Judy Harding (née Stewart) was born in Hong Kong in 1937 and her father, working for the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank was posted and moved the family to Manila in the Philippines before the War there started.
Jim Stewart, Judy’s brother, was born in 1940 in Manila.
The family were interned by the Japanese in Santo Tomas internment camp for the duration of the War.
This transcript records their memories before and during World War 2 together with other experiences.
The transcript and the video are about 63 minutes long.
Recorded in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, 30th July 2018.
[Pauses indicated by ….]
Time codes on film indicated by Hour:Minute:Second for ease of reference between transcript and film on YouTube.
Jim: Yes, well, my father worked for the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, and he as a young man was posted to Manila, and the War arrived in Manila and in nineteen forty-two ….
Judy: [together] Two, wasn’t it? ’42 ….
Jim: January ’42 and the Bank took the decision that some men …. some employees of the Bank wanted to sign up, and the Bank took the decision that the married employees should stay, and the bachelors could go and sign up, so, he was married and stayed in Manila.
We were then taken over by the War, the War arrived, and we were interned in the camp.
A little word about the site of the camp.
The camp was set in, it’s called Santa Tomas Internment camp and it is the …. Asia’s oldest university, they have just celebrated 400 years of university and …. it was decided that the campus for the camp would be …. would be the camp and so there we were, that’s all I have to say really as an introduction, but strangely I heard quite recently that the site of the camp was chosen by the American …. senior people in Manila. They decided where the camp should be before the Japanese even arrived and when the Japanese said, “We are going to incarcerate 1000s of you ….” they said, “Well, why don’t you put us in Santo Tomas?” So, it was sort of self-inflicted but rather a good location.
Michael: So, that sets the scene. What do you recollect because, Judy, you were born in 1937, weren’t you, in Hong Kong?
Judy: I was born in 1937 in Hong Kong and my parents’ names were George and Joy Stewart, and they had been married in Hong Kong Cathedral in 1936, so, we then went on leave and then back to Manila after, as Jim explained just now, and then, of course, the War started and, I had very little remembrance of the actual beginning of it. But, I do remember my parents saying that we all had to the Manila Club, I think it was, at a certain time with a suitcase each, and that’s all my parents were able to carry. As Jim was only a baby and my mother had to carry him …. she was very …. they were very limited as to what they could take in …. So, we set forth, and from the Manila Club, I think we all got into lorries, and were sent to the camp, and that’s my vague memory of arriving there.
Michael: OK, so, you arrived in the camp and what happened next?
Jim: I think, I think in the …. this is not from memory, this is from all the research we have done, there are many, many books about this camp ….
In the early days, things could be brought into the camp, so, either your houseboy or colleagues from outside, people who were not interned, could bring things to you, while you couldn’t leave the camp. They could bring things into the camp, and you lined up, and this is in some of the pictures we have, and people would bring in beds and mattresses and all sorts of curious things, and food, of course. And in the early days, I think you could get most things, and you could even buy things through the wire….
Judy: Yes, yes ….
Jim: from outside, so, I think it was …. I think no one realised that we were going to be inside for so long.
Judy: Yes, I think the whole feeling was that, you know, we were going to be away for a couple of months. So, a suitcase load would be fine but initially, all the wives and the children were put into rooms in the main building and the men and boys over 14 were put in a separate annex.
Jim: They were in the, they were in the gym ….
Judy: In the gym, wasn’t it? In the gymnasium of the University and I think we were in room number 67 ….
Jim: 67 ….
Judy: as far as I remember, and we had a very small portion of the room, I mean, we were in with many other wives and children. So, it must have been absolute chaos but that’s where we stayed for quite a time and then gradually, the men were able to build shacks for the families and as a shack ….
Jim: Called shanties ….
Judy: Oh, shanties, sorry, yes, shanties …. and then we moved out to one and we had the wonderful address of 3 Garden Road?
Jim: Garden Road, yes …. and these shanties were made of nipa [nypa] palms ….
Judy: Palms, yes ….
Jim: …. just in the local fashion with bamboo uprights and sloping nipa roofs, and altogether very comfortable ….
Judy: But one of the stipulations that I seem to remember the Japanese insisted on was that they should be able to see through, so the side, the windows had to open up and they were just gaps. There was no glass or anything, so, if the Jap’s were passing, they were able to see through and see what was going on really, but that was our home for probably two nearly three years, wasn’t it?
Jim: Well, a lot of the time ….
Judy: Most of the time ….
Jim: Although, in the records, it does show that often …. we, we, the children, went back to the main building to sleep. I’ve just been re-reading my father’s diary of the period, and it changed according to how officious the Japanese were from time to time.
Judy: And it was towards when there was bombing around us, wasn’t it, towards the end ….
Jim: Towards the end ….
Judy: I think the parents thought it was safer probably.
Jim: They got very jumpy towards the end, yes ….
Judy: And they had friends who were in the main building that we presumably went and stayed with ….
Jim: Yes ….
Judy: But, I mean I remember a school being set up. I was what, five? And, must have had my first few lessons there, because everybody was interned, and there were teachers, nurses, doctors ….
Jim: Missionaries ….
Judy: …. and missionaries, a lot of missionaries, so, little groups of schools were set up and a hospital of some sort.
Jim: Very much so, but I think it is worth saying that the majority of internees were Americans, and there was very much an American flavour, and Americans are particularly good at committees and organising things, and there was any amount of fun and games, and stage activity and things to boost morale.
Judy: Orchestras were set up, weren’t they? And ….
Jim: So, there were many positives when you bring a lot of people together and the other thing I’m just saying while I think of it, it wasn’t a static population. People passed through the camp and went …. there was an overflow, and they called for volunteers from the camp to march to another place called Los Baños to start another camp. And they did that and they set up a camp and thousands of people went through, as many as 10 thousand people …. I am quoting from the books I read …. passed through Santo Tomas in the 3 years we were there, but the population at any one time was between 3 and 4 thousand and some were repatriated. The famous photographer, Carl Mydans, was repatriated to America.
Judy: Weren’t they just Americans who were repatriated?
Jim: Well ….
