New Year's Day, 1943.
At 1100 hrs celebrated Holy Communion in ward E of our Canadian Hospital. Men from other wards attended, and the following patients shared in the fellowship.
Clark G., Arnprior, Ont
Herring, e., Bury, P.Q.
Devouge, C., Gaspe County, P.Q.
Mabley, G.K., 493 Sargent Avenue, Winnipeg
Herman, J., Lake Beauport, P.Q.
Summerville, S., Bergerville, P.Q.
Porter, J., 2343 Frederica St., Niagara Falls, Ont.
Siddall, H., Sackville, N.B.
MacKay, L.V., 1082 Prince St., Truro, N.S.
Martin, J., Port Alfred, P.Q.
Ladds, W., 29 C Avenue, Noranda, P.Q.
Williamson, G., Suite 4, Carnado, Winnipeg
Dayton, E., Chilliwack. B.C.
Cadoret, B., Gaspe, P.Q.
Fleming, Rj.J., 193 Rhodes Ave, Toronto
Cameron, F.C., Marien Heights, P.Q.
Stoddard, R., Cookshire, P.Q.
Lyons, H., Mann Settlement, P.Q.
Campbell, J. Elmvale, Ont.
Sumner, W., 1596 Alexander Ave., Winnipeg (Died Jan., 25, 1943)
Hotton, B.N., Gaspe, P.Q.
Jan. 2, 1943. Last night we had a New Year's visit from two of our English friends, Capt. H.G. Caskeed, Chief Officer of H.M.R.F.A. Ebonol, and 2nd Engineer R.H. Nichol, of the same ship. The former is know to us as "Jaeger", and is a great teller of stories. He has sailed into most worthwhile - and some not so worthwhile - ports of the world, and last night kept us in laughter for a while, telling us stories of Lisbon, South America, and England. He went back to farming for four years but the call of the sea was too persistent and so he went back to sea. His stories about his farming experiences are very amusing. I list a couple of his specials as "The purchasing of a cow", "The raising of hogs and chickens", and "The Christmas Eve with wife away on a buying expedition". This morning the Captain of his ship - Capt J. Solby - came in to have a game of cribbage with me. I had beaten him a few days ago, and he came to renew the attack. This was his day. Guy Walker, engineer, also visits us.
This is Mom's (my wife) birthday. I looked at our photograph often today, and if she could have heard me, I would have been saying "Happy Birthday to you, dear".
Shamshuipo, Kowloon, China, Jan. 2, 1943.
My dear wife:
How I would like to see you today, and wish you many happy returns of this day. It is a long time since we had the first January second together, but I just want to say that with the passing of the years, you have become dearer to me. Not only are you the mother of our two lovely children, but you have been my best companion, and I know that if I could go back and begin my life since 1917 over again I would still want you as sweetheart, bride, and wife. I have often failed you but never have you failed me. Your life has been a splendid pattern for copy and I only trust that the children will emulate you in their lives.
I am writing this from a Prisoner of War camp, and longing in my heart for the day when I can return to you. I do know that during our separation and especially in the months before our casualty list was known to you all at home, your suspense must have been awful, and at times, almost unbearable, but because of your quiet, calm, and persistent faith, hope, and courage, I am confident that you faced those days and months, very bravely indeed. We shall try to forge the separation, when we reunite and pray that an eventide of life for us will be just as happy as were our earlier years. With you as my companion, sweetheart, and chum, that eventide for us - let's hope - may be very long - in years - as every day with you means a bright day. I shall ever think of you and daily pray for our freedom, and homecoming. Home to rest and peace and you.
With more love than ever, Hugh.
We can count on one good meal each day. This will continue as long as the Red Cross Ration of bully beef lasts. Our M and V issue is very low. Today we had rice with sweet sauce, bun and tea, for breakfast. For lunch we were served more rice, a rice and meat pattie, and tea. At supper we shall fare a bit better. I had planned to have my tin of bacon (Red Cross) with two chicken's eggs, purchased a few days ago, at 35 sen each, but will hold them over for another few days. We are getting a small electric heater made - toaster - and after we have it, may celebrate. Tomorrow will be my first Sunday to preach since the first of November. I do pray for strength for that service, and for the right message. I shall try to forget prison camp for that service. Padre Strong will lead the service, while I read the lesson, and preach. In the evening I shall lead the service and Capt Davies will read the lesson. He celebrates communion in the morning.
