Saturday, 26 September 2015

The “Admiral C.F.Hughes” eventually went to Canada. They arrived in Victoria B.C. on 9th October and crossed Canada on the train. Throughout their time in Canada they were marvellously well looked after. On 24th October they left Halifax for a boring crossing of the Atlantic (“nobody is enjoying it one little bit – or is it that we are all suffering from suppressed excitement”), but the final day, coming up the Channel, was different:

30.10.45. The Bishop hove in sight immediately after breakfast & the sun began to get through. Lovely view of the Scillies & I was able to pick most of them out. Could just see Lands End. The plane from Scilly flew round us. Saw the Wolf very clearly & passed close to the Lizard at 11.15. How lovely it all looks, & how lucky we are to have this pleasant, sunny, calm day to come up the Channel & at last see our own country. Grand. Too excited to take tiffin. Abreast Eddystone at 12.45 & could see the white line of Plymouth itself. Later could distinguish Rame Head & the Mewstone. And so on up Channel past Start Point & later Portland Bill. Entered the Solent from the East after picking up pilot at E end of Isle of Wight & anchored about 8pm. And so to bed.

They docked in Southampton the following day, 31st October 1945, where he was reunited with Carrie. The following day they returned to Plymouth and he met his daughter Jenifer again – just in time to celebrate her 8th birthday a few days later.


This is the finish of our “end of the war” blog. The diary from which it has been taken is extensive and covers the period from February 1942 to his homecoming. We welcome any enquiries and will be happy to provide relevant extracts where appropriate. We hope to publish the whole diary in due course.


Earlier on we mentioned Tony Banham’s website and we recommend it again as an invaluable source of information and news for anyone who is interested in what happened in Hong Kong during the war.


Jenifer (née Sprague) & Philip Burton.

Friday, 25 September 2015

26.9.45. Slept well on deck. Good breakfast of Krispies, sausage meat & fruit. Tiffin of ham & sausage meat sandwich. Drew £2 pay this afternoon. Shall need money to buy in the States things to take home. Soap, scent, food & chocolates I reckon. Lord knows how we shall carry everything eventually. Bully & cabbage hash for dinner – & a free packet of cigs. Rain in afternoon.


Thursday, 24 September 2015

25.9.45. Felt like nothing on earth after a bit of a nap on one blanket on the steel upper deck. But I should have fainted down below. It will be a great treat to go out of the tropics. Breakfast was fine – grapefruit, omelette, bread, cereal & milk & coffee & jam. Wonderful how they push it out. Journeying between islands till mid afternoon. Some rain. More or less smooth sea. Nowhere to sit down is the trouble. Captain said over the loud speaker that he is making a trip direct to San Francisco, & expects to arrive there on the morning of October 9th. Good shooting. Looks I shall be home in good time for Jenifer's Birthday – but we may get snags yet. Tiffin was a snack of sausage sandwich & fruit. Dinner of sausage & mixed tinned stuff. Bit of everything I must say. Have talked with many Americans but not one has been of the “newspaper” variety. All quiet, decent, & without brag, what a mixture they are though. Gambling schools on deck. Got a spot to lay out my bed on deck & had to listen to the sound part of a film I couldn’t see. What tripe. Everywhere there is the blare of this accursed canned music.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

24.9.45. Finished packing. Hell of a job.  Also got a good breakfast, after which things got moving. All the luck in the world – it was a fine day. Adequate arrangements had been made to shift a big crowd of us. Working alphabetically things seemed muddled & cumbersome at first, but actually all went fine. Lorries 15 men each moved out in convoys of 10. I liked the Philippine landscape en route – green with hills in the distance. Manila sure looks as though it had been fought through. Embarked on “Admiral C.F. Hughes”, Compt 63. As you stepped on the gangway you received from a lady a packet of Wrigley's gum & a packet of Lucky Strike cigs from American Red Cross. Very fine. Quarters were clean & I got a top bed – but little choice. Look round ship which is a sizable boat, lots of welding, & obviously designed for the job of trooping & at the same time easily cleared & rebuilt for passenger work after the war. There are plenty of GIs returning home plus us – about 4000 on board. Moved off about 5pm & soon gathered way. Organisation for feeding is rather marvellous. Each compartment called in turn & one “combined dish” you slide along the counter & the chow whacked into the depressions. Damn fine meal which you eat in a separate mess hall standing at tables. The whole thing is hustle but a good show. The ship washes dishes. Drinking water fountains in all compartments & heads etc right aft. So washing, living & eating are all quite separate – & very right too. You can't do that in a liner converted to troop carrying. I tried hard to get to sleep in my bunk but had to give up the attempt for the heat which is made worse by proximity to hot steam pipes. Very pleasant sail out of Manila Bay & surprised we then turned south to pass into the Pacific via southern end of the island. So that is the end of a short stay during which we have received much kindness & had lots very willingly done for us.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

23.9.45.Sunday. One draft left at 3pm. Hobbs lucky & on it. Very heavy rain midday. Wrote letters to Elsie, boy Arthur & Marion. Expecting draft as two go tomorrow via San Francisco. On Draft for tomorrow & drew winter trousers & zip blouse. Draft supposed to go today waited all day to embus but returned to huts late at night. Confusion. Saw stars.

Monday, 21 September 2015

22.9.45. Rain morning. Two men in this tent on draft today. Lucky. They have cut down the grub issues a bit & the camp is getting full. The Red Cross hut, or canteen, is quite impossible with the big queues for free tobacco, soft drinks & hot tea, cakes etc. Just crowded out & noisy with the loud speaker “music” superimposed. It is an all day job to get three beers – & I cease to bother. Later in the day we gathered that 4000 UK bound people will move off in the next three days in Aircraft Carriers to San Francisco. Well we ought to be in that crowd alright. I only want half an hour's notice. Wrote poor letter to Carrie.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

21.9.45. Miraculous sunshine in morning, but heavy rain all evening. Terrible climate this. Good feeding, but camp getting very full. It is an all day job to queue up for meals baccy & beer. When not in a queue you feel at a loose end. Impatient to go. Wrote to Carrie. Seen nearly all former Argyle St batmen. No mosquitoes or flies in this camp – remarkable.


Saturday, 19 September 2015

20.9.45. Dry morning. Big arrivals from Japan overnight including various HKVDC & also the Argyle St batmen. Birkenshaw, Pickles, & one other are dead. A matter of will to live when it came to the last I gather. Roads dried up a bit thank goodness. Wrote letters to Evans & Parkyn.


Friday, 18 September 2015

19.9.45. Same good feeding & comforts. Letter from Alf – rather a good effort that they delivered a letter addressed Camp N Hong Kong. Whoops! Nice part of letter from young Elsie & I gather Ronald is OK. Thank God. Later got letters from Mother & Charles, & looks I am to get a great welcome. Seems rather undeserved to me. Haven't done anything. So glad Ronald safe – good luck to him. Rain & deep mud all day. Dentists snowed under so no dentures for me.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

18.9.45. Horrible weather & mud. Eggs & butter breakfast, meat veg & all the rest for tiffin & tea. Drew pay book at last. My vaccination has “taken” & is sore. Should be glad to get on draft now. Wrote letter to Carrie – properly marked on envelope etc. Hope the others got home as well. Chaps in from Korea – some got quite good time up there. I still think POWs in Formosa had worst time. In Japan, for many, there were good opportunities for stealing grub at the godowns.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

17.9.45. Two eggs bacon & porridge & fruit for breakfast. Am obviously putting on flesh all over – surprised myself in the showers to see it all. Roast beef & veg for tiffin. All the time you can get cold drinks or tea with cakes & biscuits in the Canteen. During the medical exam recently we took TAB & cholera injections as well as vaccination. Have only the pay book & a little pay to draw to be ready for the road. Would like to get a cable from Carrie. Returned Rolls razor to Sgt Walker on Hammy’s behalf.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

16.9.45.Sunday. Early breakfast & packed kit bag. Wandered round & did this & that. Four fried eggs for breakfast. Packing & poking about camp, meeting up with various old acquaintances etc. Rumoured that a big draft is to go on the “Empress of Australia”, & we hope to miss that anyway. Still no pay books or pay but I got my full ration of three canned beers for the first time. Played a game of chess & lost. Reading various magazines & articles – evidently Europe is full of problems. Shall try to take home everything I can that is short in England. Nights cool here, but rain threatens all the time.