Judy: I’m not sure ….
Jim: I’m not sure, I think probably, yes, but they were very carefully chosen …. But he was a remarkable man, a professional photographer for Life magazine, because he came back with General MacArthur when General MacArthur liberated us, so there he was liberating his old, his old camp ….
Judy: and recognising quite a few people, wasn’t he?
Jim: Yes, absolutely ….
Judy: and they recognised him when he came back in with General MacArthur.
Jim: So, there was quite an American feel about the camp ….
Judy: Oh, yes, I think so and my parents had a lot of American friends after the war, but …. I …. we children were reasonably well fed. I don’t really remember being hungry until the very end.
I was a very difficult eater, you can imagine at 5, very picky with what I ate, and I remember my mother saying that after a very short time, I would eat anything, and to this day I will eat just about anything, and I’m not good on waste, because you know, we did not waste anything. I mean, by the end we were eating potato peelings and things like that. We were very hungry.
Occasionally when the Japanese saw us on our own they would give us the odd sweet or something like that, but we had to eat it in front of them in case we took it back to our parents. We did have Red Cross parcels, didn’t we?
Jim: Yes, we did, we did indeed ….
Judy: They came in ….
Jim: Occasional ….
Judy: very occasional, from the American and the British Red Cross and my parents were very careful on how they opened them, you know, and opened a few tins at a time, and kept them for a rainy day some of them I think. And by the end we were desperate and that’s when we were eating out of the tins that they were able to keep.
Jim: I wanted to find a little quote about the cats and dogs.
Judy: Yes, yes, I ….
Jim: The Japanese commandant …. this right near the end, I’m quoting from my father’s diary, which is this document here, I don’t know if you can see that?
Michael: Yes, I can see that, yes ….
Jim: And towards the end of it, I can’t find the exact thing, the commandant decided that everyone was very hungry towards the end and the commandant decided that the dogs in the camp should be rounded up and fed …. fed to the internees.
When we said that there weren’t enough dogs, he said then it should be limited to being fed to the children, which didn’t go down very well, and I don’t think it was ever carried out ….
Judy: No ….
Jim: But people were pretty hungry.
Judy: Of course, they ate everything …. there weren’t any other cows, pigs, anything was left by the end …. they were all eaten, mostly by the Japanese though, I think, by the end. But ….
Jim: But in our father’s diary, he talks about very specifically about eating parts of the banana trees towards the end. They were eating the roots of the banana trees, the stem of the banana trees …. and ….
Judy: and the flower ….
Jim: and the bud ….
Judy: and the bud, yes ….
Jim: that was a great treat …. We kept the bud which is as big as two fists like that, a red thing and that was a great treat.
Judy: But we never actually got bananas as far as I remember ….
Jim: I honestly can’t remember, can’t remember ….
Judy: You know, the ones that were grown. We had banana trees in the camp growing near our shack, didn’t we? But ….
Jim: Oh, we did, absolutely ….
Judy: And other things were grown because I remember …. Daddy was …. had to go off gardening, didn’t he?
Jim: Yes ….
Judy: for the camp ….
Jim: The camp gardens, yes ….
Judy: One of the things was to garden for the camp. Everybody had something to do. All the adults had a job of some sort, didn’t they?
Jim: They were obliged to work, it wasn’t for fun.
Judy: He was a cleaner at one stage ….
Jim: But his main job was cracking coconuts and until recently, it’s gone missing now, we had the tool the Japanese provided him to open coconuts, and it was sort of like …. a long thing with a little hatchet on the side and you cracked …. this is the coconut with the outer husk on it …. you would have to crack that, get your lever in, open it out, take off the outside to get down to the hard shell, then you crack the shell and presumably the contents were used for camp use.
Judy: You know, I don’t ever remember eating the coconuts ….
Jim: Yeah, well he particularly mentions in the diary when eventually there weren’t any more coconuts ….
Judy: Yes, they must have used them in the kitchen for ….
Jim: So, we had camp …. camp gardens somewhere, and he was detailed when the coconuts ran out, to work in the camp gardens, but we also seemed to have our own little garden because he would bring things in from there, and it would be things we don’t know here but things like talinum and, sort of chickweed and stuff like that.
Judy: We were eating just about anything that grew ….
Jim: And our mother was very good at cooking. I mean one had these little pottery cooking stoves ….
Judy: cooking stoves, yes, yes, she did all sorts of things, and things came through in parcels that she used, didn’t she?
Jim: But again, quoting from Dad’s diary, he says there was a time when you needed permission from our leader in the camp to light a wood fire. I was just reading that this morning …. so, we were always trying to supplement.
Judy: We got food from the …. we lined up every day to get food and I think the children had a special kitchen, and then, you know, we had extra food in the shanty that Mum was able to cook.
Jim: I think they were very good to children.
Judy: Yes, until the end when things you know …. we were very thin by the end and our weight went right down ….
Jim: I don’t think we were bad, I think our parents were worse.
Judy: Our parents were, of course, they were far worse than we were.
Jim: But again, quoting the diary, George says that there was a very strict allocation for every person you lined up and you got your food, and children got half that allocation, but sometimes depending on how difficult the guards were feeling, it was two meals a day and sometimes three …. prearranged and you would …. my father talks of interminable queues.
Judy: Yes, endless queues, but by the end it was down to two meals a day of just mush he refers to mush, doesn’t he? And I can’t remember mush, but I must have eaten mush.
Jim: So, I think in short, the main difficulty was, was lack of decent food.
Judy: Yes ….
Jim: And ….
Judy: I mean, milk …. I think to start with, the children had a certain amount of milk but that soon stopped.
Jim: But again, he says nicely in his diary that there were allocations of milk to the camp which would have been buffalo milk, and the adults all agreed that it was for the children only, so, there must have been a great many children in the camp.
Judy: Oh, I think there were, yes ….
Jim: And certainly, there were ….
Judy: And of course, soon, I can’t remember, soon after they were allowed to get married …. people were allowed to get married, originally, they weren’t allowed to and then babies were born in camp of course …. and I think we kept up with one or two.
