Padre Laite's Diary

1943 - Oct to Dec

Sunday, Oct. 3. Services as usual today. Strong preached at 1200hrs. At close of evening service - Strong exchanged with me because of Sacrament on Sunday next - a male choir of fifteen or more voices sang some select pieces. It was well done and much appreciated. On Thursday night Dr. Bard and his orchestra, gave a musical concert. All enjoyed it. I am glad that it is to be repeated on Monday next. Rumours galore have been floating around the camp lately. We call them hospital rumours, kitchen rumours, party rumours, and latrine rumours.

Sunday, Oct. 10, 1943. Today Dr. Budden of the D.D.C. was buried - aged 63 years. One year ago today we buried his son. His wife and daughter are still at Stanley. One of the finest tributes I have heard paid to any man was paid today, by one of his fellows of the D.D.C. He said "He was the whitest man I ever met".

Capt Davies conducted noonday service, and spoke well on Saul and the witch of Endor "Bring me up Samuel" - Lost Opportunities.

Sunday, Oct. 17. Capt Barnett went into hospital today, suffering from Fistula, but has much improved and will be discharged in a day or two. More mail came into camp last evening, and although it is 17 or 18 months old it is greatly appreciated. The hour of morning worship has been changed from 1200 to 1100hrs. I conducted this mornings service and spoke on Matt: 16: 24 "Conditions of entrance into Kingdom of God".

This is a special day in Japan - His Majesty visits shrines of dead soldiers. Our local guard has been busy on our square, all day, with sports etc., and judging  from the singing etc., they certainly enjoyed the holiday.

Sunday, Oct. 24. During the week my neck gave me some trouble and after our T.A.B. inocculation it became very aggravated so the doctor has put me on powders and hot compresses for a week. I am still able to carry on my duties, and feel O.K. so I hardly expect a recurrence equal to that of a year ago. Conducted 9.30 Communion service this morning. Capt Barnett preached on "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ", at 1100hrs. Padre Strong conducted the evening vesper. I have been thanked directly and indirectly for last Sunday's service, which heartens one greatly under such circumstances as ours.

Monday, Oct. 25. Today - two years ago - I was saying au revoir to my lovely wife and family at Vancouver. How they crowd my thoughts and prayers today, and how I long to see them. Well, we have two years in and can stick it for the duration. Our photograph hangs in our room and I get great pleasure in looking at my splendid boy, charming daughter, and lovely wife.

Friday, Oct. 29. Mother's birthday. Memories of her have been with me throughout this day and although she has passed out of my earthly life, I am satisfied that she lives more gloriously than ever, and memories of her dwell in my heart as an inspiration and help.

Sunday, Oct. 31. Barnett and Davies conducted early communion services. Padre Strong led the noon day service and spoke on "Saints Day" (Nov. 1), reading Hebrews 11, the Westminster Abbey of the New Testament. The marks of a saint, he said, are humility, prayer, and sacrifice through service. At 7.30 pm I led the vesper service, read Psalm 91 and told story of how it has become of greater value to me. - Manitoba experience of 1923. I administered the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper at its close, when 26 men shared. After service Mr. Holloway, Mr. Piercey, Mr. Hume, Mr. Geegan, and Sgt Lyle, came in for a chat and a cup of tea.

Monday, Nov. 1 - All Saints Day - A naval officer stopped me on the square this morning and spoke of how much he enjoyed my evening's story, and of how many others had been speaking of it as well. This spells encouragement for the padres, and we really need it as well as others.

Sunday, Nov. 7. During the week another of our Grenadiers died. Pte Badger of the DeSoto Indian tribe. He was a very fine type of fellow and had no enemies amongst his fellow soldiers. Mail came into camp and we find that it is much later - some January 1943 - than any mail received earlier. How our folk must have suffered during the months of silence. One fellow read me part of his mother's letter, and she asked "Were you ill, or hurt during the three or four weeks of October 1942? I felt that you were". It was during those weeks that he was very, very ill with Diphtheria, Feet, etc., and was expected to die.

Services as usual today. I had communion this morning. Davies led the noon day service.

Sunday, Nov. 14. I conducted communion service at 9.30. Barnett preached at noon. Men have returned from Bowen Rd hospital, feeling greatly improved. The death of Cpl Atkinson there recently is deeply regretted by all of us who knew him so well.

