Nanking Barracks, Shamshuipo, Kowloon.
After we had arrived and settled in a hut, we stayed in it a couple of days and then were moved to other lines. New Year‘s Day came and went — just another day so far as we were concerned and so I start 1942 off as a prisoner of war. This is now going to take more the form of a journal, as life here moves on in a very endless sort of manner and one day is very much like the rest. Will make various headings and elaborate on them. I bunk with Don Aitken and Nelson Galbraith. Don is an Englishman, 36 years of age and hasn't been home since he was 17. Spent four years or so in Australia, thence to South Africa and from there to the States where he resided for about ten years prior to enlisting. Wrote stories for a living and is a pretty smart chap. Pretty quiet and has a dry sense of humour. Nelson is 27 and comes from around Carman in Manitoba. Worked as a truck driver and other jobs 'ere joining up. He is tall, thin, dark and rather handsome with nice black, wavy hair. So much for my bunkies. Our Home l The three of us live together in what was formerly the NCO‘s room. The barracks here have all been looted and the huts have had everything of value taken away - windows, doors, beds, fans, the electric wiring pulled out, biscuits ripped up and the cair left. However, we've managed to fix the place up somewhat and shall endeavour to describe it. Room is about 8 feet wide and 14 long and is fairly high in the ceiling about 10 feet I should judge. Has cement floor and brick walls. There are two windows plus a door with a ventilator in one end. We've fixed the windows up on the inside with rattan matting and on the outside with some sort of palm leaf. At night, over the door, a ground sheet is hung. For a bed we have this cair - coconut fibre - with a blanket spread over it. Nels and I have a blanket whilst Don uses his greatcoat. As it's pretty cold here at nights, we sleep with our clothes on. Have managed to rig up four shelves - one over the front window, one above the door, the other next to the other window and one suspended by wire from the ventilator. Have two stools, made from stair boards and resting on iron pipes. Also a table made from the proper form legs with part of a bed with various pieces of boards to complete the top. On the shelves are many items which we have managed to collect in our travels. Have a lot of stationary we picked up including a typewriter. lx/IY POSSESSIONS Right now my worldly belongings are not very great but I will set them forth.
Clothes: . · 2 suits underdrawers 1 gy undertop 3 only KD shirts 1 pair KD shorts g 1 pair KD slacks 1 pair crocluroy shorts 3 pairs socks 1 pair serge trousers 1 only cardigan 1 only field service cap 4 only handkerchiefs 1 pair coveralls 1 pair boots 1 pair sneakers 1 only plate - soup 2 only table knives 2 only forks 1 only small spoon 1 only Gillette razor 11 only razor blades 1 pair braces 1 only Police belt 1 pair small scissors 1 bottle Peroxide 1 jar Vaseline 1 bottle Tylenol throat mixture 1 only whistle 1 only Carbon lock 3 only leather straps 1 only blanket 1 only Haversack 1 only rattan valise 1 bar soap 2 only towels 1 only mug 1 tin shoepolish and various pieces of rope etc.
Right now my chief worries are my boots and my soap. Mly leather boots are starting to wear in the soles and the sneakers I have aren't very good neither. Also l have to start on my last bar of soap tomorrow (January 19) and God knows how l'll make out. All in all l have enough clothes except that right now l could use a tunic or greatcoat. However am getting by and if I can only hold out on my boots, will not do too badly.
Kowloon area comprises two barracks - Nanking and Hankaw. We are billeted in the Nanking barracks along with most of the white troops. The Indians occupy Hankaw and the Navy are mostly in the Jubilee Bldg. There are the Royal Scots, Middlesex, Hong Kong volunteers, RAs, RCs, RASC, RAOC plus other Corp troops. There are about 740 Canadians, most of whom are Grenadiers. Have cleaned up all the rubbish so far as possible and the camp is fairly presentable. The Japs, evidently don't know very much about prison camps and I don't s'pose that in their fight with Chinn that they've bothered to take prisoners. The washrooms have been fixed up and so far there's plenty of water for washing. Will always remember the first bath l had here - it was the first in about three weeks and did it ever feel good. There's plenty of room for exercise but on the diet we have, no one feels like doing anything strenuous aside from an evening stroll. Can see the harbour from one side and it rather interesting to see the sampans and junks. About the 16 of January there were about 22 freighters in but right now, the 21st, it is practically empty.
FOOD: Our main food is rice. When we came here we carried some stuff with us and for a while got milk and sugar in it in the morning and at night bully beef or hard tack. However, by this date, Jan 21, this has long since gone and we have to depend on what the Japs give us. Sometimes we get beans- somewhat like lentils, fresh vegetables occasionally, such as onions, Swiss chard, turnips, etc. and some salt. On rare occasions beef or pork is supplied and it figures out to 2/3 of an ounce per man. So, you don‘t exactly have a feast on that but it sure gives more body to the rice and makes it taste a lot better. Sure is a big help but personally I would sooner have salt or onions. Beans mixed in are very, very good. Once we had a beef broth with some rice like pearl barley and it went down swell. Have been eating only twice a day plus a concoction called tea, which, in my opinion, only differs from hot water in the color. The chief difficulty here is lack of wood and also, to my mind, the fact the our quarter staff and cooks, as usual, aren't worth a shit and are too bloody crooked. The stories, which have been making the rounds, have been very ugly and far from complimentary so far as certain high placed individuals are concerned. However, today, the 21 st of January, there has been a complete change in the cooking staff and we have the promise of 3 meals of rice per day. If this is implemented we will be not too badly off as it will fill us more and satisfy our hunger better. Up until the last week or so, it was _ possible to buy stuff over the fence from the Chinese. Their cry was one dollah, one dollah for anything and as time went on prices became even higher. Personally, I had only one dollar HK when I arrived in camp - so had no worries but quite a few of the _ boys had dough and by purchasing stuff didn't fare too badly. incidentally, as time went on, it was hard to get contacts outside and certain unscrupulous individuals ` made quite a rackoff that way. Another racket was the selling of clothes. A suit of battle dress got maybe forty dollars or fifty dollars HK and the go-between pocketed as much as twenty dollars or thirty dollars. Some of these worthy individuals will linger in my memory and I rather hope that le bas Dieu will see fit to reward them. All in all, right now, whist the food problem is bad inasmuch as we certainty cannot get enthused over this enforced rice diet yet the fact remains that we are a long way from starving and can get by on this for quite a time provided there is no serious outbreak of disease, in which case - caput!
Routine and Duties: Every morning at 10:30 we have a parade, save Sundays. Roll call and then a little company drill for about 15 minutes or so. As there is no officer for #12 Platoon, I have to take this and issue the command. Needless to say, make numerous mistakes and as a matter of fact, it is embarrasing for me, as I just jumped right up from the ranks to the Sergeant. However, am doing the best I can and so far have had no serious complaints. Every third day we are on Duty platoon, which makes me Company Orderly Sgt. At this time, that is a sinecure and only entails the detailing of three men to clean the room and area for inspection. Every fifth day we‘re Duty Company and have been BOS once. On this iob you report to the Area RSM at 9:15, your own RSM at 10:45, attend all meal parades, accompany the CO on his inspection at noon and then report to the Area RSM at 1815 hours. At "Lights Out" you check to see all the lights are out and tout fini! Have done one guard on the kitchen but didn't amount to anything, as had the men change themselves and only visited them twice. Every afternoon, from 1400 to 1500, according to the MO everyone has to be outside. Things are pretty easy as no one can do, or feels like doing, much on this diet and as is to be expected, discipline lsn't very strict owing to more reasons than one. Being an NCO at this time is to put it mildly the shits and about the only reason I hang on to the hooks is for the dough otherwise they can work them up edgewise, cornerwlse, or any other wise. (What feeling!)
January 23rd, 1942
Here we go again. Last night we got our orders to move and it looks like Hong Kong, particularly North Point. Cleaned up our room, packed our duds and lined up preparatory to marching off. Had to get into columns of lines so that the Japs could check us off. After the usual delay we got going and had quite a march down Nathan Road to the Star Ferry. When we reached that point boarded a ferry and away. This move from Kowloon included all the Canadians and it was evident that we were to join the Rifles in Hong Kong. The ferry steamed out and sure was glad to see her steam right down the harbor instead of just across, as it sure saved us a walk and l was very tired, having quite a load. Got to the dock at North Point and were lined up again to be counted. Then we were marched into the yard of the barn of the HK Tramways. After some delay we were admitted and then counted and finally were alloted to huts. And so another point in our career as prisoners.
February 11, 1942
Rather disjointed in this diary or journal, and I've slipped behind and am going to write in more or less generalities. However, today is my 27th birthday and should merit a word or two. Jackie Hodgkinson arrived here yesterday and so once more we celebrate together- Jack is now 22. Last year he and l went to the N.A.A.F.l. in Jamaica. I had saved a cake from Xmas and we got a cup of tea for our birthday party. Today, we had rice and beans, plain rice with sugar and at lunch, one tin of bully between four, one slice of bread and a cup of tea. Some difference! Can‘t help l thinking of the passing of time, as I s'p0se every birthday brings. Alb was 25 on the first and it is hard to imagine he is that old. However, he has been married over two years now, and of course there is Wayne. Flight now I wonder if I shall be able to celebrate my next one at home and in a "civvy" suit. Certainly hope so but right now, that is definitely in the lap of the gods but sure would like to have the next one there, especially after spending two away from home.
February 18th, 1942
This is a pretty scrambled sort of a journal, rather like a dog's breakfast but am afraid that it is going to be like that, owing to the fact that this life rather affects me and I have to get in the mood to write. Today it is rather a miserable day and I‘m in not exactly a despondent mood but do feel sort of low. Have just had the news of the fall of Singapore and it doesn't cheer one exactly although I find I can look at it in rather an aloof, detached manner and it doesn't seem to have nearly the significance here to me that it would outside. Personally, have made my mind up to a fairly long term of capture and if I can eat Xmas dinner, 1942, back home in Winnipeg, will certainly consider myselflf to be a lucky man and will not be disappointed if I don't. ln my opinion, the issue will still be decided in the West and by June, we should know whether or not we have any hope of being released by the end of 1942. Surely, at this time, I have great faith, the British will be able to make a real drive on the Continent and between the Russians and themselves make a tremendous dent in Germany. Failing this, the good Lord alone knows when we will be released.
