Thanks to nephew Bruce Christie for sharing this historical document. Thanks also to Barbara Andres, Pat Turcotte and Lori Smith for your research and work in converting the original document to this web version.
"Kay " Katherine (Kathleen) Georgina Adelaide Christie
Many of you at some time, I would suspect; have heard or read about the military events of the 18-day debacle in Hong Kong in December 1941, and of the unbelievably brutal conditions and treatment to which the men survivors were subsequently subjected for 44 months in the Prisoner-of-War camps in Hong Kong and Japan. Accordingly, I have chosen to present a Nursing Sister's side including just some of the humourous episodes - of which there really were so many if one would just see them - which helped to boost the morale. But let me assure you that, of necessity, this account must be an abbreviated edition because otherwise it could go on for days. And for much the same reason I hope you will forgive me for reading the text in order to keep me on track. If this brevity leaves unexplained blanks I shall be pleased to answer your questions at the finish.
Over the years the most frequently asked question has been how did I, who always had been so careful and cautious, get mixed up in that Hong Kong situation. The explanation is that on becoming nursing sisters we (Registered Nurses), like many of the enlisting men were impatient to go overseas - where the action would be - which usually was to England. After a number of hospital units sailed to England in 1940, there had not been any more major moves in out for quite some time so that in mid-October of 1941, on being informed that I was slated for duty in a semi-tropical climate - and with no other details and only five minutes to make up my mind - for the first time my usual caution was cast aside and the assignment accepted. That occurred on Sunday, October 12, 1941, and nothing further was heard until the following Friday morning. By Sunday night, October 19, I was aboard a train to Vancouver, final destination unknown.
Great secrecy allegedly cloaked the entire exercise so that when the second Nursing Sister, May Waters, boarded the train at Winnipeg a most discreet question-and-answer type of conversation between us finally led us to the conclusion that both were on the same junket. How many times since have I wished there had been a taped record of that conversation!
On October 27th we joined the 1,865 Canadian troops - the Royal Rifles of Canada from Quebec and the Winnipeg Grenadiers - aboard the larger troopship, Awatea, while the other 100 men travelled on the escort ship, Prince Robert, an armed merchant cruiser which the Awatea had to wait for each morning to catch up to us. Six days later we spent the day tied up at the pier in Honolulu - where no one except the Staff Captain one was allowed ashore - and we set sail again just before dinner. At an officers' meeting following dinner we were officially informed that our destination was Hong Kong.
The three weeks' trip across the Pacific was no pleasure cruise. May and I were fully occupied attending to the 54 patients in the ship's hospital. In fact, the day we sailed we were so busy setting up the hospital and admitting patients we didn't realize the Awatea had sailed until a messenger came to tell us it was dinnertime. One of our chief frustrations was doing all the hospital laundry in salt water and then continually having to dodge the lines of sheets and garments, which took so long to dry in the hot, humid atmosphere of the hospital. One member of the troops and one of the ship's crew died en route but neither man should have been on board. Early on Sunday morning, November 16, the Awatea disturbed the Sabbath calm by docking at Kowloon on the mainland across the harbour from Hong Kong. May and I were immediately whisked away by the British Army matron and taken on what seemed a wild taxi ride up to the Nursing Sisters' residence on Bowen Road which is about halfway up to the Peak level; thus, in our location every place was either above or below us. Later we learned that the British Military Hospital grounds were situated between Magazine Gap where ammunition was stored and the China Command Headquarters - not exactly an ideal location for a hospital during hostilities.
Two days later we went on duty and proceeded to learn the strange modus operandi of British Military Hospitals in the Far East. Here we joined the staff of British QAs - abbreviation for Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Since the Matron would not permit May and me to go about the city unless accompanied by one of her staff, we saw very little of pre-war Hong Kong or Kowloon.
Just three weeks after our arrival and simultaneously with the sneak attack on Pearl Harbour, Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong was bombed, destroying their three small planes and the air-raid warning equipment. Within a few days as the shelling began, several hits on our hospital necessitated the evacuation of the top two floors of the three-storey hospital. This resulted in extremely crowded conditions on the ground floor. For the same reason we had to vacate our comfortable residence and move to shelters on ground level beside the hospital and very shortly to shelters under the hospital where all hospital personnel slept on narrow concrete shelves - two people on each single mattress.
