Stanley Camp in the BAAG papers.

Submitted by emride on Tue, 09/22/2015 - 14:39



Report by F. W. Wright, (BAAG codename SHINAH),  who escaped from Stanley on the 18th March, 1942.  Submitted to BAAG in Kukong, 14th June 1942.


            "On January 19th and succeeding days the majority of British, American and Dutch civilians in Hong Kong and Kowloon who had provisionally been confined in Chinese hotels were taken to  the section of Stanley Peninsula designated as an internment camp by the Japanese Authorities.  During the following fortnight persons who had not previously been interned, but were living under certain restrictions on the Peak and at the various hospitals, were also brought in.  This left outside the camp only those civilians whose services had been especially retained by the Japanese - certain members of the Medical and Sanitary Departments, telephone and wireless engineers, senior staff of the larger banks, etc.  The sanitary, communications and part of the medical department administrative group finally came into the camp during the second week of March.  The only person now remaining outside are the Bankers, a very few senior medical officials, and a certain number of aged and infirm who were sent to the French Hospital from Stanley when it was found that they could not stand conditions there.  There is another group of persons whom the Japanese kept out in the hope of forcing them into some sort of "cooperation".  This group includes Commander Jolly, the Harbour Master, and four executives of ZBW, including Mr Arthur Lay.  Two American journalists - Mr Richard Wilson of the United Press and Miss Gwen Dew (connection uncertain) - were in this category for some time but were finally brought to Stanley.  So far as it is known in no case was the cooperation sought by the Japanese forthcoming.

            Official Group - Senior officials received slightly different treatment.  The Colonial Secretary and about forty members of his staff were not brought to Stanley until the second week of March.  Members of the American Consulate General staff were brought to Stanley at the same time but were confined to the grounds of a single building which has been placed out of bounds for all other internees and is heavily guarded.  No communications are permitted.

            Number of internees - The number of internees at Stanley may be roughly estimated as follows:  2,300 British, 360 Americans, and [illegible] Dutch men, women and children.  The number of person subject to internment who still remain outside is estimated at about 300.

            Lay-out of Camp - The camp takes up the narrow neck of Stanley Peninsula.  It is bounded on the north by a line running across the Peninsula just south of Stanley Village and on the south by the road running past the Stanley Preparatory School.  Within this area the St. Stephen's Preparatory School itself and certain go-downs on the north-east are out of bounds.  In total it is a triangular shaped area of less than one square mile.  Internees have freedom of movement within this area, except at night, with the exception that they are not permitted to go down to the beaches which are fenced off with barbed wire.  There is no Japanese post either of solders or of gendarmes within the camp area, although there are some gendarmes in Stanley prison.  (A rough sketch map is attached). 


            The British Communal Council - For administrative purposes the British section of the camp is divided into eight blocks.  Each block has a representative on the Council elected by the members of that block;  in addition there are six members of the Council elected by the entire camp.  The Chariman was elected by popular vote of the whole camp.  The first British Communal Council which went into office on the 1st March consists of the following people:

Block Representatives:           Rev. Alton (missionary formerly in Hankow)

                                   A.E. Marker (Arnhold & Co)

                                   Mr Newbigging

                                   Mr Pennefeather-Evans (Commissioner of Police)

                                   Rev. Sandbach

                                   Mr Seth (Lawyer)

                                   Mr Stericker, B.A.T.                          

                                   P. E. Witham, (Tea Adviser to the Chinese Govt)

Camp Representatives:           L. R. Nielsen, Chairman of the Council, Hong Kong mines.

                                   Mr King, Hong Kong and S'hai Banking Corp.

                                   Mr Gillespie, I.C.I.

                                   C. C. Roberts, Butterfield and Swire.

                                   Mr Sheldon, Lawyer.

                                   Ben Wylie, South China Morning Post, Vice-Chairman of the Council.

M. R. Kay of the British Chamber of commerce is the Secretary.

            The American Internees Committee - While the internees were still confined in the hotels, Mr William Hunt, through his many existing contacts, made an attempt to define the position of the Americans.  He formed a provisional committee in his hotel and even before the transfer to Stanley made contact with American groups in other hotels and with several Americans who were driving trucks for the Medical Department and thus remained out of internment.  The American Internees Committee grew our of this body formed by Mr Hunt.  It was able to secure better quarters for the Americans than were allotted to the British and the circumstance that one of the puppet supervisors had been employed by Mr Hunt made the latter's work easier.  At the first American Committee Meeting on February 5th, the administrative group that had previously emerged was confirmed in office, general approval being given  to the arrangements made by Mr Hunt  although objections were made and later continued to be made to what was held to be his autocratic method of operation within the camp.

            Prominent members of the American Committee:                

            Mr William Hunt, Chairman

            Mr Al Bourne, Standard Oil Co, Vice-Chairman

            Dr William Taylor, ES Treasury Dept, Secretary

            Father Tooney, Maryknoll Mission

            Mr Kelly

            T.B. Wilson, American President Lines

            T.B. Williams, Standard Oil Co.

            Judge N.F. Allman, former Chairman of the S'hai Municipal Council, Camp Provost

            Dr Frank, Lingnam University

            The Dutch Internees Committee - The Dutch Community is headed by Mr Bolt, Chairman; the Manager of the Netherlands Bank, Vice-Chairman; and Mr Hartag of the Netherlands Harbour Works, and others.

            Committee Activities - Although representations on large issues - rations and supplies, housing etc - are made to the camp authorities jointly, the internal affairs of each community are managed entirely by its own Committee which tries in every way to advance the welfare of its own  group. 

