December 20th, 1941
After nearly 2 1/2 years in the Army, finally cutout for action on December the 20th, 1941. We knew the Japs had broken through but had not imagined it to be very serious. Ihad just finished shaving at Pukfulam when we got orders to move off right away. Had orders to move in as lightly equipped as possible. So all I took was my equipment with my iron rations fastened to my back in my mess tin bag, rain cape strapped to my back like we used to do in internment Camp in Jamaica. Wore my serge battle dress with gaiters, summer underwear, winter shirt. Left Pukfulam around 10:30. Had 150 rds SAA -100 in pouches and 50 in a bandolier plus 2 Mills Bombs. Their grenades were rather an unknown quantity to me and must admit I was rather afraid of them. Marched down the road Coy HQ. and #10 platoon and at Cuombis Rd. near the Dairy Farm we met #11. Here Major Hook, Sgt. Major Fryatt, Cpl. Morrow, Pte. Drier and self got into a 15 cwt. and went on ahead. l was to be runner to Major Hook along with Morrow and Drier. These two had been in contact with the Japs I already with "D" Coy and were much more leary than what I was. Had a very hectic ride along the road to Aberdeen and to E2, Major Baillie's HQ. - "C" Coy. On the way we passed "Flusty" Young‘s platoon waiting for the rest of our Coy.
On arrival at EV, we got out, scrumaged some tea and waited for our trucks to get up. Couldn't help but notice the different feeling, general tidiness etc. here as compared to us. Sgt-Major Fryatt was in great spirits having caught up with a 45 which had been worrying him. Our truck came driven by Shayler HA and Kelly and we unloaded all the guns they had - Bris, Vickers, 2" Mortars, 1 AT Rifle and a huge store of ammo. Everything else we sent back. Major Hook was in good spirits, despite his "tail" - he had [fallen] out of a truck some two days previous, whilst returning from Wanchai Gap. Proceeded on our way, driven by a couple of Middlesex and arrived at Bn H.Q. at Wanchai Gap around 1:30. After a short time I was sent back to direct the troops to proceed across the Gap to the Q.M.'s for rations.
At this time, I personally wasn't particularly afraid but was rather worried and nervous as to how I would react under fire. Went down the road and waited about twenty minutes until our boys came up with Sgt. Ferguson leading. Everyone was in high spirits albeit tired from the march. Met Mr. Phillips and directed him to 551 (Q.M.'s). Had to cross the Gap for the first time.
This Gap, as the name implies, was a narrow pass in the hills and was also a crossroads, no less than 5 or 6 running into it. Naturally, Johnny Jap had this on his list of "pet" targets and it was heavily shelled both by artillery - usual and mortars — as well as bombed by planes.
Got everyone over to 551 and then reported back to Major Hook, who sent me back to get all the officers. On the way back we really took a shelling. Met "Algy" Watts on guard at the entrance to Bn H.Q.. Was looking O.K.. Had been some very heavy losses in “D" and "A" Coy's. Luit. Birkett killed, Major Hodkinson wounded badly, Major Gresham killed etc. Ordered up to attack Mt. Nickolson [Nicholson (ed)] and when we tried to find the Coy., found that Sgt. Major Tugby of HQ. had ordered them up to 563 and we _ lost 40 minutes there. Proceeded down the Black Links Trail single file - Major Hook leading - Sgt. Major Fryatt and then me. This sure was a tough one on me — sweated like a bull as it was broad daylight and we would make A—1 targets up against the hills. However, we got to Middle leap O.K. and our two 15 cwts caught up to us - unloaded guns - dispatched #11 and 3' Mortar around other side of Mt. Nicholson and then on our way. Posted #10 Platoon and then we met a couple of Royal Scots, who had been pushed back by the Japs. Were questioning these and standing around in a bunch, when suddenly, there were shots — terrible yells like our indians, l should imagine and the Japs were on usl A panic now took hold and a large number ran - Kasijns [probably referring to Private Michael Kasijan (ed)]and a few others opened up with a Bren and the Japs shoved off.
