J.E.R. Clarke Capt.

Q.X.6245
1942

Diary Part 1,February 1942 to April 1942

Wednesday 18 February 1942

Confusion all over the ship – some units to disembark – others to remain. Colonel Norris decided we should go and take McNamara with us. Pioneers & M.G. Btn eventually got off in late afternoon. We disembarked about dusk & then went back to the ship for the night. To take the sisters with us including the refugees from Malaya – a miserable crew. Most of us fairly cheerful but all realise what a criminal show the whole business is. No illusions about our fate. Hope the sisters are not caught too.

What a way it will be to finish the war. So near yet so bloody far. Casey & Parker & co. off to Australia and we are to be marooned here.

Thursday 19 February 1942

Finally disembarked at Priok. To Batavia in trucks and into train. Most interesting country. Train very clean and fast. Dutch naval airmen entertained Morris & I. Good Beer. (Heinekens). Arrived at Bandoeng. Job of baggage officer no sinecure. After some fun arrived at CHRYSTELYK LYCEUM.DAGO.VEG.

A beautiful little town about 2000 ft up in the mountains.

Friday 20 February 1942

Went down town Bandoeng. Most attractive city. A marvellous Hotel – Savoy – Concordia Club. Drank beer in a café. Met a lot of R.A.F. & R.A.A.F. chaps from Singapore & Sumatra. Must have been a shambles. Town crowded (sic.) with civilians from the coast. Never seen so many attractive women.

Days warm and nights beautifully clear & cool. Delightful quarters – will make an ideal hospital.

Saturday 21 February 1942

Fairly frequent air-raid alarms yesterday and today. Whole bloody population goes to earth, even army people. Wrong atitude (sic.). Damn planes a long way away could stand out & watch them . These people will not go far if they are so terrified of raids. I got quite a thrill out of them – like old times. Months since I have been in a raid. Ack Ack and fighter opposition pitiful. Saw my first Navy O S’s. Sat in a café for an hour yesterday & could not get a drink as alert was on. Had to serve ourselves although could hear or see no planes. Natives are streaming out of town. They are an extremely timid people.

Sunday 22 February 1942 – Wednesday 25 February 1942

No entries

Thursday 26 February 1942

Promoted to temp/major but did not know.

Friday 27 February 1942 – Saturday 28 February 1942

No entries

MEMORANDA

Officers of 1 st Allied General Hospital Bandoeng at time of dissolution:-

A.I.F.

R.A.F.

Lt./Col. Dunlop

Sqd. Ldr. Cummings

Maj. Moon

F/Pt. Peach

Maj. Corlette

F/Pt. Graham

Maj. Morris

F/Pt. Connelly

Maj. Clarke

F/Pt. McSweeney

Capt. McNamara

F/Pt. Wyllie

Lieut. Cameron

F/O. Kinmouth

Lieut. Smedley

F/O. Simpson

Lieut. Clark

F/O. Park

R.A.M.C

 

Capt. Rees

 

 

 

 

Sunday 1 March 1942

Mass at Convent.

Monday 2 March 1942 – Friday 6 March 1942

No entries

Saturday 7 March 1942

Wild rumours all day – believe capitulation of Bandoeng imminent. No chance of escape for us. Eadie ordered us to stay. Shall have a job getting rid of arms etc. Shall be terribly sorry to lose my Biretta.(Italian Handgun)

Later:- went down to Bishop’s residence with Tom. Took the Biretta to pieces & threw it away on the way back. A few whiskies & bed.

Sunday 8 March 1942

A very sad day.

Complete capitulation of Nederlandisch Indie. Heard the terms on the radio – most complete & utter surrender. Voluntary Aid Detachments (AAMWS)very depressed – poor things. We are wondering how the Japs will treat us. Plenty of work to be done in the hospital still. Went to bed feeling pretty miserable after a discussion of escape possibilities. Weary gave us the chance but hopeless.

Monday 9 March 1942

Spent all day waiting for Japs to appear. None arrived although I believe some in town. Have been frightful casualties at Chilachop. Boats crowded with refugees & R.A.F. sunk outside the harbour. One ship with 900 aboard. No survivors. Another two sunk for a loss of about 3000. An absolute shambles. Apparently a Jap fleet waiting off the south coast and sunk everything that came out. People still on south coast trying to get away but no ships – not even small stuff. Hysterical demolition destroyed many of them. Have given up all hope.

Tuesday 10 March 1942 – Saturday 28 March 1942

No entries

Sunday 29 March 1942

Jap officers called for return of civil occupations.

Patients – 560. 71 at Sol Sana. V.D.’s 134.

Lt. Col. Russell called – all ambulances to be handed in tomorrow.

Monday 30 March 1942

Staff & patients arrive from Gerout.

Bed state 624. V.D. 156. Sol Sana 94.

1 st Dutch A.A. Reg. sent 159 Guilders. to hospital fund.

Tuesday 31 March 1942

Gramophone bought for chaplains.

Milk ration increased to 50 litres daily.

Flies on increase – breeding in V.D. compound.

Bed state – 637.

