70 years ago: Hong Kong's wartime diaries
- Submitted by Admin on Mon, 2014-11-24 19:07Book / Document:Date(s) of events described:Fri, 20 Oct 1944
Fine, warm, NE wind.
Outside roll-call 8.30am.
Had to have my hands attended to. Slight abrasions & cuts turn septic almost at once due to unbalanced diet, lack of protein. No bandages available so old bits of rag have to suffice.
According to Chinese papers (19th) Aachen evacuated, Tilsit captured, Adml Horthy Hungarian Regent & his Govt. resigned. Adml. Horthy reports that his 5 task forces are all in operation & that Jap news is all tripe.
Lorry arrived 2.30pm with firewood & fish. Fish condemned & immediately buried. Japs admit firewood very difficult to obtain.
Cookhouse & wood chopping, shifting concrete blocks for Vic S.
With Steve pm.
(Wilson has it that Nimitz will be here within 10 days.)
Workers oil & sugar issued.
Lorry arrived with Canteen gear.
- Submitted by David on Wed, 2016-08-31 15:11Book / Document:Date(s) of events described:Fri, 20 Oct 1944
The following report describes Goodwin's view on conditions in the POW camps in Hong Kong.
16th Dec.l944. Copy No..18
20 Oct. 44
INTERROGATION REPORT NO. SKP/5/44
Escapers Serial No. E/5
Name and Rank: Lt. R.B. GOODWIN
Unit: R. N. Z. N. V. R.
Date of Capture: 25 Dec. 41.
Date of Escape: 17 Jul. 44.
Date of arrival in British hands : 3 Aug. 44.
1. Brief History
E/5 was 1st Lieutenant of M.T.B.10 2nd M.T.B. Flotilla HONGKONG from 8 Oct. 41 until he was wounded in the thigh on board on 21 Dec. 41. At the time of the surrender of the Colony, he was in hospital in the University buildings. The Japanese put the hospital under Japanese guards, but in most cases the patients were not interfered with in any way. He was moved around from the University hospital to QUEEN MARYS Hospital, thence to R.N. Hospital, and finally to STALBERTS Convent where he was discharged and sent to NORTH Point P.W. Camp on 25 Feb. 42. Ha remained there until 18 Apr. 42 when all naval personnel were moved to other P.W. camps, the officers to ARGYLE St., and the men to SHAMSHUIPO Camp. On 11 May 44 he was moved to the offrs camp in SHAMSHUIPO where he remained until the date of his escape.
2. Camp Conditions.
(a) Number of Camps
All British P.Ws. in HONGKONG except those in hospital and gaol are in SHAMSHUIPO Camp.
This camp is divided into two, the officers camp containing approx. 455 all ranks and the 0.Rs. camp holding approx. 900 all ranks. Sick all ranks are sent to BO'WEN Road Hospital
Appx. I comprises a list of all ranks held in SHAMSHUIPO officers camp. This list is correct up to 37 Jul. 44.
Indian P.Ws. are held in the former officers camp at ARGYLE St. Numbers are unknown. E/5 does not know whether Indians are still in MATACHAUNG Camp opposite ARGYLE St.
(b) Description of Officers Camp SHAMSHUIPO (To be read in conjunction with Appx. A.)
Sentries were stationed at points marked on Appx. A, 'O' is a sentry box and 'X' is a raised sentry post. A sentry patrolled regularly the fence between the officers camp and the garden belonging to the O.Rs., and is marked 'SENTRY PATROL'. Sentries were armed with rifles and bayonets.
Usually about fourteen sentries were stationed at the guardhouse where a supply of S.A.A., grenades and at least one L.M.G. were kept.
During air raids or any other alarms, the L.M.G. was mounted in a circular post S.E. of the guardhouse, and approx. twenty additional sentries from JUBILEE buildings were stationed about the officer’s camp.
E/5 has no knowledge of sentry posts around the O.R’s camp.
During one air raid, about twenty men came from barracks on a road NORTH of SHAMSHUIPO Camp, and manned the northern fence.
A sand bagged sentry post was kept constantly manned on the roof of a building about 400 yards NORTH of the eastern side of the camp. It is believed that the building was formerly the KOWLOON bus depot now used as a repair shop for Jap M.T.
Armed sentries could always be seen on the roads NORTH of the camp, and E/5 thinks that a number of posts were constantly manned on street intersections.
The area NORTH of the camp contained stores of petrol sheds filled with M. T. and godowns filled with Jap stores. It was reasonable to assume that the road approaches were well guarded, and it was the risk of moving on these roads that decided E/5 to swim from the camp. This fact was also a deterrent to other officers in the camp.
When additional wire was being placed round the camp, a working party of from fifty to sixty Jap O.R’s was employed. This party came from the area of JUBILEE buildings.
A number of Japanese officers and N.C.Os from houses near ARGYLE St., Camp moved to JUBILEE buildings.
On top of a bare hill WEST of the KOWLOON reservoir, the Japanese maintained a guardhouse which at a guess accommodated about twelve men.
(c) State of Health
A wound received on 21 Dec. 41 kept E/5 in hospital until 25 Feb. 43 ((Sic. should be 42)) when he was sent to the NORTH POINT CAMP. The appearance of the officers and men there gave him a great shock, they looked so thin and miserable. He was told that there had been a great many cases, of dysentery but that the epidemic was then nearly over. It was just as well for the dysentery hospital was a terrible place. The building allotted had been a stable close to the waterfront. There were no windows, and the floor was rough cobblestones on which the patients lay with usually only a ground sheet or a blanket beneath them. There were too many patients there to allow the floor to be washed out properly and the air was foul with the smell of human excrement which adhered to blankets and lodged between the cobblestones. The Japanese would allow no other accommodation.
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On 1 Mar. 42 the camp doctors prepared a statement for the Japanese pointing out that, on a calory basis, P.W’s were all being slowly starved to death. There were more then 40 cases of beri-beri, and these were increasing rapidly.
During the first ten days of Apr. 42 no meat or vegetable were supplied by the Japanese, and this resulted in a sudden increase in sickness. Dysentery, fever, beri-beri, vomiting and other stomach disorders became very prevalent.
On 5 Sep. 42 four officers arrived from SHAMSHUIPO Camp, and they reported that there had been a very bad epidemic of diphtheria there, a large number of cases being fatal. Serum had just been received from JAPAN, and they expected the situation to improve.
One of the batmen developed acute appendicitis on 23 Sep. 42 and Surg. Cdr. CLEAVE operated. The Japanese allowed the operation to be done at the Hospital attached to the Camp, where there was an operating table, but no other facilities, and the patient had to be carried straight back to own camp hospital after the operation. CLEAVE had not been allowed to retain his instruments, so he used a razor blade for this and several more operations performed at subsequent dates.
Although there were four fully equipped hospitals in close proximity to ARGYLE St. Camp, two of them actually adjoining the camp, the Japanese never allowed our doctors to use an operating theatre or any other hospital facility, and urgent operations were performed in conditions little better than those to be found in a frontier war zone.
5 Oct. 42 saw a great number of officers stricken with vomiting and diarrhoea, and when the Japanese were informed, they quickly took tests from which they asserted that three patients had cholera and others were suspects. The camp was disinfected, and some huts isolated. No more cases developed.
In November several cases of diphtheria occurred and everyone had to wear face masks that were disinfected daily, while one or two huts were isolated again.
The Japanese were always quick to act when sickness that might become an epidemic developed, not out of consideration for P.W's but because of the danger to their own troops.
Lt. HUIDEKOPER R. NETH, Navy, arrived from SHAMSHUIPO Camp on 29 Nov. 42 and he reported that the men there were having a very bad time with mal-nutritional complaints. Electric feet, beri-beri, pellagra and semi blindness were very prevalent.
The Camp Commandant made a speech on 27 Jan. 43 in which he told P.W’s that if they got sick it was their own fault, but after a diet of plain rice only for some days, the statement did not ring very true.
Owing to increasing number suffering from deficiency diseases, a further complaint was lodged with the Commandant on 9 Feb. 43.
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During that month, P.W's received only rice and a few chrysanthemums daily, and most of them were feeling weak with the lack of suitable food. More than half the camp was affected by beri-beri, partial blindness or some other deficiency complaint.
