• Upcoming trips

    May 2 to May 14 London vacation. We will be staying in the President Hotel, 56 - 60 Guildford Street, Russell Square, London, WC1N 1DB. Telephone : 020 7388 4443. Hope to see you all then.
  • theatre and Concerrts

    February 20. At Christine’s prompting, and, offer to go to the box office for Family Circle tickets, we went to see the Met’s production of Parsifal–from 6.00 to 11.30! It is a modern production for the new generation of opera-goers (the ones that hoot and holler at slightest excuse to the detriment of all others’ listening concentration). Modern dress  clashes horribly with the ancient myth of the story line, and state-of-the art lighting and staging effects  enlighten and intrigue the semi gloom in which the action(?) of  all three acts take  place. I was pleasantly impressed with the singing cast and  thought that it compared favorably with the greats of my younger days.

    The new conductor was enthusiastically welcomed (The Levine era is now forgotten completely) but I thought the sound he produced from the orchestra did not quite evoke the agonizing pathos that I remembered.

    February 21.  Saw “Amy and the Orphans” at The Roundabout Theatre. It is a story of parents’  tussle with the agony of caring for a child with Down syndrome and the adult siblings’ efforts to atone for their parents’ weakness. Wonderfully convincing acting all round and written with great humour to counter the guilt dialalogue of the characters.

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Sham Shui Po entertainment (Part 1)

Just before my birthday reunion in London (May 2016),  daughter, Susan, had contacted the Imperial war museum to see whether it would be interested in the material I had saved from my PoW days. In fact I completed a form they had sent her and returned it with a few samples of my scrapbook attached.  Upon returning  from London there was a courteous e-mail from the Chief Curator saying that the material was the very thing the Museum would like to have. Much of the written material is in pen and ink and pencil; here and there it has become almost illegible. A small portion has suffered water damage and the wording lost altogether.

No matter. I promised to transcribe all that I could and provide typed copies with the original documents. This post is the first tranche of this effort. An image of the original document is included.

This post and the following one, sets out the wording of the entertainment offerings of fellow PoW’s given at the outset of our incarceration. The Japanese Command allowed this at the beginning before it began to control the chaos of the fighting’s aftermath. After the working day was finished, some of the PoW’s (who were mainly conscripts and  from all walks of life) wrote and declaimed humourous  parodies of BBC Radio personalities’ broadcasts and well-known poems of the day. All, referencing, of course, the plight we then found ourselves in. The only un-looted building in the camp was the brick built married quarters called the “Jubilee Building”. It had a balcony and it was, from this vantage point, that the performers gave their renderings. I can’t remember if the Tannoy system was still working but, I do remember that I could hear the words perfectly. I must have borrowed the original writings in order to copy them, but I know I didn’t have the time or the black ink to do this–I was paid two cigarettes per day for working and, since I didn’t smoke, I bribed a fellow (non-working) chap to do the task for me. I spent what spare time I had keeping a daily diary in red-ink on sheets of Japanese toilet paper! Shortly after this, we were put to work on the excavation and building of Kai Tak airstrips and then, there was no ending to the working day.

Page 1

Page 1

Page 2

Page 2

The Western Brothers in Sham Shui Po

We are going to entertain you with some news that’s really true– we heard it from the chap who saw the paper! This is not ‘ration  party’ stuff, it’s absolutely true—we heard it from the chap who saw the paper!

In the European argument the Russians are still winning. In the East the Japs have found the war is just beginning, and Prince Konoy’s complaining now his testicles are skinning– We heard it from the chap who saw the paper

It seems this last two weeks the canteen bus was turned away–We heard it from the chap who saw the paper.  And officers have been cut down to 50 fags a day—we heard it from the chap who saw the paper

The Japs are smoking ‘Players’ now instead of lousy ‘Spears’. And the NIchi Nichi Shimbun says the war will last ten years. So they’re bringing in feather beds for the Honk Kong Volunteers!—we heard it from the chap who saw the paper.