North Point Camp
This was originally built by the British to take care of the Chinese refugees who streamed across the Border at the time of the Jap drive on Canton. The huts are very flimsily built and as a matter of fact are dammed draughty - somewhat similar to the ones at Clear Lake. Dan and I share the top of an Upper bunk with Hollie and McGavin below. Have built shelves around and have nails etc. pounded into the beams. The sanitary arrangements are none too good - these Chinese style toilets are sure the shits. The camp doesn't cover a very big area. It fronts on the north to the harbour, which is in itself a bad feature. On the east, there is a small vacant space, where you can tramp up and down and also where there were some huts burnt or torn down. Needless to say, the ubiquitious or ominous parade square is also with us but so far the weather has saved us from much of that crap. There are roughly 2300 men in this place — — about 600 Navy and the rest Canadians, mainly Royal Rifles and Grenadiers together with the remains of the "C" Force auxiliary troops.
Food- (Feb 21,1942)
This, without a doubt, is the main point of interest, concern or what have you. In the ordinary course of events, when a body of men are together, women, or sex if you wish would be the main topic but here it's grub. This is definitely an improvement on Shamshuipo in that regard and we have, so far, managed to get three meals a day. Rice still continues to be a main source of nourishment but in the last few weeks, this has been cut down and flour given us instead. Therefore, we manage to get a slice of bread at least twice a day. However, lately, whether it is due to the cold or to the yeast, which they make themselves from potatoes, the bread has been rather sour and the boys will swap their slice for a cigarette. Have had rice with every imaginable thing you can think of. Sugar, syrup, jam, marmalade, beans, bully beef, hot chocolate sauce, fish, fish sauce, meat - pork or lamb, salt, whole meat, vegetables - potatoes, beans, peas, silver beet, arrowroot, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, greens, turnips, and what have you. Actually prefer thick rice with sugar and milk, plain with salt and with meat of some sort. The odd time we have had a meal of bully beef - one can between tour or five - and a slice of bread. At one time we had our issue biscuits two or three to l a man but for a long time have not seen them — must have cleaned them all up. Also used to get a separate butter, margarine, cheese, marmalade or jam issue but this has virtually ceased. Sometimes they make up those small baking powder biscuits and yesterday we had a cookie with jam in it. Generally we manage to get tea - with milk and sugar, with milk and no sugar, without milk and sugar. Lately we have had a good streak_ and have had cocoa and chocolate. Right now we've been getting sweet, thick rice for breakfast, a sort of soup affair for dinner and supper, generally rice with something in it. As a rule we get a slice of bread plus tea but this is not always possible. To sum up, if I can get these rations for the duration of my capture, will not be in too bad shape and will certainly have nothing to complain about with regard to eating. However, as can be well imagined, there are complaints, moans, beets, threats and what have you in connection with the food and the setup re same and I will deal with this in my next splurge of writing.
February 21 - 25, 1942 Distribution of Food
Cooking, Sgt's Mess, Complaints, etc. re Same -- They have built quite a cookhouse here and as a matter of fact, at this date 21-2-42, they're still working on it. Each company draws its own rations and the C.Q.M.S. is responsible for the distribution of same. Needless to say this has occasioned some _ disputes and a lot of hard feeling. However, you certainly can't satisfy everyone. So far we have been getting three meals per day - Breakfast at 0900 hours, lunch at 1330 and supper at 1800 hours - approximately. Each platoon has its turn in drawing same, and in turn, each section gets the grub for one meal. Also, the platoons rotate so that #10 is first one day, then #11, then #12. The same thing applies to the sections. Outside our hut, a couple of small stands have been built and the food is placed on this. Behind the trestle stands the Duty Corporal, who hands each man a slice of bread, then the Quarter bloke gives him his rice or hash from a scoop, made out of an old butter tin and finally the C.O.S. hands out the tea - if any- from another scoop, made from another tin. The big thing is judging the scoops of rice so that there isn't too much left over for "seconds". The first section of the leading platoon generally manages to get a "second" , if the rice is solid -- if it's some sort of hash, it generally goes farther. Also, as a rule, there is a fair amount of tea available. Lately this hasn't been a problem but previously we used to get three tins of butter or margarine or a 4 lb. tin of jam, or 3 tins of marmalade to divide amongst 98 men. Needless to say the judgement of a Solomon was required. However, after the others had tried and more or less fucked it up, the job was wished on me and l got so l could do a pretty fair job. Used to divide the butter tins in three sections and try to figure a section of men to one of these divisions. However, in the case of jam, you can mark the outside but the best method is to count the men and judge accordingly. Each man hands you his spoon, if any, and more often or not, a fork and you dip his portion out. With a variety of sizes of ` spoons, to say nothing of forks, it really presents quite a touchy difficulty and when we had syrup you can imagine endeavouring to ladle an equal amount to a man, who has handed you a fork! However, even though I do say so myself, I think that l did a pretty fair job and although I was sometimes a little heavy or light, in the long run, this adjusted itself. Now, with this setup, the fact that we were not getting as much as we were used to and also the big factor that food is nearly uppermost in everyone's mind, complaints are to be expected. However, due to rather prompt disciplinarian action, which shall be duly described herewith, these confine themselves to more or less, disgruntled mutterings. Most of the men are very good in this regard but naturally there are some who, no matter where or what they get, would complain and try to stir up trouble. It is curious, but true, that the men, who were foremost or best in battle, are the ones who give the least trouble. However, shortly after we arrived at North Point Camp it was decreed that there should be a separate mess for Sergeants and this necessitated setting up a separate cookhouse. The same rations were drawn for the sergeants, as for the men, but with only 60 odd to cook for, as compared with some 700 odd men, it is not hard to imagine what happened. Then again the menus of the two messes never exactly corresponded inasmuch as we might not have bread for breakfast, whilst the men might, and then we would have it later. Also, our rice was definitely being cooked better than the men‘s and possibly we may have been getting a little better helpings due to one thing or another. Eventually, one Sunday night, it came that the men got a very llght supper of 1 tin of fish between 5, 1 slice of bread and marmalade plus tea. The sergeants had the same, less the marmalade but had a scoopful of rice. To say the least, a mild riot seemed to be about to take place. Continuous streams of men went in to see the C.S.M. to lay a complaint. Unfortunately, most of the men, to their own detriment, complained re an equal distribution of rations. This, naturally enough, in the eyes of the army, was more or less tantamount to a declaration of stealing or, at least, to g@ in connection with the distribution of the stores. So in the advice of the Company Commander, the C.S.M. laid a charge under Section 40 and about 12 men got 3 days fatigues plus two days loss of pay. This has had the effect of cutting down any outright complaints but the bad feature of this was that most of the ones who were penalized were not the real ringleaders - these being mostly "old____" and too smart or rather slick, to make such a complaint. However, in my opinion, this idea of the Sergeants Mess was the shits and whilst under K.R. and Can, it is laid down that there shall be a separate mess for Sergeants, yet a little discretion at this time should have been exercised — the more so as we're not getting any different rations and when you have a separate mess such as this, under these conditions, it will only lead to trouble. After this episode, as there were other incidents in the other companies, it was suggested that the mess be disbanded but that could not be, as that would have been an open admission of either defeat or guilt with reference to the rations. However, eventually it was decided that everyone should draw from the same cookhouse.
So at this date 22-2-42 that is what is happening and has out down on a lot of squawks. However, there are still some who think that the Sergeants get a little more but actually this is not so and as a matter of fact, the reverse is more the case, as when there were separate cookhouses, it was _ flung in the men's cooks* faces about the difference in rice and one thing or another, so that they're now, in a "penny-wise and pound foolish" fashion endeavouring to take it out on the Sergeants. However, there are quite a few things, which, to my mind, "smell" and which should be remedied or at least, in some way curtailed. Everyone with any mind at all knows that the cooks and cookhouse staff are going to fare better than the rank and file but according to my mind and observations, this is being carried out a little too far. For instance, on February 17th l was B.O.S. and in that capacity have to be present at the distribution of the rations for all meals. For breakfast the men had rice with some sugar and milk in it (very little and needless to say, mixed in the rice in the big pots), slice of bread and a mug of tea with no sugar or milk. However, the cooks had the same but on a table was sugar and milk, which they could take and pour over their rice and put in their tea individually. Also, there was at least three slices of bread per man, more if they wanted it, and this they could toast and then there was butter to put on it. Also, later on in the day, some buns were made for the sick. These had a little jam in them and were rather tasty looking. On the whole, this was a good idea, for those poor devils in the hospital could stand something but they had made at least a dozen more for themselves. Also noticed a pan of rolls come out of the oven and the Lord knows where they went. That night cocoa was issued at 2100 hrs but there certainly was a vast difference between that which the men got and which the cooks had. Furthermore, when the Officers drew their rations, they got their tea and milk separate, which under present circumstances, shouldn't be.
Starting today, ie 25 -2-42, we're getting rice only for breakfast, two slices of bread and tea for lunch, and rice with vegetables for supper. Actually, the rice ration for breakfast was very light and if that continues, will certainly have to out out this PT. parade. There are some rather nasty stories floating around at present over the rations the Officers are drawing and as a matter of tact one of the Corporals in "HO" Company is on a charge for stating the Officers had jam for supper the other night. Naturally, there is a lot of grumbling and always will be -- some ot which to my mind is justifed and some which is to be met with anytime. However, one point that I mentioned tothe powers-that-be and which should be mentioned, is the bad habit that our CONIS has in dishing out the grub. _ _ is now occupying this job and whilst nothing is intended by his remarks, or so I believe, yet he has the bad habit of saying to certain individuals, "Here's a little more for you" , or "That was a good one" , or words to that effect. Also, in the case of the Corporal, who hands out the bread, especially when two of them are his very good friends, he has a tendancy to make unnecessary comments re being a little light at breakfast and so is now endeavouring to make it up for dinner. Actually, the only way to do is to refrain from passing any comments at all and the more so, if you’re only going to do it with certain men. At a time like this when food in most people's mind minds is the essential problem, these little incidents can cause a lot of trouble and whilst he has been warned, yet he still persists in doing this. This is none of my concern unless anyone actually complains to me but but cannot help hear remarks re same. Still _ is a very touchy individual and one has a hard time approaching him and have not said anything to him as yet on the subject but will have to one of these days.