Pte. SCHILLER, H.K.V.D.C., arrived from SHAMSHUIPO on 28 Feb, 43, and he reported that the rations had been increased there, resulting in ran improvement in the condition of the men,
Lt. EARDLEY, H.K.R.N.V.R. , returned from BOWEN RD. Hospital on 5 May, 43, and he reported that though conditions at BOWEN RD. and SHAMSHUIPO hod been improved, there were still 900 cases of deficiency diseases at SHAMSHUIPO, out of a total camp strength of 2100. In ARGYLE St. on this date there were 178 out of a camp strength of 540 in receipt of medical attention for deficiency complaints. Later in the month there were 161 Cases of electric feet, beri-beri, etc., and 90 cases of eye trouble.
On 19 Mar. 43, Surg. Cdr. CLEAVE told E/5 that there had been 300 deaths in BOWEN RD. and SHAMSHUIPO, the great majority due to malnutrition and sheer neglect. Failure by the Japanese to supply the necessary drugs was the main fault.
Officers who returned from BOWEN RD. Hospital on 25 May 43 reported that conditions there were reasonably good, and at the same time P.Ws, had a report from SHAMSHUIPO that there were 400 still in hospital there though most were convalescent and there were few serious cases.
On 19. Aug. 43, Canadian officers from SHAMSHUIPO reported that there were still 350 in hospital there, and that the general health of the comp was not good as all the fittest men had been drafted to JAPAN.
The weights of most officers were steadily falling, and on 31 Dec. 43 the camp doctors submitted the report detailed in para (d) to the Japanese. Possibly as a result of that, the rice ration was increased in January, and the Japanese began to check weights, height, etc. They had forms printed for entries to be made every 3 months for 3 years.
The health of the camp was rapidly deteriorating during Jan. 44, and the Comp Commandant stated that this was solely due to lack of exercise, and demanded that P. T. should be compulsory every morning. He refused to discuss rations or anything else until this was done, though he said he could not order officers to do P.T. Volunteers were called for and token P.T. classes were started.
t that time there were a great many cases of pellagra of the mouth, tongues and throats sore, inflamed and the skin split. With some, this persisted for months and made eating very painful.
On 17 Feb. 44 Sub. Lt. Fraser. H.K.R.N.V.R., suddenly developed an intestinal blockage and Surg. Cdr. CLEAVE rang up Dr. SAIT0 for permission to operate at the Indian Hospital. Dr. SAITO refused to allow it, and
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told CLEAVE to defer the operation until the following day. CLEAVE said the patient would be dead by then, so he operated at the Camp Hospital on an ordinary table under lighting improvised by the camp electrician,
A Japanese Supply Officer inspected the comp on 15 Mar. 44, and after a list of those short of blankets and shoes had been taken, he made a speech in which he stressed the great difficulty, in fact almost impossibility, of obtaining replacements, and also the great difficulty of obtaining food supplies. In fact, he virtually told P.Ws that he realised they were very short but ho could do nothing about it.
This was not very encouraging for the health of the camp was still deteriorating; there were 150 cases of semi-blindness and a great deal of pellagra. Burials from the Indian Camp had been at the rate of two or three a day for about a month, and CLEAVE told E/5 that if the rations were not improved, he was afraid they would be having deaths in the camp.
The first bulk supplies of beans and bran were sent in by the Red Cross on 4 Apr. 44 but owing to the serious reduction in the rice ration as set out in para (d), the downward trend of weights was not immediately checked, and the average loss during Apr. was 5.1 lbs. per man. Some tall officers went down by 10 lbs., a tremendous drop considering how thin everyone was already.
After the transfer to SHAMSHUIPO Camp in May, 44, beans, bran, sugar and other supplies from the Red Cross came in in increasing quantities, and conditions were greatly improved.
The following is on extract from Medical Circular No.2., issued to the camp on 15 Jul.44.
EXTRACT FROM CIRCULAR
"In Apr. 44, the diet produced 1764 calories per man, per day.
" May " " " " 1891 " " " " "
" Jun. " " " " 2161 " " " " "
The increases in May and June were due to Red Cross Supplies, It was considered that P.W’s required 2,500 calories per day, so the June rations plus what they could buy in the canteen achieved that. Protein requirements were 50 grammes daily. In May P.Ws. received 39 grammes, in June, thanks to Red Cross,
58 grammes. The camp was woefully short of vitamins, especially B1 and B2. The most obstinate diseases were gastroenteritis and avitaminosis in their many forms (diarrhoea, dyspepsia, pellagra, beri-beri, etc.) all directly due to malnutrition, excessive carbo-hydrates and lack of vegetables. Both types of disease recently showed some improvement. On 30 June, 44 there were 145 avitaminotic cases under treatment. The diet is barely sufficient to keep a man well, everything depends on the additions he can make to it.
Drugs are very short and increasingly difficult to obtain",
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Everyone in camp was vaccinated and inoculated regularly against typhoid and cholera.
When the flour issue for bread making ceased, the camp doctors requested a few bags for making yeast for hospital patients. The request was refused, the Japanese stating that there was no more flour in the colony. This was untrue as they saw occasional truck loads passing ARGYLE St. Camp until we left there.
Produce from the camp garden and poultry form was invaluable to the patients, all eggs, sometimes 20 to 30 a day, and the best quality vegetables, were delivered to the hospital daily.
Information was received on 15 May 44 that there were approximately 900 in the O.R's camp at SHAMSHUIPO, of whom 480 were in hospital.
From the above report, it will be seen that it is of the utmost importance that supplies through the Red Cross should be maintained and increased if possible, and unceasing efforts in that direction should be made.
(d) Food and Fuel
The food situation in NORTH PT. Camp when E/5 arrived was shocking. Since their capture they had lived mainly on rice, supplies of meat and vegetables having been very erratic. During Feb. the situation had been improved by the receipt of supplies of flour, ovens had been built, and bread was issued daily. Even so, the rations were not sufficient to maintain the prisoners in health, and on 1 Mar. 42 the Camp Doctors prepared a statement for the Japanese, showing that on a calory basis P.Ws. were being slowly starved to death. At that time there were already more than forty bases of beri-beri in the camp, and the Commodore made representations to the Japanese to have the rations Increased.
During Mar. 42 the rations were 1/2 lb. rice, and usually some vegetables. Occasionally there would be on egg or a little meat or fish. Fish was supplied at the rate of 26 lbs, for every 200 men, but it did not come with any regularity. Parcels were allowed into the camp once a week, and on 16 Mar. 42 a canteen lorry came in with a small supply of goods. These were not nearly sufficient to meet the demand, and had to be rationed, but most of those with money were able to buy something to help the rice down. The canteen was allowed in only once a week, so it did not make much difference to the food situation, especially as only a very limited number had any cash.
The last two weeks of March saw an improvement in the rations, but for the first ten or twelve days of April P.W's were supplied with nothing but rice. This caused a sudden increase in the number of sick, many cases of dysentry, fever, vomiting, beri-beri and various stomach disorders being reported.
From 3 Apr. 42 all officers were paid, and on 18 Apr, the naval ratings were transferred to SHAMSHUIPO Camp, while the officers wont to ARGYLE St. Camp where they were Joined by most of the army
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officers from SHAMSHUIPO. During the next few months rations, though small, were supplied with fair regularity, but on 22 Jul, 42 P.W's received their last issue of frozen meat. The low diet gradually had its effect, and as the year progressed many eases of malnutritional diseases occurred. Oct. was a very bad month, nothing supplied but rice and daikons. Daikons are a variety of long white turnip, hot like a radish. P. Ws. ate the tops too, as they were the only greens they could get.
On 28 Nov, 42. P.W's eached received a Red Cross parcel and an issue of bulk stores, such as sugar, dried fruits and cocoa, and it was a pathetic commentary on the state to which P.W's had been reduced to see how pleased everyone was with this gift,
Rations during Dec. 42 and Jan.43 were again very poor, rice only on many days, rice and a little cabbage or rice and chrysanthemums on others. Thirty sacks of Red Cross sugar were delivered to the camp on 13 Feb, 43, but all that month P.W's had only rice and a small quantity of chrysanthemums each day. Most P. W's were feeling weak from lack of food, and a protest was sent to the Commandant about the shortage of food.
They received a certain amount of grim amusement from the following advertisement which appeared in the Hongkong News on 13 Feb. 43 :
"Genuine pre-war Patent Medicines, including Vitamins, Yeast, Calcium, Tonics against Malnutrition.
Suitable for Internees, etc."
Early in March 43 P.W's learned from arrivals from BOWEN RD. Hospital and SHAMSHUIPO that conditions at both places had been recently improved. The men in camp were receiving 2 oz. of tinned meat per day, rolled oats three times a week, and fairly frequently half a tin of M & V.
A very valuable addition to P.W. rations was made on 7 Mar. 43, when 40 four-gallon-tins of ghee and a number of bags of atta were sent in, E/5 assumed that these were from Red Cross supplies, but was not sure.
