• 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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WAR DIARY continued

This portion of the transcript was copied from six half sheets of the Japanese toilet paper; a small bound pocket diary and a few sheets of scrap paper. All these entries were made in pencil and were, in a few places, too blurred to read.

The diary ends with the details of our release and transportation to Manila. Details of the eventful journey back to Britain and home from Manila are contained in the collection of documents (Letters, cards and Notices) which will later accompany this transcript (in image form).

Note: I have left the spelling much as it was written 74 years ago but I have added an explanation in italic of some of the more obscure ‘Squaddy’ terms.

War Diary- Continued

December 1st (1943)

25 days to Xmas. The staff got blind drunk & playfully got us all out for 2 hours at 11 o’clock last night. After a lot of horseplay and enforced applauses, the Camp Commandant (now made up to 2nd Lieut) intimated that for Xmas we were to get 1 ½ rations of rice, 2 issues of meat, (10 lbs) double issue of fish (40lbs) & a bag of flour. Today we were all rearranged in our groups: Sam and I are parted after 10 months – I am now downstairs with Slim & Whacker.

DEC 4   YASUME. Sam gave me a tin of salmon for 4 rolls – I reflogged ¾ of it for 5 rolls & kept the extra roll & 4 for myself.

DEC 8 We are certainly paying for the Xmas rations – it’s been 28, 27 ½, 26 ½ to the bucket for the last 3 meals. And Blamire (cook) says that the double issue of meat & fish will only be the two normal monthly issues on one day. The point is, I don’t think we’ll live to enjoy it if they cut down any more. That bloody fool Pace was caught with a roll tonight & caused a search, consequently nearly everybody was found with bread. Divett was caught yesterday with aeroplane packets – now everything is electric & on edge – everyone is scared stiff of a thorough search.

DEC 9  Everybody allowed to write 100 words tonight – Weather very cold now. Feeling it very badly in spite of all my clothes – nothing in the food to keep us warm. Two of our ducks have been changed for two rabbits – the ducks weigh over 2kg each now. Outcome of the bread episode:- 1 roll in the morning & ½ at night to be issued

DEC 11 After 10 days – feeling tired. Rice is getting shorter, coupled with the cold is making everybody pessimistic again & jumpy & bad tempered: Last February’s symptoms are returning with redoubled force. In a fight yesterday one of the blokes received a fractured spine; putting all, especially the Nip staff in very bad humour. No fires in the in the hut yet. Moving to the new hut on 19th now. The new C.C. is very fair with the Red X stuff. I fancy we’ll get practically all of it this time. More cocoa & sugar issued this week. He is also clearing out the civvies who have been pinching our rations – he caught them out by putting a seal on the ration store; which they broke. Sammy Gough has turned out to be a rotten swine – he managed to buy a tin of salmon and instead of ½ of it (we’ve shared everything so far), I had to flog it for 5 rolls of which he took 4; he has completely changed; he’s more like a wolf now than a man. I’m afraid that all my joire de vive has disappeared too. The Nips are getting distinctly hostile now, mainly, I think, because of the lack of news in the newspaper (261303 1621 & 562126) (PoWs identified by numbers in the event that this diary was discovered – which would have been disastrous for the men involved) can read them completely now; Things must be going badly for them; all they can print is their version of the casualties (And they are colossal) and figures of the terrific output of the Yanks.

DEC 19 YASUME No move today – hut not ready. Fence moved back a little.

DEC 20 vaccinated again – One chap was caught eating a turnip that he’d got out of the canal; after he had been well & truly beaten up the Yank (Jap interpreter) commented “Anyone would think we are not feeding you well”. Page went to a memorial service for the dead at Osaka today; all the tales about big eats there are bunkum, they’re feeding the same as us. 692 tangerines & 180 pks of cigarettes came in for Xmas for cash.

DEC 21 100% at the factory today for the first time; for which we were rewarded with 1 packet of cigs.

DEC 24 Xmas Eve & most unfortunate one; Joe Chambers had to be working under a box when the wire broke, the box weighing ½ a ton or more so he died 3.30 this afternoon. The carols by Norman Tucker’s Choir went on at 20.00 & in spite of the cold, Nips’ interference and applause being forbidden, they were damned effective – put over very well.

XMAS Day. MENU:- 1 ½ bowls of Soya Rice & stew of bean curd, spuds & leeks. For Breakfast. Tiffin: 1 ½ rolls, meat stew, ½ spoonful of Soya butter, 3 oranges, & the usual issue of sugar & meat pasty. Dinner: 1 ¾ bowls of rice & beans, Bean Stew, an issue of tomato sauce, Fishcake & chips, cocoa cake.

Summary:- Reveille – surprise repeat of cards. Breakfast ;- completely spoilt by being called out, twice for Joe’s last ride. Tiffin: Pasty delicious (Recipe later) felt hungry after it & wished I’d saved some bread. 04.30 fires brought in: more cards. Smoked 10 cigarettes. Dinner: late: bought ration of rice for a roll in advance – got half way through the meal & had to give up. Everyone is the same, it’s amazing how little we can eat now; half the blokes are sick & have diahorrea. It’s amazing how little I can exist on; the other day I went from 05.30 to 18.00 on 1 mug of stew, ½ bowl of noodles & 4 or 5 spoonfuls of rice, shoveling coals too. Chow was too late to permit much of a concert.

27 Dec. American Red Cross parcel in – 1 per man. Hurray!!!!!

29 Dec. Lot of talk about parcels. Page . . . . (Thought) a parcel per man would be too much for us and wanted to serve them out one between four for four weeks, but he was shouted down. Everybody is excited as little children over the holiday & the parcel.

