Hunter, Drummond (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 19810
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 300, Number Of Items 10
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British officer served with 2nd Bn, Royal Scots in Hong Kong, 1940-1941; POW of Japanese in Hong Kong, 1942-1945

Content description

REEL 1 Recollections of background in Crummock and Edinburgh, 19118-1939: family hsitory and circumstance; family holiday; education; period at Watson's College, Edinburgh, 1933-1937, including academic and sporting success, OTC activities. Recollections of studying history at Edinburgh University, 1937-1939: hospitalisation with severe blood poisoning; opinion of Professor Galbraith; influence of Thomas Carlyle; question of efforts to secure scholarship to Cambridge University; OTC activities; reaction to Spanish Civil War; joining Communist Party; participation in marches to burn effigy of Chamberlain over question of appeasement of Nazi Germany, 1938-1939; reaction of family to Communist sympathies and question of influence on decision to enlist, 9/1939. REEL 2 Continues: question of student attitudes to Soviet Union and Stalin; student activities helping under privileged children. Recollections of approach of war, 9/1939: attending political street meetings during holiday in London; introduction of blackout following German invasion of Poland, 1/9/1939; difficulty in getting on to crowded train back to Edinburgh; volunteering for commission with Royal Scots at High School Yard Office, Edinburgh University, 2/9/1939; reactions to outbreak of war, 3/9/1939; opinion of Chamberlain. Recollections of basic training as officer at Royal Scots Depot, Glencourse Barracks, Edinburgh, 9/1939-12/1939: reception; kitting out; accommodation; drill; bayonet and rifle training; food rations and abandonment of vegetarianism; relationship with recruits; status as wartime officer; story of seeing air battle over Edinburgh following German air raid on Forth and subsequent reception of first German POW as duty officer, 16/10/1939; sand table tactical training and question of introduction of flexible tactics. Recollections of voyage with draft aboard Nevassa to Hong Kong, 12/1939-1/1940: secrecy; story of elderly officer with drink problems. REEL 3 Continues: crossing to France and boarding Nevassa at Marseilles; prior kitting out with tropical kit; impression of visits ashore at Egypt, Ceylon, India and Singapore. Recollections of period with 17 Platoon, D Coy, 2nd Bn, Royal Scots in Hong Kong, 1/1940-6/1941: first impressions of skyscrapers; stories of activities of elderly officer with drink problem which culminated in court martial and return to GB; initial accommodation at Murray Barracks; role of Chinese servant; pay; nature of officers' mess; question of gradual posting away of regular offices; initial role as machine gun company and Bren gun training; relationship with NCOs; duties erecting barbed wire defences around beaches; relationship with ORs and nicknames. REEL 4 Continues: duties erecting barbed wire defences around beaches; sporting activities including boxing contests; recreations and story of missing opportunity to speak to Ernest Hemingway; relationship with British civilian population; lack of contact with Chinese civilians; abandonment of Communist beliefs on joining army; reaction to USSR and Japan joining war, 1941; leaning music; opinion of Major David Pinkerton, Colonel Duncan McDougal and Colonel Simon White; accommodation on move to Mount Austin Barracks, 6/1941; story of meeting and establishing relationship with future wife, Peggy Scotcher; duties erecting barbed wire defences around beaches; question of Japanese position in China; promotion to lieutenant; duties tracking Japanese movements and concentrations in Sham Chun River on posting as intelligence officer; move for annual training exercises in New Territories; arrival of General Maltby and his policy of and inner line of defences anchored on Shingmum Redoubt; move to inner line defences, 12/1941; attempts to remedy poor state of defences; reporting signs of Japanese build up in Mirs Bay, ca 5/12/1941; continued social events, 7/12/19141; visit to fiancee and story of friend's decision to leave Hong Kong. REEL 5 Continues: reporting signs of Japanese build up in Mirs Bay to battalion headquarters, ca 5/12/1941; Japanese strategic offensive, 8/12/1941; question of response to intelligence warnings; recall to unit, 6/12/1941; lack of familiarity with Inner Line defences and Japanese registration of location of pillboxes; attempts to improve defences; battalion headquarters at White House at Tsun Wan Wi; neigbouring units. Recollections of Japanese attack on Inner Line Defences, 8/12/1941-10/12/1941: Japanese air raid; posting as second in command to D Coy; inadequacies of defensive positions and vulnerability of Shingmum Redoubt; prior defensive plans; opinion of Japanese troops and rumours of their inability to see at night; story of close escape from sentry opening fire in error; patrols' reports of Japanese approach; Japanese capture of Shingmum Redoubt, 9/12/1941; retreat to Golden Hill Line, 10/12/1941. Recollections of