Tuesday, Nov. 16. Two years ago we landed here. It has been a very lengthy term especially since we have received very little news from home folk or they from us. Last night at 11.30 we had our first night air raid. We had just gone to bed. All lights were out. When hearing the planes droning overhead and then the bombs falling, we just kept hoping and praying their their bomb sights were correct, and that they knew their targets, for while we are no more than others we do think that our airmen would not want to do us unnecessary injury, but we felt very helpless at that hour of night. They have been over again during the day. Blackouts will be the order for a while as from tonight.

Sunday, Nov. 21. Sunday services as usual. I led the 1100hrs service and spoke on "The Standard of Jesus" John 15: 12. This is the third in my series on the Kingdom of God.

Sunday, Nov. 28. On Friday the men of our camp received 10 yen each from the Japanese authorities. Today Barnett and Davies conducted Communion services in the morning. Strong preached at 1100hrs on "There standeth one among you whom ye knew not". At 7.30 I conducted vespers and gave a short talk on Psalm 121. The first in a series of talks during the Advent season. At the close shared in a Communion service - 26 remained.

Sunday, Dec. 12. Services as usual during the past two weeks. On Sunday the 5th Davies conducted the 1100hrs service. Today I led in the Communion service at 9.30, and Barnett preached at 1100hrs. There was no evening service because of blackout. On Saturday - yesterday - I held a Communion service - assisted by Padre Strong - for any men who would like to have Communion before leaving on draft. Eighty men participated.

Sunday, Dec. 19. Services as usual today. My service was at 1100hrs when I spoke on "When ye have found Him". Tomorrow being Florence's birthday we decided to have a special lunch. One of the D.D.C. men Sgt Holloway had birthdays in his family on the 19th and 21st, so he came with us. We had Bully Beef, Tomatoes, Beans, Rice and Pineapple. We did enjoy it, and talked family while we ate. Our draft of over 500 left on the 15th. Before leaving, Barnett and I arranged for a fellow, Humphreys (R.N.), to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary with us. Sgt Ian Lyle of 11 Alderbank Place, Edinburgh, came with him, and we enjoyed our meal together. On another day we had two boys, Gordon Durrant, and Savage, of the W.G.'s with us for tiffin. We were pretty busy while the boys were getting ready for draft, as cards were to be sent, etc., and naturally the boys came to us for help in these matters.

Sunday, Dec. 26. During the week a hut was handed over to us for use as a chapel in place of our former one which is, with other huts put out of bounds in the reorganisation of the camp. We have a fine place, but it needed lots of attention, so during the week, Padres Davies, Barnett and I worked with other men in whitewashing the walls, making proper blackout curtains for windows, building an altar, and cleaning up generally. Padre Strong's strong point is decoration so he looked after the arrangements for the altar, etc. and did a splendid job. All was in readiness for a midnight service on Christmas Eve when we had about 200 men present, and 100 partook of Communion.

On Christmas morning at 7 o'clock, Padre Davies had another Holy Communion service, and at 9.30 Barnett conducted a choral Communion, and at night I led in a Choral service. with George Longyear as organist (piano) and leader of an augmented choir. This morning Padre Davies had Communion at 9.30. Padre Strong led the 1100hrs service and spoke from "There was a man sent from God whose name was". At 7.30pm I led service and spoke of "The Festival of the children" - Matt: 18 - and held a Communion service at its close. Two hundred men attended and shared in our communion service with us, and so we feel that even here the church is still playing a worthwhile part.

During these days my thoughts are naturally of home, and I like to sit alone at times and fancy the home I left, with Mom and the family, and I pray that they are still keeping well and content. Since Florence was a Christmas present to us I have looked back over the years and thought of how that bright-eyed baby has developed into a very attractive young woman, with excellent qualities. Now she is seventeen and is becoming more and more attractive as time passes. I feel sure that with her handsome brother, she will do all in her power to keep the best of mothers from any unnecessary worry or care. I look forward to a reunion that will help us to forget ours years of separation, because of the larger joy which will be ours then. Blessings on thee, Florence.

There's another Florence whom I always think of and especially on December 27th. What a wonderful sister! May her days be filled with the beauty, joy, and happiness equal to these blessings which she has brought into other lives.