30 Dec. The parcels were laid out on the tables when we came back from work this evening. Some were invalid & the rest ordinary. I drew an ordinary.

Contents: 1tin KLIM                                       1lb

2 “  SPAM                                        12oz

3  “  BULLY                                     12oz

1   “  ROSEMILL PATE                  8oz

1 “   SALMON                                 8oz

2 bars SOAP (swan)

4 tins BUTTER                                3 ¾oz

  • 1 ½ lb CHEESE (KRAFT)

1 tin JAM (Grape)                          6oz


2 tins COFFEE (Soluble)             40oz

  • 1 ½ SUGAR (cubes)


2 bars CHOCOLATE                      4oz

1 tin opener

I resisted it until I’d had a bath & then tore in – Coffee thick with milk & sugar, bread & jam. Chocolate Pudding with my rice, a grape milk-shake & finished off with a choc. Milk-shake. We are getting the next 3 days off instead of Otari’s 2. The morale has shot up 3 or 400%

31 DEC Last day of the year in Japan. Couldn’t sleep at all last night – sat up with a lot of others eating prunes & choc. Made some good coffee & handed it around, Jock Hart handed meat sandwiches round at 12 o’clock AM. The only extra food from the Nips was a rice cake, rubbery & tasteless; equivalent to our Xmas Pudding. Soya Butter issue & double sugar. Cleaning up the camp until 12.30. Cards issued & we promptly got a four for bridge; best gesture from the Nips yet. Smiler was drunk & butted in on the concert. Made some marmalade with some peel & sugar. Slim & Whacker are mucking in on their parcels, leaving me rather in the cold; mainly because Whacker chose an invalid parcel & Slim is too easy-going; there’s less meat in the invalid parcels. Decided to muck in with myself. Smoked nearly a packet of Chesterfield today.


January 1st 1944

I can’t help thinking of my parcel, I was up again all last night making coffee & scoffing chocolate & prunes. Opened the cheese & jam, milk, sugar, coffee. Swapped half my cheese for ½ tin of Spam & ½ block of chocolate. Hell of a lot of swapping going on – fly blokes are trying to gain on their parcels. Played bridge all day. Bought tin of coffee for a roll. In bed all day. Tried mixture of everything.  Ate tin of Spam & ½ Mill pate, the other ½ I swapped for the other ½ spam.

2nd JAN. End of three best yasumes we’ve ever had. Today was much the same as yesterday – bed, bridge & eats. Most of my milk is gone, all the prunes & chocolate, 2 tins of butter. In all my swaps, I am up 1 tin bully & 1 corned pork loaf. Mickey Myles has eaten all his parcel. Next yasume is on 11th.

5th JAN. Slim and Whacker have split their parcel. Slim realized that he was 23 oz of meat down, he wanted to muck in with me again but I felt put out about it. Started swapping bread for tin stuff. Taken Mickey under my wing – trying to cure his borrowing bread.

10th JAN. Got into a tiff with Paddy Cousins. He’s about 6” taller & a stone or more heavier than I. However he thought he was sure of himself & challenged me. I took him outside and fortunately for my reputation, I battered his face badly, made him make a fool of himself, with no visible damage to myself. We were reported and in front of the camp commandant we were made to slap each other’s faces 7 or 8 times and let off, thanking our lucky stars. Paddy feeling very sorry – almost in tears, he’s apologized about a dozen times. I told him not to worry about it.

11th JAN. YASUME. Mickey & I swapped 7 ½ rolls between us for 1 spam, 1 salmon, 1Mill’s pate. Open salmon between us – delicious with the rice. Paddy’s face is in a hell of a state. Next yasume on 20th instead of 18th to commemorate a year in Japan they say, but we were on the high seas on 20th last year.

15th JAN. Partially split up with Mickey already – he’s got into debt and wanted to flog his share of the tins, but I countered that by splitting the tins tonight & eating my share.  [George & I 2tins butter & 1 curry] (?)

17th JAN/ Yasume tomorrow after all – inspection of the factory on 20th apparently. Many blokes, including Mickey caught in debt with their bread. Doubt if I’ll be able to collect mine in.

18th YASUME. Paid today. Had to write our impressions of Japan etc., I lashed them over 4 pages of small script. Also had to make a report on the casualties we witnessed during the war. Made a bread pudding of a roll, ½ ration of rice, coffee, sugar & a few raisins I bought for ½ roll – great success, same next week. Opened tin of bully. Wager with Claud; gave him tin of bully now & if no more red cross stuff comes in by 31st, I get 6 rolls. If it does I get my bully back.

19th JAN. My lucky day, fish came in today & they made a chow fan of it. I came up on bucsheesh (overs/ second helping) also stew with beans & burners (rice from the bottom of the cooking pot which gets toasted dry) this morning. News is very good. Russians are 70 miles inside Poland. Japs issuing warnings that Jerry is likely to pack in any moment – getting very hostile now.

20 JAN. Inspection didn’t come off, although they had faked everything. Put some of us watching lathes that hadn’t been working for years. Allowing us fires in the hut from today.

22 JAN. Year ago today we landed at Nagasaki. News – Germany are sending Rippentrop to represent them in peace talks. We are massing troops for the second front.

23 JAN. Otani does it again – about 14-30 today we (were) surprised by successive explosions. I looked up to see bits of the next shop flying through the air. My first thought was bombs & waited for further bangs, but the cry went up ‘Denkillo. I dashed up the track & found 2 nips lying on the deck with their hair burnt off & all the skin off their faces, stripped naked. 2 died and many injured – none of our chaps hurt. Apparently a pot of molten metal tipped up into a tank of water – pleased about the nips. As soon as I came back, I put my pudding under the fire. This morning I prepared it; 2 rolls, ½ ration rice, 1/3 tin bully, 1spfl curry& pinch of Soda Bic. I greased the tin with butter, soaked the ingredients from the morning, pressed it all into my mess tin, spread soya butter over the top & stashed it under the stove – It turned out the finest effort ever seen in the camp – It was lovely, filled me right up. I had to force my rice ration down on top of it. I was so full I could hardly move. I just waited until roll call & got right into bed & slept like a log until 06.40 without turning out once. I worked it out to the finest detail during the week, the right thickness of plate for a tin cover, etc. even tested the size of my mess tin under the fire. The result more than repaid the trouble.