Monday, 14 September 2015

15.9.45. Fine-ish day & the mud caked harder. Four excellently fried eggs for breakfast, fried potato & porridge, bread & butter. Pork chops, veg, fruit coffee etc for tiffin & tinned stuff for supper. Had our interrogation as to place of capture, places & condition of imprisonment, & a description of any atrocities or cruelties we had actually witnessed. I hadn’t much to tell, but named Col Tokunaga, Nomura & Dr Saito. There are Australian & British women, flown out at high speed, helping in the canteen & doing a splendid job of work.  Saw Coates & Ellison, also Gregory & Tate of the Armoured Cars; Chopper Earnshaw who went with the GOC from Argyle St. They did not have the easy time in Formosa that we had all imagined. Evidently over there everybody from Generals down had to work. British staff said to have arrived to do the work here. More red tape is prophesied. Draft away today bound for San Francisco by American cruisers. Would like to be on my way too, well as they treat us here. Wonder what to take home for Jenifer – canteen girl recommends a doll, such being scarce at home – or a handbag. This camp sent clothing & stuff to the Empress today, so presumably the Stanley crowd are going on in her. Read that HK dollar is fixed at 1:3. Sat in the canteen awhile in the evening with Jumbo & Hobbs & Earnshaw & Chalky White.  I am not fond of noisy crowds though.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

14.9.45. (Early morning) Arrived at the camp about 2.30am. Marshalled & told by an Australian Officer that it was the aim to get people into this camp, processed & away in not more than six days. Tipped us off a few things, registered us, drew bedding, had a meal & into our tent by about 4am. Camp beds. It was all night service, God bless them. Up quite early to a good breakfast of real flapjacks & syrup, in a U.S. army mess tin. Nice hot water washing up arrangements in big drums over oil fires. This is an enormous camp, rough but tons of everything here. Met various chaps back from Japan – Hopkins, Needham & co. They had been flown out to Okinawa & then to here. All look reasonably fit now. I think after talking with many that the prisoners in Formosa had the poorest time. Some of them are still phenomenally thin. Poor devils. Challis & Dyson of the Middx are here, & it is thought Dick Overy died a fortnight before the Armistice. Heard George Angus died of malnutrition –  sorry for Hilda. They got lashings of supplies dropped in the Japan camps. Drew whacks of kit this morning lots of which will be useful in England. Cigarettes & cigars are issued daily. Surely we are in a land of plenty. Pork chops & veg & fruit, bread & butter for tiffin, & tinned beef & veg for supper. I find I can eat plenty without any sign of tummy or other trouble. Some are developing boils by the richness of the food. Organised medical examination this afternoon & I am quite OK thank goodness. Marked urgent for a new set of dentures. Examination was quite thorough. Fit to travel is the verdict. Wrote a note to Carrie for air mail. There are Australian nurses and women canteen workers here. They all work hard for us, & it is quite touching. Jap prisoners here working about the camp – well fed & well clothed & with real good tools for the jobs on which they are employed. So different to our case. Early to bed. Heavy rain at mid-day.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

13.9.45. Hot fine day. Passed Corregidor in early daylight – there is no obvious sign of hostilities there – no chunks knocked off. Manila Bay simply full of merchant shipping, mostly cargo types. What a spectacle – about 150 I should say. All flying Yank flag apparently. We are anxious to know what happens to us next. Lots of sunken shipping in the harbour too. Excellent food. Lots of chatter & grumbling & rumours all day, particularly a story that no-one in Manila had been forewarned of our arrival. Things moved in the early evening however when we were told the ship was going alongside & that all service personnel including HKVDC would be disembarked this evening. A big rain storm came up to help matters. Disembarkation turned out to be a very slow business, Canadians first, then Navy & then Army with Volunteers last. An American military band on the pier tried to liven things up a bit – a stout effort. Life on the ship was naturally wholly disorganised, & nobody could get to sleep on the decks. I talked with John. Civilians it is rumoured will go ashore tomorrow. Asked him to call on Carrie if he arrived home first. No word of our demobilisation, so I go on as a POW. It was well after midnight when we went ashore. Hospital patients had previously left in many ambulances. After half an hour’s wait in an army truck a convoy of us set off to some clearing camp 17 miles out. I did not enjoy the drive, driving on right hand side of greasy poor roads. Great deal of damage in Manila. Enormous American dumps en route. Sure enough they are organised in a big way.

Friday, 11 September 2015

12.9.45. Dull rainy day. Excellent food all the time. Yesterday we drew £2 each & I find myself with a very mean attitude towards spending it. It is a “dry ship”, so I later stood John a bottle of lemonade & bought some ’baccy. Civilians moved up from E14 to C deck. Lucky beggars. Talking with many today – tired of hearing about camp life. Hate painted women with artificial expressions more than ever. All kinds of rumours as to where the ship is going & conditions under which we shall travel. Gives the gossipers plenty of scope. Wrote to Carrie & posted in Air Mail bag. Something will have to be done about the condition of the troop decks. They were filthy when we came on board & are getting worse. There is dirty water from the showers & the utensil wash-ups all over the place. Nothing on board apropos the demobilisation of we Volunteers.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

11.9.45. Fine day & we steamed away from H.Kong at breakfast time. Convoy of one cruiser, two transports & an Aircraft Carrier passed us going in. Looked good. Trying to get organised a bit. Very mixed company on board. Crude but good living. Breakfast of porridge, egg, scones, butter cheese in plenty. Tiffin of barley broth, meat stew & veg, stewed fruit & more scones cheese & lashings of butter. Good. But do we sweat down there with the ports closed. Issue of 20 Players, & soap & a bar of lovely frozen Rowntree’s Chocolate after tiffin. We are going to Manila – not at great speed. Saw Mrs Sandbach. She frankly said Ernest is staying behind a while to look out for Methodist property. He, she says, is the only one worrying as all the others, though they have each been on leave since Ernest came out, are just getting out on this boat. Lots of grousing about the accommodation, more particularly by the Civilians at E deck aft. Nobody worries about the poor old soldiers of course. They are born to take it, and sure do. Big chunk of a chicken for supper. I am sure I am putting on pounds in weight in spite of the cold, & the tummy seems to handle efficiently all I can cram into it. Good.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

10.9.45. Up early & finished “packing”. Am ignoring the official advice not to take anything as “all will be supplied”. Helped myself therefore to three blankets & also took my camp bed. Good breakfast, saw Joney & at 9am sharp went by lorry to Stanley. Found out John is going in this ship. Saw the Gellings & they hope to be en route soon. All wish to be remembered to Carrie. We went on board HMAS “Broome”, a minesweeper. Excellent tiffin including my first roast potatoes. Bread butter & apples I enjoyed too. Stanley Bay looked fine with about five of these vessels riding at anchor. The crews worked hard for us, humping the Stanley baggage etc. We steamed round to the Empress of Australia in Junk Bay at tea-time & went on board. I was prepared for a rough voyage, & sure it is going so to be. “Berthed” in E12, troop deck. Really quite grim. Hammocks but precious little deck space to sleep out on. Good supper roughly served. Troops from S’suipo including Canadians are on board. Sweltering heat down below, but I stuck it out on the camp bed, which I am glad I brought. Very heavy catarrh & cold.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

9.9.45.Sunday. Fine day. Bacon fried bread & tomato for breakfast, sliced meat soup & veg for tiffin. Warned now to be packed & ready to proceed to Stanley tomorrow & join the ship with the internees there. Shall travel light. Fresh meat for evening meal. To Gloucester & saw Swan evening, & said thanks & cheerio to Mr & Mrs Lambert.

