P. O. W. and ESCAPE DIARY.: View pages | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

P. O. W. and ESCAPE DIARY.: View pages

((In SHAMSHUIPO P.O.W. CAMP... ))

Very bright clear day.  N.W. still blowing. Inspected camp and found it for the most part in filthy condition.  Latrines terrible and drains blocked.  1st Mx easily the best.  Nips did not come today as they promised, to take the cases away, nor did they bring the equipment.  They are full of empty promises but never intend to do anything.  Arranged to feed with Winnipeg Grenadiers.  Opened Isolation Hosp for dysenteries and put Albert in charge.  Had long talk with Coombes re moving [escaping] and took 1st step and had Lee transferred over here so that he can slip away easily.  Told Brigadier Peffers of the plans and he approved.  Had water fixed up, and enjoyed a good wash.  Much buying going on through the fence 3 buns for a dollar 1 bottle of beer $2 or 2 for $5.  Purves bought kettle for $5 and then we found it had a hole in it.  Had some pork with our rice this evening so put some bully with it and had quite a good feed.  Breakfast we had some of our own rice and made it with remnants from last night.  We had this at 10 a.m.  At 12 we had the rice issued to us for breakfast along with biscuits and some tea.  Had walk round after dark and think best way is by boat from the pier after full moon.  Scrounged an iron bed today and hope it will be more comfortable than the concrete.  Had Lee transferred to us today ostensibly to cook rice for patients but actually to make get away easier.


Bitterly cold wind last night which kept on blowing bags away from windows.  Slept very little owing to sore hips and cold wind.  Rice for breakfast with a little cabbage and carrots at 10 am.  Saw General and asked him to lodge a vigorous protest about camp conditions.  Dysentery cases in Jubilee refuse to move to new isolation hospital.  7 of them are lying on the floor in a room in Jubilee Blgs.  They are relatively cosy and if they move they will have to go onto concrete floors in a large room without windows or doors and without any reasonable sanitation.  At present their stools can be thrown down lavatory and flushed with buckets of water.  Decided to let them stay, and reported the matter to the General and asked him to allow me to come along when a Jap Rep. came this afternoon.  Bought three little pieces of almond toffee through the fence for 50 cents.  They were about 2” long and 1” wide and ¼” thick.  Plates were being sold at 1 dollar a piece and army plates too at that.  Mug of tea and 3 army biscuits at 1300 hrs.  Sat in sun for an hour or so writing when suddenly visited by a party of Japs.  Again the arrogant Major was there together with a Mjr General (medical) who said nothing throughout the interview.  Another more junior officer with a red and gold sash was very pleasant;  he apparently knew Prof Furuhata.  We asked the Major what he wanted to see, he said everything, so we started with the Hospital – no windows, no doors, no beds, no blankets, no utensils, no fuel.  He said we should ask for them and we said we had.  Next he wanted to see the isolation Hosp.  It was in just the same condition and we got the same reply.  He said we could have some straw and when I said that was no good for dysentery patients he said that is all we would get.  We asked again when we would get the med supplies and equipment and he said “tomorrow”.  We said that is what they promised yesterday and had not done it whereupon the Majs face flushed and he shouted to our interpreter to shut up and if he spoke like that again we would have the machine gun turned on us.  He then strode off in a temper to the main road.  There General Maltby asked him for permission to see Gen Nagouchi;  he flatly refused.  I asked for permission to visit the sick in Argyle St which was also flatly refused;  I pointed out that by the Geneva Convention we [doctors] were not prisoners of war and shd be allowed to visit our sick and wounded and he said “You stay here;  the British doctors in Philippines have machine gunned our men”.  We asked when he was coming again and when he would send us medical supplies.  Again the reply came “tomorrow” and when I asked at what time he said “Maybe morning maybe afternoon” and with that he jumped into his car and went, leaving us standing in the road no further forward.  A few minutes later a Capt of the Jap navy arrived with armed escort.  We approached him and he said the military officer would attend to Gen Maltby after he had finished talking to him.  This officer later said he would try and get permission for Gen M to see Gen Nagouchi.  The arrogant Major asked to see Commander Young (HE) and seemed surprised he was not in the camp.  All through these interviews he spoke through young Kerr, our interpreter, but when he lost his temper he broke into English.  Later saw Scriven who had been to Argyle St and he said conditions there were terrible.  Only Newton left there, the other two Drs being ill and there were a number of deaths from dys.  Commanders conference at 1700 hrs decided lights out 2100 hrs rev 0800.  Sanitation not yet satisfactory.  Excellent meal with Grenadiers of rice pork potatoes and carrots and cabbage.  Full moon beautiful clear night and less wind.