            From the point of view of the Japanese the Committees serve in the first instance as the channel through which orders from the interning power are transmitted to the Camp inmates.  The committees are held responsible for the execution of such orders. 

            From the point of view of the internees  the duty of the Committees is to work constantly for  better conditions and to keep the internal affairs of the Camp as far as possible in the hands of the internees themselves.

            The Committees work under great difficulties.  Their discretion is severely limited and  sanction must be obtained from the Authorities before any activity may be initiated.  Although both general and Committee meetings have so far been held behind closed doors, the Minutes of such meetings are subject to scrutiny by the Chinese puppet supervisors who may or may not transmit copies to the Japanese Gendarmerie. 

            The following examples may be given of each kind of activity mentioned above.

            Joint representations - International cooperation was rendered difficult owing to the difference  in views over the manner in which negotiations should be conducted.  Nevertheless, joint Anglo- American-Dutch action was taken with regard to the question of payment for rations (see special section on this subject), the formation of the International Hospital, the setting up of the International Canteen, discussions were under way for the formation of an International Welfare Body to which all Committees have already made contributions; and an International Library (unsuccessful).

            Carrying out of Japanese Orders - All Japanese orders are sent to the Committees for posting on bulletin boards in all buildings.  These have included curfew regulations, black-out restrictions, restrictions on removal of internees from building to building, changes in the boundary of the camp, and on one occasion a request for working parties to help clear the go-downs of foodstuffs for shipment out of the Colony.  In the last case payment was made to workers in foodstuffs and a  donation of 66 cases of various supplies was made to the camp.  The American community was ordered early in March to conduct a roll call of its community every two days.

            Negotiating for better conditions - From the outset the Committees have done their best to press the authorities for better rations, for better housing conditions, and for essential supplies.  The Chinese supervisors, however, invariably stated that they had no power to accede to any requests.  The Committees then bent their efforts on trying to get into direct contact with the Japanese but only succeeded in establishing their first contact in the middle of March.  Subsequently a Japanese supervisor, Mr Kwane, was appointed for the camp and assumed office on March 17th.  His appointment, however, was not necessarily due to the representations of the Committees but was a direct consequence of  the serious illness of C.L. Cheng.

            Internal regulation - Each community has its sub-Committees.  For instance the British sub-Committees include:

Labour - As will be seen all work in and around the camp had to be done by the internees themselves, including construction, drains, cooking, repairs to buildings damaged during the war, agricultural labour on garden plots, etc. For this purpose each British internee was made liable for two hours of compulsory labour a day on community projects.

Billeting and Census - While making constant representations to the Authorities to the effect that it was quite impossible to house more internees until more space was provided, this committee had in fact to make the best arrangements possible for the ever-increasing number of internees.  It was responsible for the equitable distribution of space, for making arrangements for the transfer of internees from one block to another and even from one room to another in any given block, for the grouping together of families, for making arrangements to have women and children put into suitable quarters, for negotiating for the removal of aged and infirm persons from the camp, etc

            In addition the British community had plans under way for the taking of a census (the Americans had already completed their census).  This census was to contain very detailed information regarding the status of internees with a view to having all information on file should the question of transfer or repatriation ever arise. It was calculated that this work would take some time since there were cases of people living in the camp under other than their own name, technical deserters from the army, Chinese wives without papers of identification, etc., all of which constituted legal problems.

Rations and Supplies - While the Central committee were constantly negotiating for better rations, it was the work of the sub-Committee to deliver the rations to which the internees were entitled.  For instance, after negotiation, the right of the three communities to weigh the rations given was obtained and representatives of the internees refused to give the Authorities a signature for any more than the actual amount received.  It was also through this Committee that the internees were able to obtain the right to have Veterinary inspection of meat and fish on arrival and to refuse it when bad. (See special section on  Rations).

            The question of other supplies - materials for clothing, leather for repairing shoes, hats, sun glasses, towels, soap, toothpaste, etc - was also being pressed.

Canteen - After protracted negotiations among the three groups and with the Authorities an International Canteen was organised.  A canteen had been originally set up by the American community with a capital fund of $6000 ($5000 odd paid up) subscribed by the internees.  When the International Canteen was set up this liability was taken over by the International Canteen Committee  

            Supplies for the Canteen had to be purchased from the head puppet Chinese Supervisor who offered them for purchase in lots.  If the Committee considered any item offered unsaleable it had no power to reject it, for if it did so the entire lot would be withdrawn and the Canteen would be left without anything to offer for sale.  Moreover the Committee was entirely without control  over prices.  For instance, in the first lot sold to the Canteen there were a number of cans if IXL jam which were sold to the Canteen by the Supervisor at 70 cts a piece.  The Canteen retailed them at 85 cts a piece.  The Supervisor then offered the next lot of jam at 85 cents, forcing the Canteen to retail it at $1.  The third lot was then offered at $1, and so forth.  When the Canteen was first opened the internees were able to purchase goods with notes of $50 or $100 for which $35 or $70 were given respectively.  At the end of one day's business, however, the Chinese Supervisor returned over $500 worth of notes saying that they were not acceptable.  Some notes had damaged corners, some had been torn and patched, and others were the over-printed Chinese National notes which the supervisor claimed were forgeries.  In fact, however, many of the notes that the Supervisor returned had never been handed to him from the Canteen in the first place.  This forced the Canteen to refuse to deal with any notes of more than $10, to refuse over-printed notes, or notes that were in any way damaged.

            By the second week in March the Canteen had temporarily announced suspension of operations.  In fact it was extremely doubtful whether it would re-open for its operations had been crippled by its own bankruptcy and secondly by the inability of the public to produce cash that was acceptable. 