Monday, 7 September 2015

8.9.45. Beautiful fine day. Porridge & sausage meat breakfast, fish & stew tiffin with chicken soup, & an excellent evening meal of similar kind. Busy in store. Wattie Gardner delivered a letter for me to Dairy Farm making enquiries about my box there & I hear my name is on list for a package with China Provident. It is pretty useless visiting the godowns because of the chaos. In the evening got news that permanent Civil Servants not required on essential services will go on the Empress tomorrow & can opt to be demobilised immediately & travel as civilians. Did so – with Dick. A good rescript day, & there is I imagine quite a chance of being home for Jenifer's birthday. Hurrah! My gums are very sore these days, because of the unusual fact of having to chew one’s food after so much slop. My face is already much fuller in appearance. Feeling fine.


Sunday, 6 September 2015

7.9.45. Showery day but fining in evening. Hard day’s work on the stores, but I strolled down to the Gloucester & saw Swan in the evening. Good food today of porridge bacon & spinach for breakfast, boiled ham & various veg for tiffin, fresh roast pork & veg for tea. Excellent & the tummy standing up very well. Coffee & cheese & white bread were other delights & went to bed with coffee & pork sandwiches. I have an idea that the HKVDC will go on the Empress of Australia shortly. It is of course all very difficult on account of Chinese & Eurasians and their dependants, & of the varied requirements of service husbands & Stanley wives. I shall be doing the job of RQMS as from tomorrow as Bill Hewitt is called out by the Controller of Fuel. Wrote again to Carrie, but no inward mail yet.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

6.9.45. Showery day & very hot & humid. Went down to the office & met Jolly20. More & more rumours as to what is going to happen to us, & it is difficult to estimate the position for and against trying to choose between travelling as a civilian or as a Private in the HKVDC. I think Jolly would call me out alright, but on the other hand things can happen overnight as it were & even now we may find ourselves on the Empress of Australia which may sail on Saturday. We fed quite well. I ate six rashers of boiled smoked bacon together with a little tomato & sweet corn & a cup of oatmeal porridge for breakfast. No ill effects. Tinned veg & meat stews for tiffin & tea. We also had cocoa three times today & a bread ration with jam. It is good feeding, but we would like more milk & some fruit. Still no inward mail which is damn disappointing. Today the town was very lively with cracker firing – Chinese “Victory Day”. They can apparently afford any amount. I want to go home.

            20.Later Director of Marine


Friday, 4 September 2015

5.9.45. Showery hot day. A little real oatmeal porridge & bacon for breakfast – a civilised meal though rudely cooked. Pork sausage meat & peas for tiffin, & canned fish for tea. Good bread ration too. Worked on the supplies all morning, but cleaned up & went to Harbour Office in afternoon. Filth everywhere. Went to look at the place where I was involved in the bombing that nearly got me. Of course that was about the only bit of war mess they have bothered to tidy up. From HQ to the Bank is in the same state precisely as it was when the war ended. Bomb & shell craters, rubbish & old junk. The town looks just crummy. Rumours we shall all go away as new people come in to take over all Government & other jobs. Visited Swan at the Gloucester in the evening – all is dark & dirty. Shall be glad to get away out of it & the sooner the better. I want to go home. Wrote a poor letter to Carrie.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

4.9.45. Hot day. Typhoon has we hear moved northwards into the Formosa Channel. It has delayed the arrival of the Empress of Australia with 3000 RAF personnel until today, so Kowloon is not yet officially taken over & the Japanese troops there not yet disarmed. Looting is still brisk. The Government Regulation calling in all IOUs issued in the POW camps and Internment places is a damn good thing. Half the HKVDC & the HKRNVR paraded at 8am & got to Queen’s pier by about 10.30. Those with places to go to then left, & I went with those who had not to HKVDC HQ. I had thought of going to the Harbour Office with my newly acquired camp bed. Later I was glad I went with the lads, as I had a sentimental interest in ending my war career where I began it. We got some grub from the Food Controller, but got little more than bully & biscuits all day, but plenty of tea. Thursby asked me to help in the store. That let me in for a hell of a lot of work today – though we have coolies. I got a bit fed up with fellow Privates who volunteered no help but did a lot of grumbling. Lots of American Red Cross blankets & overcoats came up too – lord knows why the Japanese didn’t issue this stuff ages ago. Ronnie Sleap was first post-war bridegroom at Stanley today & will probably get world-wide publicity for it.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

3.9.45. Fine day, but I think typhoon in the offing. Porridge breakfast, more meat stew tiffin. For tea we had our stock of chickens & ducks killed & fried, and our first real veg stew of dehydrated cabbage potato & carrots. Oh boy. Wrote letter to Mother. More fags & trifles from the ships. Volunteers to go to Hong Kong tomorrow. Hurrah! – but it is very short notice even with the little gear we have. Jones & Hammy called to Harbour Office to assist in collection of Government launches etc.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

2.9.45.Sunday. Very hot day. Not mentioning grub – one is strangely not very interested in the matter. Chinese cooking staff are doing us quite well though with plenty fresh meat & sweet potatoes. We need vegetables. All the while odd quantities of booze & all kinds of homeside cigarettes. We get forms to fill up every hour or two about where we want to go etc. It is balls because of course I am subject to orders of the HK Government. Nevertheless things will be OK. Wrote an air mail letter to Carrie today – isn’t it good to think it may be home in a week. One is too excited to write a coherent letter though. We have a Post Office in the camp now – & Gnr York of the Bristol PO is running it. His feet are still in very poor shape. All bad sickness cases in the hospital & about the camp were taken to the hospital ship Oxfordshire today & will go straight away.

Monday, 31 August 2015

1.9.45. Lovely fine day & I went to Stanley again. Lamberts once again most kind. Dick & I had tea & cakes with the Queen Mary sisters & later once more with the Matilda sisters. Saw Swan & heaps of others. How lovely the sea looked. A grand day, full of life & friendship. Breakdown on transport back – came to Naval Yard by lorry. How good to talk to the landed marines. Lambert called into town today. Good & we gave him our ideas “Get us out of the military clutches”. Ann Senior said Dr Montgomery was at the Matilda yesterday & said the Japs were systematically stripping the place – even doors etc. All HK Police in town & took over stations tonight – poor devils straight out of Stanley. Saw A.Glanville – is going to Australia now.


Sunday, 30 August 2015

31.8.45. Hot fine day. Planes on the go all the time & many of them. Good to think our men are overhead. I had an extremely loose bowel which kept me active all night & I feel very exhausted today & tried to rest a bit. No breakfast & no tiffin. Goodwin who escaped from here a little over a year ago is back with the forces & we have seen him. He will be looking after us I think. Many essential service people went out today including Cock & some of the telephone people. Some people visited ships in harbour & were well entertained. I got a Craven A Cigarette from the spoils they returned with. Various ships sent up odd amounts of tobacco & cigarettes. Rice to cookhouse is radically reduced. It is impossible to record details of various things. We live in a whirl of excitement. News by wireless, up to date magazines from the Fleet & newspapers are in. Freddie Franklin has got busy publishing the local rag – WE are in control again.


It was our original intention to run this blog for the month of August but, because of the interest shown, we think our followers may be interested in more than that so we will continue into September, until WS leaves Hong Kong and starts his journey home.


