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

W J Carrie's wartime diary: View pages

Many Happy Returns  to Joy.  I thought of her at 10 past 4 - I am sure she would be up and about getting ready for her 'Varsity Classes.  Very cold and bleak today so I stay in as much as possible.       No news.                      AMLAML.     B.

It has got much colder again after 2 days of muggy drizzly weather.  Friday 5th was C. N. Y. - again this year as 19 years ago the day after Joy's birthday.  I had a terrible day yesterday.  We have at last got a little allowance - it's supposed to be 20 Military Yen for all over 12, and Y 10 for those under 12 but the I.R.C. delegate miscalculated  and only sent enough for Y15.  I had to pay out to all in I.Q. - 743 persons - totally Y10,835 - and I had awful trouble as I hadn't enough 5 Yen notes.  I let the Police pay themselves and so got rid of Y3,300.  When I totted up at the end I thought I was down 10 or 15 Yen and if I was I'd have lost my own allowance.  And as each Yen is supposed to equal $H.K.4 it was a hefty loss.  I went to bed last night very unhappy and it wasn't till this morning that I found out my little mistake in subtraction!

I am going to have coffee or Cocoa with Dora tonight and perhaps play bridge. I play very little - I can't be bothered. 

All my love    L.O.   B.


Here's my new paper - I hope the ink doesn't show through too badly.

I've been very busy since I last wrote.  At last we are getting an allowance and some 40,000 Yen came in.  The I.Q. are about one third of the Camp so I was responsible for paying out Y10,835.  I had an awful scare on Saturday night and went to bed rather unhappy as I thought I was 10 or perhaps 15 Yen out and as 1 Yen = H$4 - it was no mean sum, in fact the whole of my allowance.  However on Sunday I found the discrepancy and all was well.  I'll tell you the whole story some day.

I'm on a big Discussion Group these days and on two Sub-Committees of it which is very interesting but take up a good deal of one's time.  News from Russia is still very good but elsewhere things seem to have slowed up a bit and we are so weary of waiting.

I have been persuaded to stand for election to the Community Council - I'll tell you my reasons some day.  It will be a little feather in my cap if I do get in but I'm not worrying. It's another thing to interest one - that's all.

No more letters yet - it is so mean of them to sit on them all this time - what good does it do them? - no parcels either.  Cigs are very scarce again too so I am a little cross!  But on the whole we keep fairly cheery and bright.  The weather is lovely - pretty cold but a lovely bright sun.          All my love always    B.

I haven't written for a week but have been very busy with lots of things.  The election for the Camp Council was today and I topped the poll with 169 votes. Terry 131, Ian Fleming 129, a man Barker 111 and Miss Ward (Matron of Nethersole) 96.  I'll write more fully again. My back is sore a little again tonight.    B

((The only Mr Barker I see on the Stanley list is Walter Daniel Barker.))

I used to try and write in the evenings but every evening is full up now.   A Discussion Group on Mondays, I.Q. Committee Tuesdays, Committee of D.G. [Discussion Group] on Thursdays, I.Q. Committee again on Fridays, then I have meetings every afternoon except Thursdays and Saturdays.  It's all quite interesting but it ties one down a bit.

We had another election last Saturday for the Indian Quarters Committee - I nominated Perdue and he nearly topped the poll.  All my candidates got in - Pentreath 263 Perdue 262 Miss Ward 232 and Bevan  215 - then (unsuccessful) Pegg 125 Dr Forbes 104 and Duckworth 101.  We have quite a good Committee - Terry and I are ex officio members.  Pentreath is Chairman again - I am Vice Chairman and Treasurer and I have also been put on the Canteen Management Committee as representative of the B.C.C. (the Community Council) - and also on the qt. as watchdog for the Govt..  I like the Discussion Group too though I get bored with it at times.

