This is Edward Polsue reporting for WarGen on the 15th August 2018. I’m with Mrs Julienne Knight and Mr Bob Knight at their house in Dorking. Mrs Julienne Knight is going to talk to me about her experiences at the Santo Tomas internment camp during the second world war in Manila. 

(JK) My maiden name was Jefferson and I went to the Philippines as a very young child because my father was building or instructing the building of the totalisator in the race track in Manila. It was an Australian invention and that’s what took us to the Philippines.

(BK) Her father was an engineer who was posted to Manila to install the totalisator machine in the race track in Manila and they went there in 1937 from Australia.

(Ed) So you’re Australian by birth?

(JK) Yes. My parents enjoyed the life there so much so that we stayed on and therefore we were caught when the Japanese invaded the Philippines after Pearl Harbour and it was very soon after Pearl Harbour and we…my father was listening to the BBC and thought…we had been living in a house on the harbour and looking out at the ships that were there plus the airport, the air force airport, was not terribly far to the south of where we lived and he thought that it was better for us to get away from that particular area. I don’t know how it was arranged but we transported things to live with to a new suburb of Manila and how they got into this house I do not know but as the Japanese were bombing I used to be…I spent my time with my mother under the stairs in a cupboard where she read the Wizard of Oz books to me to take my mind off whatever was happening. Then one evening my father realised that looking towards Manila there was an amazing…it wasn’t a sunset it was Manila burning, petrol dumps or whatever it was and he said ‘we are too isolated out here we’re going back to Manila itself.’ How they arranged accommodation for us I do not know but they put the mattress on the top of the car and all the chickens that my mother thought would be useful and rushed back to Manila and went into a town house again facing the boulevard on the Manila Bay but it was there when they, I don’t know how long we were there but it wasn’t until, I believe, March that the Japanese rounded up all the civilians who were taken off to the Santo Tomas.

(BK) I think it’s worth saying my love…I think it’s worth saying in the period up to the Japanese invasion of the Philippians Islands there were strong rumours within the ex patriot community that war was inevitable and that your relations in Australia did in fact suggest to your parents that they should leave Manila  because of the likelihood of war and this was, this feeling of the inevitability of war was fairly general throughout the ex patriot community, principally the American community, in the Philippine Islands but it was felt that…there was a man called McArthur there, there was the American army there, there was the American air force there and that any threat from the Japanese could be more than well countered by the numbers of American troops defending the Philippine Islands.

(Ed) Like the repulse of the Prince of Wales and all the rest of it and further towards China.

(BK) There was also the fact I think that life was very comfortable for people in pre war Manila. I mean it was an extremely comfortable ex patriot life they all had servants, they all had clubs to go to, parties abounded. Life was very good and a lot of people thought I think felt… (JK) it can’t happen to us… unwilling to sort of give this up against the possibility of war and of course how wrong they were.

(Ed) Do you remember your childhood being idyllic and running around and…

(JK) Oh yes. Being right on the edge of the boulevard my life was, eventually going to school when I was six, but going out and playing with other children with their armors looking after them and then we would be brought back for meals and things like that.

(Ed) Like Empire of the Sun?

(JK) Exactly yes, and trips…my father loved driving and seeing more of the actual island and we had many a trip to say (???) which is up in the mountains.

(Ed) And you had lots of school friends?

(JK) Yes the English, not exactly the English community it was more the American.

(Ed) And just out of interest what was the food like in pre war Manila was it delicious Filipino stuff or did you get American?

(JK) Everything you could think of. My parents entertained an awful lot too. My mother was very keen on entertaining.

(Ed) So tell me, you mentioned Pearl Harbour did you hear… you mentioned your father listening to the wireless do you yourself remember hearing about Pearl Harbour?

(JK) I think… not through radio I think it was more through my parents talking about it.

(Ed) Was there a sort of panic?

(JK) No I don’t remember being panicky until they started…because it was very soon after Pearl Harbour that they started bombing Manila.

(BK) It was the day after they started bombing Manila.

(JK) But I was looking up and it wasn’t until March that we were taken in so…we didn’t know where we were going. I didn’t know where we were going and I can’t remember if we got on a bus or the back of a lorry because they were getting people from all directions.

(BK) Darling interrupting you, it was actually January that you were taken in into the camp.

(JK) Well I was reading something else…

(BL) Darling…

(JK) Yes but that’s my mother’s notebook…

(BK) It’s specific

(JK) …January 5th…

(BK) You were liberated in February…

(Ed) February the 3rd…liberated by General McArthur, USA. Is this you?

(JK) This is me when we got back to Australia and that was in March.

(Ed) Aged ten and a half years.

(BK) That flag is a bit of a puzzle it is the Australian Merchant Navy flag which Julienne’s father kept with them in the camp…(Ed) The very flag?… (JK) The very flag, where they kept it I do not know… (BK) during the three years of their incarceration which was an extremely risky thing to do of course because had it been discovered…it was as toxic to the Japanese as the radios were in the camp of course.

(Ed) Contraband extraordinaire! Your father had connections to the Merchant Navy?

(JK) No he didn’t I don’t know…I may have known at the time where he got it but he kept it concealed the whole time and this doll is one I’ve had from pre war days, Puppy Dog, and he had a zipper in his back because it was supposed to be a pyjama thing but my mother put all her silver jewellery…not jewellery, cutlery and jewellery into it and a child carrying something like that you know they didn’t know and so he was quite precious all through the…

(BK) I mean you kept the contents for the whole duration of the war.

(JK) I have spoons here that my mother had made specially in (???) where they did a lot of silver work and they were in there.

(BK) And they survived, the spoons survived the war.

(Ed) Going back to your memories of having the Wizard of Oz read to you in the cupboard under the stairs…

(JK) We were taken into the camp and nobody knew what to do with us. People milled around the whole time looking for somewhere to sit down or lie down or… and I can remember waiting in the sort covered area of a patio of Santo Tomas building, the main University building… there were two patios on the side of the tower and we were sitting on the floor with our backs to the classrooms just waiting to see what’s going to happen to us. Then they, I don’t know what the time was, we were billeted in what they call the annex which was another building on the other side of the main building and women with children under a certain age were put into one of…well most of the rooms. We were there for quite some time until they opened up another similar building opposite which had been used as an isolation ward for anybody who was sick and I was there with measles, yes. They made it into a sort of clinic.

(Ed) Just out of interest I am wondering about the transformation of  your life and how quickly it became almost untenably different. Do you remember the first time you saw a Japanese uniform?

(JK) I think the first time must have been when we had roll call every morning and sometimes in the afternoon and they would come by a long line of people waiting and if the tally didn’t come to what they think it should have been we had to wait and wait and wait and be recounted umpteen times and sort of hours as they passed us.

(Ed) You were expected to submit… to yield a bow…to show respect to the Japanese guard.

