Memories of a Japanese Internment Camp

Submitted by JKelly on Sat, 10/16/2021 - 22:05

Margaret E. Jay describes her experiences in the Stanley Internment Camp during WWII in Hong Kong.



By Margaret E. Jay (Martin)

It is November of 1947 as I write this on board the General Meigs on our way back to China.  Exactly eleven years ago we were on this same voyage arriving in Hong Kong for the first time in November of 1936. Naturally, at such a time, memory becomes active and recalls vivid pictures of events which had grown dim amidst all the familiar happenings of life in the homeland. How wonderful it seems to be returning “free” to the place where for nearly four years I was held as a prisoner-of-war. How grand a thing freedom is! Only those who have been held captive through long weary years can fully appreciate it! Memory reminds me of the numerous times during those years of captivity when freedom seemed to be so desperately essential and yet so utterly impossible of attainment. But God who hears and answers prayer performed the impossible for He brought deliverance. After two wonderful years of freedom, family, friends, and fellowship, this wonderful inheritance seems dearer than ever. It is to encourage God’s people in their hour of suffering and trial, that I seek to bring these thoughts before them.

After six years in the missionary school in Kunming, Yunnan, S.W. China, I came back to Hong Kong in the end of 1941 for a brief holiday. While there, the colony was captured by the Japanese and there was no escape. How well I remember that second arrival in Hong Kong, a place which seemed like fairyland after the scene of war from which I had just come.

Arriving by plane over the island where the bay was illuminated with myriad lights from the sampans and the brightly-lighted city, it was a contrast from the black-out cities of Yunnan. This reminded me of an evening when just before leaving San Francisco in 1936, Mr. Berry of the Missionary Home of Peace took us in his car to view the lights of Oakland and San Francisco from the Skyway. The thrill of that scene had never faded from my mind, and this arrival over Hong Kong in 1941 reminded me of that scene anew.

How quickly the beauty and security of the island was changed to a center of chaos and unspeakable horror. The memory of those days will never be quite forgotten. Recalling them from this angle of time, I realize the fact which stands out more clearly is the wonderful way in which God heard and answered the prayers of God’s children in the homeland. Surely He directed my steps and protected my way in the midst of those many and varied dangers. In that center of death and danger, the Lord was my dwelling place and it was wonderful then to “dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and to abide under the Shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91) He alone could be sufficient for such a time and such a need, but He never fails those who put their trust in Him.

Knowing that there was no escape from the enemy, I tried to do what I could to help by volunteering for service in the government hospital at Kowloon. There was so much to do those days that there was no time left to think of one’s own needs. These were committed to One who knew them far better than I, and He did not fail.

After about four days of total warfare, the Hong Kong government had to withdraw their defense from the mainland, and retire to make their stand in the "impregnable fortress" of the island. When every semblance of law and order in the form of police and army had been withdrawn, we realized how great had been the boon which we had lost. So many of the benefits which are of everyday occurrence we do not value until they have been withdrawn. At last, in the dusk of the evening of the Friday of that week, the victorious enemy swept into town, and as we crossed from the hospital to the nurses’ home, we met them face to face. At the bayonet’s point, they drove us out to the grassy lawn between, made us kneel, and bow our heads to the ground. Surely this was the end! Fear which is always ready to enslave us filled all hearts, for we knew we were in the hands of a ruthless enemy and could expect no mercy. None could help us now — but ah, that was not true, for the Master has said, “I will never leave thee.” Does He keep His promise? Yes, always! He was there and His own peace drove out the fear. Men could kill the body, but the soul and spirit are His, and all things work together for good to them that love Him. After about 20 minutes’ kneeling, we were commanded by the enemy to get on our feet and listen to their orders. Whatever the enemy’s plans were, God’s protecting care overruled and our lives were preserved. We had to learn in the days that followed what it meant to live in the danger of the enemy’s camp while our friends were attacking from the other side. Danger and death were constantly around us, but God revealed Himself as the One who is able to keep.