By this time we were back at Middle Gap where everyone more or less got hold of themselves. In this rout I got more harm from being trampled on by my own men than the Japs did. To add to our grief it now began to rain to beat the band. Practically no one had rain capes and in no time were soaked to the skin. Stragglers were coming in by twos and threes. After awhile it was presumed that everyone was in, and shortly after this, an unfortunate incident occurred, in which Bilyk was accidentally shot by Lancaster in the arm. Zane took Bilyk back to Wanchai for dressing. We were lining the road and Cpl. Eccles with six men - Smith, .J.S., Turner, HaneI, Poitras, Vidal and someone else, were on top of a peak to our front and left. It kept raining harder and harder - a merciless, cold, penetrating rain which chilled a man to the very marrow. A couple of huts stood by and Major Hook and self went in to investigate. These had been occupied by some Hong Kong volunteers and they had abandoned these in a hurry evidently as there was a lot of kit left. So, we got the men in one at a time and had them strip down, rub themselves off and endeavored to give them some sort of a piece of clothes — tunlcs, shirts, shorts, towels, pieces of cloth etc. were utilized - ripped shorts down the back to make a sort of shoulder pad - had an awful time getting anything for Rocky. So passed the night.
Sometime during the night an RSM of the educational service brought up some rations and a small quart bottle of rum. This rum was rationed out between 50 odd men and you can imagine the size of the tot everyone got. However, the night gradually passed and with it came the dawn and an attack scheduled to start at 06:45.
December the 21st, 1941
Dawn came at last and arrangements were made to get underway. Sgt. Wood's section was to take the lead followed by LCpl. Gold - Cpl. MacPherson and LSgt. Budd. Cpl. Eccles was to take a Vickers with him. Just before our departure, a ration party, headed by Packy MacFarlane, arrived with tea and biscuits. Imagine my surprise and dismay when, after dipping in the tea, discovered it was ice cold! However, we started off and proceeded up the Black Links Trail for some little way — a mile or so, when we bumped into the Japs. Here Sgt. Woods was killed whilst reconnoitring ahead - the Japs were in a small dugout affair at the crossroads and . . had actually laid land mines along the road. Here we got 'Rocky" Smith and Burt Turner into action with their 2' Mortar and they sure did a good job, pumping out the bombs in great style. Never saw Rocky move so fast as he did when he dropped a bomb into the mortar the wrong way! Now we were divided into two parties and stormed from both above and below the trail and heaved a large number of bombs (Mills) into the Japs and succeeded into dividing them into small groups. ln this phase Ches Budd got a very bad wound in the stomach and Dick Hall got it in the knee. During the foregoing I was still a runner with Major Hook, who had picked up Wood's "tommy" gun but in the constant shifting of things lost sight of him. Also at this time Cpl. Eccles was dispatched up the hill (Mt. Nicholson) to find a position for his Vickers and l never saw him again. Fire was now coming at us from the top of Mt. Nicholson and we lined the bank, firing up there. Seemed to be doing alright when suddenly a light automatic opened up behind us and got Lieut. "Rusty" Young. We now had to retire and during this Sgt. - Major Fryatt "got it" by the same bloody machine gun. As a matter of fact, Carlton and I were very lucky as we were caught on the road and layed face down and could see the bullets chipping the rock behind us. However, we both dove into the brush and here Carlton got lost from us. By this time we were badly disorganized and started to fall back to Middle Gap to make a stand. At this time Cooper was killed outright and Lancaster wounded in the thigh. On arrival at Middle Gap we couldn't make a stand because of artillery fire so we started to head for Wanchai Gap. There weren't very many of us left. Sgt. Budd was there, badly wounded, but someone helped him along. Staff MacFadyen was helping “Mac" Hall and Poitras was helping Lancaster. incidentally, Lancaster certainly proved to be a great man under fire. He took a Bren gun and walked up and down shooting from the . hip. As has been said before we were out all night in the rain and these Brens got damn good and wet. The soil was pretty clayey and these bloody guns seized up so badly that you could put your foot on the cooking handle and you still couldn't force the recoiling portions back. So in the midst of everything the light automatics failed us. That trip out even now seems a nightmare - we were shelled from artillery from Kowloon, mortared from Mt. Nicholson, machine gunned on a 500 yd (roughly) fired line, sniped, and then to cap it all three planes came over and bombed us! Along here l met Major Hook and found he had been slightly wounded in the thigh. Gave orders for us to proceed to Wanchai. l had picked up a Bren and was carrying it out and it was only by great will power that l didn't throw it away and run. However, managed to control myself to that extent and plodded along with the Bren. From time to time we l had to throw Ourselves face down on the ground as the shells or bombs burst. Just about this time Drier got hit in the leg by a piece of shrapnel and Big Ed Johnson had a wound through the shoulder. Eventually we made Wanchai Gap and here l reported to Colonel Sutcliffe on the situation. Received orders to take the men up to 530 and report to Major Trist. This we did, had a meal, and then "B" Coy were told to report to Sgt. Windsor, preparatory to moving in again. It was evident that this was to be an "all -out" effort — everyone who was available was being sent in under Major Trist. Was standing below by Fln H.O. with Sgt. Windsor when Major Hook came along and took me away for to be his runner. It was lucky in a sense for me that he did as I was sure feeling pretty low at the time due to our seeming failure and also at our losses. It sure was tough seeing Fryatt get it as with all his faults and failings he was a pretty good old fellow and to cap things, l had just learnt that Keith Lawrie had been killed in action I with #11 and that Charlie Edgley was badly wounded and left on the battlefield. However, had something to eat and drink and then Major Hook and l laid down and had a pretty fair sleep. Were at the Officers Mess and Bobby Boyd, Sgt. Sinclair, DeVilliers were there. Stood guard that night with MacPhee and sure felt pretty jumpy, what with one thing or another. Had the shift from 2 to 4 and in consequence had to stay on from 4 to 7 on standto and so ended another day.
