dr. Davidson, who is one of Britain's leading scientists, and engineers, and who has written "The Great Pyramid".

This afternoon I went visiting the Canadian General Hospital and arranging for communion service with a number of the patients, on New Year's Day. Had a very interesting talk with one of them who has not had communion for a number of years, but who would like to begin again. Somewhere, sometime, he made a mistake. I told him that all of us make them and are conscious of them, but the One with whom we have communion, understands, cares for, and loves us, and welcomes our return. He has decided to have communion on New Year's Day with the other men.

There is a rumour in camp today that Rome has been declared an open city. Many are thinking of the end of war during 1943. Some predict one date and others, others. I think of July, Major Baird of October - November, and so on. Capt Norris says that my date is near enough to agree with his hunch, and so we go on longing in our hearts for Peace, and for liberation from this camp of horrors.

10pm. I have just returned from a concert given by members of our P.O.W. camp. Each and every item was very good, but the prize - if such were given - would go to a Portuguese string band, and to a group from the Middlesex Regiment in a sketch called "The Disorderly Room". Special mention would be made of our own Canadian band. Cpl Robertson (solo), and Cpl Harvey of H.K.V.

Today while visiting our men in what the boys term the "Agony" ward - hot feet, etc. - I went to a room assigned to one of our Sgts (C. More) who has bad feet, stomach, and hands. I found him in tears and knew at a glance what the trouble was. His violin, which he used to good advantage, and for our pleasure at concerts, in the early days of our internment, was lying on his cot, with its bow beside it. He had, apparently, been trying to play and found that his hands were so cramped with pain that he could not do it. I tried to cheer him a bit but his comment was "What will my wife say? What will my wife say?". A snapshot of his family - wife and two children - was hanging in a frame on the wall beside him.

Men who were stalwarts a year ago are now mere skeletons and shadows, but the spirit of the men remains unbroken and we hope that that spirit will see most of us through. We are looking forward to our release in 1943.

Dec. 31, Thursday. Spent part of the day around the hospital in our Canadian lines. Everyone is hoping that 1943 and early in it will find us at least free. Some would like to remain here for a while after our release and be given an opportunity to visit parts of this old country, while others want to leave as soon as freedom is ours for home.

The men are all suffering from hot feet - pellagra sores, pellagra stomach, eye trouble - some are nearly blind - from malnutrition, diarrhoea, dysentery, heart condition, etc. I found one fellow of the Royal Rifles crying because of pain in his feet, and from lack of sleep or rest. Another chap, who, until a few weeks ago was very healthy, is suffering excruciating pain in his feet, but it is amazing how the boys fight to live. One fellow had just been given a sponge bath. A few nights ago he was reported seriously ill. I went before breakfast the following morning to see him and found him slightly improved. Today after his bath, he told me that if at all possible he was going to make the grade or die trying and trying hard.

I conducted worship - Vesper - service at 5.30 this evening. Tomorrow I will give communion to several of our protestant men in hospital. Many of them are thinking of the deeper things of life and our services mean much to them.

Within a few hours - it is now 8.30pm - a New Year will be here with its double-faced January - Janus the god with two faces, one looking backward, the other forward.

We have much even out of the tragedies and woes of the past year, to thank God for. We face the future with a feeling of hope for, and expectancy of better things, and with faith in God stronger than ever. We all think of home and loved ones and with them share the hope that 1943 will be the year of our reunion.