Slept better last night.  Had some army biscuits and tea about 9.  Breakfast of rice at 1000.  Saw Col Lamb about Jubilee Bldgs for Isolation Hosp;  found the N.E. end flats unsuitable but the N.W. ones were good so decided on them.  Found one bath that could be used as a water supply to flush the closets.  Interviewed another lot of Japs this a.m. but could get nothing out of them except the statement that one of their Drs had the matter in hand.  Had a talk with Lee about possible routes.  Considered boat to west of Macao but owing to the unknown nature of area and probability of occupation in force of that area decided against it.  Still think the Weichow route the best taking off from end of pier, changing into Ch clothes, landing this side of Lai Chi Kok and getting up onto row of hills above the catchment on the north side where there is more cover, and eventually making for Nan Chu.  In afternoon inspected the camp.  Not good enough yet.  Unit cmdrs meeting at 1700.  No Jap promises had materialised today.  Hardly enough food left in camp for one day.  No med supplies yet.  Rice for evening meal.  Moon up at 1935.  Sentry at shipping corner and none all the way along broken fence.  Should be able to get out there by belly crawling unless there are Wong Ching Wei men in sheds outside in the cabbage patches.  Had long talk today to Coombes and Crawford and doubt whether either of them think it wise to have a shot at getting out.  Also spoke to Barrow;  his idea is to go by water all the way.  Must look for a third to come with us.  Great trade going on at the fence;  buns 3 for $1, buckets $5 each, jam $3 a tin etc.  Had a visit at 2115 when we were all in bed from Lt Sawamoto who is very friendly;  he said he had no beds or blankets. But some bags and medicines for us and would bring them at between 1400 and 1500 hrs tomorrow if we would have a fatigue party at the gates ready.  He said all their hospitals were very full but would not tell us how many and where they came from.  They are using CMH [?QMH] Kowloon Hosp and Cent Brit Sch.  He said Mjrs name was Joh and the Mjr General from Canton and that he was on a tour of inspection.  Not so cold or windy tonight but mosquitoes rather troublesome.  Nice sunset over peak tonight.  How often have I seen it from there with the children!


Cloudy morning, but fortunately not windy.  A few more cases of dysentery admitted to hosp today.  Camp sanitation far from satisfactory yet.  Large number of Indians marched out of camp today being sent either to Gun Club Hill or Argyle St.  Waited all afternoon for the promised medical supplies but they did not come.  Cooked some of the rice left over from bkfst for lunch, quite a good meal.  Discussed important affairs with Barrow who is of the same general opinion as I am but has different ideas of the best method of execution.  Inspected camp at 1500 hrs still very unsatisfactory.  Suggested at the next commander’s meeting that each A.D. Comdr allot cook houses, ablution sheds and latrines to the subsidiary units or huts, and that police be appointed at the ablution sheds to see that mess tins are cleaned into provided receptacles and not tipped into drains.  Sub. Units should appoint orderly officers to visit huts etc after meals and inspect gutters.  Small dumps of refuse not to be left lying near gutters, but to be taken to the incinerator.  Arranged for Brig Peffers to inspect hospital daily at 1115 hrs.  Clear night, moon rose at 2015 hrs.  Low tide about 1400 hrs.  No sign of Lt Sawamoto and the promised equipment.  Went all round camp again after dark, making note of important affairs.  Visited pier at 2200 hrs.  OK.  Rice for dinner.


Rice for bkfst but before that Lt Sawamoto arrived with some med supplies and a lorry;  he took a fatigue party to CBS for camp beds.  I went along and had a look over the school.  It was about ½ full of patients (soldiers) malaria dysentery and other medical cases.  The Physics and Chem labs were in use as diagnostic labs.  We loaded 47 camp beds and while the party was taking them back to Sham Shui Po I asked Lt Sawamoto to take me over to Argyle St.  Conditions were very bad there.  They have about 1100 in there under care of Capt Banfill RCAMC, Dr Hargreaves and Eddy Gosano.  Drs Newton and Uttley have gone sick with dysentery.  There are 69 Indians and 13 Brit dysentery cases there and they have 43 Brit and 12 Indians in hospital – wounds and malaria etc.  They have had 6 deaths – 5 Brit (2dy hge and toxaemia – three and dysentery 2) and 1 Indian (dysentery).  They have 6 cases urgently in need of surgical attention and 12 other cases which they cannot nurse there.  They have no nursing orderlies.  Surg and med eqpt very meagre, some has been supplied from Kuong Wah but that is nearly exhausted.  Sanitation very bad.  Saw Flippance, Tamworth, RR Davies, Blaker, JF Paterson, Eric Bryden, Strellet, Sorby, Reggie Walker, etc.  Made arrangements to remove Sorby, and one other – both c [with] 2nd Hge to Kowloon Hosp – for operation at 1500.  Was not able to get nominal roll.  Banfill said Osler Thomas was shot at Shau Ki Wan.  Back to our camp.  Had Bkfst – rice – on return about 1130.  Brigadier Peffers inspected hospital.  Started the hospital with the camp beds and put up bags over the windows.  Orderlies organised.  Issue of $5 per head for amenities.  Still large amount of trading going on over the fence.  Roads well lined with wire and troops.  Cool cloudy night with moon up about 2045.  Lt Sawamoto did not turn up this afternoon so unable to go over and help the others in Argyle St Camp.  All sorts of rumours in the camp about outside affairs, Manila fallen, S’pore surrounded, Wavell pushing on into Siam, British sub engaged Jap destroyer to south of H.K. etc.  Jap band coming tomorrow morning, and their sentries trying their propaganda on our men.  Their chief argument seems to be that they have already won and cannot understand why we do not realise we are beaten.