February 25, 1942
Needless to say, this is at a very low ebb in so far as the Grenadiers are concerned. When we returned home from Jamaica, everyone was "fed up" to varying degrees. Then we received a draft -— most of whom weren't worth the powder to blow them to hell. To cap things our effort and performance in the field sure isn‘t anything to look back upon with any degree of favor and certainly the actions and behaviour of most of the senior officers at that time left a distinct aroma in the nostrils of most of us. Then again, the way we were fed whilst at Pokfulam, to say the least, was criminal and when we got to Wanchai Gap, saw all the rations there, well, you can hardly blame men for talking and acting as they are. So far as any acting again as an effective fighting unit, I this outfit is finished and even if we were to reach home with the war still on, we would certainly be broken up and drafted to other outfits. Needless to remark, in this place, you go through different moods -- some days you feel particularly optimistic and then the next day you're down in the dumps. There is a- great deal of speculation as to when we will be home and all I can say is that, if I eat my Xmas dinner, in 1942, at ` home, I will consider myself to be a very lucky man and will be well satisfied. However, by June, we shall be able to judge pretty closely as to whether we can expect to be released in 1942 or not, as by that time the offensive in the Western front shall be well under way. Generally, when a body of men are together, the chief topic of conversation is without a doubt, sex. Here, however, it is the farthest from anyone's mind and as is to be expected the chief is food followed by discussions on war and when we are to be free. it is rather amusing to listen to the talk as to what they’re going to eat on their release and if everything is done, which is claimed, there will be a lot of very sick boys. Personally, whenever my mind reverts to this, which it does quite often, there arises a picture of a loaf of crisp French bread, butter, cheese, raw onion, and a hot cup of toddy. Following this, the other picture is of a Sunday dinner at Mrs. Pinchbeck's of good roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, baked potatoes, green peas, gravy, bread, butter, milk and a nice piece of apple pie for dessert. For breakfast a bowl of puffed wheat, sausages and eggs, toast, jam (strawberry), butter and milk. Here shall leave a blank space so that i can write in the dates the above is realized.
Right now, England is getting an awful passing of the rank and tile over her war effort, her attitude toward the colonies and what have you. Some of them certainly make you wonder just where the hell they were educated and also if the East of Canada realizes how many half wits there are loose. it is intensely illuminating and educating as to the attitude of certain individuals towards their present lot. Some of these birds are a little better than animals and as a natter of fact, in some cases their eyes are larger than their belly. About the only place some of these birds go, from the hut, is to have a piss and to go to the cookhouse to see what is for the meal. You always know what is for a meal well in advance according to these cookhouse sleuths. Notable amongst these are _____ also one of the worst heels to my mind and one who was certainly a washout up at Wanchai, under fire, and who had quite a streak, is our friend _____. When we get home, there certainly aren't very many of these guys I will ever know and if some of them even attempt to speak to me on the street, will look for a cop. Just to listen to the _____ and a few more of that ilk in their interminable arguments and discussions is at times fair sickening. Another thing you cannot help but notice is the 100% of #1 men,_____ , to mention a few of the most conspicuous. Also the suckholding around anyone who has smokes or anything at all, our old pal ____ is right in there, along with _____ to mention the outstanding individuals. However, it is all amusing in one sense and it will always be something to remember in the days to come. Certainly shall not forget to remind some of these estimable gentlemen of some of the things at a later date and shall recall some incidents to mind with vivid clearness. These not only include the rank and file, but l NGOs and officers as well. Some of these guys aren't even worth bothering about and some have turned out to be the salt of the earth. A good upbringing sure tells and never more has this been forcibly demonstrated than at the present time. However, there'll come a day!
Februay 27 1942
Rumors, News, Etc.
ln this respect we've certainly run the gamut of human emotion. Whilst we were at Shamshuipo news or alleged news trickled to us --ostensibly over the fence or from the Navy, who were supposed to have a radio set. According to this, to say the least, it was certainly persistent, as well as consistent, the Russians had pushed the Germans right out of Russia, through Poland and the Baltic States and were, finally, actually, in Berlin and Munich. At the same time the British had effected a landing or landings and were on the Rhine. italy was definitely finished and Mussolini was a prisoner of the King of Italy. Turkey had declared war on the side of the Allies. The African campaign was closed up. The French troops there, plus all the French fleet, had gone over to De Gaulle. In the East, Waville had successfully replaced the Japs' efforts in Malaya and had actually advanced and occupied Saigon in French Indo-China. Naturally, with all this, we were really buoyed up and figured it to be just a matter of days before we would be released. Also, heard Tokyo had been heavily bombed and that Kajo, the Jap Premier, had commited suicide. All this followed in a chronological way and was, as before stated, so consistent, as well as persistent, that we all more or less were in I our own minds convinced it was only a matter of days. Then came the denouement! An R.A.M.C. Colonel came over from Bowen Road and bingo, the first inkling was given us that it was a lot of baloney. After that, some of the boys, who had been wounded, came trickling in and the balloon went up. Since then, why l take everything with a grain of salt and as I've said elsewhere, figure that l shall be a very lucky boy if l can eat my Xmas dinner at home for 1942. When we arrived at North Point in January 23rd, we learnt that there was a radio in camp and also got a better slant on the situation. For the first time we discovered just how bad things were around Singapore and also how they were going on the Western Front. Every day or so, we get what is supposed to be B. B.C. news and the gist of them up to the time of writing will be briefly gone over here. At this time we know Singapore has fallen, that the Japs are attacking, or have attacked, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Borneo and Timor. They also have bombed Port Darwin in Northern Australia. In the Phillipines it appears that there is still fighting, although the Japs claim to have captured Luzon. However, the belief is general that the Americans are still holding them and we have heard that they have, from time to time, been landing reinforcements. According to our news, the Japs have lost a considerable amount of shipping, both naval and merchant marine. In a naval battle with the Americans, off the Gilbert Islands, they are supposed to have come off second best with the loss of an aircraft carrier, 3 cruisers, 1 submarine and 4 transports. In Libya, they're still fighting - Rammell has received further reinforcements and scene of battle is still shifting. At this time there isn't much activity there due to the heavy sandstorms. On the Russian front, it is evident that the Russians have been steadily yet slowly advancing. ln the South the line now runs from Khrakow down into the Crimea —— so that they must have pushed Fritzie back from Rostov to there. In the central portion, the line is supposed to be from Khrakow up to Smolinsk, which is a good 200 miles or so from Moscow. From time to time we have heard mention of heavy fighting around Smolinsk so that this is a definite gain over the last known front we had. ln the north, on the Leningrad, it is hard to figure out just what they mean by the "Leningrad front". lf it is just around the city, makes the news hard to reconcile. However, they have been doing OK and we have even heard of activity in Latvia and around Riga. Now, Riga is right at the bottom of the gulf of that name and is around 300 miles from Leningrad itself as the crow flies. Yesterday, 26-2-42, we heard that on this front the Russians had captured 12,000 prisoners, 150 mortars, 400 vehicles, and quite a quantity of guns, etc. All in all, it would appear that the Russians have been steadily making gains and that the Germans have been taking quite a lot of punishment. Naturally, the weather must be I in the Russians favor and Fritzie certainly has been feeling it. However, both sides, so we hear, state that they are waiting for the spring to launch an offensive. However, this news is certainly cheering and augers well for this spring. So far as Britain is concerned, we have heard that Churchill has shaken up his cabinet and made some changes notably in the Ministry of War. Also that these battleships, which were lying in Brent, broke out and made Heligoland. Needless to say, this caused a furore in England. The British are still bombing Germany, especially the Ruhr but they haven't apparently done very much and seem to waiting for the Spring. So far as the States is concerned, they appear to be plugging away, raising an army of 7 million, increasing their Navy and Air Force. However, whether or not they can put forth any great effort in the way of military force this summer, appears to be doubtful. So far as Canada is concerned, all we have heard is that they are now exporting some planes and tanks to Russia. Also in the Jap controlled paper, read where, according to the Havas Agency, that MacKenzie King has instituted a Court of Inquiry as to the Canadians being used at Hong Kong, the charge they were not fully trained and only partially equipped. The Commission has full authority to go into the subject. So, it looks as though we can't expect very much until the spring offensive is launched.
February 27 1942
Todays News -— Japs have suffered 30,000 casuaIties so far in the Phillipines. British sunk a 10,000 ton battleship off Norway. Also heard a rumor to the effect that we're to be moved to either Fanling or Stanley.
February 28, 1942 Last night, Len and I were strolling as usual and bumped into "Knocker" White of the Navy. He is a Wireless Petty Officer and used to be in charge of the station on Stonecutters Island. From him we learnt that there are three radio sets in camp - one is not in operation due to a fauIty tube, one has a standard broadcast band only, and the other is an all-wave job over which the news we get comes. He told us that the Japs had lost 1 cruiser definitely, 1 doubtful, 1 destroyer and 3 or 4 transports in action around D.E.I. Also that it was a cruiser which was sunk off Norway. The situation in Java is still in hand - evidently the Japs are being held in D.E.l. Some sort of battle was raging around Rangoon and we were supposedly holding the upper hand. Heard from him, too, that 20% of the Jap Navy had been accounted for and is out of action. -
Today's News (February 28, 1942)
British, Americans, and Australians have all landed reinforcements on Java. The Russians were chasing the remnants of the German #16th Army south of Leningrad. Yesterday heard rumor to the effect that the Americans had recaptured Guam, Wake, and Medway Islands; had reinforced MacArthur in the Philipines; that there was street fighting in Manila; and the Yanks had recaptured the airport. From the trend of rumors and news we‘re getting, it would apperar that the Japs have not gained control of the Phllipines, are meeting with real opposition in the D.E.l. and the Americans are far more active than we had believed. However, it would seem that it all depends on this drive in the spring in Europe.