(JK) But the commandant and his staff were at the front gate and only a few of the internees were involved with…we most of us just kept away from that area but there was one man who became very ostracised and disliked by most people in the camp because he was there the whole time with the Japanese. He was English and he spoke Japanese so he was the official interpreter and we found out after the war he was in fact an intelligence man who had been a missionary in Japan and learnt Japanese fluently but took over the role of knowing what was going on in the actual headquarters of the camp and it was he who messaged through to McArthur’s troops that we would be…the men would be annihilated in…

(Ed) Right so all the time…he so…he was the whole dishonouring his fellow countrymen seemingly betraying his country and everyone thought and he was ostracised because of that and all the time he was diligently working in favour…

(JK) Yes, and we realised later or heard later that various people that managed to get over the wall and disappear were actually helped.

(Ed) This is Mr Ernest Stanley is that correct?

(JK) Yes

(Ed) Yes I saw in your grandson’s film again. So that’s a brief portrait of life in the camp but you mentioned you had measles, the Japanese who treated was that…?

(JK) No, they were all internees. We had doctors, nurses, everybody and I mean my mother was not a nurse (she) volunteered to look after different people.

(Ed) Did the Japanese provide medicines. Did they provide at all?

(JK) The Red Cross.

(BK) When it got through.

(JK) When it got through, yes. My mother dealt with the Red Cross probably for that reason but through them she got calcium too, and this I can’t understand how, calcium too in the form of injections for me as well as a supply of dried milk and when all that ran out and my mother couldn’t give me any more injections she asked if they would give me infusions of her blood.

(Ed) You mother volunteered to have her…? Good grief.

(JK) When she was obviously getting weaker that had to stop.

(BK) I think it’s well worth here…darling quoting from your mother’s letter dated 9th March 1945 written on American Red Cross paper following their liberation she said ‘interalia with every available money Frank and I could get hold of we bought up milk and were able to give Julie one cup a day for a long while also we procured calcium to be injected into her. At one time I was giving her 10cl of my blood until it was taking too much out of me. So in these ways we were able to keep Julie fairly well. All she had was measles and they seemed to do her good.’

(Ed) The sort of sanitary conditions were such that measles did you good and you were only kept alive really by the fortitude of your parents I suppose?

(JK) Yes

(Ed) Especially given that the, if I have understood this correctly, the Japanese didn’t necessarily  willingly surrender medical supplies which were better used for them on the front line or wherever they needed it. It’s kind of…sorry it’s sort of unfathomable for someone like me who’s grown up with a very very…well no hardship whatsoever to sort of fathom parents being ready to give so much in such adverse conditions to keep their daughter…you didn’t have brothers and sisters did you?

(JK) No. I was the only one.

(Ed) You were the only one and you were how old…seven at this point, about seven? This isolation block were there lots of children in there…was it a hospital…?

(JK) Yes, it essentially for the children.

(BK) I think it’s also worth saying there were four thousand or about four thousand internees in this place. I mean a huge number including a great number of children. I mean the logistics of it all are quite extraordinary because the camp in fact ran itself…had to run itself  for demure because the Japanese didn’t really care. I mean the only thing the Japanese were concerned with was keeping everybody locked up and deprived of the sorts of things that keep body and soul together. From what i’ve read you had this extraordinary feeling coming to the surface within this community which comprised, as you said doctors, professors, teachers, engineers…you know people with considerable skills all of which were put together within the camp within the camp infrastructure to improve the best they could the life of the internees. I mean the camp was run as a business. It had a committee, it had its own prison, its own jail for people who…I mean within conditions like that you see as Dickens once said ‘you see the best of things and the worst of things’ and of course there were people who took advantage and broke the code of civilised living and were duly, when they were found out, were duly sentenced to be put in a prison within a prison by the committee.

(Ed) And that’s for stealing or for taking too much food or something like this…overeating rations or something I suppose?

(JK)  Yes it was generally that sort of thing.

(Ed) Just, since we are sort of on the morale of the camp was it high at the beginning of the war and generally decreased or did it remain fairly…?

(JK) You had pockets of it really because there were entertainers, you know nightclub entertainers. They would put on shows and they had choirs. I was at a dancing school with other little girls of my own age and we would appear on stage occasionally run by a woman who had been a dancer and taught it but there were all sort of pockets of this sort of thing.

(Ed) You mentioned school there were you as a seven year old…I mean was there any way you could continue your education?

(JK) It started with the teachers that were in the camp as well but in the end…well to begin with we weren’t allow Geography or History to be taught because the Japanese thought it might indoctrinate us or something like that but it just got that people didn’t really absorb things as they…it sort of started off but didn’t take off on a regular basis and I learnt my times tables from my father rather than my teacher. Although we did have teachers and it was a university building with a lovely library and everything but people just couldn’t put their minds to it.

(Ed) That’s presumably because of the lack food and lack of sport and that sort of thing that keeps people energised. Another very specific question I know, was there ample reading material? The books  in the library were still there the Japanese didn’t touch them?

(JK) No not that I know of.

(Ed) What about paper, exercise books and pencils?

(JK) Very short.

(Ed) It would make life very difficult if you are trying to continue your…

(BK) There was contact in the early years wasn’t there between Filipinos particularly who were outside the camp and who perhaps worked as domestic servants for the internees before incarceration and so there was a sort of traffic so to speak of things over the fence in the early stages of the life of Santo Tomas and presuming that as time went on that really came to an end and you know as the will of the people began to decline simply because of the lack of all the things that keep the body and soul together. This sort of general lethargy began to sit within the community and sort of through the books that we have read…I mean this was very evident that as time went on this enthusiasm that had been evident at the beginning of their incarceration to get things done…’let’s all get together do this that and the other and let’s set up this that and the other’…this began to sort of wane as time went on… and you got the sort of situation that Julienne has just described where there was simply a lack of will…I mean the lack of food was…had its inevitable effect and lethargy took over.

(Ed) Just because it seems to be the driving…the lack of food what were camp rations like? What was the daily…?

(JK) Well it…ingredients…initially the warehouses in Manila emptied out gradually by supply us through the Red Cross and initially we had noodles and prunes because there were lots of noodles around and lots of prunes. It was…if you were used to pretty good food it was disgusting and you didn’t feel like eating it but you had to because there wasn’t anything else but slowly but surely the land that was part of the actual Santo Tomas the people started having allotments and they would grow some vegetables and things like that which augmented them. As long as there was a bit of a supply of food outside it came into us but it had to feed four thousand of us and the actual quantities weren’t enough so it was more and more like a soup…just a watery soup with a few things floating around in it. It really wasn’t enough to sustain people. My father had, and I think I told you that in the film, he used to go and help offload the bags of rice that came in and he would wear his boots with the laces, they were sort of loose around him, and any rice that happened to fall into his boots he kept and we would have it and the rice just became a gruel after a while. Towards probably the last year there was a revolting little sort of salted fish they were able get. Whether it was typical Japanese food or not I’m not quite sure but that was rather revolting as well but there were three different comfort kits that were allowed in. The first one was the Canadian. The second one was the South African and that was through the Red Cross and they were quite small boxes but filled with rather large tins of things so we got together with other people and we’d say ‘let’s open a tin of spam’ or something like that and you’d sort of split it up into portions to conserve the…so that people could share in whatever you were offering them or they had a bartering store where you could say ‘I don’t need these cigarettes’ or whatever…jams… I’ll trade it for butter or whatever. The third one was a huge American one, the box was like this, and it was full of small tins of things so that was really quite a saviour. It was amazing and it even had cigarettes in it which my parents were not smokers and they bartered for other things.