Wednesday 1 April 1942

Bed State 643. 157 V.D.

N.E.I. Army in Bandoeng (P.O.W.) donated 1249 G. to hospital.

Thursday 2 April 1942

Brig. Blackburn inspected hospital. Spoke frankly of Moysy & Eadie. Staff Sgt. Clarke to Lieut. Ambrose to W.O.2. Both dated 26-2-42. Lieut. & Mrs. Disse entertained mess to rijsttafel.

1 st Formal mess. Sq. Ldr. Cummings presided.

Some singing – got fairly drunk & gave Bill Wearne a roaring welcome.

Friday 3 April 1942

Bed State 669. 166 V.D.

Dutch Paymaster sent us 1000 G.

Saturday 4 April 1942

Promoted to T/Maj. Dated 26/2/42. Harvey Jenkins arrived from Leles to see me.

Ordered to have all nurses out of hospital in a week.

Got Jenks tight before bed

Bed state 623 V.D. 178

Sunday 5 April 1942

500 F. donated to hospital by Maj. Denman. R.E. who wished to remain annonymous (sic.).

Jap. reporter & Jap woman of Jap. propaganda dept. interviewed Cummings & Dunlop. Asked some amazing questions. Later, 3 Jap. officers arrived & furiously ordered down Queen Wilhelmina’s portrait & a Dutch flag – missed the Orange flag.

Jenks went back to Leles.

Monday 6 April 1942

Bed state 680. 164 V.D.

Visited by 2 Jap. officers – apparently innocuous.

Tuesday 7 April 1942

684 – 165

Sol Sana 134

Dutch M.P.’s picketing around hospital. Went for a walk in spite of them.

Wednesday 8 April 1942

690 – 162.

Morris interviewed station master in ref. transferring fit patients to units at Batavia – also asked that any patients arriving to hospital be advised. Station commandant agreed. Later phoned that he would not take P.OW.’s without Jap passes & a guard. Capt. R.G. Piper of 2/3. Machine Gun Battalion. arrived to be orderly officer. No visitors or parcels admitted to hospital.

Thursday 9 April 1942

701 – 166

Capt. Nakazawa Jap. Gen. Staff called early for nominal rolls of personnel & patients – name – age – profession – address – race – rank & whether active or reserve. Stated again that nurses must go by Friday. C.O. discussed rolls with A.V.M. Maltby & [I] decided to give only name – number & nationality. Formal mess. Congratulated formally on my promotion.

Friday 10 April 1942

714-167 Highest Yet

Capt. Nakazawa came again for rolls. All cars ordered down to W.D.. Bandoeng. Did not send ambulances & trucks. Returned later furious & ordered that these vehicles be sent. Small farewell to sisters in mess. Finished the gin. Mrs Borgman Brouer made a speech – C.O. replied. Sisters gave a party in main ward for patients. Matron again made a speech.

Saturday 11 April 1942

708 – 167.

Mrs. Disse gave C.O. her bike to offset loss of M.T. W.C. Caffee . P.M.O. R.A.F. to lunch.

2300 hrs Maj. Calder rang from station to say 12 patients from Tjibatre by Train – Japs promised M.T. to hospital but then said – too wet. Patients would have to sleep in railway truck. Hospital powerless to help.

Sunday 12 April 1942

699-167

At 0130 Jap. staff officer & guard demanded to see patients. C.O. protested in vain. Asks many absurd questions. Still no news of Maj. Calder’s patients – C.O. went to station but could not find them. Disse admitted to hospital.

Monday 13 April 1942

Jap Lieut. & interpreter with 4 guards (fixed bayonets) called to see C.O.. demanded all fit men ready by 1600 hrs for transferr (sic.) to “some other place”. Warned C.O. that if any men escaped he (the C.O.) would be imprisoned.

75 sent from Sol Sana 23 from Christelyk including Rentoul. Guard of 3 Japs. Helped some of them with their baggage.

Tuesday 14 April 1942 – Thursday 16 April 1942

No entries

Friday 17 April 1942

Flat out all day packing up and trying to get work finished. Decided to work all night. Definitely to move out tomorrow – Kinmonth – Connelly – Simpson – Park – McSweeney to be left behind & also Ambrose & the two Withers. No idea where we are being taken. Many Jap. officers & heavy guard.

Saturday 18 April 1942

Finished dentures & got them all in. A hurried breakfast and loaded up. Discarded greatcoat and a few other things. Laden like a pack-mule with valise etc. 4 mile march in sun to prison.

LANDSOPVOEDINGGESTICHT.

VOOR REGEERINGS PUPILLEN.

No food that night. A very sketchy search before we were marched in.

Sunday 19 April 1942

Mass early in Dutch part of camp. A little dry bread for breakfast. 536 of us in unbelievably small space. In our room 14’ x 20’ – 17 officers. Many men on verandas & in open. Dutch very kind. Parade in evening – C.O. struck by Jap officer. No singing allowed. Criticised our discipline – threats of shooting etc – obviously meant. Some food later.

Monday 20 April 1942

LANDSOPVOEDINGGESTICHT.