December the 22nd
After standto went inside to eat and just then Cpl. Sissons and I.—CpI. Hollingsworth came in from a road block to sleep. So I moved upstairs with them. Seaborn, Jackson, Neufeld were amongst those present. Had just got settled down when Johnny Jap started to open up with artillery and to cap things off, some planes came over. One dropped a bomb pretty close and it was this one which got Mike Karijan [should be spelled 'Kasijan' (ed)]. Had to duck downstairs in the basement and here Stevenson and I carried a heavy box down to Bn HQ. to Staff Boyd. It was decided to evacuate 530 and send the men over to 555 or 563. This was done and I stayed at Bn HO. with Major Hook to be a runner as usual. However, had it pretty soft and took a message to the QM. re. water and also to COMS McFadyen to make a list of the company. Found him at 555 — Sgt. -Major Tugby's H.Q.‘s - Mac pretty well had a list and all we had to do was check on Cpl. MacPherson's roadblock. We found them in a house on the upper road safely ensconced and well equipped with liquor. Had a shot of gin and then Mac and I went back to Wanchai to report. Here Major Hook said it would be better for me to go back with Mac so as to escape getting sent out on a party. Went back to 555 where I met Galbraith again. Just got settled down and Mac called for me to go out getting some large containers to hold water in. So we scrounged around and managed to find a few. Incidentally, met a "civvy" who turned out to be an American form St. Paul. Had flown in herefrom somewhere so that his wife could have an operation and had been caught by the war. Got a truck and then back to 555. Had a fair supper of stew, biscuits and tea - then to bed - up at eight to do a two hour shift on guard at the back of the house with an old naval dockyardman. in passing this 555 was a sort of dog's breakfast affair - Royal Scots, Middlesex, R.F.'s, Grenadiers, Naval Dockyardmen and what have you. This beat where I was was one of the crappiest I was ever on. It was at the back of the house beyond a fair sized lawn and sloped into the gully. We lay with our backs to Mt. Cameron and sure as hell would have been duck soup for a sniper more especially as it was a nice moonlit night. However, just came in off shift, had a cup of tea and biscuits, laid down when Mac came in yelling for everyone out on an ammo carrying party. Told Galbraith and I to stick close to him. Lined the bunch up and headed over to the Q.M.'s at 551. Here we found that they were running short of ammo on Mt. Cameron and we were to take it up. Capt. Norris had a couple of trucks with it on and they were to go round the Gap, up onto the Upper Road to save us some trouble and labor. In the meantime we had to climb from 551 to the Upper Road. This was fairly steep and for about twenty yards or so was up a concrete drain. Most of the party were Naval Dockyardmen over 40 years old - so we had one helluva time getting them up this steep path. However, by a little cunning and what have you, we finally got up to the Upper Road and waited for the trucks. These arrived and then Sgt. Lyras said it was no dice as the right of the line had collapsed and everything was in a mess. He got shit for saying this but it turned out he was right and everything had to be loaded on again. Picked up a few Mills bombs and then back down this trail to 555. Here Mac got orders to go to 563 and hold this at all costs. So away we went — Mac, Galbraith, Bronson, Sumner, Davidson, Davies, Miller and self - there were more but cannot recollect whom - however most of the boys were "B" Coy. Went in and lined the banks - both above and below - Had carried three boxes of Mills with us and dished these out._ At 563 there was a junction of several roads and we had Brens trained to cover both approaches. Bumped into a couple of Scots on patrol and they laid on the bank above us. Next thing a runner comes along to tell us to fall back on 555. This we ` did and then we were ordered back. Hadn't been there long before we got another order to retire to Wanchai gap. Back to 555 and we sent the boys on ahead whilst Mac and I sort of scrounged a few things at 555. The next thing we hear is that we are to re -occupy 563 and hold it at all costs. So l had to hightail it down the road to gather the boys. Found them just at the high end and we didn't know what the bloody score was what with all this countermanding of orders - so I lined everyone up on two sides of the road till we found out more. Along came Mac in a truck - so we all piled in and back to 563 and into our old position again. in the meantime Mac was so fed up with all these different orders that he sent a runner to Major Hook at Wanchai for definite instructions. Here too Purse attached himself to us and low and behold he had a bottle of rum. To say the least, this was like manna from heaven as, by this time, you can imagine how we felt especially so with orders to hold at all costs. However, we finished off this rum and felt considerably better. Just a short while later, a runner