After a few days, the hospital was commandeered by the Japanese army and we were ordered to evacuate, taking all the patients to one wing of an already hopelessly crowded Chinese hospital. We were housed in the Chinese YMCA building opposite. Here we spent the first Christmas of our captivity; and that day, Hong Kong was forced to surrender. But before this, we had already begun to learn the real meaning of hunger. We were glad to purchase small dirty breadrolls, from the disreputable perambulators of Chinese vendors who sold them to us at fabulous prices. We bought them with the small reserves of cash we had and ate them ravenously. We tried to make some kind of biscuit from soya flour and cracked wheat on a stove made from a kerosene tin. We cooked with fuel obtained from rolls of paper from books of anti-Japanese propaganda. That Christmas Day, we had our Christmas service; and in the midst of war we knew something of the Prince of Peace, and the serenity which He gives. We ate our tiny one-inch cube of Christmas pudding cooked so laboriously on the kerosene tincan stove with the paper fuel, and enjoyed one chocolate each as the luxury of the day. We noticed that there was a lull from the booming of the guns, but we did not know that the surrender of Hong Kong had already taken place. One drunken Japanese officer boasted that day of Japanese plans to conquer the world with the aid of Germany; and at that time it began to look as if those plans might succeed. (Both these nations have already ceased their boasting and are no longer a menace to the peace of the world!)

A few days later, we were moved to the ‘Kowloon Hotel’ and there we had space given us on the 7th floor of an already over-crowded building, There we learned the value of fresh air and sunshine as we had never done before. We were allowed only the privilege of pacing the corridors (if the guards weren’t too unpleasant), and were forbidden to look out of the windows. Newspapers were given us to paste on the panes lest we should be tempted to look out; and the headlines of the one for our window were: “London Confident that War will not Come to Hong Kong!” We had already learned that vain is the confidence of man.

By the middle of January, the Japanese had decided to send us to Stanley Prison on the other side of the island. On January 23rd, we had our first walk in the fresh air since our capture on December 12th. How good it was to walk once more outside, even though we had to crawl through streets lined with crowds; some gazing at us curiously, some scornfully, and some pityingly. Then I remembered Him who had borne' the Cross to Golgotha’s hill willingly for the love of mankind and I proved His grace and help in that hour of need. We were weak through confinement and inadequate food, but we struggled to take what few possessions we had retained, knowing that they might prove valuable in the days to come.

Crowded on the ferry on the long journey around the island, how I longed for a cup of cold water! Such desires had to be crushed or forgotten, for it seemed as if no one cared for our comfort.

In the late afternoon we arrived at the Stanley Prison, and the outstanding memory of that hour was the sense of relief with which we landed. Even though we somehow sensed it would mean a long imprisonment, we were at least with our own people and no longer in the midst of the enemy, although of course guards would continually surround us and have their headquarters in our midst.

For those who do not know Stanley, there needs to be some explanation of its geography. On this distant point, there is a large modern jail, capable of guarding more than 3, 000 prisoners serving a life or a long-term sentence. Nearby are blocks of modern flats, formerly used as the homes of the British and Indian civil-servants of the officials in the jail. On a nearby hill, stands St. Stephen's college of the Church Missionary Society for Chinese students; and three houses and about five bungalows where members of the staff and doctors of the jail lived. On another hill is Stanley Fort and here the last defense of the island was made even after the surrender had taken place. Communications had been cut and the defenders did not know that resistance was useless. To the defenders, the nurses and doctors of the emergency hospital which had been opened in the St. Stephen's College, that Christmas Day was a time of unspeakable horror never to be forgotten. Death, and atrocities worse than death, made it seem that all hell had been let loose!