There isn’t any truth in the stories of a move—we heard it from the chap who saw the paper. And our guardians have promised that conditions will improve—we heard it from the chap who saw the paper. They’re going to take us all outside to see the latest shows and every man will get a suit of winter wooly clothes. And, they’re sending in more white shoes for the poor old W.O.’s—we heard it from the chap who saw the paper.

The girls have gone from Wanchai*  now. The place is not the same—we heard it from the chap who saw the paper.

The occupation army does not play that kind of game.—we heard it from the chap who saw the paper.

All the local merchants are shaking at the knees, and the A.R.P. and Public Works are run by Japanese. For the first time in the Colony there isn’t any ‘squeeze’ (bribery) – we heard it from the chap who saw the paper. The Germans tried to take Tobruk and came an awful smash—we heard it from the chap who saw the paper.

Hitler has ringworm or ‘crabs’ in his moustache—we heard it from the chap who saw the paper. The people are aware now that their Fuhrer is not gifted. By contact with the RAF, the Reichstag has been shifted. And Goebbels and Von Ribbentrop have had their faces lifted—we heard it from the chap who saw the paper.

Dear old Winston Churchill has promised to relieve us—we heard it from the chap who saw the paper.

We’ll all be free by Christmas, altho’  you wont believe us—we heard it from the chap who saw the paper.

Chiang Kai Chek’s steam roller is rolling on its way here and when the Yank’s fleet arrives there should be hell to pay here if they’re going to issue chopsticks to the men who have to stay here!

We heard it from the chap who saw the paper! 


Note.* Wanchai was a red-light district in HK


The Charge of the Rice Brigade

On the square, off the square.  Criss-cross and around the square.

Enough to make a parrot swear

Marched the 5,000

Strains of martial music ring

Nobody is asked to sing

The Nips won’t let them play “The King”

But Chiang Kai Chek is at Fanling

Cheer up 5000

Little Nips to the left of them

George * and Boone to the right of them

Formed up and numbered.

But, someone had blundered

Old George missed 200!

They must not shout the crap,

Just for them to take the rap

The Japs won this little scrap.

Three cheers for Hitler!

No more anti-Nipponese pranks,

No more talking in the ranks.

Where are those bloody Yanks?

Cry the 5000

No more boots and no more socks,

Ambling around on wooden blocks

Little towels to hide their cocks.

On ten ounces a day, approx.

No fags, no beer, beriberi, diarhoea,

Sore throat and pyorrhea

You can catch anything here

Good old 5000

Watching, waiting for supplies

George has promised a surprise.

Lord, how that bastard lies.

“Where’s the blue wagon?”

Grasset’s (?) near with tons off fags,

NAAFI cakes done up in bags

And all the Wanchai hags

To cheer the 5000

No more bars or dancing halls.

No more pictures on the walls.

No more skin left on their balls.

Who shall (……….?) them?

Branded with the mark of Cain

Carrying the can again,

Always pissing down with rain

–spoiling all the fag ends.

Bravely fighting Chinese lice,

Hong Kong rats and Kowloon mice,

Eating rat shit with their rice,

Gallant 5000.

No more early morning teas

Plenty of obscenities

No more fags or parcels–

We’re in a lousy plight.

Can’t sleep outside at night.

Not half and fuck it!

On a bed with 50 others

Dreams of pies made just like mothers,

One sod farts and damn near smothers

The rest of the 5000.

Where Oh where is the Churchill blitz?

This aint no bloody Ritz—

Fall out the man with shits.

–Who pinched the flour?

Not for them to act the goat,

Theirs to answer the bugle’s note**,

Every one with smokers’ throat.

Roll on that fucking boat—

Or there won’t be 5000.


Notes.* “George” was the  troops’ nickname for the Japanese Sergeant in charge.

**The “Last post” was blown from the top of the married quarters when a man died.



“Let Us Give Thanks”

We fought for simply liberty.

Which brethren elsewhere still preserve.

For homes, tradition, decency

For fair peace our hearts deserve.

    Let us give thanks for what we serve.

We lost material, freedom, yet

Our smug complacency tossed

Into oblivion, so let

Us overrate the costs.