By this time the nursing staff had been augmented by civilian nurses and the excellent VADs (volunteers); all were under strict orders from the Matron to sleep fully clothed at night in case sudden action became necessary. There was one older nurse who, when awake, wasn't happy unless she had others awake too. One night we were wakened by her persistent loud whispers: "Sybil, Sybil, someone's grinding their teeth. Finally, Sybil -a W.W.I. nurse - in a sleepy and appropriately annoyed voice replied: "Well, it's not me - mine are in my boots." What had sounded so amusing in the middle of the night turned sour the next day when the Matron took poor old Sybil to task for obviously having had her shoes off during the night.
Very early in the fighting it became obvious that the Japanese never did plan to come by sea around which plan the British had built their questionable defences, and we waited throughout the battle for Chiang Kai Shak who, with his troops was reportedly â€œjust over the border and coming to our rescueâ€. On Christmas Eve May and I joined the night staff, working from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. All of us knew what had occurred in the auxiliary hospitals that had been set up around the Island as those areas had been overrun by Japanese troops, and each time footsteps were heard approaching the darkened wards we'd wonder "is it our turn?" On Christmas morning at a brief church service, the PadrÃ© relayed a message, allegedly from Prime Minister Churchill to the effect that the eyes of the world were upon us and all was going well. We then went to the shelters to try to sleep, which was akin to sleeping at a main intersection. During the afternoon, on one of the occasions when we were awake, two British army officers came into the shelter, speaking of surrender. This we just could not believe: had we not been assured at the church service that all was going well? A feeling of anger that followed the disbelief was replaced by one of fear because we had no reason to hope that our fate would be any different from what had befallen other hospital staffs and patients when captured. Needless to say, there was no Christmas dinner in 1941.
Not far from one end of our hospital and just below it was a British anti-aircraft post, the sergeant in charge of which refused to accept the surrender order and to demonstrate his refusal he fired off several blasts. The Japanese immediately sent a plane over to silence the gun. At that particular moment a wedding was in progress. A young British army officer, encased in a recently applied body cast, had just said "I do" to his VAD bride and as the Padre was about to complete the ceremony the sound of the Japanese plane was heard low overhead. Consequently, the PadrÃ©'s pronouncement became "I now pronounce you man and wife get under the bed everybody" - which they did, leaving the poor defenceless groom to fend for himself.
We were a very subdued and apprehensive night staff who went on duty and very thankful when the night had passed with no sign of any Japanese soldiers. At one stage of that seemingly endless night I noticed the British army orderly cleaning, refilling and heating the ward instrument sterilizer. My only thought was that the day staff would appreciate having that done for them. However, to my surprise and horror, the orderly was using the boiling water to make tea, which he poured into mugs and brought to the desk for the VAD and me. Strangely enough, it tasted surprisingly good - and that was just the beginning of double duty for all the hospital sterilizers. To this day I still shudder a little at the memories of what was prepared in those sterilizers.
On Boxing Day several Japanese officers drove up to the hospital entrance and ordered the British O.C. to come out to their car, and speak to them. This was quite a switch from conditions as they had been.
The hospital building and immediate environs were declared in Prisoner-of-War Camp "A" and thus May Waters and I gained the dubious honour of becoming the first and only Canadian Nursing Sisters to become prisoners of war. Within a few days a barbed wire fence was erected to remind us of the fact; shortly after, electrified wire was added, just to be sure that no one attempted to take off.
Early one morning after coming off duty I decided to go up to our residence, which the Japs had taken over as their H.Q. to retrieve some of our belongings; this in spite of the order that looters would be shot on sight. While up there a Q.A. came up to "rescue" me. We gathered up all we could and then took another route back to the hospital in time to stand on the steps to get our breath while we watched the Jap guards march up to their H.Q.
Before long the food shortage was felt and medical supplies dwindled and never were able to be replaced. The inadequate rations were the same for patients and staff. It was then that the full impact of our predicament began to register: we were no longer free people.
The fact of surrender, too, gave a feeling of guilt and degradation which the Japanese never allowed us to forget throughout our incarceration.
To nurses of our vintage, nursing had meant total care: proper medical and surgical care, with adequate and the proper medication and nourishment. With this calibre of nursing now beyond our reach we tried to compensate by spending much time listening to problems and confessions and offering encouragement to the seriously ill and wounded and the dying.