I had a terrible day on Saturday - I was on kitchen Guard on Friday night so had very little sleep - then I had to pay out the balance  of our monthly pocket money - 5Yen to everybody some Y3,400.  I went along and saw Balean in the evening to pay him as he had moved his quarters and been missed out early in the day.  He remarked " - You look very tired".  It really is amazing - how little knocks you up.  I was O.K. again on Sunday of course after a glorious sleep.  We are being half starved again - there is no meat in H.K. now so we get a little fish and veg only - and of course rice. But what is 200 lbs of fish (including heads, tails, bones etc) among 750 people of which 220 are hefty policemen - and that's for 24 hours.  If we didn't have some of our Red Cross Stuff we'd be in a bad way.  But we can't open a tin every day. We got 4 tins M & V and 2 tins Bully at the beginning of the month, so for Fisher and myself that is 12 tins - the M & V only does one meal and the Bully 2 - so there is only 16 meals for the month. We can't keep the fish overnight so sometimes tiffin consists of a little rice and a very little Chinese "cabbage".  The reason is that the Japs are limited in the amount of money they can spend on feeding us.  We have pointed out dozens of times how absurd this is and Gimson has stated again and again that the Govt. will repay them - but so far no good.  We have asked them to refer it to Tokyo and appealed to the International Red Cross Delegate.  It will be worse later on I expect - that's why I have a dozen tins of bully safely hidden away!  Sugar too is scarce and oils - but we have just had a special "issue" - 3/4 lb Lard each.  We eat it on toast with salt sprinkled on top - and it's quite good. But we'd have been horrified at it in the old days.  Cocoa is running out too but we hope a relief ship will come before the end of March.

We heard yesterday that Alabaster was knighted in the New Year's Honours of 1942.  He himself knew on Dec 1941 but couldn't tell anybody.

Cheerio Darling
All my love     B.

It's just 4pm   - 7am with you and I suppose even on Sunday you'll be up or getting up. This is the end of another month and still we can see no signs of deliverance. Only in Russia is any progress being made - we seem terribly tied up in North Africa and because of that, I suppose, nothing seems to be going on in Burma or in the South. We are so tired of waiting but we must just have patience and carry on.

Later now 6pm.  -  9am with you. I got a bit depressed when I thought of you all and started writing - but what's the use?

I stopped again last night - it seems clear that there is no hope of relief this Spring and if we are relieved before Christmas we shall be lucky. It's a long way ahead and it is such a shame that we should be separated on Aug 31st. If we could only communicate in any way - even if I could persuade the Red Cross Delegate to send you a cable or wireless - I've no money to pay for it.

We must be patient.   Cheerio Darling   B

I haven't tried to write for sometime. The last few days the Camp has been buzzing with rumours of repatriation. The Japs have asked for a list of Canadians and also those with near relatives in Canada and so it is thought that possibly a boat is going to Canada. I hope others will be allowed to go as well - some perhaps to Australia and some home. We might yet be together for our Silver wedding - I have been building castles in the air! We must get some food soon - they have cut our rations again. We used to get 6oz of flour daily - that is now down to 2. We have a small reserve which enables us to have 3 1/2 oz but that will only last a couple of months. We are getting no meat - only a little fish, so if it wasn't for our Red Cross store of bully we'd be in a very bad way. And while we got through a period of serious starvation in Feb and March last year we haven't made up for what we lost in 9 months of low fare last year. - with our "Comfort" parcels and the Red Cross bulk goods we have made up something but we are all less able to stand privation now than we were a year ago. We hope relief will come - I am sure it will - or else repatriation. So we keep cheerful. No money just now.  B.

It is 9a.m. with you now but I was only thinking of our laddie - I can't call him "wee" now. It was 3.30 with us - 6.30am with you - and I have been thinking of him all evening. - wondering what he is doing. I am not very keen on this Navy idea as a career - influence plays such a part - and many a man is axed as a Lieut. Com. at 45 or so - no money, perhaps a wife and kids, a meagre pension and what is he to do at that age? And there is always such a lot of separation. However it won't be too late to consider it all again after the war.

No more news here. Rosie Spry looked in and it is now nearly 9p.m. - noon with you. She looks very old now. - I think we all do. - Hammie and Whyte-Smith are old old men now. I'll shut up now and read a little. I have just had "The Son of Man" by Emil Ludwig - very interesting but I didn't care for it very much.    

Goodnight  L.O.  AIAW   Your  B.B.

Well I have had a busy week. We had a special meeting of the B.C.C. at 9.30 on Wed and then we all went up in a body to see Maiyima, the representative of the Jap Foreign Office. He was coldly polite and told us we had no right to anything more than all the other inhabitants of H.K. have. They recognise a duty to feed prisoners of war but not civilian internees. As Newbigging said to him - then all we have to do is to die of slow starvation. We gave him graphs of our rations, showing how they have never reached the proper standard for calories or proteins and how bad they are now. 12oz of Rice a day are of no value when only a few people can digest more than 8oz. One day our ration of "meat" for 24 hours was one duck's egg!  Dean Smith showed him a graph of the incidence of nutritional diseases, how they fell off when we got the Red Cross Supplies and then how they have started to rise rapidly again. Five people have gone completely blind and some 21 more are nearly blind and I am told that in all cases it is likely to be permanent.