(Ed) Did someone stockpile all these little boxes of you know like in Elephant Heaven, did they stockpile them and distribute them regularly or were they given out by the Japanese?

(JK) They were given out or the Japanese accepted them but frankly there were a lot more found in Manila that had been sent out but never brought in.

(Ed) Stolen probably.

(JK) Yes.

(Ed) Either by Japanese or by locals who… Do you have any…actually I’ve got a couple of questions…could you see from…first things…the set up of Santo Tomas the university. There was obviously the main university building and then how did they construct a camp around that? Did they spread out a little compound?

(JK) The main building, they had an education building which its own history later on before our liberation and then there were two annex buildings. One was where my mother and I were put into initially and for a small time during it, it must have been when I had measles, part of it became an isolation hospital.

(BK) There must have been a wall around the complex?

(JK) Of Santo Tomas? Yes.

(BK) So there was a brick wall already in existence?

(JK) A very high wall yes. It’s not the sort of thing you can jump over.

(Ed) And barbed wire supposedly?

(JK) There must have been but I wasn’t aware of it at the time. There was a back entrance and a main entrance and part of it must have been where the Benedict Monks lived and after we were taken from the annex to the isolation ward where we lived for a while we were eventually put into room 50 on the third floor of the main building and if we looked out the windows we could see the monks in their particular building, yes.

(Ed) And they were (monks) allowed to just carry on were they?

(JK) Yes, they were apart from us except a little garden which was rather a lovely place to sit and talk but the rest of the actual land was eventually taken up by the overflow of people who couldn’t be billeted in the all rooms of the buildings of Santo Tomas and they were allowed to have shacks. They built shacks and eventually…first of all they said people weren’t allowed to sleep in them and eventually they got so many people in the camp they allowed families to live together in the actual shacks that they built and my father helped build a lot of those shacks and he was especially good at doing the, what they call nipah, roofs and its palm leaves, I think they are that, are made into a tile by being tied on with a raffia like thing on a bamboo stick and each was is put in until you get a thatch and he used to do that.

(Ed) Being a civil engineer he would be quite valuable then…useful man to have on your side when you had to build your own…

(JK) He was also on the electrical stuff because everyone had their job to do. One of the treats was when they were making the wafers for the catholic ones they had a machine for making them and I used to watch them and get a wafer every night.

(Ed) I mean those wafers aren’t…you know they aren’t…it’s not exactly Christmas is it? So schools, various bits of entertainment, a camp council…i’m wondering now if you could see from the camp…obviously there was a wall…did you ever get a sense of what life was like going on outside in Manila?

(JK) No.

(Ed) There were no tantalising glistening lights in the distance.

(JK) No, Bob mentioned that people would come and throw things over the wall…actually it wasn’t a wall it must have been slightly inside the camp because it was like a wired fence and our house boy was asked by my parents, because you could sort of shout to them, if he could get our mattress, our double mattress, this was in the beginning and he did and we went down on various days hoping it would come in and then suddenly this mattress came over the wire fence and somebody grabbed it and I said ‘that’s our mattress isn’t it?’. Mother and father ran off and so we had it for the rest of the time and my father made a wooden platform so it wasn’t on the floor, it was for a little while, and things were stowed underneath, There were three different rooms that we lived in. My mother was a monitor of each room elected by the inmates so that if anything was needed she would have to go to the camp committee, I imagine they had committee meetings to see how well people were getting on.

(Ed) Where would your father get materials and tools to build these sorts of things? Would there be wood salvaged from around the university?

(JK) That’s quite something because unless of course…he was with this electrical gang and they had all sorts of tools in there and you wonder how much was available as the university, whether they had an area to use…to work on rooms or gardens or whatever. It never really occurred to me. I used to spend quite a lot of time there.

(Ed) I wonder if, presumably, useless things like desks…probably didn’t need writing on as you didn’t have paper or pens might have been broken up?

(JK) Could well have been because they build outside areas where we could go and sit with our plate of mush or whatever it was.

(Ed) I’m wondering about your relationship…the prisoners relationships with the guards whether there was…how fiery was it? Did you have good relationships with the guards? Were they friendly at all?

(JK) We had as little contact as was possible. The only time I remember seeing them was at roll call but I didn’t go near the front gate after that initial internment and I think there were obviously a guard at the back gate. I never went near them at all but reading different books a lot of children had a lot of fun going to see them at the front gate and being…I imagine there were some soldiers that had families and liked little children to be around them etcetera etcetera but no I was never…

(Ed) Aiming to steer clear and these guards would…I’m just wondering more now about your…you mention in your grandson’s film escape attempts can you tell me a little bit about that? How did that come about? From your eyes as a seven year old girl how…?

(JK) I think I sort of vaguely heard of it through parents talking about it with their friends. Initially three men went over the wall but they were caught and dispatched very quickly but it wasn’t until the last…when the Americans were in the Philippines that the news of what was going to happen to us got back. It was through Stanley allowing or facilitating…

(BK) I think it was made abundantly clear to the internees that the Japanese would not brook any attempt at escape and anyone who attempted to escape would be severely punished and that…I mean they were true to their word in that sense. Other infractions against the Japanese rule was punished I mean you know by asking or getting people to stand in the sun for example which given the temperatures in Manila was a frightful punishment and I suspect a lot of people suffered from that. But it wasn’t until the time of liberation approached that one of the worst crimes was committed by the Japanese whereby three members, three American members, of the committee simply disappeared one day and nobody knew what had happened to them until after liberation and the camp was pacified when their graves were discovered by or in an area outside of the camp and no explanation has ever been given as why those three particular Americans were singled out as they were. I can’t think, there was certainly as you say my love, there was certainly escapes in the early part of the war…

(JK) And at the end of it when they actually got away with it.

(BK) There were some who managed to escape?

(JK) Yes, but I think perhaps he was put in touch with the Filipino guerrillas who alerted McArthur.

(BK) There was one particular sadistic Japanese officer, whose name was Abiko, who was universally hated by the internees for his attitude towards them and the beatings that he would administer. I think it’s worth saying also at this stage a lot was dependent upon the Japanese commandant of the camp as to how the internees were treated and the amount of food that was allowed to be issued to the internees. I mean from your own account my love you said there were…some were reasonably humane, others were not and it was those differences in personality and attitude which affected enormously the welfare of the internees. Abiko was one of those who was not at all well disposed to the internees and in fact when the American first cavalry arrived and burst into the camp he had a grenade which he tried to throw at American troops who promptly shot him before he was able to throw his grenade…

(JK) That was after the siege of the education building wasn’t it?

