Jordan, Charles (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 19638
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 210, Number Of Items 7
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British gunner served with 18th Coastal Regt Royal Artillery, in GB and Hong Kong, 1936-1941; POW in Hong Kong and Japan, 1941-1945

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Hackbridge, Surrey, 1918-1936: family; problem of contracting infantile paralysis and small stature; education; sporting activities; employment; reasons for joining Royal Artillery. Recollections of period of service as gunner with Royal Artillery in GB and Hong Kong, 19361941: period of training on 18 Pounders and posting to County Cork for coastal defence duties; reaction to posting to Hong Kong; attitude to army life and discipline; description of journey to Hong Kong and conditions aboard ship; arrival in Fort Stanley barracks in Hong Kong; amusing story of fellow soldier in typhoon; description of type of guns used in barracks; qualification as gun layer and rate of pay for specialism; nature of duties with 18th Coast Regiment, 30th Coast Battery; work as office clerk. REEL 2 Continues: opinion of accommodation and sleeping arrangements in barracks; employment of local Chinese labour as barrack boys including rates of pay and nature of duties; memory of having clothes and shoes made by local workers; weekend leave and activities; social life in Hong Kong; reading Daily Mirror for home news; opinion of food; contact with civilian population; memories of inter-regimental sports tournaments; effects of local alcohol and story of being disciplined for drunkenness; memory of Hong Kong harbour and sampans; popularity of 'Jane' cartoon; difficulty in obtaining news; description of life in Hong Kong and lack of entertainment; opinion of civilian population; description of local environment around barracks; memories of celebrating Christmas; problem of sunburn; description of uniform; communication with home. REEL 3 Continues: nature of duties and description of typical day; gun drills and clerical work; life in barracks; isolation and problem of obtaining news; memory of hearing about Japanese attack from China, 1941; withdrawn to Fort Stanley to act as sentry; memory of helping clear Japanese from hotel in Hong Kong with Gurkhas and hearing of fall of Hong Kong. Aspects of period as POW in Hong Kong and Japan, 1941-1945: march from Fort Stanley to Hong Kong and ferry to POW camp; description of conditions in camp and daily death rate from malnutrition and disease; use of yeast tablets mixed with rice as nutrition; memory of two day journey to Japan in cargo hold of ship Lisbon Maru; lack of food and water; memories of ship being sunk by American submarine and escape to nearby island; help from local people; recaptured by Japanese and sent to POW camp in Osaka; attitude to treatment by Japanese. REEL 4 Continues: further memories of sinking of Lisbon Maru; Japanese shooting at men in water; in water for ten hours and holding on to cork float; swimming towards island and rescue by Chinese junk; description of treatment by Chinese villagers; opinion of treatment for malaria and dysentery in Japanese hospital; memory of removing ashes of dead comrades; train journey to POW camp in Osaka; description of conditions and daily routine in camp; nature of work; type of clothing worn and rations. REEL 5 Continues: roll call; return to camp after work and being searched by guards; methods of concealing sugar in clothing and memory of punishment for smuggling food into camp; no stealing between prisoners; description of accommodation and Japanese guards; opinion of guards and story of sick prisoner being drowned in water tower as punishment; description of two mile march to work-place; state of morale among prisoners; attitude to deaths of fellow prisoners; opinion of medical treatment and nature of rations. REEL 6 Continues: communication with family; washing facilities and personal hygiene; attitude to trying to escape; description of Japanese guards and hierarchy; opinion of Japanese guards and local Japanese workers; importance of regimental pride; amusing story of fellow artilleryman getting drunk; reflections on effects of captivity and attitude to Japanese people; opinion of British government's post-war treatment of Far East Prisoners of War; memory of hearing about atomic bomb on Hiroshima; supplies dropped by American planes. REEL 7 Continues: memories of liberation of camp and greeting American servicemen while dressed in American uniform; description of American ration packs; opinion of Americans; role in charge of repatriation centre in Osaka hotel and of serving American explorer Admiral Bird with English tea. Aspects of demobilisation and return to civilian life from 1945; memory of end of war and nature of celebrations; journey from Osaka back to GB including period of recuperation in Pearl Harbour and return to GB aboard the Queen Mary; post-war employment in telephone exchange; opinion of being recalled for further three months of training in Territorial Army.

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