I was just remembering pets. I had a kitten towards the end of the camp. Where they got this kitten from I don’t know, but this must have been a birthday present or Christmas present. I think something like that, and of course, people were eating all the cats and they were very few left. So, I wrote a label, and on it wrote “Please do not eat me” and tied it round the cat’s neck, and with my mother, went off to the various people who we knew who ate cats and said, “This is my kitten called ‘Kinky’ …. and please don’t eat me ….” and that kitten survived the War. So, that was one good thing anyway.
[Laughing] I think that was the only …. Oh, the other pets we had …. was …. we would go under the shanty with jars and collect the glow-worms. Do you remember that?
Jim: Fireflies in jam jars, yes ….
Judy: Fireflies, I mean, yes …. and they made quite a light when you collected quite a lot of them in a jar, but ….
Jim: This business of going underneath the shanty was hilarious because a shanty was made of packing cases basically …. imagine how thin the wood is …. and we would solemnly go underneath there when there was an air raid, as if that would make any difference, and sure enough, shrapnel did arrive uninvited into the camp and there were injuries, but, but we, but we survived.
Judy: And there were an awful lot of spiders under there as well ….
Jim: But we survived, yes ….
But, I don’t think it was all doom and gloom. People have a habit of cheering up and one of the books written about the bank is absolutely full of cartoons, often poking fun at our captors.
Judy: About the camp, yes …. Well, there were a lot of actors weren’t there?
Jim: A lot of it slightly American humour but …. One …. from the Japanese side, serious, but from our side, hilarious point, again from my father’s diary …. was that they had to sign a document promising that they would not escape, not try and escape, and this had to be signed with I think a signature or thumbprint ….
Judy: and a thumbprint ….
Jim: And this had to be done for us too …. two little pipsqueaks ….
Judy: And a baby ….
Jim: had to sign a document that we would not try and escape.
So, I think again, it is worth mentioning for those who don’t know about these things that this is a civilian camp. There was no obligation to try and escape. It’s not like a prisoner of war camp where there is a certain derring-do and obligation to try and escape, and in the course of the 3 years, 10 people did try and escape and 10 people were caught and 10 people were executed, but that is out of many thousands that were in the camp.
Judy: I suppose there were civilian men who thought they had to ….
Jim: Apart from that, I think most …. all the deaths were …. my father refers to increased deaths towards the end …. through malnutrition, mostly affecting the aged, was his words.
Judy: Well, I think suddenly when the Americans came in and we had all this food, people just ate and ate, and all the most unsuitable food for stomachs that hadn’t had a decent meal for years ….
Jim: That’s right, yes, there were many fatalities ….
Judy: and many fatalities from overeating or eating the wrong …. the wrong food. Our father was very ill, towards the end, wasn’t he?
Jim: Yes, he ….
Judy: He had beriberi …. I think it was beriberi?
Jim: Yes, he talks about the early stages of beriberi ….
Judy: beriberi, and he was confined to the shack …. to the shanty, because of malnutrition.
Jim: He was in bad shape ….
Judy: Yes …. But he was taken by the Americans, soon after they arrived, and he was given the right food and the right medicine ….
Jim: Yes, he went to hospital ….
Judy: He went to a hospital …. and he made a most fantastic recovery, and within a year after the War, he was playing golf again, and he lived to the ripe old age of 74 ….
Jim: 73, yea ….
Judy: …. considering what he’d been through, he did extremely well ….
Jim: Yes ….
Judy: Mum was fairly fit but very very thin, wasn’t she by the end? As we all were ….
Jim: Yes, they definitely lost a lot of weight ….
Judy: Yes ….
Jim: And then when the Americans did arrive, General MacArthur (“I will return”) ….
Judy: Yes ….
Jim: Fortunately, he did return ….
Judy: He did return, yes ….
Jim: And I think it should be said that we as a family owe our lives to the Americans without a doubt, there weren’t enough Brits within the camp or within, because there were other camps as well …. to …. to …. come back for whereas MacArthur …. pride had been dented when he was expelled from …. and he came back, and he made the decision to capture …. recapture Manila before other areas he had been asked, told to recapture the Philippines methodically from East to West, and he said, “No, no, all the action is in Luzon, I must get there first, otherwise they won’t survive ….” ….
So, as I say, his overlooking head office decisions actually probably saved us and when he did come, it was so surprising that the War was still going on all round the camp. I mean the diary talks of daily air raids, not aimed at us but aimed at the ports and airfield and this sort of thing ….
Judy: It had gone on for months, didn’t it?
Jim: And the Japs, again I’m quoting from this diary, were …. very angry that we …. there were penalties if we even looked up to watch these battles in the air, and you were sent to the front gate and deprived of food for 24 hours if you were caught doing it, and he quotes, “Children who …. 2 children were caught 5 minutes into curfew and sent to the gate for 24 hours without food” ….
So, they had ways of being unpleasant, unnecessarily unpleasant, but again, I say I think there was a lot of humour …. you sort off managed.
Judy: We had roll call every day too, didn’t we? We had to stand.
Jim: Roll call once a day or twice a day when they were feeling difficult.
Judy: Yes, if someone escaped, immediately there was a roll call and you had to stand, and it was hot wasn’t it? It was very very hot.
Jim: Well again, towards the end, there was one particular day, he said …. my father said in his diary …. the roll call was particularly tough, they didn’t allow any chairs, so, you got a lot of people towards the end who had great difficulty standing, and you stood for 20 minutes and you bowed, in his expression, at anything Japanese.
Judy: And a very low bow, it was right down to the waist, wasn’t it?
Jim: Well, we had instructions in bowing and the commandant, right towards the end when they knew they were going to lose …. they still sent instructions on courtesy ….
Judy: to the Japanese ….
Jim: to the Japanese because they were so kind as to look after us and we owed them this as a mark of respect. So, how different we all were, and we remained in the camp for 2 months after liberation, simply because the war was going on around us, and there was no plan to get people out. I think fair enough …. the Americans shipped out ….
Judy: They shipped them out fairly quickly, I think.
Jim: American prisoners, probably first ….
Judy: Yes …. but didn’t Daddy have to stay because of the bank? The bank wouldn’t let them leave ….
