27 Dec 1941, Harry Ching's wartime diary

Submitted by Admin on Wed, 01/02/2013 - 22:31

We still have to solve our water problem; the neighbours have begun to resent our drawing on their wells. There is still no electricity, and we made an oil lamp using peanut oil and candle ends. There is also the garbage menace. It is now over a foot deep in the streets all around us and is continuously being augmented despite our shouted protests. A great pile of it graces our front entrance. The flies are becoming a disturbing nuisance. In addition to their rubbish, our neighbours are discarding everything that would connect them with our fighting forces. Steel helmets are being thrown away and sent clattering down the streets. In the nullah in front was the complete outfit of a European police officer - spiked helmet, puggaree, cap and all.

In the afternoon, three more soldiers called upon us. Surly and suspicious, they brushed me aside. To our anxiety a young Russian woman who had been living with the Indian family downstairs had decided that our flat seemed safer. Fair and attractive, she sat on our sofa, pretending to read a book but nervously trembling, while we hoped for the best; but the Japanese ignored her. One helped himself to a pair of my socks, leaving his own stiffly filthy pair in exchange. Another went down the hall to the kitchen and the servant's room. I followed, but one of the trio with his rifle barred my way. In a little while the first man returned, and later our amah came in muttering and telling her beads. She would not say what had happened.

Soon afterwards, a better type of caller presented himself - a bright young Japanese, self-conscious in a brand new uniform. He asked for the Chinese resident upstairs, who had apparently at one time worked in his father's firm. He gave the Chinese resident his card and promised him protection, adding that the foraging might continue for ten days more. On leaving, he stuck a paper on the front door downstairs so that we would not be further bothered.

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