            It can be easily seen that whereas the Canteen had been organised with the hope that it would provide some means of supplementary supplies, in fact it merely served as a camouflage for further squeeze on the part of the Chinese puppet Superintendent.

            When the cow ran dry he had no further interest in giving it any kind of fodder.  How urgent the need for even the smallest amount of supplementary supplies was - the amount that one individual could purchase from the Canteen was exceedingly limited - can be seen from the fact  that people could be seen in the Canteen queue from 7 a.m. although the door did not open until 1.30 p.m.

Medical and Sanitation - This Committee was responsible for organising all medical care and sanitary arrangements that did not fall within the range of the International Hospital.  Doctors were appointed in charge of each block and Dr Gustel and Dr Helen Canaval ran a children's clinic which also fed all the children in the main blocks (almost 70 children altogether), distributed the milk to children and mothers, and burnt bones for grinding to provide calcium.

            The Sanitary work of the sub-Committee consisted of keeping drains unobstructed, chlorinating the drinking water (the American community had a sanitary inspection service for all billets), constructing of either outdoor latrines in the British quarters for use in case of necessity (it was expected that due to overcrowding the septic tanks would not be able to carry the load), and the burying of bodies.  In this connection it should be noticed that the bodies of four Canadian soldiers were found in an advanced state of decomposition just below the barbed wire separating the camp from one of the beaches.  Despite repeated representations, the Japanese did not permit internees to bury these remains.  In one or two cases where bodies were found near camp billets permission to bury them was granted and they were either interred on the spot or taken to the old Stanley Cemetery in which the last previous interment had taken place in [illegible).  Four internees who died in camp were also buried at the cemetery.

            The Japanese municipal administration of  Hong Kong has undertaken no sanitary or street-maintenance work of any kind within the confines of the camp.  When the internees arrived the drains were choked, the plumbing was, in the majority of cases, not working, and there were piles of food refuse and other septic matter all around with swarms of flies hovering overhead.  Inmates of the camp got to work cleaning up, disposed of the refuse and dug pits for the disposal of wet and the burning of dry garbage.  This work was fortunately accomplished before the camp filled up and was undoubtedly responsible for the fact that health conditions remained, on the whole, much better than in the rest of Hong Kong. 

Tweed Bay Hospital - The Queen Mary Hospital, with staff and patients, was moved to Stanley on January 19th and installed in the old Indian Single Warders' Quarters which had served as an emergency medical centre during the war.  The Japanese piled wounded patients into trucks without stretchers, causing them much agony, and on arrival it was found that there were not sufficient beds, no arrangements for boiling water beyond one small stove that served also for cooking, no electric power and no facilities for dressings or operations.  No provision was made for doctors and nurses who were also compelled to occupy hospital space.  Permission to remove the good operating and X-ray equipment from the Stanley Prison hospital, which is not being used, was not given.

            When subsequent batches of internees and staff and patients from other hospitals arrived, it was decided to make of the Tweed Bay Hospital an international hospital for all communities.  A committee to operate it was formed under the chairmanship of Dr M. Gale [?] of the American Red Cross, and Dr E. Utley, formerly of the Kowloon Hospital, was appointed superintendent.  International representations failed, just as Professor Digby's requests had previously, to extract our equipment out of the Japanese and the only equipment and drugs the hospital had to go on with were those 'salvaged' from other hospitals by the staff and patients t the moment of transfer.  Nevertheless, many improvements were introduced.  A long Chinese sideboard found in the European Prison Officers' quarters was [illegible] an operating table.  The lights from the Prison officers [illegible] (now American bachelor quarters) billiard room were pressed into service to floodlight it.  Water boilers were built.  Additional stoves were removed from ruined buildings behind the [illegible] of the Japanese and installed in the Diet kitchen.   The old [illegible] of the [illegible] was cleaned up for quarters for the Medical Officers.  The Hospital still remains, however, without x-ray equipment, [illegible], laboratory apparatus and other essentials.  It is still impossible to isolate dysentery patients from others, though fly-screens have been put in by the American Committee.  Although, through the efforts of the staff and specially detailed working parties from all communities, it has so far [illegible]  camp needs any worsening in health conditions will find it unprepared.

            The block doctors, by giving attention on the spot, take a load off the Tweed Bay Hospital Outpatient Department which can thus devote itself to more complicated dressings and treatments for those discharged from the wards as a result of lack of space but actually still in need of hospital care.  No patient is admitted to Tweed Bay without a recommendation from his or her block doctor.  Arrangements were made by Dr Selwyn Clarke for the transfer to the French Hospital in the city of Chronic cases, [illegible], X-rays etc. but in practice such transfer is a very tedious procedure, a long period being taken to obtain permission.  There are now patients at Tweed Bay who have been waiting for weeks to be moved.

            On March 13, the Tweed Bay Hospital had on its rolls [illegible] staff members and 60 patients of whom 19 were due for discharge.  50 percent of the patients were dysentery cases.  Fortunately, however, the dysentery prevalent in the camp is not of a severe type and the average time of such patients in hospital is a week.

            Four deaths took place in the hospital - Messrs Bond and Sheppard, two very old men, from dysentery, Mr Marriett from  neglected wound, and Mrs Greenberg, a cancer case.  With better hospital conditions, at least three of these deaths might have [sentence missing].  There were two births and more are expected.

            Dental care - The camp dentists for the British Quarters are Drs Shields, Pyne [?] , Lanchester and one other, and for the American quarters Dr Summers.  only Dr Shields, however, has equipment for fillings.  There is no dental chair.  Representations to the Japanese for the removal to the removal to the camp of the instruments and installations of interned dentists failed, and all [illegible] must use such materials as Dr Shields was able to get in.  Dental troubles among the 3600 internees are increasing as a result of the bad diet and already appointments have to be made three weeks ahead.  On March 12 it was calculated that local anaesthetics in stock were sufficient for a fortnight only.