(BK) Yes, and it’s an indication of human nature that as this sadistic lay quite obviously clearly wounded several of the internees set about him and stabbed him and mutilated him I suppose and he died from his wounds. That was the sort of reaction on the part of some of the internees to a man who had made some of their lives pretty miserable.

(JK) And it depended to on those (Japanese) who had been shell shocked during the war outside who would come in as a commandant and he would have much more severe attitude towards us because he’d been affected and being shell shocked didn’t help. It would depend very much on which Japanese commandant we had whether he was good or bad or indifferent.

(Ed) I was listening to the Stewart’s interview and they were saying how towards the end obviously when the air raids increased members of the camp who looked up to look up at the airplanes, the American airplanes presumably, (JK) Dog fights. Yes were made to stand by the front gate for twenty four hours without food or water obviously in the sun, children obviously as well, just for the supposedly subversively damaging the supposing impetus of the Japanese.

(BK) You did this, your father did this.

(JK) My father used to take me up to his third floor billet room and we’d sit on the floor and watch the dog fights go on. Nobody could see us.

(Ed) Cheering all the way. Do you remember the first sort of appearances of American airplanes?

(JK) Yes it was the sort of thing that the actual moment went around the camp immediately because you could hear the difference of the engine of the plane flying over and one of them, I forget how close it was to our actual liberation, but he dropped a goggle saying ‘all your Christmas’ will come at once’ and that went round the camp immediately. It gave us hope after years of not knowing what was happening. We know the actual fighting didn’t go on until fairly close to when we were actually liberated because it was all up in the north of Lusong but initially they took (???) first the Americans and it started from the lower islands and worked its way up until it got this message through Ernest Stanley that we would be…the men would be annihilated on the 3rd February and the woman and children would be sort of taken in. It was then that McArthur…I think by that time he was deciding to the north of the island and come down to us and when he heard through the people that got the message through him, probably through the Filipinos, that this was going to happen and so they came straight down made a race of it.

(Ed) I think McArthur, didn’t he, because he suffered the humiliation of having to give up the Philippines…(JK) Yes it was very dear to his heart…he vowed to return didn’t he. He said ‘I will be back’ and made straight for Manila and the camp of course.

(BK) This of course was because the majority of the internees were American citizens and McArthur’s stated priority was to get to Santo Tomas to liberate the internees. I really don’t know what the percentage was between the American internees and the others but the Americans far outnumbered every other nationality in the camp…British, Australian and so on and so forth but his…

(JK) I think that his books over there and you see pages and pages of Americans and then suddenly it goes over to other nationalities.

(Ed) The sort of waifs and strays.

(JK) Dutch and French and allies. Anybody who was allies.

(BK) I think McArthur…I mean he is a very, very interesting man and if you see the archive footage of the McArthur accepting the Japanese capitulation on the U.S.S…whatever the ship was…was it the Arizona?

(Ed) Do you know what I’m not actually too sure. I think the Arizona might have been the one that was sunk in Pearl Harbour though.

(BK) Anyway it was a big American crew on a battleship. McArthur is there looking like an extremely well fed man, which of course he was, also alongside him is General Wainwright who was left by McArthur in charge when McArthur was according to the order that he was given by Roosevelt to leave the Philippine Islands. He left the United States forces under the control of General Wainwright and on the U.S.S whatever the ship was Wainwright is standing there a thin bean pole of a man next to McArthur. I think McArthur must have felt exceedingly guilty. I mean he said that he was ‘obeying a presidential order’ which of course was quite correct and he was I mean Roosevelt told him to get out and he was taken out and shipped down to Australia but it must have lingered in his mind as to whether he had done the right thing or not and I mean I think there were one or two songs written about…what was one… ‘Dugout dug’ I think one was called but he vowed to return and I mean it was thanks to him…because of course there was this huge American debate as to which way to proceed northwards from Australia in order to take on and defeat the Japanese. It was the navy on one hand who wanted to bypass the Philippines completely because if you look on the map of the Far East the Pacific area it would make, if you were going to attack Japan, it would make common sense to bypass the Philippine Islands but McArthur said ‘No i’ve given the people of the Philippine Islands my promise that I shall return’ and he was able to persuade Roosevelt and the joint chiefs of staff, the American joint chiefs of staff, that he really did need to go back through the Philippines. Limits would take on the sea route so to speak going via the islands, the Pacific Islands, Guadalcanal and so on and so forth…Iwo Jima and so on…where the marines would take the brunt of the action where as the army under McArthur would invade the Philippine islands.

(Ed) Do you remember hearing about the landings of American troops on the Philippines or was it very hushed?

(JK) No, we weren’t aware of where they were until we heard the planes.

(Ed) Until you heard the planes and presumably also started hearing gunfire as well?

(JK) That was literally days, a day or two, before they came straight into the camp because they fought their way down and went straight into the camp and then they had to contend with the Japanese bombing the camp or shelling the camp from Manila and eventually when Manila…they started trying to get the Japanese out of Manila but Manila had a very ancient walled city and the Japanese entrenched themselves in that in such a way that it took a long time to get rid of them.

(Ed) So far from…whilst Santo Tomas was liberated, we will get onto the actual events of the liberation itself in a minute, that was far from over the war raged on in Manila?

(JK) Yes but there was one time very soon after they had come in to liberate us that the Japanese were shelling the camp and the…that particular corner of the main building got the full shells onto it and a lot of the internees had thought ‘I must go back and get my belongings from under the bed’ or whatever and they were killed because of the shelling and it wasn’t until somebody or other went to that area and I think it’s coming from that church there and that’s where they got them they had installed…

(Ed) A field gun in the church?

(JK) Yes, in the church but that was the sort of aftermath took place.

(Ed) Just before I ask you about the day of liberation and what happened, I want to ask a very general question. What, in your eyes I’m sure this would differ for everyone maybe it wouldn’t, what was the worst thing about being incarcerated in Santo Tomas Internment Camp?

(JK) That’s quite a question that because as a child you just accept what’s happens around you…

(Ed) Which is why it’s so difficult to fathom…I mean your life could have been terribly different.

(JK) It could have been because my father had gone into stages of beriberi and his legs were beginning to swell but he was a skeleton but I think that both of them…both my parents protected me from the evils of the thing, yes. I sort of took the things as they came more than being terribly worried about them.