A reformatory for juvenile criminals. Main buildings form a square with large quadrangle containing two L shaped buildings. Pukka prison atmosphere – plenty of iron bars. We are confined to very small section. Showers not bad and latrines for natives – squatting type – no flushing – have to fill a bucket & sluice them down. For the last few days have had a hell of a time with them – we can’t use paper as it promptly blocks them – use a bottle or small tin of water. Made an awful mess of myself for a start but soon got the hang of it. Dan Buckley taken over the hygiene job.

Food still very meagre. Still bloody hungry.

17 officers & 243 OR.’s moved round to back.

Tuesday 21 April 1942

Cloud of depression lifted a bit today. Yesterdays move has got all the men off veranda’s and under cover. Makes a big difference. Still very little food. God how hungry I am! Very hard to leave iron ration untouched. Scraped acquaintance with a Dutch naval lieutenant named Fisse.

Decided to keep the lads in their own compound except those on duty in the kitchens. Japs do not mind Dutch coming to see us but apparently take a poor view of our being in their compound. The guards are quite unpredictable, hard one day easy the next – always producing some quaint and incomprehensible idea out of the hat which as a rule has no apparent object. Quite impossible to know how we stand with them from day to day. Two of our officers do a piquet on the gate in two hour stretches. A tedious job but can trust nobody else to do it. Japs don’t object to people going through our gate but threaten to shoot anybody who climbs through the very inadequate barbed wire. Already the troops have started trading with the criminal Javanese warders who are profiteering to an enormous extent.

Wednesday 22 April 1942

Bayoneting: Japs very concerned about escapes. None from this camp but from a neighbouring camp quite a few have escaped. Three Dutchmen were caught. They were tied up to a pole in front of the prisoners of the camp from which they escaped. The commanders of the other camps were also forced to attend and a Dutch M.O. They were then bayoneted – each man several times. One died quickly the other two begged to be finished off and were shot. The M.O. fainted. Our CO. was told that a similar fate would be in store for any of us escaping with the exception that officers would be beheaded. Pleasant people!

Anyway not much object in escaping – nowhere to go and natives treacherous. Also informed that camp commanders responsible for their men and in any escaped the C.O. would be executed.

Thursday 23 April 1942

Warned of search of camp. All contraband collected and kits laid out. Japs did not arrive. C.O. went to H.Q. to report. Discipline again criticised. Men all had hair close cropped. Bread ration getting smaller 16 men to a loaf this morning. Vitamin content of diet pretty low.

9.30 P.M. Just had great feed – mashed potatoes meat & vegetable – hash. To bed contented for first time in 5 days.

Friday 24 April 1942

No entry

Saturday 25 April 1942

Anzac Day. Red cross.

Observed a three minute silence at 12.30. Ordered to hand in all Red Crosses. Informed that the Japanese no longer recognised the Geneva cross as one of their hospital ships had been sunk by the Americans. Certainly makes no difference to us at present.

Sunday 26 April 1942

No entry

Monday 27 April 1942

Hair. Respirators & tin hats.

Another set of commands today. All Respirators and tin hats to be handed in and all officers to have their hair cropped. Much amusement at our strange appearance. Still it matters little and it is certainly very comfortable.

Tuesday 28 April 1942

1700hrs inspection by Jap. officer. Full dress kit inspection. Troops did it very well. Polite sort of officer – Arthur and I took him round. Said he was very pleased with our troops discipline and orderliness. A bit of a change for us. Made some promises about getting us essential drugs and some beds for our sick quarters. (Heard no more about it)

Wednesday 29 April 1942

Emperor of Japan’s birthday.

Ordered to parade and salute the Jap. Emperor. Weary evaded the order very neatly and greatly to everyone’s amusement.

Thursday 30 April 1942

Princess Juliana’s birthday.

Enquiries about A.A. gunners. Dutch celebrated their day by dressing up and keeping a clean camp.

An interpreter arrived and asked us would we please supply some A.A. gunners to tell the Japs. how to work a Bofors! We had no A.A. Personnel. Some of the Dutch very slavish about such things. Perhaps because most of them have their families here. There are few things I would not do if Bon & David were threatened. Still in other cases no excuse.

MEMORANDA

British officers – P.O.W. in LANDSOPVOEDINGGESTICHT.

2 Rooms.

No. 1. 14’ x 20’
Lt/Col. Dunlop
Maj. Moon
Maj. Morris
Maj. Clarke
Capt. Rees R.A.M.C
Capt. Lancaster 11 th Huss
1 st Lt. Cameron
Capt. Piper 2/3 M.G. Btn.
2 nd Lt. Rintoul R.A. (A.A.)
2 nd Lt. Dallas 11 th Huss
2 nd Lt. Chadwick 11 th Huss
Chaplain Elliot
F/Ct. Graham
P/O Palin R.C.A.F.
P/O Binstead

Room No. 2. 20’ x 20’

Maj. Corlette
Capt. McNamara
1 st Lt. Christmas (A.A)
1 st Lt. Smedley (M.T.)
1 st Lt. Clavell (A.A.)
Sq. Ldr. Cummings
Sq. Ldr McGrath
F./Lt. Peach
F./Lt. Wyllie
F./Lt. Oakden (R.A.F.) N.Z.
F/O. Glowrie R.A.A.F.
F/O. Ryan R.A.A.F.
F/O. Hill R.A.F.
P/O. Cicurch ( U.S.)
P/O. De Rex (R.A.F.)
F/O. Boyce (R.A.F.)
Chaplain Cameron
504 Other ranks

Friday 1 May 1942

Weather. Division into 50’s & list of money. Rained like blazes. Ordered to divide our men into groups of 50 each including 2 sergeants and one captain to be in charge of ten groups. No idea what it means – if anything.