Japanese attack on Golden Hill, 11/12/194: initial Japanese attack on B and C Coy; situation and isolated position; Japanese mortar fire; wound in arm and shoulder from Japanese machine gun fire; first aid and situation after waking in pillbox. REEL 6 Continues: leaving pillbox and evacuation as walking wounded; ambulance evacuation. Recollections of period at British Military Hospital Bowan Road, 12/1941-12/1942: reception on arrival, 11/12/1941; presence of fiancee as VAD nurse; state of wounds; meeting Major Pinkerton; confident approach to victory; situation and lull in Japanese attack; story of receiving severe back injuries during Japanese air raid during aborted intended move to convalescent hospital, ca 24/12/1941; planned medical treatment of back plaster cast; surrender of garrison, 25/12/194; background to decision to marry fiancee despite advice of Colonel White; account of wedding ceremony and subsequent celebrations in hospital bed, 25/12/1941; conduct of Japanese guards; continued control of hospital; operation to fit back splint and plaster cast; daily routine and visits from wife; food and water; question of conduct of Japanese; check of cast and refitting, ca 6/1942; recreations including reading and walks with wife. REEL 7 Continues: friends; refusal to sign parole and possible consequences; removal of nurses to Stanley Prison Camp; cases of malnutrition and pellagria; loss of weight; recovery from back injury and removal of plaster, 12/1942; question being sent to POW camp. Recollections of conditions and lifestyle during period at Argyll Street POW Camp, Kowloon, 122/1942-: prior escort by respected Japanese interpreter to Sham Shui Po POW Camp; story of being given invisible ink plans for planned escape on toilet paper for transport to Argyll Street and question of plans for mass escape originating with Colonel Ryde; camp location; nature of hut accommodation and facilities; camp defences; question of Ryde's escape plan and execution of officers involved; morning roll call; escape of officer an subsequent execution of officer considered to have assisted; behaviour of Japanese guards and question of accepting their requirement to bow to them; British camp organisation; Japanese acceptance of convention whereby officers did no work; role as assistant camp librarian; lectures and learning German. REEL 8 Continues: learning German; theatrical plays; absence of sport and walking for exercise; relationship with POWs and organisation by unit; news from camp radio and successful camp search by Kempetai; writing to wife enclosing camp pay; lack of direct contact with GB; minimal Red Cross parcels; parcels from non-British civilians outside camp; question of camp pay and canteen; loans based on IOUs between POWs. Recollections of period at Camp N, Sham Shui Po POW Camp at Kowloon, 5/1944-8/1945: break up of Royal Scots group of POWs; POW's snoring; reduction in size of ORs camp through working parties; friendship with William Merthyr and his role as cobbler; role washing and repairing clothes; food and advantage of previous vegetarianism; question of superior conditions of officers; weakened state of back; following progress of war; work in garden and use of human excreta and urine. REEL 9 Continues: tomatoes grown in garden and minimal impact on diet; story of meeting Japanese guard going to latrine in typhoon; question of learning Japanese; personal morale; question of wife's health; impact of General Election, 1945; increasing drunkenness amongst Japanese guards; story of POW beaten for protesting during Red Cross inspection; superior conditions faced by Hong Kong POWs in comparison to those in Thailand; reactions to news of VE Day, 8/5/1945; news of US use of atomic bomb, 8/1945; confused situation prior to formal Japanese surrender; visit to wife in Stanley Prison Camp; continued Japanese presence; arrival of toilet paper; state of health of POWs; proclamation of Franklin Jimpson as acting governor of Hong Kong; question of US plans to remove British influence from Hong Kong; establishment of Provisional Government in French Mission and hoisting of Union Jack; liberation celebrations and question of POWs over indulging in alcohol and food; view of arrival of Royal Navy, 30/8/1945; Japanese interpreter; success of efforts to establish government of Hong Kong; formal surrender of Japanese, 15/9/1945. REEL 10 Voyage aboard Empress of Australia to Liverpool, GB, 9/1945-11/1945: gradual return to normal diet; collection of wife and initial separation of families; missing chance to meet brother; buying wedding ring at Columbo, Ceylon; meeting brother at Port Said; reception into transit camp at Liverpool. Leave and family reunion, 11/1945-2/1946. Demobilisation, 2/1946. Post-war career: award of degree; studying law and initial career as solicitor; effect of war service on personal beliefs and consequent commencement of career as administrator at Royal Edinburgh Hospital, 1955; question of mental and physical effects of war service and POW experiences; work with Scottish Howard League of Penal Reform, 1967-1999; membership of Royal Scots Regimental Association. Continues:

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