Rained in the early hours of this a.m.  Jap band turned up about 1000.  Inspected Hospitals, 18 in isolation, 7 in our hosp, 12 in Indian.  Section 8 of RAMC training manual p175 para 489.  Geneva Convention 1929.  The chief points to be noted in the C.[onvention] are that the sick and wounded must be taken care of irrespective of nationality, that med personnel must, as far as military exigencies permit, be left in charge of sick and wounded, and that when they are captured by the enemy they must continue their duty under his directions.  They will be sent back to their own side only when the enemy can arrange to do this conveniently to himself and by the route which he shall determine.  Art 9.  The personnel engaged exclusively in the collection, transport and treatment of the wounded and sick and in the administration of medical formation and establishments, and chaplains to attacked armies, will be respected and protected in all circumstances.  If they fall into enemy hands they will not be treated as prisoners of war.  The commander who remains in possession of the field must cause a search to be made for wounded, and as far as possible prevent any acts of pillage to dead or wounded.  490.  The protection afforded to the personnel of medical units is not forfeited by the fact that they carry weapons for self-defence, or hold the arms and ammunition of the wounded who are under their care. 
 
Cooked the remainder of breakfast (rice) with a tin of sardines, fried in our new pan; unanimous vote was that it was excellent.  Went round hospitals with General and Brigadier.  About 1500 hrs lorries began to arrive with Indian Dysentery cases from Argyle St;  in all about 120 cases came in plus 12 British including Hance [?] who is pretty bad.  Had to open other isolation hospital;  sanitary arrangements in awful mess, Indians passing motions everywhere, no buckets for them no implements to dig latrines and only one medical officer who can speak their language.  Implored Lt Sawamoto to get us more beds, medical supplies and more Indian medical help, and he said he would do what he could.  I also suggested that Argyle St should be made into a concentration camp for the sick - the dysenteries etc – and all the fit prisoners brought over here but apparently this cannot be done, most probably because Sawamoto does not want dysenteries anywhere near his hospital at C.B.S.  He took me off to get some more med supplies;  at the CBS he gave me a beer to drink and a pear, an apple and some British army biscuits; then we went off to his flat down the stone steps at the back of the school and there Kerr (the interpreter who by the way is a lad who was at St. Giles, Tsingtao) and I watched him eat a huge basin of rice and a lovely steak.  I was given a cigarette and another drink and then subjected to some mild questioning.  This afternoon we all had to satisfy Sawamoto’s curiosity about ages and again at CBS all the ORs wanted to know all about our age, size of boots etc.  One Pte who was the humorist of the party spent a long time telling us how much better small people were at various things than large people.  In the flat there were 3 other medical officers and they ran through the same group of inquisitive questions.  The conversation was in English German and Jap (through Kerr).  Got back eventually by car about 2200 in a slight drizzle.  Streets deserted, lanterns near every corner with Wang Ching Wei sentries.  Had a bun and jam on return and so to bed

Up early and got Scriven moving about sanitation of the dysentery cases.  Brit Hosp has 21 cases, Brit Isolation 36 cases, Indian 130 cases.  Rice for bkfst and what was left over fried with sardines and raisins for lunch.  Jap Lt General came this a.m. but did not want to go near the hospitals.  Apparently our General got nothing out of him at all.  He simply said we must have patience.  Camp a bit cleaner today.  Sappers fixed up water and lavatories in our quarters in the hospital.  Washed shirt, underpants, vest and socks.  In afternoon Chinese were segregated, rumour had it that they were being disbanded but they were just removed to another part of the camp and wired in.  Lee got out again and I managed to get his kit out.  Decided to wait until tomorrow and then try.  At night thought that best thing would be to walk along breakwater wall at low tide and swim the rest putting pack etc on a raft.  Will try and contact the Lance Bombadier to see if he would be willing to swim for it.