25 JAN.  YASUME. Good one. Joe Louis duty – didn’t trouble us at all. Made another pudding – sweet one this time. 2 rolls, ½ rice rest of my coffee & last week’s sugar, some raisins & milk that I bought for ½ roll. I had  (it) as a sweet for tiffin, after my 2 rolls & butter & bully sandwiches with a little mustard that Mickey scrounged for me. Every time I drink tea I’m full up again. I’m 53.6 kilos today. My boil has just disappeared without coming to a head, I’m lucky. Others are covered with them. Mickey has had no bread or rice again today – in debt. Did a little more to N.T.’s handkerchief .

26 JAN. In machine shop again today for the inspection. My lathe broke down hopelessly just as they came round. There will be a yasume on the 28th for a year’s work at Otani’s. Flan gave me the tip that they were giving vitamin pills away tonight. I went sick & got a bottle. Started buying Ripley’s noodles, for 2 rolls & … thrown in. Bought 1 tin curry & soya butter issue for 1 roll – proffed. News that we are in Yugoslavia.

27 JAN. Easy day; a crowd of Nip convicts came & did the work on the hammer today, we sorted about in the store. No Bath.

28 JAN. YASUME. Disappointing. 1 year’s anniversary at the factory. The 36 men who hadn’t been off sick during the year got Y5 worth of Soya Sauce, Cigs, etc. The rest of us got 10 fags. Didn’t have time to save enough bread to fill me up, feeling a little choca (fed up) bought a pipe for 20 cigs. My skin is drying up. All expectations of further Red Cross supplies were disappointed. Looks as though I shall make my 6 rolls on the 31st.

29th JAN. Dukoshi Fish tonight. Slim & I starting a double bed.

31 JAN. No Yasume tomorrow after all – got my 6 rolls from Claud for the bully – lent 2 to Gracie & 1 to Anderson. Started my week on serving

1 FEB. Packed up at 3.40 today – big speech for the Nips – we were got out of the way. No comparison between this Feb and the last. No work in for us. Factory is without coal. 6 more turnouts. Piquet (Picket ?)

2 FEB.  . . . . (records too smeared to read in places) . . . . .

3 FEB.  . . . . . . snow last night. Got a little salt from Otani bargee . . . .

5 FEB. Made another deal with G.B.S. for soya, 1 roll, oil, Soya butter – pay off when he wants.

7 FEB. Catastrophe; Otani and camp completely out of coal; no fires today or tomorrow. My pudding’s up in the air – lent bread out again – Lofty.

8 FEB. YASUME. Touch of diahorrea through eating too much at once.

10 FEB. Started to prepare my super pudding for tomorrow, in:- 2 rolls, ½ rice &  vegs. & 1/3 tin bully. Got it baked this evening & scoffed it – preparing another. Piquet (picket?)11.30 – 12. 30. Something got at the rabbits & badly mauled one. I had to kill it off. Got a bowl of noodles from the guard.

11 FEB. YASUME. Big eats for me – 1 pudding with potato stew, 2 ½ rolls  soya mash – 4 bread & rice cookies with bean, butter & sugar spread & bully sandwiches with mustard ;- Overdid it again – feeling very sick.

12 FEB. Started to repair Page’s pullover. Feeling very rough, diahorrea – on trollies. No sleep last night.

13 FEB. Search tonight – caught 7 blokes napping with various contraband. Made them stand up to attention without chow for 3 hours. Expecting further trouble. Nearly came back today – cramp in the stomach.

14 FEB. Everything passed over OK. Diahorrea cleared up. Mail from England in the camp.

15 FEB. YASUME. Very good one. Shibatani’s still censoring the mail. None for me. Thought I’d like to be home for the Silver Wedding. Spent 2 or 3 hours dreaming of what I’d do to celebrate it. Sick going up; 12 in dock. News brightening up again – We’ve landed in Burma & on Dalmation coast. Russia still advancing.

22 FEB.  YASUME Minor wave of terror last week, beatings and searches etc and a general tightening up. Mail distributed. Rumoured that we’ve got to work until 6 o’clock next month; also that RED X parcels are coming on 25th of this. CC stalked into the bay and wanted to know why so many are sick – He picked on two. Page made them strip off, they are both about 6ft and only weigh 47 Kg. CC was visibly shocked.

25 FEB. Waited all day but no parcels. Made a permanent cig. deal with H.W. he’s going to feed me up.

26 FEB.  Page & Tallow. Working till 5 o’clock tomorrow on.

27 FEB. New Cple came in at chow time tonight – made saluting an excuse to play up – he smashed 5 bowls, slapped about 2 dozen blokes, took our chow away until 7.30. Made himself a laughingstock over the office but it shook us

29 FEB. YASUME. Finishing up Page’s pullover – fairly good job. G.B. blackmailing me for keeping quiet over the do with Page the other day. Upheaval in the group – the other end want a weekly rice server & it was passed by one vote. I supported it & incurred the displeasure of this end. G.B. & H.W. made Sandy & I 2 bread puddings this evening. Cple trying to make himself pleasant now – gave us till 9.30 to turn in.