During the early months of 1943, P.W's were supplied with filthy broken rice of the very poorest quality, alive with weevils and packed with large white maggots in silken cocoons. It was so bad that after many protests the Japanese finally agreed to allow a 40% wastage
On 27 Apr. 43 a lorry load of atta arrived in camp, and on 19 May some more ghee and a small quantity of dried pears. These last were obviously the sweepings from some store, and many of them were in a rotted and disgusting condition. They had to be carefully picked over and well boiled before the camp doctors would allow them to be issued.
In spite of the Red Cross supplies, the atta and the ghee, everyone was steadily losing weight, and during May 43 E/5' s own weight went down by 4 lbs., a considerable drop when it is remembered that P.W’s were all very, much under weight as it was.
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More Red Cross parcels were sent in on 10 Jun., but only 135, of which 26 had been partially rifled, came in for the 535 in camp. In addition to the parcels P.W's also received 50 bags of atta, 19 bags of sugar, 960 tins of M & V, 1,296 eight-oz. tins of meat,, 450 lbs. of dried peas and some tea and cocoa. As the number of parcels was so small, they were broken down, each hut receiving an equal portion of the contents, and then P.W's drew lots for individual shares. The Japanese informed P.W's that there were no more parcels, and even if there were they would not receive them.
One could well believe this, for behind the fence round the Japanese headquarters down the road a pile of hundreds and hundreds of empty tins was accumulating, and all of these were the remains of some Red Cross supplies.
When the pile had reached nearly to the top of the fence a Jap working party dug a large trench and buried them all. Even as late as Sep. 43, when batmen from our camp went to the Japanese store for some rice, they saw a pile of about 160 Red Cross parcels still there.
Flour ran out at the end of Nov. 43, and P.W's had no bread until 21 Dec., when enough flour for three bread issues was sent into camp. Then at the end of Dec. enough flour arrived to last till the end of Jan. 44, from which time they had no more bread, and the Japanese informed P.W's that there was no more flour in the Colony. The daily ration per man had been 13 1/2 oz. of rice and 3 3/4 oz. of flour, or, when no flour was available, 17 1/4 oz. of rice.
In an endeavour to have rations improved, the camp doctors prepared a report, which included the following table of food supplies on a per capita basis for two successive months in 1942 and 1943. The table speaks for itself.
REPORT OF MEDICOS. DEC. 1943.
: 1942 : 1943 :
____________: OCTOBER : NOVEMBER : OCTOBER : NOVEMBER :
: : Cal- : : Cal— : : Cal- : : Cal- :
____________: Grams: ories: Grams: ories: Grams: ories: Grams: ories:
Rice________: 437.3: 1560: 435.0: 1553: 384.0: 1371: 384.0: 1371
Flour_______: 123.2: 453: 123.5: 453: 100.0: 368: 65.0: 239:
Fish________: 43.6: 23: 43.5: 23: 55.6: 30: 59.0: 32:
Peanut Oil : 15.0: 118: 18.5: 142: 14.4: 113: 13.0: 103:
Sugar_______: 7.2: 29: 6.0: 25: 4.0: 16: 4.5: 18:
Grn.Vegs. : 260.0: 60: 240.0: 55: 274.0: 63: 387.0: 89:
Beans______ : 2.9: 9: 1.0: 4: 63.0: 54: 20.0: 17:
Sweet : : : : : : : : :
Potatoes : 100.0: 86: 63.0: 140: 20.0: 17: .....:......:
Calories per man : : : :
_______per day: 2338: 2395: 2032: 1869:
Average calories per man per day for the two months in 1942 = 2,366;
in 1943 = 1,950.
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From 13 Jan. 44 the rice ration was increased to 600 grammes per day, 21.09 oz., and that amount was being cooked, until 20 Mar. 44. On that day the rice stock was exhausted, and when the Japanese were asked for more they informed P.W's that from 1 Feb. 44 the ration scale had been reduced to 480 grammes, and that the rice supplied should have lasted until the end of March. The Japanese supply officer had failed to notify either the camp or the Commandant of the change of scale, and though the error was entirely his, he insisted that rice for the remaining ten days of March should be drawn from April's supply, the daily issue being reduced accordingly. This would have put P.W's in very serious straits indeed, and at a conference of the Commandant, the Supply Officer and the Camp Executive, held on 21 Feb, 44 the Japanese agreed to send in rice for April and May, and to allow P.W's to work off the deficit over two months.
The entitlement for 61 days (April and May) at a scale of 480 grammes per head was 30,275 lbs., but the rice supplied was 1,844 lbs. short of that weight. When a deduction had been made for hospital cooking,the daily ration left per capita was 375.5 grammes (13.27 oz.), a tremendous drop from the 21 ozs. P.W's had been having. In view of the great number of deficiency eases already in the comp the strongest representations were made to the Japanese to hove the ration brought up to the full scale of 480 grammes.
P.W's would have been in even worse plight hod they not received some Red Cross supplies on 4 Apr,, and also used certain canteen reserves (that had been built up unknown to the Japanese) to purchase sweet potatoes and other things to augment rations. The Red Cross supplies included 180 lbs. of dried beans, 400 lbs. of bran, 115 lbs. of sugar and 65 lbs of soya bean powder. The Japanese practised a typical trick with these supplies. The receipt form showed 100 lbs. of soya bean powder, and P.W's had to sign for that amount though they received only 65 lbs., their hosts having stolen the remainder. Other things showed short weight too, but P.W's were used to Jap. methods, for the monthly supply of peanut oil was usually 50 to 60 lbs. short.
Although over the whole period of E/5's captivity, the Japanese had supplied more than the ration weight of vegetables, many of those sent in had very little food value. Prior to Feb. 44, the ration trucks drove into the comp with vegetables, but after 1 Feb. 44.
P.Ws. had to draw them from Jap H. Q. They were not informed of the reason for the change, but it might have been one of the following:-
(i) P.W's had been buying extra supplies through the ration corporal on the truck and this may have been discovered, or
(ii) The ration corporal may have been making money on his own account out of the purchase of the supplies for the camp.
Whatever the reason, it was very noticeable that When P.W's drew supplies from H.Q., the quality of the vegetables improved immeasurably, though the quantity
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decreased, When the trucks were coming direct to the camp, they more often than not received the sweepings of. the markets, often large quantities of water spinach or other poor quality green stuff in a disgusting crushed and putrefying condition, but when drawing from H. Q. the vegetables were packed in baskets and were almost invariably in good condition. This was a definite improvement, but the real trouble lay in the type of vegetable supplied. Frequently in a two day supply there would be only sufficient to make one meal, for the weight would bo made up with such things as 200 lbs. of cucumbers, and three or four baskets of marrows. These weighed heavily, but went away to water when boiled, and they contained very little food value at all.
In the above report, it will be noticed that there are long periods about which nothing has been written, so a little generalisation might be advisable. The vegetables supplied varied with the seasons, and the Japanese apparently made a point of giving nothing but the cheapest in the market. The result was, that P.W's would have runs of a month or six weeks when only one variety would bo sent in, and of these the most outstanding were daikons, egg-plants, water spinach and pumpkins or marrows. Daikons were sent in for such a long period at one time that many officers became nauseated with them and large quantities had to be buried. There were also several bad periods when P.W's received nothing but potato tops or chrysanthemums. The conditions described above lasted until P.W's were removed from ARGYLE St., to SHAMSHUIPO Camp in May 44, but, before closing the ARGYLE St. account, it is necessary to make reference to the great contribution that was made to the rations by the camp gardeners.
The Japanese allowed P.W's to use an area opposite the camp that had previously been a market garden, and when ARGYLE St. was closed down there were about 3 1/2 acres under cultivation. This area produced a steady output of excellent vegetables for the camp, lettuces, spinach, cabbages, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and sweet corn, and during March 1944 the total weight of vegetables brought into camp from the garden was over 5,000 lbs. Of course, over the whole period, what was grown was only a very small fraction of P.W. requirements, but it did help considerably.
During May 44 all personnel from ARGYLE St., Gamp were moved to SHAMSHUIPO, the last party arriving there on 22 May, and on 27 May some Red Cross supplies were sent into the camp. These included bran, soya bean powder, brown sugar and shark oil. This supply was followed by a further generous issue on 19 Jun. 44, when P.W's received 900 lbs of bran, 1300 lbs. of beans, 200 lbs, of sugar, some lard and some soya sauce. The Japanese rations were very poor at that time, and P.W's were extremely pleased to see the Red Cross supplies coming along fairly regularly, apparently intended to be a monthly issue. On 1 Jul 44 5 bags of beans, 380 lbs of bran, some sugar, lard, peanut butter, soap, shark-oil and sunglasses were received, E/5's written comment at the time being that "P.W's would be having a damned thin time if it were not for these supplies".