On the First Sunday of Stanley Camp, about four weeks later, Christians of all denominations gathered in the war-devastated hall of St. Stephen’s. Denominational barriers were removed, and we gathered as Israel of old; captives in an alien land, to sing the praises of God and seek His help to live courageously in the altered circumstances of internment 1ife. We sang “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” and we sang it with a yearning prayer not known before, for never had our need been as great. There was no seat to sit on but the floor, and we were a forlorn group, surrounded by a boastful, successful enemy. However, we looked up and beyond in simple trust to God who judgeth righteously and our hearts found comfort, help, and encouragement. During the years of need which followed, we found continual renewal of strength as week by week, we continued our worship.

About 3, 500 people were herded together in the camp, and we had to learn to adapt ourselves to many strange circumstances. How often I looked longingly across the bay beyond the barbed wire fence which surrounded us, and prayed for release! I was sorely needed in the little school in Yunnan which I had left for a brief holiday, and already the month had lengthened out far too long. Like a bird imprisoned in a cage, I chafed at this imprisonment. I felt that surely God would find some way to bring deliverance so that I could return to the work to which He had called me. But I had to learn to commit my work to Him, and learn to know Him in internment as on the missionfield. Now I thank Him for every lesson I have learned in that camp, for every revelation of my own weakness and of His unfailing grace, and for every experience which gives me a deeper understanding of the need of others. Those three years and nine months of internment seemed such a waste, but now I know that they were part of His plan for my life. If the lessons I had to learn can be a help and a blessing to others, they were well worth the cost.

Arriving in the camp on that Friday afternoon, there seemed to be no room for all of us. The little camp hospital was very small and had insufficient accommodations for the nursing sisters so I had to leave the Kowloon hospital group whom I had learned to know so well during those weeks of war, capture, and imprisonment, and find my place among the other 3, O00 folk of the camp of whom I knew practically nothing. A group of women pushed their beds a little closer together on the floor of a room to make a place for me in which there seemed to be no space left. Then I took my cup and enamel plate into the big courtyard of the block to line up for the evening meal. Food had been sent out for the hundreds of folks already there. To provide a meal for the increased number, water had to be added to the gray-looking fluid called soup. We had to wait two hours before we received a ladle each of this gray fluid. It was a pitifully small meal, but like Oliver Twist “it was useless to ask for more.” However, most folk were too weary to be hungry; neither were we very critical those days.

I met a Polish friend, Lucille, of Kowloon Hotel days, with whom I arranged to teach and entertain the children a few hours each day. She also was alone in the crowd, so we decided to become partners in internment. This started a friendship which has continued through the years. We found a corner in which to sleep on the floor of a room formerly used as the prison officers’ club. The next morning, we were assigned to one of the small bungalows on the hill. Lucille went ahead to find our allotted space.

Collecting our few possessions, I started to struggle with them up the hill. I soon had to stop and rest, wondering how I could possibly get to the top, when I heard a cheery voice say,

“Let me help you with that!”

There stood an English policeman. He had been sent to the camp some days earlier and had already learned some of its possibilities and limitations. What a good Samaritan he proved to be!

There was really no room for us in that little bungalow where fifty people had already taken possession. There was, however, an open verandah; dirty, blood-stained, and war damaged. We felt it could be cleaned up and made to provide some sort of shelter. From somewhere, our new friend produced a broom, a bucket of water, and a piece of soaps and helped us to clean it up. He late came back to present us with a piece of glass which afterwards became our valuable mirror. Later on, we were the objects of friendly envy, since we possessed what most folk lacked—a small corner of our own with comparative quiet and privacy.

Some months later, when typhoon winds and rains began, our premises were less desirable. We were so frequently flooded out, that even the guards felt our accommodations were inadequate. It was not until the following June when the Americans were repatriated however, that space could be found for us elsewhere.

Meanwhile, school had been started at St. Stephen’s Hall for the children of the camp. I had been asked to help, so from 8:30 to 11:00 a.m., my time was occupied with teaching. We had no proper school furniture and very few books; but we managed somehow, sitting on the floor with the children grouped around us. There were about ten groups in one hall—not ideal conditions, but we did the best we could with them. Later on, some supplies were made available and seats brought in from the town, but for many months we had to manage without the most essential equipment.