Anyone who is interested in what happened in Hong Kong during the War 1941-1945 should make a point of following Tony Banham’s Apart from being a veritable mine of information this website is friendly, easily accessible, interesting and interested.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

30.8.45. Some showers. Porridge breakfast, meat & veg stew for tiffin & a fresh meat hash for tea. Issues of a peg of brandy & two of sherry, cigarettes, the food included in the parachute supplies, butter & jam today which made a long & very busy day at the end of which I was quite exhausted. The fleet came in alright though we couldn’t see it. Admiral Harcourt visited the camp in the afternoon & there was a fine occasion when he made a little speech saying that it has been a big task of reorganisation to switch all the dispositions in the Pacific suddenly from a contemplated attack on Japan to the reoccupation of our possessions in the Far East. All the Canadians were invited on board the Prince Robert of the Canadian Navy & several people managed to contact various marines in town, & ships. We soon heard there had been a little resistance at the Naval Yard & at Butterfield & Swire’s office, with our men overcoming them with bayonets & hand grenades. So at last we are back here and I long to see the Anson – a symbol of our release & security. Got my first Gold Flake cigarette as a present from the Admiral – & I wouldn’t have chosen any other. Lots of whisky & booze generally found its way into camp tonight & I had two pegs – feeling quite dog tired. Skinner19 leaves camp tomorrow morning for the Bank – to live at Church Guest House. Various people are getting out similarly, for essential service work. Some other people are full of criticism that not enough of our forces are landed – though they don’t really know how many are. I am a little tired of hearing people who think the whole thing should be run only with regard to their particular private circumstances. In any case they ought to have confidence that our people know why they are here, & what to do if the situation changes. Gosh I was tired tonight – quite exhausted.

            19.Fellow HKVDC batman.

Friday, 28 August 2015

29.8.45. A wonderful red letter day in my life when I visited the Stanley Internment Camp. Up early & had porridge breakfast & a shave & then about 200 of us fell in & got on a good sized boat & made a very pleasant journey of over two hours via Green Island to Stanley. It rained a bit but it was pleasant. We got a royal welcome. These people at Stanley in spite of having had visitors for about ten days, just made you feel as though they hadn’t seen anybody but you in years. Lambert got hold of me & I had tiffin with them. They share a room with Mr & Mrs Wyllie of the Dairy Farm. Later I saw Swan, & he took me round to the bombed bungalow & to the cemetery. There were names on some headstones that I was surprised to see. And so round to see various ones, meeting others on the way. Many handshakes & short conversations. To Tweed Bay hospital where I saw Ann Rogers, Fisher, Miss Davies, Miss Riley, & several others. What cramped quarters they have had, & what spirit they have shown. Absolutely wonderful. How the others, too, have lived mixed up together six in a room is remarkable. Yet take Willie & Jane Lambert. They have sold all their valuables to buy food, and to see them now sharing their ration with you is quite astounding. It seems to me to have brought out the best in them, & I couldn’t have been made more welcome had I been their son. Saw John late in the afternoon. Poor old boy was I think a bit piqued that I hadn’t got to him sooner. But he has been through it, & as good as dead at one time. Early on he got sprue & for a couple of years was very unwell. I counselled him to get out of the Colony for recuperation as soon as could be. Had the great thrill just after tiffin of seeing parachute supplies dropped from a large twin engined plane. Oh the cheers & the excitement. Mostly medical comforts & then a little food. Saw Ernest & Marie Sandbach. He has been a tower of strength there. Had tea with Hey & Elsie Gelling. Hey looks reasonably well & Elsie quite so. People just simply couldn’t do enough for you & when the time came to leave again they thronged down to the pier to cheer us away. There are naturally I suppose, some scandals at Stanley, but generally people must have got a very good grip of themselves to have been able to carry on at all in conditions which so much lacked comfort & privacy. Forgot to say that the day cracked off at dawn with the sound of many planes & a little later fighters were swooping down & skimming our hut roofs in grand style. Likewise in the course of our voyage to Stanley they gave us a great show – in fact there seemed to be planes everywhere. In the early evening those at Stanley with binoculars & telescopes had distinguished naval vessels including Aircraft Carriers together with transports over under the Lema Islands. I arrived back in camp very well pleased with my day. Parachute supplies had been dropped here much as at Stanley, & we heard that Admiral Harcourt intended to come ashore in Hong Kong tomorrow at noon. Life is very topsy turvy in regard to the hours we keep, & we are living on our nerves a great deal. There will be a reaction when we get settled somewhere.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

28.8.45. Humid day. Porridge sugar & oil breakfast, grand meat stew for tiffin, & fried steak for tea. I got an extra one for supper too with fried sweet potatoes. Various things came in today. Issues of 2oz butter, a fandacio, a towel of the same material, a pencil & two boxes of matches – welcome little strangers. Additionally we got a fluid ounce of both brandy & gin each from the Japs as a present. Little but good. Still more fresh meat came in. We are feeding quite well & I am already putting on weight quite noticeably. My stomach has taken everything without rebellion so far. Two heavy planes came over at mid-day & we stood by for parachute supplies – but nothing doing. At tea time two fighters gave us a thrill by coming very low over the camp. We cheered & signalled. The Colonial Secretary (Acting Governor) broadcast over the local radio this evening; congratulated the King & the forces; said he was taking over in collaboration with the Japanese, & said he was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the relieving forces as there were local problems particularly currency. Lots of news & lots of talk. Evening with Jones & Dick. Our own fresh roasted & ground coffee beans make good drinks of that beverage. Every Tom Dick & Harry taking down particulars of whether we want to stay in Colony, occupation etc. Peace has brought the typewriters into action again & Camp Office is pushing out reams of typed stuff.

27.8.45. Dull humid hot day. Porridge sugar & butter for breakfast, veg stew tiffin, & a real good meat stew for tea. Altogether about 3lb per head of fresh meat in camp today from the Japanese & the contractor – much more than we can cope with. Arrangements made to give all excesses of food to Chinese Hospital & Sisters of Poor. They will be able to get rid of it alright. Issue 2oz Australian butter today, 1lb peanut oil & 1lb of demerara sugar. Very busy day. Pete spent the day in town with his girl – he said he could hardly believe it to be true – in a house with carpets & real furniture. Planes over today but nothing dropped – a little disappointing in view of wireless news that supplies already dropped. We hear too that the Yanks are already in Shanghai. Then too we know pretty certainly that the Japs are selling & sending away stocks of all sorts of things including Red Cross supplies. There is but little policing of the town & we know that empty houses are being looted. The town generally is pretty quiet though – no rioting or anything of that sort. Hammy is very worried about the stuff still remaining in his house, & blames our people for not coming out in force & taking over. I argued with him that they have no authority – & in any case you need to be armed in case of a showdown. CSO is trying to get organised in liaison with the Japanese, but it is obviously not the simple process that the impatient critics believe. Bateman told me of his wife, who although she sent in parcels to the end, was really on the very verge of destitution, and also in an extreme state of nerves. Always the worry was that they didn’t know when the gendarmerie would rope them in on unknown charges. These women have been very brave indeed & the camp is very much in their debt. They have horrible stories to tell of the treatment of various women throughout the Japanese occupation.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

26.8.45.Sunday. Dull day, some rain but tending to clear. Porridge sugar & oil for breakfast, some fresh meat & veg stew for tiffin, so I forsook rice, thank goodness, & had a slice of white bread with the stew. Meat & sweet potato fried with rice & issued as a very nice chow fan for tea & sweet camp cake for supper. A plane came over during the morning & we stood by for parachute supplies. But the ceiling was low & nothing further happened. Later we heard an Aussie broadcast that supplies had been dropped today. Anyhow we expect the real stuff tomorrow. St Teresa's has been taken over as a hospital for the Indians, who are being concentrated in the old Indian Camp including those who worked for the Japs. Wing Commander Sullivan is, I hear, to take over Kai Tak tomorrow. Issue of 2oz of butter today sent in by the contractor. Pre-war stuff I suppose, certainly Australian tins. Had a long talk with Loyd Jones in the evening. He is not too well in the tummy for the moment. One of the S&S Home billiard markers turned up today & saw LJ & Arthur Brown – so he has been given the job of doing what he can to keep an eye on the place pro-tem. Wonderful how they manage to turn up. Already we have trouble in the camp. Five people have got VD after visits after dark just outside the wire. Just mad I suppose.