came from Major Hook l ordering us back from 563 to Wanchai Gap. Just at this time Major Perry of the Royal Scots, along with a Staff Sgt., a couple of men and a truck came up and asked for a couple of men to go with him to get out the women and children from some of the houses farther up. So, after we had started the men off, Mac and l went along. Went up the road a ways and Io and behold the Japs jumped us. I lost Mac and wound up with this Staff from the Scots. Did a little scrambling about in the dark, and suddenly we heard the Japs above us. The Staff asked me if l had the guts and albeit l wasn’t feeling so enthused, said go ahead and l would follow. So we advanced with Mills in our hands and suddenly he says - "All richt, laddie, up and g‘i it tae them l" We jumped up on the bank and heaved about eight Mills into this clump of Japs with deadly effect — must have got most of them by the shrieks. However, we didn't wait to investigate but buggered off down the road. Just then this truck comes along and we finally stopped him. l asked where the hell Mac was. The driver seemed pretty scared and mumbled something. So I threatened to throw a Mills in the cab if he didn't obey orders and told him to go back. However, in order to turn around, we had to go further down this road to turn around. When we got down away, however, bumped into Sgt. Whalen and Major Baird, who grabbed the truck for wounded men, coming down from Mt. Cameron. By this time our own artillery had begun to open up on Cameron. Suddenly there was a call for volunteers to help bring out Mr. Prendergast, who was wounded. So Whalen, the Scots Staff and myself went up this rocky path. When we got up there, found a group amongst whom was "Sailor" Morgan and they were doing pretty fair in getting Mr. Prendergast out. By this time shells from our own guns were landing too bloody close to be pleasant and we made as much haste as possible in getting out. Piled on the truck and l sat right on the back with my rifle fully cocked and a Mills nestling in my lap. By this time someone had set fire to the ammo in 555 and it was going off with a helluva bang. As we went farther along the road, just below 551, someone had fired the other magazine and this sure as hell was blazing. All this time i figured that we were going to Wanchai Gap but when we got to the Gap we kept going along the Upper Road — so I figured the best plan was to stick to the truck. For some time we journeyed along, hell bent for election and suddenly we bumped into a long line of troops. Discovered these were "B" Coy — so got off and joined my own outfit again. Everyone was pretty tired, very puzzled as to what the hell was happening. Met Capt. Norris and asked where Major Hook was. Someone said he was at the head of the column - so went up and saw Mr. Golden to find where ne was and got told he was at the rear. So, headed back to my own Coy and trudged along some more. Another halt and this time Io and behold in my tracks I bumped into Mac again. Sure was glad to see him all O.K. Searched for Major Hook and this time found him, limping along at the rear of the column. Was certainly pleased to find him and we all tramped along and then another halt! Went up to find out what the scare was and Judas priest, there sure as hell was no organization whatsoever. Colonel Sutcliffe and Col. Bose got in a car and buggered off to find out how things stood. Major Hook started to geteveryone sorted out into their Companys and we got "B" lined up to one side of the road. Just about this time I should imagine I was the man with the loudest voice on earth and as a matter of fact, in the darkness, was being called sir and was even being saluted by Imperials. Also can remember having to run a message and finding the road blocked by Indians, booted then in the rear right and left until they got out of my way. Sat and waited around quite a while and by this time was getting anxious as here we were on the road, which bore evidence of heavy shelling, with daylight coming on and us in full view. However, the Colonel got back and we discovered that we were now at Mt. Gough and just up above us was an Indian Battery. Now began a search for quarters and the Commander of this battery took Major Hook and self up to a Police Barracks. He told us that we were comparatively safe here aIthough, naturally, the enemy bombed rather heavy but he thought we would be all right. The main thing was that this was good sheIter and we went back and got the Company moved in. Rolled up on the floor with Major Hook, Capt. Norris, Mac, Gordie Sissons and self. In looking back on my feelings then, can remember most of all how tired I was. Also wondered what was going to happen to us and just how soon the Japs would be on us. While I think of it, Mac and I in the afternoon, when at Wanchai, heard Col. Bose and Col. Sutcliffe talking to the G.O.C. and telling him that we couldn't stand much more and asking for an armistice. This was the first definite inkling I had of how badly disorganized things really were up above.