            Education - Professor Forster is head of the camp school which is attended by children of all nationalities.  Although there are many trained teachers in the camp, the operation of the school has been made extremely difficult by the lack of space.  (St Stephen's Hall is the only room available), and even here there are nine men living in the gallery.  Classes must be staggered, giving a totally inadequate number of hours.  Text books and paper are pitifully short.  There is only one small blackboard.  in spite of the inadequacy of such schooling, the effect on the spirit of the children of having any school at all has been extremely good. 

            The American Community organised a children's performance and entertainment on Washington's birthday.

            Plans are afoot for adult education under the guidance of Mr D.L. Sloss, of Hong Kong University, and Dr [illegible] of Lingnam University.  Lectures are being given (the puppet superintendent here stopped one and now insists that scripts shall be submitted in advance).  Discussion groups are not allowed to operate openly.  Small groups are studying Spanish and Chinese and arrangements are being made for other formal courses.   


The above gives an idea of the functioning of the sub-Committees.  Among other committees in operation are those for gardening, (the communities and blocks have apportioned the care of available cultivable land for vegetables under the direction of Dr Herklots, of Hong Kong University, recreation  and entertainment (evenings of community singing have been arranged), welfare (an international effort to provide clothing and other essentials for those lacking them), religion, etc.    

Camp conditions - This section deals only with conditions not touched on in other sections of the note.

Stanley Peninsula was the scene of heavy fighting and not much effort was made to clear it up before the internees arrived.  It was only with great difficulty that Dr Selwyn Clarke was able to talk the Authorities out of dumping thousands of people into the area without any preparation at all.  Finally, advance working parties of able-bodied men from the three communities were permitted to go out.  The American party proved by far the most competent, having worked in advance on a plan which took into account the needs of their community as a whole.  The British being  a much more heterogeneous socially stratified and scattered group had very little idea of what they were being called upon to do.  Their advance party was composed largely of government servants who had never used their hands or come into contact with any practical problems, and they proved totally inadequate to cope with the  situation.  While both paarties cooperated in burying the more than one hundred bodies that were lying about, and in fixing up the area in a general way, the Americans staked out claims for the better buildings and collected everything that might be useful, while the British, whose task it was to prepare for a number of compatriots ten times the size of the Americans, relapsed into planless individual scrounging and the staking out of rooms for themselves and their friends. 

The permanent result of these preliminary differences was the great variation of conditions among the communities to which we will have occasion to refer later, and which became one of the most painful features of camp life.

Housing - The area allotted by the Japanese  did not contain nearly enough room and the houses provided had all been more or less damaged by shell fire.  When the bulk of the internees had arrived it was not possible to give more than 40 or 30 square feet to each, the number in a fair-sized living room being eight people.  Fifty people were billeted in each of the bungalows which had previously been occupied by single families and consisted of a living room and two other rooms besides the bathroom and kitchen.  For many nights after arrivals in the British quarters there were people sleeping out on the grass, on the floors of the corridors, and on staircase steps - this in very cold weather.  Privacy was non-existent.  

Some married couples were fortunate enough to secure tiny amahs rooms, but in the most cases men, women and children were [illegible] together in sixes, eights and tens.  Beds were few and far between with mattresses only a little more common, the usual sleeping accommodation being blankets and bare floors.  The Japanese did nothing to alleviate this situation and what beds and mattresses subsequently appeared were either donated from a small surplus from the hospital or bought illegally from Indian police, communication with whom had been expressly forbidden.  The Indians were very good about this and did not take any advantage of the great opportunity to profiteer, behaving in this respect much better than many of the internees.

By the 15th March all internees were accommodated in some sort of quarters , though distribution was still far from equitable, but sufficient bedding had been obtained in one way and another to see the internees through the warmer weather that had now set in.  The word "satisfactory" must be understood with reference to previous camp conditions as there were still no sheets or mosquito nets or pillow slips , barring those brought in by the later arrivals for themselves.

All repairs to premises had to be carried out by the Internees themselves with what materials they could pick up.  Shellholes in walls were plugged up with sandbags, window planes were replaced with paper, cardboard, and some glass taken out of picture frames.  The few bags of cement found in the area were reserved for the most necessary community projects such as building stoves, etc. 

Sanitation - Except for the bungalows, where the supply was sporadic,  cold running water was constantly available.  The only people who could obtain hot running water were 66 men in the American bachelor quarters.   It was considered necessary to boil the water for drinking, but owing to the absence of facilities, a large part of the British quarters was forced to drink the water from the taps.  To reduce the risk, a party of internees previously employed in the water works was allowed to leave the camp and heavily chlorinate the reservoir from which supplies were obtained.

Baths - In the American and Dutch quarters there was an average of a bath tub per 20 people, and European toilet facilities were adequate.  In the Indian Quarters where there were 700 British there were no bathtubs and only Chinese type toilets.  The Bungalows had only one European combined bathroom toilet for 50 [not clear] people.  Conditions at St Stephen's were slightly better as were those in the British occup9ied Married Quarters (a group of 600 [not clear]  The hospital had two toilets for 60 patients, 2 toilets for 20 staff, and no bathtub.  There was one shower for patients and staff.

Food - The official rations fixed by the Japanese authorities were as follows:  Rice 1/2 catty a day per person plus a very small quantity of salt and flour.