Monday, 24 August 2015

25.8.45. Extremely heavy rain. Porridge sugar & oil breakfast, rice & greens tiffin, & rice & an ounce & half of butter issue for tea. I also had a fraction of a beef steak with two boiled Irish potatoes from Pete – a taste of what his girl, despite the weather, brought out to him. It was marvellous. Camp issue of a brew of coffee at 11 this morning. Excellent. Parcel of small white loaf & a tin of locally canned beef from Kwong Cheung Hing this evening. I went to the wire to see the pair of them – they were thinner but not much changed. They have all been through it one way & another. Terrible time in the store today with our very leaky roof. London wireless early this morning said we are due to have parachute supplies dropped here tomorrow. Certainly the Japanese have made a big POW mark on the ground near Jubilee Buildings. In the evening it was notified that people with relatives & friends in H.Kong & Kowloon would be allowed to visit them as from tomorrow, & organised walking parties would also be permitted. This was later whittled down so that, tomorrow at least, only 30 will go, only if they have real relatives & priority to those whose relatives are sick. Anyhow things are moving towards normality.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

24.8.45. Very heavy rain & general typhoon conditions. Stanley party cancelled. Will unfortunately be certain to spoil the minesweeping & parachute supplies programme. Porridge & sugar breakfast, tiffin of rice greens & oil. Meat came in today – not from Japs but from an Indian contractor Abbas Khan with whom we are in touch. So had rice & meat stew for tea. A little butter came in from the same source. Japs supply root veg every day now which is welcome enough. Got a chit from Ann Rogers – quite cheerful. Wireless news very confusing – meeting in London re the future of Hong Kong; our assertion that we don’t intend to give it up. Seem to be new dates all the time for the final signing in Japan. Really beginning to seem as though it may be weeks before we are relieved. Many are getting quite impatient, which I think may be very natural, but also very unjustified. We do long to see the fleet all the same. It is amusing to watch our “staff” getting on with the organisation – a very stumbling affair. It is to begin with quite shameful the way the officers on the whole have stopped all work such as wood chopping, veg cleaning, bean picking etc. Very promptly & contentedly, as of right, this has been handed over to the men in the other camp, chaps who for years have been out for very long hours daily on Japanese working parties. One would have thought they had earned a little leisure. It appears that Major Boxer, Dixon & Commander Craven who were taken out from Argyle Street at the time of the wireless incident didn't do quite so badly after all. Boxer went quite fat, & strangely for the whole time he was in Stanley Jail he was permitted to listen in to Japanese wireless news every day. When it was discovered that their pay was reduced by so much a month for “keep”, they were then put on to Japanese ration scales which included pork & other things we never saw. You never quite fathom the Japanese mind. Well – roll on release.


Saturday, 22 August 2015

23.8.45. Fine day but signs of a change. Porridge sugar milk breakfast, rice greens & oil tiffin, & rice oil & sugar for tea. We all got small parcels today from Kwong Yue Loong & from Kwong Cheung Hing today18. Japanese nibbled at doing us well today & sent in demerara sugar & saki. Issue of 1lb of the former & 2½ ounces of saki – which I enjoyed. Some tins of coffee came in too. In evening saw Joney & Dick & had coffee with them – excellent. Wrote chits to the Gellings & Ann Rogers which Hammy delivered for me today.

            18.Harbour Office colleagues


Friday, 21 August 2015

22.8.45. Fine day. Porridge & milk & sugar breakfast, tiffin rice & greens, & a chow fan of rice sweet potato & onion for tea. Quite good, but it is noteworthy that Pete’s girl who shared his with him thought it was awful – which is a good commentary on what our food generally has been, as people outside have found it very hard to eke out a living. Wireless news told of arrangements for minesweeping in ports from Japan to Penang & including H.Kong & also for the dropping of supplies of food, medicines & even medical personnel on POW camps on 25th inst. I wasn’t clear whether this latter applied outside Mountbatten’s area. I developed my first catarrh & cold in years today & consequently didn’t enjoy the concert that John Jones took me to. People who went to Stanley today enjoyed themselves, & came back full of enthusiasm, & I got quite a long chit from John.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

21.8.45. Another hot fine day. No exciting events. Porridge with milk & sugar in it for breakfast. Rice bananas & sugar for tiffin, no tea but a meal fried up in Hammy’s workshop at 6.30. Consisted of two fried eggs & a slice of fresh white wheat bread fried. Then a chow fan of liver & rice. This meal was rendered possible by receipt of a parcel from Wing Tack16. I was called to the wire with Garland17 & we got five parcels for our two selves, Hammy, Dick & Loyd Jones. Each had about a lb of lovely white soft wheaten bread, six eggs, six bananas, some lychees, eight packets Ruby Queen cigs (the best now obtainable) & two boxes of matches. I recognised Wing Tack immediately, & we said we would pay when we got settled & asked him to bring the same in three days time which he promised to do. It was good to see one of the old faces. Then some liver found its way into camp from a contractor Abbas Khan with whom we are trying to deal. I got three slices & shared them in the chow fan with Hammy Pete & Charley Matthews. From the parcel I gave Jumbo & Hobby two eggs & half the bread. How good it was to strike a match again – & feel you could afford to do so. After supper we burned a big wood fire in the workshop & had a comfortable pow-wow over a cup of tea. Concert on again. Our short wave set came in & the news is that landing at Naval Bases & Airfields will commence in Japan on 25th, & that steps are being taken to take the surrender in Hong Kong & release the prisoners. This is a happy life. More people went to Stanley today, & came back with stories similar to yesterday. I got a long chit from John – was hoping he had some more up to date news from home, but no luck. I was very glad to have his note. Ann Rogers he tells me is not the woman she was – gone very old, & Ann Senior had a bad burning accident a year ago. Looks like, as far as the Japs are concerned, Stanley had much the same treatment as we did. Similar rackets went on, & many have made fortunes on trading & cheque changing. No European food has come into this camp yet – in spite of their promises. Veg do come in & are of better quality & include many onions & sweet potatoes. That is something. The best that can be said for them is that they are leaving us more or less alone & not doing us any dirt. No sentries about – entirely withdrawn. Dick much better. Am enjoying these few days. Chinese are at the wire begging the whole while & there is trading with them for fish from the sampans.

            16.Harbour Office colleague                17.Major Neill Garland, Harbour Office colleague


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

20.8.45. Very hot fine day. Porridge & sugar breakfast. Jones invited Jack Wilson & I to a curry tiffin & I enjoyed it exceedingly, & was glad to find I could tuck away a really large quantity without undue discomfort in the tummy. All the same I required no meal at five o’clock & didn’t eat our first issue of camp cake made of ground rice (155lbs), ground beans (45lbs), bran (10lbs), sugar (55lbs) & some yeast. Am already putting on weight, 118lbs today. I didn't record that, under orders, I shaved off my beard last Friday morning 17th which I have had continuously since Dec 18th 1941 when I was wounded, except for the one occasion I took it off to take the Longinus part in the Passion Play at Easter 1943. I shall never enjoy having to shave. About half a dozen fighter planes swooped down this morning & one packet of chocolate & some six packets of Philip Morris cigarettes dropped into camp. One came low enough to get a clear view of its marking – a white star on a circular blue background. The Japanese have not fulfilled their promise to send in supplies of European food & today the matter was raised with Mr Zindel who visited the camp with Matsuda (Cardiff Joe). They promised to take the matter up. I believe Matsuda was given a genuine handshake – he is working in the foreign affairs bureau now, which is a typical Japanese move in view of the fact that he showed himself more friendly than the others during the imprisonment, & even got into trouble with his own people for it. Fifty people went to Stanley today, including Hammy. Sent a chit to Sandbach & one to John15. Hope to hear from them this evening. Later. When the people from Stanley got back we were all delighted to hear their reports that the women & children, especially the latter, were in pretty good fettle. Most of the atrocity stories we had heard are apparently untrue – for instance the one about Fraser the Defence Secretary being burnt alive is replaced by the cleaner story that he was shot. Of course they’ve had other troubles than ours by reason of having women & kids about, but they have had compensations in having better quarters, more space & facilities for swimming. Several fathers saw their children for the first time. They looked like a happy Bank Holiday crowd arriving home, tired out & happy. Bus broke down near Wong Nei Cheong & many had to walk to Repulse Bay Hotel to meet the other one returning for them. We had heard that Nomura had been particularly nasty to women & kids whenever he went out there, but it seems the story is quite untrue. Long chat with Dick & a good concert late in the evening in the main road. We have been promised a good short wave receiving set for tomorrow. Our public loud speaker is not very successful, fading etc. Wireless news is being misquoted about the place & some take a gloomy view as to very early release. Apparently there is still some more signing to do in Japan. I rest absolutely content myself.