Entertainment, Occupations Hobbies Etc.
Since we've been captured have not done too badly in the matter of entertainment. As a matter of fact, one day over at Shamshuipo, we all had to turn out to listen to a Jap band, which had been brought in to play for our benefit. They rendered mostly American pieces of John Philip Sousa, as well as some well known light opera. All in all they were a pretty fair band and was well received. Had a couple of very good concerts, whilst we were there -— some of the turns, especially ones from the Hong Kong Volunteers, being practically professional. Had three interesting lectures — one on "Famous English Trials"; one on "The Attempt to Climb Mount Everest"; and the other by Major Marsh of Middlesex, on “Palestine". Fortunately for us, our band managed to keep a good portion of their instruments and they certainly are a big help. Since our arrival in North Point we have had two concerts and were scheduled to have one every Saturday night but for the last month the weather has not been conducive to holding open air gatherings. However, the two we did have, were very good and after a little more organization has been worked out and more material enlisted, should be able to have some good entertainment. Over in Shamshuipo we started a wireless class and Aitkens and I were learning the code. Were progressing OK when we got shiRed from Shamshuipo to North Point and so far have done nothing further with it. Nlust take it up once more. I-Iere at North Point, classes were organized but the weather stepped in and nothing much has been done yet. Am taking up Fladio and Public Speaking and so far have had one lesson in each. With the arrival of the warm weather, though, these should once more get underway and certainly hope this Fladio class is continued. There are a number of things you can do to occupy your mind. A library of sorts fortunately is in existence and whilst the majority of books are not very interesting, yet they certainly, under the circumstances, are a boon. Card games flourish -- cribbage and bridge being the favorites. Some, to my mind, foolish and misguided individuals are playing poker and rummy on a cuff basis, payable in the future. Don has made a chess set and once more I have started in to play. He certainly has done a good job in carving these and has promised them to me once we're free. Personally, I have made a pair of clogs and am engaged in a little carving · on a mug which I picked up. Lots of boys are making clogs, cribbage boards etc, just for to pass the time. Rather am inclined to making a walking stick, if and when I can get hold of a piece of hardwood. The main thing is to keep your mind busy and occupied. Most of the men do not and lay around reading or playing cards. It is too bad they don't try to interest themselves in something as the time sure passes quicker. However, can't expect much else as most of them are lacking in self discipline and their prime concern right now is their stomach and little else matters.
March lst, 1942
Here‘s another month starting and just what it holds is one of those things, which we can only wonder at. However, it may be that the long hoped for and talked of offensive in the West will get underway, and one way or another, there should be plenty of news. According to one, Nelson Galbraith, there is a ouija board around, in the officers' quarters to be exact, and this foreteils us being released in May and home in June. Ross McGavin says this is the month of our release but I'm afraid I can't put much confidence in anyone of the above. Admittedly both are possible but to me, at least, not very probable. So far today we have not had any news but there is a story going around that the Japs have suffered heavy losses in a battle near Rangoon, which is rather in keeping with the news we had from "Knocker" White the other day. Also, the headlines on the Japs controlled paper are to the effect that there is a large naval A battle taking place in the Pacific. Here’s hoping we meet with success!
Just got back from Church parade and strangely this has more appeal that it had . before. Not that I have gone and got religious but possibly there is a certain amount of comfort in being able to take part in something familiar which smacks of home. Incidentally, a couple of days ago or so, they got the street cars running again and it sure reminds one of home and the old Portage cars to hear them running by right opposite the camp is a barn belonging to the Hong Kong Tramways. The street cars are of the double decker type and have a reversible trolley. One thing noticeably different is that they have no trolley wire and when they go to wye, a Chino has a long bamboo pole with a hook on, which he catches in the trolley, pulls it down and then swings it to the other end. This certainly is a rambling narrative but it is just as things occur to me that I'm jotting them down. Yesterday took names of men who are interested in playing checkers, cribbage and bridge with the idea of starting inter-platoon tournaments in same. This is a good idea and certainly hope it goes through.
Duties and Camp Routine Etc.
So far as I'm concerned, duties take the form of being C.O.S. every third day. This entails getting everyone up in the morning; procuring a list of the sick, which has to be turned in to the M.l. Room before 0900 hrs; rooting the men out on Muster and P.T. parades, setting Room Orderlies; making sure hut is cleaned before inspection; taking the Sick Parade over at 1045 and looking after anything else which may turn up. Also there is B.O.S. periodically. So far I've somehow done this three times and now booked to do it again on Thursday, at which time l shall write a detailed account of what transpires. Reveille at 0730 hrs; Muster at 0820; breakfast at 0900 (approx); P.T. . at 1050; Sick Parade at 1045; lunch at 1315 (approx); Muster again at 1445; supper at 1800 (approx); "Lights Out" at 2215 hrs. When you're C.O.S. you naturally attend all Meal Parades and if necessary, assist in dishing out the food. Yesterday I was C.O.S. and assisted at Supper in the dishing out. Mac, Laidlaw and l then went to get our supper at the Mess and lo and behold, they had gone and forgotten us. For supper there was a slice of bread, 1 full scoop of rice, and approx. 1/3 scoop of good thick soup or gravy. All we managed to get was 2 slices of bread with about six little green onions cut up in between and a small cup of tea. This was, of course, just one of those things and Bors Winram, caterer at Mess, sure was upset. He is a very decent fellow and took it hard. However, we took it in good spirits albeit I sure was hungry. To cap things and to show the spirit of Christian brotherhood is not dead, Len Seaborn came along at "Lights Out" with a slice of bread he had saved and despite my remonstrances, insisted on me taking it. This I shall never forget and hope to be able to repay him a thousand fold at some not-so-distant date. There isn't one man in a thousand, who would have done this, especially under present circumstances.
March 2nd, 1942
Today's news is as follows - Two Jap convoys — one of 35 and the other of 15 - have been attacked with 15 sunk and 6 damaged, according to Reuters. Both sides seem to have suffered the same amount of casualties in Naval craft, with a particularly heavy loss of cruisers on both . sides. The Dutch seem to be taking the brunt but as yet there has been no official communique from either side. The Japs have effected landings at Java at three separate points from Timor, Sumatra, and New Guinea. The Russians are still advancing steadily with heavy fighting reported in the Crimea. Also an unconfirmed report that the British have landed parachute troops in Northern France. Also President RooseveIt is reported to have said that, within the next few weeks, they will have complete control of the Philipines. Nothing from either Burma or the Philipines. In passing it m.ight be of interest to note that rations came yesterday as follows — 30 — 50 Ib. bags of flour, 6 bags of sugar, 11 — 240 lb. bags of rice, 2 bags of sugar and a large box of chocolate. The rice represents a two day ration allowance. This morning it is reported that 6000 duck eggs plus turnips arrived. Don saw the eggs and says they're pretty old and high after the Chinese fashion. However, mixed in the rice, it will probably be all right. Light lunch today — one slice of bread and a cup of cocoa.
"ldle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow"
Herewith, apologize to Jerome K. Jerome for appropriating his title but the next few pages are going to be rather along that line insomuch as they're going to set forth some of the things, which flash through my mind from time to time. Foremost in my mind is what shall I do on my return to "civvy" life. Actually we will have to "cut our coat to suit our cloth" and it will depend to a large extent on the conditions back home just what we can do. Figure that Pop will be laid off by the WE. Co. to make way for young men and that in any event, it will be up to me to take over. The first problem is to get the farm settled, as not only will that settle it but it will also be a place for Pop to go and _ as which he will be very useful. It may be that there will be some sort of gratuity for returned men, based on service etc. and it may be worth more to me to get a I settlement made on the farm. However, the best plan will be to contact Fred Rice to get his views on the situation and by doing so will get further ahead. Then there's the problem of what I myself, am going to do. It is probably possible for me to get back at Sparling Sales as a bookkeeper but I have no desire to polish a stool for the rest of my life. lf it would be possible to buy a share in the business or to get worked in it on an executive angle, then that is a horse of a another color. Actually that is a very good business to be in and I have every confidence in it going ahead but, whilst I would certainly like to continue in it, it must be on a different basis than before. Therefore, the best plan is to have a heart-to-heart talk with Harold Drew, lay my cards on the table and see what transpires. Then the thought occurs of staying in the Army. This isn't exactly to my taste yet I could do worse and it has its angles. Needless to say, would not want to start out as a Private and it definitely should be in one of the Corps — Military Staff Clerks, Pay, Army Service or Ordnance. This should be considered very carefully. One of my ambitions has always been to own, or at least, have a share in a business. Just what business to get into is the rub and how to get a start is another. A Manufacturer's Agency has been in my mind for some little while but just how to get a line or two to start is the question. At first you would probably be better to go round, contact different firms and start selling lines for them on a commission basis. You would possibly pick up a line, which someone had and didn't particularly desire, possibly do something with it and from this, contact some others and bingo, you may be likely to hit on something and you‘re in. This may take some time - years perchance - but if you're any good, probably scratch by and then, if you do make good, you have something. And then again, maybe you could buy a share in a little business and work it up. Then if you have a job there is always the idea of sinking a little dough in a business on the side, keep the books etc. and from time to time pop in to see how things are. For instance, Bert Turner has been a storekeeper for years and it may be worthwhile to sink a little cash with him, keep the books and stock records as a silent partner. Another idea is a little business dealing in products from the country and procuring for them, goods which they need on a cooperative basis; eg. Len Seaborn, Dave Moffett. Flay Pellar also has ideas along a business; such as a bakery, store or restaurant. Then, Floss McGavin has ideas of starting out selling on a commission basis and gradually working into something. Might be an idea to go into oahoots with him. Bobby Boyd has just popped up with the idea that he may be sent to Ottawa to straighten out our records and it might not be such a bad idea if I could get in on this with him, as if you get down there, you would be in a good spot to contact some Government job. More than likely after this War plenty of Rehabilitation schemes will be forthcoming and if I could get on the staff of one of these, probably would work into a permanent civil service position. ln that regard, rather imagine it depends on how soon we get home and also if you have any drag. One big advantage of a job in the Government is that it is secure, fair pay, good hours, a pension and from my observations, you certainly don‘t have to kill yourself.