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Besides having bran cooked with the breakfast rice and a plentiful supply of beans cooked in the vegetable stews, it was decided to issue a slice of "bean cake" once a week. This "cake" was made on a weight per head basis of 5 ozs. ground rice, 1 1/4 oz. ground beans and 3/4oz. of bran. Cooked in bread tins in a large "steamer", this was a very palatable success and a valuable addition to the fare.
Generally speaking, when E/5 left the camp on 17 Jul. 44 everyone was feeling the benefit of the bettor food, and he feels sure that if the Red Cross supplies continue to be received, the number of cases of malnutritional complaints would greatly diminish. One of the interpreters remarked in April that they had had orders from TOKYO to look after P.W's better, and it may have been due to those orders that the Red Cross supplies were allowed to be distributed to the camp.
There were still two other sources of food supply, one being from parcels sent into the camp and the other being from the canteen.
From 20 Jul. 42 parcels were allowed to be sent into camp by relatives or friends of prisoners. An organised effort was made during 1943 to increase the number in camp receiving the benefit of parcels, and this resulted in many more officers being able to send money out to contacts, who were willing to go to the trouble of assisting them. Besides private contacts, arrangements were made with the Japanese to allow a Russian firm to send in parcels, and at one time almost three quarters of the personnel in camp were deriving some benefit from outside sources. However, through rising prices, the difficulty of people obtaining supplies outside and the high cost of ricksha transport, many of the contacts proved unsatisfactory after a time, and one obtained better value by spending in the canteen. Still, the parcels were of great help to the camp, those who received good ones being generous with gifts of fresh fruit and eggs to the camp hospital.
From 4 Jun. 42, a canteen bus brought in a weekly supply of goods, and a canteen run on business lines was started in the camp. All kinds of tinned goods were available at first, but as time went on the variety became smaller and prices rose rapidly week by week. Besides tinned goods, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, soya bean powder, lard and peanut oil were being brought in, but although that sounds as if P.W's could live well, it must be remembered that only limited quantities of some things were allowed in and, prices were so high that they could purchase only a very few articles each month. Dried beans and peas were also allowed in during 1944, Lieutenants, R.N.V.R., and Army Captains received MY75.50 per month, and the following prices, which were in force before E/5 left camp, will show that they could not buy very much. Lard and peanut oil MY38 per lb.; golden syrup (when obtainable) MY19 per 2-lb. tin; soya bean powder (when obtainable) MY12.50 per lb.; small tins of beans (when obtainable) MY5.50 each; sweet potatoes when in season remained at a reasonable figure, about MY1.80 per lb., but these were usually brought in, in only limited quantities.
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The above report, covers fairly the general situation as regards the feeding of the officers' camp, and it is E/5's firm belief that the Japanese carried out a deliberate policy of allowing P.W's to obtain just sufficient food from all sources to keep them on the boundary line between health and sickness, in a state of such low vitality that they would not be fit to cause them trouble in any way. He is absolutely convinced that they took garden produce, parcels and canteen goods into consideration when deciding on what rations they would supply to the camp.
The supply of firewood for the camp was a continual source of trouble, apparently for the Japanese as well as for P.W's. They would rarely bring in a supply sufficient to last for more than a week or ten days, and time after time they would wait until they had completely exhausted the supply before they would take notice of P.W. requests for more. The result was that P.W's were frequently missing one or two meals at a time when they needed them as often as possible.
Except for the last two or three months in ARGYLE St, Camp, when P.W's were receiving a whole month's supply at a time, this struggle to get sufficient wood, and the uncertainty of its arrival, persisted throughout all E/5's period of internment,
(e) Parcels, etc.
From 10 Apr. 44 private parcels were delivered to the camp twice monthly. These were left at a Japanese office, probably in JUBILEE Bldgs., where the contents were searched before they were delivered to the camp.
All labels were removed from tins, but as for as E/5 knows, no tins were ever opened. Bread or buns were not allowed to be included. No personal contact whatever was allowed between the donors and recipients of the parcels.
Bulk Red Cross supplies were delivered to a central store at SHAMSHUIPO Camp, and the share for the officers’ camp came from that store, E/5 does not know if a search was made at the central store, but no search was made after delivery to the officers' camp. When the first Red Cross Supplies arrived at ARGYLE St. Camp, the Japanese searched all through the soya bean powder. This come in 1-lb. paper pockets, and those were all opened and the contents emptied into buckets. Nothing extraneous was found.
Officers were allowed to send one postcard abroad and one local postcard each month. A maximum of 25 words was allowed. P.W’s sent these every month, feeling certain that only a very small fraction ever reached their destination.
Inward mail was a complete gamble. On 21 Oct 42 E/5 received a letter from NEW ZEALAND via GENEVA, and this was the first overseas letter to reach the camp. Several officers received their first letters in Jun. 44. Sometimes it would be weeks without any letters coming into the camp at all, but, before E/5 left camp, small bundles were arriving almost daily.
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The most recent, from AUSTRALIA, were dated in Sep. 43. Interpreter NIMURA once told P.W's that there were piles of letters for them down at H.Q. E/5 is sure this was true, because P.W's would receive letters of any date from early 1942 to the middle of 1943. In Apr. and May 44, certain individuals in camp received anything between 30 and 50 letters each. Then the Japanese asked for a list of all those who had received more than 30 letters since they had been prisoners-of-war. Presumably this was done for propaganda purposes, but they would not mention that the great majority of the camp had received only about half a dozen letters.
No parcels were allowed to be sent or received by mail.
(g) Supplies of Amenities
From the end of May 42 until early in 1944 the Japanese gave P.W' s a regular monthly supply of tooth-powder, toilet powder, washing soap and toilet paper. During that period they also received a sufficient supply of tooth-brushes, small face towels.
On two or three occasions thin cotton socks were issued, and on 26 May 44, when the winter was over, thick ones were issued. P.W's also received two cotton singlets, and when those were issued, Majors and above also received cotton underpants. Apparently the junior ranks were considered to be cleaner in their habits!
One khaki shirt was issued to them and also a supply of khaki cloth pull-overs. Those last were excellent, and were a great comfort during the winter, when the cold N.E. monsoon was blowing. The Japanese supply corporal who brought these to the camp was wearing a pair of trousers made of the pull-over material.
Tennis shoes were issued once, but they were of such poor quality that they were completely worn out in from two to three weeks. In May 44 P.W's were issued with a pair of Chinese wooden clogs, they had had one issue previously.
The Japanese occasionally sent in very small supplies of leather and nails for mending shoes, never anything like sufficient to meet the demand, and footwear was very difficult to keep in repair. Most people wore clogs or went bare-footed most of the time, in order to conserve at least one pair of shoes in case of a long march.
Either in Mar. or Apr. 44 after six weeks had elapsed since the last issue, the Japanese informed P.W's that the usual monthly issue would in future have to last for three months.
The soap issued was of extremely poor quality, and if left for a few weeks it would dry out to a thin hard wafer of no value at all.
A shoemaker was permitted to take orders from ARGYLE St. and many officers had shoes and Indian chaplis made. However, the shoemaker had increasing difficulty in obtaining supplies of leather or rubber for soles, and after the middle of 1943 his prices were practically prohibitive.
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Underclothes and khaki shorts could be purchased at the canteen, and once the canteen brought a supply of leather shoes. Those also wore out in from two to three weeks.
Except for a period of about a month in NORTH PT. Camp and the first month in ARGYLE St., cigarettes could always be purchased in the officers' camp. The O.R's were given a very small issue at SHAMSHUIPO Camp.
The Japanese had been continuously asked for a supply of warm clothing and raincoats, and gas capes came in June 1943. Later, a mixed collection of army, navy and air force clothing arrived, mostly in a somewhat dilapidated condition, but E/5 thinks that everyone had sufficient warm clothing during the winter of 1943-1944, and everyone had a raincoat of some kind.
The Japanese agreed to pay officers at the rates received by officers of equivalent rank in the Japanese Army, and the first payment was made on 3 April 42. That day, P.W's drew three months' pay, rates per month being Lt.Col. MY160; Majs. MY110; Capts. MY62.50; Lieuts. MY25; 2nd Lieuts. MY10.80. E/5 does not know what the higher ranks received.
P.W's were paid regularly every month from that time.
