W J Carrie's wartime diary: View pages | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

W J Carrie's wartime diary: View pages

Dearest,       Another month started and we can't see the end yet - it may be a long time yet but still we hope on.  I've started to write separately a synopsis* of our first 6 months (*insert [I never got on with this] above line) - it can only be headings as it's quite impossible to write  here - lack of privacy and really I'm not able to sit up at table for very long at a time.  Glover's going has made things more comfortable here but it has made me much more lonely - if I start to think too much then I can't sleep at night!  I was very depressed yesterday but I'll soon perk up again.  I do wish I could hear from you or about you.  Glover is going to try from Shanghai.  I would give anything to know where you are and how you are faring.  

Cheero just now.      Billie

Christine Ross died two days ago - I arranged everything of course and had a Cadet bearer party.

Weighed myself again today - a little down, I think, but very little  - 130   1/2 lbs.  Very bored with everything.  No word from Glover yet.

24 years ago!  Surely we'll be able to celebrate our Silver Wedding together.  We have had so much separation the last 8 years - over 5 years apart and in the last 3 years only 4 months together.  I wonder where we'll meet.  Things are going as well as can be expected but I feel it will be some time yet before we are free.          All my love always     L.O.   Darling.   Billie.

I was weighed  again on the 15th - 134 lbs which is better but I have been terribly "down" the last little while and am also suffering  from what I had operated on in Vict. Hosp in Feb 1933.  I had a letter from Glover and he can't get in touch with Alice.  I'm trying again the International Red Cross. I get so depressed not knowing anything about you - some people here have had news so I hope to hear some time.  I'm having a "blood count" tomorrow and if I am really down I may go into hospital for a rest cure!  I had my second Cholera injection yesterday - it didn't trouble me.

All my love.   Billie

I should have been in hospital tonight - the blood count was bad and Smalley's certificate describes me as having "acute anaemia"   I saw Greaves' certificate too - Haemoglobin 52%. Red Corpuscles 2,270,000 in place of the usual 5 million.  I fixed up a bed yesterday and got all ready but I heard at 11 that they had to admit an emergency case - poor old Bellamy has a septic foot  and is threatened with general septicaemia.

So I'll go in on Tuesday the 22nd and I'm going  to feed up when I'm there even though  a tin of "bully"  costs H$10 and 6 oz Carnation milk H$7.  Rest and extra food will soon put me right I'm sure. 

 A.I.A.W      B.B.

Well I eventually came in a week ago today and I'm feeling a lot better.  I have a small bottle of milk every day and I'm eating extra meat and now sardines.  I get an iron tonic and now I've started on Hepetex.  I've already paid H$60 to get some Hepetex injections but they haven't come yet.  I think I'll soon pull up though I feel a bit tired today.       

Cheero Honey       B

I feel a bit better but the blood count is not so good Haemoglobin is up to 58% but the count is down to 2,180,000.  Drugs that might be helpful are unobtainable - or in some cases beyond my purse! But I'm feeling better so I don't worry.  A ship came in from Lourenco Marques 3 days ago said to have 1000 tons of parcels for prisoners. I wonder if Edith would ever think of sending anything - or perhaps she wouldn't hear about it.  We've had a bit of a typhoon blow since so unloading has no doubt been delayed.  A letter would be better than anything - if it told me where you are.     AMLAML.    B.

Well the blood count is now ever so much better Haemoglobin 62% and count up to 2,900,000 - so I am really on the mend.  I haven't got my proper injections yet either so when they come I'll soon shoot up to normal.  No word about you yet and I worry all the time - I can't sleep much and so I think of you all and the appalling mess  we have got into But will clear it all up some day.         All my love B.

Tues   Well I was chucked out of hospital last Thursday - I'd been in 3 weeks and a day.  I didn't feel quite ready to go but they need the beds badly.  I had another blood count on Saturday - good - count up to 3,050,000 and Haemoglobin 70%.  Then I had an injection of Parnaemon - a very fine Dutch liver extract stuff so I hope to show excellent results next Monday or so.   I have been promised another bottle of Hepetex too so that should do me good.  I got an International Red Cross letter form today and have sent it to Jimmie Blair to try and get news of you.  I am feeling stronger in myself which is all to the good - my back aches a good deal still, however.               Today is Edie's birthday.
  It can't be long now Darling      All my love.   B.

Another new month. I didn't write last week as I was disappointed - the blood count was no better despite my injection. I had another then and this time it was sore - very sore and ached all Saturday night and Sunday. This week the blood count is up to 3,340,000 with Haemoglobin a good 7%+. I'm to stay on the Diet Kitchen for another week. I didn't have another injection as Smalley thinks they haven't had their full effect yet.

