08 Dec 1941, W J Carrie's wartime diary | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

08 Dec 1941, W J Carrie's wartime diary

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Date(s) of events described: 
Mon, 8 Dec 1941


What a day I’ve had- my back’s broken!  And my feet ache but I have got things going.

I sent off a letter today but D.O.K. [devil only knows] when it will reach you - I’m so glad I got my parcel off – it would go on the same ship as N.L. is on.  I do so hope it will arrive safely – there is a wee extra [?HK10 Straits] in my letter today for Ian.  I don’t know when that will arrive - it will just equalise things with Joy.  But you mustn’t worry now darling if you don’t get letters - I’ll send a wire soon - I didn’t try to send one today - it seemed rather futile and perhaps a little unpatriotic for the wires are clogged with official messages. But I will send one soon.

I am going to start a diary  - on this paper – and will send it to you when I can but it will be just  be dry  stuff so I will keep it separate from my letter.

We had [?L.G.] this afternoon  - just the swearing in of the C.S. [Colonial Secretary] and a few nice words from H.E. [His Excellency] about the war.  I had a talk with Gimson - he hasn’t changed much, and I think is rather nice.

I have just heard that they have landed at [?Singora] and also perhaps in Borneo.  Here we had another raid at 1.30, and the planes sailed back and forward - they were really only on reconnaissance – not a shell went near them and they were quite low.  I hope our guns shoot a bit better soon, and that we will get a few planes to meet them in fair combat.

Wireless is on “The Very Thought of You” – means everything – the longing Dear for you – my love.

Well Darling- anyway I am thankful now that you are not in H.K. – at least the bairns – you and I would face anything together but then Darling we couldn’t be together all the time and you would worry more than ever. And you’ve had casualties in Singapore too. The only ones reported to me so far are 28 Chinese in Singapore. I have heard lots of stories but no reports have come through yet. The telephone system has of course been chaos all day. But I have manned most of my posts. I have had lots of good assistants – Sedgwick, Naismith, Teesdale and now Barnett – they made marvellous plans but went off and left me with the plans and no staff to carry them out. I’m 50% short but I called on my Clerks to fill the gap until I can recruit additional staff. They are as splendid crowd and not a man fell out – all they ask for was steel helmets – I promised them at once and being friendly with Puckle – Ian B??’s successor – I got them at once. But there are no “conveniences” in the Tunnels yet and I got a frantic message this morning to open up the Pen shelters which we had had to lock up to prevent them from being used as latrines! I have 6,000 buckets on order and 1,000 large containers for “wee wee” but none have been delivered yet and my order went in a month ago.

Oh Darling it is grim but we must try and see the humour of things or one would go “bats”.  I was making a joke today (I’ve been told that 17 persons will be billeted on me) that when I went home tonight I expected to find 17 blondes all ready!!  I had told Julius Ring that I was partial to blondes!!  None have arrived so far!  I think you can trust your ‘old man’- anyway tonight if they had been here I am definitely too tired!!  I hope, Loved One, you will laugh with me over this – one must just joke on.

I think they will have a smack at us tonight - there is a moon – at least after midnight, and if they don’t try to smash the power station at North Point - then I’ll be surprised.  But really on the Peak we are absolutely safe except from a mistake.

Da - the phone went there – its been going every 5 minutes or so, but this was Ralston.  He was all alone - would I come over?  I said –No - I can’t leave my phone.  Could he come over?  Of course I said Yes - so he was here - till after 8.   Amah came here with the books - a bit worried - I said she could bring up as many of her relations as she liked.  So long as they kept quiet and didn’t show any lights at night.  I think Amah will look after that.  Have packed up a lot of stuff and I’ll do a lot more tomorrow before I go to office.  I’ve gone right off this diary idea – best forget the rude realities when they come along - I’ve told Amah not to be afraid - for it does no good. So too Darling – keep smiling.  I adore you as I have always for more than 30 years.


Yes, "pen" is the right spelling. Some of the air raid shelters were tunnels dug into the hillsides (see https://gwulo.com/air-raid-precaution-tunnels-in-hong-kong), while the pen shelters were built on flat land (see https://gwulo.com/taxonomy/term/582/photos-gallery).

Thanks David I'll edit it.

 N. L. would refer to Norman Lockhart Smith, Colonial Secretary. He left Hong Kong on 7 December on the Ulysses and was replaced by Gimson.