Jim: I think they were ….
Judy: straight away ….
Jim: Yeah, but I think that was just ….
Judy: but I don’t know exactly …. I am not sure that delayed our departure, but it was a good thing because he was getting fitter as well and they were putting on weight and we were all much fitter.
Jim: The bank was still operating during the War ….
Judy: Yes …. yes …. And there was the other story we forgot …. at the beginning of the War, my father was a very keen photographer and he had this camera, called a Rolleicord, which we in fact…
Jim: This camera ….
Judy: This camera …. which we still have …. and at the beginning of the war, he gave the camera and a bottle of whisky to one of the Filipino shroffs in the bank and said, “Please, would you look after this” …. thinking that we would only be away a couple of months, and sure enough, at the end of the War, this Filipino, from the Bank, came back into the camp …. with Dad’s camera …. but no bottle of whisky, of course!
But the main thing was he had the camera and he was able to get some films from the GIs once they came into the camp, and we were liberated by them. Dad was able to get some films for this camera, and once he was fit enough, he was able to go out into Manila and walk around and take photographs of Manila, which was completely flattened and …. amazing photographs weren’t they of the ruins of various things like the cathedral, and …. and various government buildings.
Jim: Yes ….
Judy: and of course, he was able to take photographs of us and our shack, our shanty, wasn’t he? I keep calling it a shack …. of our shanty, so, we’re lucky enough to actually have photographs, rather than just memories and drawings.
I wonder if I can recount another incident. I don’t think I would mention their names but the bank continued to operate during the war although all the …. the executives were interned.
One couple who had Irish passports were not interned because Ireland was not part of the war effort and they were extremely helpful to us and to other bank internees by buying things on request and I don’t think they physically brought them in, but they were brought in by whoever ….
Judy: They were brought to the gate weren’t they ….
Jim: But dreadful story …. They paid for it with their lives and they …. their two sons survived the War, but they did not, and so, they had a worse war than we did although we were interned, and they were not. So, there were different ways of looking at it ….
Judy: We felt lucky in a way ….
Jim: Looking at things, I think it was an extraordinary and an interesting experience but we as youngsters and I speak for myself, really couldn’t compare it to anything else. I don’t think we realised that it was any worse than anything else ….
Judy: Yes, life just went on for us …. our life went on and in a different way, but you didn’t know anything better or worse and the climate was kind in a way, I suppose by being very hot and we grew out of our clothes but we hardly needed clothes.
Jim: The funny thing is I can’t remember rainstorms, and of course, Manila is famous for typhoons and heavy rains and it’s even referred to in my father’s diary, but I don’t remember that as …. as a difficulty.
Judy: And we had these capes made of palm leaves, weren’t they?
Jim: Nipa palms, yes, yes ….
Judy: Nipa palms, for when it was raining hard, and that’s what the local people wore as well.
Jim: Yes ….
Judy: But …. and we wore, not proper shoes, things called ‘buckyars’, weren’t they?
Jim: Yes …. wooden sandals ….
Judy: wooden sandals, yes …. Otherwise we hardly wore anything. I think, you know, you and I just wore a pair of underpants really, but the ladies had things sent in and I think of course, people. The odd person had sewing machines, so, people who were able to make clothes were probably able to get fabrics, material sent in and …. you know able to make clothes for each other probably.
Jim: I think …. it brought out skills in many people, there were all sorts of people…
Judy: Well there were dressmakers like Mum ….
Jim: Do you remember the beer mug ….
Judy: Yes, that was a lovely beer mug ….
Jim: made of bamboo and someone was making those and then inscribing them with initials S T I C Santo Tomas Internment Camp. So, you made things to sell …. people would …. artists would come and do pictures of your shack and sell them to you. They did portraits of us.
Judy: And portraits of us, because we had no photographs of us at that age, but it’s lovely to have these paintings, or portraits of …. they were pastels, I think ….
Jim: Different things …. whatever the person had ….
Judy: …. people had, so that was good ….
Jim: Going back to something our parents said …. I think one of the difficulties one overlooks from an adult point of view is that nobody had any idea how long we were going to be incarcerated for and …. this played on the mind. If you are sent to prison, you have a finite sentence and you can count the days and tick them off. You have hope at the end of the tunnel. I think in this case, you think you’re going in for three days and you come out 3 years later.
Jim: It played on the minds of adults to the extent that some did not.
Judy: Yes, mentally ….
Jim: survive mentally, and even some bank men ended up in asylums at the end of the War ….
Judy: So sad.
Jim: So, there was a lot of mental stress, and you’re fed negative propaganda you’re not going to win the War.
Judy: But I think one good thing about where we were …. we were so lucky to be there as a family ….
Jim: Yes, very much so ….
Judy: because had the men been separated from the women …. you know, there would have been …. more worry obviously on their minds …. and the other thing, I seem to remember Dad saying food was on the mind, always food, food, food, and people would write out recipes, talk about restaurants and remember all the food and the best places they’d been to before the war and what they were going to eat at the end of the war …. and, I think a lot of recipes were written out and then he, Daddy would write out poems, didn’t he? Scottish poems ….
Jim: They were songs, yes. I don’t know why he wrote many, not his own invention. He was just checking his memory ….
Judy: His memory …. keeping his memory going, I think …. And I think they did Scottish dancing in the evenings occasionally whey they had the energy.
Jim: Well, this was early on …. yes ….
Judy: at the early stages …. and organised ….
Jim: Morale was good early on ….
Judy: Yes, thinking of course, we were only going to be there short time….
Jim: I can remember …. staged …. I can remember me along with dozens of other people on the stage singing ‘Roll out the Barrel’! All very American.
Judy: And we had roll call in the morning didn’t we wake up to?
Jim: No, you woke up to reveille in the morning and they would play some …. they being our committee ….
Judy: Yea ….
Jim: We had our own committee. Americans of course, and they would wake you up with a cheerful, cheerful thing on the loudspeaker.
Judy: That’s right …. was it, what ‘Pennies from Heaven’?