28 March This is the first opportunity I’ve had to write for a month. I’ve a hell of a lot to say. My neck and chin has been adorned with lots of boils. My middle finger of the right hand contracted poisoning & Page had to rip it open – the local anesthetic didn’t work. This put me right out of action. Didn’t get any sleep for 5 nights running. Page put me in dock for a day. G & H looked after me very well. :- Conditions are getting steadily worse, we have to work untill 5.00 every night & now get only 2 days off per month. C.C. when tackled about international law just evaded the issue. Syph & Wematsu have gone to the war thank Christ. Udong (noodles) getting more sucoshi (smaller) every day – The long-awaited parcel did not arrive on 27th but some razors, soap, shaving cream & sewing kits came instead . . . . Miles is dying in dock. I hate to think how much longer we’ll last. CC promised 2 surprises & cards on yasume providing we handed our money in – This was a ruse; we handed our money over but got no cards and everyone will have credit account in future. The 2nd surprise was another mail issue – There are 5 for me. One bloke will get 24. Shib has to translate them all – I get mine next month I’m thinking. We should have moved into the new hut today but it rained heavily – so we move next yasume. New prisoners supposed to be coming again. News is getting better. R’s ½ way in Poland now. Hope G will be finished by June. Started week of rice server today, not bad for start. Nearly finished my socks.

5 APRIL National YASUME today – But Otani didn’t take it; they just had 4 hours off for jossing (ritual lighting of joss sticks) from 9-1.00. Frank Miles was carried out in the usual way – on a tricycle on the 30th. This leaves the 200 little nigger boys at 186. There’s been a rigid tightening at Otani’s – a bevy of MP’s with armbands have been imported to see that the nips do their share – packing up dead on the bell & not ½ hour before, etc. Nips scared stiff & very hostile towards us now.

11 APRIL. YASUME (Sort of). Moving into the New hut all day – kit search – usual nip efficiency; Thorough for the first 6 & masky (superficial) the rest. Got my stuff through ok. No sign of our letters yet – New sentry arrived, seems ok. Signed for pay. Cards & violin available every night now. Getting very low for food & cigarettes outside. Everything is rationed. Sick list going up. 14 now. Men collapsing every day.

18 This was to be a working yasume but the tasks fell through & it was turned into a puckha (authentic) yasume. Losing our noodles.

25 APRIL.  YASUME. Good one this time. Joe tried to make us goose-step for ½ hour one night last week, said that the reason why we are losing the war is because our army doesn’t goose-step.

29 Special Yasume – Emperor’s birthday. Heads down all day. Yesterday they checked up on bread & found only 36 including myself with it. The whole staff rounded us up & beat up all the chaps without at tiffin time. Way lost his memory. The CC eased a bit after & issued half the letters. I expected mine today but was disappointed. Present of curry from Otani – 12 to the bucket system started this morning. I’m in the small bucket—great to do over the amount of rice in it because I’m pally with H.W. Most of the men are getting really sick now, they can’t last much longer. I am still disgustingly fit in comparison. Everyone watches me like hawks trying to catch me out with H.W. (Cigs for rice deal?) I’m 57.5 kgs now. No Second front yet

2nd MAY Received my letters today, 5 altogether – 1 written on my birthday last year. Slightly disappointed, much too reserved & over discrete – noticed differences in Dad’s writing, losing his flourish. Wish I could reply – I’m afraid I shan’t be able to keep the date. I’ve only 3days to go.

5 MAY  My birthday, had a good day. H.W. gave me 2 ½ rolls & a little tin  tobacco for the pipe – found squashed tin ‘Instant Pablum’ on the scrap-barge today – had some after tenco (roll-call) – I don’t know what it is supposed to taste like but, this tasted like rank coffee in a solid lump. 1st cold shower.

7 MAY Working at the camp today, cleaning up for the big inspection on 9th. Pleasant change – digging air-raid shelters etc. I hope it doesn’t rain before the inspection – it would wash them away. The new sergeant is a nasty piece of work swears in English or what he thinks is English. Lofty was missing at the factory for two hours – He’s had complete lapse of memory. He doesn’t know where he is, what he is or how he is.

9 MAY In camp for first part of the day, got 6 fags from Irasca for making a good job of the whitewashing. Major General in charge of all PoWs came round. Piquet tonight.

10 May. YASUME. Started on my smoking jacket. HW is trying to buy me a new pipe. Last week Logan & Shepherd turned up at the factory on a lorry, apparently they came here in January. Things were much the same in Sham Shui Po. H. Pears & a few others died, lot of blindness there last summer. H.K. been heavily bombed. No news of Pete.

23 MAY YASUME. Startling developments this week! Page’s time-promotion day, we all received a bun the size of a billiard ball to celebrate it. They sent Sears to the factory one day but brought him back. His mind is a complete blank. Pollett  died at Osaka hospital. I’ve been turfed out of the small bucket because I’m supposed (to have) had big rations from H.W. & Bread has been cut altogether & in its place we get extra 45kgs beans, 18kgs veg & 12kgs rice, veg stew & whatever Otani gives us for working the extra hour at tiffin.

1st JUNE No Second front. looks as though the war will last forever in spite of Dad’s letter to the contrary. The atmosphere in the camp is improving rapidly. The nips seem to (be) making it easy for us now. All the guards have been changed and they seem to have replaced them with all the cushy blokes they could find. They put in loud –speakers and we had a record recital when we got back, do a PT to music. They surprised us with 1 1/2lb box of strawberries last night each. The difference in the men is amazing, they’re putting on weight already. I’m amazingly fit & strong and well-built looking. I can lift 170lbs off the deck with one hand. Brown as any Indian & weigh 59kgs.