I think we impressed him so there may be an improvement but he admitted they have no ships to bring beans from Tsingtau or Tientsin where there must be tons.

He brought with him our allowance for March so I was busy all Thursday paying out 18,061 Yen - 5,500 to the Police in one sum and the rest to individuals 25 Yen to each adult, 18.25 to children between 5 and 12 (all over 12) and 12.50 to each infant under 5 - quite a big job.

I have been feeling quite fit lately - sometimes I notice climbing stairs and so I was rather amazed when the other day when Mrs "Mike" Turner said I was doing too much, I looked tired. Well on Wednesday I didn't notice anything with my midday chow but in the evening it tasted as if it had been smothered in pepper. I looked at my tongue - pink and spruey! So now I had a blood count this morning and I am away back to what I was last October - this d----d anaemia Haemaglobin only 60% Red Corps Count 2,650,000. I haven't seen Smalley again - I will tomorrow. I saw him yesterday and he gave me a prescription for nicotinic acid. I still have a little Hepetex left and 1 ampoule of Pernaemon for injection, so I hope to get a boost up again soon and be able to carry on. I must take things a bit easier - but really I do very little that is tiring. I'm cross with myself for getting into this state again but it is very insidious - I never noticed it coming back again.

Churchill's speech last Sunday - that the war is going to last a long time yet - was interesting - I'm sure they will get us out of here soon.

So Cheero Darling.   B.

Adored.  Another month started and still nothing even approaching definiteness. You are never out of my thoughts but I can't write much. I think they'll get us out of here but when D.O.K. - I make a joke that I'll dance with you on our Silver Wedding - and have promised Dora to crack a bottle in the Caley Restaurant! - but we are all weary of waiting. Chow is still shocking - mere starvation diet - we got our last of the Red Cross stuff yesterday - 4 tins of bully each and 1/2 a small 8oz tin. - 2lbs sugar - we still have about 5 lbs of sugar each to come but nothing else. Fisher and I have 6 tins put away and have a private supply of 9 tins but that won't last long. I am buying eggs and fruit when I can.
They seem to be clearing up North Africa now - perhaps they will soon get going now. It will be a long business yet however.

I was wakened very early yesterday morning 5.15am - 8.15pm on 31/3 with you. I didn't sleep again and lay thinking of you. I wonder if you felt it!

I've had two injections of Heparmone and feel a bit better and got another today. My tongue and mouth are still very sore. I sent a p.c. to Bertie yesterday - we are now allowed to send special pcs to P. of W. - formerly only relatives could write.  He's all right now - they grafted skin on to his chest and for a while it was so tight he couldn't lift his arms but that has come right in the end.  I think they are being better fed than we are. 

Well I'll close again for a little.  All my love.    B.

Had a blood count again - good.  H.G. up to 72%  and RBC 3,240,000.  I'll be thinking of you all tomorrow!     B.

Well Honey I was awake early - a little before 7 and I thought of you perhaps going to bed or sitting in front of a fire listening to a wireless - I hope you have a set.  Then at 4.15 today - I was out on the hillside with Miss Spry - she put up the tea.  Sandwiches, bully and some fresh lettuce she was able to scrounge! and some scones.  We talked a lot about you all - she was wearing a nice brooch she said you had sent her.

Margery came along about 6 with a packet of cigarettes - she went off again as she had a party of young folks.  Dora came later and gave me 2 packets and Mrs Fairburn (Constance Bonell) gave me 1  - that's been all my loot!