December 23rd 1941
Had a pretty fair snooze and woke up around eight bells. Got up, had a look round and then Major Hook, Mac and I went down below to find out how things were going. Got sent back up to Capt. Norris to get the men up and have them clean the guns. Seaborn and I then went below to draw rations of biscuits, tinned fish and a jar of rum. Had a pretty good breakfast and then we went down below and got some more Brens, Mills and a case of SAA bandolier and one of canon. Boys had a pretty good time here going through the policemen's trunks and alot of them had a police uniform on underneath their own. Got a beIt and a shirt myself but was unable to find a pair of socks. However, I did wash my feet and it sure as hell felt good. Ate damn good, too, and lots of it for a change. Later in the afternoon was sent to find Mr. McCarthy or Mr. Nugent but couldn't find either one of them. As we were just above the Battery, sure had a lot of bombing by the Japs and they really let us have it two of three different times but nobody got hurt. Had our supper at 3:30 and were then told we were to take _ up a position on the forward slope of Mt. Gough. I figured this for Custer's last stand but was glad at least to have a definite spot. Got my equipment on and went down below with Major Hook. Had only been there a short time when he came and told me orders had been changed and that we were to go back and reoccupy Wanchai Gap. Furthermore, there was to be no retreating and we were to hold on at all costs and to the last man. In the event of us being jumped and divided, we were to go ahead and out our way through - no retiring. In other words, fight to the last man. Well, to say the least, I sure as hell felt the shits on hearing this and as I sat there waiting, whilst the Coy. came down and lined the side of the road, I thought of Pop, Alb and home and there sure as hell was an awful lump in my throat. However, off we started, "B" Coy. in the lead and needless to say, Major Hook, Mac and I at the front. Personally, l couldn't help but think of the Black Links Road and expected anytime to be jumped on by the Japs. On and on we trudged and arrived eventually at Wanchai Gap. Here, to my surprise, we found the Royal Scots in possession. Also out in front were stores of booze and grub belonging to our Officers Mess and we sure as hell got feeling good. This was a damn good thing because it cheered us up immensely and after talking to the Scots for awhile, sure as hell felt disgusted and mad at us pulling out last night as there was no bloody need for it at all. As a matter of fact about 40 Scots had held Mt. Cameron till their own battalion had arrived to support. Sure as hell looked bad and there was only one man to actually blame for it. Morale and intelligence and Bn HQ. sure was the shits and as we said, they got a bad "flap" over nothing. However, out came Major Hook and we were to move again. Mr. Corrigan was to take #1 platoon and occupy the trenches below Mt. Cameron and #2 under Mr. McCartney, with HQ. at 551, was to put out a road block, patrol the upper road and occupy 555 and 563. We started off with the Coy. strung out behind us and down that now to me familiar trail once more. Got to 563 and then in to virgin territory. Sure as hell was an awful narrow path and it ran right around the base of Mt. Cameron. Was pretty dark and there were plenty ot bushes, so it didn't give you a very secure feeling. However, after about 20 minutes walk, we were challenged and came into the trenches and found Cpl. Robertson of "C" Coy. with about seven men. At this time we found that McCarthy's platoon hadn't moved or rather hadn't come so we took Holly's section with Mac back to 563 and left them there. Major Hook and l ambled along the trail back to the Gap, crossed it and arrived at Bn HQ. O.K. Here we discovered the other platoon and to this day, cannot figure out or find out why in hell they didn't follow us. However, just now Bn HQ. had the "wind up" again and according to their reports the Japs were right on us and so instead of putting McCarthy's platoon into its proper position, it was to be kept here and put up at 530. Personally, I couldn't see this, the more especially as we had just come from below Mt. Cameron right into the Gap without even having a shot fired at us. Passed the night at Bn HQ. and slept outside on the ground with a rain cape wrapped around me. Judas priest! but it sure was cold at times! Towards morning, Major Hook and l went up to 530 for standto. Everyone was out and over towards the reservoir at Aberdeen there was a lot of firing. However, so far as we were concerned, nothing happened and we went down below to Bn HQ.