March 4, 1942
Got some news this morning from "Knocker". General Wavell has been replaced by the Senior Dutch General as C - in - C in Malaysia and is now C—in - C in India. Jap infiltration into Java has ceased and it appears that the Dutch are holding them. The British have forced the Japs back to the east side of the Settang (?) River in Burma. The Russians are still steadily advancing along the whole front and more particularly are "mopping up" around Sevastopol in the Crimea. There was an air raid over England but it didn't amount to much and evidently the enemy suffered some casualties. Life still moves on in an endless way. Had a haircut which means I owe l Helbren 30¢ now. Today and yesterday we had duck eggs for lunch. Sure was good so far as I was concerned, although some of them are purported to be 33 years old - - one egg being marked July 23rd, 1909 in English! Don‘t know if this is true or whether some one in the kitchen has developed a sense of humor. Each man got two eggs on the whole, most of them were OK. Managed to get three yesterday and today by good luck and sure felt as though I had a meal for a change. Was on sick parade again as this bloody itch certainly is troubling me. Organized a cribbage tournament in the Company. Played Sissons, Michalkow and McLean to win #12 ‘s title. Then out with Poole #10 and Jackson #11 for the bye. Played Poole, won and then went on to take Jackson in the final after he had skunked me the first game. Also a checker tournament but did not enter. These created a good deal of interest and tomorrow we‘re starting on a bridge tournament which should be all right. These afternoon Muster parades are getting to be embarassing as old Paddy Keenan, the RSM is _ certainly getting ideas and the men are "fed up" with this parade square stuff. Consequently, there is a lot of talking and booing even when he calls them to attention. In some ways it is pathetic and should be stopped but what can you expect especially after the late fiasco around Wanchai Gap. Here's hoping I can get by without any serious run—ins but am afraid I can't escape for long. Had a talk with Bill Sumner about this and hope it bears fruit.
March 5th, 1942
Today I'm B.O.S. and will endeavor to set forth my tour of duty in detail. Lieut. Park is Orderly Officer and he actually comes from Elmwood. His Dad is the minister at St. Cuthbert's and is also Padre of Toc H. Elmwood. I have known him for the last ten years and his Dad is a real man. Had quite a talk with him when l was last home. Started off today by attending morning Muster. Prior to that, had a talk with Sgt. “Joe" Hopper and C.Q.M.S. "Bert" Trembeth, both veterans of the last war and good fellows. Needless to say we were trying to hazard a guess as to when we will be out of here and all of us more or less agreed that it depends on the spring and to what extent the Allies are successful in their efforts. Then walked up and down talking with Sgt. "Harry" MacNaughton also a veteran and our Armourer Sergeant. Discussed the news and one thing or another and then the Muster started. After Muster, or rather toward the end of it, Col. J.L.R. Sutcliffe came along and we engaged in conversation. Am rather afraid that he is, at the time of writing, definitely "down in the dumps". Told ‘ him my theory re the Western Front and also about "Knocker's" of 30% of the Jap Navy being out of action or sunk. Colonel says that we've lost our "fighting spirit" and that, after this war, in Canada, they should have conscription, or rather compulsory training, for every man from 18 until he is 21 and that the last year or so should be spent in fitting him for "civvy" life. Personally, can't see three years but consider a year should be made compulsory. Then proceeded to the cookhouse for the inspection of the rations and the issuing of same. Today, for breakfast we had sweet rice and a mug of tea. Certainly have got the kitchen fixed up far better than the last time I was on and there appears to be less "stooges" around. Did not observe anything out of the way, yet, and it would appear that they may have clamped down a little. However, the staff certainly don't appear to be suffering from lack of nourishment. Doesn't appear to be very much in the way of food except some large whitefish, which they're going to make into a sauce. Checked the issue to the Companies, OK and thence back to get my own. Talked with Mac and Bill. Incidentally, before I went to the cookhouse, bumped into "Knocker" and got some news — Japs attacked an American convoy in the Pacific with 18 planes. Americans had an aircraft carrier and sent theirs up. Shot down 16 Japs with a loss of 2. One American got 6. The Russians claimed 64 planes yesterday, bringing the total over the last 3 clays to over 200. British bombed a large munitions factory on the Seine, just outside of Paris and really damaged it. Evidently, things don't look so good in Java. Mac is not in a very optimistic mood today and is I inclined to doubt the news we've been getting. Also can't see how the British are going to make a successful landing on Europe. However, I still have faith that they will. Took over to Capt. Prendergast the results of the Checker Tournament, won by my bunkie, Don Aitken. Had a talk with Lieut. McKechnie, who has turned out to be a pretty good egg. Then went with Major Trist, Lieut. J. Park and self on a tour of inspection. Huts were all OK save in #19, where part of "B" sleeps under Sgt. Sissons. Then went to the Detention Cells where Leitch is prisoner for selling his rations after having been granted a double one by the M.O. Went to the Hospital and asked re complaints. Hughie Anderson is in with dysentery but is coming on OK. No complaints save the fact the boys would like cigarettes. Had a look at the disinfector. Found all the wood they had received was 3 sticks. Then went over to the cookhouse, checked things over and found them short of wood. Cleaning fish tonight for supper and they sure looked OK. Rice, slice of bread and tea for dinner. No rations in yet. Had a chat with Park re Elmwood and his dad and Toc H here in Kowloon. Almost human for awhile. Saw the MO. re Leitch and found him to be entitled to single rations only. Went and informed him re same. Saw Mac and told him about this charge and he advised me to forget about it. Saw Whalen and put him wise. So here's hoping it turns out OK. Went to the library and got a book, "The Holbein I Mystery" by Anthony Wynne. Saw Bobby Boyd re next opponent in cribbage, as I beat Sgt. Shayler last night. Had a real good crap although it looks like I got piles. Went over to the cookhouse again. Rice - solid with salt and vegetables, slice of bread and tea for lunch. Had quite a fill on the burnt rice from the bottom of the cans and hope it has no ill effects on me. Checked everything OK and then down for my own dinner. Changed my clothes as it sure is a swell day. Saw the R.S.M. re parade and had quite a chat with him. Someone has been complaining re the size of the slices of bread we've been getting in the Mess and actually there is some ground for it, as, on single slice days, ours is actually smaller than the men's. Another thing was the claim that the lad, who dished out the bread, would on seeing a certain Sergeant deliberately dip down and pick out a smaller piece for him! Paddy is certainly "fed up" over the setup but l told him that, so far as l was concerned, was perfectly satisRed with the portions I had been receiving. However, had to admit that certain members of the cookhouse staff "had it in for" the Sergeants and were certainly doing their best to leave us a little light on the rations. Had Muster parade and on it, Park asked me if I had laid a charge ` against N.C.O. in hut. Explained the setup to him -- who exactly was to be charged - — and suggested he have a talk with Sgt. Whalen re same. lf Major Trist queried same, could alibi ourselves by saying it was floating between two C.S.M's. This he decided to do and saw Sgt. Whalen re same. He blew his top but quietened down and got him to agree to see Lieut. Park. Also looked up Bus and told him about complaints, so that he would be forewarned. Then went to go to Public Speaking class. Only 5 of us in attendance — so it was again postponed till Tuesday. Had an interesting talk with Lieut. Queen-Hughes and a chap in the H.K.N.V.R. from Shanghai. He was born there, lived there till he was ten and thence home to England for schooling. Worked out here as a Chartered Accountant and only was called up on the 8th of December. Some good info re water supply, electric light, weather, purchasing jade, etc. is rather a reserved chap but will have to look him up again. Should be careful in my approach to him. Then went and more or less coached "B" Coy team against H.Q. Played seven innings of pretty fair ball with "B" winning 5 to 2. Fortin pitched a pretty fair game and Auld, Grantham, Baites and Mabley played good in the field. Thence to the cookhouse l where l had quite a chat with Bert Turner over investing a little cash with him as a small business ; such as a store. Evidently he has a tie in with Gray -- a very good connection in fact —— and for a $200 or so could possibly go in on a deal as a silent partner; ie keep the books, stock records etc. and possibly lend a hand at night occasionally. Certainly a very good idea to keep in touch with Beit. Checked everything OK and had rice with vegetables, slice of bread and a fish sauce, made of halibut with some "Ally Slaper's" sauce in it. Very good. More eggs, salt, tea, turnips, onions, rice, flour and sugar all came in today -— so we should be well away for sometime. Went for a stroll with Len Seaborn and bumped into Staff MacNaughton. Discussed various things amongst which were medical boards, gratuities, what to do after "demobbing" etc. Had quite a long talk and he was telling us of some of his experiences after the last war and gave us some pretty good advice. Walked and talked quite a time and as a matter of fact, it was "Lights Out" before we knew it. Went the rounds of the huts and turned out the lights. S0 ended my tour ot duty as Battalion Orderly Sergeant. Should not have another for at least a month, as they're now doing it alphabetically and not by Company.