As well as taking over our Residence buildings, the Japanese guards set up a guardhouse at the entrance to the hospital grounds, which was located just beneath the balcony of the hospital wards, which had been assigned as dormitories for the Nursing and VAD staffs. Over the ensuing months, there was ample opportunity for us to witness the various methods of torture of captives - mainly Chinese who were caught breaking the law by cutting down trees farther up the hillside than they should have gone.
Throughout the hospital building we were guarded constantly by Japanese soldiers who were never without their bayonets. They strolled through the wards and dormitories at any and all hours of the day or night, and we just wished they wouldn't make that horrible slurping sound as they ran their fingers up the blade of their bayonets while they stood and watched dressings being done.
Never having experienced hunger before, I had no idea of the effects that real and continuous hunger can have on human beings. For instance, while loaves of bread were still available - but in very limited quantities - patients on the ward complained that all slices were not of uniform thickness and they demanded that a ruler be used to correct this. They also questioned what was happening to the end crusts. I had been slicing these very thin but had to confess I had eaten them. It had never occurred to me that I was guilty of an unforgivable crime: snitching rations!
Obtaining extra nourishment for patients badly in need of it became a constant challenge, and for me the art of scrounging was born. The next problem was to convince the recipient that it really was a form of medication for him. One teenage patient in particular (a Canadian) insisted on being hidden behind an opened cupboard door so that the other patients would not see him as he gratefully but ravenously bolted down anything extra I managed to get for him.
The progressive shortage of medical supplies prevented dressings being changed as often as they should and it became necessary to wash and re-use gauze dressings and bandages that normally should be discarded. Likewise, plaster casts became "high" but could not be replaced when they should. For their sake and that of other nearby patients, these people were moved out to the balcony - with no glass left in the ward windows, it was no colder outside than in - but the Japanese accused us of being cruel and ordered the patients back into the wards, much to their embarrassment and the distress of others. The casts really were pretty foul smelling and I wasn't very popular either in our dormitory because my clothing carried the aroma.
When the Japanese closed the Royal Naval Hospital we received the three members of their nursing staff and any patients requiring care. One of them, Quinn, an 18-year old telegrapher, was in a deplorable state. His basic care each morning required from one and-a-half to two hours during which he screamed and cursed. I did not blame Quinn but it did bother two very young Ablebodied Seaman who occupied nearby beds (every bed in that ward was nearby!). One day when Quinn had been particularly abusive, these two lads followed me into the utility room and while standing stiffly at attention they saluted me and repeated in unison: "Sister, on behalf of the Royal Navy we apologize for Quinn." I could have wept for them and even to this day it is a little difficult to relate the incident.
But that was not the end of the Quinn saga. Several weeks later he unexpectedly and mercifully died and, as always was the case, burial within the hospital grounds took place that same afternoon. Next morning the other patients on the ward were discussing what was going to happen to Quinn's soul because he, a Roman Catholic, had been buried by a Protestant Padre - the only one we had. The final opinion, expressed by a tough sergeant who obviously had been born within sound of Bow Bells in London, was that Quinn would be O.K. until the British got Hong Kong back. Then a Roman Catholic PadrÃ© would stand by his grave and say: "Quinn, as you were!"
At night, adjoining wards were staffed by a VAD and an orderly while one Nursing Sister supervised all the wards and gave the necessary medication. One lamp at the desk outside the two wards was allowed and the Nursing Sister could use a flashlight for emergency purposes. This meant that there were no lights on the balconies, which served as corridors between the wards, or on the staircases. The rounds, made at least every two hours or more frequently to very ill patients, could be a little frightening because one never knew when or where a guard would be encountered and some of them were not too friendly after one of their number had been flogged by his officer for making improper gestures to one nurse and a VAD.
One night a guard stood beside my desk teaching me Japanese vocabulary, using his bayonet as a pointer and frequently uttering that horrible slurping sound as he stroked the bayonet blade. After three-quarters of an hour I decided that was enough and used my phonetically spelled Japanese words and bade him "thank you and goodnight" - with the required bowing, of course. Fortunately for me he was able to understand me and after a few minutes he left while I disappeared into the ward. I was sure that my hair would have turned white from fright but the first mirror I could find shattered that myth.
