Kenneth Baird left Canada for Hong Kong in 1940 and became one of the many prisoners of war held by the Japanese in that colony. He was fortunate in not being transported to Japan as slave labour but even so, he and the others with him did not fare much better. This collection of letters he wrote to his wife and daughter in a journal reflects the life lived in spite of little food or supplies. Keeping up the spirits of his men, and himself, was as important as getting food and cigarettes. His account of the atrocities, the witholding of Red Cross parcels and mail, the terrible inflation of the yen (lists of prices are prominent in the latter part of the journal), and the attempts to eke out meals with their meagre funds paid to them as POWs by the Japanese makes the story of the Hong Kong veterans come alive. Like other recountings of the prison life, the tone here is matter-of-fact and low-key in an attempt, I think, to shield the narrator as much as the reader from the very real hardships they all faced.
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