Jim: Every day in the diary, it says what the reveille was, but some of the accounts in the diary of air raids …. Air raids were going on around you all the time with shrapnel landing in the camp and we have some pieces here that landed right by us and when you are living in a shanty made of leaves, you’re not protected against red hot shrapnel arriving.
Judy: No, no, not at all, gosh no …. And some caught fire ….
Jim: It was a lot of fun to see these planes flying over. You weren’t allowed to look but I mean, you did, and I remember one strange childish thing …. They said you can see the cannon fire and I can now see little puffs of smoke in the air and of course, in my mind, a cannon was a whacking great thing on a castle wall.
Judy: Yes, yes ….
Jim: What the heck is cannon fire doing up there? I can remember as a child I couldn’t work that out what’s this cannon fire they’re talking about …. [laughing] ….
Judy: I don’t remember that at all ….
Jim: But, the parents were very good at shielding us and giving us more than our fair share of food and …. I think we had childhood diseases in camp ….
Judy: Oh yes ….
Jim: and probably being rather sturdy as a result, because of it ….
Judy: Yes, we had the usual chicken pox …. mumps …. no, measles, I think we had …. and, I know I was very ill ….
Jim: I remember I had teeth out and …. again, mention in the diary …. “Jim’s first extraction ….” ….
Judy: Yes, I seem to remember that I was very ill at one stage because there was a Census and it was sent out to my grandparents, wasn’t it? And my name wasn’t on it. There were just the parents and Jim, and my name wasn’t on it and I think at that period, I’d been very ill, and the missionaries ran a sort of little hospital, out of the camp and the parents gave permission for me to go away and it was at that stage the census was taken.
So, our grandparents were very worried when they received this without my name on it, weren’t they?
Jim: That’s right.
Judy: And there was correspondence which we’ve still got ….
Jim: We have the correspondence with the authorities ….
Judy: the authorities, trying to find out whether I was still alive ….
Jim: That’s right, and they got, over many months, many months, got no satisfactory result, and I don’t know where I got this story, but …. I can’t have invented it because someone said, “Have you tried the Catholic Church?” We are not Catholics, and so our grandparents, and our grandparents duly wrote …. to whoever in the Catholic Authority.
Jim: And after some months, they got a reply saying, “We confirm Miss Judy Stewart is alive and well ….” And it made one realise that the Catholics had people on both sides of the wire.
Judy: Yes ….
Jim: And their network of information was remarkable ….
Judy: Of course …. yes, there were a lot of Catholics in Manila, weren’t there?
Jim: Yes, I mean, you had Japanese Catholics too, that’s what I mean. So, it was confirmed that Judy was alive and well.
Judy: So, that was ….
Jim: a curious little incident, wasn’t it?
Judy: Curious incident, yes …. and we seemed to have health check-ups every now and again.
Jim: Yes ….
Judy: Reading the diary, Daddy would ….
Jim: He was forever weighing us. He mentions the weighing ….
Judy: [together] weighing us …. where he weighed us, I don’t know, weighed all of us ….
Jim: Yes ….
Judy: …. and how we deteriorated.
Jim: But, conditions varied very much, and again, I am quoting the diary when it appeared the Americans were making advances, they were tougher, tougher on us and making life more difficult.
Judy: Oh yes, much more so ….
Jim: and more strict and more …. more …. roll calls ….
Judy: Less food, yes ….
Jim: and less food …. went from 3 meals to 2 meals a day. So, you knew when they were angry.
Judy: And then, I was thinking towards the end when the Americans came in. Dad was too ill to go to the gates ….
Jim: Yes ….
Judy: We heard this great cheering, didn’t we?
Jim: Yes ….
Judy: And everybody went to the main building …. and, Mum took us ….
Jim: A tank literally came through ….
Judy: literally came through the front gate, didn’t it?
Jim: through the wire …. through the wire ….
Judy: Yes ….
Jim: and knocked everything down ….
Judy: With GIs all over.
Jim: Yes ….
Judy: They were handing out chocolates and sweets.
Jim: We had chocolate within one hour of them arriving.
Judy: Yes, handing out, and we took it back to Dad who wasn’t fit enough to ….
Jim: Yes ….
Judy: come …. then of course …. it was 2 days later ….
Jim: Well, that’s when this ….
Judy: I think General Macarthur came in, wasn’t it? And wasn’t it that when you picked up that shrapnel?
Jim: We were liberated on the 3rd of February 1945 and Macarthur came on the 7th February 1945, and my Dad says in the diary …. “And Joy (my mother) and Judy and Jim …. saw him”, we didn’t meet him but saw him with 1000s of people ….
Judy: That was the big thing, to see him ….
Jim: and, many years later, I was working in New York in the year that Macarthur died ….
Judy: Oh, were you?
Jim: 1964, I think I might say, and I went to his lying-in state …. so …. [Macarthur died on 5th April 1964]
Judy: Yes, that was …. I hadn’t realised that had come full circle ….
Jim: Yea, that was just coincidence and I have since been back to the site of the camp, to Manila in the year, 2010 …. and …. very interesting it was, I can remember exactly where our shanty was relative to the ….
Judy: Oh, could you, to the ….
Jim: to the Main Building …. [together]
Judy: Main Building …. yea ….
Jim: and I went into the Main Building and spoke to the Librarian and asked what …. there are some plaques there saying the number of people that were incarcerated there, a little bit about the history, but the young lady who I was speaking to said “Oh, you are welcome back next year, we are celebrating 400 years ….”
Judy: 400 years ….
Jim: and …. but I didn’t go back. And then I was sent a publication of their 400th Anniversary …. and there was no mention at all of it ever being a camp for 4 years.
Judy: Extraordinary …. that was wiped out ….
Jim: I think clearly, they were a little embarrassed by …. it being taken over during the War years …. but …. but …. just out of amusement, to show there is humour in situations, we were all given a certificate which we have here, beautifully made certificate ….
Judy: Yes ….
Jim: with little comic Japanese characters, awarding us praise for various things, and my highest praise was for trying to grow over 4 years ….
Judy: Yes, that’s right, trying to grow and there you were at three or four years old ….
Jim: So, it shows that there was humour …. that sort of …. came through everything ….