After negotiations by the Medical Department and a promise of payment by Dr Selwyn-Clarke (on behalf of the British Govt) the following additional rations were allowed to be purchased from the Japanese who delivered them to the camps:  1 oz of meat or fish per person per day, Approx 1 oz of green vegetables peer day, 1 desertspoonful of sugar per day.

In addition to this, 1 oz of tea per person was issued in three months.  The Medical Department was also able to arrange to buy bread for the hospitals and to give a part of this to the internees.   The bread was of a poor quality and there was much wastage in crumbs.  The amount issued varied from a 3-lb loaf per 16 persons (once only) to the same quantity per 32 persons (the general ration from March 15.   The average was a loaf to 22-25 persons.  In practice, the amounts received by the internees were even small[er] than given above.

All rations were delivered through the puppet Chinese supervisors who took out of them whatever they wanted for themselves.  The rice was delivered in sacks purporting to weigh 100 catties, but weighing actually 10 per cent less.  No allowance was made in weighing for bones in the meat, or for fish heads and tails.  For instance, on one occasion, a block with 698 [not clear] people received an alleged 63 lbs of meat which amounted to only 15 lbs of actual flesh.  The ration for a bungalow with 50 people amounted one day to a buffalo shank  from which they could obtain no meat at all.  The fish ration was frequently small red mullet which invariably went bad before delivery.  The only other fish delivered was conger eel.

Fuel - The allowance of fuel was totally insufficient to cook the rations given.  One block of 550 residents was given 15 3-foot pine logs of about 12" diameter per day.  This was increased, after petitioning, to 20 logs.  The situation was further aggravated by the fact that the primitive stoves built out of concrete blocks by the internees themselves (the Japanese provide no stoves or utensils of any description) it was impossible to use the fuel issue economically.

Quality - After protracted negotiations, camp veterinaries were allowed to inspect rations before delivery.  On occasions when they condemned meat or fish, some replacement was made in the form of canned goods (once a 10 oz tin of sardines per 5 persons, and another rime 1/4 of a small pork sausage per person).  No allowance was made for food that spoiled between acceptance at the distributing center and delivery to the kitchens, despite the fact that the weather was getting hotter and the fact that no food storage facilities of any kind existed (some refrigerators were removed from the camp by the Japanese).  The only way to preserve food, therefore, was to keep it simmering overnight, which further aggravated fuel problems.

With regard to nutrition, the energy-value of the daily ration was computed by experts in the camp to average 900 calories ((normally, a sedentary worker needs 2400 cal. and a manual worker 3000 cals. or more).  The diet was deficient in fats, calcium and all vitamins, especially B and C.  The effects of this deficiency were making themselves increasingly  felt by March in the form of beri-beri (several true cases), a great increase of dental troubles, throat inflammations among the children, and general weakness which caused fainting on labour details and in food queues.

Children's rations  The official ration fixed by the Japanese authorities for children up to 3 years of age was a can of condensed milk per day, with no additional rations of any kind.   Since children over a year old require considerable amounts of other food, this had to be taken out of the general ration fund, thus curtailing further and individual adult ration.

In addition, the Medical Department arranged to buy from the Dairy Farm enough fresh milk to provide half a pint pr day for all children under 12, nursing mothers, and hospital patients unable to assimilate other food.  Despite the fact that a constant surplus of fresh milk was available in the city, delivery to the camp was very irregular.  Om at least three occasions the supply truck was held for inspection outside the gate for so long that the milk went sour,  On a number of occasion the milk did not arrive at all.  In the third week of March, milk failed to come on five successive days, and it was threatened that delivery was going to cease altogether.  Negotiations were still proceeding  on March 18.

Payment for rations - Towards the end of January the Japanese Authorities announced that they were no longer willing to accept the signature of the Medical Officer on behalf of the British Government, or Promissary Notes from the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation as a guarantee for payment for the rations, insisting that such payment be made at once from the personal accounts of the internees.  All three Communal Committees refused to accede to this demand and yielded to force majeure only when the Japanese threatened to cut off so-called supplementary rations altogether (everything except rice, flour and salt)

This payment from personal accounts was to be retroactive and was to cover the alleged cost of all food consumed (outside the official ration) from the time that the first batch of people was interned in the Chinese hotels on January 4th.

At the end of February the British, American and Dutch Communal Committees paid to the Japanese Authorities, under protest, the sum of HK$88,000 towards the food bill.

Remarks - Generally speaking rations tended to decrease as time went on.  Complaints were never seriously considered and sometimes cynically disregarded.  On one occasion the Camp Storekeeper, Mr Anderson, was taken into the city and shown several empty go-downs.  He was motored round the Peak and invited to show the Japanese where any food could be obtained for the Stanley internees.  The points to which he was taken were bare, having been  denuded during the systematic stripping of the city oin the course of which is estimated 40 freighters were sent away fully loaded.  He was also shown food dumps apparently willfully ruined when the Japanese first entered Hongkong - milk cans perforated by bayonets , etc.  On March 18 the outlook gave no grounds for hope and the internees had been warned by their Committees that rations were likely to decrease.

Supplies - For the Community:  Since the Community is completely dependent on itself, there is a great need for tools and materials of all kings.. Tools found in the area were insufficient in number and many of these have been used so much that they are almost worn out.  Most of the tolls in the camp were concentrated in the hands of the American community.  The shortage was least felt in digging and garden implements.  There were sufficient carpentry tools to keep two men at work.  There were no suitable tools for cleaning out the drains and there was a shortage of axes and saws for cutting the firewood.  Mechanical tools were very short, and cobblers' tools for which there was great need were non-existent.  There were not more than half a dozen sewing machines and needles were scarce.  Nails screws and bolts were practically non-existent.