(Ed) No I see. That’s a good answer…I think yeah it’s just terribly difficult to fathom how hugely a young child’s life would be affected by…but I suppose…

(JK) I think the parents did try to lighten up the situation because I can Halloween being celebrated and my mother devised a black witches hat for me and for my best friend and built noses out of pink socks so that we could tie them on sort of thing and we were delighted with them and went out to join the other children in various clothing and they all gathered around us and tried to get at us and make us perform like a wicked witch but the two of us sort of…(???) to each other and almost started to cry because of this mob and we weren’t very good. But there was always something like that that was planned by parents to lighten up the atmosphere and keep it as normal as possible for children.

(Ed) Just while you are on it, you mentioned Halloween…Christmas and Birthdays what would happen?

(JK) I got a picture here…where is it…must be here…here…this is one of the things my mother made. That’s Raggedy Anne and if you’re an American you know exactly who Raggedy Anne was but she made it out of all sorts of different bits of material and my father made a little bucket.

(Ed) So she’s a little sort of ragdoll?

(JK) Yes and she’s…her name is Goldie Tomas. That was made…Goldie Tomas and my father made the chair and…

(Ed) And all the little hats and…

(JK) Yes all the…her little clothes and…

(Ed) Room Santo Tomas annex Room 74 internment camp. Her Jacket says that.

(JK) Yes and everybody, all the ladies used to have their friends sign and they embroidered their name thinking well we are going to get out next month so…

(Ed) …so it’s nice to have a memory…

(JK) Yes.

(Ed) Look at that…

(JK) Our middle daughter has this in a little glass case.

(BK) She also, darling, what is in the feet?

(JK) Oh yes, in her feet are pieces of shrapnel.

(Ed) Oh grief! So this must have been… so that must have come from an air raid that shrapnel?

(JK) Yes I think that was probably the last one before Christmas or something yes.

(BK) What you also should make mention of, my love, is that fact that…Juliennes father was being an engineer he was very skilful with his hands and he took the handle of a toothbrush, the plastic handle of a toothbrush, and cut it into pieces and tongued and grooved each piece so that…and made a bracelet out of the handle of this toothbrush. He threaded wire or elastic through these pieces of…I mean it must have taken him ages I mean…

(Ed) Especially without the proper vices or anything…

(JK) But he was an engineer and they had this electrical shop so they had things to do it with…

(BK) Nevertheless, unfortunately its gone missing…a great great great shame…

(JK) Having three daughters I think they were playing with it or something…

(BK) I mean it’s an indication of what the sort of things…

(Ed) The ingenuity…

(JK) Exactly and it’s an ordinary…I mean to look at it nothing would have…

(Ed) Nothing special.

(BK) There is absolutely nothing special sort of dark brownish toothbrush handle but the skill with which it had been tongued and grooved and then pinned together with a bit of wire to provide a birthday present for a little girl or Christmas present or whatever it was is an indication of…

(JK) Another thing he made, I think Katrina has got it as well, it’s a little silver ring but this was on the ship going back from the Philippines to Australia…

(BK) After the war.

(JK) Yes and the American sailors, because it was one of the liberty ships, would do different things on the deck because it was a metal deck and my father saw this and decided he would do something as well and he made a ring out of a 20 cent Filipino coin and by tapping it and changing it, it turned it and then he had it drilled out but the inside still has the inscription yes and that’s another…for three or four weeks whatever it was on the ship he was tap tap tapping and all the sailors doing something similar.

(Ed) This is quite extraordinary the unbelievable levels of making do and mending and it’s just so ingenious it’s so because…you just think a little thing like a bracelet what a home comfort that would bring to a man’s daughter in such you know horrendous conditions and to make it out of a toothbrush handle is just… it’s incredibly touching to think about your father thinking you know, ‘I’ve got to get my little girl a birthday present I’m going to make it out of what i’ve got and what have I got, a toothbrush’. Presumably he brushed his teeth for a while just holding the end of the handle but it’s quite extraordinary to think about. So just one more quick question before we start to talk about liberation, the air raids. Where they ever quite frightening?

(JK) No because I mean we could see the effect of bombing in Manila but only in the distance so that around us, the camp, we weren’t…we were aware of that the Americans were flying over and bombing and that there was warfare going on but it was Manila and probably the harbour and the actual airfield that they were after rather than us.

(Ed) Rather than around the civilians, right. Ok so it wasn’t like…

(JK) It wasn’t until fairly soon before McArthur came straight in because Japs were everywhere when he came in with his tanks.

(Ed) With his tanks. So you mentioned tanks there then. Talk to me…tell me about the day that you were liberated. It began…did it begin a normal day or was there something in the air?

(JK) I think there was probably something in the air but in the evening a lot of sort of flashes of red and yellow and orange…it wasn’t a sunset but we knew something was going on and we could hear gunfire or… and we thought or at least my parent thought along with a lot of other adults that the Filipino guerrillas were going to make themselves felt and it was then, because we had no sign really  apart from the pilot who threw his message down, that the Americans were so close so we thought that it was the reaction of Filipino guerrillas and that what was going to happen if that was the case but then we realised that something extra was happening and I remember all the internees were out in the evening wondering what was happening and there was a sense of not exactly anxiety but excitement…

(Ed) Apprehension…

(JK) Apprehension and excitement and we start…there must have been some reaction from the people who were the other side of the building were in front of the gates where something was really happening and my parents and I were at the back of the building and we went round sideways to see what was happening and we saw the silhouette of a huge tank with men on top of them…GI’s with helmets on and of course the inmates were just getting onto the tank and going wild and that’s what I remember the most of that silhouette of that huge tank coming round the corner and the soldiers came in straight away following the tanks, I think there were three tanks that came in, in the end or maybe more I don’t know but they started building fox holes and digging…

(Ed) Digging in to protect because the Japanese were still occupied…

(JK) And not only did they do that but they started handing all sorts of things like chewing gum and sweets especially to the children but they soon set up their canteens and the first meal we had was turkey fricassee. It was delicious.

(Ed) That must have been…it was the most delicious things you had ever tasted. And the feeling when you saw an American tank roll thought the gate what was that…?

(JK) It was just ecstasy.

(Ed) Stupefying ecstasy.

(JK) People were throwing themselves around them and jumping up and down and hugging each other.

(Ed) Were there tears?

(JK) Yes.

(Ed) A great deal number of tears I can imagine. Well I can’t imagine but I’m sort of wondering the effect of being given chocolates and cigarettes and turkey…

(JK) A lot had tummy troubles…

(Ed) I’m sure you did have tummy troubles quite badly after that and then whilst…I find it incredibly moving that American soldiers followed up and immediately started digging in…so they specifically made the point of coming to liberate the Santo Tomas Internment Camp and then you had to be accepted…

(JK) We were surrounded by Japanese…

(Ed) Did you at any point see any Japanese surrender to…?

(JK) No, no. As a child definitely not but it all took place at the education building which was right beside the big building but in the front facing the front entrance and it was a building that single men and boys above, I think it was…it must have been, about twelve or fourteen years old were billeted there and the Japanese went into it and held it…held them as hostages.

(Ed) The education building?