2nd June Got into trouble today – 7 of us were carrying gas to a new store when we found 4 tins of fish oil – one of which we whipped away. We filled 2 ½ bottles of it before the storehouse missed the tin. Terrific uproar ensued (slapped) up on the spot by Yamasaki and are now  on edge waiting for the consequences.

3rd JUNE Yamasaki passed the oil business over after I’d given him a plausible excuse & and a pair of pants.

  1. JUNE Great News !! The second front opened yesterday & Rome fell on the 3rd. The rice & beans have been messed around with & again we sell out. My pay has been raised to 8Y.70 per month.

13 JUNE YASUME. For having worked 21 days uncomplainingly, we have been granted another yasume on the21st. Second Front still going strong. Writing letter today – lost 3 ½ kg – 56 now. Heard with fear of raid on London by new weapon. Q.B. The nips had a raid last week & got into a hell of (a) panic, counting us & putting 2 companies of guards over us. Teaching E. Adams French. New developments – Page being moved to Kobe Hospital. CC going – 200 Yanks coming on 25th with Airforce MD in charge. Factory almost at a standstill. Borrowing barges of coal especially for an inspection last week. Trouble over H.W. things were getting too hot – laying off for a bit. Got 2 more boils, a virulent cold & diahorrea. Went in no-bean bucket. Yamasaki told one o the boys that if the Haitai (Nip MP’s) came round to say he was at the Benjo. (Lavatory) I give the war another 9 months.

24th  FLT. LT. KNOX has come in place of Page. Seems very intelligent bloke – captured in Java on the way to Singapore from England.

27th YASUME I’m afraid the YANKS have been sunk or intercepted, they’re not coming now – we may get a few survivors. An RC Priest gave an address today & it was nothing more than an apology for the war – asking us to bear no malice towards the Nips after the war. The priest & his assistants are among 51 who ate shark for tiffin and contracted ptomaine poisoning – he couldn’t have been so pure as his robes led one to believe.

1st JUNE 2 plums & an apple were issued per man.

11 JUNE YASUME. Had another raid last week. Nagasaki was bombed. Most comprehensive search ever today – found knives, paper etc. etc. – passed over, sweating. Mossy’s, lice & fleas are overrunning the camp.

18 YASUME a complete surprise to us. News is very good – we will definitely be free this time next year. Men were happy & singing this morning & the Nips took it out of us, but this evening Tojo gave a speech on the loss of Siban (?) and the serious consequences for Japan & they turned quite apologetic. Reg Davies had an accident & lost his right arm – feel very fed-up about this. The new CC was disgusted with our eating conditions at the factory, tomorrow we are coming back to camp for tiffin as an experiment. Worried terrifically by the bombs & evacuation of London. I got a very bad dose of diahorrea again. Went 15 times in the 12 hours from last night. Nips at the factory are getting extremely easy towards us – they have put men on a lot of our heavy work leaving the lighter jobs to us. Some guards have told their men not to work so hard – they’re beginning to see the writing on the wall. The drought still continues, shoveling iron ore & coal at 96 degrees in the shade is no joke, this rice crop is ruined.

26th YASUME. The war is winding up. These people are in a panic, running round in little circles trying to find a way out of the mess. Taya (Japanese official?) has been kicked out – Siban has shaken them – they say that defeat nears as enemy advances. The ARP in this country is practically non-existent & their buildings are mainly of wood. Russians advancing at a terrific rate. 2 PoWs escaped from another camp and threw them into a panic again, they’re a scared as little kids. I think that the CC has been sent from H.Q. to make things easier for us. Chow in camp – pills for Beri-Beri & he has asked for 3 yasumes a month & asked us for ideas on improvement of the camp & our health. Hardly any work in the factory. My date is 6/2/45. ( wishful forecast of release)

AUGUST 8 YASUME. I seem to remember that it’s Les’ (younger brother) birthday today. Getting really worried about this RCA (?) bombing according to these people London has been evacuated & the southern half completely destroyed. Preparation for the prisoners who’re supposed to be coming on the 18th. I was fed up last week so I plucked up the courage to smash my toes with a lump of pig-iron, got the day off. To save fuel the nips say that the beans are to be crushed & put into the rice now. The first issue gave me acute diahorrea & I haven’t stopped since. All the factory guards have been changed round. Finished reading The Brothers Karamazov again.

13 September  YASUME. Much water has passed down the canal since I last wrote in this diary. Firstly 1400 letters came in on 25th last month. I received my 5 yesterday. 1 from aunt Doll & 4 from home – surprised about Rita (Sister) – I’ll have to look her up when I get home (if). Secondly, 300 new PoW’s came on the 30th. We moved into the other hut on 28th – ½ day to do it in.  They’re from Thailand & suffered terrible losses from dysentery etc. & and were sunk & survivors picked up by destroyers.  We’re being kept apart at the moment by an extra fence but they say that when they start work the fence is coming down. There’s no work for them however & the Nips repeatedly put off their starting. Today is the time that my diahorrea has eased for 2 months. it culminated in an attack of fever (temp 101) & jelly legs, coupled with 21 day’s work on the trot –  this nearly creased me – I am feeling much better now. News! Russia has stopped at Warsaw but has taken Rumania & Hungary. We have gone right through France & are now attacking Siegfried Line. Much the same out here. Nip staff are getting very awkward again. Chaps from Woodford Ave. among new Prisoners.