Stanley Prison had a completely equipped machine shop, carpentry shop, shoe factory and tailor shop.  (Police boots and essential services' uniforms were formerly manufactured.)  There were adequate stocks of materials.  The Authorities were early approached and continually pressed to allow these to be used by the internees, but without any success.  There was also an operating table in the prison which was at one time taken to the hospital after an appeal had been made for its use for a case of appendicitis.  Afterwards, however, the Japanese took it back to the prison and refused to allow it to be used  again.  There were also excellent bread ovens in the Prison but nothing would induce the Japanese to allow these to be used for the benefit of the camp.   The American even offered to bake bread for the Japanese if allowed also to bake for the interned community;  but the Japanese remained adamant. 

Personal supplies - The condition of internees showed a very wide variation from those who had absolutely nothing - not even a suit of clothes - to those who were comparatively well supplied as to cash, clothing, canned food, etc, and even household furniture.  Those who were worst off were people who were engaged in essential services during the war, had been taken to the hospitals wounded, and transferred direct from the hospitals to the camp.  These people had had absolutely no opportunity to draw money from the banks before the surrender, to collect their personal belongings from their homes, or to purchase food and supplies before going into internment.  Also in this group were people who were virtually refugees from Kowloon.  When the Japanese marched into Kowloon - where there was subsequently wholesale looting and shooting - no notification was given to the population to evacuate.  In fact the police all left at least 18 hours before the first Japanese arrived, and people forced to flee in whatever manner they were able were often stripped of their clothes on their way to the waterfront by looters.

People who had been confined in the Chinese hotels were the next worse off for they had been ordered to appear for registration by the Japanese and to bring with them only those personal belongings that they were able to carry.  Nevertheless, some took coolies and others were able to collect some clothes and supplies through the help of friends who were willing to risk visiting the hotels.  (This involved bribing the Indian watchmen and taking the risk of being detained). 

The more than 300 persons who came from the Peak district on the 24th January were able to bring mattresses and what personal effects and supplies they were able to collect at short notice and taking into consideration the limits to the transport available.  Later arrivals were able to bring even more supplies, and those people who arrived in the middle of March even brought light furniture - garden tables and chairs, electric fans, camp beds, lamps, etc. 

In general, however, there was a great shortage of all personal supplies.  By the third week in March, nearly all shoes were either worn out or in need of repair and there was absolutely no way to get this done.  The question of summer clothes was a serious one for the great majority of cases these had been lost during hostilities, people only keeping with them the winter clothes that they were actually wearing.

In addition there was a great need for hats, sunglasses, washing materials of all kinds, umbrellas, and household linen.

Cultural supplies - The Committee considered it essential for the well-being of the Internees that classes should be started not only for the children but also for adults.  It was proposed that these  should fall into two categories - theatrical and handicraft.  In both cases there was need for certain supplies - books, paper, pencils, cloth, wool, cotton, leather, etc.

Certain supplies were also needed for recreation.  The greatest need was for books.  With the American Club Library at its disposal, the American community was comparatively well off.  The British community, however, had only those few books which had been brought by individuals, the depleted St Stephen's School Library, and such books as Mr Sloss had managed to bring out from the University.  Books had been pooled and a library for the British Community was functioning in St Stephen's School, but it can be easily seen how acute was the shortage of books when it is known that there were never more than about 50 books on the library shelves and that those loaned out included two complete sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Tobacco supply -  Perhaps the most galling and demoralising lack was that of tobacco.  The Authorities had made no supplies of either cigarettes or tobacco available from the day that the camp was opened.  Tea leaves having been dried after the first use were being used again for tea, dried again and then smoked in pipes.  There was a rapidly increasing number of people whose whole day was being spent in searching the grounds for tiny cigarette butts.  Among the habitual smokers there arose a class of "tobacco beggars" who developed a typical tramp psychology.  Mr Merritt of the British American Tobacco Co had managed to bring 70,000 cigarettes into camp when first interned and these had been sold  one pack to each person every five days.  But even this relief, which was available only to those with money, lsted for only two weeks.  Mr Merritt drew no benefit from the sales,  all proceeds being turned over for general welfare.  Tobacco smuggled into the camp later was of the cheapest Chinese grade manufactured in Macao.  Costing only 15 cents at its point of origin 30 cents (per ounce) in Hongkong, it was available to internees at $2 an ounce or more;  with all the other depressing factors this lack of tobacco and it s social consequences were considered so serious by one of the doctors that he expected cases of suicide on this score.

Money - The amount of Money brought into the camp by any individual was largely a matter of chance, but it may be said on the whole that the moneyless were those who had done the hardest jobs in the war and had not only had no opportunity to draw on banks but were not in the vicinity of their Headquarters even when war pay was issued.  The fact that no relief of any kind was given to those people, in spite of the fact that there were individual cases of internees bringing in thousands of dollars, led to much justifiable bad feeling and was responsible for may cases of what the less imaginative camp leaders put down to "insubordination".  Some ex-officials, who had not grasped the facts adequately, referred to the discontented as "bolshies" and insisted that all the authority of the camp committee should be used to force them to behave.   The situation was somewhat alleviated in many cases by unselfish sharing by those who had little with those who had none, but the initiative here was purely individual.  Feeling was also improved by the election of committees closer to the point of view of the rank-and-file internee than the self-appointed body that at first assumed direction of the camp.  Apart from the fact that the Japanese demand for immediate payment for rations made it necessary for everyone's food to be paid for out of the bank accounts of those who had them, however, the situation was not substantially improved.  All schemes for the pooling of cash and personal food stores were opposed by the ex-Chief Justice on the ground that the whole principle of private property was involved and "endless litigations" would arise in the future if individual rights were violated.  In the American community, donations of several thousand dollars apiece were given by some of the larger interests towards a general supplementary rations fund (among the donations - free loans to be repaid by the community if and when possible were: William Hunt, $3,000;  Maryknoll Fathers, $5,000;  Standard Oil, $1,000;  General Motors, $1,000).  Negotiations were also pushed by all communities for a per capita monthly allowance of $50 per internee, the funds to be drawn from the accounts of internees with money in the bank and guaranteed by the respective governments - American, British and Netherlands.  Up to March 18,no sanction for this arrangement had been given by the Japanese Authorities, their policy appearing rather to be to drain the camp of the whole of its diminishing supply of ready cash.

