5 Jan 1942, Laura B Ziegler's wartime memories | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

5 Jan 1942, Laura B Ziegler's wartime memories

Date(s) of events described: 
Mon, 5 Jan 1942

((David: Although Mrs Ziegler gives the date as the 6th, all other diaries give the date the British, Americans & Dutch were sent to the hotels as the 5th, so that's the date I've used.))

About 11:30 in the morning on January 6, the neighbor called us and told us he had just received notice that all British, Americans, and Dutch in the colony would have to be down to the park six blocks away, by noon to be interned. We were allowed to take what we could carry.

We were glad then that we had our things ready to move. We ate the dinner the cook had ready, while we were putting on our wraps. We were glad afterward we had eaten because the Japs were unprepared to give us supper. We marched to a Chinese hotel ((the New Asia Hotel)) about two miles away from the place we had been living.

My family was given a front porch with all the openings covered with canvas so we could not look out over the harbor. This also kept the cold winds out. The seven of us had one small room with only a davenport and chair in it. We slept on the floor.

We shared the wash bowl in the Buuck’s room, and all 70 people on the floor shared the one bathroom. The water was turned on a few times a day for a short time. How everyone scrambled to wash before it was turned off again. The Buuck family was given the adjoining room. (Ed. There is a discrepancy here about the room)

Some of the smaller inside rooms had no windows, but open lattice work near the ceiling to give a little air and light.

We were crowded and could not go out except on the fire escape in the back. We could speak to our servants through the barred main entrance, but they were not allowed to come in. We asked Buuck’s cook if he would bring us a kettle of oatmeal every morning since we were given no breakfast. He did this and the guard allowed it to pass. We also asked them to bring us more of our things, but the soldiers in the place we left would not allow them to take anything.

We were rationed rice and half spoiled meat, served in a scrub bucket, to be prepared by ourselves. We could use the stove only when the hotel servants were not using it. We had two meals a day, at noon and 5 or 6 in the evening. There was nothing to do but run up and down the steps or sit on the fire escape and look out into the dirty Chinese alley. Sometimes adults would tell a story. The doors were locked and nobody could go out.