Monday, 3 October 2011

Amanuensis Monday - letter from Bill Hudson to Peggy September 22, 1945

My grandfather Bill Hudson worked as a prison officer in Hong Kong from 1921 to 1941. He was still in Hong Kong in December of 1941 when the Japanese invaded and occupied the colony. My grandmother Peg and my father Peter had been evacuated to Australia in July 1940. Peg kept the last couple of letters Bill wrote from Hong Kong prior to the Japanese invasion, along with the letters he wrote immediately after liberation.

The last letter was written from Manila, the first port of call after leaving Hong Kong. Following liberation it took several increasingly frustrating weeks to get the internees out of Hong Kong and on the way home. This letter was posted from Singapore.

JW Hudson
Empress of Australia

At Sea 20.9.45

My Dears,

As last we have left Manila, after being there 9 days - the longest I have ever spent - waiting every day to sail fact being is that nobody knew anything about us and did not want to. We took over 1000 P of W Troops on, all who had been stationed in HK before the War, both regulars and volunteers, and I must say they are a fine body of men, they certainly don't look as if they have been starved, they say they have been working on the docks at Kobe, and stole all the food they wanted, then again they have had a wonderful time in Manila with the Yanks, wanting for nothing, even to have having been issued with all new clothing, all new, and when they came on board they looked more like Americans than British of course you only had to hear them talk to know who they were.

I am getting impatient Peg, this ship can't go fast enough, and comfort is nil, horrid hot troop decks in which one can't breathe, luckily we are allowed to sleep up on deck at nights, only trouble is that you must cart your bedding below every morning, still sweetheart I am coming Home. Apart from the Hospital Ships, we are the first batch to leave HK, but by all this stopping, we look like being the last Home, so roll on England and all that goes with it.

One of the Officers of Ship gave a talk on conditions in England, really My Dear it put the wind up me, so I do hope that things are getting back to normal, as I don't wish to return East again, I want to lay back and have a rest, first to talk alone with you, Mother and Peter, I don't think I could face a lot of friends calling every day, I want to be quiet, 3 1/2 years and now this Ship living in such close confinement with others, makes me hate my fellow Men, that's just how I feel l now, I could scream at times, Men talking, kids arguing, not a minute to oneselves. I am fed up with company. 

How is your Mother, I hope well, Peg, she has had a very trying time with all this worry. Troops are everywhere, they were given the Port side Promenade deck, yet they must come to the starboard side several times they have been ordered off, only to return, they are Bolshie and in a nasty mood, one would think that they carried all the burdens of the war, so we must leave it like that. I will add to this as are near Singapore. Have you had my other letters from Manila?

Saturday 22 Sept.

Afraid I am not in a very good mood this morning, what with the noise and the kids, added by a sore tummy you can imagine my feeling just weak. 

I only hope and pray that they drop us off at Singapore, this rabble here has killed all desire to hurry home, its bedlam with the lid off. Weather still holds well, I wish it would be rough, it might a crowd of these Wanchai Birds to their bunks - thus relieving the Troops from hanging around their necks. Last night our escort Deshayes left us, so we are on our own now. This is the first time this route has been used since the War. Due in Singapore tomorrow night - so I wonder what waits me there.

Get a nice hot bath ready, have not had that luxury since 1941. After a bath I am going to sleep for a week, I need rest. 

Expect you will be getting news of our whereabouts in the papers or over the wireless - it won't be long now Peg.

All love to all

Lovingly, Bill xxx

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