Morale and general atmosphere -  One cannot help but feel that the very great lowering of general morale observable in the camp, especially during the early stages, was greater than was warrented by the economic difficulties alone.   If ad investigation were made it would almost certainly be found that it had its deeper roots in the unsatisfactory social conditions of pre-war Hongkong.  Most conspicuous was the almost total absence of anti-Japanese feeling.  Parents had no objection to their children playing with Japanese soldiers and officers but, on the other hand, encouraged them to do so in the hope of obtaining inconsiderable favours - such as small gifts of sugar, etc.  The entire camp was shocked into an awareness of this attitude by an incident which occurred when the Japanese army was removing stocks of food from the godowns within the area.  Originally the emptying of the  warehouse was carried out by Chinese coolies who went on strike when they were paid not in money but with a can of bully beef  and a can of condensed milk for several hours' work.  The Japanese then requested that the camp supply working parties to which the committees put up no resistance.  The men first detailed went, naturally, without enthusiasm, but when they were paid off with the compensation turned down by the coolies, there was a great rush of eager volunteers - including many persons who had never been known to do a day's work within the camp itself on community projects.  By the second day the rush was so great that the American detail refused to compete and retired in disgust, while the camp wast treated to the scene of Japanese soldiers having to hold back with their rifles a crowd of would-be workers.  (It may be noted that on this day the British community was holding its election for six camp members of the British Communal Council.  The outgoing Committee had appointed Mr Larry Andrews the Recording Officer for the election, but when he was required he was not to be found at his post because he had joined the ranks of the volunteer coolies).  I addition the Japanese amused themselves by rolling cans of treacle down the hill-side and watching the internees scramble for them.  On the third day, the Chinese - their strike having been broken - came back to work under the supervision of their grinning Japanese guards.  As a result of this whole episode, in which the chief people involved were former police and prison warders, the camp received a gift of 66 broken cases of foodstuffs.  It may be said for the police and prison warders that they belonged to the moneyless category within the camp.

After this episode there was a definite reaction and morale in the camp began to improve.  The initial effect of the fall of Singapore and other reverses wore off and people began to reconcile themselves to the fact of a long war.  Many people bouyed themselves up with the hopes of repatriation or removal to some other place, and few seriously believed that they would be left in Stanley through the summer months.  Great expectations were also based on the arrival of food ships from America, and International Red Cross activity.   [ EMR: See (*) below for a telegram dated 29.1.43 from the International Red Cross )

It appears that there was some informing from within the camp.  It is difficult to explain in any other way the unerring discovery of several radio sets, field glasses and other objects concealed by internees.  The Japanese were also aware of what rumours were circulating and of what the internees were getting of events in the outside world.  The loose quoting of sources was one of the reasons why Dr Selwyn-Clarke was finally denied free movement on his visits to the camp.  Although three Japanese women who were interned as British subjects and a number of Eurasians were naturally suspected, there is good reason to believe that at least one of the more vicious informers was a woman of British birth.  The Americans also had their quota of informers, but being a more compact community had the situation better in hand.

An interesting study was afforded by the circulation of rumours.  The typical ones were wildly optimistic in nature and carried on logically from day to day.  Before internment one series had the Russians fighting first in Poland and then in East Prussia.  Another had Petain committing suicide, the French fleet going over to the Allies, and the Italian navy surrendering at Alexandria, etc.  In the early part of March there was a reputed British landing in Holland which went on to the occupation of Dusseldorf and Hamburg, while the Russians were placed at Riga.  It is difficult to determine where these rumours came from, but the fact that they invariably came before the announcement of undeniable allied reverses indicates that they may have been deliberately spread by the Japanese in order (a) to discredit the BBC and other allied sources which were always given the source of these rumours and to which the internees had no direct access;  (b) to demoralise the internees by the alternation of  raising hopes and discouraging facts.  This is an Axis propaganda technique which has been used elsewhere.

Other rumours dealt with the possibilities of repatriation, home, to East Africa, to Chile, transfer to Shanghai, Macao, etc.  These were based partly on wishful thinking, partly on personal interpretation of overheard remarks, and spread like wildfire.

Further notes - The following facts and incidents not recorded elsewhere are worthy of notice.