On 1 Sep. 43, Majors and above received on increase of MY30, Captains and below an increase of MY33. E/5
understood that this rise had to do with the amount deducted by the Japanese for rations supplied; they were deducting approx, MY30 instead of MY60 as previously. The rates of pay from 1 Sep. 43 were Lt.Cols. MY190;
Majs. MY140; Copts. MY95.50; Lieuts, MY58; 2nd Lieuts. MY43.80.
Prom 30 Oct. 43. the pay P.W's actually received was reduced, Lt.Cols. from 190 to 130, Majors from 140 to 100, Captains from 95.50 to 75.50, and they were told that the balance was being banked to their credit in the Post Office Savings Bank.
Lt.Col. FIELD sent a protest about this to the Comp Commandant, pointing out that P.W's were being forced to assist the Japanese war effort, but this had no result.
Bank books for each officer, all correctly made up-to-date came in on 21 Jan.44, but they were just labelled "Bank Book", and had no name of any bank on them.
When the nine doctors left SHAMSHUIPO for FORMOSA, at the end of Apr. 44, they left a note in which they informed P.W's that all money banked for them had been refunded before they sailed.
On 2 Feb. 43 the Japanese brought in MY1800 for distribution among unpaid personnel. Payment was made at the rate of MY15 per head, and O.R's in SHAMSHUIPO also received that amount. The Naval Dockyard Police and Warrant Officers, R.N. , were not recognised as officers by the Japanese, and did not receive regular pay.
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Unpaid personnel received a payment of MY24 per head on 28 Jul. 43, and E/5 thinks they received further payments later which gave them an average of approx. MY8 per month for that year.
From arrival in ARGYLE St. Camp on 18 Feb. 42, until 23 Jul. 43, a compulsory levy of MY3.20 per month was collected from all officers. The fund created was used primarily for purchasing extra drugs for the hospital and other things deemed essential for the Welfare of the camp. At the some time voluntary contributions were made to a fund from which varying amounts were sent to SHAMSHUIPO Camp, Bowen Rd. Hospital, the Indian Camp, and to the nurses and V.A.Ds. at STANLEY.
In Jul. 43 a Camp Advisory Committee, of which E/5 was a member, was formed, and on its recommendation the compulsory monthly payments were increased to Lt.Cols. MY36; Majs. MY20 and Capts. MY8.
The reason for this increase was that it was decided to pay O.R's in ARGYLE St. a minimum of MY30 per month to enable them to live at the same standard as O.R's in SHAMSHUIPO. SHAMSHUIPO received an issue of bully beef,
M & V and oatmeal, which was not supplied to ARGYLE St. A request was made to the Japanese to supply the O.R's in ARGYLE St. with the same rations os given the O.R's in SHAMSHUIPO, but when this failed the MY30 scheme was instituted. Actually, from Jul. 43 until E/5 left camp O.R's and unpaid officers in ARGYLE St. never received less then MY35 per month, including Red Cross money, and during 1944 they were being paid MY40 per month.
At the same time, substantial payments to SHAMSHUIPO Camp and other institutions were made. The maximum sent to SHAMSHUIPO in any one month was MY5000, to BOWEN Rd. MY600, to the Indian Camp, MY600. Those payments varied considerably from month to month, and after the big reduction in pay due to banking in Oct. 43, the SHAMSHUIPO payment dwindled to a few hundreds and the others went down in proportion. E/5 thinks it was in Feb. or Mar. 44 that the Japanese refused to allow any more money to be sent from the camp, and the above contributions ceased. Occasionally, a gift of cash was smuggled to the Indian Camp after the prohibition,
On 10 Feb. 44 the Canadian Officers received MY3000 from the Canadian Red Cross, and they had had a previous payment when in SHAMSHUIPO.
The last extra payment made before E/5 left camp was one received on 28 Mar. 44 of MY15 per head from the British Prisoners Relief Fund, from this gift P.W's were informed that the Japanese had banked MY1000 on their behalf.
In view of the rapidly rising prices, a request was made to the Japanese on 20 Jun. 44 that P.W's should be allowed to draw the money banked for them, but this request was emphatically refused.
(j) Camp Organisation
When E/5 arrived in NORTH POINT Camp on 25 Feb, 42, Gen. MALTBY was the senior B.O. in camp, Commodore COLLINSON the senior naval officer, and Wing Cdr.SULLIVAN
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the senior R.A.F. Officer. These three formed an executive committee, and the camp was run on more or less military lines. The General was spokesman in dealings with the Japanese, the official interpreter being Maj.KERR H.Q. For the work of putting the camp in order O.R's were detailed, and also parties of volunteer officers were formed.
After the transfer of the officers to ARGYLE St. Camp on 18 Apr. 42, the same executive committee administered the camp, with Brig. PEFFERS as senior staff officer.
The camp contained approximately 460 officers and 80 O.R’s as batmen. The cookhouse was organised b.y Maj. HEDGECOE, MIDDSX Regt., with a staff of O.R's Batmen were detailed to each hut, and also to compulsory working parties ordered by the Japanese,
When the General and senior officers were drafted to FORMOSA, Lt. Col. FIELD become senior B.O. He sanctioned the formation of a Camp Advisory Committee, composed of an elected representative from each rank, to assist him in administering the camp. This committee had too little real power, it was disbanded, and a new committee named the "Camp Committee" under the Chairmanship of Lt.Col. PRICE, R.R.C., was formed. As this Committee was composed of an elected representative from each hut, and it was broken down into a number of sub-committees, each with a specific part of the camp's activities to administer - Finance, Messing, Canteen, etc, This committee functioned very well until the transfer to SHAMSHUIPO Comp in May 44.
At SHAMSHUIPO Lt. Col. WHITE, R. SCOTS, was appointed O.C. Camp, and Cdr. VERNALL, H.K.R.N.V.R. , was appointed O.C. naval personnel by the Japanese, Lt.Col., WHITE stated that the camp would be run on military lines again, and that there would be no more committees.
(k) General Treatment by Japanese
There is a certain background to the following report, and that background is furnished by Colonel TOKANAGA. in charge of all P. W. camps an HONGKONG, a man who showed by all his actions that he had a burning hatred for the British. In E/5's opinion, he, together with Dr. SAITO, head of the Japanese Medicals Corps, was directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of British soldiers, and it is to be hoped that adequate measures will be taken against him when those become possible.
E/5's first two months as a P.W. were spent in various hospitals, and during that period he saw very little of the Japanese. Apart from occasional visits by officers taking lists of patients, they were left alone, e/5's only experience of Jap methods being when they cleared the Naval Hospital of which he was an inmate. At 0900 hrs, a lorry load of naval ratings drove into the yard, and these were quickly posted round, the grounds and in the building. An officer then read on order stating that the Japanese authorities required the hospital, and that it had to he evacuated by 1700 hrs that day. Anything not removed within that time would be fortfeited to the Japanese. The serious cases went to BOWEN Road, and the remainder to ST, ALBERT'S Convent. P.W's had to submit to the usual search, though nothing was taken and the only incident occurred when a sentry took a ring belonging
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to one of the V.A.Ds. This was reported to an officer who severely reprimanded the sentry, made him return the ring and then apologise for his action. The proceedings were entirely handled by Jap naval personnel, Although some of our stores could not be removed within the stipulated time, most of these were retrieved during subsequent days.
On 25 Feb. 42 E/5 was sent to the NORTH POINT P.W. Camp, and he soon began to learn how the Japanese behaved towards the Chinese whom they had come to "liberate from British tyranny". These instances will serve to illustrate their methods in the days immediately following the fall of HONGKONG. E/5 did not see the incidents himself, but they occurred before dozens of witnesses. For some reason a sentry chased a girl of about eleven on a street adjoining SHAMSHUIPO Camp, and when he caught up with her he bayonetted her in the back. She fell to the road where she was left lying. Later on the sentry took a friend over to the girl and he pushed a stick into the wound to show his friend how deep the bayonet had penetrated. The girl was still alive, but died later.
The second incident also occurred at SHAMSHUIPO, where two young girls were selling buns from a sampan to inmates of the camp. Along with others they had been selling their goods for some time when a sentry decided that he would like some sport. He calmly sat down, levelled his rifle and shot both the girls in the stomach. While the two girls lay dying as their sampan drifted out to sea, the sentry grinned at the prisoners as if he had done something to be proud of.