Judy: Yes, yes ….
Jim: and I think that is important for morale …. You can always see the negatives of everything ….
Judy: Yes, there must have been many funny sides as well, but I don’t remember a lot of them, myself.
Michael: So, war came to an end …. essentially …. you were in the camp for a while after the end of the War until you could be ….
Jim: Two months, almost exactly ….
Judy: Two months, yes, yes ….
Michael: And what happened then?
Judy: Well, we were put onto an American ship called the Admiral Eberle [USS Admiral E. W. Eberle] to San Francisco, I think it was ….
Jim: Yes, it was near San Diego ….
Judy: San Diego ….
Jim: It was some other name, but it was near San Diego, further south, yes …. [San Pedro, California]
Judy: And ….
Jim: with, I believe, 7,000 people.. I don’t know ….
Judy: Yea, there were a lot, weren’t there? But, I don’t think we were all from the camp. I don’t know ….
Jim: No, well, there were many other camps, by then Los Baños had been liberated, Bilibid [Prison] in …. liberated …. and there were other camps ….
Judy: and we set sail and we landed up in, yes, Los Angeles, or whatever it was called and I remember one incident when father went into a bank, obviously to get some money there, and you and I just sat down, on the ground, cross legged as we always did. You know, we weren’t used to chairs and things. I think the parents were just a wee bit embarrassed about that, because you didn’t do that in America, but we soon learnt, and of course, we hadn’t got any clothes …. suitable clothes for coming back and that was all given to us by the American Red Cross.
And I think we had some rather strange clothes, and I was given 2 dolls …. 2 small dolls which I have still got today, I hope …. and I cherished those for a long time, because they were something I hadn’t had.
And we were then put on a train ….
Jim: Just before that, I remember ….
Judy: What are you remembering?
Jim: a curious thing, my father who was very bald …. pretty bald …. had a haircut, and was outraged to pay the full price for a haircut when he had so little hair!
Judy: When he had just a …. yes …. a halo effect ….
Jim: So, so …. the Scots was only just below the surface.
Judy: I had forgotten that, yes …. yes …. Presumably, Mummy had a haircut, as well, but first professional one, presumably ….
Jim: And then we were put on that train ….
Judy: This train to Ha….
Jim: with other refugees ….
Judy: We were all refugees on the train ….
Jim: to go right across ….
Judy: and we went to Halifax, Nova Scotia, so it was a week on this train, and every now and again, the train would go into a siding to let the main trains go, and you got off once, in fact, several of us got off. We got bored with this train, didn’t we? And started sort of playing in the prairie, and there would be a whistle, and we all rushed like mad, all the mothers rushed around making sure the children were back on the train and off we would go again. And then we got to …. St …. John’s, no Halifax, Nova Scotia, wasn’t it? Where we got onto another ship, and I cannot remember the name of that one …. [SS Scythia – Cunard White Star] and we set sail for Liverpool.
Jim: Yep …. and I think …. the War was still on ….
Judy: Well, it was May ….
Jim: Well, we came back in ….
Judy: May 1945, wasn’t it? …. [they arrived 25 May 1945]
Jim: Well, we came back in a convoy ….
Judy: Yes ….
Jim: that ship …. and just to add to the excitement, when we arrived at Liverpool, the ship had caught fire ….
Judy: caught fire, the mail had caught fire ….
Jim: the mail, and so we were met by …. fire engines ….
Judy: fire engines …. and water …. spewing forth from …. the …
Yes, and then we went to live ….
Jim: That was my first step into Britain ….
Judy: Yes, in Liverpool docks …. Yes.
Jim: having been born in the Philippines ….
Judy: Yes, and we went to stay with some cousins, because we hadn’t got a home. We went to stay with some cousins who kindly had us for a bit, and then grandparents, and my father was given a year’s leave, as far as I remember, and he was still fairly unwell, and he put on weight well, and then he was posted to Hong Kong ….
Jim: Shanghai ….
Judy: Oh, Shanghai, yes, sorry, Shanghai. So, 1946, we went to Shanghai ….
Jim: And he went the whole way by flying boat.
Judy: By flying boat …. wasn’t it? Yes ….
Jim: It took one week, and he said that was the way to travel ….
Judy: travel in those days, yes ….
Jim: You flew only in daylight hours, you landed, put on your dinner jacket and went to the best hotels, slept in a bed and then popped back on the plane.
Judy: It sounds quite leisurely, doesn’t it?
Jim: Yes ….
Judy: And ….
Jim: So, our first schooling ….
Judy: So, our first schooling really was Shanghai, yes …. Shanghai …. British …. School?
Jim: Yeap, where Mum …. Mum was a teacher.
Judy: She taught for a bit, yes, and then there were problems, obviously, in China at that time …. This was 19 …. end of 1946, ’47 ….
Jim: We left in ’48 and, and everybody had to be out by ’49 ….
Judy: And …. we went down to Hong Kong then, by sea, didn’t we? We went on a ….
Jim: Yes ….
Judy: a ship down to Hong Kong …. and ….
Jim: We were at school in Hong Kong ….
Judy: We were at school in Hong Kong, I was ….
Jim: Different schools, I was at the Peak School ….
Judy: at KG5 [King George V School]. You were at the Peak School …. and …. we only had a short time there, because they came on leave in 1949.
Jim: Yeap, and then …. that’s when we were brought home for schooling.
Judy: We were …. we came on leave and we were both left at boarding school then, and of course, in those days, we only saw our parents in the Summer holidays, once a year. So, that wasn’t ideal, but it was the way it was and in fact, it was better than my mother, she had been left, her parents were in Shanghai and she was left at the same school that I had been at …. that I was at …. and she didn’t see her parents for 5 years.
So, we were lucky to see them, you know.
Jim: Once a year ….
Judy: Once every year …. and we had great holidays in Bombay, they were in Bombay then, weren’t they?
Jim: Yes …. they were very good.
Judy: Yes ….
Jim: Very nice ….
Judy: And so, we were lucky at the end of our holidays to come back to school and say, brag a bit, that we had been to India for our holidays …. [laughing] …. That was the only good thing. We knew we weren’t going to see the parents for another year, sadly.