The offensive has started at last - last Sunday night the planes came for the first time. I saw nothing but lots of people saw the fireworks - "flaming onions" etc. But we all saw them on Monday - we hear they have completely knocked out Taikoo Docks and slipways which were captured intact. So now we are hopeful that the end is in sight.

We have 2 other items of good cheer - we each got H$26 from the British Residents Assoc. of Shanghai the other day (I had to pay out to all our lot being Treasurer for the "Indian Quarters" and I had to handle H$12,500.) Then Comfort Parcels are on their way and we may get them tomorrow - we hear they are full of good "eats".

Well I have to go to attend to my washing so goodnight.

AIAW. Billie

Cheers Today    Haemoglobin is up to 80% and Count to 4,260,000

I didn't write any more that day for though I had that cheering news I felt like death! and haven't been much better ever since. (I was interrupted here by Dora and then had to go to Perdue's - it was his birthday for Coffee - it is now Sunday 22/11/42

I am really all better now - I had horrid gastritis and am sure it was just because I was trying to "feed up". It was rotten while it lasted - for a while I had to go off rice altogether - I got such awful fermentation and belched rotten eggs at one end and could have filled a Zeppelin at the other! Early on Smalley gave me Streptocide - that stopped it at once but it started again the next day.

I am feeling all right now. Our Red Cross Parcel was perfect - a slab of Chocolate, 1 tin Boiled Beef and carrots and Dumplings, Galantine, Bacon, Margarine, Jam, Biscuits, Cheese, Potted Meat, Creamed Rice (Rice in thick Devonshire Cream - luscious!) a Jam Pudding, Condensed Milk and some Tea and Sugar. It fairly put me on my feet again - then there is some bulk stuff - we are to get sugar, tea, cocoa, dried fruits and bully beef. The issue is being spaced out to last till the end of March.

Then the news is splendid. The landings in North Africa have stirred us and the latest battle in the Solomons. It can't be so very long now.

I had one awful disappointment however this week - some letters arrived from home but none for me. I hear Ben Evans heard from his sister that Margot is in England but no letter from Margot. I am sure lots have gone astray. If a letter is too long or is not very legibly written - almost printed - the Jap Censors just don't bother about it and there it lies. I wish Edith had written - I hear it was announced over the wireless last July (all the letters are dated early in July) that a mail was going to Lourenco Marques and would reach H.K. but she may not have heard it. Well I must just still have patience. Dora's birthday was yesterday - I gave her a cake of toilet soap - much sought after and very expensive now but I have two or 3 cakes yet. I had a coffee and cake with her at 10.30am! Bertie sent a cake in to her - how he did it D.O.K.

Bombers have been over H.K. again today and we wonder when the offensive about here will start. We hope they don't hit the power station - so much of our cooking is done by electricity.

Goodnight L.O. AMLA B.B.

Dearest - A year ago today our world tumbled about our ears and we are still waiting.

Adored - a lovely letter arrived from you today and at last I know where you are. 

It is marked No4 - I haven't received the first 3 and you know Darling I'm quite sure this one has been lying in H.K. since last October.  It must have come by the Kamakura Maru which brought all our Red Cross parcels etc. and arrived here on 3rd October.  We only got our parcels by the middle of November and some letters came in then too.  Harry Butters had one then dated July 17th and yours is of July 3rd.  There are probably hundreds more still in H.K. and they just won't bother about them - I think they have one man censoring them. There are so few Japanese who can read English.

It is so lovely - I can now think of you properly - picture you in your little house in Nile Grove - shopping round about Morningside Station and so forth.  It is now 8.30pm and I am having some nice hot cocoa as a nightcap  we are on Tokyo time 9 hours ahead of  you so it's only 11.30am with you.  I never knew where you might be - as you'll have seen I thought of India, Australia or even South Africa.  But I did really think of you at 9am on 1st  January - I am sure you were thinking of me then.

I was washing the dishes after tiffin today when Tom Martin came in with your letter - oh! the excitement.  I had barely finished it when Dora came in - she'd had a letter from Mrs MacCallum (Maggie) and it she wrote. "I see Mrs Carrie often - she has such a nice family" so Dora rushed along to tell me.  I have told everybody almost of interest - I went up and saw Lin, she was sleeping, so I went back later and had a cup of tea and two small pieces of bread and jam - very special. Everybody was so interested  And what a relief! I just couldn't write before - when I sat down to write the whole position was so terrible that I just had to stop and go and do something. I started as you see on 8th Dec to write and then had to stop - I couldn't write at Christmas time or the New Year but now I must try and write oftener.

