Harry Ching's wartime diary: View pages | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Harry Ching's wartime diary: View pages

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Kotewall pays Y100 for April.

Price our crystal. Shop says have plenty and market bad. Our good piece English worth only Y50. Must sell something. How do we live? Unreasoning hatred of those better off, particularly eating well. Sold tea set at Y250. Also sofa and two smaller armchairs at Y900.

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Walking to town great strain particularly wet weather. Thinking moving Central. Depressing see neighbours all pushing out one by one, leaving us.

Charlie Suen going Macao. Says costs him Y4,000 monthly to live. He eight kids. We five, but our living very poor, cost under Y1,500. Bill Shea was thinking of going. Now says changed mind. Sister Rose Peters by time got to Macao spent enough for eight months' chow. Also things dear there, crowded and unhealthy.

Rose Souza moving Club Lusitano on advice from Portuguese who say she isolated.

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Heavy rain. Mavis ((Xavier)) invites us Rosary Hill to see amateur dramatics, Cinderella.

Rose Souza got Y5,000 for furniture and flat.

Full moon. black-out at 10.30 p.m. Alert but nothing happened. 

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All tram services suddenly suspended.....Use of electricity to be further restricted, 8 to 11 p.m.
Last month cost us about Y1,400. At this rate can't carry on. Stocktaking. We use about 40 catties rice monthly. Running out of wood and it costs Y44 a picul. Vegetables in roof garden all spoiled by rain and insects. Pumpkins disappointing, rotting, but hens laying well. Tried eat banana skins. Bitter and not inviting. 

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Several night alerts. Sound of planes. Kids very scared. Twice on 13th, second time about 2 a.m. no all clear so went to bed.

Handcart built on two motor tyres with five rows of seats for ten passengers is pulled by four coolies Causeway Bay to town. Fifty sen per section.

Coolie calls to take away power meter. Decent old bird. He removes and places on ground and I notice U device has scratched inside of wire outlets. Rushed upstairs for small tin black paint and Chinese pen. Then followed him from distance waiting chance. Eventually he places meters on pavement and goes inside entrance of house. Quick painting job while he busy.

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End of month Pastor Neilsen calls to say Mrs Smith died. Muriel went violent. To funeral. Pathetic few. Three funerals in week from French Hospital. Deaths due in part to malnutrition. To become ill is frightening.

Niece Florrie sends message that her brother Freddie not home since last night. I press them come next day. Freddie's absence very unsettling. Apparently no rest for us. Florrie has been to enquire. Received sympathy but no information.

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Many cases reported people mauled in streets by animals. Seven cases reported mostly after midnight. Believed wild starving dogs. Bodies eaten. Stray dogs to be shot.

Rosary Hillites complain insufficient food. 400 there, Red Cross wants reduce to 300. May throw out Hullo Johns ((Chinese wives of regular soldiers)) without children.

Nursing pumpkin, first ever produced on roof. Then typhoon and rotted. But good half was excellent.

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Next door Japs fined Y100 and to attend gendarmerie three days for penance for breaching black-out. We no juice so every night black-out for us.

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Relief no longer available for free enemy nationals. Alumni released Stanley recalled. Enemy nationals on relief like Guests called in to Ma Tau Chung Camp. Septic and dame ((probably Selwyn-Clarke's wife, Hilda)) there also. Fortunate we decided against.

Planes over early a.m. Two alerts. Some explosions. 

Alerts on 3rd and 4th August. From 9th until 13th August alerts nightly and some bombs heard. For rest of month alerts from time to time.

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Kai hong expensive. Decide tong rooster. Hens laying only one egg alternate day.....Next door Japs hurriedly depart. New ones don't stay long.....Papers keep telling us goods arriving but prices ever up. End month prices rise sharply, rumours three day kai yim, but doesn't materialize.....People say if picked up as destitute don't speak Chinese. Can't understand you let you go.

Florrie sends phone message Freddie, Benny Randall and others home. Thin but well treated except food inadequate.

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Comic buses. Two-wheeled old hand trucks with rubber tyres. Two skinny coolies pulling and one behind to hold on even keel and steer. Two rows of narrow seats facing each other. Canopy of canvas or rag. You are told riding is worthwhile because you would walking use up Y5 worth of shoe leather and health, especially in rain. Mostly we still walk with our little cart to carry purchases.

Big raid, Sleepless night. Yaumati houses hit. 

Great display early a.m. activity. Searchlights. 

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Benny Randall permit to go. Dot Lo interned

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Towards end of month alerts almost nightly.