On August 10, 1942, with practically no notice and for what reason we never did learn, all female personnel were removed from the several Service hospitals still operating. With what we could carry, all of us were loaded onto trucks and like cattle being taken to market we were taken to Stanley civilian internment camp on Stanley Peninsula on the south side of the Island. This removal left all hospital patients without nursing care.
In Stanley we became part of the 2,400 men, women and children who were herded into all manner of buildings where privacy and the basic comforts of life were conspicuous by their absence. Our particular compound was composed of various buildings which formerly had been St. Stephen's College, a Chinese Boys School, and their Residence became our new home, officially called Block 10; our room #11, was affectionately referred to by the Brits as the Log Cabin. Our constant companions were bedbugs, flying cockroaches and centipedes.
According to the Japanese authorities, we Service nurses were being shown preferential treatment in that only three would share a room. This turned out to be 9 feet by 12, absolutely bare of furnishings and showing the effects of having been fought through during hostilities. Between each two rooms was a partition and then between that and the next two was a full wall; there were no doors. At the far end of our corridor was the one three-piece bathroom with a tub to serve all 83 residents and if you did not live within a few doors of it your chances of getting there when you wanted a bath were pretty slim. However, there was no need to go totally unwashed because on the third floor there were only a dozen residents and a large open washroom with two primitive type showers (cold water only, when there was any water at all). There were four toilet cubicles (the squat style) but only three available because the door from the fourth had been scrounged by two of the male residents and made into a large shelf for our room. Needless to say, that was a well-kept secret. Along the other wall was a trough-type of narrow shelf with water taps about every two or three feet where we could take "bird baths" if there was any water available (cold only when available). Those of you who have watched the Channel 17 TV series TENKO, the story of the women captured at Singapore, will agree with me that we were living in luxury compared to them.
The art of scrounging was a great asset and I found it intriguing. One of my proudest possessions obtained thus, part by part, was a hot plate of sorts. Somebody's discarded empty 5-pound jam pail; a piece of plaster from a wall already war-damaged and chipped into shape; some electrical wire via underground sources; for one cigarette a former electrician coiled it and for two more cigarettes he produced a cord and then a plug for another cigarette he assembled it. All this took weeks and weeks but when completed the burner served us well -- when there was power to heat it. Incidentally, the cigarettes (which the regular smokers claimed were awful) were sold to us by the Japanese from time to time. Being a non-smoker I used mine for bartering.
Internees prepared the meagre rations provided, each Block making its own kitchen arrangements. We were fortunate in having a permanent staff, for which each of the men could have an extra half-portion for each of the two "meals". The ration lorry drove through the camp each afternoon, throwing on to the ground the food for each Block. There was no means of refrigeration, of course, so at 5.30 p.m. we would have what was optimistically called Supper, but the meat or fish or whatever had to be in stew form to make it go round; next morning we would get the remains watered down in the form of thin soup. At each meal we had 4 oz. of plain boiled rice and two tablespoons of "greens" also known as weeds, which had to be ground up and then cooked, resulting in what looked like purÃ©ed spinach. It was established that our official daily rations per person were 3/4 of an oz. of meat or fish (after the bones or inedible parts had been removed), 4 tablespoons of the "greens", 8 oz. of rice, and 4 oz. of flour in the form of a tiny loaf of bread. Again we were fortunate, in having a baker in our Block.
Sometimes the flour was unfit for use but we chose to have the bread anyway - when we encountered "unknowns" we accepted them as extra protein. Since rice was not something I usually ate, and especially since those who did eat it were just as hungry as I was, there were several other uses for it. One meal's ration (4 oz.) of boiled rice could be traded for one slice of bread - a very small slice when you consider that 4 oz. of flour made into bread was our 24-hour ration.
Another choice was not to take any boiled rice all week and then draw my 56 oz. dry. After washing it thoroughly and getting it dry without it being stolen, I would spend two hours, using a very primitive type of stone grinder (borrowed from the kitchen) making it into rice flour. With this we could make a form of pancake or gruel, which the three occupants of our room could share. Both were unflavoured and not very tasty except when one of the Chinese women would give me some soya sauce or garlic. But it was something to swallow to ease the pangs. We could believe that some of the soya sauce mixed with boiling water tasted like coffee! How our taste buds could deceive us.
And again there was hunger to deal with and also the effects of idleness. Although we were not assigned any duties, there were plenty of things to do for those who wished to find them.