15.John Angwin, a friend in Hong Kong with whose sister in Cornwall Carrie & Jenifer lived for some time during the War.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

19.8.45.Sunday. Warm close day. Porridge & sugar breakfast, rice & good meat & root veg stew for tiffin. Rice, oil & sugar for tea. News is getting through on the wireless now, & a loud speaker is being rigged. Issue of ¾lb sugar & 1lb of oil today – & not too particular in the store when we weighed it out either. What a change. When the issue was (say) 3¼ ounces per man we had to be careful of the last spoonful for a whole hut. Many conferences going on today. It is evident that the Japanese are making no bones about the surrender in this part of the world, & one suspects they must have been very near the end of their tether in making believe that the Colony was still in running order. Many further gruesome stories of atrocities, & the activities of the Gendarmerie. Among our lesser delights is the ability to have tea to drink at almost any hour of the day, – good strong tea too; no more secrecy about news; ability to check up on what we hear; throw away butt ends as we’ve had an issue of 12 packets of reasonably good local cigs. It is all too good. A postscript in a card from Stanley says they have seen the British Navy. Bugle calls in camp are just music to the ear, and I wish dear old Dad were still alive for me to tell him so too. I do hope that soon we shall be able to get cables away to our dear ones – I know that Carrie will be excited & longing to get one. And then for air mail letters. Probably she will already have been able to get one in the post & it will be here before we leave the camp. Concert in the road again tonight, with flood lighting. It is an alfresco sort of life for the moment & extremely pleasant. The big-wigs of the camp managed to get to Stanley & back today, & brought back many messages, one of which I got from Sandbach13. Said all well out there & early re-union is the universal hope. Listened to the wireless relayed from San Francisco – poor reception but gathered that the wording of the Emperor’s Rescript conferring peace on the world is not popular, & that the Japanese have run true to form in procrastinating at the last minute. Nevertheless they have come to Manila to sign on the dotted line. Even tonight people were fearfully asking you whether you were still confident about the war being over. They give me a pain. It might take a few days longer than one might have expected – but then we are dealing with the Japanese, & whoever knew them to do anything at the appointed time or in the usual manner. Relatives with one another all day at the gate – there was even some dancing. It is a fact that more than one former cook-boy has turned up to see the old boss, also office clerks, works foremen etc. I believe the Chinese in town are jubilant & our chaps who have been out in the lorries were cheered all the way. Novikov14 went out today with special permission I think to see his wife who had to go into hospital. He said the town is in a very horrible condition, gone to rack & ruin. It depressed him.

            13.Revd J.E.Sandbach, Methodist Minister     14.Fellow HKVDC batman


Monday, 17 August 2015

18.8.45. Close steamy day. Ceremony of hoisting the Union Jack in camp was held at 8am with a full parade & band. O God our help, & the National Anthem were sung. It was very affecting & I should have cried had I tried to sing. An emotional moment and an unforgettable occasion. Plenty of cooking salt came in this morning – at least two months former rations. Also a record quantity of fresh meat – 550lbs. Porridge breakfast with all my sugar; rice & a tin of Pete's sardines & tomato juice for tiffin. Church & Alec Black, technicians released from Stanley a week ago, came to the gate today. I couldn’t get there but Church looks well. Horrible stories of events at Stanley – if correct then we just haven’t seen a thing. Tokunaga & Zindel in for a long conference today with our people. We have a wireless set in camp, & will try to make or get a transmitter. Yeung, the Secretary of HK & Yaumati Ferry Coy has put himself at the service of the camp & we now have two lorries & a launch at our disposal. So we are beginning to get somewhere. Several reunions between husbands & wives between the two gates of the camp – mostly Portuguese – very good to see, & very sad too in one case where the man was minus a leg. They brought in a lorry of pumpkins this afternoon, whilst two of our lorries are out looking for good food. I do hope they find Red Cross parcels which have such varied contents. We know that the Dairy Farm was handed back to European staff a few days ago, & all milk is sent to Stanley. Relatives & friends are coming freely to the compound at the gate & we are hearing many things. The town is quite desolate it seems, and there are very few habitable houses, certainly for Europeans. Pete saw his girl for some hours, & there is no doubt they have all been through a long & horrible experience. Town & Stanley stories leave no doubt that the most cruel & horrible atrocities have been committed by the Japanese on all & sundry. It would seem that we POW, relatively speaking, haven’t seen or suffered a thing. Torture & starvation have been the order of the day, & it is good to think that the day of retribution has come. White has demanded to know the whereabouts & state of health of all officers who have been taken out of camp, & I fear an ugly story is about to be told. Our greatest thrill happened at 5pm when about twenty (American?) fighters appeared & scattered leaflets all over the camp. They were not high, but also not low enough for our liking, but we waved & shouted. I got one of the leaflets. Hurrah. Incidentally the message on it to POW & Internees immediately modified the Staff’s attitude to the Japanese – & quite properly I think. Our food foraging party under Major Ryan RA which had made arrangements to stay overnight at the Peninsula Hotel, returned to camp instead. It had secured a wireless receiving set, a little evaporated milk & a few other trifles. However plenty of peanut oil has been found in the Japanese store in the camp – 16 large drums which is more than we require, & also 2000lbs of excellent white sugar. Why these things were never issued will never be known, and only a fortnight ago we were glad to get an ounce each from the drain sump. Lights were on to any old hour tonight, & the freedom to move about within camp bounds is just wonderful. Beef tea in evening.


Sunday, 16 August 2015

17.8.45. Fine warm day. We awoke to a different reveille call this morning & had breakfast of porridge as usual. It is said that today’s paper reports that “three ships” will arrive today. Major Boon of the other camp was arrested & brought over today. If the Canadian Officers & the other camp get their way he will face very serious charges indeed. Funny story of Kiteyama & Sgt Nakamatsu coming to Col White & after mentioning that they understood Nomura was not wanted here Kiteyama asked about his own position. Told that he could come in & out whenever he liked, Nakamatsu nudged him to put in a word for him too. So he too was told the same thing in Col White’s bluff way & both, more or less holding hands, departed down the road with broad smiles. As it should be I think. This morning fires were started up to burn rubbish & old odds & ends of clothing etc. Chinese kiddies collected at the wire by Cheungshawan as of old & it was good to hear their cries & chittering. They got several things thrown to them & wanted more. Poor little devils. Col White went out to see Col Tokunaga. Forbidden to go about in fandacio rig except when doing manual work. Had a pleasant tiffin with (& on) Charley Matthews, of rice & a stew he had made with a tin of bully, tin of beans & a little curry & bran & mint. Hammy & Pete completed the foursome. A Jap fighter flew over during the meal. It appears that Tokunaga wants to consider that we are still POW, & I suppose that from the point of view that they are responsible for us until we are handed over, he is correct. Anyhow I believe that both he & Honda are annoyed at our people for assuming control so soon. I think perhaps it would have been wiser if our CO had made his requests in a more diplomatic manner, asking for this & that whilst still acknowledging their position & responsibility. I think the sooner the relieving forces arrive, the better. Dick gave me a nice pair of woollen socks which he had knitted himself. Our first visitors from the outside world – two American Naval Officer prisoners – came into camp today. They were taken up the coast somewhere & don’t look well. They were taken out again & then returned to camp once more & put in hospital for rest & quiet. Enough good quality fine white sugar came in this afternoon to give a ration of 5½ ounces per head – & a promise of more to come. Also 300lbs of beans – the sight of which we are becoming sick of. Probably we shall get more European foods soon & oh boy are we longing for it. Officially told that Tokunaga has at last told them definitely that the war is over & that the armistice made with MacArthur ended the fighting in this part of the world at 3 o’clock this morning. Major Boon’s stooges in the other camp put into protective custody today & I understand they will be court martialled. Wing Commander Sullivan came along to tell me this morning that “he admired the way a man of your position & intelligence had done the work you have done for the camp”. I was glad of this & thanked him. After all I have done most kinds of work for them. They had all their farm pigs in a grand pork & bean stew this evening in the other camp. Hammy & I visited Joney & got a good portion from him – he being in the cookhouse. Then we were joined by Dick & had a small peg of real whisky & water. This was about a one third bottle of stuff that Hammy has kept as medical reserve throughout the whole imprisonment. It tasted fine. Late to bed & much later still to sleep. Still smoking at 2 o’clock actually. Alleged news that Kowloon is to be handed back to China & Hong Kong internationalised. Still no sign of relieving forces. Some sugar came in – 5½oz per head. The clothing store in the other camp was taken over & quite a lot of Red Cross shorts & shirts brought over.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