Michael: I mean, you were at Sherborne, weren’t you, Jim?
Jim: Latterly, I was at a prep school before that ….
Michael: Yes, where was that?
Jim: In Sussex, it doesn’t exist today, it was called Boarzell. It was, I think, 80 odd boys ….
Judy: But you were sent there, primarily because I was at Battle Abbey ….
Jim: Down the road ….
Judy: down the road and the parents wanted us to be within reach because of our …. their friends and our relations collecting us in the holidays when we weren’t going out to India, wasn’t it? Yes …. Yes, so, yes, I was at Battle for 5 years? Yes ….
Michael: And then, schooling came to an end, what happened after that?
Judy: What happened after that?
Jim: You went to India for a year with the parents.
Judy: I decided, or the parents decided it would be a good idea to get to know them again. So, I went out to India, because we really didn’t know them properly, only just spending a few weeks in the Summer holidays with them and the odd leave, when they came on leave. So, I went out to India and had a great time in Bombay, travelling around and I did a secretarial course, and was able to travel up to Kashmir and places like that with friends …. and ….
Then, I came back to London after a year, 1956, when my father retired from the Far East, didn’t he? And he was posted to London, and I came back to London and got a job there and after a few years, I got itchy feet again and I went to work in Hong Kong in the Hongkong Bank. I travelled out on a cargo boat with a friend, and we took 6 weeks to get to Hong Kong but on the way, it was lucky that the ship stopped in Manila.
So, I stayed with friends in Manila, and they were able to take me and show me Santo Tomas as it was in 1960. So, that brought back memories for me.
And then I worked in Hong Kong for 2 years and then back to London where I joined the War Office as it was called then, and they posted me out to Nairobi. But, I had a funny interview with them because you know, one was called in, where would one like to go and work and I said, “Well, I had been born and brought up in the Far East and I would like to go back to the Far East again but I had never been to Africa and I really wasn’t interested in Africa at all ….” ….
Well, of course, I was posted to Nairobi where I had a great time and where I met my husband and so, I had 2 years there, and in nineteen …. sixty-six …. came back to London and was married a year later …. I think, yes, about then, wasn’t it? Yes …. I’m bad at years …. while you …. you, you ….
Jim: I left school. I would say early, by most standards before ‘A’ levels, after ‘O’ levels aged, I suppose 17….
Judy: 17, I think you were, yea ….
Jim: 17½, something like that and tried my hand at accounting in London which I didn’t take to at all …. [laughing] …. mutual …. Jim and debits and credits don’t go together ….
Judy: Don’t go together, no ….
Jim: and I eventually, when my father retired, joined the Hongkong Bank, in those days, executives joined in London where you took exams in banking and then, you are sent to the Far East. In those days, head office was in Hong Kong ….
Judy: That’s right, yes ….
Jim: But if you had passed your exams and you were not ready, they weren’t ready to receive you in Hong Kong because they only wanted a finite number of people. You were sent to a posting for the practice, and I was sent to New York. So, I had a year in New York which was wonderful with my fill of American upbringing in the Philippines, it was déjà vu, slightly and very enjoyable …. no responsibility, the more junior you are, the more fun you have, because you work quite hard but no responsibility.
After a year in New York, back to London and then my turn came to go to the Far East and, unusually by our standards, I didn’t go to Hong Kong, which was head office, I was posted to Singapore. So, my first tour of 4 years without a break, I might say, was in Singapore which I loved, absolutely loved and I think it is worth stressing that people like us were in the Far East because we really wanted to be, it was by no means the hardship posting. So, the fact that we were spoilt with wonderful quarters to live in and reasonable salaries …. was a total bonus on top of actually being somewhere you wanted to be ….
And you embraced it and you tried to learn the language, and …. You were rewarded if you passed, passed exams in the local language, that sort of thing …. And being Hongkong Bank, head office is Hong Kong ….
You go on leave, I had 8 months leave …. You had 4 years, 4 years on and a tour, and 8 months leave and then, I was supposed to do Hong Kong after that …. 2 tours in Hong Kong …. and …. and then, off round the world, I was posted to Brunei, to Bangkok, to ….
Judy: Yes, where else did you go?
Jim: Stockholm, Frankfurt ….
Judy: Frankfurt ….
Jim: I’ve missed out one ….
Judy: London, yea …. where else?
Jim: But a lot of postings, yes …. Then, the wheel goes full circle and head office moves back to London in 1997 from Hong Kong and …. Even the Bank purchase of the Midland Bank and a lot of executives came back, and I was one of those, and ….
Judy: And then he retired ….
Jim: And then, I retired, and I have lived happy, ever after! [laughter]
Judy: And still travelling, and still travelling the world. We can’t stop him, he’s always away …. yes ….
Michael: I know I asked this question before the interview, but I will ask it again because it …. and that is whether you think that your early upbringing in a Philippine Internment Camp under the Japanese, had any influence on your later lives?
Judy: Well, I don’t think it really did. The only thing, it sounds silly, is …. I’ve always had bad teeth and I’m sure that goes back to, you know, the lack of all the things, the calcium and the rest of it when one was a child. In fact, I always thought that by now, at 81, I would have false teeth, but I haven’t. I know my parents had problems with their teeth but, otherwise I am afraid I don’t think it has …. not me, anyway ….
Jim: Yes ….
Judy: Have you had anything?
Jim: I don’t think so, and psychologically, I don’t think it was problem.
Judy: No, I don’t think ….
Jim: and even our father was very understanding because he went back to Japan after the War with the first trade mission from England ….
Judy: Yes ….
Jim: Led by some ….
Judy: I am sure he didn’t find it easy, but ….
Jim: senior dignitary and he was, he was extremely forgiving to the extent that he said, he couldn’t …. he couldn’t compare the courtesy that he met in Japan with the treatment we had, and I think the War brings out the worst in everybody and I am sure that our internment camps for enemy aliens were not sunshine and roses either.
Michael: I am sure they weren’t ….
Judy: No, no ….
Jim: but we wrote the history, so, I mean ….
Judy: Yes, yes ….