Jan. 3rd. On New Year's Day the Japanese Camp Commandant invited Brigadier Holm, and two other Canadians, with two or three English officers, to his quarters. They brought back - after a repast - offerings which the Japs place on shrines at this season of the year. Two large dried sea weeds, which form the base, and two loaves of bread, one slightly larger than the other. They are set up at the shrine, and represent sea, air, and fields from which they derive their food.
I was happy to be able to take part in the services today, and at the morning service preached from Psalm 31: 8 "Thou hast set my feet in a large room". Padre Strong shared the services with me.
Jan. 8, Friday. Nothing out of the ordinary happened during the past few days, but this morning the bugle sounded about six o'clock, and called us all out for a muster parade. It was quite dark but everybody bustled, as we wondered what it was all about, since our reveille does not sound until 6:30. We thought that possibly there had been another attempted escape from the camp. We feared this, knowing that if such were the case, it would have repercussions which would affect our camp in every particular, pretty hard. Well, we went - 3000 of us - and formed up on the "Square", were counted again and again, and then suddenly, the bugle blared "There will be no parade today". This meant our dismissal. It was eight o'clock when we returned to our huts, but we were happy that no escape had been recorded. We have not been told why the special early muster. Perhaps it was the manner in which the new camp commandant takes over his duties today - and it may be - well we don't know and why guess.
I spent all the forenoon visiting our general hospital. Some of the cases are getting more pitiable every day. Men with hot feet will remain outdoors most of the day and night, if allowed, in order to keep bare feet on the ground. Others in the huts will wrap all other parts of their bodies, but leave their feet exposed to the cold and draughts, in order to find ease. There are some others whose feet are just the opposite - as cold as others are hot. None of them are able to find comfort, and one's heart bleeds to see men in such miserable condition. Others have pellagra mouths, stomachs, or sores, and some have all three parts affected. Only a certain number of beds have been given to us for use in the hospital and the majority of the men in all wards are sleeping or resting on wooden forms, or cement floors. The nights are cold now, and life is hard indeed for every P.O.W. in this camp. Rumour has it that another Red Cross parcel will be given to us during the month. The dame also says that Canadians are to go to Stanley Camp on the island of Hong Kong. She also talks of repatriation, drafts for Japan, etc., We all long for a good meal of food, at home, and a good snooze between clean sheets, after a hot bath. The bugs are our daily companions.
January 13, Wednesday. On Saturday, the 9th, a number of parcels came to our camp from people in Hong Kong. Most of the 500 parcels were for the British prisoners. A few however, came for Canadians, and on was for me. It contained a 5lb tin of Apricot jam - either Canadian or English, certainly not Chinese, 7lbs beef drippings - fat, 2 lbs rolled oats, 1 tin of beef, or mutton, 1 tin of evaporated milk, and 1 cake of Palmolive soap. The other officers, and especially, Capt Walker, Bardal, and Pendregast - roommates teased me about this new lady friend - Mrs. B. Fox, 29 Pok Fulam Road, Hong Kong. They were glad however to sample the jam. We may be shorter of fats than we are now, and God knows they are short now, but we do get some bully beef, and so, apart from using a bit of fat for bread, I hope to save most of it for a later date. The rolled oats etc., will go in a little while. I am eating my oats dry with a little pinch of sugar and find it quite palatable. These parcels are a real blessing to men, as food is not very plentiful, or substantial at any time.
On Monday the 11th we received another surprise. We were called on a special muster parade, when the men were divided into two classes, A and B. About 600 men were placed in the A class, while others were put in the B class. Others are in hospital. Now we feel that since the A group have been tested for dysentery, and inoculated against certain diseases, and separated from the rest of the camp, that it must be for a draft to be taken out of this part of China, to Japan or elsewhere, to work. Another similar group, and number has been taken from the Imperials, and they are with our A group in isolation.
Tonight orders are given to get proper sizes of men so that, tomorrow, proper clothing will be supplied, including 1 suit of winter inside clothing, 1 suit of summer undies, 1 winter suit (outside), 1 summer K.D.'s, boots, or canvas shoes, and cap. I have spent most of the day amongst the boys. At first, brothers, and in a couple of cases, twin brothers, were in different groups. Now they are united in "A" group as, to use the words of one fellow, this afternoon, when speaking to me - "We have been through so much together that we have decided to go the rest of the way together". To date no officer has been selected to go - apart from the medical officers - our Capt Reid is our Canadian M.O. selected. The selection rests with the Japanese. So far no padre has been allowed to go with any draft, and so I expect that we shall remain with or sick and crippled.