16.8.45. Fine day, but heavy showers at midday. Most people found it difficult to get to sleep last night, & for me I found that the quantities of beans we had eaten yesterday made for an uncomfortable tummy & sleeplessness. Quite early this morning we heard they had got the paper in the other camp carrying the news of the Imperial Rescript concerning Japan’s surrender on the basis of the Potsdam Ultimatum. The remaining sceptics as to the news surrendered too. Immediately people started to pass to & fro between the two camps quite freely. On parade as usual at 8am & instead of Col White being alone in front of us he had Cmdr.Vernall & Cyril Owen the interpreter. Lt Wada11 & Kiteyama approached wearing grins, but noticing the change, looked sombre. Anyhow White asked Wada into the office, while Kiteyama carried on with the count. He went. Later we learned they had asked point blank whether the rumour that the war was over was correct. Poor old Wada hedged, confirmed & denied nothing and said he had no instructions. He must have had an uncomfortable time. Later in the morning we had the full text of the Imperial Rescript translated & read out quietly in each hut, plus reports of all the cabinet meetings held in Tokyo leading up to it. So that is that at long last. I don’t know what our gallant Colonel Eric Mitchell thinks now of his recent prophecy that we wouldn’t get out before the end of next year. Barnett too said to Pete yesterday that we “might be out in three months”. Porridge breakfast this morning, & Pete held quite a tiffin party today. He had a tin of Hampé reserved for his birthday next month, & decided to have it today together with two tins of Red Cross parcel tomatoes. Hammy & Hobbs were invited. However Hammy chipped in a tin of Red Cross biscuits, tin of cheese & tin of meat paste, & so Charley Matthews & Jumbo Smith12 joined us. It was a damn fine lunch. Early afternoon Wada was in for another conference with White, & unofficially admitted the war was over. Col White requested to see Tokunaga immediately, said we would do no more parades for them, or night watches either. Requested food & clothing to be sent in, sentries kept outside the wire etc. Wada said Tokunaga was busy at the Governor's Office. So we must await the next move. I am sure Carrie will be expecting a message from me soon, but I reckon it may easily be a few days before we are relieved, or even a week or two. Yet H.Kong I imagine means a lot one way & another, so maybe it will be very soon. We are now (late in the day) promised lights until 10.30pm, a newspaper etc. White told Wada that we did not wish to see Nomura in Camp as he was not liked & “we could not understand his English very well”. I wish Cardiff Joe had been asked for as we all liked him. Kiteyama is to carry on as interpreter. It would be impossible to record all the casual & cheery conversations of the day. Just marvellous it has been. I spent the evening with Dick in the other camp – no-one to say us nay now. Small fires & cooking everywhere – they had had a double ration of rice today with sweet potato & oil as a chow fan. Then there was a great “sing” in the main road ending with God Save the King at about 10pm. After we piped down I was almost immediately asleep for the first time in some while. No evening parade today – the sort of little thing that indicates a big difference.

            11.Camp Commandant.            12.Fellow batmen


Friday, 14 August 2015

15.8.45. Hot day, with some showers. Good porridge breakfast, rice & pork – greens stew for tiffin, & rice & bean pot for tea. “Bean cake” for supper. Paper of yesterday's date carried a little news of fighting at borders of Manchuria & Korea & in Sakhalin. Also of bombing in Japan on 12th & 13th. Of course, on the face of it this gives the KO to my belief that the war is over, but there is very little such news, & none of the remainder of the fronts such as China, Borneo etc, & anyway I think they would keep up a pretence locally that the war was still on in order to keep things quiet here. No recce planes about – there is literally just nothing doing. Everything is just extraordinary. Today the first working party came back at about 3.30pm & reported same news from town, & also that they had had to wait three quarters of an hour at the gate to get into camp. Whilst there they saw a group of Japanese officers round a table listening to a radio speech. This was interesting enough, but when the other parties got back they had many details to tell of relatives coming up quite openly to the party & giving the time at which peace (?Armistice) had been signed. Indians called out “All finish – comrades again”; all flags down from public buildings including H.K.Bank which is Governor’s Office. Last but not least all working parties are cancelled – which draws the teeth of the disbelievers who argued the news could not be true because working parties were still going out. One story was that ceasefire occurred at 2pm today. It does look like the end. Japanese twin engined transport plane came in at 7pm. Officers are getting their gear out for cleaning & there is generally a damn good atmosphere. I fancy my beard won’t last long now – discipline again.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

14.8.45. Very hot day. Porridge for breakfast. Tiffin of rice, an egg from Pete's parcel and my last Red Cross parcel tin of tomatoes. Good. Rice & a bean & greens pot for tea, & bean & rice cake for supper. This morning we were told that someone in the camp had got a written message from outside to the effect that Japan surrendered on 10th inst, Mikado thought to be dead, and Royal Navy expected here tomorrow. This message certainly came in. Some people are finding these few days a very severe strain on the nerves – they live from rumour to rumour & violently fluctuate in their beliefs. For instance if they hear a report of bombing in Japan on the 12th, they immediately lose faith in the peace report. One interesting bit in the paper today, other than some trifling war news from Manchuria, was that Chiang Kai Shek had ordered all Chungking & Yunnan troops to stand fast in their positions & to await further special orders. That sounds good anyway. Working parties today returned with similar stories as for the last few days. Personally I believe the war is over & if I am asked why we’ve seen no sign of a relieving force, well it is a big & complicated affair & takes time to arrange. The absolute quiet in the Colony persists. After all we would not expect them to come in & tell us honestly what has happened. The highlight today was that at the time of evening parade a roll of American toilet paper per man came in. Seen nothing like it since we became POW. Strangely bumf came into the canteen today at approx 25sen a sheet. The roll each, they had the cheek to say, was a three month’s supply. I incline to the view, on general principles, that we shall get Red Cross supplies for the relieving force to see when they arrive. Anyway whatever the war or peace situation may be, Col White gave orders today for our remaining two young pigs to be slaughtered for tomorrow’s stew. Alive they weighed 56 & 48 lbs. Also half a dozen non laying chickens. Furthermore tomorrow morning’s porridge will get a heavy increase in bean & bran content from the local Red Cross supplies we have in hand. Record low weight – I am only 115 lbs.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

13.8.45. Fine very warm day. Usual porridge breakfast, rice & greens tiffin & rice & some fried small fish from reserves for tea. In view of the news Pete & I started using our beans & had an extra “cake” in the evening with ground roast beans in it. ’Twas fine. An exciting day. At about 12.30 Kiteyama8 came in to the Colonel &, after a bow (which was unusual) he said that Col Tokunaga would inspect the camp at 1.30. The Sergeant ordered too, that some tea should be brewed for him & also that the small spare room at HQ which the Japs have always insisted should be kept as a Conference Room, & which has never been used, should be swept out & chairs placed. Naturally we thought the big moment had arrived & were very excited. But the afternoon wore away & Tokunaga did not turn up. At 4pm a Japanese plane, I think the twin engine transport plane, flew low up & down the harbour. We felt a bit flat at that. But later, after parade, Kiteyama actually apologised for the trouble caused & thanked us, in the name of Tokunaga, for making the camp ship-shape. This has never happened before. Working parties in the evening brought in afresh the same stories – various people had told them the war was over. Rumours that the control of the town is now in the hands of the Japanese Navy. I went over to the other camp in the evening & saw the two Jones9.& Dick10. Dick has been out today & recounted being told war over by a lorry driver & a Japanese NCO. So we are still without anything authentic. Still it is very exciting. Got a camp circular, confidential, today on discipline & arrangements with regard to our position when a relieving force arrives. Some argue from this that the Colonel knows more than we do – but I doubt it.