Bitterly cold night last night with a biting wind;  very difficult to get any sleep at all; wired bags and strapped clothes over windows but still the cold blew in.  Went round the hospitals this a.m. with Brigadier and then were visited by a Jap Colonel, who told us that the dysentery was our fault and that we had to stop it at once.  We replied that we had nothing to stop it with and he said the Jap Army was very strict about these things and we had to do as we were told.  We had to put barbed wire around the dysentery hospitals but it just annoyed them when I said that that would not stop the flies.  We asked for fittings for the latrine pans, mag sulph, lime, creosote etc but they replied that the Jap army was very busy and they would give it to us when they could get it.  Lime was promised at 1 p.m. today.  Had long talk with Morley and Davis and they are inclined to have a shot at it.  Lee made contact with boat coming back at 9.30 pm. tonight.  Had to speak to Naval Cmdr for nearly spoiling Lee’s contact.  Boat for Lee turned up about 18.30 instead of 2100.  It was still very light and attracted a lot of attention.  Just after 1945 when it was just dark got Lee’s things out for him and then he waited his chance and called the boat across.  Another naval man nearly spoilt things by standing there and watching.  I had to ask him to come away as we were expecting a message through.  Everything went off successfully and Davis and I waited till 2020 when all was clear.  Then returned and packed.  Gave Morley the Red Cross Haversack.  Had 2 ½  biscuits with butter and jam before turning in.  In bed by 2145.


No wind last night and slept fairly comfortably.  When shall I sleep in a bed again.  Thought hard about our plans last night and now feel we should go on the south side of the hills on account of the barbed wire.  Inspected the isolation hospitals with the Brigadier and again with the General.  Still in a filthy condition.  Japs ordered us to put barbed wire around Indian hospital;  moving all serious Indian cases over there.  Met Morley and Davis at 10 and again at one p.m.  Saw Simson at the gate about noon.  He thinks the total wounded must be about 1700.  There are about 2500 prisoners at North Point and they are in a very bad condition, getting no food and they have to go out and pick up what they can at the various food dumps.  When that is finished they do not know what will happen.  Everybody at the hospitals O.K.  Most of the civilians are virtually prisoners including the C.S.  At conference warned of the consequences of trying to escape, after the unsuccessful attempt of the Mx pte.  Nothing could be done thro’ the Japs today because they were all in a flap about the General’s visit.  They demanded that we get 150 beds for the hospital and blankets.  I said we had none and could they provide and we should do the spit and polish.  Answer of course was no.  We had to provide from the other units that had beds.  I said it was imposs and there the matter ended.  The G’s visit was in matter of fact an awful fizzle.  About 25 cars and 5 lorries c [with] soldiers and Bren guns.  They lined up on the parade ground with all their officers our G and Commodore, had a photo taken … [illegible] said something and off they went.  I spent the time discussing affairs with Morley and Davis.  Packed in afternoon, in the end had to leave the little leather attaché case that has been with me so much.  Told the rest of the officers that I was expecting to get off that night.  Crawford thought it was 10 to 1 against me;  Robertson “Good lord whatever for and where on earth would you go to ?”  The rest of them “Good luck”.  At about 7.30 saw Davis for final talk about food etc.  Sold his tobacco to Coombes.  Had biscuit and bun and some jam and also some rice.  Atmosphere rather tense.  Purves, Taylor, Crawford, Robertson, Gray all there.  Gave instructions what to do when found [out] but did not think of saying I was dead of dysentery and buried.  Hope Crawford thinks of it.  Went to see General and Brig but they were busy.  About 830 Morley came to say there was a sampan there.  I hurried out and sure enough there it was but there were a number of inquisitive sailors at the corner one especially.  At last I had to go up and say I was expecting communication from outside and would he mind going away which he obligingly did.  Lee was aboard and he assured me that there were no Nips along the road.  I gave the tip to the others and off we went for our kits.  I had no time for goodbyes just dashed in said Cheerio and was off with a good luck from Crawford and Albert.  Again some sailors had collected at the wire and I had to get them to leave.  We got aboard but of course the boat was weighed down too much and was too heavily aground to move her.  It seemed ages before the boatman got us out and then the phosphorescence was so bright, it seemed as though I had never seen it so bright and that we should be given away by it easily.  We lay crouching together in the bottom of the boat as we passed slowly along the breakwater;  as we turned in we were ordered to lie still and not speak.  He threaded us in and out and eventually we grounded on a sandy beach where the phos was brighter than ever.  Each wavelet seemed to switch on myriads of tiny electric lights and each footfall on the beach another.  $10 each was paid over, we got up our bundles and off we went.