Today one hundred letters came into camp for Canadians. How long they have been in this colony, only the Japanese know. Some of us think that they came with the repatriation ship, in July or August. However they came today. Most of them were dated late in April, and left Canada then. The boys who received them were delighted. Just a few officers (8) received any, only one of our Grenadier officers received one. Tonight I was visiting our B group, and there found a fellow who had received one from his girl friend. He had his chum read it to the rest of us. It was a very sensible type of letter, and one of which the fellow may be proud. Whenever a letter is read the crowd gathers and quiet reigns, as all want to hear, even thought the letter may be ten months old.
Major Parker of the R.R.C. told me this morning, on parade, that this was his daughter's birthday. During the day he visited the little chapel where we have or communion and vesper services, and on opening the hymn book, found himself reading a children's hymn - the first one he saw. Later in the day he was brought a letter from his family. Was he a proud dad?
What tomorrow has in store for us we do not know, but we are no longer troubled. I don't think our experiences of the future can be worse than those through which we have already passed. Surely this experience will go down in history as the story of the lost army, as we have been out of contact with our home, or country since December 1941. Rumours are current that our forces are doing good work in Burma, the Russians still successfully dealing body blows to Germany, and the American Navy and Airforce, making Japan pay an awful price for her successful raids on our Pacific possessions.
Tears came to my eyes today when I read a letter from home to a boy whose eyes are too dull to see much. His dad at home is blind, but the letter was written by Dad in type, and mother and sister with pen.
Jan. 14, Thursday. Men have been very busy today, making ready for the departure of the "draft". Tonight Staff Sgt Barton of Brigade came to see me and we went for a walk and had a long talk about the terrible days at Wan Nai Chong. He, with others, rendered valuable service, and on the morning of our surrender, he, with two others dared to get through the enemy lines, and got through to Wan Chai. It was a daring venture, but they won. Others tried but failed.
It is now 9:30 p.m. For the past two hours I have been visiting B group and my heart bleeds as I think of them. Nearly every man has bad feet. Each man in the eight huts is a patient, as each suffers from one form of sickness or another. Pop Worf - one of the older men - a veteran of 1914-18, has bad feet, and I found him tonight with them wrapped in sacks of tea leaves, which he had given him by the kitchen, since supper. I will check on him in the morning to learn what kind of a night he had. Men are now - as I left - going outside their huts to make their beds on the cement walk in order to keep their feet cool. Capt Bardal and Lt Corrigan have been in one of the huts, giving the boys music on the guitar and saxophone.
Jan. 20, Wednesday. During the past week the camp has been astir with men getting ready for embarkation on ship for unknown parts of the empire of Japan. The area was under guard and men were not allowed in or out without special permission. I was anxious to spend every spare minute with the men and procured a pass from the camp commandant. Yesterday morning at six o'clock they paraded out of the camp and onto the ship at Kowloon docks. Special treatment and favours had been given the men by the authorities and before leaving the camp, each man was given 10 yen in Japanese currency, a pair of socks, and a pair of woollen gloves. On their arrival at the ship they were also given candy and cigarettes, for the voyage. Rumours are current to the effect that the International Red Cross were sponsoring the move and Japan was providing the ship. She was one of the Maru passengers ships. Today we learn that the men were given third class passage - one room for four men - and that deck games etc. were planned for the voyage.
Jan. 21, Thursday. Orders were given today for another move. This time however it is only for a move from one set of huts to another. The senior officers will move to another three roomed hut a few yards from our present hut, while the rest of us, and the junior officers move to a large hut in the men's lines. The British officers and all attached will be moving to another part of our Nanking lines while all sick and convalescent will go to the Hankow barracks.
Here is a list of all the corps in the camp, totaling in personnel 2000 men.