(JK) The education building so that was a sort of no go area for most of the internees so the Americans didn’t want to rush into that building because they knew the Japanese would take it out on the internees they had so there was quite a lot of negotiating going on with Stanley.

(Ed) And he was there and came into his own?

(JK) Yes, eventually they decided that they would have to give up or else they would…

(BK) The Americans commander agreed there should be a ceasefire and that the Japanese soldiers holed up in this building should be allowed to leave so long as the hostages, the internees, were freed  by them and that was agreed with the Japanese and the Japanese were marched under American protection out of the camp and into Manila and there is a photograph of Stanley…where is that photograph…I think it’s in this one.

(JK) That book is about all sorts of different places in the Far East.

(Ed) All the other prison camps?

(JK) Yes and that’s a letter.

(Ed) Frank and Holly Jefferson and their daughter Julie are greeted by a relative after their repatriation from Santo Tomas Internment Camp. That’s your father there and your mother and you with the same doll and the puppy.

(JK) The puppy with all the families…Jules in there.

(BK) This is the photographs of the…here are the Japanese and here are the Americans of course and this is Stanley here and Santo Tomas is somewhere back here…and how far…it may be that building there and they marched the Japanese a certain distance away from Santo Tomas and there after the either the Americans shot them or the Filipino guerrillas shot them but they were dispatched and that was that.

(Ed) Were you…I mean were you frightened about this change of life or were you just ecstatic again…?

(JK) Exactly, no it didn’t bother…

(Ed) Didn’t bother in the slightest.

(JK) And as I said that took place on the other side of the buildings. I think perhaps my parents knew through other people talking about it was happening but I was unaware of it.

(Ed) Do you think…I don’t mean to sound…do you think they minded what had happened to the Japanese after everything you had been through? After how cruel that had been…?

(JK) No at all they got what they deserved.

(BK) No I think feelings ran very high I think the huge elation at liberation that ran through the camp…but then you get the reaction as I described earlier about this beaker you get that reaction a sort of understandable…someone who had tormented them and getting their own back anyway.

(JK) That is what my father built.

(Ed) He built this.

(JK) And I drew this but we had this end of it and we’d stow all sort of things on a shelf in between and then another couple had this area and this was a drain that went through here underneath that little bridge and we would take our rations and have them there and…

(Ed) A sort of little…and by the casual eye it looks like a little picnic area.

(JK) But up in here my parents had one of these bags where they would feed bananas and let them ferment and have banana wine.

(Ed) Did you ever try banana wine?

(JK) No I wasn’t allowed at that stage.

(Ed) Are these coconuts up here?

(JK) No they’re papayas.

(Ed) So were you able to get the fruit for…presumably you were able to…?

(JK) Yes, there were quite a few people who had little plots that they would grow. One ghastly stuff it was like spinach but it was very slimy and it was called talinum and the camp people grew enough of it to feed people on the child line but it was ghastly slippery stuff.

(BK) What was it like a slimy spinach was it?

(JK) Very slimy yes but a spinach type thing it was supposed to be…

(Ed) Talinum was that a Filipino type thing?

(JK) Yes

(BK) Your mother mentions roots and canners?

(JK) Yes there’s the canner you know they come in different…

(BK) ‘It upset our tummies but we had to fill up on something’ she wrote and she also says ‘we never rummaged in the garbage of the Japanese staff’ which suggests that…

(JK) A lot of people must have.

(BK) Some internees did.

(Ed) Some must have.

(BK) ‘Nor did we eat cats as many of our fellows did’, so…

(JK) If they were around yes.

(Ed) I mean I suppose…

(JK) Would you like to read that?

(Ed) I’d…yeah.

(JK) It’s written, is it in March before we were…must have been from a…

(BK) Could I just interrupt. Would you like some sustenance?

(Ed) Thank  you very much, no that’s very kind of you a glass of water would be lovely.

(BK) Are you sure I mean…would you like…I mean what can we offer… we can offer a cup of soup and a sandwich or something like that?

(Ed) That sound delightful thank you very much if…

(BK) I mean we always have something…if that’s alright?

(Ed) I would love to join you if…sorry I hate to have taken up so much of your time.

(BK) No there is absolutely no problem on time at all.

(Ed) That’s very kind thank you very much.

(BK) I’ll go and do something.

(Ed) Oh, thank you.

(BK) Because it would be a shame to sort of…

(JK) Yes because it’s quite a long subject.

(BK) Disrupt.

(Ed)  Yes it is quite a long time.

(BK) Yes we have no problem with time.

(Ed) Ok good…I’m sorry, I’m sorry I know I’m taking my time. Do you mind if I read this out loud for the benefit of the recording?

(JK) No do, do.

(Ed) This is written on American Red Cross paper is that correct? Dated March 9th 1945 so it about a month after you have been liberated. ‘Dearest ones, your concern about us…’ actually what am I doing could you read it out please? I’m sorry Julienne I do apologize.