I bought a jelly powder at the canteen and some Carnation Cream - I made the jelly last night but of course it didn't "jell" - However I got it put into the Diet Kitchen "frig" and it came out splendidly.  I sliced a banana and put the bits on top. - and we had coffee and biscuits.  Rosie Spry came too - I just asked her this afternoon - and Wynne-Jones came across to return my frying pan so he stayed too!  Last year we had pate de fois gras but the jelly was lovely.  It is now 8.45 - 11.45am with you - perhaps you're in Church - more likely seeing to the tiffin at home.  How I long to be with you.  I'm feeling much better - my "spruey" mouth is nearly gone.   So Cheero Darling
                    AIAW    Your BB

My Love, I hope we'll be able to laugh at it someday but this morning I'm in the mood to write a farewell letter!  We had a shock this week - Cressall the Puisne Judge died.  He caught "Landry's ascending paralysis" - it starts in your feet and goes right up.  He was eventually really suffocated or drowned in liquid in his own lungs which he couldn't cough up - an iron lung or oxygen might have helped.  He was a big strong man - though for the last few years he's played h-l with his constitution.  In Camp too.  He's been smoking innumerable cigarettes, homemade from filthy Chinese tobacco and I think he's also been getting vile alcohol - it's only crude spirits of  wine, coloured and sweetened.  and so all that may have caused the paralysis.  But we are all so semi starved that we might catch anything.  We are doing our best to let London know and the I.R.C. man had a wire from Geneva that there are "disquieting rumours" about our condition and asking for a report.  We must let them know how we are faring but I hate to think of you worrying your head off if you hear about it. A new man has come from Tokyo to be head of the Foreign Affairs Bureau here - he was Consul in Melbourne and was himself interned for 8 months.  Food has been a little better since he came but when our Red Cross supplies are finished at the end of this month the trouble is really going to start.  There are already 40 cases of semi blindness.

Personally I'm ever so much better again - my weight is up to 141 (some of it clothes) and I'm sure my blood count will be all right at the end of this week.  It's the whole general position that is so disquieting and disheartening - the C.S. is doing all he can and I know reports are going out though the Japs are stymieing the I.R.C. delegate in everyway they can.  We can't get money either but soon I fear there will be nothing to buy even.  Some more letters have come in but no more for me. - I have that one letter, No.4 too, of 3rd July last year which I got exactly 3 months ago and no more.  I've been reading it again -   I wish I could remember who "Pam" is - it couldn't be Miss Harrop who was sometimes called Pam - she escaped  into  Free China in Jan'42 and never was interned.  No no I do remember we christened somebody "Pam" - just as we had "Iron Biscuits" but who it was I can't remember.
I have had some lovely daydreams thinking of our reunion and then of course one wakens again to the dull world of a prisoner.  You'll probably find me changed a good deal - for the better I hope. 

Well now I'll stop again - with all my love always     B.

Dearest, I seem to choose Sunday for writing these days - no real reason.

Well blood count is up to 3,600,000 - not bad.  I had an injection on Wednesday - they had run out of Hypermore so I got Examen - very good stuff made by Glaxo Laboratories but it doesn't suit me.  I had it done soon after 2 and when it was over I walked up to the C.S.O. for our usual meeting of L.C.   I had to leave very soon, however, - I had what is called a "protein shock" - my face became the colour of beetroot and my eyes were popping out of my head!  It passed off in about 2-3 hours.  I had to have another injection today so he tried a drop or so just under my skin - it was quite clear that there is something in it to which I am allergic.  He didn't want to waste it however! - so I had half at first and lay down for 20 minutes, then the other half and I lay down again.  I felt a bit mouldy but I had very little reaction.  Next time I'm to have Permaemon, the Dutch stuff - not the double strength kind "Forte" - which I bought last October - and I still have one ampoule but the Simplex.  I hope I'm soon o.k. again I feel better and people say I look better.  

Still very little news.  North Africa seems nearly over but there is not much that we hear about elsewhere.  There are rumours of a Jap attack on Australia - I doubt if they could. Repatriation is still talked about but we have rather lost hope.  Food is a little better but soon we'll have none unless a food ship comes.

So we just keep keeping on!    B.

Adored, Letter No.5 of 12/7/42 has at last turned up with one from Joy.  No sign of Nos. 1, 2 and 3 yet or any later ones.  Though it's so long ago - it's lovely to get it.

I didn't write any more on Thursday - chow was a little early and then I had a meeting.  Yesterday was Good Friday and we had a holiday from Councils and Committees but I was lazy! -  I went to bed very early last night, had the light out at 10 and was soon asleep.  I haven't been sleeping well lately - it's funny I sleep so much better when it's cold weather. But last night I had a glorious sleep. I wakened - fully slept out - about 6.40 - 9.40pm on Good Friday with you and lay thinking of you till the kettle boiled for tea.  I wonder if you were thinking of me then!