18  SEPT.  More fun & games – For 3 days now we’ve been paddling to the factory because the tides have been high & the water has been seeping through the drains & holes etc. but yesterday over-did  itself – a strong wind blew up inshore combined with a high tide & burst over the dykes. The water rose rapidly until 14.30hrs when it reached within an inch of the top of the lower tatami in the huts. We are about 6ft above sea level so that the factory & Amagasaki are about 8ft deep in water. All the power failed – Thousands of fish were floating in the huts & camp together with the contents of the benjos. The boys had a pleasant time catching fish & some sea birds which they cooked & scoffed. Some were scared because we’re isolated here & another 3 feet of water would have left us on the top platform with nothing to eat. The Nips panicked at first but when we’d saved most of the rice all they were taken . . . . . . . . (records too blurred to read) . . the enormous cost of the inundation. Barges & boats were floating along the road. .

The Camp Commandant came this morning in a fandoshi (loincloth) & shirt – hence the yasume today. I think for many more days. The flood’s over a few miles & everything in the area is out of action. In the village, children are sitting their back….. (?) while their mothers in fandoshies bale out. This has set this place back for years. They’ve tons of food & perishable goods destroyed. Probably some lives too. It gave me the very excuse I needed – yesterday I sold the Nips 2 pieces of leather for 20 cigs. I piece which I didn’t have and had no hope of getting  . . . . promised to give him today –It was washed away in the flood. I was on piquet last night but when the relief woke me, my eyes were streaming with tears and stung like lime burning them I had to get the MO out of bed – I couldn’t stand the smallest light on them. They put some drops in my eyes bound them up & Pete finished off my . . .(?). MO said it is conjunctivitis caused by looking at welding flashes.

25th YASUME. We were sent to the factory in the water all last week. It’s in a terrible state.  The new chaps started work . . .  so we were allowed to speak to them at the factory when the fence came down. I found one chap from Woodford Ave. They’re a great crowd & been through some terrible experiences, shipwrecked, left 15,000 out of 30,000, dead. In Thailand through disease and brutality. But peculiarly, have been living on the best of chow, that’s why they are so big & strong-looking compared with us.

3 NOVEMBER I haven’t dared to get this out for over a month. There’s been a series of searches after a chap was caught with a paper that has kept us . . . . .  happening(?). Most of the chaps jettisoned their diaries, etc; 3 year’s worry & work. A new CC has taken over & is skulking the Nip staff completely – made them issue some soap – first for 3 months. Last week we wrote a card home   2  . . .before a letter. Sent in some Red Cross parcels (16). They issued 1 & some of the cigs that were bad & kept the rest. Joe took my smoking jacket & Tabi (straw sandals) slippers from me: I managed to escape punishment by saying Maracabi beat me up last year for it, all my work wasted, wearing it himself probably. The whole raison d’etre for the entry today is the fact that yesterday I received 5 more letters with 3 photos in them. The elation has not worn off yet, in fact I’m off my chow and a little sick over them. I’m the proudest man in camp – everyone mistook my Mum for my sister & Les for my father, I fell in love with Les’s girlfriend he’s a very lucky chap. The twins surprised me most. Rita is quite a young woman & Ron is amazingly like me. Dad is still the same old Dad.

16 DEC Much water has passed under the bridge since I last made an entry. The weather is now our deadly enemy. We feel the cold now as we’ve never felt it before – it deadens the bones & keeps us shivering & chattering no matter how many clothes we put on. It has already taken its toll – 3 men including Mr. Worrell died within 48 hours of each other last week – suffering from beri-beri. The wherewithal to save them was in the store in the shape of 3 ½ RX parcels per man which came in last month and are saving until Xmas. The immediate result was an issue of an extra blanket & an increase of 80 kgs per day extra veg. Some more comforts were issued. I received 5 more letters & 2 more photographs; one of the twins taken this year. They’re certainly growing up fast – I can’t get over it. Rita is quite a grown woman. From the news, I have reconciled myself to spending another year in here. Tokyo is getting the heat almost daily now. Last week, there occurred a really big quake & 2 or 3 smaller ones: I can hardly describe my feelings during the big one to see the apparently solid factories & roads swaying from side to side & still water being tipped out of its bed shook my confidence in the old world – even the nips were scared this time & made a dash for the open. I’m on the navvying squad now. Looking forward to Xmas – saving up again. TAKAHASHI. (?)

XMAS DAY 1944  Once more that evil anniversary is upon us. The parcels were issued 1 per man on 17th by special permission from Osaka because of the deaths – 1 more died on the 17th & 1 today making the fifth this month. We had so much rice today that 27 bucketfuls were sent back to the galley for tomorrow – Amazing when the people are absolutely starving outside. Pete (one of the current group – not my lifelong friend who was left behind at Sham Shui Po) & I are mucking in on our parcels.

New Year’s Day 1945 They’ve stopped the 31st as a yasume this year. Nips up in arms about it. Been very sick last 3 days had bust up (gluttonous meal) with Pete on Boxing Day & overdid it – easing up now. Many presentos (?)  from Pete, committed to memory. Osaka extremely worried about deaths 4 lots of doctors been inspecting. 10 more going to Kobe. Turner returned. Sam Gough gone to Kobe.

2nd JAN Pete’s Birthday. Had terrific bust-up:- Memory.

9 JAN YASUME. Brenchley died on the 6th. He’ll get no more P’s. (parcels ?) Yanks very active over here. 3 times last night: 1 on 4th during the day – most beautiful sight I’ve seen in Japan. 27 in formation so high that nothing could touch ’em. B ni ju ku’s (B29’s) on all the Nips lips now-a-days. On 7th, ½ parcel per man issued. Defeated Hall in his efforts to give gash (spare) ones to sick men (including himself).

MARCH 15 Yanks  beginning to concentrate. 3 heavy raids over OSAKA this month. 1 daylight raid in which 3 small planes came over the hut, boys saw their markings. In the night raid large areas of the village were burned including some offices and a barge in the factory. Food is getting very short – veg practically non-existent. Pete acquired complete works of Shakespeare for me.