Food, which from the first had been very poor, continued to grow worse through the years until we were reduced to two small meals a day of rice and water-spinach. We learned to appreciate the smallest things and find enjoyment in the very simplest pleasures. Unable to digest boiled rice, we learned to make a kind of rice-flour with which to make a kind of bread, cooking it over a small chatty-fire. We learned to enjoy and eat this with great relish. At the end when the liberation fleet arrived and we offered them samples of our “bread” which by that time we thought had been almost perfected; they sampled it with disgust. We had through the years really learned to like it. We made our chatties from empty tins and used small twigs or dry grass gathered from the hillsides for fuel.

With the passing of the years on a semi-starvation diet, strength steadily diminished. Resistance became low and every tiny scratch or pinprick was likely to turn septic, and it was customary for most folk to be bandaged in some part of their body. It took real willpower to enable one to do the various personal or communal tasks which Had to be done, but those of us who kept occupied, fared the best physically and mentally. In seeking to minister to the needs of others, one found strength and had no time or energy left for self-pity. Later, I was able to help in the hospital pantry, and in those days, a kindly deed, a friendly word, and a cheerful smile meant much to people who were really ill. With day school, Sunday School, hospital work and other duties, my time became fully occupied. About every six months, some illness or septic wound would indicate that my reserves of strength had gone, and I would find myself a patient instead of a helper in the hospital. Then I learned the value of loving service cheerfully rendered. After three or four weeks, I was discharged with a warning from the doctors to “go carefully and not do too much.” But as strength returned, there was so much to be done, that before long I would find myself as fully occupied as ever.

It seemed to be a losing battle however, and we all knew that we were steadily losing ground. It is not pleasant to find one's physical powers steadily diminishing. Eventually, I could not climb the smallest incline without becoming totally breathless. It was an effort to walk even a part of the way around the camp, whereas before I used to walk around the camp several times for the sheer joy of walking. My eyes began to become troublesome; my hair lifeless; and my teeth decayed. Some of my friends much younger than I had to have all their teeth extracted. It is not pleasant to find oneself losing out in this way, but strength was given day by day and we learned the value of divine help in times of weakness.

Many times my strength seemed to be at its lowest ebb—too low to continue the struggle for existence. Then somehow new life and courage seemed to flow in. Since returning home, I have learned the reason why this happened. Many friends have told me that at certain times, they were burdened with a sense of my need. They prayed until they received assurance that their prayer had been answered. Having learned of all the prayer that was offered for me, I understand how and why I came through when so many stronger and braver than I “went under.”

Later, we moved to a more densely populated part of the camp where between 700 and 800 people were crowded in one block of flats. Livng under such cramped conditions, we learned to know one another very intimately. Faults hardly noticed in normal life became magnified and outstanding under those conditions. Selfish people became more selfish, lazy folk more lazy, and most of those who never before had learned adaptability failed to learn it now. On the other hand, many folk were amazingly kind and good. When faith in human nature seemed to be at its lowest ebb, some act of surprising kindness and self-sacrifice would give a new idea of how good people can be. Today, I remember clearly the amazing kindness, devotion and self-sacrifice of so many folk that the petty faults which irritated me so greatly in those days are practically forgotten.

We learned to assess new values on things. After months with no salt, we learned the value of a small pinch of this commodity, and to this day, it is painful to see it wasted. Sugar was another item which had an increased value. If one possessed unlimited money, It was possible to buy through the black market or the canteen small quantities of brown, unrefined sugar (wong-tung) at fabulous prices. Women sold their few remaining valuables to buy salt, sugar, soap, and peanut-oil. Most of them had to sell their wedding and engagement rings to purchase these food items containing the vitamins and other food elements so sorely lacking in their diet. Soap became priceless, and with no hot water and months without soap, it was a problem to keep one's self and one's garments clean especially during the heat and humidity of summer. Clothes wore out and there was no replacement. Shoes became a clothing item of the past, and people had to make themselves a kind of sandal from cloth and cardboard or go barefooted. Thread and needles were another problem. Often, it seemed that there was some small item lacking, which would have been of so much value had it been attainable.