R.A.N.C., R.C.S., R.E., R.AC.C., R.A.S.C., R.A.P.C., C Forces, R.C.P.T., R.M.P., Middlesex Regt., Royal Scots Regt., H.K.V.D.C., D.D.C., R.N.Y. Police, R.N., R. Fleet Auxiliary, British Merchant Service, American Merchant Service, Royal Marines, 5th A. Aircraft, R.A., R. Dental Corps, R.A.F., Indian Medical Service, Royal Indian Army Service Corps, R.Netherlands Navy, R.C.A.M.C., R.C.O.C., R.C.A.S.C., R.C.D.C., C.C.S., R.C.C.S., Winnipeg Grenadiers and Royal Rifles of Canada.
Yesterday for the first time since the first week in November, I was permitted to go to the Diphtheria hospital. At last my neck is quiet well although at times I have pain in the gland. During the afternoon I passed a large group of men on the square from the Imperial Forces. They were hospital and convalescent cases, and showed signs of much suffering. Some were using one stick, others two sticks, while others were helped by their comrades, as they came to their place on the square, for inspection. It is rumoured that some of them may be sent to Stanley prison camp which, we understand, is quite an improvement on our Shamshuipo Camp.
Red Cross parcels are in camp today. The boys are hoping to receive them tomorrow, but it may be days before they are issued, as we are busy moving, but it cheers the boys to know that another parcel has come from the Red Cross society for us. They need it badly as today most of the men and many officers are suffering. About half of our Canadians are now in hospital. We have 750 left in our units but nearly 400 are in hospital or in isolation under medical care.
Jan. 23, Saturday. Yesterday was moving day. The Canadians - men and officers - moved from one group of huts into another. Just one apartment hut was given to the senior officers, so most of us are put in a long hut within the lines. I was given a corner section so that I could have it quieter. This morning, however, I was informed that an apartment hut - one with three rooms - had been set apart for the Imperial and Canadian chaplains, and so we move again today. Capt Deloughery and I are in one room, with an adjoining door opening into it from ours - which will do for Capt Barnett, and where we can have a spare table, and a place of quiet where we can meet with any men who want to see the padre alone. It will be much better with this new arrangement.
Yesterday the men - 50 - in R. ward, which is called by the men "Agony ward", or "Electric feet", or "Hot foot", ward asked me to hold a service for them there. This is what we had hoped for as it has not been my policy to thrust services on such men, although they knew that I would respond readily to their request. They asked. I went at 8 p.m. and began the service. At the close of the first hymn, the lights went out over the whole camp, so we were in darkness, but we carried on. I had prayer - with the Lord's Prayer - and then quoted a few verses of Psalm 91 and talked to the boys. Every man was quiet as I spoke, and since then several of them have thanked me for that talk. One of the Sgts who is a patient there told me today that he would never forget the service and how I carried on. He said "It is the first time I heard a sermon in the dark. It was impressive". The lights came back and we sang other hymns. Now they want a service each week. They will get it.
Today I buried LCpl Singleton. He died of Diphtheria. He was the driver of our car when we got our first shelling in Wan Chai Gap. Lt Queen-Hughes, Sgt Neil and I were with Singleton, and today the three of us made up, with others, the burial party. I am glad that I saw him twice since getting better, and when I was told he was dying, I went and saw him again. Capt Barnett came back from Bowen Road today, and is looking much improved. Lt Nugent also returned as well as several of our men, all greatly improved.
Jan. 24, Sunday. Since we haven't very much to move we are all settled again and enjoyed our first night under new conditions. Capt Davies, and Padre Strong, are in the other apartment. Last evening I received another parcel from Miss Doreen Xavier, Ava Mansions, May Rd, Hong Kong. It contained 1 large tin of beef dripping - 7 lbs. 2 1/2 lbs Rolled Oats, 1 glass jar honey, 1 large bar soap, 1 package salt, 1 in sardines. We shall enjoy it in our new cabin.
This morning we had Holy Communion at 9:30, regular service at 12 noon. I preached from 2 Corr: 1:10. "Courage for the Future", and since lunch, Capt Barnett and I gave communion to twenty-five men, going from hut to hut, and bed to bed. One fellow, Thompson, asked me last last, about a service and I spoke of communion, and he said that he was a Baptist, and would be delighted to have me give it to him.
All of our General Hospital patients have moved to better quarters, and none are on the floors or old board forms now. They look much more comfortable and are much happier than when in the other section of the camp. The men from diphtheria, and kindred ills move tomorrow into this area, and we hope will be better. It will make it a little better for us in our visitation. This evening Padre Strong, and I share the evening service.