March the Sth, 1942
In the last few days there hasn't been much of anything happen, more or less routine. The only news we have had in the last few days is as follows -- Japs are advancing on Sauraboya in the D.E.l. The Australian General, Bennett, who escaped from Singapore, says it's not a question of months but only weeks 'ere the Japs make an attack on Australia. The Russians are still advancing and claim to have the 16th German Army completely surrounded and cut off. Also in Canada, a plebiscite is to be held on conscription. Whether this is to cover manpower only or to cover wealth as well, is not known. On the whole consider the news not so good. In the last few days the set has been on the hammer and also the Japs are wise to It. So, no news. Won the Sergeant's Cribbage Tournament by defeating Sgt. Watson three out of five games in the final. Won the first two, lost the next two and came through in the last one. Previously, had beaten Sgts. Payne and Bomendine. Johnny Payne sure had tough luck. He won the first and in the second, with last count, ended up in the skunk hole. I needed 6 to peg out, as he would have first count. He led a 7, I played a King, another 7 and I played one to make it 31 for 4. He then played a 6 and I paired it to win the game. Too close to be comfortable. As usual there is a certain amount of grumbling over the rations, aIthough we have been eating very good. However, "Rocky" Smith is sure one of the world's worst moaners and i rather told him off the other day. Most of the boys agreed with me on my views but one or two piped up re leakage out of the kitchen. Grantham piped up re chaps selling bread allegedly received from the cookhouse. So I told him to come and get me in such a case and l do my best to see that justice was done. The upshot of it was that I was approached by a chap from another Company re such things and he said he had observed certain things. So said I would check up on same. Took Seaborn and Aitkens into my confidence and arranged to watch. So yesterday — 07-O3-42, arranged _a watch. Didn't observe an awful lot but did pick up a few things. However, the only men I had in my confidence were the above two and Mac. Unfortunately, Laidlaw saw us after Muster parade over near the cookhouse, came back and questioned Mac re same. Mao said he didn't know but supposed we were taking a stroll. However, Len happened to come back just theh and Laidlaw tased him re same. Len. in good faith. and not knowing Laidlaw as well as the rest of us, "spilled the beans". Last night, after finishing the tournament in Mads room, Laidlaw, infront of Bob Boyd, Bomendine, Britton, and lV!cKechnie, asks me what I was doing hanging around the kitchen with Don and Len! As I know nothing of the foregoing, until this morning, was, to say the least, flabbergasted but endeavored to cover up and denied same. However, he wasn't satisRed and pressed it stitl further. However, managed to make a hasty exit and hope it wasn't noticed. Tased Mac re same this morning and got the above story. So, it looks as though our detective work will have to be curtailed for some time, as Bill has about as much tact as "a bull in a china shop" and it will be all over by now. Will sure have to put Len wise re telling him anything in the future. Certainly doesn't use his head, Laidlaw, I mean, as anything along the lines we're working on is dynamite, to say the least, and one false move and I'd be in the ranks or the Bastille. Judas Priest! What a man! Will have to move with caution for a while.
March the 10th, 1942
In the last day or so, the news has been pretty meagre. In Java, it appears the Japs have burst through the defenses and are advancing on the town of Bandoeng. Today the rumor is floating around to the effect that all communication with Java has been _ cut. In Burma, the Japs have allegedly come out of the jungle and into the open plains. The British are supposed to be wreaking great havoc amongst them with their light tanks. The Russians still appear to be advancing and claim to have captured a town between or near Smolinsk and somewhere. Actually, the Russian front, to us, is very, very vague and there must be a lot of guerrilla work. Very little else although General Bennett again warned Australia of the danger of imminent attack on Australia. Also another rumor to the effect that Churchill has resigned. The old ones of us moving too still persists ~— either to tents on the golf course at Deep Water Bay or to Stanley.
Just been told, -09-03-42 - l have a new number - 12067 — as a Prisoner of War. This is the third one in my life so far. Here, in Camp, the Japs have clamped down. Everyone must be off the Parade Square by 2030 every night, keep 20 feet away from the fence after such time and can only sit in between the huts. Must have run into one of our old internment Camp Boards from ye olde island of Jamaica! Last night Len and l attended a little church meeting in Camp at 1900 hrs. This, I believe, is Lent and Len desired to go, so we went. Sang a couple of hymns, had the lesson read and a couple of prayers. Must admit I rather enjoyed it. Have a feeling that l shall from now on appreciate a Church Service more. Am a sinner and do not want to appear to be a hypocrite but insofar as the principles of Christianity are concerned, especially "Do unto others, as as thou would have them do unto you" is concerned, if everyone I tried to follow this, it would be a far better world in which to live. Consequently, one can say that I'm a Christian but so far as becoming a steady member of a Church, nix. Shall go to church at times and to any particular one or denomination I wish. That's my thoughts now, whether they undergo a change, when I leave here, is a horse of another color but shalt certainly attend church the first Sunday I'm free to do so in Winnipeg. Flight now, It's raining cats and dogs. This may be the beginning of the rainy season and must write an article on the weather since we've been here. Sure is a screwy country insofar as that's concerned and vastly different to what I expected.
March the 12th, 1942
Yesterday - 11th — we had an inspection by the Governor. Stood out on the parade square for a good hour and boy oh boy! was it ever hard on the old pins. Didn't realize how weak we actually are until then. Governor is reputed to have said that we were being treated and fed far better than the Japs in Canada or the States. So, it look as though we can expect a boost in our grub, although so far we certainly can‘t complain. In the afternoon, went to see our M.O. re our conditions. Found I weighed 134 as compared to 158 in Winnipeg last October. M.O. asked where I thought I had lost most of this and told him Shamshuipo. Complained of my eyes, varicose veins, heartburn and kidneys. Explained re being called for glasses and instead going into position. Asked me about heartburn, how often, before or after meals, if it kept me awake all night etc. Explained re this, mostly hour or so after meals, and mainly at night. Told him about passing water about three or four times and also of a pain in back at nights. Told him about having piles also. In some ways, it was a very depressing clay and it made me feel "down in the dumps" more than I had for a long while. Japs were around collecting all the tools anyone had and now comes a new order to the effect that all books must be laid out for inspection. Looks as though they're starting to clamp down. For some time we've been out of flour but are getting more rice. Have been having it three times a day. Have run out of tea but think some came in today. Have had vegetables, soya beans, soya sauce, squid, pork and fish. Lately, they've been making a separate issue of the sugar, which is OK with me. Also the other night they fried the squid in grease. Sure was good although we got a very light issue at the Mess. Are now engaged in a Cribbage Tournament, or rather, League, in the Mess. My score solar is not so hot- won 1 from Leo Berard, dropping 2; Faulcaner 2 - self 1; Sinclair 2 and self 1. In the bridge, Don and I dropped our first to McGavin and Hollingsworth. At the time of writing, morale is very low especially in view of recent events. Some of these chaps are little better than animals in some respects and sure can't see further than their belly. Lots of moaning and naturally, very little discipline. Sure will be glad, when we're released, in more ways than one, as life will be a lot simpler and won't have to listen to the guff which floats around the hut. Practically all they can talk about is grub — lack of same, how much more the Officers are getting etc. etc. The majority aren't worth the powder to blow them all to hell and God knows, I sure won't be sorry to see the last of them. It does get a man down but that's one of the things you must fight against. Some of the chaps have just let themselves go and certainly, later on, will regret it. Went to a lecture on chess the other clay by a man named Harrison. He certainly gave me a knew (new) conception of the game from what I had had and today attended a school for beginners. This is definitely interesting and should be of value in stimulating your mental keeness.
Before I came to Hong Kong, was rather under the impression that it resembled Jamaica insofar as climatic conditions were concerned. However, such is far from being the case. When we landed, we discovered that we could wear our KD. tunics at night with comfort and that we would be wearing our battle dress in time. Since we have been at North Point, we have had very cool weather-- in fact you could call it cold and sure is damp. This place makes you feel it far worse than at home as it always wet, with that penetrating, biting, cold, which sure makes it hard to get warm. You can quite comfortably wear your greatcoat, battle dress and even your winter underwear. Practically had to sleep with your clothes on as to keep warm and when I was alone, either in the tent or when Don was in hospital, had a time keeping warm. Right now it has warmed up and it would appear that, after a month of this cool stuff, we can expect warmer weather but for the next six weeks or so, it will rain incessantly! Last year it rained for 42 days straight! This is now the shifting of the monsoon and accounts for the unsettled weather. In preference to this, give me either Manitoba or Jamaica. At the time of writing, it gives you a feeling of lethargy or “spring fever", which sure is hard to shake off and doesn't give you much desire to do anything. Pretty showerish also I can imagine that we're just getting the prelude to the downpour! What a country! All in all, doesn't figure we're going to have much love for this place but sure as hell, will always remember it!
March the 18th 1942
Sometime has elapsed since I took pen in hand to inscribe a few entries in this journal. Actually, not very much, in a sense, has transpired to occasion me writing. The weather, lately, has been very fine, which is a welcome change. No news has been forthcoming but plenty of rumors. It seems reasonably certain that the Japs have made negotiations for a peace. One story is that there was a 48 hour truce to talk things over. The Japs were asking to be allowed to keep Hong Kong and Singapore. Great Britain, allegedly, is supposed to have agreed but the States and Canada said "no soap" , as they figure Japan has overeached herself and has shot her boIt. With this refusal, the Japs tried again. Hong Kong was to become a city of foreign concessions; Singapore an open city with the Japs having control. Also, Australia was to lift the present immigration restrictions on Japs entering. The Americans were to be allowed to keep the Phllipines. Failure to accept these terms would mean the immediate conquest of Australia. Another story is that the Americans have been able to reinforce the Philipines to the extent of three divisions. Yesterday, the 17th of Ireland — leaflets printed in Chinese, were dropped by plane. On them the Japs are supposed to have claimed the Dutch East Indies and are in control of Burma and part of India. They say it's now up to England and that they will take India or Australia if the - British do not come to terms. Furthermore, it is said that India has refused to fight. A great naval battle purported to have taken place in the China Sea, with the Japs - suffering heavy losses. My own opinion, drawn from this, is that the Japs are at the crossroads or, rather, like Caesar, facing the Rubicon. In one way it certainly is to their advantage to have a peace and if it‘s so easy to conquer Australia, why the hesitation?
One ray of sunshine is that the Japs do not claim the Philipines and it would appear I that the worst view is the Americans are still fighting. Actually I think they're doing pretty well and are virtually in control. A scrounging party was out Sunday and was over near the monastery at Pokfulam. One chap managed to get a word in with the old priest and he was told the news from Europe was magnificent. So who knows'? However, remember Shamshuipo and the Russians in Munich, so far as the rumors are concerned. Several things have occurred in camp to cheer us. It is evident now that we're to be allowed to purchase things and a mobile canteen is to come in to supply our needs. Actually they brought the stuff in but it was sent back clue to prices being considered exorbitant - coffee - NK 9.00 per Ib.; cocoa, 8.50 per lb.; chocolate, 4.50 per Ib.; jam, 4 oz, 1.20 tin; milk, 4 oz. tin, 1.00; cigar, 1.20 for 10; soap, Palmolive, 40¢ per cake. Yesterday they had a conference but just what the outcome was I do not know. Furthermore, it appears that we're to be paid the Jap soIdier's rate of pay and go out on working parties. This sure could cause quite a stir in Camp but will believe this when I have the dough in my hand. In the meantime, we're eating better; ie getting more and today we're getting bread for all three meals. Also, another big inspection by the Japs with our hut being picked out especially. On Monday I got hell from the RSM. for not checking more up on parade. So yesterday had to charge "Rocky" Smith and MuItonan for talking. Didn‘t like doing this but they don't think any more of you for not and certainly have taken advantage of me in that regard. Had a concert Saturday night and it was pretty good - first one for sometime. Have some good turns and shall be able to put on some real entertainment.