(JK) ‘your concern about us warmed our hearts. Thank you for your letter Isabelle…’, Isabelle was my father’s cousin, ‘and for you all kindly inviting us to stop a while at (???)…’, that’s in their home in Sydney, ‘as we don’t yet know our plans. Frank is working harder than ever since the army took over the electrical department and at night he runs the camp cine. Work that he is most interested in. He seems to have shaken off his illness and putting on weight…’ Now to explain that he had almost the last stages of Beri Beri his legs were all swollen. ‘We were afraid for him but although he never did stop working it was just a matter of time before he would have dropped in tracks. He was skin and bone. Legs and face were all bloated. Many men of his age died or are still quite ill in hospital. They seem to need more to keep them going during hard manual labour as they all were, than we women who were also doing hard work under difficult conditions and at last I was able to crawl around but felt a warmed up corpse. I work three hours every day on camp detail doing aid work for the isolation hospital until the army took over besides washing, cleaning, mending old clothes with old material. I learned to knit and made all Frank’s socks, knitted him shirts, Julie and myself jumpers, socks, pants. We found that the knitted garments stood up to wear better than their material. The pants were comfy too…snug, well fitting and cute looking. I’m looking forward to making some in dainty coloured thread but perhaps you know and have made them already. I doubt it somehow.  Maybe you can imagine our heads are still in a whirl. These years have been more tax on us mentally. Ever since we were brought in by the Japs on January 5th 1942 we have not had one moment of uncomfortable peace. Part of Japanese policy to harass us. Pushing us around from building to building, playing chess with humans. Always there were stupid questionnaires to raise our hopes only to be dashed. Rumours of relief ships that never came. American soldiers told us that they ran across Red Cross food stuffs intended for us in captured Jap camps. With every available money Frank and I could get hold of we bought up milk and were able to give Julie one cup a day for quite a long time. Also we produced calcium to be injected into her. At one time I was giving 10cc’s of my blood until it was taking too much out of me. So in these years…these ways we were able to keep Julie fairly well all she has was measles and they seem to do her good. We think she is a sweetheart very like Frank in looks and character, mild and kind. Frank is going to send her to a good Art school for that is her special pleasure to draw. She missed a great deal of schooling and the intern teachers did their best with little material to work with and noisy distraction of school room conditions. I have managed to keep Julie fairly respectable looking except for footwear. We tried to keep her in shoes so that her feet would not suffer as she was growing. Frank and I wore native wooden soles with a strap over the toes or broken down shoes. One pair Frank used to wear with both heels broken away from the uppers. Such tramps we look. His shorts were nothing else but patches. It would amaze you to have seen what we have come to. During the rains though is when the camp folk looked most interesting as we were all wore those large native hats like cartwheels some then even having them tied under their chin with bows of rag. Frank preferred to balance his. Some wore native palm leaf capes that stuck out and look like bedraggled roosters. One did well to keep ones sense of humour. We were good and hungry but we never rummaged in the garbage of the Japanese staff or did we eat cats as many of our fellows did but we ate roots of canners etc. It upset our tummies but we had to fill up on something. During the last eight months we were given only five hundred to one thousand calories a day before that improper diet and not sufficient food to keep us sleeping even. Our doctor Stephenson was jailed by the Japs for refusing to exclude malnutrition or starvation from death certificates. We cannot speak highly enough of the quality and variety of food that we were given by the American army while we were served great chunks of white flesh of turkey, plenty of cream, butter, bacon, bread and cheese. The night the Americans came in the camp we will never forget. A whole lot of us were so thrilled that we were dazed to the danger that we still were under for Manila was still full of millions of Japanese and the camp was held by eight hundred Americans. Then came the shelling of the camp for three nights. We among a lot of others slept out on our chairs or mattresses on the shelter of the main concrete building. Luckily for us Japs were only one side of us. Frank has been looking at the city or rather where it used to be, old, historic and beautiful new buildings all a miss. All the beautiful pieces of furniture and art pieces, Franks camera and a really wonderful collection of film, all my treasures in the way of china and crystal were being minded by a third party but alas they were on the wrong side of the river, all went up in smoke. So many of our friends have lost their relations or have them in hospital as a result of the hell was let loose by the Japs in their retreat from the Americans. Eventually they did not discriminate women and children. Swiss, Spanish and Germans, everyone met death and a horrible fate for the poor women whoever crossed their path. Never will I stop thanking God for our salvation for such horrors just over the river from us. It was a lucky thing for we were in the camp that the Americans acted so quickly and successfully on our (???) they have. It’s nice often to think of you all back home in your comfortable houses. We have eaten off tin plates with a teaspoon or a bare board for so long, Julie I don’t think really remembers the nicety of life. We surely will enjoy everything to the full. She like I loves pretty things and she’s crazy about flowers. What fun we shall have doing the shops in a big city from Manila shops might just remember are nothing to the big stores at home. Life surely hold many thrills in store for we poor prisoners. Frank will write I’m sure but he is busy. His life is still a rush. He and Julie join me in sending you our family many remembrances. Molly.’

(Ed) Molly. And that’s your Mother?

(JK) That’s my mother she was Maria Violetta before she married. Her father was a Peruvian and he was injicated in Australia because his father and a Frenchman left Europe to go to Peru in their lifetime and they said…no what was it…no it must have been their parents and the families sent my Grandfather and this friend to Australia to do their education and that’s where he met my Grandmother.

(Ed) And they shacked up, ok, oh that’s wonderful.

(JK) Yes.

(Ed) It’s a wonderful letter actually I have to say.

(JK) Yes she was very good at writing…great practice.

(Ed) It’s just full of optimism…

(JK) Atmosphere.

(Ed) Atmosphere…humanity it’s incredibly striking. So now that we are slowly but surely winding down I just wanted to ask you do you think about the war often now?

(JK) Not often no. No certain things bring it out. It’s the sorting of thing that…one of our daughters, our middle daughter is the one that is the most interested in it and she’s the one that has all the various little things…trinkets and little dolly and things like that but there…no I don’t talk about it no.

(Ed) And…I sort of…you know I’m loathed to ask this question but I feel like I sort of have to. Do you think of…can you conceive of thinking of the Japanese now and do you ever think about them?

(JK) It’s strange you ask that because i’ve never been drawn to make any friends of Japanese and because we’ve travelled around in various places, my husband being in the diplomatic core we have had to make well be diplomats with different countries and other different diplomats and in Brasília the Japanese there…I had a small exhibition of my paintings and she came along to have a look at them and I was…it gave me a funny feeling as in the diplomatic core you don’t take umbridge with people so she was quite a sweet little lady and if ever I met her I was polite but I would make sure that I moved on.

(Ed) You couldn’t get to chummy with them. I think anyone in their right mind could sympathise with that sentiment. I just before I ask my final question could you take me through the photographs here?

(JK) Yes that is when they came back from the war.

(Ed) So the camp was liberated…?

(JK) Yes and we were flown to…was it Leyte…I think it must have been a Red Cross area and we were there…I think we were there about two weeks before we were loaded onto a liberty ship for Australia. Yes to go back home and I think it was a holding area for prisoners because I think the American ships went up off from there as well except for they and the people going back to England went across the states where as we were taken straight down and of course McArthur had had his headquarters down there before the invasion of the Filipino areas. So we boarded the ship there and had a refuel down at Reboul and put off at Townsville and taken over by the Australians and loaded onto Queensland’s foot gauge trains which ran along all the way down and everywhere we stopped the locals brought food to us. Mainly tropical fruit as we were up in Northern Queensland and with the carriages they had these luggage rack and they had this fruit rumbling around there and every time we stopped there would be a contingent of locals with tables groaning with food and we were just up to our eyeballs in food.

(Ed) Was it wonderful?

(JK) It was wonderful yes and when we got to Brisbane…my mother had a cousin who was married there and she came forward and said come and have lunch with us because they were going to stay over for lunchtime period and another woman said ‘no she has to come with me because I went to school with her’ and so the family were torn apart and my parents went with the family and I went with this lady and her young son who was…and we had our lunch and boarded the train again and then we went down to Sydney and my mother’s cousin lived there and we stopped off with them for a couple of weeks to rest and be fed before facing my Grandparents in Melbourne.

(Ed) Was that the first time you had met your Grandparents?

(JK) Yes it was because I left when I was three.

(Ed) What was it like?

(JK) It was rather strange really especially being hugged by an elderly person smelling of cologne and thinking who is this.

(Ed) Certainly not used to that are we…the smell of cologne must have been quite a rarity as well?

(JK) My Grandfather was a dear he really was and spoke with a slight accent and my father had learnt a lot of Spanish from him before we went to the Philippines…

(Ed) How wonderful, that’s lovely. So this is a photo of you arriving in Sydney with your dolly and your puppy and that one there?