December the 24th
Remember this morning as I had a shave. Galbraith and l cleaned up the sheIter where Bn HQ. was and as a matter of fact, l got a pair of slacks and a pair of socks from the Colonel. Really ate good - crushed pineapple, ham, butter, biscuits and lots to drink. Dammed the drainage ditch and got enough water for a wash and shave. Found a place to sleep up above on the bank of the ravine - a little pup tent with three sides sandbagged up about three feet high and opening to the bottom of the gully. Pretty comfortable and fairly safe from shell splinters - in fact it would take a direct hit to do much damage. Jim Hallbert and Dick Aumen moved in with me and that night we had a Christmas pudding with a bottle of wine. Sure tasted good. All day we were heavily shelled, mortared and bombed. Personally, I found it harder on one, just sitting there whilst they were shelling than when you were actually fighting. That night Capt. Norris took the rest of the Company over and established Mr. McCarthy at 551. Then I took Capt. Norris along to 563, where I was glad to find Mac O.K., and from there into this trench below Mt. Cameron. As I had only been in once before, was rather dubious of the trail and it sure was rather trying on the nerves. However, I kept plugging along and eventually we were challenged and found Mr. Corrigan there and everything in good shape. Capt. Norris told him to take out a listening patrol that night and then we were back to 563. Here, Mac told us about a patrol of the Royal Scots being out and when we got to 551, told Mr. McCarthy about it. Thence to Wanchai Gap. Here I went to bed and had a pretty good sleep till I was wakened about four o'clock to standto again at 5:30 up above. Might say now that in Bn H.Q. on the morning of the 24th, gloom was certainly In the ascendancy and most of the senior officers were in a daze. Galbraith, Major Hook and I were the most cheerful and had to sort of buck the others up.
December the 25th Christmas Day, 1941
Certainly a vastly different Xmas from any other I had yet experienced. Day started out all right but the end was tragic in a sense and yet not unexpected. Went over to 551 in the morning to get Mr. McCarthy over to Bn HQ. to coordinate on a plan to attack a machine gun which was established between the two positions. Jim Hallbert and I went together and when we got there, he was out. So I went Into the stores and got clean underwear, shirt and slacks. Also picked up a razor. Had something to eat and thence back to Wanchai. Here we found the Japs had taken this gun out and Major Hook and I went back to 551 after a while. Here we found Mr. Corrigan, wounded in the hand and with the Jap sword he had taken the night before whilst out on patrol. This was quite a weapon, being about three feet long in the blade, about one inch width, sharp as a razor and with a two - handed hiIt. Picked up a case of whiskey and gin and thence back to Bn HQ., with Mr. Corrigan to get his hand dressed. Went up to 530 and got some hot water for his finger. When I got back, discovered that his platoon had pulled out of the trenches. Major Hook told me I was promoted to full corporal with pay and an acting Sergeant without pay and was to go in with Mr. Corrigan as 2 llc. Was to collect all the men I could find and hold the position l at all costs. Mr. Corrigan went on ahead on a wheel and Poitras and I followed on foot. Picked up two men with a Bren on the road — St. Germain and Mellenof and we went on till we got to 563 where we met Mac and some men. Mac had been promoted to Acting CSM with pay and I was sure glad to meet him. Explained the situation and we all went down the trail to the trench. All told there were nine of us - Lieut. Corrigan, C.S.M. MacFadyen, L - Cpl. Hollingsworth, Ptes. McLean, Podd, Poitras, St. Germain, Melbauf and self. There were five Brens lying around but only two of them worked. Mac and I went off on the right flank in a little bastion. Had plenty of SAA but only eight Mills between us. Sent Poitras out to get more men but in about 20 minutes he came back saying he could find no one. In the meantime Mac and I more or less made I ourselves at home and as a matter of fact took the opportunity to clean my rifle. Through Mac's glasses we could see plenty of Japs lying in the catchment round Bennett's Hill so we proceeded to snipe away at them. Pretty sure we got a couple or so and to say the least were rather enjoying ourselves, when, all of a sudden they opened up on us with sniping. Sure had the range and it got so bad we couldn‘t stand up and fire. Crouched down in the trench and we both started in to write a last note - Mac on a cigarette carton and I on some crap paper. Sure as hell felt bad then when I was writing to Pop. Started to figure out how long we would last and Mac was wondering whether we would see tomorrow, as that was his birthday. All of a sudden, Mr. Corrigan said that this was enough