I attempted to improve my French and reported daily on weekdays to Sister St. Stephen, one of the French Canadian nuns who taught the school-aged internees. We had no books and to demonstrate my hoped-for progress she asked me to write a short story each week. The nouns and adjectives were o.k. but oh, those irregular French verbs! Sister St. Stephen would rock back and forth in spasms of laughter as she read my literary attempts, and I felt that giving her a good laugh once a week was fair compensation for her teaching. I in turn coached an eight-year old â€“ not, as my tutor pointed out because I knew so much French, but little Moira knew even less. However, be it to my credit what basic French I knew was sufficient that on Moira's second visit with me we solved the problem of why she had cried every morning and didn't want to go to school. It was that old bugaboo about why some French nouns were preceded by le or la and some un and others une.
There was a small hospital in camp, operated by civilian nurses who at first declined our offer of assistance - actually; it was our British Army Matron's declaration of take-over that they objected to. However, within a year they asked if we would help by doing some night duty, 6-hour shifts for two weeks at a time. It was great to get back to nursing again, even under camp conditions and for so short a time.
Expert bridge players struggled valiantly with rank beginners, of which I was one; again no books. This was good mental exercise, as well as occupying many hours each day; it also kept our minds off food and the uncertainty of our survival. During our entire time in Hong Kong very little mail was received. In fact, it was not until a short time before we left camp that I received three letters, all written a year earlier. The few precious 50-word standard Prisoner-of-War cards that we had been allowed to write and thought had been sent home over the previous year, arrived home after I did and likely came on the same ship. We had no newspapers or magazines and, of course, no radios - not according to the rules, anyway. Knowing what happened to some internees whom the Japanese suspected of having access to the outside world, it was safer to know nothing. We had stoolies living amongst us.
In November 1942, we received our first and only Red Cross food parcels: 1 Â¼ parcel per person, plus small bulk supplies of M&V (tins of stew), tea, sugar, cocoa, tinned milk and rancid margarine. What a windfall that seemed to be and with that great feeling of affluence I made one lot of the most gorgeous chocolate fudge, but I was never able to do as well again even after I got home. Or could it be that we were just that hungry!
Thanks to a small, but so welcome, allowance of military yen received each month from our Canadian Officers' Fund, May and I were able to obtain a few extras from a limited selection of food which would be made available from time to time at a shop of sorts. Some of this consisted of articles of food with help by the Japanese from Red Cross supplies. Supplies were limited, prices so exorbitant that they would make even 1988-89 prices sound like giveaways. As an example, baking soda sold for $3.50 (Cdn) for a quarter of a pound. It was a good seller because we used it for "baking" and cleaning our teeth, etc., and therefore the Japanese took it off the market. One of the men in our block told all of us to save our wood ashes, which he soaked in water and then boiled. The following morning he would make the rounds and dispense a portion to each of us who could produce a container to hold it. This, of course, was a good substitute for laundry soap, which was practically unknown. Then someone else announced that it was a good substitute for soda bicarb. (baking soda) when we were doing any kind of baking. Tooth powder that came with a small Japanese Red Cross box used to burn the inside of our mouths but it was excellent as a whitener when doing our laundry.
From the beginning of our incarceration we had been repeatedly warned that our Japanese captors had no sense of humour and we must not fool with them or make any smart retorts to any of their remarks or gestures (a few of the guards did know a little English). However, some of their instructions and orders, when translated into English, became quite humourous, especially one notice that was posted in all the buildings in Stanley Camp. "Sexual intercourse is strictly forbidden, except between husband and wife or close friends."
Regarding clothing, May and I went to Hong Kong well supplied with uniforms, which then were not of much use to us when we were moved to Stanley Camp. When we were in Vancouver in late October 1941, and were instructed to go out and buy all the clothes we could that would be suitable for a warm climate, the salespeople in the shops stared at us as if we were not quite in our right minds. The British Matron took a dislike to our attractive blue uniforms as soon as she set eyes on them and for that reason forbade us to wear them when off duty. Accordingly, we had no opportunity in our short pre-war time there to do any shopping. So, in camp the pretty blue cotton and while aprons became shorts and sun tops, all stitched by hand. Two QAs each gave me a dress, one of which was a pretty Liberty print of which I was very proud. However, both were returned to their owners when I left Camp.