I am so happy too at your news. You left Singapore earlier than I expected - I am so glad you went straight home - far better than to Dacca or anywhere else. I am so pleased that Joy has been able to start her medical career and Ian is back at the Academy. But what's this about the Navy! Does he want that as a career or is it only for the war? He might choose a worse career - still there is so much separation for a Naval officer and I wanted to spare him that! You don't think of it when you are young.

And how lucky to have Grannie with you - I am so glad you have got home to look after her too. I hope the C.O. is paying you enough - there used to be a Gen. Order that "Family Remittances" could not exceed half pay but I think that is all abolished.

My memory is terrible these days - I can't remember who "Pam" is - it must be somebody very dear to you if you are prepared to run up to London to see her but I can't remember who she is. It was so nice to see the kiddies "fists" again and yours too of course. Joy did very well in her London Matric. So C.M. is in W.A. now - is she going to be a teacher or what?

You must be pretty busy with only a daily maid for I expect your mother will need some looking after. I wonder how long you have the house for - will it do for me when I get home - I mean is there room? When oh! When will I get home? You have a dog and cat too - poor Betsy had to go of course. I wonder when I'll get your other letters and perhaps a parcel - not till we are relieved I expect. We get the H.K. News - full of Japanese propaganda of course but we can read between the lines and we get some fairly accurate news now. The Russians are doing splendidly and we feel the war in Europe will be over this year sometime. Then the show will really start out here. Sometimes we are optimistic and think we may be out before the summer - I am afraid it may go on till next Autumn and winter. I do so want to be home by August too ! - fancy being separated on our Silver Wedding. We must just hope on.

Glover has been very good since he got back to Shanghai - he sends 50 Military Yen every month - I give half to the H.K. [? Kelly and Walsh man] (Popple) so I have 25. Exchange is H$4 to 1 Military Yen - quite fantastic of course so I get H$100. Prices are outrageous of course. I sometimes buy Skim Milk Powder - it costs H$28 a lb! Cigarettes which normally cost 6 - 7 cents for 10 now cost 60 cents and they are very scarce.

I have had a few parcels in from town - I've kept a list and will show it to you some day and I had some money too from a K Chan - D.O.K. who he is and today 6 Yen from the wife of one of the former Chinese Sanitary Inspectors who is in Macao. The weather has been very kind to us all summer - Stanley is a wonderfully cool place - mosquitoes were kept down and we had little malaria. Deaths have been comparatively few. Recently when we had a spell of cold weather with the N.E. monsoon blowing hard - 46 F on the next door verandah but I have warm clothing - we got 4 cardigans made of khaki cloth and some other things from the Red Cross consignment. We got 2lbs sugar and 8 tins of bully and M and V (meat and veg ration - the old Maconachie) every month so with our other rations we are not so badly off now. But I can't eat much rice yet - I get horrible heartburn when I do. I must really stop now. I'll write more again.

All my love always   Billie

Many Happy Returns, Darling.  I wished them to you at 4pm (7am with you) when I thought you would be awake and I have been thinking of you ever since. 

It is amazing how the news that I had got a letter from you was all round the Camp in a few hours and I had to tell the story to hundreds within the next 24 hours.

My back is very sore tonight so I hope you will excuse me writing  - it has been bad for the last few days, that is why I haven't written - I must try and conserve my energy.           AIAW.    B.B.

I haven't written for a week.  My back has been horrid - I don't know what causes it, lack of fats I think.  But it's better again.  I have had 2 lovely parcels this week, one from a Margaret Guttinger (Dora knows her - she of course just lends her name as a "cover" - I think it's the gentleman whose wife travelled to Singapore with you - No, it's not) - 1 tin of bully, 2 lbs sugar, a cake of Carbolic Soap, facetowel, toothbrush and toothpaste.  The latter I've no use for so I gave it to Dora.  Another parcel from the Informal Welfare Comm (Selwyn Clarke's show) - 1 tin Jam, and of Pineapple Crush, Grapefruit, Tomatoes, and Vegetables. I made a glorious stew of the Veg which were green peas and diced carrots and a tin of bully. The Grapefruit, half the pineapple crush with 1 lb sugar, a whole fresh orange, rind and all, and the rind of another orange and two small pieces of ginger I got from Lynne Jones - I have made the most glorious marmalade.  We are terribly short of things to spread on our bread.  I buy peanuts at the Canteen, roast them and grind them  (Johnny Farr has a machine) and make lovely peanut butter.  I'll make it for you when I get home. It's really good and full of vitamins.

I wrote this morning - tonight I've had another parcel from Mrs Kan Tong  Po Jam, Condensed Milk, 1 lb Coffee, 1 tin Braised Pork and some Chinese Rice Biscuits - very good. 

