25 Dec 1941, Laura B Ziegler's wartime memories
Before dawn on Christmas morning, I heard little Elaine Buuck say, “Mother, Santa Claus is out by the tree.” Her brother, Leonard, told her to be quiet lest she frighten him away. My young children had heard him too, making it very trying to have to remain in bed for an hour or more before it was light enough to see anything. It never took us long to dress during the war because we only took off our shoes at night.
When the blanket on the side window was drawn back, Laura Lou found her gifts of a candy bar, a new dress for her doll, a glass of jam and an old lady’s purse. We all got food of some kind which made us all happy because we already seemed to realize the value of food.
Christmas day we tried to have our Christmas service three different times, but we were always disturbed by bombs or shells. There was usually a lull for about half an hour just before dark so we decided to have our service at that time. We had just taken our places and Reverend Buuck drew the quilt away from the window to read a sermon when we heard an airplane power dive above our heads.
We all rushed for our places but before we reached them the bombs burst around us. We heard three distinct explosions, one closer than the next. We were quite certain that at least one had hit our house and expected the house to fall on us any second. As the little ones ran past me I took one and leaned over her thinking that if the rafters would fall they would hit me and our smallest girl wouldn’t be so badly hurt. But when the dust cleared up a little, I noticed I had Reverend Buuck’s little girl and not my own.
I called the children asking if they were all right and when they all answered I was very thankful. Upstairs, there was such a cloud of dust. When it cleared we saw so much glass broken, plaster fallen and furniture broken upstairs that we thought our house had received a direct hit.
We then went outside to see if the Japs had used an incendiary bomb. They had been using them the last few days as we had seen several houses burning on the mountain side. We saw that our house was still standing but it was so dusty we couldn’t see where the other bombs had landed.
We had just gone back into the basement when two British police came in. They said they had been on the way up to tell us there was no need to worry about any more bombs or shells because Hong Kong had surrendered at 3 o’clock. This was hard to believe because it was already 6 o’clock. The big British gun below us kept firing for almost half an hour more, and then everything was very quiet except for occasional machine gun or rifle fire.
We expected to see the Chinese looters come in during the evening and steal our food and other things. We also expected the Japanese soldiers to come in sometime during the night. We tried to save some of our food by hiding it in different parts of the house. We also left something in the cupboard hoping that the looters would take what they found there and hurry on.
It was very quiet that night. It was almost midnight, and we decided that surely if the Lord could protect us during the war, he could also protect us from the Jap soldiers. So we had our evening prayers, asking for His protection in the trying and difficult days to come.