14 Dec 1941, Harry Ching's wartime diary | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

14 Dec 1941, Harry Ching's wartime diary

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Date(s) of events described: 
Sun, 14 Dec 1941

Church services had a more than normally solemn atmosphere. There were heavy artillery exchanges throughout the day. There were signs that services were breaking down, and anxiety was expressed about the water supply. Supply is rationed and people are urged to conserve. The scavenging service is failing, and garbage is piling up everywhere in the streets where ever-individualistic householders are dumping it. Much of the Island is without flush closets, and the bucket removal service is made impossible by shelling in daylight and black-out at night. People are told to burn their rubbish and bury what will not burn. Thefts are increasing. Destitute and hungry laan tsai are snatching food in the streets.

There is still a shortage of currency, so Chinese notes got from the Bank of China were overprinted - HK$1 on Chinese $5. The food kitchens are functioning well, but serving only 100,000 people of a population of a million. Many rice shops have not obeyed the command to reopen, pleading no transport to deliver their supplies to them. The Government began selling rice from its stores, and free distribution to the poor was begun. The chemists were requested especially to resume trading. Other shops are open, doing a cautious business through their door grilles or portholes in their shutters. The fear of looters is intensifying.

The Government requisitioned all motor-cars, and private motoring has ceased. The shelling increased, the Naval Dockyard and battle headquarters area above it receiving much of the attention. It is now difficult to reach town through the barracks area, and I am permitted to remain at home and work by telephone.