I dreamt of Grayson last night, and saw him wearing shorts with a lovely white blouse, and with hair brushed up, oh, so nicely. He must be a handsome lad, and I know that he will take care of the best of mothers, and be good to a lovely sister. How I would love to see them now. Would I let them fuss over me, and enjoy it? I have been dreaming of home quite a lot lately. Just a night or two ago I was with Stan, and we were very happy together. Good old Stan! How our tongues will wag when we meet. We shall want an open fireplace with Mom in a comfortable hair, the children about the house, and Stan sitting on the carpet by my chair as he used to sit, in the yesteryears. Thank God for those days. "O memories that bless".
9 p.m. Sunday. Just back from our vesper service. Our hymns were "At Even" - Tune Abend - "O for a Faith" and "The Day Thou gavest", with a vesper.
"Holy Father in Thy Mercy
Hear our anxious prayer
Keep our loved ones, now far distant
Neath Thy care.
Jesus Savior, let Thy
Be their Light and Guide
Keep, o keep them in their weakness
At Thy side.
When in sorrow, when in danger
When in loneliness
In Thy Love, look down and comfort
May the joy of Thy Salvation
Be their strength and stay
May they love, and may they praise Thee
Day by day.
Holy Spirit, let Thy teaching
Sanctify their life
Send Thy grace, that they may conquer
In the strife.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
God the One in Three
Bless them, guide them, save them, keep them
Near to Thee.
At the close of the service, a few of the others with the choir, gathered about the piano, and sang tunes such as Lyngham, Simeon, and others. Amidst all of our distresses, we still sing the sons of Zion and our faith deepens.
Jan. 26, Tuesday. This is moving day for our Diphtheria patients. They are being taken to our own lines and placed on beds in huts. Very many of them are stretcher cases and all available men are busy carrying their comrades to their new quarters. We have so few men equal to this task that the officers are doing a great deal of the work today. Before the men can be really comfortable, a lot of repair work will have to be done around the huts, as there are no windows complete and very few doors. We hear that the Red Cross representative in town is very incensed about conditions here and is demanding immediate attention. The results of his special unannounced visit yesterday remain to be seen. We shall watch developments with interest.
We three - Deloughrey, Barnett and I - are now settled in our new quarters, and find it quite an improvement on any former, occupied since the war ended. We have our own batman - Carter - and go to the mess for meals, but bring them to our own room to eat. I have a bed made of burlap sacking between a frame of wood, and on the first night was too comfortable to sleep, having slept on an iron one since September 26, '42, but for the past two nights have slept well.
4 p.m. I have just returned from another burial. Sumner died yesterday morning. He put up a gallant fight until the end. I am glad that on Sunday I gave him communion. His last words to me were "I never give up my faith."
We have no heat in any huts and so are now accustomed to the cold. At nights we put our overcoat, or raglan, over our blankets and this helps to keep us comfortable. The men in the hospital huts are faring as we are, but all are cheerful. To visit these boys is as good as a tonic. No matter what happens they treat it lightly, and hope for better days. The orderlies are very good and treat the patients well. We have one old chap who is himself a patient but who works amongst the patients. He was a prisoner in Austria during the war of 1914-18 and was placed on a farm with nine other men. He ended his imprisonment by marrying the farmer's only daughter. He told me yesterday that he had a laugh for me. When asked what it was he said that when they moved into their present hut there were no light bulbs anywhere in the place. He searched around and found two broken ones and marched off to the first sentry he could find, showed him the broken bulbs, pointed to the Red Cross band on his arm, such as all orderlies wear, and in a few minutes had two new bulbs for his hut. He was pleased when I complimented him on his shrewdness, and ingenuity. He suffers from beri-beri, but nothing daunts his spirit. Good old Henckel!
Capt. Deloughrey just came in and reported that 63 Diphtheria patients have taken to the "sick huts", and 77 have gone into the convalescent wards. Although seven hundred Canadians are at present in camp, we have difficulty in finding six suitable men for a burial party. Today my men had to set their own pace when bearing their comrade to and from the church service. One can hardly be expected to believe our stories but the worst will never be told.
Jan. 28, Thursday. Capt Barnett and I held a service in our hospital huts last night and are conducting one in another hut tomorrow night. At the close of last night's service, one of the boys asked me to read for him the story of the boy who went away from home. I read Luke 15: The prodigal son. He asked for the story of the boys who was sold by his brothers, so tomorrow I will go and read it to him. I went today but founding him sleeping, and would not disturb him.