March the19th, 1942
Heard a few rumors to the effect that Tokyo and Yokohama had been bombed. The Japs are supposed to have asked for a truce to enable them to evacuate raid cities. Also the Jap Navy is alleged to have demanded a speedy cessation of hostilities because they're unable to maintain the constant day and night patrols which must be maintained. Pretty definite that the Americans have got reinforcements into the Philipines. Evidently Jap newspaper admits to 3 divisions. Yesterday the Colonel gave me a talk in which he stated that, at least, a list was being compiled of our known dead and the "missing believed dead" and would be sent to Tokyo. Also, in time, we , should be allowed to communicate with home. Furthermore, the Japs are satisRed with our administration and are going to maintain it. He warned us that we are still subject to Canadian military law and this would be meted out. Any serious offenses, however, could be referred to the Japs for punishment. All work, either in camp or outside, will be paid for - how or how much is not known but cooks and pioneers etc. are to receive pay. Judas Priest! Sure will have to do something about changing cook _ staff. All in all, it was very encouraging and the Colonel looked more cheerful than I've seen him for a long time. In the afternoon we had a parade for the inspection by Japs. On this, I caught hell as usual. Bn was "standing at ease" and men were talking. Strictly speaking, this is not allowed, although l wasn't certain of myself in this respect and as a matter of fact, Officers and NCO’s were talking. However, Lieut Campbell told me to stop them and I retorted we were "standing easy" and didn't do very much about it. So, he took my name. So far haven't heard anything. Had to peg Poitras later on for talking. By the way, the Colonel told us we must salute all Jap officers. Have not been doing very well in my cribbage playing and have won now 13 and lost 17, which isn't "setting the world on fire". Have been going to church at night pretty steadily. Beat Don in a game of chess. Lots of speculation as to when we will be released, needless to say, and all kinds of rumor as to when we will move away from here. These parades are becoming a nightmare to me and right now I can't seem to do anything right. However, c'est la guerre!
March the 20th, 1942
Yesterday, heard some authentic news. There were a few men back from Bowen Hospital, where they evidently have a radio. the news, which follows, was on the BBC broadcast of 18-3-42 and was told to me by S/Sgt. Clark of the Canadian Postal Corps. Russia has established a line extending from the Lithuanian-Polish frontier down to the Crimean peninsula. In the north they have takn two German divisions - the 10th and 11th - and have the 9th virtually _cut off. In this respect they quoted a list of the names of the German Generals, Brigadiers and Staff Officers of the 10th and 11th. The British bombarded the Dodecanese Islands in the Mediterranean and heavy damage was caused to the naval yard. In the Channel the British took some "E" boats. The Japs hold the northern part of the Philipines with Fort Corregidor, outside of Manila, still holding out. MacArthur still holds the southern part and has been reinforced. Japs have asked him to surrender but he says he can maintain his position, reorganize and be in a position to attack, when further reinforcements are made. In Australia, 20,000 Canadians and 30,000 Americans landed. The convoy was untouched and one of the ships was the "Queen Mary". ln Burma, Wavell was advancing and is in striking distance of Rangoon. All the D.E.I. ara ln Jap hands and they have landed troops in New Guinea. Port Darwin had another severe bombing. Now for the rumor —- Tokyo and Yokohama have been bombed and the Japs asked for a truce in order to evacuate women and children. The Jap Navy has requested a speedy cessation of hostilities claiming that they cannot maintain the constant day and night patrols, which are now necessary. Canton has been bombed. The Japs have suffered heavy naval losses. Italy is now completely under German control. Here's a bit of BBC news I forgot-- Hitler made quite a speech in which he said his spring offensive would be postponed due to severe Russian weather and also due to the fact he had to retool his factories. All in all, the news was very encouraging and sure hope this spring will bring forth Allied successes. Certainly are overdue for a break and the law of averages should come into play somewhere. Life moves on here in the same old way. Yesterday had to serve over at the Sergeant‘s Mess. Menu was as follows — Breakfast- 2 boiled eggs (duck and hard), tea and one slice of bread. Dinner — Rice with vegetables amd soya sauce, tea and one slice of bread. Supper — plain rice, fish sauce, and one bun. As a server, did pretty good - had an extra egg and extra slices of bread, extra fish sauce and an extra bun. Didn't hear any squawks on my serving and A personally, don't give a damn if there was. Sure was a light breakfast though, and missed the rice for bulk. On Sunday, had an injection in my right leg for varicose veins and since then both my legs have swollen up. Can understand my right doing this but not the left. Went sick and the M.O. gave me light duty and told me to report back in five days and to do only a moderate amount of walking. Am scared myself of berl-beri on this rice diet but imagine the shot has caused it. Circulation is very poor at any time and your limbs go to sleep with very little provocation. So, with this jolt it possibly has effected them that way. Hope so anyway. Played a ball game the other day and dropped it 4 to 1. Had a couple of games of chess and lost both to Smith.
March the 23rd, 1942
In the last two or three days , rumors have certainly been rife. Wavell is alleged to have retaken Rangoon with an estimated 16,000 Japs killed and wounded. Then again heard today that there are 45,000 Japs either killed, wounded or prisoners. Heard, too, that Wavell, whilst advancing, is still 18 miles from Rangoon. General MacArthur has flown to Australia to take command. The Russians are supposed to be in control of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia but also heard they were only on the Lithuanian — Polish border. Another rumor to the effect that Canton has been bombed but this is rather too much to swallow. Also one to the effect that we're to be moved to Stonecutter's Island. However, remember "Shamshuipo" is my motto and rather am inclined to discount most of these. Life here still moves on much the same old way. My legs are coming along OK now, although they're still swollen up. However, they feel much better and circulation is improving. Have had a bad attack of indigestion the last day or so and was rather afraid of dysentery. However seem to have it beat. On Saturday night we had another concert, which was up to the usual high standard. A Chief Petty Officer played the piano and he certainly is good. Yeoman service, as usual, by the Grenadiers orchestra. Had quite a day Saturday typing out Prisoners Record sheets for the Company to give to the Japs. Got a copy as a souvenir of my own. Voluntary Church Parade on Sunday and I went. Rather enjoy the services on week nights. Stroll around quite a bit with Don, Ross, Holley or Len. Talk eventually reverts to home and food. Sure get a longing at times to be able to dress up, call on a girl, and set off for a night - dinner, show and dance. Food talk always takes in a variety of subjects. Last night, for instance, we got onto chocolate bars — Jersey Milk, Oh Henry, Raisins, Crispy Crunch, Cuban Lunch etc. Needless to say, when we will be free is quite a topic and the consensus of opinion seems to be June-July or September—October. Personally, am waiting to see how things go these next few months before I make up my mind. Would like very much, though, to be able to celebrate Christmas, 1942, out on the farm with Alb and Pop. Here's spring!
March the 27th, 1942
Lately there has been no news at all and even rumors have been scarce. However, there are one or two. It is said that 6 American divisions have been landed in Australia. That the Russians have advanced all along the front and are now into Poland. It is said, too, that Germany is establishing a line, which appears to be intended to have the same purpose as the old Hindenburg line in the last war. Another story is that, in the Jap newspaper, they said the war in Europe would be finished in a few weeks with the Russians cleaning up on the Germans. Certainly would like to believe this but it doesn't add up at all. Even if it were that close, they would never admit it. Nothing much doing in camp. Still is a great deal of speculation as to when we will get this pay from the Japs and also what they‘re doing about this money re purchases from the canteen. So far as `I'm concerned, with regard to both of them, anything I may get is just so much "gravy" and will be, more or less. "money from home". Here's something "hot off the griddle" - Mr. MacKechnie has just brought in news from Bowen Fload Hospital. Churchill has just made a speech and the tenor of it was to the effect that the fide had definitely turned in our favor. The Bussians are steadily advancing. There will be no more reverses in the far East. The largest convoy in history landed in Australia. Vvavell and the Chinese are doing very good in Burma. So, this is most cheering as Churchill isn't given to making rash statements. Furthermore, hundreds of planes are bombing Germany every day. This is probably the beginning of the end. Made a bet with MacKechnie of a 40 oz. bottle of Haig and Haig that things will be cleaned up by the fst of December, 1942. Fleally cheering and do l ever hope it's true! Pretty quiet round here. Have attended a couple of Public Speaking classes. On one, the speakers were Major Parker, Signalman Wart and Lieut. Moody. Major Parker talked on Public Speaking, Signalman Wart, on his training for the Navy and Lieut. Moody on the Compradores. All were very interesting. On the next, I acted as Chairman and in this capacity introduced Lieut. H.L. White. who was to introduce the speaker, Major Bishop. His talk was "Hong Kong and the War as I Saw it". Then l had to call on Cader. Padgett to express our thanks to Major Bishop. He gave an interesting talk — the more so as it gave me an idea as to just what the Rifles bumped into. More or less the same trouble as ourselves ~- lack of information, communications disrupted and no plan of defence at all. Staff work was, the same as with us, deplorable. Infact he has the same ideas on the subject as myself. During the week, heard a lecture on "Kenya" and another on "Training for the Fleet Air Arm". Both were interesting and well delivered. Apropos of the news received this morning, have since heard that the British have set the Black Forest on fire and are using 1000 lb. bombs along with these "screamers". Churchill is purported to have said that providing the Russians maintain their advance, it will be over in Europe by midsummer. Do l ever hope that is truebut remember "Shamshuipo" ! Cannot but recur in my mind. Therefore, am taking this all with a grain of salt. Can‘t help feeling cheerful today, though, and if it is even only half true, it is definitely good news.