The third incident happened at NORTH POINT Camp, where a grey haired old Chinaman was walking along onthe wrong side of the road. He had probably walked there for more than fifty years and was not aware of the "New Order". A sentry rushed along from the camp guardhouse and clubbed the old man with his rifle butt until he fell to the ground. He was then kicked unmercifully, bayonetted, and then left lying on the roadway for some hours. The attack occurred in the morning, and during the afternoon he was picked up, still alive, and carried in a wheelbarrow to a grassy plot east of the camp. There he was dumped, and there he died.
That was the spirit abroad after the fall of HONGKONG, and the incidents cited could be multiplied by hundreds to gain a true picture of what was happening in the city.
By the time E/5 reached camp, the extremists had been curbed or, more likely, removed, and though a more moderate' element ruled, the sentries still indulged in what brutalities they could. Every day they dragged people from the street to the guardhouse on one pretext or another, and there they punched, slapped, and kicked them, knocked them down time and again, and made them bow between every blow. When one sentry was tired he would call a friend, to carry on, and at times at least six sentries would expend, their energies on the same person or group, of persons. The whole performance was disgusting and revolting, and E/5 saw as little of it as possible.
On 26 Feb, 42, the wife of one of the prisoners smiled at her husband from the opposite side of the road. She
was a Chinese lady of high birth, a qualified Doctor of
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Medicine. For her "crime" she was smacked in the face, punched in the chest and kicked on the shins.
On 18 Apr. 42. all naval personnel except the Dutch were moved from NORTH POINT Camp, the naval ratings and O.R’s remaining at SHAMSHUIPO, while the officers went on to ARGYLE St. After disembarking P.W's all proceeded into SHAMSHUIPO Camp, where Col. TAKANAGA asked Gen. MALTBY and Commodore_COLLINSON if they wished to stay with the men or go to a separate camp. TOKANAGA was in his usual vile temper, and he began shouting and gesticulating and pushing the Commodore in the chest.
Four officers were taken out of camp on 19 Apr. 42 for questioning with regard to an escape that had token place from SHAMSHUIPO, and they were returned to camp on 16 May 42. During the month of their absence they had been kept in filthy cells in SHAMSHUIPO Police Station, they had been slapped and punched when questioned, they had been fed on a little plain rice and water daily, they had not been allowed to wash or change their clothes and they came back to camp covered with lice and looking like sallow wrecks.
30 May 42 saw a typical Japanese incident in the camp. After the evening parade Sub.Lt. GLOVER, H.K.R.N.V.R. was asked for by the interpreter NIMURA, who then proceeded to work himself up into a furious temper, shouting and waving his fist at GLOVER. When this had gone on for some minutes, he called on the Sergeant of the Guard, a big tough, and that worthy proceeded to punch GLOVER in the face, knock him down and kick him about the head and body. This was all caused by GLOVER writing in one his letters that "he had no doubt as to the final result of the war".
The interpreter described that statement as an insult to the Imperial Japanese Army.
Two days later Col. PENFOLD, R.A. was made to stand at attention for four hours in front of the guardhouse because of something he had written.
The guards were always looking for some excuse to exercise their sadistic tendencies, and on 18 Jun. 42 they concentrated on Chinese passing on the street. Besides indulging in slapping and punching they brought two girls to the guardhouse, knocked them about and kicked them viciously in the stomach. Later they brought up a man and after the usual preliminaries beat him about the head with a chair.
Within the camp the guards were continually indulging in petty annoyances. The "Guard Commander", a first class private, could do whatever he liked, and during the whole period of E/5's captivity, no matter how unreasonable his behaviour, he was backed up by the Gamp Commandant. He had several complete changes of guards and several different Commandants, but there was no difference in behaviour.
December 42 was a month when the guards became particularly obnoxious. One morning an officer was walking for exercise up end down the parade ground when a sentry went over to him, smacked his face, indicated that he should go to another part of the parade ground, and then struck the officer with his rifle butt. The camp interpreter was called, and the sentry said the officer was walking within 15 ft, of the fence where he had no right to be. This was the first P.W's had heard of any such regulation, but when a protest was made to the Commandant, he said the sentry was quite right.
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A line was marked off 15 ft. from the wire, but after a few days no one took any notice of it; the Commandant was just backing the sentry's action. Then the sentries began coming into the huts at any hour of the day or night to search some officer's kit. This became very annoying and the Commandant finally agreed that the guard commander should be present whenever a search was made. That put a stop to most of that nuisance. Another day three officers were walking on the parade ground smoking, when the guard commander went along, smacked their faces and threw their cigarettes on the ground. He informed them that there was to be no smoking outside the huts. No order to that affect had ever been issued, but the Commandant said that that was a Jap order, and there was to be no smoking outside. As usual, the restriction lasted for a few days and then was forgotten.
January, 43 was a cold month, and some of the prisoners had been playing soccer on the parade ground for exercise. From 19 Jan. 43 all play was stopped because the ball went into the fence, the reason given being that "P.W's were attempting to cut the wire”. Later in the same month P.W’s were told that they could use a playing field next door if they levelled it off, but when it was nearly finished they learned that the ground was really wanted for a Jap sports meeting. This was one of the petty tricks that were worked in various forms on several other occasions. Actually, after the Japs had had their sports P.W's did get some use out of the ground, but they never kept, their agreement either on this or any other occasion, the parties allowed out became less and less frequent and they finally ceased altogether.
At the end of January, 43 a new Commandant took over, and on arrival he mode a long speech, the gist of which was that if P.W's became sick it was their own fault. They had had nothing to eat but plain rice for several days previously, so the speech did not carry much conviction.
A small white dog frequently came round with the Sergeant of the Guard, and on 22 Feb, 43 this animal was killed in a most revolting manner. The sergeant, a typical Japanese full of politeness when it suited him, was on his rounds outside the wire when he suddenly drew his sword and slashed the dog across the face. The blow was not fatal and a sentry then made a lunge at it with his bayonet. The poor beast got away down a steep bank, and it was finally killed about two hours later. The sergeant was quite oblivious of anything unusual having occurred, a rather pointed commentary on the depth of Japanese civilisation and culture.
The guards had all been drinking on 24 Apr. 43, and after dark they come into camp, smacked the faces of a number of officers and made themselves generally obnoxious. Next day they amused themselves by beating up people on the street. The General made a protest about the behaviour of the guards, but of course it achieved nothing, and they continued to be arrogant and, obstructive for several days.
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Dr. SAITO came into the camp late on the afternoon of 12 Aug. 43 and gave orders that forty men should immediately go out and cut the grass on a section between the camp and the Commandant's quarters. He was either drunk or just in a normally foul temper, and he was soon raging and shouting in a completely bestial manner. His reason related to anti-malarial precautions, but he would not listen when informed that not nearly sufficient tools were available. Finally the party was sent out with only about a dozen reap-hooks between them.
Permission had been given for a piano concert to be held on the evening of 12 Sep. 43, but it had just started when the Sergeant of the Guard came in and stopped the performance without giving any reason. This is just one instance of many similar ones that occurred from time to time, petty annoyances and interferences that made P.W's learn to hate.
While going through the batmen’s hut on 16 Sep. 43 the most detested guard commander bayonetted a dog belonging to one of the men. Feeling ran so high in the comp over this incident that the Executive sent out a circular requesting that the murder of the guard commander be deferred owing to the reprisals that would certainly be taken if he met with on "accident" in the camp.
October 43 was a particularly exasperating month, the guards causing some trouble or other practically every day. 19 Oct. offered typical instances. When the gardening party was being mustered the guard noticed that some were not wearing their numbers (they had not been wearing them for months) so he sent them back to put them on. When the party reformed there were three less than there had been in the original party, so no one was allowed to go gardening at all that day. Later in the day a band practise was stopped for no reason.
Day after day the gardening party and other working parties would wait about by the gate, Japanese orders being that they should all be ready to go out by 1000 hrs. Time and again, after the men had waited for an hour or on hour and a half, a sentry would casually announce that there would be no gardening that day. Except on official holidays, not once to E/5's knowledge did they give previous notice of these changes, and the waste of time become so exasperating that many officers refused to leave the camp on any pretext whatever.
In November 43 the Commandant repeated the sports ground trick. He said that P.W's could have the use of the section between his headquarters and the camp if the ground were prepared, but when this had been done the Japs held a sports meeting there and the prisoners were not allowed to use it once.
An order came from Jap headquarters on 16 Jan. 44 that everyone in camp should write on essay of 200 words on:-
(i) Personal experiences during hostilities.
(ii) Impressions of Jap forces held before and after hostilities.
(iii) Opinion on the war in general or a particular battle.
(iv) Tragic sights.