I had a long chat about the Christian life, last night with another soldier - Williamson - who fought well at Wan Nai Chong. He told me how he was beside his Bren Gun one night, and heard the enemy approaching, but could not detect them in the darkness. He had never prayed, and had not been in church for years, because he had been thrown out when a boy, but he said, Padre, I said "O God where are you?" and just then a flash of a shell revealed the enemy, and I turned my gun on them, and wiped them out. What do you think that was? An answer to my cry? My answer satisfied him. He said "I have you to thank for my resolution to go back to church, when I get home. He said "I watched you at Wan Nai Chong, amidst that hell, waiting on the wounded at night, and in the day carrying on as usual, without sleep, and without thought of yourself. You won me over by your unselfishness". I am grateful for such a tribute. He asked that I go back and talk to him and a comrade tonight. I have just come back after spending an hour with three of them. I think of how Paul and Silas prayed and sang in prison - so we do here. I told them tonight that I have banished worry out of the present and live one day at a time, with a prayer each day that I may be a blessing to someone else.
My neck gland has been giving me a bit of trouble during the past two days, and now I visit hospitals in the morning and rest in the afternoon. This seems to give me a bit of relief. Otherwise I feel fairly well.
Feb. 5, Friday. On Saturday last - Jan. 30 - every man in camp - apart from paid officers - received the sum of 16 yen and one can . Imagine the excitement and the pleasure. Immediately the canteen officers were busy receiving orders for food stuffs, and cigarettes. No great variety is brought in and therefore there is very little to choose from, but every fellow wants sugar - white and brown - the brown is brought in cakes - pineapples - tinned beans - and oatmeal.
On Sunday afternoon Capt. Barnett and I went around our hospital for communion service, and twenty men received the sacrament in their beds. We now conduct a service in each of the hospital huts, during the week, and use Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. The boys ask for these services since my first in our Agony Ward, about a month ago.
During the week Japanese sentries have been visiting some huts and if they see something which does not please them - they just slap a few of the boys. We have had two visits from them during the week - late at night - but so far we haven't been slapped.
Dame rumour is busy today, and says that German armies have surrendered to Russia, and that action is in evidence around Singapore. This is the Chinese New Year's day, and now firecrackers are going off like rifle and machine gun fire. During the whole of last night there has been a rat-tat-tat of the crackers. Two nights ago I had only been in bed a few minutes and was feeling quite comfortable when my bedding broke, and I went kerplunk on the floor. I had to improvise for the rest of the night, but got very poor rest.
The electrician of the R.E.'s just came in and fixed one of our lights, and switches. Now I am heating some water for a cup of tea. With a piece of electric wire and two vegetable, or fruit tins, one can make a genuine heater for water, and with another piece of electric wire, a plate of asbestos, and some chicken wire, we have a toaster. It is amazing to see the things men have constructed in this prison camp.
Feb. 11, Thursday. Weather has been threatening during the week, but no heavy rain has fallen yet. The days have been quite raw and cold with the nights much colder. It is not cheery in the morning to dress in a cold barren room, and longing in your heart for a nice mat or carpet to step on, but we jolly each other, and by the time of breakfast, feel that matters could always be worse. Since Sunday there has been a slight epidemic of Diarrhoea, amongst the troops. On Saturday we were fed Chrysanthemums as a vegetable. This was too much for some of us - we would prefer beet tops, spinach, or dandelion and we went under. Capt. Barnett was first in our hut, Deloughrey and I followed. Barnett and I rallied after a couple of days of unpleasantness. Deloughrey developed Dysentery, and is now in hospital. Six of our officers have been sent to hospital. Thank God none are on the D.I. list. They are all improving now.
Barnett and I are alone now and last night had a lousy experience. Yesterday morning I awoke with a very itchy feeling, but after a few rubs and scratches, felt that the coarse blanket was the cause. During the day I was not disturbed. Last night we decided to have a sponge bath and when I took off my shirt I called Barnett into action with me. On my shirt I found a company of the biggest lice I have yet seen. No wonder they were quiet during the day. They slept after the debauch of the previous night. However we won the fight but they won the shirt, as our batman says that the material out of which it is made harbors many eggs. They have been issued to us and many men in the lines found the eggs before they wore the garment. Today we had fun with the British padres about them and had the Naval padre almost convinced that he too was lousy and that his new shirts may be full of eggs. He brought out the new garment and searched it for the pest. I may have to go without a shirt as I will destroy the one worn yesterday. We keep our room as clean possible but bugs and lice are our daily visitors.