Throughout our incarceration rumours abounded, usually of our imminent release by some means. I understand now that this was prevalent in all Prisoner-of-War camps. However, all those dates came and went, but we remained. Thus, during a bridge game one afternoon in late July, 1943, as some earnest soul rushed up to the room and related the newest rumour to the effect that the Canadians would be released soon, I proceeded to play and make my first grand slam. But that rumour was different in that it became fact.
In 1943 when the American Government was negotiating the second repatriation of their remaining civilian internees throughout the Far East, at the request of Canadian authorities all our Canadian civilians in the Far East were included in the operation carried out under the auspices of the International Red Cross.
As far as the Japanese authorities were concerned, May and I were Canadian civilian internees and thus were included in the group who left Stanley Camp on September 23, 1943, on the first leg of a 10 weeks' journey home. Although departing as civilians, we wore our uniforms - the only decent clothing we had and which we promptly exchanged for our shabby clothes after boarding the Japanese ship, "Teia Maru" and went back into our shabby clothes. We from Stanley Camp were so shabby, in fact, but didn't realize it, that the internees from Peking and Shanghai took up a collection of clothing and distributed it among the Hong Kong group. Leaving the camp was rather a bitter-sweet experience. As relieved and happy as we were to be going home, much of the pleasure went out of it because we were leaving our colleagues and friends behind. They were not released for another two years.
Japanese orders forbade repatriates from taking any written or printed material with us, making it necessary for me to destroy a long list of names and addresses of internees' relatives to whom I had promised to write. However, strange things do happen. As each of us boarded the "Teia Maru" we were handed a roll of orange-coloured toilet tissue ($3.58 Canadian at the shop) on which as soon as possible I rewrote my list of names and addresses and thus was able to carry out my promise.
The trip had originated in Yokohama and internees had also been picked up in Shanghai, including those from China, before reaching Hong Kong. During the nearly four weeks that we spent on that dreadful Japanese ship where conditions were even worse than in camp, we called at some small port in the Philippines, Saigon and Singapore, before reaching Goa. This was a small area owned by neutral Portugal and situated about 200 miles south of Bombay. In these repatriations, each country exchanging civilian internees must supply a ship satisfactory to the International Red Cross and the exchange must take place on neutral territory. While the "Teia Maru" did not meet the specifications, it was the third ship offered and it was thought better to accept it since the previous two had been turned down and the Japanese would cancel their part in the entire operation. They boasted cabin accommodation for 400 passengers but there was a total of 1,530 internees to be accommodated. The ship was not kept clean, the dishes were not properly washed, and nearly every day there would be an outbreak of gastrointestinal upsets in one or another of the three dining rooms.
Two days after our arrival in Goa the Swedish-American liner, "Gripsholm", arrived from New York carrying its 1,530 Japanese internees. Several days later the passengers from both ships were officially exchanged and as the Japanese went aboard the filthy Japanese ship (which the women would have to clean) and we sailed for freedom and home aboard the "Gripsholm" which was like a touch of heaven - and as well loaded with good food - I couldn't help but wonder if the individual for whom I had been exchanged would be as happy returning to Japan as I was in returning to Canada. Somehow, I think not.
Our six weeks aboard the Gripsholm, during which time I gained 20 pounds, was much more pleasant and interesting.
Because of the war situation at that time, the Mediterranean route could not be used, which necessitated our proceeding south off the east coast of Africa and around the Cape. We enjoyed about 36 hours in Port Elizabeth during which every passenger was invited to a home that night to sleep in a proper bed. Then we sailed westward to Rio de Janeiro where our stay was shorter but long enough to see something of that city's life -- including a nightclub.
From there we headed north up the east coast of South and then North America, again keeping the required distance out from the coastline and the ship's lights ablaze 24 hours a day, as had been the case since we left Hong Kong. The ship was kept spotlessly clean, as were the dining rooms and the dishes. The food was delicious and our main problem was to eat only moderate sized amounts. All this time we were kept busy filling out detailed questionnaires about ourselves: American authorities were determined that each of us was indeed the person we claimed to be.
Exactly 10 weeks after leaving Hong Kong we disembarked at New York where under American armed guards this time, the Canadians were taken by bus and put aboard a special train for the overnight trip to Montreal. At the old Bonaventure station next morning we said our goodbyes and the group dispersed, fanning out across the country to our respective homes with a new appreciation for a way of life previously taken for granted.