    Let us give thanks for what we have lost.

We have our homes, out sight, our health,

Tho’ thousands found eternal sleep,

And (?????) their forgotten wealth.

We have the right to love and weep

     Let us give thanks for what we keep.

The captives in the flesh. No doors

Can make our flights of fancy cease

Nor bar the dreams we sail to shores

Which know no other state than peace.

     Let us give thanks for their release.

We find new beauty in the skies,

New shades to colour joy or pain.

Our eyes shall paint a paradise.

     Let us give thanks for what we gain.

Tho’ brutal pain or cruelty

The tab of countless nations mar, Strong in light of chivalry,

Our Empire’s brightest star.

     Let us give thanks for what we are!

March 1942.

Lt. McGregor


We have heard of great victories won in the west

And dream of release and of those we love best

We swallowed with joy most incredible tales,

It’s hardly a wonder we don’t go over the rails.

Our illusions are shattered in less than a trice

When somebody mentions that bloody word ‘rice’!

We scrounge in the muck heaps for brushes and pails,

Our life is an ill-fated scramble for nails.

Our senior officers wrangle in vain

With the Nips who have nothing to give but distain.

And no matter how loaded the dice

We seize what we can every day at the wire

And the troops get the best from the ‘ladies for hire’

It’s a rare sight indeed to see a live Brigadier

Grabbing buns thro’ the bars like a Regent’s Park Bear

But, such gluttony cannot be labeled as vice

When we know the only alternative’s Rice 

Some Colonels and Majors and Subalterns too

Just reverse the procedure we’ve seen at the zoo.

That some live on memories of prior to the Blitz

Of European repasts taken down at the Ritz

But, whether the manners be naughty or nice

It’s a pound to a farthing the answer is Rice

We’ve no blankets or clothes and we sleep on the floor

We’ve scarcely a window to close and no door

And a problem most weighty for someone to solve,

Is, how to maintain some hygienic resolve

But who gives a hoot to the menace of lice

As long as those bastards keep giving us RICE!

Lt. McGregor 


Rudyard Kipling was the soldiers’ friend.

He fought for the men in the ranks

And devoted his time

To ridicule in rhyme:

The Taipans*, the swanks and the snobs.

Oh, how we all wish that Kipling were here

That the world could be told of the ramp.

For, never so many have been cheated so much

By so few, as the men in this camp!

The Japs have not treated us badly

They give us a fairly good lik

But the shower of shite

That was Hong Kong’s elite

Are causing us most of our strife.

On the fruits of Coolies’ sweating toil

They lived their complacent lives

And on the eve of battle

We still heard them prattle

“Why don’t you send back our wives?”

And this little crowd has the money and fags

In this hell called Sham Shui Po.

Every man has his price

In this nightmare of rice

So these people are running the show!

“Please punish those awful R.A. men

They’re pinching our flour” they said,

Yet, for two lousy “Spears”

Those same profiteers

Were taking two fighting men’s bread.

For all future stealing the R.A. were blamed

And the guilty ones shouted with glee.

Tho’ nothing was proved, the R.A. were moved

And the Volunteers got Jubilee**

Now, we empty our (????) and we live in the dark

But there’s no doubt that things could be worse

We’re still right of the line

And they won’t hear us whine

And we will give them the old Mt. Davis curse:

“May their fires blow out and their windows blow in,

May their lavatories all cease to work.

May they all fall from the top of the stairs

And come down on their heads with a jerk!” 

Even when captured and prisoners of war

The squaddie still carries the can. There would no bread to steal

If he got a square deal

It’s the system’s at fault

Not the man!

For it is Tommy this and Tommy that

And Tommie there’s the door

But it’s “Thank you, Mr. Atkins”

When the guns begin to roar.

Notes: *Wealthy Chinese in HK

**Brick built Married Quarters Building in Sham Shui Po barracks–unlike the rest of the camp, which was practically dismantled, it was unlooted
















One Response

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I salute you my friend. Enjoyed our trip down the Elbe.

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