01 May 1942, INTERNED - DECEMBER 1941 | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

01 May 1942, INTERNED - DECEMBER 1941

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Date(s) of events described: 
Fri, 1 May 1942

((The following text is not dated:))

The Japanese were adept at causing us worry, as each week they would come down on us with a new rule, making life even more difficult.  The last straw was when they told us that we could only have water once in five days!  They would not give us any containers to enable us to store a little extra water.  We had to fill the bath, and be on our honour only to take a ladle full each day.  As there were eighteen of us in a flat with only two toilets (which could only be flushed with clean water once in five days), we kept the dirty water to throw in the toilets that was anything but hygienic.  The Japanese did allow us to go down to the beach to collect salt water, some of it being used for cooking, and some we drank mixed with fresh water added, which worked well as a purgative!

We had a so-called canteen run by the Japanese in which one could buy some tinned goods and other ordinary commodities at high prices.  We sold whatever jewellery we had to buy anything that would augment our rations, and would cook them with our rations on a fire in the grate.  (I sold my diamond and sapphire watch for four pounds of sugar!)    The only fuel we could find was the beautiful parquet flooring of our room that burnt extremely well.  We would cook banana skins to eat just to give us some bulk.  We were fed twice a day, at eleven in the morning, and again at five in the evening, consequently we were always very hungry.  I remember seeing Owen trying to pick up a grain of rice that had been spilt; he lost a tremendous amount of weight.  He never complained, although I knew that he was always hungry, being a big man.  There were those who went around the dustbins searching for whatever crumbs that they could find, but they had let themselves go and looked like coolies.

The Japanese produced their own news bulletins, which we made a point of reading for it gave us information as to where the war zones were and how the fighting was progressing.  The Japanese would give themselves away by reporting that the Americans had claimed that another island had been captured, but of course this was quite untrue!