Saturday 2 May 1942

No rain. Debate in Room 2.

NIP. Orders:- no gambling – bugles handed in.

Latest order rather amusing. No gambling permitted in the camp, and all bugles to be handed in. The latter was easy as we have no bugles. Had a fierce debate in Room 2 on “Is Religion necessary”. Some great heresies propounded. Came to no very definite conclusion.

Sunday 3 May 1942

Chess Tournament. Debate on religion in Room 1. Continued yesterdays debate. Decided to abandon such a subject. I got cleaned up very early in the chess tournament.

Monday 4 May 1942

Breakfast. Rice with a little brown sugar from our smuggled supply. Spent morning sunbaking & studying Dutch verbs. Lunch: Rice & very thin soup. Afternoon – reading. Evening meal: Rice & a sort of Bun cooked in coconut oil. Mixed some sardines with rice and some cheese with the bun. – marvellous meal. Are to put in 1G per head for extras. Shameful scenes by some of the men – want the food but unwilling to pay.

2200 to 2400 on the gate.

Tuesday 5 May 1942

Glutinous mass off [sic] rice pounded with water for breakfast. Shaved to day. Moustache seems to be at a standstill. More cheese & butter arrived from Dutch. Still some trouble collecting the levy from the men.

Just heard that all civil servants in the country both native and European have been dismissed. No lack of rumours still.

Wednesday 6 May 1942

Breakfast – rice – cocoa & sugar.

Japs want age of all P.O.W.s.

C.O. bought some bread & jam – supper at 9 pm

Latterly many arguments with Lancaster and co. These people see the old comfortable sporting life slipping away and regret it fiercely. Amazing mass of prejudices. Talk a lot about the “ill treated” English farmer and other nonsense. Don’t know anything about primary production on a large scale. Frank Graham gets on the same track sometimes. Apparently at most Public schools they absorb many prejudices and social graces but little real broad education. Palin argues manfully with them. I must come to his assistance more often.

Thursday 7 May 1942

Breakfast early 0830

Gave Arthur a chess lesson.

Lecture on A.A. defence by Lt. Christmas. More sunbaking.

The Dutch commander a queer and untrustworthy person – half caste and very conscious of it. Tries repeatedly to trap Weary into an admission that the Australians hate the English. Queer fellow in many respects. We do not trust him. Slavishly frightened of the Japs. Dutch are allowed out under guard to play tennis & football – we are too dangerous! It is more of a compliment than a hardship.

Friday 8 May 1942

Lunch of native dish with dried fish.

Inspection by Nip. Officer 1830. Not a word spoken. All badges of rank & distinguishing badges to be handed in to-morrow. Feel pretty sore about it.

John Morris lectured on “Behind the scenes in a Broadcasting Station”.

Saturday 9 May 1942

Spent all morning removing badges of all kinds – the bastards – I kept one full set. Dutch have appealed to a higher authority. These petty indignities very difficult to endure calmly.

Spent most of afternoon reading. Played a few games of chess. Fisse arrived this afternoon and promised us some news to-morrow. He is going out with the ration party and hopes to see his wife.

Quite a few of the Dutchmen are allowed out to play tennis but we are hated & feared too much at present for similar treatment. The Dutch are very pliable for the Japs. Give them any information they want etc. Navy are a good crowd but majority of the army pretty spineless. Nice people but not fighters. Japs seems to hate the Americans more than anyone.

Sunday 10 May 1942

Mass at 8 and Breakfast – Bun cooked in coconut oil and steamed rice. With our few extras damn good. Spent all morning sunbaking & working at Hollands. Nasi goreng for lunch – a huge helping each. Also some milk.

Slept all the afternoon till late. Then went round & talked to Mac & Ewen. Saw Fisse this morning and heard news of the naval battle off the Carolines. Rumours still terrific but the little real news we get is encouraging. Most of us fairly optimistic. Frank Graham a terrific pessimist. C.O. has his ups & downs.

Monday 11 May 1942

MAANDAG.

Breakfast – rice porridge – smuggled in some tinned milk & sugar yesterday so not too bad. Have not been hungry now for about 5 days. Wonder how long it will last. Also got in a lot of native tobacco yesterday.

Many rumours about battle in Coral Sea. Fisse came round this afternoon –brought some butter. Arranged to continue Hollands starting tomorrow. Slept most of afternoon. John Disse came round & says Allies have invaded France – swears it is true – hope so.
Raining like blazes.