Most of our men who were in isolation are well enough to return to the regular lines, and one hundred and nine Canadians went to their old huts today.
Feb. 13, Saturday. During the past week many of us have been ill with slight Diarrhoea, or Dysentery. Some have gone to hospital. Yesterday thirty of our men were sent to Bowen Rd hospital. Capt. Deloughrey was also sent, suffering from Dysentery. Apparently he did not respond to the treatment here, and was very ill when taken away. We are anxious to hear how they have all fared there, as most of the boys were pretty sick.
This evening the news went around the camp like wildfire that Red Cross parcels were to be distributed. The report was true but the time was incorrect. Tomorrow will be the big day. It will be a pleasant Valentine for us all.
Sunday, Feb. 14. Good news is in the camp today and our hopes for the cessation of hostilities are raised. Attended communion at 9:30 this morning. About sixty men attended. I thought of the fellowship of Christ's sufferings as I watched the men partake of the Bread and Wine, in His name. During the afternoon Capt. Barnett and I gave thirty communions in the General hospital, and tonight visit the Diphtheria ward, for others. While visiting the Dysentery ward today I had an interesting chat with an old Wesleyan (England) about hymns and hymn tunes.
Feb. 19, Saturday. My bowels have been all upset during the past ten days. I have been hoping for improvement, but last night I became ill, and this morning Dr. Grey was called in, and I am ordered to hospital. While I packed a towel, soap, etc., as well as my pyjamas and shirts, I said to Barnett "I can imagine how my wife and children would fuss over making me ready for hospital if I were going from my own home".
Sunday, Feb. 21. The doctor has pronounced me as a Dysentery patient, and here I am in hospital for at least eight or ten days. I am to get powders (4) at 8, 9, 10 and 11 o'clock tonight, and am put on No.3 diet which is liquid - soup.
Feb. 23, Tuesday. I am beginning for feel better today, although the cramps were a bit severe this morning. Major Baird, Mr. O'Neil, the R of C officer, Lt. Ross, and Lt Brakey of the R.R. of C. are in my ward, suffering from Diarrhoea. They are all recovering. Our wards - infectious - are full today, but the epidemic is lessening. Beside me is a young R.R.C. man who was with that unit in Newfoundland. He has been talking of the wonderful time given him by some folk in Bay Roberts, and of his visit to Harbor Grace, Bay Roberts, and Old Perlican. One fellow across the ward is hunting for lice, and he just told me that he found one as big as a horse. It must have come off some other patient as he is very emaciated.
Amongst visitors to enquire how I am progressing is the Hon. Mr. Samuel whose father is Viscount Samuel, and Home Secretary in the Baldwin regime. Mr. Samuel was a member of the Hong Kong Volunteer force, and is himself a prisoner of war. He is quite interested in this hospital and daily comes for a visit.
The clerk in our senior M.O.'s office - Eric Bright - was just in to see me, and he reports that out of our 2000 men in camp, there are not more than 200 category A men, while there are 1024 category C men in the lines and in the hospital. It has been learned that there is a ton of Canadian mail in Hong Kong. Of course we hope that it comes to the camp soon, but as with the Red Cross parcels, we cannot be certain of their distribution, until we receive them. How pleased we will be to receive mail from home. Major Baird left hospital today. An extra half pound of sugar has been issued to each man in camp. We received ours this morning. Cpl Milan and I have been teasing S. M. Williams and Mr. Burgess about going on special food from Jimmy's kitchen.
March 9, Shrove Tuesday. Returned from hospital today. My Dysentery cleared up a few days ago, but my neck gland gave a great deal of trouble, and I have been receiving treatment for it. I am glad that it is quite O.K. now. I feel a bit wobbly on my feet today, but after a few days will be going on my regular rounds. I weigh 146 pounds. This means a loss of nine pounds during hospitalisation. The compradore came in today and brought a full order of eggs. I have six and will enjoy them. Health around the camp is as usual. With rainy weather likely to set in - since this is the time to expect it - we will have to take great care of our health to save ourselves from recurrence of the D's or Pneumonia. News has been brought to camp that there is a ton of Canadian mail in the camp. Our hopes are for getting it during the next month, but of course that will depend on the generosity and large heartedness of the Japanese authorities.