Questinioning of internees:  A total of lees than ten our of the 3,000 were questioned by the Japanese , for which purpose they were invariably removed to the Kowloon magistracy.  Police Superintendent  Elston and Assistant Superintendent Major and one other member of the Special Branch of the Hongkong Police, and General Maurice Cohen were kept out for eighteen days in a single room at the Kowloon Magistracy.  They were herded together with six neutral prisoners - including a [illegible] - from outside the camp without blankets or toilet facilities, barring a bucket in the corner.  They were made to kneel for hours and subjected to beatings.  The object of this investigation appears to have been to find out the exct organisation of the British Intelligence Service in the Far East, of which the prisoners knew nothing.   Failing to elicit any facts the Japanese finally returned the internees to camp.  Messrs A.J.R. Moss and Hamilton of the Kai Tak Airport were later taken out for only one day with a view to getting the same information.  They were threatened with revolvers but not otherwise ill-treated, and were returned to the camp after having dined with Japanese officers at the Peninsula Hotel.  Several engineers of the Marsman Mining interest were warned to hold themselves ready for questioning, with a view to compulsory work for the Japanese.  Mr Gale [unclear] of the American Red Cross and American newspaper men  were asked for more detailed personal information than other internees could provide, possibly with a view to their being exchanged with Consular Officials for Japanese of similar standing in the United States.

Face Slapping:  Especially at the beginning there were numerous cases of face slapping for failure to bow to Japanese sentries and officer.  Internees were also slapped for looking at the sea, for sitting in places where they could overlook the prison, for walking in the vicinity of barbed wire, and for no evident reason whatsoever.   A five foot Japanese slapped a 6' 6" sergeant of police just to show a number of Chinese and Indians that it could be done.  Towards the third week of the camp the most notorious face slappers - including the gendarme NCO whom the camp nicknamed Himmler - were removed and slapping incidents became rare.  Visiting Japanese officers seemed always to acknowledge the bows of internees by saluting in return.  Most internees managed to avoid all such encounters by simply walking off the road when they saw Japanese coming, and the word passed along very quickly.  

Truck drivers:  A number of the Americans , including Messrs Neprud. Albert Fitch Pawley etc volunteered during the hostilities to drive for the Medical Department, and remained outside driving supplies in and out of the camp.  They were at first allowed to circulate freely, then permitted to go only to the Puppet Superintendents block.  In the second months things became more difficult for them.  They were constantly being searched, were kept waiting for hours at petrol stations along the road, and sometime slapped.  Finally, the Japanese used the excuse that they were carrying personal parcels and messages for internees to exclude them from the camps altogether.  When last heard of they were still driving between the French Hospital, the Medical Department and Bowen Road Military Hospital.  Mr Neprud contracted typhoid and entered the French Hospital where he was said to be progressing well.  Another American, Mr Gibson, who volunteered with the Department after the surrender, stayed out of the camp with the Department officials as liaison official for the American community - with which he was at the end not permitted to get in touch.

Law and Order:  Owing partly to the general chaos which prevailed in Hongkong during and after the hostilities with the Japanese, partly due to the lack of organisation at the camp in the early days, to the popular resentment against clear cases of injustice and favoritism, as well as to the fact that the people were impelled by misery and hunger, looting and petty theft were the order of the day through every section of the community.  Thus from starting by taking anything that was regarded as "abandoned property", people proceeded to take anything that they could lay hands on. The Japanese issued an order that no doors were to be locked.  It therefore became necessary not only for each room or flat to have one person always on guard, but for each community to organise its own guards.  Those guards operated day and night.  The Americans were concentrated in two blocks of buildings, so their problem was comparatively simple.  There were always four guards on duty who patrolled the road in front of the buildings in the day , but remained inside the gates at night. 

By the middle of March the British community was organising a Watch Committee, headed by Mr Pennefeather-Evans.  In addition to this each block organised its own patrols.  It was originally suggested that the Chief Justice should try cases if any were brought to the camp authorities  - and should pass sentence.  There was, however, much opposition to this suggestion, and finally Mr Sheldon was put in charge of the Committee resp9onsible for working out a plan by which law and order would be maintained.

The preserving of law and order proved a task of considerable difficulty for it proved  to be more a matter of tact than of force.  For instance the Chief Justice, when asked in the early days to help the man in charge of the labour gangs in the Indian Quarters to ask men who were shirking their share of labour to work, announced that he would cut the bread ration of any individual who did not report when called.  This immediately called forth protest as high-handed action, and the individuals concerned merely said that they would appeal to the Japanese Authorities who had the only right to cut any individual's bread ration.   There was then only the pressure of public opinion to make effective any measures that might be suggested. 

In the three months Jan-March only one case was tried by the Chief Justice.  The Japanese Authorities demanded that suitable action be taken against a policemen whom they had found buying goods looted from one of the godowns.  This looting had been done on a large scale and many people were involved.  Mr Pennefeather-Evans negotiated with the Japanese, all the looted goods (bar 5%) were returned, the individual caught by the Japanese was tried by the Chief Justice and sentenced to four months in the prison.  He was, however, left under guard in his quarters and allowed exercise.


General conclusion.   The Stanley internees are absolutely neglected except insofar as they have been able to help themselves with such poor resources as copuld be found on the spot.  Rations are deteriorating in both quality and quantity and supplies from outside - always infinitesimal -  have practically ceased.  No communication is allowed with friends and relatives in Hongkong, and it is the Japanese policy to cut off all but Japanese news of the outside world.  There has been great deterioration both physically and morally, which is certain to reach dangerous proportions in the coming months.  The staus of the camp is not clear.  No one knows whether the final authority is the gendarmerie or the Japanese Civil Administration and until March 18th it appeared as though the internees had simply been farmed out to the puppets for systematic milking.  

Representations by Dr Selwyn-Clarke, Mr Gimson and the Camp Committee have all failed to produce any tangible improvements.  Dr Selwyn-Clarke has concentrated his efforts on trying to convince the Japanese that the internees cannot be allowed to remain in Stanley under present conditions through the summer, holding that health hazards will become uncontrollable if no change is made."





Copy of Telegram

From:  International Red Cross Committee, Geneva                                                                          To:      Delegate, London                                                                                                                      Sent:  1.8.43.