What excitement in camp! They say peace, or at any rate a truce has really been signed with Japan! I have grown so chary about accepting any such news that I really do not believe it. I think that peace is round the corner, but I feel it will be a few weeks yet before it comes into sight.
The first we really knew of anything unusual was the behaviour of the Formosan guards on Thursday morning (16th August). Many of them were quite drunk; they would not bother to take the roll call chits from the Block Chairmen and many of them came round to see their black market contacts and call in their goods and money. They had somewhat differing stories, some said peace had been declared, others that it was a truce for peace negotiations. The general belief is that a truce has been called while Japan considers the peace terms and that if these are accepted a general armistice will be declared; if they reject them, fighting will be resumed.
Apparently a Chinese paper came into camp on Thursday (this I know is true) which stated that the Japanese Emperor had issued a rescript in which he said he had accepted the Russian – American – British terms as laid down at Potsdam and he ordered the cessation of hostilities. So it looks as though there really might be some truth in it.
Yesterday, everyone was running round in small circles: we dashed up to Maudie immediately we heard the story (we had been to see Vera Armstrong and verified the fact that her Formosan contact had told her this story) and sat and talked and smoked and talked.
On Thursday morning the Japanese issued everyone with a huge roll of American made toilet paper which we promptly christened ‘Victory rolls’. Now, how would the Japs have come by such quantities as that except from American supplies brought by the Awa Maru? I’m sure we shall find there were stacks of American parcels, medical and bulk supplies for us of which we never saw a sign. It is ridiculous to suppose that a big ship like that would call at Hong Kong and unload a few thousand old and damaged British parcels. Some Japanese are going to have some awkward questions to answer.
Yvonne has been up to Maudie and we have arranged to celebrate with a Victory Lunch. We are opening our one remaining tin of ‘Kam’ meatloaf for the occasion. We managed that part of our iron rations extremely well – just one tin of meatloaf left for celebrating peace! We have quite a bit of rice in hand and some tins of biscuits and quite a lot of egg yolk, so we can start tucking into those straight away! We want sugar now – or chocolate! The Japs sent in our cigarette ration with the toilet paper; also soap – we think peace must have been declared! They sent in also some of the arrears of workers cigarettes and I received 60 of these: so with our ordinary ration Y and I had 130 cigarettes between us! We had got down to 1 cigarette per day again (½ at lunch time and the other half in the evening!). We had always carried a reserve of cigarettes for the purpose of swapping them for food and latterly with the yen depreciating so rapidly we had converted all our spare cash into cigarettes which we sold again at the enhanced value when we needed cash for canteens etc. So we had 18 additional packets which, it appears now, we can smoke instead of having to save! It is marvellous to be able to open a packet and hand them round without feeling “there goes my next week’s ration”!