Michael: Just to finish up because I think we are probably getting close to the end of the interview unless you have got other things you want to talk about …. thinking about …. how you might …. I mean, we are living through quite interesting times, I think, in many ways …. what would your …. based on your own experience in life …. what would your advice be to younger people today, if you were to give any sort of …. good sound advice, what might it be? The killer question ….
Judy: The killer question …. [laughing] ….
Jim: I don’t have younger people I am responsible for, you have children and grandchildren and ….
Judy: Yes, I just feel that …. I don’t know …. take life as it comes, and …. I haven’t any great advice ….
Jim: But I think the modern tendency for the young to travel and learn languages is a great breaker down of barriers. I think we are going to understand each other much better by interacting.
In those days, travel was complicated, it was considered exotic to go to the Far East. Now, you go to the Far East for a week’s holiday.
Judy: Yes, a week’s holiday or a weekend, practically ….
Jim: I think one’s less likely to go to War with …. with people that you ….
Judy: And of course, we didn’t learn the languages ….
Jim: you appreciate ….
Judy: We never really ….
Jim: It is hardly advice, but I think the tendency now is inter-marriage. I mean, mixed race marriages are so common now. It was almost taboo in those days ….
Judy: Oh yes, it was, wasn’t it? Yes ….
Jim: So that, the closer we get, the less likely we are to have a conflict ….
Judy: It just that, nothing to do with that at all …. I think, my parents, how they met and their wedding was worth recording because it was so unusual …. and just would not happen today ….
They met when they were both in Shanghai ….
Jim: My mother was born in Shanghai ….
Judy: My mother was born in Shanghai and her parents were there and like me, after school, she went out to Shanghai to stay with her parents and she met my father and then she came back to England and he had to do his 2 years, I think, before he came on leave. And then they met up when he came on leave and they got engaged, but in those days, the Bank insisted on the young men doing 10 years’ service in the Far East before they could get married.
And my father went back to Hong Kong this time to do another 5-year stint, and Mummy worked in England, she was a matron at a school, I think ….
Jim: Yeap …. St Christopher’s ….
Judy: And they were engaged and, you know, life went on. And suddenly, the Bank relented and decided that my father could get married after three years, so he had another two years to do. So, a wedding was arranged …. he was not allowed to come back to England for the wedding, it had to be in Hong Kong ….
So, he arranged his wedding. He got his two old girlfriends to be bridesmaids to my mother who had never met them and he had a couple who had two lovely little girls and they were little bridesmaids …. the Bank Manager was going to be ….
Jim: The famous Sir Vandeleur [Molyneux] Grayburn ….
Judy: Sir Vandeleur Grayburn gave my mother away.
So, Mummy sets sail on a ship, taking probably what? A good 6 weeks to get to Hong Kong with a lot of other young ladies who were getting off at different ports. Some were supposed to be going to Hong Kong, but some met men on board and would get off at Colombo, instead of going on to Hong Kong, or I should think, Singapore, or wherever ….
So, Mummy eventually got to Hong Kong on the Thursday, and she was married on the Saturday, not knowing a soul at her wedding and not having seen her future husband for over 3 years. And I think it is an amazing thing to have achieved and they had a most happy marriage, didn’t they? They, you know, really it was a great love match but, if you mention this to anyone today, they can’t believe it really.
Jim: I have often wondered if they would have had more children, if the War hadn’t intervened …. never thought of that.
Judy: Well, yes, you just don’t know, hadn’t thought about that …. Yes, no, I think possibly stuck at two …. enough ….
Michael: I think you said they were married in St John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong ….
Judy: That’s right, they were …. sorry ….
Jim: They were indeed ….
Judy: Yes, in Hong Kong at St John’s Cathedral, yes …. yes …. and, I remember when I lived there, I lived at …. when I worked in Hong Kong, I lived very near, at a place called The Helena May?
Michael: I know the name, yes ….
Judy: Does that ring a bell? Yes, Yes, it was equivalent to a sort of YWCA, at the …. near the Peak Tram.
Michael: Yes, yes ….
Judy: I remember walking through the grounds a lot, at the Cathedral, to and from work, I think it was.
Jim: Talking about their wedding, the reception for their wedding was in the Banking Hall of the new Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank which had just been built …. This was in ….
Judy: 1936 ….
Jim: 1936 ….
Michael: About 6 banks ago!
Judy: Yes, about ….
Jim: about 6 banks ago but it was a wonder of construction at the time. It was the tallest building in Asia at 10 floors. It had a squash court on the top floor which was remarkable in itself ….
Judy: Yes, I had forgotten that …. yea, and a flat ….
Jim: and a flat, where I subsequently lived …. and it was remarkable for another feature …. the Banking Hall was air-conditioned …. and air-conditioning was completely new, and to be able to air-condition this vast volume of space was considered amazing; people just came in to look.
It was a remarkable building in many, many stages …. and this was replaced many years later by what is there now but ….
Judy: And when I was born in 1937 in Hong Kong, Dad was working on telegrams ….
Jim: That’s right, living in the flat ….
Judy: Because he was on telegrams, he had to live in this flat, at the top of the Bank. So, that was my first home, this flat, and …. was it Sir Arthur Morse at that stage?
Jim: Probably ….
Judy: I think so …. decided it wasn’t a suitable home for a baby. So, they were given a flat somewhere. So, I know they didn’t last long in that …. and he probably had to change his job from telegrams ….
Jim: Yeap ….
Judy: because it really wasn’t a very suitable home for a baby, was it?
Jim: I lived in the same flat some 30 years later ….
Judy: You lived as a bachelor ….
Jim: as the telegrams man ….
Judy: Yes ….
Jim: You had to be on site and your staff had to work on shifts, but you had to be on site ….
Michael: Right, well, I think we are probably just about there, aren’t we?
Judy: Yes, well, I think so ….
Jim: Yes, we’ll inevitably think of things once you have gone ….
Michael: That always happens, unfortunately, but thank you very very much indeed ….
End of Transcription
Interview recorded by Michael Thompson, Hardy Productions UK, Manchester, for WarGen. Transcription by Michael Thompson and Shane Greer.