P.W's knew that the Japs wanted extracts for propaganda purposes, so many of them just wrote a lost of nonsense. Unfortunately there were the usual few who played into their hands, but although P.W's saw copies of letters allegedly written in other camps, they never saw any of theirs published.
During January and February, about thirty hens were stolen from the poultry yard, the sentries obviously being the thieves. Rations supplied by the Japanese had been very poor and P.W's frequently missed meals through wood shortage, so that in Feb. 44 there was a great deal of sickness in camp; semi-blindness pellagra,
beri-beri, and other diseases caused by malnutrition. The Commandant conceived the idea that P.W. condition was due to lack of exercise, and he requested that P. T. should be done every morning. It was pointed out that the fit people were having sufficient exercise doing camp fatigues, and that P.W's were not having sufficient food to make P.T. advisable. The Commandant's reply was that he could not "order" officers to do P.T., but that he could refuse to discuss firewood or ration problems until it was done. Apparently he could not order P.W's to do it, but he could starve them into doing it.
The Camp Executive had repeatedly asked the Japanese for timber for typhoon supports for the huts and also for very necessary repairs, (most of the huts leaked like sieves when it rained hard) and in February 44 they gave P.W's permission to demolish a damaged hut at the Indian Camp. Actually, two huts were pulled down but the Japs took all but a fraction of the timber for their own purposes. What P.W's did get was mostly rubbish, and in any case they were moved to SHAMSHUIPO before it could be used. It was just another example of their method of using officer labour.
Monsieur EGAL, formerly leader of the Free French in SHANGHAI mentioned the rising prices in HONGKONG in one of his letters. He put no more than appeared in the HONGKONG News, but this offence brought a visit from the interpeter NIMURA and the Commandant, both of whom repeatedly smacked his face and demanded on apology.
EGAL is a man of great spirit and he refused to apologise,
There were many small gardens between the huts and on a patch of ground at the ARGYLE St. end of the camp, and these produces lettuces, cabbages and other green stuff which was so essential in P.Ws diet. Also, some really first class tomato crops were produced. On 6 Mar. the guard commander came into camp in one of his obnoxious moods and smashed down many of the plants, an action that was backed up about a week later by an order from the Commandant that all gardens in the camp had to be destroyed. The tomato plants were laden with fruit not quite fully grown, and they all had to go, the excuses being that the sentries needed to be able to see right through the camp, and that if there were no inside gardens more people would go to work at the main garden. This action was a typical piece of nastiness, and it deprived P.W's of a valuable source of fresh food at a time when it was very badly needed.
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An area had been set aside where individuals could do private cooking on small fires, and this privilege was also taken from us by Commandant's order on 7 Mar.
From 10 Apr, parcels were allowed into the camp twice monthly instead of every week as before, another reduction of privilege, and smackings and kickings were of almost daily occurrence. Interpreter NIMURA was one of the chief offenders and he should be suitably dealt with when the time comes. Under orders from TOKYO, Red Cress supplies were coming in regularly every month from March onwards, so in spite of the petty local restrictions P.W's were very much better off for food. Apparently the interpreters and guards were showing their resentment by being as unpleasant as possible.
During May everyone was moved from ARGYLE St. Camp to SHAMSHUIPO, and on arrival there the Commandant made a speech in which he stated that officers had lived very slackly at ARGYLE St., but from then on the camp was going to be run on military lines. Lt.Col. FIELD, R. SCOTS, had been appointed to command the camp and his orders would be backed by the Japanese.
From the time P. W. arrived in SHAMSHUIPO Camp in May until E/5 left on 17 Jul. 44, as far as he knows, no officer was smacked or interfered with in any way by the sentries. The chief trouble came from a Japanese Warrant Officer. This creature had substituted on several occasions for the Commandant at ARGYLE St., and he so much resembled an ape that he was immediately christened 'Jungle Jim' or 'The Gorilla'. P.Ws. soon found that he was as ill-mannered as his appearance suggested, and that he was to be avoided as much as possible. When the hospital patients were being moved from ARGYLE St. to SHAMSHUIPO he thought the truck was being loaded too slowly, so he began to shout and rage and throw stones at the patients to hurry them on.
This Warrant Officer went the rounds of the camp as duty officer on every third day, and he usually made some trouble. One evening he entered a hut and strode rapidly down the middle. Orders were that whenever an officer entered a hut everyone should stand up, but on this occasion he was nearly through the hut before anyone realised he was there. Maj. FARRINGTON, R.M. and another officer were deeply engrossed in a game of chess and did not know he was there, sc to make his presence felt the W.O. kicked Major FARRINGTON's stool from under him, kicked him in the back, knocked the chessboard to the floor and smashed the chessman by stamping on them. He later reported to Col. TOKANAGA that he was not treated in the camp "with the respect due to a Japanese officer".
Another night at about 2200 hrs an officer was cleaning his teeth in the bathhouse. Suddenly a torch was pushed in his face through the open window and while he was completely blinded by the glare he received a violent smack on the face. When he recovered he saw the W.0. stamping off on his round. On another occasion, just at dusk, an officer was standing in the doorway at the end of his hut, thinking of nothing in particular, when largestonee began to crash against the wall alongside him. He leapt inside for shelter and saw this W.0. hurling rocks into the camp from outside the boundary fence. That was the man who was not treated "with the respect due to a Japanese officer".
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The incidents described above have been chosen as typical examples of the behaviour of the Japanese, and are not by any means meant to be a full report of all that occurred during E/5's term of imprisonment. To gain a true picture of the petty annoyances to which P.W's were subjected, those incidents require to be multiplied many times over. It seems quite likely that, the exhibitions of brutality, temper and arrogance were all part of a deliberate plan to keep P.W's in subjection. There is no doubt that constant nervous tension, combined with semi-starvation, did achieve its object, for the Camp Executive and the majority of prisoners were very much in favour of complying with every whim and wish of the Japanese, and of doing nothing that might cause them any annoyance. Whether that attitude was a correct one or not is a matter of opinion, though since the cards were stacked all on one side an opposite policy would not have been easy.
(l) Employment of O.R's
Apart from small parties used for moving stores from godowns to the various camps and Japanese H.Q., nearly all the work done by O.R's in SHAMSHUIPO was on the KAITAK Airfield. This was directly opposed to the terms of the GENEVA Convention, which the Japanese declared they would adhere to. KAITAK was a military airfield, and was at all times liable to be attacked by aircraft.
When P.W's arrived in SHAMSHUIPO Camp in May 44, they were informed that working parties were then being employed daily at KAITAK, moving bombs into storage dumps. At one period the men had to march back from KAITAK to camp, and many were so weak that they collapsed on the way. Stretcher bearers accompanied each party to pick up those who fell out.
(m) Movs. of Offrs. and O.R's
(i) E/5 has only hearsay infm. on these movs., he does NOT know any definite infm., nor did he see any drafts marching out to embark. His infm. however compares very favourably with other reliable infm. received.
(ii) 18 Apr. 42. All British naval personnel moved from NORTH PT. Offrs. to ARGYLE St., O.R's to SHAMSHUIPO. Approx. 80 O.R's accompanied the offrs. as batmen.
(iii) 5 Sep. 42 Heard that draft of 600 had left SHAMSHUIPO Camp for JAPAN. (This was probably the first draft to TOKYO, consisting of 613 all ranks).
(iv) 12 Sep. 42. Heard that draft of 800 was sailing from SHAMSHUIPO and 15 offrs. were sent from ARGYLE St. to SHAMSHUIPO. (This was. possibly the ill-fated second draft to KOBE. 870 arrived in KOBE, 836 were drowned on the LISBON MARU and 42 were left in SHANGHAI).
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(v) 17 Sep, 42 46 Offrs. left ARGYLE St. for SHAMSHUIPO.
(vi) 23 Jan. 43 Heard that 600 Canadians left SHAMSHUIPO for JAPAN on 20 or 21 Jan. (This may be the third draft to KOBE and NAGASAKI, consisting of 989 all ranks).
(vii) 14 Apr. 43 Heard that those over 60 years, those with amputation, and the blind, were removed from BOWEN Rd. Hosp. to SHAMSHUIPO on 13 Apr. 43. (This confirms a former report.)
(viii) 4 Aug. 43 Full Colonels and above (15) and 7 batmen left ARGYLE St. for FORMOSA. (This was the special draft to FORMOSA, consisting of 20 all ranks).
(ix) 19 Aug. 43 Heard that 400 Canadian and 100 Imperial tps. had sailed for HOKKAIDO ten days previously. (Probably the 4th Draft to TOKYO consisting of 488 all ranks.)