and it was time to get out. Mac and I made a break for it and then covered the others. In getting across Holley got wounded in the arm and Neil McLean got creased in the back. All the way into Wanchai Gap we were sniped at but we made it O.K. However, on our arrival there, to our great surprise and intense disgust, we found it had been evacuated and the only people there were a couple of Royal Scots. Here I stepped on a nail and so I changed from the sneakers I was wearing to my own boots. Had a bite or so to eat and then picked up a bottle of gin and on our way. It was lucky we met the Scotties as they knew the country and they said it would be better to make for Fortress. We went along the Magazine Gap Road and were shelled from time to time. Here we bumped into other groups of Grenadiers and lmperials and in no time we had quite a throng. Holley was getting pretty weak by this time, so we stopped a car and sent him and Poitras off to hospital. From the drivers we first learnt of a surrender. Trudged along and then we began the ascent to the Peak. Judas priest! that climb will remain in my memory to my dying day. Up and up and up again we plodded, each step becoming more difficult. At last we reached the top and by this time, the surrender was confirmed. After journeying a short time, we were told by an officer to pile up our arms and equipment. Took the bolt out of my rifle and hurled it over the cliff and threw rifles, bombs and SAA on heap — also rest of my equipment, some of my water bottle. At that time was glad it was all over as we didn‘t have a chance and furthermore, had seen the demoralization of those in command and it was the best thing which could have happened, as further actions would only have resulted in some more good men losing their lives needlessly. Journeyed on until everyone halted and found a great many troop gathered. Started to round up "B" Coy. and found a good many of them. Here Mr. MacKichnie joined us. He was badly crippled in the back from falling down the bank at Middle Gap and was bent over nearly double. Had lots of grub with us and we had quite a feed on tinned fish, biscuits and beer. Also got hold of some soup. Mac and I _ went off together to find some vacant house for the boys to stay in and after trying several, we came to one where there was some R.E.'s. Here we were asked if we would like a cup of tea and we accepted. They ran out of tea, said they'd get some more and then, to our great amazement asked us if we'd like a turkey sandwich. We said yes but figured they were kidding us and probably would turn up with some bully beef but on their return, lo and behold they were turkey complete with dressing. So had turkey on Xmas day after all. Just at this time we met Mr. Dennis and he told us the Grenadiers were up at Mt. Austin Brks. Gathered up the boys and set off. Arrived there and found quite a bunch. Here also was Major Hook and was certainly glad to see him O.K. Mac and I bunked down together on the floor and sure slept as we were really tired after what we had gone through. Never thought I would be alive but there must have been a guardian angel looking after me to come through what I did. Couldn't help but wonder what had happened to the rest of our boys.
December the 26th, 1941
Woke up and got outside and lined up for breakfast. Found more "B" Coy. in the old gym. Had a set of rooms allotted to us and set about to clean up. This occupied most of the day as a matter of fact but we eventually cleaned up three rooms. During the morning a bunch came in and amongst them was Don Aitken. Sure was glad to see him and found he had been with the Middlesex in the street fighting, house-to-house, on the north shore. Later on, Schwartz, Carlton and Nick Charuk arrived. Nick was given quite a welcome as everyone had figured he had been killed. However, he had a miraculous escape on the Black Links and after being bayonneted in the rear, had made good his escape to Aberdeen. At this time booze was flowing like water and we had quite a job keeping the boys under control. As a matter of fact, Rodd and Arge along with some others were thrown in the jug. Rocky and W.J. Smith, who had straggled in, went off down the road and came back higher than kites. Had a wash and a shave, which sure made me feel better. Lots of grub floating around at this time and sure had a variety. Towards evening some Japs made an appearance but didn't stay. However, just as we were settling down for the night, word came that we had to move. So we lined up and marched down the road for about half a mile or so. To one side there was a regiment of Japs, lying on the road. About every three feet a Jap was on guard and it sure gave one a queer feeling as we marched silently along. However, we finally halted and found we were to spend the night at Peak Mansions. When we got in, managed to bag a mattress and Mac, Galbraith and l shared this. Sure had a very comfortable sleep.
