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Commissioner of Police J. Pennefather-Evans is a fervent Christian and member of the Oxford Group ((later Moral Rearmament, now Initiatives For Change)). He's been approaching his police officers to try to persuade them to attend Group meetings. In his diary for today George Wright-Nooth records that recently he appeared to have been successful as five of the police turned up at a meeting. One of them became very emotional and began to confess his past sins 'with vivid descriptive detail'. Pennefather-Evans eventually jumped up and ordered the man to stop.

Wright-Nooth suspects a 'leg-pull'. He stresses that he personally always found the Commissioner a 'very fair and decent man'.


George Wright-Nooth, Prisoner Of The Turnip Heads, 1994, 198

About a month ago we heard that the Formosan’s were buying white gold and giving very good prices for it and we were advised to sell anything of white gold that we possessed. Gold too was fetching a good price. Before we were married I had bought for Yvonne in ‘Cat Street’ (thieves market) a white gold wristlet watch with the usual 13 or 15 diamond mountings. I got it from the little jeweller we used to patronise: it was a nice little watch (stolen property) but he let me have it for $16 - £1.  Soon after Yvonne came in here (or perhaps before) she broke the glass and had to give up wearing it. Lying idly in a box all this time, the hands and spindle became completely rusted up and in endeavouring to free them I quite defaced the dial – in fact the watch was pretty well useless.

There was a chap in camp who bought up defunct watches for the purpose of obtaining spare parts, and with these he made quite a profitable business in repairing peoples’ watches. Yvonne had kept worrying me to go and see this chap and see if he would give us anything for it – the works were still quite good – but not being very keen on this trading and bartering business, I had always shirked it and put it off. We had hoped to get Y20 for it. Well, when we heard about this white gold business, we thought of this watch. Hitherto the Chinese have not been keen on buying white gold because white is the Chinese colour for death and they are superstitious about it. Latterly, I suppose, they have been buying everything which will have a market after the war – hence the demand for white gold. We gave our watch to a ‘trader’ for valuing purposes and in a day or two he said he could get Y120 for it! 24 pounds (pdv £1080) or 24 times the amount I had paid for it.

At the same time, Yvonne had given this man her little gold locket and asked for a price. This locket had a good deal of sentimental value as it had been left to Y on the death of her Grandmother (Crowley).  However, she decided that health was more important than sentiment and thought, at any rate, that no harm would be done in having it priced. This man offered Y300 (pdv £2700) for the locket. We had expected about Y400 for the locket and about Y20-Y40 for the watch, so although the items were different the total was about what we had expected. In the end, we decided to sell; to keep the Y120 for the watch for canteen purposes and exchange the Y300 for a sterling cheque. This we did, and obtained a cheque for 60 pounds (at 5-1) from a wealthy reliable man. The locket itself cannot have cost more than 5 or 6 pounds. We did not want to keep a large sum of Yen because it is continually depreciating and while the rate then was 5-1 it might soon depreciate to 6-1 or 8-1. Then, if we want more money later we may be able to get about Y400 for the 60 pounds. And if the war is over soon and we never have to write cheques against this 60 pounds, Yvonne will have that amount after the war with which to buy something for herself in memory of her Grandmother.

This money game is a real Shylock’s business. These go betweens or ‘traders’ must be making small fortunes, for they take their percentage from each transaction and I am sure that in most cases it is well over 10%. I heard of a diamond bracelet that had been priced at Y70,000 and was going to be sold for that! Even at a sterling exchange of 10-1 this would mean 7,000 pounds (pdv £315,000) – not a bad days work! If we wanted just to make money we could sell Yvonne’s engagement ring and probably make several hundred pounds profit on it!  But an engagement ring is a somewhat unique article and we would not part with it except in the case of real need – that is part of our iron ration!

The cigarette ramp is still at its height. Since the electricity was turned off some time ago we have had two issues of cigarettes, one of 5 packets each (of 10) and the second, a week ago, of 4½ packets.  They cost 65 sen and two or three weeks after their issue they sell at anything up to Y30 (pdv £270) per packet! I have been strong minded so far and smoked only those in the odd half packet. Yvonne, being a bit more of a nicotine addict, has decided to smoke half of hers. The price of canteen goods has risen so much recently that they have again increased the maximum amount per person per canteen from Y20 to Y36 (i.e. Y180,000 per month for the whole camp.) That means that Y and I can spend Y144 (pdv £1300) per month at the canteen. We have had no Red Cross money for some time and when it comes it is usually about Y12 or Y15. But it doesn’t seem to worry the Japs as to the source of our money! In other words, the officers in charge of the camp are winking at the illicit trading.

Overcast, mist, drizzly. NE wind.

Sewing shop & wood.

Water on so had nice bath, rather cold now.

Jewelry fetching enormous prices, any gold, even teeth fillings fetch good money.

Lorry with wood 5.20pm.

Paper has nothing whatever about other fronts except Japanese. Raid on Tokyo 80 planes [22nd crossed out, looks like 24] for 2 hrs.