10 APR. For the last month, rumours of a move have been very persistent. They’ve suddenly materialized. When some men came back from KOBE on the 5th, Page said that Osaka area must be cleared by July 1st. 2 camps have already gone. Joe Luis has left at last. These people are down to 3 fags a day. Cabinet upheaval – resigned en bloc. G. overrun practically but still fights on. Yarma surrounded. Willie McPherson makes the 4th man behind the T.B. screen. Taky left – bowed to me. The temperature went up to 25 degrees last week, dropped to 6 degrees again. I’m sunburned, got terrific cold and freezing. 12th APR. ROOSEVELT DIED

MAY 5th  24 today. Obituary Notices. Adolf dead. Goebbels dead. Nearly every other person of note in G. is dead. Brightman died.

8th MAY. Germany’s dead.

12th MAY – Mac. Nearly died – He was caught through the Doc. Being seen with eggs – tortured till he gave the Nip away, for three days – The same Nip . . .

19th MAY Draft rumours have been getting stronger every day. Today Pete told me, we should be split – at tiffin time told me I move tomorrow – I do. I’m writing this on piquet – last one in Amagasaki. Whacker’s with me but not Pete or Sandy – serious blow. I must sew this back into the lining again for some time

Au Revoir.

16th JUNE  1st yasume – been working since 26th of last month. We left at 5pm on the 20th. 25 hours later we arrived here. Pete broke down and shed a tear or two. Sandy was brokenhearted. Charly (Nip guard) pulled his fastest – he took everything off us that was wearable and issued rags. Meat Pasties before we left – This place is called TAKAYAMA 450 kms from Osaka & same from Tokyo on the north-west coast. The camp is of 300 men – 150 AMERICAN & 150 of us. The Americans are, on the whole, the most decent crowd of men I’ve ever met – put our shower (UK group) right in the shade, but they are dead scared of the Nips – they work until they drop, & take what the Nips give without a murmour. The camp is extremely clean, no lice or flies – bath every 4 days; Work;- All furnace work. In two-shift days from 6.30 – 6.30 & night from 5.30 – 7.30. Changing over every five days on which we are out for 22 hours out of the 24. Factory provides 1/2 mug of chosui , pap, once a day. Chow is shorter here & remaining constant, if we get anything unusual, it is taken off the ration. I’m losing weight fast – I’m missing Peter – but it won’t be many more months before Uncle Sam relieves us. We’ve brought the raids with us – until we came they had none. This is a shadow port just coming into operation – ammo, coal & food is coming fast. Looks as though they are evacuating some places.

1/7/45 Just passed the 3 ½ years mark, and I am at my lowest ebb. 3 ½ years! I am constantly amazed that the men are yet living & yet have some semblance of reason – we are as near slaves here as ever we shall be – the work here would kill normal men. On number 2 furnace, clothes begin to smoulder 12 feet away & we are driven to poke it. An epidemic has broken out among the men – Symptoms: sickness, thirst, diahorrea &  blown stomach with terrific pain. On one visit to the benjo my stule (stool) was covered in blood. blown stomach with terrific pain. 68 official sick & at least 40 more. The A’s here are 25% pro-nip, 50% spineless & 25% really decent men. Nips issued remainder of the parcels, 1 = 5 men – Forged a signature for the other. Opened every container and took raisins out of every packet, some butter, soap, cigs, gum. Warnings more frequent now. (Diary continues on several  pieces of scrap paper before returning to the small diary) This furnace is killing me on some days I only get 2-3 hours sleep in 24 & have permanent diahorrea through the beans. Al Mall says big cities are on half rations; all PoWs are being concentrated in this area. All records of PoWs have been lost in Tokyo bombing.

10 August At the end of last month this place had a terrific raid from 21.00 – 03.40. We were in the trenches (air raid shelters) 5 hours. Page next to me caught pneumonia and died. Whitley also died one night after work. Bandit crashed Dick with his sword & knocked him out for looking out of the window. 20,000 casualties.

15 August 1945 Great News & Events today. D. nearly fainted when he was given a piece of paper of the 12th – Headlines: “Russians declared war on ninth & going through Manchuria like water. At 12 o’clock they brought us down from the furnaces & nailed us in the Klinker Shack. Immediately afterwards half the nips left the factory, women crying & the nips left, gathered in groups & whispered for the rest of the day. Cooky & I found some p . . . . & boiled it.


16th Something happened on the other side yesterday. When we got to work this morning, B shift were wildly excited (for PoWs that is) saying the nips wouldn’t black out last night because the war was over and no bombers would come. The nips left No 2, completely. cut the juice – nor did they run it today but put double shifts on the other – Nips say there is a truce on. Hot Bath.

17 NO WORK TODAY Every one says the war is over. Bandit sent 200 men to the farm. They didn’t do anything except swim in the river eat the veg, in spite of the guards shouting. Didn’t send anyone in the afternoon but doubled the guard round the camp. Men are smoking outside and in the latrines & nips aren’t saying a word. Our YASUME TODAY.

18 No work again – becoming convinced that the war is really over. Bandit returned all personal papers & kit that he took from the Americans & us also money. Issued RX medical kit. Most men were up and awake all last night. Some have begun to tear up their nip clothes. Everybody is taking every others’ address. Quacks gave vitamin pills all round.

19 Hectic night last night. People smoking & running around all night. Rumour has it that we move some time today. half the men slept outside. Stacey pulled his Union Jack out of his pillow.