March the 29th 1942
Got some news yesterday and today from "Knocker". Wavell captured 105,000 Japs in Burma and these have been sent to Central India for internment. The situation around Rangoon is obscure, with the battle seesawing back and forth. However, it appears that the British have tanks and the Japs have no anti-tank or armor piercing weapons to cope with them. The largest convoy in history, consisting of over TOO vessels and 90,000 men, landed in Australia from the States. The Russians have crossed the Polish frontier in the north and the Germans have established a line similar to the old Hindenburg in the last war. However, in the south, they appear to be pushing ahead in the Ukraine, evidently concentrating on that spot. Today's news consists of an unconfirmed report that Turkey has broken off diplomatic relations with the Axis powers and has permitted British troops to pass through the Dardenelles. These have landed on Russian soil in the rear of the Germans. Australia has received further American troops and General MacArthur is alleged to have told the States that he has all he requires and that they can dispatch others to where they're needed most.
In addition the Philipines have received further reinforcements. Had a concert again last night and it was very good. Major Parker and Young put on a very good act of a French Canadian farmer. A Corporal in the R.A.F. certainly can sing. Had a talk with Mac the other day over not giving us information re changes and as I suspected had rather slipped his mind on that angle. Start on a week's tour as C.O.S. today. Church service for Palm Sunday and as a National Day of Prayer. Met a couple of chaps in the Hong Kong Navy and had quite a chat with them. Have been playing a lot of cribbage these days. Flight now am helping serve at the Sergeant's Mess, as Sgt. Stager and Bus asked for me to help. Rather a touchy job but it hasn't fizzed on me and think I'm doing a fair job. Stroll around a lot with Floss these days talking over things and we can't help but feel confident.
March the 31 st 1942
Here's another month over and it sure looks as though we're starting the rainy season. Rained all day yesterday and again today. Major Hodkinson came back from Bowen Fload and brought some news. St. Nazaire on the French coast was the scene of a second Zeebrugge . Apparently the British took one of the American destroyers loaded her with explosive and blew up the docks. Landed parties and then made a successful getaway. Also made a successful sortie on a Danish Island in the Baltic. India has been granted Dominion status. Sir Stafford Cripps was there to arrange details and it appears that arrangements have been made whereby the Independent Imperial States do not have to join, if they do not desire but can at some future date enter. ln Burma there have been some small successes and the Chinese Army has made a sortie across the Saikong (?) River. President RooseveIt is purported to have said that, by July, an attack will be made on Japan proper. General MacNaughton is said to have been across to see RooseveIt and his mission accomplished, returned to England. Rumor today that Turkey has broken off diplomatic relations with the Axis and has recalled her Ambassador form Berlin. A real hot shithouse one to the effect that Germany has capitulated! Sure begins to look like Shamshuipo all over again. Today am B.O.S. as well as C.O.S. but due to the rain, my duties have .been curtailed somewhat. However, went with Lieut. Corrigan to inspect guardroom, hospital etc. Was glad to be able to tell LaRiviere his sentence had been cut in half. Managed to scrounge some paper from Ordnance. In cookhouse sure got a feed at noon on stale bread and syrup. Ought to be filled today and as matter of fact have arranged to swap some bread for cigarettes to use for trading purposes. Don't like doing this but have a surplus of bread, which might prove hard to explain. In the Company today they took a vote to see whether the bread should be cut in four, as has been done, or whether it ‘ should be served one loaf to every four men. A vote was taken and the score was 55 to continue as is and 47 to change. ln my platoon 23 were for as is and tf were for a change. Olafson evidently was in complaining last night and really gave Bill Laidlaw shit in a polite way. Personally if it wasn't for some of the fellows suffering, would enjoy seeing it issued as there sure would be some swell arguments over cutting it up. Had a cartoon of me on the wall and have saved it. Am rapidly becoming well-hated in some quarters but c'est la guerre and why worry. Shall continue to do my duty as l see it. This place has certainly shown up who are the men and also just what kind of an upbringing the chaps have had. Am still trying to keep my nose as clean as possible and only hope I can. Still on the Sergeant's Mess job and am doing pretty good in more ways than one but will be glad to get off it. However, shall continue to do my best and play fair and square. Sure are some mean pricks in the Mess, though. Rather miss my walks due to the rain and it sure as hell is going to be tough on my boots. Can't help but wish that we get out soon as it’s getting to be a bugger in here. Men certainly are becoming "fed up" and there are a certain few who are causing a great deal of trouble. However, will have to ride it out and trust that the majority maintain their heads. Will certainly remember some, though, and at some future date, will remember it to their discomfort, l hope. in the meantime, "Chin Up" and "Do unto others as thou would have them do unto you".
April the 5th, 1942
Easter Sunday Have missed a few days due to one thing or another but here goes. Today is Easter Sunday and attended and partook of Holy Communion for the second time in my life. Went with Buzz Winram and Bert Trembeth. "Knocker" gave me some news as follows - There has been an internal revolt in Germany and street fighting has taken place. The Russians are in East Prussia. The British have made a landing at Le Havre. This is alleged to be authentic. For sometime now it has been rumored about an uprising in Germany and sure can only hope that this is true. Also for the last few days, Turkey has figured largely in the grapevine. Today heard that the Turks had handed an ultimatum to Germany to take her troops off the Bulgarian border. Also heard that the Turks have broken off diplomatic relations with the Axis powers and have recalled her Ambassador to Berlin. Japan is purported to have tried to obtain a loan from two neutral countries. Formosa has been bombed and Timor retaken by the Allies. Another one now has the Russians in Czecho—Siovakiai Shamshuipo again! From a perusal of a Jap paper dated April 3rd, it is evident that Sir Stafford Cripps has been in india. Another good sign is that no mention at all has been made of the Russian war. Again, whilst no mention was made of Turkey, there was a cartoon picturing Turkey being wooed by Russia and Britain. Here's hoping that there is some measure of truth in the above but must certainly take a grain or two of the proverbial . In Camp, life still moves on. The Officers got paid the other day. Mr. MacKechnie sent me over a can of milk and got a cigarette from Capt. Prendergast. No sign of any pay for us. Had an all request concert last night and it was very good. Cpl. Edmunds of the R.A.F. sure can sing and C.P.O. Edge of the R.N. is one of the finest pianists I've ever seen perform. Burse from HQ sure did OK on the western songs and A.B. Siddons was good with his cracks re the cooks. A very good performance all round. Had to peg Olafson and Mallows and they both got three extra day's fatigues. Has had the effect of calming down the left flank for a time. Found a few lice on my undershirt the other day and had it disinfected. Judas Priest! Do I ever hate that idea but it's pretty hard to escape them aItogether. Morale on the whole isn't too bad but there are a lot of chaps who certainly have let themselves go. Some of them are little better than beasts. Rations are pretty plain these days - rice with sweet sauce, tea in the morning —bread and tea at noon — and rice with some sort of sauce for supper. Am still serving at the Sergeant's Mess and will be there for another two weeks at least. Like it with Buzz but sure am not fussy about some of the members of the Mess. Had a hot cross bun on Good Friday, which sure brought back memories of home. Am attending Public Speaking and Radio classes. Rather interesting but the radio is becoming involved. Finished my tour as C.O.S. yesterday and have a two week respite. Can't help but think of home and whilst do not like wishing my life away, cannot help but wish this was over. Must be hard on the people at home - no news of us and the again, a lot of people would probably figure that, as prisoners of the Japs, we would be better off dead that at their hands. However, sure would like to be able to have Xmas dinner this year with Pop and Alb out at the farm, as it is quite a few years since we all sat down to a Xmas dinner together.
April the 9th, 1942
On Monday, April the 6th, 1942. Lieut Colonel J.L.R. Sutcliffe died at Bowen Road Hospital. He had been taken there suffering from dysentery, malaria, and pernicious anemia. However, there isn't much doubt in my mind, at least, that worry was the big thing that actually killed him. It is too bad, because, whatever his faults or failings he certainly meant well and did what he considered best. Furthermore, he left a wife and two grownup children, which makes it tough on them. This means that Major Trist now takes over the command and Major Hook becomes 2 i/c.
However, with Major Hook as P.R.I. , we have certainly got a break there. With regard to news, rumors, etc. there has been a fair amount of activity. News appears to be as follows - British have landed 1,250,000 men in France, Belgium at Le Havre, Brent, Ostend, and some other point. Casualties are reported to be 30,000 and 40,000. Are meeting with some success. Under rumors, it is again reported Formosa has been bombed and that the U.S. has issued an ultimatum to Japan once more. Stalin has allegedly said he has 1,5000,000 men in Siberia, which he will turn on Japan provided the U.S. will maintain them — i.e. feed and supply them with ammo etc. Another big sea battle is supposed to have taken place with the Japs suffering losses. Ceylon is supposed to have been raided and the Japs had quite a few planes shot down over Colombo. It is said that most of the troops the British are encountering in France are Italians. Canadians are reported to have been in the vanguard at Le Havre. So much for the rumors. It is said that the "big shots" of the Navy figure if will all purport in the next three months and are once more willing to bet on it. Also it is rumored that we are to be moved next week and it sure is persistent. Life in camp goes on in much the same way. Had quite a row yesterday at the Q.M.'s over rations and as a matter of fact, Bert Trembeth challenged the rice figures. The upshot of it all is that Bert is now in the kitchen supervising things for two days. Here's hoping he can show them up, as things sure are bad. Personally, l can't complain as I'm doing pretty well at the Mess on the serving. Bus sure is a helluva good egg and l like him more and more. Getting hot now and can imagine what it is going to be like in the summer. Sure hope these birds are right about June or July. Had quite a walk and talk with "Blacktooth" Davies and Johnny Hodgkinson last night. Tried to cheer them up and also to keep their morale up. It sure is a problem and some of these lads sure are letting themselves run to seed pretty well. Played first volleyball today and beat the Officers three games to one.