Now for your letter.  He was a wise man that young officer in Joy's office who said you should get right home.  I am so grateful to him and to Weisberg too.  How interesting meeting McElderry and Nihill. It was decent of "Boyd" to cash you a cheque.  So T.D.F. calls now and then - "Be careful Baby!"  
Surely they'll let Joy start her medical course - she was amusing in her letter about Dr Carse, the Physics lecturer.  I hope you were able to get her away for a holiday though Edinburgh air would do you all good too.  You might have tried sending her to Coul at Aberfeldy - even just the two of them if you couldn't leave Grannie.  Joy tells me Norman is "a thing of the past" - jilted her first love!!

You don't tell me how Grannie is - perhaps you have in an earlier letter - I wish I knew.  So Joy and Alastair Batchelor have chummed up again - he's a nice boy I think.

Ian has a busy day - he must enjoy tennis after all the practice he had in Singapore.

I always think of you about 4p.m. - getting up as you say at 7am. You'll have a busy day always I'm sure.  I hope you have a decent daily maid.  I was so glad to read "we have enough of everything."

I have come to the conclusion that Pam is Miss Harrop - I don't know of anyone else who got away to whom I told that I thought you might go to Alice in India.

Joy tells me Reese is in Shetland and she expected him on leave soon.  Is she fond of him? 

Thank Joy for her letter - it was lovely getting it.  We have no news here - we think the African campaign must be over or nearly over now. - that should have a very good effect everywhere.  It is rumoured too that we have captured Pantaleria and landed at Palermo in Sicily.  So perhaps we are making good progress now.

It is lovely weather here now - warm but not hot yet.

  All my love       Billie.

Another month - I've had 15 months of it now in this tiny room.  Luckily we are still just 2 of us - I'd hate it if a new third man was put in but I couldn't complain.

Food has improved - our flour ration has been put up to 4.22oz per day so we'll get decent bread again.

Bathing starts today, and Hattori is in camp making an official opening of the beach but I haven't gone and I don't expect I'll ever bathe.  I've no costume for one thing.  Going back to food - there are no more Red Cross tins so Fisher and I have started on our reserve - only 6 tins - so we can only have one a week.  I have 4 more of my own.  Our money allowance has been stopped however and D.O.K. if we will get any more, so we can't buy things now. Dora has lent me 10 Yen and says I can have 10 more - Bertie can send money into her.  The Japs agree that soldiers must be paid but not civilians.
The weather has got really warm now but it's very pleasant in Stanley, and we only wear shorts and a shirt.  We had a blackout for several nights last week and that was rather unpleasant,  For they interpreted it so strictly that you could have SOME light and suffocate - or no light and then have air.  We went to bed very early.

I have had the Auditor (Bremner of Lowe Binghams) in this morning checking  my accounts - it's the end of another quarter.  I've done Treasurer for 9 months now.  I've no more news Honey so I'll shut up  I've just had my 200 word letter to you typed - we even mustn't write our signature!  Love.

I forgot blood count is better - 3,980,000 but Haemoglobin still only 67%.  The count is the number of red cells and the percentage is their redness!   I need more iron so I'm having a tonic.

I missed last Sunday - we had a P.S.A. meeting in the afternoon and then a sudden renewal of the blackout so I slipped up.  I've no news however.  I had a frightful fit of the blues for two days but I'm getting over it.  But what can one do? - poor chow and no money to supplement  it with.  I've borrowed HK$100 from Fisher - a HK$100 note he had.  He's not prepared to cash it when you only get 25 Yen for it.  I had another one last year in June - I've given him my cheque for £12.10/- for the two.  He does well out of it - gets the full prewar value of his dollars and I get a quarter only back!

Blood count again today - O.K.  H.G. 77% good but count is only 3,800,000 - but that's all right.

It has hotted up now and we have blazing days but the nights are still fairly cool.  

Cheero Darling      B.

Sunday again but no news.  Churchill's broadcast and speech to the American Senate were interesting - we got snippets in the HK News.  The No.2 in the Foreign Affairs Bureau has been off to Tokyo - about a money allowance to us we hope.  A wire came from him a few days ago that he'll be back next Friday "with good news" - so we are hopeful!          Cheerio     Billie.