Tuesday 12 May 1942

DINSDAG

Jap. H.Q. informed Weary that we are No 13. camp.

On gate piquet at 8. Bun & rice for breakfast. Spent most of morning trying to get Arthur’s & the C.O.’s gear hung on the wall. Did some sunbaking & so to lunch – rice & soup. Slept most of afternoon – some reading.

Many rumours & a little real news filtering in. Still smuggling some food in. Soup & rice for dinner. Frank Graham depressingly pessimistic – stupidly so.

Ewen brought in some good news to-night. Frank mucking about with his mosquito net.

Rumours of changes in Jap cabinet – does it mean anything? Officers in charge of P.O.W. camps changed. Guard much stricter & most unpleasant.

Wednesday 13 May 1942

WOENSDAG.

Breakfast of thick glutinous rice porridge very hard to swallow. Succeeded in scrounging half a duck egg. At 9.15 started Dutch again. Chap called Kerkof. Seems quite good.

Some sun baking then until 12. Waiting for lunch now – supposed to be brown beans – hope so. Morris has started trying to get the books about the place collected and formed into a library – good idea. Rehearsals for Julius Caesar in full swing. L.A.C. Bell & P/O. Hill both prof. actors. Starting spelling bee’s tomorrow.

Still wonder often whether Bon has heard anything of me. I hope so but we all feel that the Japs won’t bother about such things.

Malay classes starting this afternoon.

Later:- John Disse gave us a huge dose of Malay.

Beans & rice for lunch.

Rice porridge for tea but had some milk, butter & cheese too so dined well.

Thursday 14 May 1942

DONDERDAG.

Ascension Thursday – Mass near the gate. Congregation increasing rapidly. Can’t quite make up my mind about religion yet. For breakfast a Bun with butter – dry rice & sugar – coffee. Suddenly announced that people leaving the camp cut down to absolute minimum. Orderly officer alone to go out. C.O. not to go to H.Q. daily. Ration parties & wood parties cut out. Obviously want to cut down on contact with outside world. Something going on. Many rumours and news good. Japs apparently suffered considerable Naval reverses. Russians said to have captured Rivel. We sent 3 sick men to Tjimahi – Arthur Moon accompanied them – saw McSweeney Connelly etc. All well – saw Reg Withers. Our first contact with them since leaving the Christelykte. C.O. seems to take a good view of the news filtering in. I do not dare to hope for much but am far from down hearted. Spent last night counting up some scores which must be settled.

Friday 15 May 1942

VRIJDAG

End of our 1 st month in prison. Time has gone fairly quickly. Orderly officer has just come back from H.Q. 12 native lads from the Reformatory escaped last night. Went round to the other room to sunbake. Guards searching & belting the Javanese boys. Then guard came round to our side and the supremely comical & Gilbertian episode of the tool cupboard and the sentry’s wife. Fred Camroux and co. busy replacing shelves etc. so no Dutch lesson. Had a good long sun-bake.

News of naval battle in Coral Sea. Japs lost about 10 naval ships including 2 aircraft carriers & also about 11 transports and supply ships. Heavy fighting in the Crimea. C.O. went down to Jap H.Q. again. Jap M.O. called for particulars of patients we sent away yesterday. Long discussion with Lancaster, Palin, on virtues of Brit. Education system. Walked for about an hour before dinner – rice & stew. C.O. had succeeded in buying some bread again. Palin is O.O. and bought some sugar. Spelling bee after dinner – then read for a while & so to bed. Slept badly – room terribly stuffy – mosquitoes bad.

Saturday 16 May 1942

ZATERDAG

Did not sleep too well last night. Had some difficulty getting up this morning. Decided to start carving a chess set. Spent most of the morning sharpening my jack knife. Then started off to carve the King. Slept this afternoon until about 5. Rudely awakened by Arthur to be timekeeper to a spelling bee. Concert at 6. The “Rice Revellers” quite good – one very fine baratone [sic]. Got a few cigarettes and some sugar tonight. Had to do some quick hiding when a couple of Jap guards came round unexpectedly.

Very little news today. The usual wild rumours. Believe we may be allowed to buy butter again in a few days time. C.O. did not go down to Japs tonight. This afternoon C.O. & Cummings questioned by Jap M.O.’s. Want information about Australia. Given us two days to write up answers to a set of questions. Will give our imagination a chance.

Sunday 17 May 1942

ZONDAG

Mass at 8A.M. Rice porridge and coffee for breakfast. Spend most of morning carving and sunbaking. News still very scarce. Have not seen Fisse for a day or so. This first month has gone quite quickly. We have started so many things to occupy the time that it is difficult to do everything in a day’s program. For the first couple of weeks felt pretty miserable but now we have settled down to a sort of lethargic existence and live from day to day. Still have moments of depression but they are fewer now. News is so scarce and unreliable that we have a very hazy idea of what is going on in the world. Ewen Corlette and a few others persist in thinking we shall be out of this by August but I can’t agree with them. I am resigned to at least 12 months prison – possibly more. Jack Ross is taking it very well. So is Dan Buckley. Jack has lost an enormous amt. of weight. Many of the lads can’t get accustomed to the rice – it nauseates them – and they are becoming very thin. Luckily I seem to be able to eat & digest anything and am feeling quite fit although of course not very energetic. Some days I am tortured by hunger which the rice fails to satisfy but I am even becoming used to that.