Christopher, a small boy whom I taught, was told the story of Lazarus and the rich man. An attempt had been made to explain what a rich man was. Christopher felt he knew, for he replied,

 “Yes, I know! He was one who had lots of wong-tung and peanut-oil!”

Chatty fuel became invaluable, and at last floor boards and picture-rails had to be sacrificed. We postponed the day as long as possible, but at last there was nothing else left to burn. The small parquet squares were counted and carefully divided among the members of our room, and we again reckoned ourselves wealthy because we had fuel. It was Lucille's birthday soon after, Since she had been moved to a small room with a stone floor, I wrapped a half-dozen of these boards in a Japanese propaganda paper, and this was my birthday gift to her, It gave far more pleasure to her than many costly gifts of pre-war years.

Chinese folk in town were eventually allowed to send small parcels to their friends in camp. They did so at great risk and at personal sacrifice, for prices were fabulous and they needed all they had for themselves. Many sold their property and possessions to do this. Every time a parcel was handed in to the “gendarmerie,” severe cross-questioning took place, and the sender became suspected as pro-British. Many were later arrested, imprisoned and tortured. Yet, such was their love and loyalty to the war prisoners that they continued to send the parcels regardless of the cost. I marveled with every arrival of the parcels at the loyalty of those Chinese friends, and wondered if we would have done the same had the conditions been reversed. Being only a visitor in Hong Kong, and having no Chinese friends there, I felt sure that I would never be fortunate enough to receive a parcel. But our Heavenly Father who knows our need long before we do, had already prepared the way.

Contacts were made through missionaries with Chinese Christians in Kowloon, and these faithful friends sent parcels to me from time to time. I never lost the sense of wonder as to how such a miracle had been worked for me when that first parcel came with my name and number on it! What a package it was! Lard, wong-tung, soap, cookies, tooth-brush, and towel. Never in all my life, either before or since, have I experienced such a consciousness of wealth. It was such a joy to be able to share with friends who had been so generous with their possessions at a time when I had none, and to share with others who, like myself had never received a parcel. The most precious thing of all, however, was the reassurance that the Heavenly Father who knows each one by name, understood all my need and had been silently planning for me. To this day, I have not yet seen Hannah, this loyal Chinese friend who collected and sent the parcels at the risk of her life. Because of her loyalty to me and other Christian friends, her life was threatened and she had to escape to Macao. Though I have not seen her, I have learned to love her dearly because of all that she did for me. One of the pleasures which I anticipate in Heaven is to see Hannah face to face. Is it not so with Jesus our best Friend, who because of our need, gave His life that He might fill ours with blessing? Having not seen Him, we love Him because He first loved us. We look forward with joy to the day when we shall see Him face to face.

After six months of internment, In June of 1942, all the American citizens- men, women, and children with their bag and baggage, were repatriated. We were left to endure a little longer. We hoped that conditions would improve and that relief would come, but instead things grew definitely worse. After a year and eight months, the Canadians were also repatriated. We, of British and other nationalities, remained hoping for improvement or release. As conditions grew steadily worse, we continued to live on "hope deferred." Such conditions were fruitful breeding grounds for rumours. A “wonderful Chinese army just over the hills" was on its way for our release, “Shiploads of parcels” were frequently reported to be arriving, or “plans for repatriation had been completed.” Such rumours caused such frequent and bitter disappointment, that we agreed never to believe them again. Then they would be repeated and once again our hopes would be raised.

Guards were posted all around the camp, and we were frequently instructed as to the correct method of bowing to them and to any Japanese officer whom we met in the camp. Roll-calls were held twice daily, and there was an outside roll-call at least once a week, when we were lined up and often kept waiting for hours in the tropical sun or the teeming rain. Sometimes unpleasant incidents occurred. But we learned patience and meekness and many other lessons during those experiences.