Today at home pancakes will be served at one of the meals. What fun we used to have with the children when search was made for the money, etc. I do pray that they "carry on" as usual.
March 20, Saturday. While the health of our camp has slightly improved we still have a large number under hospital care. Pte Stodgell died during the night and I bury him today. We were anxious for a while about the draft of men taken from here some time ago for parts unknown, but during the week, the Japanese commandant, who went in charge of the party, returned to this camp and said that they had arrived safely and were being well cared for.
Today at noon we were excited to know that the first letters from the ton, supposed to be in Hong Kong for Canadians, were in camp. No one knows how grateful I was when I saw the handwriting of the best of wives, on the two letters handed to me. One was dated April 21, 1942 and the other May 21, 1942. While they are eleven months old they seem to be speaking to me from yesterday. For a long time I was very worried over the strain caused by lack of information, in Canada, about us and know that the four months must have been like a nightmare to many of our loved ones. Oh! the joy which came to me to see that familiar writing and the thrill to find snapshots enclosed. I have read and re-read my letters, and looked at the snapshots very often. I did have a feeling that Mom would carry on just as she knew I would desire. I do know that the children and Stan were a source of strength to her. I also knew that the folk of Dunbar would not be lax in giving her all kinds of encouragement, and that Bee and Susie would not fail to keep in touch with her.
Barnett had two letters as well, and snaps of his wee girlie, so if our families could have heard us last evening and night they would have wondered if we were still sane. For me not to have heard from my lovely wife and children for eighteen months was a real test. Only 360 letters came in yesterday but report has it that others will be in during the next day. Our own happiness was shadowed by the fact that Capt. Hanfill had news about the passing of his wife just a few months after their baby was born.
Sunday, March 21. Padre Strong and I shared in our morning service. I preached on "The sufficiency of God". I take the evening service. My family was much in my thoughts during the morning worship.
March 26, Saturday. I have had a recurrence of Diarrhoea for the past three days and have felt pretty miserable, but am much better today. I was glad to receive another parcel from Miss Doreen Xavier, Ave Mansions, Hong Kong today, consisting of 1 jar honey, 1 tin milk, 1 tin peas, 1 tin beans, 1 tin campie. Tonight I had three of my boys - Durrant brothers - come to see me about joining the church. I hope to have them join on the night of Easter Sunday. Two others boys, Macpherson and Colvin, now in hospital, will also join.
This afternoon Mr. Holloway of the D.D.C. came in with a number of snapshots of his family - wife and two daughters and son - now in Australia.
Barnett has had to put his arm in his sleeve because of a torn ligament, or strained muscle, after a fall, a week or so ago. Of course since I have had Diarrhoea pains we tease each other in hospital and the boys get a kick out of it. They ask why the bandage, and he accuses me of throwing shoes at him, but tells them of how I was in bed for a day, and so we keep cheerful and try to radiate a bit of cheerfulness into this camp life, which becomes very monotonous at times.
Wednesday, March 31. More mail came into camp last evening, so today we - padres - will check and compare notes. Some of the Imperial troops received word from their families in England, and Australia. It makes a great deal of different to all of us on receipt of letters though they are a year old. Not that we need them to keep memories fresh, but just to see the handwriting gives us a thrill of pleasure and especially when we learn that at long last they know where and how we are, and we know that they stood their sterner testing so well.
Our services are being well attended. Davies was the preacher on Sunday last and spoke of Naaman the leper, and of his dealings with the prophet, and vice versa. Three points were named in connection with men's attitude towards religion - Bravado - Tolerance - Patronage. Barnett preaches on Sunday next. Each Wednesday evening during Lent we are having a layman lead a discussion group on subject of interest. On the first evening Mr. Starbuck - a member of the meteorological staff here in Hong Kong - spoke on "God in the Universe". His key was "Behind our universe there is direction". On Wednesday last Mr. Gaunt - a mission teacher and mathematician - spoke on "God in the mission field". This subject provided a great deal of interesting discussion. This week the subject is "God in Education" and will be led by Mr. Noble - Headmaster of some school here.
My bowels are still playing havoc with me but the doctor gave me treatments and I should feel better soon. Lt Black is now in the Dysentery hospital and our O.C. may have to go today. Oh, for some food from the land of the Maple.