Monday 18 May 1942

Slept very badly last night and found it hard to get up this morning. A little apparently reliable news: Jap fleet supposed to have withdrawn to Rabaul where the allied air force is bombing them heavily. I wonder how much of this bloody news is reliable.

Spent the morning carving and swotting Hollands. This chap Kerkof seems very good. Amusing scene at the back gate with a sentry. He was talking to some of the lads trying to tell them how soon Japan would win the war. Then he said: “Australia Boom Boom”. Someone in the crowd immediately replied “Tokio [sic] boom boom”. The little Jap was infuriated and threatened to bayonet sundry of the lad.

Slept most of the afternoon until 6 when I had to go on the gate. Fisse came along about 7.30. Has been ill for the last couple of days. Had no news for me. Quite late tonight some Jap guards came in and after getting very pally with the lads started selling them cigarettes and sugar. Bloody strange crowd – can’t tell what they are going to do next. Guard seems to be changed completely every 3 or four days. Never know where we stand with them – same guard may adopt a totally different attitude [sic] each day. Let extra food in one day and refuse the next. Never offer any reason for their actions. Food has been fairly light again for the past couple of days.

Tuesday 19 May 1942

Criminals completely removed from the back block – today.

Rice porridge again for breakfast – foul stuff. Spent most of morning swotting Dutch in the sun. Played some chess too. Kherkof had some news for us. Heard it again later from various sources. Jap fleet being bombed in Rabaul and 3 warships sunk off Fambon. Prince Eugen sunk in North Sea & Churchill alleged to have made a very optimistic speech. Sounds good if true. One of Jap guards told Nobby Clarke that most of Jap troops have gone to Sourabaja, & Cherelion. All three places have been bombed & expect black-outs here soon. Jap said they expected allies to attempt invasion. Probably all “balls”. Soup & Rice for lunch – particularly good today. Dry rice tonight – opened a tin of fruit which helped it down. Been reading tonight. Slept most of afternoon and arranged with Skipper Glowrie to start navigation classes soon. Mosquitoes very bad at the moment. Most of us beginning to be impressed by persistent good news. Generally feel fairly optimistic but I am still prepared for a long imprisonment. Peculiar attitude [sic] of Jap guard apparent again this afternoon – problem was fraternising with our troops. One of our loud-mouthed troops yesterday swapped watches with a Jap who discovered it was useless later and slapped him down today.

Wednesday 20 May 1942

2 Years in the A.I.F.

Redbank – 2 years ago! Christ what luxury! Rice and a Bun for Breakfast – always enjoy it. P.O.W. camps taken over today by Jap M.P.’s. C.O. had to go down to H.Q. Touching ceremony – incoming & outgoing commanders made speeches and photographs were taken. C.O. tried to hide at back of group but was dragged to the front. Jap guards who have been so friendly lately tell us they are going home on leave. Cicurch did orderly officer’s ride this morning – came back with two enormous parcels of food. C.O. also succeeded in buying a few things. On the gate from 1200 to 1400 – had to miss the Dutch lesson. No news today. Slept for a while this afternoon then helped Arthur judge a spelling bee. Went to sleep again after that. Everybody playing bridge tonight. Sat back against the wall and tried some sketching – must persevere with it. Fred Camroux promised to make me a stool tomorrow. Mosquitoes bad again. Wish I had a few cocksec coils. Often wish I were quartered in the other room. Still I spend a lot of time round there now – much brighter crowd. Have been walking round and round our tiny piece of ground for about an hour every evening. Get somebody to walk with me and have some interesting conversations at the same time. Bed as usual about 12.

Thursday 21 May 1942

Tom held a solemn requiem mass this morning. C.O. turned up. Dutch choir bloody awful but organist good. Spent the rest of the morning helping Fred make the stool and then coaching him in his Dutch. I am afraid he is hopeless at it. Young Binstead went down to H.Q. this morning – was able to buy quite a few extras – bread – tinned milk – and pepper. Made a good lunch of rice and a highly flavoured soup. Carving all the afternoon and at last produced a King to my satisfaction. Little stool proving most useful. That mad bugger Leach in trouble again today – in the showers with his boots on. Lancaster put him on the mat. Dutchman came round this afternoon and gave the first of a series of Bridge lessons. I did not join in – can’t work up any interest in cards. Finished a novel tonight and scraped away at my carving for a while. Marvellous how we have settled down to this existence. War certainly makes one adaptable to circumstances.New guard mounted duty roday. Dutch smuggled a hell of a lot of stuff in. Mosquitoes bloody bad again. I shall turn in soon.

Friday 22 May 1942

Buns for breakfast again this morning. Did a little dental work and then round into the sun – sharpened my jack knife and spent the rest of the time on Dutch verbs. We are to be given more Room but apparently only what is left over when Von Lingen takes lavish accommodation [sic] for himself. He wants to have recreation rooms and God knows what while we have not even room to sleep in. The man has obviously been playing a dirty game of his own for some time. About 50% of the Dutch are alright but the rest are a lot of clucking old women – no guts.