20 Tobacco issued, money issued. Sacho invited all the men he’d slapped into the office apologized, gave them 2 fags, said it was his duty and if any return to Japan his door will always be open – A very fair man. Nip officer looked at our clothing – there is no doubt that the war is really over now. Held a concert & sing-song. Rations were to be made up tomorrow with greater % rice. Packed up my few belongings. Been trying to analyze my feelings for the last 3 days; I’ve come to the conclusion that I haven’t any – after 3 ¾  years my (and 99% of the others’) mind is dead – no reaction whatsoever. Bandit returned and stopped the men from sleeping outside because of their health. 3 men went sick with temperatures tonight one of 40.4.

21st Another day of waiting

22  Exciting day, Bandit came in this morning – called the officers & told them that from now on we are no longer under the Jap military; we are to hold our own tenko’s & administration – go to bed & get up when we like and not salute the nips. All the kit, clothes etc. have been returned. We threw all our nip kit away. We are going to Kobe in a couple of days’ time accompanied by the Bandit himself. The ration store has virtually been put at our disposal but the quack has a bee in his bonnet about extra chow; Defty’s wrong . . . the quack with all his medical jargon and we’re getting extra rice tomorrow. Evans tried to start British Army discipline but was given the bird. Tomorrow we’re getting ½ box of tobacco each. I’m running a temperature, might be lack of sleep and the boils that have started appearing again, my foot is getting better. Ted hung the flags out.

23rd  Had a good night last night no mossies at all and very cool. Received the tobacco ½ lb per man. Bandit made startling statement ie. Planes are coming within the next 3 days to drop us supplies; we are to put a 20ft P.O.W on the ground (roof) for identification. He also said that the railways are in such a state that we may not move before the end of the month. Nips brought in a gramophone 4 records and needles. Sammy Third was proved to have rifled the bean store. He was cruelly battered, patched up & thrown into confinement – The noise of it woke me up at 01.00 hrs. Filled in our air-raid shelters. Food is improving every meal, oil & fish, flour etc. 4 meals from tomorrow. Started burning Nip pillow & clothes to keep mossies at bay. Party organized to gather anything dropped from planes.

25th  Got a note from Peter Walker. He sent me the pocket chess & 16 (?). Nips gave us rolls of real toilet paper. Some fighters flew overhead.

26th  NOTE from Peter Feloy, first news for 2 ½ years. Nips presented us with  . . .  . .  an appear (crossed apple & pear). Cooky & I got into the bridge finals by knocking out Lt. Whitney & Dennis. I’m in the police now.

27th  Pulled off the Bridge tournament.

28th Red Cross officials sent a letter saying that they were coming tomorrow and after we supply information, our particulars will be wirelessed home.

Continued from paper. (Scrap pieces)

31st Aug. Rained all day – after all that Saki, I slept from 16-30 till breakfast & slept after till tiffin. More clothes issued. Galley turned out a pudding of choc. Malt tablets & pemmican.

1st Sept. played bridge until 02.00 this morning & won Y8.50. Nips issue 500 cigs per man. Sent a note to Pete. We should be on the move in 2 or 3 days. Factory gave us the bullock, and a set of lacquered dishes as a souvenir.

2nd Bridge last night to 24.30. won Y16. Nips gave us doshi, soap, benjo paper & postcards. General MacArthur:- speech at 3.0 pm – we are to listen. The radio broke down. 9 American pilots landed at the aerodrome. They were supposed to come into camp tonight, but didn’t. The Commander sent a letter saying that B29’s dropped tons of stuff this morning & may be over here tomorrow. Also that a certain Col. Johnson says that evacuation by air is practicable and is asking permission. Nips handed over the whole camp.

3rd Dicks’ Birthday today. Yesterday we met the boys from the other camp & they came back with us for an hour, including Hookey. Had a nice quiet morning’s fishing.

4th The airmen came last night told us to be ready to move the day after tomorrow. Peter Feloy turned up last night! He looks remarkably healthy – been living on RX stuff& no rice for the last 2 or 3 days—just the same old Peter.

5th Undecided whether to move by plane or train now: Spent the day fishing & swimming. Latest news, we move 6.0 tomorrow night.

6th  Packed to move tonight. Had a stroll with the Camp Commandant last night – he graciously bowed and made way for us. Excitement starts. 1 large plane came over to look for us this morning – missed & dropped a whole load of parachutes in No10. We took a truck and grabbed ½. Later, 12 pursuits came to bid us farewell dropping notes, souvenirs, bread!! choc. Milk, coffee, etc, etc. 1 load dropped in the  school and injured 2 children. Quack very reluctant to put out any of it – but strong feeling made him change his mind. Slung rice & meat away, burnt tons of nip clothing & cigarettes. Boarded train with Hookey from No 10 at 16.00. 14 carriages for 100 of us – Nips travel in box cars. Went through areas which were once towns – now, just piles of rubble. Terrible sight – thousands of people living in improvised shacks made from burnt tin etc. Legs up twice their size with beri-beri. Plane dropped note asking if we needed any more chow.

7th Arrived at a place just 20 mins. From Nagoya. US landing barges took us to the ‘Rescue’ Hospital Ship. Every stitch of kit except personal slung overboard. Bathed, sprayed with disinfectant & flea-powdered, given a RX convalescent bag with personal kit etc. – light meal (Telling on my stomach horribly). Sent cable home. LB’s transferred us to an APU for the night. Saw picture show on board.

8th Woke up 06.00 given 10 mins to board “TENACIOUS” – destroyer – welcome from our own countrymen – tremendous – showered us with cigs, choc, books, tea, papers & real KINDNESS. Shipped us to Tokyo Bay (Yokohama). Transferred to monitor for the night. Believe to be flying to Manila tomorrow. Saw another movie.

11 Boarded small trooper

19 Arrived in Manila after rotten voyage.

20 taken off trooper to a RX Camp outside Manila. Cigs, Choc, B…., Beer etc., etc. on tap! Met practically the whole 12 Coy, including Peter.

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