22 December the 27th, 1941
Woke up and had a very good breakfast of ham, biscuits, jam and some stuffed peppers. Found that we were to move again. Lined up and set off. Followed a road down the mountain, past Mt. Danis, which certainly gave every indication of having received a terrific pounding. Had a very long tramp and we eventually got to the _ university of Hong Kong, where we were to stay. Went and laid down on the grass and found that the Japs here said, "So sorry, must go back." However, managed to effect a compromise whereby we waited for more orders. Had a lunch of bully beef and biscuits. The water situation was bad and as a matter of fact, that was the reason given for our moving from Peak Mansions. Lots of grumbling re this and they finally collected everyone's water bottle. Later on in the afternoon it was decided we were to stay at the University for the night. So we moved inside and occupied a large room. Had to line up for a crap or a piss. Also those bloody green peppers started to give me hell and I sure had an awful stomach ache. However, had something to eat and so to bed.
December the 28th, 1941
Got up and still had an awful belly ache. All we got for breakfast was some tins of sliced carrots and some canned milk. However, so far as I was concerned, didn't feel like eating anyway. Had to move again, so cleaned up the place and away we went, bound for Victoria Barracks. This was a fairly long march and it sure was a tough one for me, as my stomach was really giving me hell. On and on we trudged until we came to Murray Brks., where we had a break. Then on to Victoria. Here we found McGavin and Laidlaw. Had a bunch of rooms given to us and started cleaning them up again. Found that there was no shortage of water either for drinking or washing which sure sounded good. Soon after we had a meal of bully biscuits and tea. Had found some stomach tablets and had taken these. Just now I had the shits pretty bad but this hot tea sure was a lifesaver. Had to collect and turn in all the grub we had. Found lots of clothes and books, etc. The place was full of troops - Royal Scots, Signals, Engineers, Volunteers and about 6 or 700 Navymen. Latrines had been established and the creek, which flowed close by, was dammed. This looked as though it might be our home for some time and wasn't too bad a place. Had a church parade with the Pdre of the Royal Scots, who certainly is a man. After that had a muster parade of the Bn and there sure are a lot missing in "A" and "D" Coys.
December the 29th 1941
Still at Victoria Brks and started to clean up around the outside. Finished cleaning our own lines and also started in gathering boots and clothes. Meals here were real good and sure had a good mulligan. Place is teeming with men and it looks as though this may be permanent. Picked up a little rattan grip and some odds and ends of stuff. Towards supper time we learnt that we were to move again in the morning. That night a sack of rations issued to be carried between three men. Had quite a late snack that same evening amongst ourselves and little did we realize that this was going to be the last for sometime. Great speculation as to where we were to be sent but it seems pretty definite it's Shamshuipo and our old barracks in Kowloon. The Royal Scots were told by their Colonel that this was the case. December 30th, 1941 Got up and had a fair breakfast. Lined the men up and after a delay we started off. Had rather a jerky sort of a march - stop here, then another, etc. until we arrived at a large square downtown where we had a long stop. Had a bite or two to eat, thence down to the ferry. Whilst waiting for the ferry, a couple of the boys broke ranks to pick up some canned goods. We shouted at them and the Jap guard went up to them and slapped them on the side of the face. This was the first sign of any rough treatment we had had since being taken captive. Got on the ferry at last. She was loaded down and we were crammed in like the proverbial sardine. Landed at the Star Ferry in Kowloon and off we went. Figured we were going to Shamshuipo but we turned off and as we discovered later, west to Argyle Street were the old Internment Camp for aliens had been. When we got there, the Japs told us to turn round and go back. Whilst on this march, we stopped opposite a house with a Red Cross sign and a bunch of white women. These brought out a pail of water, tea and endeavored to give us some buns but this baby - faced Jap guard we had wouldn't allow it. Was getting pretty worried as one ofthe ladies didn't give a hoot for the Japs and was scared this bird might shoot or bayonet her. However, after a long, tedious, tiring march we finally arrived at Kowloon Brks. and were assigned a hut for the night.