I think this is the 32nd Anniversary of my first "popping the question" in that little back room in Gilmore Place.  You remember I once thought the 23rd was your birthday, and you were so cross with me - I knew it was a date of some importance!  We have been promised more mail which is said to be in Tokyo - so I hope to get another letter soon.

I had to stop there - I've had some men in seeing me.  I am the member of Committee for the Indian Quarters in charge of the kitchen - as well as Treasurer - and so I have quite a lot to do. 
I won't go on any more therefore tonight.    Goodnight   L.O.

It was our turn for the Canteen this morning so I have been busy buying sugar and peanuts etc.  This afternoon is free so I thought I'd write a little. There is a Concert on tonight and I have a ticket for tonight - we have all got different coloured  tickets and can then only go on the night that colour is drawn for.  I may go if I can get away early enough to get a seat - I couldn't stand all that time!

What stories I'll have to tell you when I get back - I hope I get away soon - I'd like you to see me before I get fat again - I hope I never do but fear that will be impossible.  We have been teetotal of course for over a year now.  Tomorrow is exactly one year since we came here and Saturday the 30th is the anniversary of coming  to this room.  Fancy a whole year in this little cell!  But we have a lot to be thankful for - camp bed and a mattress sufficient blankets, 2 sheets 2 pillows and our old quilt. So I am always warm and comfortable at night.  My sheets and pillows are usually filthy - I have just had them washed so they are nice just now but they don't stay long clean and white and we haven't sufficient soap to wash them often. We must keep it for our clothes.  I'll be so glad to get back to a nice clean bed.  And of course I haven't had a bath for over a year - I mean a lie down bath. How I long for one! We wash Chinese fashion, standing up, with a cloth and then I pour the basin over myself!!  To wallow in a nice warm bath would be lovely.

We are beginning to wonder if they will try and take us all to Formosa or Japan.  They have taken a lot of the troops away - I hope they leave us here          So Cheero again Darling. News is better than ever - Germany must crumple up soon.          A.I.A.W.   B.

This paper is nearly finished now - it has lasted  fairly well.  I've got some other stuff now and can always get some at the C.S.O.

I see I mentioned my bed yesterday - I don't mind tidying it up in the morning, folding the blankets and sheets and making a nice pile at the top at against which I lean as I write or read but when you are ready to turn in and have to set to and make your bed first - I get so fed up with it all and long for a nice big bed just to go to!  Someday soon I hope but even when we get out of here it will be camp beds for a long time I fear - all our furniture has been looted and most broken up for firewood!  Then it will be a bunk on board ship so I don't expect to have a decent bed till I get home.  Then perhaps I won't be lonely either!

After giving up my ticket for the Concert last night to a man who could only go last night for a ticket for tomorrow night - the Concert has been cancelled by the Japanese authorities - there was a "patriotic" finale which they took exception to.  So I have been done out of it.  I'm just in from a Committee meeting.  Another nice parcel tonight again from Margaret Guttinger - 3 oranges, half lb Coffee half lb Tea 1lb Sugar and a tin of Condensed Milk.  It's very good of "her."  The sugar is specially welcome as we were out altogether one day until the Canteen yesterday  and our Feb issue next Monday. 

I've no news today so I'll shut up.       All my love.   BB.

Naturally I am thinking of Joy's birthday tomorrow.  My "programme of thinks" is as follows: - I'm always  awake and up by 7 or a little past - that is 10pm the night before with you and I think of you sitting by the fireside or getting off to bed.  Then I usually try for 40 winks after our midday meal - I always rest a little but rarely fall off - so I think of you then - that is 12.30 - 1.30 or so - the middle of the night with you. Then I start thinking again at 4 (7am with you) when you will be getting up I expect and I can continue thinking of you till I go to bed.  I usually turn in at 10, read a little and lights out at 11 - that is 1-2 with you so I think of you at tiffin.  Of course my thoughts are tinged with memories of McLaren Road - I wish I knew the layout of 9 Nile Grove and could really picture you properly.

(my last sheet of this paper) - I've never had a pad for so long in all my life!

Mrs Cock (Teeny) said to me today when I happened to meet her that I was looking very well but very thin.  I am very well but there is not an ounce of fat on me now - I weighed myself again a few days ago and with winter clothes on I was 138lbs - a little under what I should be. I remember in the '20s when I used to weigh myself in the Club I fluctuated between 140 and 146 - then of course after 1929 and my illness I put on fat.  I never played tennis much after that.

The Japs claim another naval victory in the Solomons - we haven't heard any other story.  I suppose we must have lost some ships but I hope the Yanks weren't caught napping again.  

I'm very busy these days with all sorts of Committees and Discussion Groups - planning.  It's good mental exercise if nothing more.           So Cheero again Darling.    Billie.