24 Dec 1941, Sheridan's diary of the hostilities
As soon as it got dark last night my job was to collect the European bakers and bring them to the Exchange Building. The Chinese bakers made their own way to wherever they lived or were going to stay the might. Some remained at the bakeries and we supplied them with rice and vegetables. My No. 1 Baker, Leung Choy had located us yesterday and brought a few more bakers with him. We can make use of them. In the Exchange building our sleeping accommodation was on the Mezzanine Floor which is normally the bedding and furniture showroom. We have single mattresses to sleep on, quite a luxury. Evening meal and breakfast in the basement Café Wiseman. There are a lot of people in the building including women and children. The top floor of this seven storey building is the Main Telephone Exchange. A lot of the European men who work in the Exchange are in the H.K.V.D.C. and I think some of the women and children are their families.
We are up and away at daylight and take the men to the bakeries. Our first job is to ask the Fire Brigade to bring water to the Bakeries. Edgar and I with the help of the Hong Kong Police break into a janitor’s shop in Queens Road central and remove two new household baths, beautiful sky blue ones to hold a supply of water on our Chinese bakeries at No. 62 and 84 Queens Road. We expect to produce about 5000 lbs of bread today, less than half of what is required. Edgar and I decide to risk a trip to Stubbs Road Bakery in Happy Valley as we need more flour, yeast and other supplies. I drive the big Bedford van. The Japs are on the far side of the racecourse. Bullets and shrapnel are flying about, and we get some through the sides of the van. An occasional shell lands on the roadway but does not do much damage as they are mostly anti-personnel shells, and only pockmark the surrounding buildings. I drive fast across any open spaces and we make the shelter of the buildings without mishap. We load up with flour, yeast, etc. and as Edgar has the keys of the cold storage, we load frozen turkeys, chocolate, Xmas cakes and sundries, including a crate of beer and cases of tinned fruit. We try and dodge the flak on the way back, and meet some lads of the Middlesex Regiment in Tin Lok Lane. We stop and give them a bottle of beer each and some tinned fruit. They look tired but are in good spirits. We make two more trips during the day, and bring out a lot of perishable goods, especially butter, meat, eggs and such like. It is all placed in the cold storage next to the Café Wiseman which is not dependent on electric power, and has a diesel generator, which also supplies light and power to the building as well as to the Telephone Exchange on the top floor. This is a very busy and exhausting day, both Edgar and I have not even stopped for a drink. On our last trip to Happy Valley we nearly had our chips. The Middlesex Regts. lads had gone and on our return we spotted some Japs behind the Cricket Club building ((probably the CSCC)). They opened up on us with a machine gun as we crossed an open space, but the Bedford was travelling so fast we were not hit. I had the accelerator hard down on the floor boards and zigzagged in and out of the debris on the roadway. Water is still a great problem, but the Fire Brigade are doing their best. I don’t know where they get it from as the main water supply from the Mainland has been cut off by the Japs.
Shells are also landing on the roadway near Garden Road, the Cheerio Club and in front of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. I put a good spurt on through this area, but still get a few holes through the bodywork of the Bedford van. While Edgar does another job I take supplies to Nos. 62 and 84 and collect some bread and take it to the Queen Mary Hospital, also to the Hong Kong Hotel which is used as a temporary hospital. Things are now becoming acute, no electric power and a grave shortage of water. Quite a number of dead bodies lying about with no one available to bury them.