8.Interpreter     9.Eddie Loyd Jones, Harbour Office colleague, also referred to as Joney and LJ & Capt John Jones Manager Holt’s Wharf.                 10.Dick Collings, Harbour Office colleague & close friend.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

12.8.45.Sunday. Fine warm day, I had two spoons of oil with breakfast porridge. Rice & greens as usual for tiffin & rice & our private fish soup in the evening. Confidence in the general situation is still very strong as we got news of Molotov's statement to the Japanese Ambassador in Moscow at the Declaration of War. This morning, too, a launch came into Cheungshawan Bay flying a brand new Chinese flag – the first time we’ve seen it in years. Later the Japs delivered a sweat towel & a pair of cotton socks for all paid officers plus a cotton vest & packet of tooth powder for Majors & higher ranks. Straw in the wind. By the way Pete got his parcel as usual yesterday including a very small bottle of honey. There is a very peculiar quietness about the colony – no sounds from the shipyards or the garages at the back of the camp – not a plane moving or any motor boat in the harbour. When the working parties came back in the evening they had the same stories to tell – & named certain people in town who had told them the war was over. One variation was that there was a 48 hour armistice to give Japan a chance to make up her mind – expiring tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock. So the whole story is very persistent & our optimism is at a high level. I don't feel excited, but it is a fact that I took a long time to get to sleep last night & I was awake abominably early this morning. Lots of people have picked over their stuff & packed what they really want to take away with them, though we have endless discussions as to whether whoever takes us away will allow any of our gear to go with us on the assumption that it must all be bug ridden etc. Then there is the problem of people with relatives locally – shall we all be shipped out, say to Manila willy-nilly, – will they get a chance to speak to relatives first. Pete is liable, I fear, to think the very worst in this matter. But he is quite happy, so confident has he suddenly become, to get on & eat our reserves of food such as beans etc. Hey-ho here’s hoping. I, in common with most others, sold my pair of socks & sweat towel, which though for paid officers were whacked out among the whole camp, each for 100 Yen. It is quite astounding how much of this worthless money is about. The sentries handle lakes of it.


Monday, 10 August 2015

11.8.45. Usual meals of porridge & a spoon of oil for breakfast, rice & greens for tiffin, & rice & a pot of grated water chestnuts, beans & curry for tea & our “cake” for supper. Issue of 4oz of oil per head today. About tea time we began to get news of the greatest importance. A sentry told Pinna “War – No”. I had just returned from a quite bright concert put on by McAlister, a sort of “Co-optimists” show. Harry Odell made a big hit in it as a very happy & optimistic Jew & we had original turns from some Canadians. Well we got news from the other camp that the outside working parties had today had shouted to them the fact that the war was over. There is no doubt about this, but of course it may be a false rumour in town. All the same many of the circumstances give faith in the story – & obviously it is not impossible. The camp took it quite soberly. During the evening various sentries said the same thing to people in this camp. Many yarns got round – such as that the British fleet would arrive tomorrow, but disregarding stories of that sort I think we all felt that even if the war is not actually over at this moment, then it will be in a very few days. Hobbs6 & I sat out as usual (in fine weather) clear of the huts & looking towards Cheung Hue & talked of many things. For instance if when the relieving force arrived we got a chance to get a letter home and only a few minutes to write it. What would I say – but then I think the moment would supply the inspiration. It all seems too good to be true. Got £5 from Galpin's fund at a rate of 65Yen to the pound – & bought some cigarettes.  That is £20 total I have now had from the fund, the first £10 of which was through Hammy7. The other ten is on my own pay book. Hammy's £10 is in process of being transferred to my pay book in which case I shall not owe it to him – but probably that business will not be completed in time if the war collapses immediately. What a grand state of mind we are in. Sgt Major Honda, for the first time in a long while took the parade this evening & was very dignified & military about it. We wondered if he had anything to tell us, but no. I believe I forgot to say that about 150 pairs of shorts & about 100 shirts of S.African make came in a day or so ago. I expect they have been lying in store since 1942 & we have been walking about in rags the whole while. Still I am glad they are playing ball at this stage of the game – they might have got very nasty. Air raid alarm 5.30 this morning.

            6.K.W.Hobbs, fellow batman.               7.Capt K.C.Hamilton

Sunday, 9 August 2015

10.8.45. Dull cool day. The “blow” is petering out at last. Porridge breakfast, rice & greens tiffin & rice & bean pot tea. By noon we all knew that Russia had invaded Manchuria at midnight 8/9th. I had a spoon of precious peanut oil with my tiffin to celebrate this additional promise of early release. Surely they will pack up soon. The implications of Russia's act for the future I can only guess, but I am tired of trying to think into the future of this rapidly changing world. Sufficient for me at the moment is the prospect of early release, return to civvies where I can count myself the equal of anybody I meet – & to home & Carrie & Jenifer. Received an unexpected few tins of oil from the Japanese this afternoon. First fruits? – & if so what comes next.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

9.8.45. Heavy rain on & off & and very cool. Porridge breakfast, rice & greens with an ounce or two of salt fish which one of the traders gave me in the store. I sported the couple of spoons of peanut oil necessary for Pete to fry it. Heard of the new “atomic bomb” used on the city of Hiroshima. Evidently it was not an empty threat that the immediate destruction of Japan would be proceeded with if she failed to accept the terms of the nine point Potsdam Ultimatum. Hopes run high again.

Friday, 7 August 2015

8.8.45. Very showery day & heavy squalls from SE. Typhoon filling up somewhere I think. Usual meals of porridge, rice & greens, & rice & pot. Our postponed concert was held in old hut 7 in spite of the weather. Very pleasant & our quartet of Bill Stoker, Jimmy Sutcliffe, Baker Brown & myself were well received. I do like the last one we sang How can I leave Thee – old Thuringian folk song. Napoleon5 took the evening parade – not pleased to have him back. Not much news. Yesterday a “present” of curry came in - maskee we've never received our stipulated ration thereof. Whacked out today at 4oz per head.

            5.NCO on the Japanese Staff

Thursday, 6 August 2015

7.8.45. Wet day & very boisterous. Porridge breakfast & usual meals. Got 310Yen for 10 ounces of old wool – three worn out socks with no heels & a pair of hose tops. Bought pound beans 162.50 & a packet of Ruby Queens at 30Yen. Sunday’s postponed service was held tonight – Confirmation Service at which six officers and two batmen were confirmed into the C of E by Padre Strong.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

6.8.45. Wet day & cool. Porridge breakfast, rice & greens tiffin & rice & a pot for tea. Today the vegetables delivered included 26lbs of onions for a change. Pumpkin, squash & ling choi have kept us going for some time now. One gets hungry enough. We get no sight or sound of warlike activity these days – no planes by day or night, no ships, no lorries. Just dead as a doornail & we are inclined just to go to seed. I am glad I have a job of work to do. It is difficult to imagine the outside world where there is plentiful & varied food, tea with sugar & milk in small china cups, comfort, newspapers, entertainments, wireless, houses, proper beds, cleanliness, privacy, changes of proper clothing, and women & children. Thank God we have the assurance these things will be ours again. It is horrible to think what would have been our fate if we had lost the war. I doubt if we would ever have been shipped home again.