We dug up arid patches of the hillside and tried to grow sweet potatoes and other things to supplement our meager diet. When strength and energy were so limited, however; and seemed insufficient for the tasks we had to do, we were never quite sure whether we gained or lost in the effort to produce these meager garden products.

In the early days, the Japanese had a newspaper printed especially for our camp, but of course it was all their own propaganda and it contained such depressing news that I ceased to read it. Some of my sick friends, however, who were too ill to do anything else had more time to read thoughtfully; and later on, when the tide began to turn they were able to read between the lines. Maps began to appear upon some of the walls before the end, and although not up-to-date, we knew the tide had turned for the Allies. We had some idea of the second front and of the drive toward Berlin, and eventually of the collapse of the Hitler regime; but we were still prisoners in the camp of an enemy who “never surrendered.” They were prepared to die for their country and we would probably die with them if an attempt was made to recapture the island.

Therefore, we hardly dared to hope for release. Nature adapted herself to conditions, causing us to live superficially, not thinking or feeling too deeply. We just made the best of conditions just as they were. “Stanley memory” was a condition common to most, and we began to forget much of life in pre-internment days. It seemed as if nothing could possibly happen to cause real excitement again. I could scarcely recall the names of my former Yunnan pupils.

One day in January, 1945, a heavy raid was made on Hong Kong, and we thought this was the beginning of the end. We became intensely interested in those planes; but when a bomb fell in the camp on the bungalow next to the one in which we had our first accommodation, killing most of its inhabitants—internees like ourselves who had existed hopefully through those three long years—we were sobered and returned to our lethargy for another seven or eight months. The little cemetery had to be enlarged for many who were no longer able to continue the struggle. By this time, we merely existed and wondered if we could continue to do so much longer. My chief comfort at this time came from the weekly communion services at 8:00 a.m. In the silence of the communion, life and strength were very truly imparted by Him who knew what it was to be hungry and weary, and “who was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

A cold spell came in February or 1945 which lasted for ten days; and then I learned fully what it meant to be both cold and hungry. For days and nights, I was not warm for one moment. Never again can I know of others being cold and hungry unmoved. But summer returned and we managed to carry on again. Then rumours persistently returned, and in August we knew that things were really happening! One Friday morning, nearly 200 or our fellow-internees were suddenly taken from the camp in a terrible-looking barge and we had no idea where on why they were taken. Rumour said that many more were to be taken away soon. Then life again became uncertain, and even the mundane existence in the camp seemed more desirable than some unknown destination without. A few days later, the guards came into the camp with news that the war had ended! We had heard that rumour and had been disappointed so often that we were skeptical, but the next day the news was confirmed by our camp commandant.

Then followed a period of nearly three weeks when we were neither prisoners nor free. At long last relief came with the arrival of the fleet led by Admiral Harcourt. Once more we gathered together, this time on the open space near the block where we had lived. What a crowd we were, emaciated and ragged, but thankful to listen to the Admiral's words of greeting and welcome, and to sing that hymn which had meant so much to us during the years, “O God, our Help in Ages Past!”

Up on the hill, some of our Japanese guards looked down wonderingly and I felt sorry for them, for they had been led into a regime which had promised so much and had failed so miserably. Our cause had been vindicated, and we were now free! At present, we could not grasp all that freedom meant. All kind of good things began to pour into the camp—bread, fruit, eggs, meat etc., but our capacity had become limited and we could only collect the food and enjoy the thought that we had plenty after so many years of want. I shall never forget the thrill of tasting again for the first time one by one those simple things such as bread, butter, and an apple!

Then we were allowed to send home airmail letters to our next-of-kin. It was hard to know who to write to and what to say, for it was so long since we had received messages from home. So much had happened in England during those years that we did not know which of our relatives were still alive. The few postcards which had come through had been so brief--only 25 words--and so long on the way that we had lost touch with the outside world. I had seven married brothers and sisters in England when I entered the camp, but how many of them had survived these years of war and chaos? Letters were written immediately and dispatched and we waited hopefully for letters to arrive from England.