(x) 5 Dec. 43 53 fittest O.R’s from ARGYLE St. moved to SHAMSHUIPO, later joined draft to JAPAN, details unknown -(probably 5th draft to JAPAN, consisting of 492 all ranks).
(xi) 20 Apr. 44 Nine M.0's from ARGYLE St. to SHAMSHUIPO to FORMOSA.
(xii) 4 May 44, 143 offrs. transferred from ARGYLE St., to SHAMSHUIPO.
(xiii) 11 May 44 200 offrs. transferred from ARGYLE St., to SHAMSHUIPO.
(xiv) 14 May 44 50 O.R’s went with M.0's to FORMOSA.
(All above four movs. probably resulted in the sixth draft to JAPAN consisting of 209 all ranks. It is not known whether the M.O's were dropped off at FORMOSA - it is quite possible).
(xv) 22 May 44. Remaining offrs. transferred from ARGYLE St. to SHAMSHUIPO.
(n) Morale of Officers and O.R's
Information was received in ARGYLE St. Comp that, during the latter half of 1942, the morale of the O.R’s in SHAMSHUIPO, particularly of the Canadians, was very low. At that time rations were extremely poor, there was a very high incidence of deficiency diseases, and the diphtheria epidemic struck the camp. Later, when rations and general health improved, morale rose in proportion.
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In the officers' camp, morale remained at a fairly high level throughout, and in recent months, when the European news became so favourable, it was very high. In both camps, the raids on HONGKONG by the U.S.A.A.F. had a tremendously heartening effect.
The most disappointing feature of the officers’ camp was the manner in which the great majority accepted their prison life and appeared to be contented with it, never entertaining any serious thoughts of attempting escape, or in any way wishing to take part in further hostilities. No doubt this was largely, if not in many cases entirely, due to the lead set by the senior officers, who were so strong in their determination that no one should attempt to escape.
The preceding paragraph is purely E/5’s own personal opinion, and he could write a great deal about the lack of spirit evident in many officers.
At SHAMSHUIPO Camp the officers had an area at the northern end of the camp for a vegetable garden, and another area 50 yards square for an exercise ground. The smallness of this area precluded the possibility of playing any games except handball, and it became very monotonous walking up and down or round this small space. As a result, a number of voluntary P. T. classes were started for various age groups, and those did about 20 minutes more or loss strenuous exercise in the mornings.
Camp lectures were held three times a week, and these covered any subject at all that might prove of general interest.
A library of approximately 1200 books had been acquired, and this was probably the most important source of recreation that we had.
Except for the few books that individuals had been able to take into camp the Japanese kept P.W's without any reading matter for eleven months. The first 200 books for a library arrived on 10 Nov. 42.
Some time in 1943 P. W’s were informed that the Pope had donated some money, and with this the Japanese bought P.W’s all kinds of sports gear, tennis racquets, hockey sticks, boxing gloves and many other things which were never used because they had no opportunities. Some of the balls were the only things that were really useful, and a net for deck tennis or handball.
From 3 Feb. 43 until E/5 left camp P.W’s received a newspaper, "The Hongkong News", daily, and they were well informed of the progress of the war. European news was always truthfully and fully given, but Far Eastern news was always extremely biassed. However P.W’s had a very good idea of events in this theatre, and the good news from all fronts was a great morale raiser.
Musical instruments for an orchestra and a band were sent into camp during March and April 43.
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Classes for languages, mathematics, navigation, engineering and various other subjects were in full swing, and there were groups interested in particular subjects or sports that held periodic meetings and discussions.
Cards, bridge particularly, and chess, had many devotees, and many of the officers had individual hobbies, such as drawing and wood-carving.
In ARGYLE St. Camp, a number of plays were written and produced, but at SHAMSHUIPO, up till the time E/5 left, there were no facilities for plays or concerts. There was a large hall there, but no lights in it, and the roof leaked like a sieve. P.W's had a camp band which gave concerts at ARGYLE St., also an orchestra to assist with the musical shows, but these had only had practices at SHAMSHUIPO.
With the activities described above, and with the regular camp duties such as wood-chopping, gardening, poultry farming, etc., which were more or less recreational, everyone found plenty to do to occupy their time and it was surprising how quickly the days passed.
At SHAMSHUIPO officers’ camp there was no particular time for reveille, P.W's paraded for numbering and check at 0845 hrs, then there was about 10 mins. P. T. on fine days and breakfast was served immediately after P.T.
Lunch was served at 1300 hrs., P.W's paraded again at 1700 hrs and the evening meal was served immediately after parade. Lights out at 2200 hrs. All work was voluntary. Tea was served at 0730 hours and at 1600 hours daily.
On Sundays there were Church of England and R.C. Services, and daily Mass was held by R.C’s.
There were a great many officers on regular fatigues, such as gardeners, wood choppers, poultry farmers, barbers, shoe-repairers, tailors, Others looked after the camp office, workshop, the general cleanliness of the camp, the ration store and cookhouse. Nearly everyone took part in some activity for the general welfare of the camp.
The Japanese inspected the camp at irregular intervals, and occasionally made partial searches of kit, but these searches were rarely very thorough, and were not at all systematic. Maps of the war fronts would be confiscated at one end of a hut, while in the same hut large maps of the same fronts would be left fully exposed on the walls.
(9.) General Remarks
When the officers were transferred from NORTH Pt. to ARGYLE St. on 18 Apr. 42, no preparation had been made at ARGYLE St, There was not a nail or a stick of timber left anywhere in the camp, the huts were just bare walls with a concrete floor. There were hundreds of wooden beds standing out in the open at the Indian Camp
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across the road, but it was three weeks before the Japanese would allow P.W's to bring those into their camp, and in the meantime they sat, slept and ate on the concrete floor. When permission was given for beds to be brought in only enough for about half the camp were allowed at first, and it was some months before everyone had a bed.
Mess containers for collecting food from the cookhouse were always very short. The Japanese never supplied any and, P.W’s had to collect tins and buckets from any source possible. Most were obtained by stealing peanut oil tins from the Japanese, but all the time E/5 was in camp at least half the mess tins were in a disgusting state, rusty, leaking, or so badly crushed and crumpled that they could not be washed properly. Everyone became a scavenger, and every working party that left comp came back with pockets filled with nails, screws or anything else that might conceivably be useful in camp. It was amazing the quantity of stuff that was collected in this way, and the huts in ARGYLE St. gradually became more or less comfortable.
When P.W's moved to SHAMSHUIPO they again went into bare huts, but this time everything possible was taken from ARGYLE St. and it was not long before they were reasonably comfortable.
Tools were always difficult to obtain, when P.W's arrived at ARGYLE St., the only things available for cutting firewood for a camp of 540 men were two small Chinese frame saws and a few vegetable choppers. After about two weeks the Japanese brought in a crude saw with a two foot blade, and after some months they received two good saws, and some iron wedges with handles to them. These were so blunt that they bounced off the wood as often as not, and all the time E/5 was in camp they were never given a proper axe or tomahawk. The result was that wood chopping was always very slow and very hard work.
Inflations and the scarcity of all commodities in HONGKONG caused a trading boom to start between the P.W's and the sentries. Gold rings, cuff-links, studs etc., watches, fountain pens, clothing, all were in very strong demand. Good watches were bringing MY 3,000, poor ones MY 500-1,000. An order was issued by the Japanese that all transactions should take place through the camp office and the Commandant, but the great majority were negotiated through the sentries who were only too willing to take the risk of discovery.
Some officers began to steal articles to sell, and at least one, E/5 thinks two, were court-martialled at SHAMSHUIPO for stealing watches.
These were unscrupulous go-betweens, officers who could speak Chinese or Japanese, who were doing well out of the trading.
In both ARGYLE St. Camp and SHAMSHUIPO bed bugs were swarming, SHAMSHUIPO being the Worst, a daily search of bed and mosquito net being essential to keep them reasonably in check. In the O.R’s camp fixed wooden beds
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were installed, but these harboured such vast hordes of bugs that the Japanese finally gave permission for them to be removed, the men preferring to sleep on the concrete to being eaten alive.
Never at any time did the Japanese supply P.W's with more then a fraction of the brooms, brushes, lime and disinfectants necessary to keep the camp in a state of cleanliness.
Distribution by P.W. 3. (Main Report Only)
M.I.1, 2, 9.
Foreign Office (Prisoners of War Department) 2 copies.
Foreign Office (R. Allen Esq.) 3 copies.
- Submitted by Admin on Mon, 2016-09-05 12:28Book / Document:Date(s) of events described:Fri, 20 Oct 1944
Med. Exam – bp 100/60