(JK) No that’s…I’m not sure who she is but this was and autography book that was started. That’s my Grandparents…

(Ed) ‘Dear little Julienne with Grandma’s love wishing you a very happy birthday. September 17th 1936’

(JK) But that…now wait a minute there’s one that I thought I had marked…because we had a visit in the camp from…that’s one of them look that’s my best friend that’s their little shack.

(Ed) That was there little shanty there? And the canner… ‘Dear Julia, I will always remember the happy times we had together in Santo Tomas. Wishing you lots of good luck, Catherine Elstrum.’

(JK) I did correspond with her for quite some time but things go in different directions as we grew up. There’s another Santo Tomas one but that just girly things but there’s one here Nessy Do she was the one that had the other side of our little shack. We’ve met up in Brisbane after the war.

(Ed) Room 24 of the main building.

(JK) Yes there’s another one…left STIC on the 26th…parents Jerry Walker…that was an exchange of some sort.

(Ed) So people were released during…Room 50 on the third floor.

(JK) Yes we were all mothers with girls and my mother was sort of…

(Ed) The head matron?

(JK) Yes.

(Ed) ‘I hope that you and I will meet again. Hope you get out of here soon. Your best friend, Jane Walker.’ Gosh it’s incredibly raw I’ve got to say unimaginable…

(JK) It was yes…those are all…

(Ed) All these lovely drawings inside of it.

(JK) Yes it goes back a long way but there is one where the British Army came in and we got there… my mother…there we are…Blamey…

(Ed) Blamey. Frank Berryman is that?

(JK) Berryman yes. Simpson and but my mother has explained who they are.

(Ed) ‘Australian commander in chiefs to the Australian internees in Santo Tomas Internment camp. General Sir T.A Blamey Commander in Chief. Frank Berryman Chief of Staff. C.H Simpson Signal Officer. Lieutenant Colonel J.B Gregory USA Camp Commandant.’ So you proffered the book for signing did you?

(JK) Yes I think it must have been my mother.

(Ed) And General Blamey pencilled it in.

(JK) Yes signed them and then he yes but he must have been put in charge of the camp.

(Ed) And this was on the 14th March 1945 so you were kept in the camp a good long time after it was…

(JK) Yes a good mother before we were repatriated. I suppose they had to…

(Ed) Thank you very much…Yes I suppose they had to maintain the…that’s extraordinary what an amazing memento to have. I just…your last question…I’m going to wait for Bob to sit back down as he may have one or two things to say about the matter…but I wonder if you think that your three years or so in an internment camp has affected the rest of your life? Do you think it has? I suppose waste is something that…

(JK) That is quite a question that because I think one lives life when as it comes and probably being an only child being cosseted and cared for…

(Ed) Sorry let me move it…being an only child and being cosseted you were saying…

(JK) Yes I think that it’s different from people of large families as they…your life is not so much under your parents because we always did things together and there was obviously protected in that way but I don’t think it has affected my life as such. Do you think Bob?

(BK) What?

(JK) Have I been effected during my life by the camp?

(BK) Well no I think…well you know the resilience of human beings to recover…I think some people were affected. I mean people who’d been (???) or had suffered personal punishment at the hand of the Japanese…I mean you know you  who build the railway and that sort of thing you know you couldn’t…and yet even…I mean people seemed to survive and get over these setbacks…no I don’t think you have been…

(Ed) Just that in…

(JK)…Put things behind them and I think the parents must have as well because they never really talked about it.

(BK) Well I think this is…I am about to get on my hobby horse…no I mean…do dig in they are ham sandwiches I hope they are alright.

(Ed) Ahh delish!

(BK) So much…and you as a historian will agree with me…so much family history is lost simply because people haven’t put things down on paper! You know our parents generation went through extraordinary times…I mean they went through two world wars and sandwiched in the middle was a huge depression that affected the world, stock markets crashed and things like that and yet they overcame it and lived through it but never put anything down! I mean I don’t know about you and your Grandparents but I know so little about my father and my mother…I know something but not enough as I would wish…my uncle, my first uncle was in the First War…it hurts me now that I never asked him and he never wrote anything down…I never asked him about his service in The Great War and then I have my younger uncles served in the Second War and you know they haven’t put things down on paper and you do…and of course when you were young you perhaps…in your case because you’re a historian and these things are perhaps more important…but when you’re young there are other things to concern yourself with rather than family history and its only in the later years that you begin to focus and kick yourself that you didn’t ask the sorts of questions that you should have asked when you were younger but there you are. Do help yourself.

(Ed) Thank you very much. In that case I am glad that we have spoken then and that your Grandson made the film and…

(BK) Well it was only his interest in film making…

(JK) I think it was one of his projects…

(BK) One of his projects when he was at Ealing Uni…Ealing Studios they had to make a fifteen minute film of any subject they wished to do it on and he thought it would be a good idea to ask his Grandmother about her life and her war experience and he very carefully, as you would have realised, he very carefully intelligently got hold of archive US Army footage that he fed into it which sort of added to the sense of the film.

(Ed) It certainly did. It looked entirely professional I have to say.

(BK) Well I mean I think did a good job…thank you I hope these are alright?

(Ed) They are delish!

(BK) Good.

(Ed) I love a good ham sandwich!

(BK) You see it’s a great shame that Julienne’s parents didn’t put anything down on paper apart from that letter.

(Ed) Which is extraordinary I have to say.

(BK) Written fairly soon after liberation and I don’t know if Julienne told you but the Stewarts we met totally by chance, Jim Stewart, at a party given by my younger brother last Christmas, a drinks party, Jim Stewart and Julienne Huttonby standing talking to each other and said ‘what have you done?’…probing questions and he said he lived in the Far East and the Philippines at which point Julienne’s ears pricked up and she said ‘the Philippine Islands?’ and he said ‘yes, yes I was very young and I found myself incarcerated…’ and so it began an amazing coincidence.

(Ed) Bizarre!

(BK) And so we’ve…and it was Jim Stewart of course…this project came about as I understand it…Jim Stewart he was at Sherbourne he…sort of the seed was planted there so to speak, is that right?

(Ed) So Michael Thompson interviewed the Stewarts who were also at Sherbourne and so was I and that’s how I got in touch it was the old Sherbournian thing and there was an advert there asking if anyone knew anyone who could be interviewed and I thought well I’ve got an interest and I would love to get involved and wrote to him and here we are…and so yeah they were both at Sherbourne. I don’t quite know the starting story of WarGen or how it  began but from what I understand it is Michael Thompson’s baby I think…I think.

(BK) Jim Stewart mentioned Dan Snow?

(Ed) Yes that’s the other thing I’m confused about…i’ve heard James Holland and Dan Snow talk about it on YouTube and this kind of thing but i’ve never…I haven’t heard… I don’t know…so obviously they have published stuff and I think they might have started it but do you know I’m not entirely sure…but I think they might have started it…

(BK) Oh good I was looking for something…

(Ed) Oh perfect. Thank you very much indeed. I think I might stop the recording there so we can enjoy our lunch but thank you both very much for speaking about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.