Sandbach, Joseph Ernest (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 4784
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 230, Number Of Items 8
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


Purchase & License
Object description

British civilian Methodist missionary in China, 1929-1933; Methodist Superintendent and Officiating Chaplain to the armed forces in Hong Kong, 1936-1942; interned in Stanley Camp, Hong Kong, 1942-1945

Content description

REEL 1: Background in Shurlach, Cheshire, 1898-1929: family; education; engineering apprenticeship; trained with Royal Flying Corps during First World War; effect of cycling accident; reason for becoming Methodist preacher; story of friend killed with Royal Flying Corps; decision to work as missionary overseas. Aspects of period as missionary in China, 1929-1933: description of work in orchard; use of engineering skill; problem of learning Chinese; duties as English teacher; sporting activities. Aspects of period in Hong Kong, 1936-12/1941: based at Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Home; missionary work with Chinese civilians; reaction to outbreak of war, 9/1939; daily life; raised money for war effort; defensive preparations; evacuation of women and children; opinion of quality of troops. Aspect of period in Hong Kong, 12/1941-1942: description of Japanese invasion; role with medical services at Memorial Hospital; attitude to official announcements. REEL 2 Continues: story of rejection of Japanese peace mission; command post at Memorial Hospital; attitude to Japanese shelling of hospital; description of conditions in hospital; memory of seeing white flag of surrender on Gough Hill, 25/Dec/1941; reaction to surrender; story of drinking tea with Japanese officer at hospital; role in charge of hospital; story of being taken from hospital to accommodation in former brothels on waterfront; living conditions; problem of overcrowding and lack of food; loss of personal possessions; state of health; story of journey to Stanley Camp; number of internees. Recollection of period in Stanley Internment Camp, Hong Kong, 1/1942-8/1945: description of accommodation and living conditions; problem of overcrowding; story of moving into empty amah room with wife; process of being elected onto central camp committee. REEL 3 Continues: further comments on election process; colonial secretary appointed chairman; other members of committee; duties as deputy chairman; frequency of elections; role of committee liaising with Japanese; duties of central camp council and local committees; question of repatriation of internees; community spirit; sanitation, food, education, health committees; problem of obtaining medicine; entertainment committee; religious services and study groups; attitude of Japanese to committees; morale in camp during first six months; re-opened cemetery; opinion of American internees; Japanese control of camp; roll calls and parades; escapes from camp. REEL 4 Continues: amusing story of female internee during roll call; liaison between committees and Japanese; opinion of Japanese interpreter Watanabe; relations with Formosan guards; opinion of camp commandants; story of being beaten by camp commandant; question of observing protocol when addressing Japanese; enforcement of discipline; story of wife witnessing executions; concealment of clandestine radios; attitude to treatment of informants; nationalities of internees; description of camp buildings and accommodation; furnishings in room; heating; problem of electricity being cut off; weather conditions and climate; washing facilities; water supplies. REEL 5 Continues: further comments on water supplies; use of sea water; personal hygiene; sanitary facilities; typical daily routine; opinion of conji (rice gruel); working parties; educational and recreational activities; meal times; roll calls; description of food rations and problem of lack of nutrition in diet; use of garden area to grow own food; purchase of food from black market through Formosan guards; use of valuables and gold teeth to pay for food; story of ensuring repayment of cheques and IOUs after war; question of receiving Red Cross parcels; opinion of diet; cooking of food; story of baking bread. REEL 6 Continues: methods of improving taste of food; description of kitchens and preparation of food; kitchen staff and serving of food; allocation of work and types of duties; manufacture of footwear; working hours; role of welfare committee; clothing; medical facilities and staff in camp hospital; types of diseases caused by poor diet; methods of treatment including shark’s liver oil and china clay; surgical operations; problem of obtaining anesthetics; care of children; births in camp; importance of aid from Hong Kong Red Cross. REEL 7 Continues: effect of internment on staff from Hong Kong Bank; money in camp; bartering; morale; question of maintaining religious faith in camp; memories of internees Frank Sutton and ’Two Gun’ Cohen; religious services; role of religion in camp; problem of lack of communication with family; opinion of Swiss Red Cross agent; concealment of clandestine radios and punishments; access to newspapers in camp; parcels from civilians; educational facilities; sporting and recreational activities; camp library. REEL 8 Continues: language classes and lectures; concerts; marriages in camp; segregation of internees; escape attempts; reaction to news of Japanese surrender, 8/1945; thanksgiving service; air drops of supplies; reason for disobeying instructions to stay in camp; role in re-establishing Hong Kong government; living conditions in Hong Kong; story of organising closure of camp and repatriation of internees; problem of adjustment to civilian life.

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