Just heard that Von Lingen was beaten up pretty severely at the gate. One of the guards wandering about with a revolver and a big stick beating people up for no apparent reason. No news today except that it is confirmed that the allies are in Timor in some force. Only enough coconut oil for two more issues of buns. They may succeed in getting some more but not very hopeful.

Saturday 23 May 1942

Rijsttaf for breakfast. Bloody hard to get down. Warned of Jap inspection sometime today so tidied up the room and packed up kits. No time mentioned so shall have to hang about all day. Spent most of the morning reading. P.T. at 10.30. Arthur formerly [sic] invited Fred Laroux round at 12 for tea.

Jap M.O. came about the transfer of some of our sick to Tjimahi. No news again. Fisse came round to see me and told me of the beating up yesterday. He was in the Dutch fatigue party. They were employed shifting cases of milk over the road. Most of them succeeded in pinching some. Heard that fatigue parties from some of the other camps been busy dispersing bomb dumps at Andia. Jap sentry reputed to have told one of the lads that the yanks are doing very well. Still no sign of our moving into the new quarters. Spent most of the afternoon carving and then read till bed time. Got some cheese and milk last night. Dutch commander came round and gave us a few pounds of pressed beef – it will be marvellous. No Dutch lesson today.

Sunday 24 May 1942

Mass at 8 again. Feeling very miserable and homesick to-day. David’s birthday. He is probably walking now. How I had hoped I might see him before he was 12 months old. I wonder how long it will be before I do see him. Still missing Bon very much too. 5 months now since I got her last letter. We often wonder whether our people know what has happened to us – does not seem likely. Whitsunday today – apparently a great day for the Dutch – we are to celebrate by having coffee at 12.

On the gate from 10 to 12. Sat and worked on a bishop all the afternoon. Brisk walk with Arthur & Tom this afternoon. 4 Dutchmen caught bringing in sugar this morning. Sugar confiscated & 4 men bayoneted. One not badly hurt. 3 others sent off to hospital – not dead yet. C.O. told tonight that everyone must salute Jap soldiers regardless of rank at all times. Still damned homesick. Arthur went to Tjimahi with more sick today. Everybody at hospital well. Beverley walking about. He noticed lots of air raid shelters under construction. All seem to be getting very thin.

Monday 25 May 1942

A very eventful day. Started tabulating the weight & height of everybody as against their previous weight. Got the barbed wire for the new fence round the back – got a party to work and packed up for the move. Will be marvellous to sleep in a room not packed like sardines. 11 of us in a room 20’ x 20’ – will be heaven. Dashed round quickly when area was opened up and did some very successful scrounging. Got some timber for a chess board. New Jap commander arrived to inspect the camp – spotted the crown of Orange over the bed near the entrance and after ordering it down departed in great fury. Took up my new quarters this afternoon. Bunking between Fred Camroux and Piper. Bloody good tea – rijsttaf – sugar – milk – duck eggs – cheese. Illicit buying & smuggling very successful now in spite of Jap death penalties. Amazing the ingenuity displayed. A good deal by bribing the guard. Anyway most of them very stupid.

Tuesday 26 May 1942

Had a marvellous sleep last night. Dry rice and a bun for breakfast. Smedley and Camroux got going at carpentry again and the place soon littered with timber. In the middle of it all a Jap walked in and eyed the tools with great disfavour. Had a spirited discussion with Smedley – could not understand a word of one another’s speech and then departed doubtful – obviously bewildered by Fred’s eloquence. Went to P.T. at 10.30 & did a little dental work.

Went back to my room and Fisse turned up with the “dinkum oil”. Seems bloody good. Rice & soup for lunch – spent all afternoon carving – saw Fisse again. On the gate from 8 to 10. Dry rice for dinner – had some difficulty in getting it down – went to bed a bit nauseated. About 10.30 a Jap guard rushed into the room & with much grunting shut the door after him – stood up & prepared for the worst – he produced large quantities of cigars and cigarettes from inside his shirt & sold them to us. Promised to come again tomorrow night. Played DeKen a game of shove-halfpenny. Weary has decided to appoint me a sort of camp Q.M. in charge of furniture etc.

Wednesday 27 May 1942

Up fairly late and breakfast very late. Parade at 10.30 – hollow square. Went round taking an inventory of furniture with John Ross. Not much here – chaps in cells very comfortable. About 1.30 a meeting of Section N.C.O.’s and officers in orderly room. Trouble in raising 75 cents per head. Many men with money refusing to contribute. Decided to make another appeal to individual rooms. Not very successful. Most of the men really have none at all. Spent most of the afternoon carving. Had a good long walk with Reg Piper. Dutch class postponed. Fred Smedley very sick today – vomiting and diarohhea [sic]. Almost everybody has had it from time to time. Seems to be due to the enormous bulk of rice we have to eat to keep alive.