Four boat loads of sick folk, women with children, and the aged were sent first, and we comparatively “fit” folk had to wait a little longer. A few days later on September 16, a list of about one hundred names was posted up, of those who were to leave in two days’ time. To my utmost delight, my name was among them! That day, we each received a parcel from the Australian Red Cross and we were each out fitted with clothes to enable us to start on the homeward voyage. I can see the scene yet as we each sat on the bare floor opening those wonderful parcels. No child with its Christmas toys was more excited than we, as one by one we took out contents of that package—soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, hairbrush etc. They were items we had almost forgotten that we ever used. Knitting-pins and wool to knit with on the boat and even a pattern to tell us how to do it! Tears rolled down our cheeks as we realized the love of people outside who had planned for us so carefully and given so generously. All the way home we were repeatedly awed by the expression of love and thought which were showered upon us by the outside world from which we had been so long separated.

Next morning, we said farewell to the friends who had to remain a little longer, and were taken to the landing pier. Here a mine-sweeper was waiting and we were welcomed on board. What a contrast this trip was compared to the outward journey in January, 1942! Sailors brought us cups of tea until we could drink no more, and I remembered that cup of cold water that I had so much craved then. To be in the midst of those kindly folk was a new experience. At Kowloon, we were transferred to the GLENGYLE, an assault-landing craft warship, and the real homeward voyage began. Never shall we internees forget all the kindly service of those officers and crew! This ship had started out, ready to take part in the landing necessary for the recapture of the island; but the end had come quickly and they had been diverted for this new task. The key name for this operation was “Joy Riding!” We felt like veritable Rip Van Winkles, but those kind folk helped us to return to normal life, and told us about radar, penicillin, television, and other things which had been invented while we were isolated from the world.

At Columbo, we were transferred to a large troop ship which took us home to England. On October 22, 1945, four years after my arrival in Hong Kong, we arrived in Southampton and a message of welcome was read to us from the King. My chief thoughts were of the family I had not seen for ten years! Next morning early, I saw my brothers on the quayside. It did not take me many minutes to descend the gang-way and receive their loving welcome home! They had travelled all night to welcome back the sister who returned as one “from the dead.”  Never shall I forget the relief I felt when in reply to the fearful inquiry, “Please tell me about the rest of the family, as my last letter was over two years old.” John replied, “I can reassure you in one sentence—the whole family is safe and well.” It seemed as if my cup of happiness was literally over-flowing. Presently, others of my family, including two of my former scholars joined the group. I then learned how wonderfully God had cared for those from whom I had been separated. Surely I would never again fear to trust myself and those I love to Him who had so wonderfully protected us all!

Later, we had a family reunion which included an assembly of forty-three people— brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, fourteen of whom I had never seen until my return home. We remembered the Christian parents who are now home with the Lord, and we realized that the answers to their many prayers were seen in our lives. The next day, we all attended the Church for a Thanksgiving service for prayers answered and lives spared to be rededicated to the service of God.

Since then, nearly two happy years have been spent in England and America where the love of family and friends has become more precious than ever. Now strengthened physically, mentally, and spiritually, the urge of the Master's cause to return to the work for which He has called me, finds us on our way back to China.

It was not easy to leave but His own joy and peace are the reward of obedience to that call. With an increased confidence I can commit myself and them to God who has never failed to keep all we commit to Him. I go forward praying that the future may be richer, fuller, and more fruitful because of all the experiences which His love and wisdom permitted me to endure during those long years of internment. May we each occupy faithfully until the time when we shall see our Lord face to face!

The End

Book type
Diary / Memoir
Dates of events covered by this document


Thank y ou so much for sharing this.  I think this may well be close to my great Aunt's experience. She was a Methodist missionary and teacher who trained to help as a nurse in the lead up to internment. She never spoke to me of her experience but had a very strong faith which I am sure will have helped her cope like Ms Jay.