Cieurel a bloody nuisance – has started making a stretcher. A real little Yid & Jew till I am much happier in this room – people more alive. All Australians except Cieurel and Clavell.

Thursday 28 May 1942

Bun again for breakfast – butter & jam. Reg & I have been hoarding our little bit of butter for days now. Filled up on dry rice. The money for extras was successfully raised so supplies shall go on. Orderly officer had a peaceful role. Got some more sugar and cigarettes. Spent most of the day carving. Still feeling marvellously comfortable to have so much room. Turned in after a fairly good feed. I hope we continue to be able to smuggle sugar in. Many of the meals would be almost impossible otherwise. Had a long walk with Reg this afternoon. Almost everyone seems converted to optimism now. I occasionally indulge in optimistic dreams. Young Clavell is funny at times. Smedley has taught him all sorts of weird Australian expressions.

Friday 29 May 1942

Negen en twintigste mei.

Up at the last moment again. Rice for Breakfast terrific a sticky, soggy, lukewarm mass. Got it down with great difficulty and the aid of some sugar. Just about to go round to Sick Quarters when Dutch overate came round about furniture. Got twenty school desks and [forms?] – will be very useful. Saw Fisse again – dinkum oil once more – bloody good too. Spread it discreetly. Most of afternoon playing chess. Cieurel still making a complete nuisance of himself with the stretcher. Had a dam [sic] good lunch and tonight – milk – about 2 pints each in the room – wonderful. Had a most interesting talk with Morris tonight. Wonder what will ultimately happen?

I hope and pray that we have not got long to wait. Also considerable quantity of chocolate came in today. Shall turn in soon. Fred Smedley and Jimmy making a hell of a noise outside – chasing a rat with a couple of big sticks and much bad language.

Saturday 30 May 1942

The end of another 6 weeks.

A Bombshell – Just before lunch time we were told that the whole camp is being moved. A ten mile march before us – I believe toIchimaki. How we shall make it I don’t know. Supposed to move out early in the morning. We have 10 hand carts to help with the baggage and some who are too weak to walk it are to go per truck. Frantic packing. We have been happy and comparatively comfortable lately. God how I hope the new camp is reasonably decent. All pretty miserable about it. We have made our existence tolerable here and don’t know what we are going to. This is definitely one of my homesick moments. I am still tying hard to be optimistic but it is hard sometimes. Shall take my chessmen – I may be able to finish them. No news today – some terrific rumours. What wouldn’t I give to be out of it all. We are to be split up into nationalities for the march – does it mean we are to be split up ? I hope not. CO Appointed me as baggage officer – to take handcarts – Rintoul and Ian to go with me.

Sunday 31 May 1942

Last night: Got 10 handcarts from Dutch after some difficulty. We have 500 odd men – 10 carts. Dutch have 700 odd men – 50 carts.

Loaded officers valises on and went to sleep on bare floor about 3A.M. Jap time. Up again at 5.45. Loaded up & took carts out into road. Then had to march baggage party to main parade. Threats of throat cutting and much counting. Fell out my party & put on another snappy marching. Began the great trek at 9.30. Dutch carts – dutch troops – our carts – our troops. Column almost a mile long. Through the centre of Bandoeng – many onlookers – saw Nini, Lili and a few of the other V.A.D.’s. Past the railway station & through big Chinese & native quarter. At 1 st halt decent old chow gave me some tea. Our little sentry very good – further on we went thru endless campong’s – sentry bought us some green coconuts – good drink. No need to describe the march. I shall never forget it. Not a man dropped out not a kit bag discarded. Arrived at Racecourse at Tchimahi at 1.30. 4 hours hell. Then buggered about to some order. Counted and recounted. Finally about another 20 mins march to no 4. concentration camp. Europeans only. More parading & more counting when we arrived. Arthur & McGrath, Fred Smedley & rest of Lorry parties already arrived. Eventually led to quarters. 20 in one room – 12 in another. Absolutely exhausted – foot blistered – eating salt to make up for sweat losses. Had some hot tea and about 6 a very good meal. Quarters a bit crowded but good – bed boards. Huts with concrete floors – matting walls and tiled roofs. Optimists justified as although in many ways different it is a better camp. Very large – plenty of open ground. A canteen and a coffee shop – food very much better. Mainly Dutch O.R.’s only 10 officers. Dutch run the camp – our officers & N.C.O.’s allowed no authority over the men. Dutchmen seem to be very decent crowd. Saw a Nazi yesterday – made my blood boil.

Confusion at Race course terrific. Every room has to have one man awake all night. Do it in hour shifts. Turned in early after some congratulations on the baggage job. God how heavy those carts became. Absolutely marvellous what the human body can stand. Told that many more prisoners to come to this camp including 400 Americans.

The Dutch have a vegetable garden going and altogether they seem to be running the place very well indeed. We shall be quite content here if we are not pushed around to any extent by the Japs. We have to learn their words of command & to drill in their fashion. Must wear hats outside & off inside – get slapped down if you break this rule. About 3 weeks ago 2 men caught who had escaped from this camp. Brought back terribly knocked about and shot in front of whole camp. Their bodies left where they fell for hours.