Inmates in both the
military and civilian prisoners in
example, upon entering Stanley Camp in
Geneva Convention of 1929 (which had been signed by
this rejection of international conventions went a harsh approach to the
handling of attempts to escape. Thus the military prisoners at Shamshuipo Camp
were warned by Colonel Tokunaga, Commandant of all the
imprisonment commenced in
in April 1942, just a few weeks later, four men escaped by the college
the same time as the above attempted escape, four prisoners successfully
escaped from Shamshuipo Camp. David Bosanquet describes this graphically in his
book Escape from
luck was in when they met a pro-Chongqing guerrilla group, which was glad to
assist them. They travelled by foot and by sampan past small villages and rice
paddy fields east of
group then broke up, and Bosanquet travelled with the two officials by train to
The escape of Laurance Tipton and Arthur Hummel in the Weixian Camp was carefully and scientifically planned. The writer recalls seeing them deep in conversation, their heads shaven and their skins tanned, during the weeks leading to their escape on 9 June 1944.
The countryside surrounding the Weixian Camp was a patchwork quilt of competing military units. The immediate environs of the camp was in Japanese Puppet country, controlled by Chinese working with the Japanese. Further south was a Communist controlled area, and to the north, beyond the Puppet-controlled area, was another Communist area. But to the north east and east of the camp, beyond the surrounding Puppet area, was a large area controlled by Nationalist guerrillas.
It was with the last group that Father Raymond de Jaegher (who was originally to escape with Tipton, but was restrained by his Catholic superior) had established regular contact. The planning in advance included the strategy of escaping at the time of the full moon, studying the timing of the changing of the guards on the watchtower, and the fixing of a rendezvous with Chinese guerrillas at a point near the camp.
And so it was that on 9 June 1944, as the guards were changing at 9 p.m. and the sentry was doing his ten minute tour of inspection, that Tipton and Hummel slipped into and through the tower, and were helped down the high wall outside by fellow internees. With a hand on the post of the electrified fence, they each vaulted over, and then their knapsacks were thrown to them.
A small group of Chinese were waiting for them as arranged, at a cemetery two miles from the camp. The journey to the headquarters of General Wang Yumin's guerrillas at Suncheng, less than a hundred miles to the north east of the camp, included walking and travelling by wheelbarrows and bicycles. They were to stay in this area for the remaining fourteen months of the war. They found themselves in a large military establishment, which included a munitions factory, home industries and adult educational classes.
immediately sent reports to Chongqing, giving statistics about the internees, a
report on current conditions in Weixian, and a
request for funds, vitamin tablets and medical supplies; and finally to ensure
the safety of the internees in any political changes which might take place.
The reports were delivered personally by two Chinese, and the messages were
sown between the layers of the cloth soles of their shoes. The response from
Tipton and Hummel kept in regular touch with the camp through a Chinese carpenter, who went in regularly as a worker. The messages were written in fine silk and folded into a small pellet, which the workman stuffed up his nose. This strategy defied the most exacting body searches. The messages were written in a special code in case they fell into the wrong hands. They were discharged from his nose near a camp toilet where de Jaegher was already waiting.
the time following the escape of the two men, Ted McLaren, head of the
Internment in Longhua Camp had commenced in March 1943, and before the year was out there were two incidents of escape, one successful and one unsuccessful.
25 September, after only half a year of internment, Jack Conder,
an ex-soldier in Longhua, made an escape about which there are few recorded
particulars. In order to deter further attempts, the Commandant announced to
the camp that Conder had been caught and shot, but in
fact he had got away, for three months later his wife received a Red Cross
letter from him written in
Then on the last day of 1943 the internees had a New Year's Eve dance and Fancy Dress party. Among the revellers was a Miss MacDonald, who arrived at the party dressed in the simple garb of a Chinese peasant woman. She was in fact also dressed in this way for a planned escape. Before the night was out, she and two Anglo-Indians had made their escape. But the attempt was amateurish, and the three were soon captured and imprisoned in the much-dreaded Ward Road Gaol.
Roy Scott, in his manuscript Five from Lunghwa, describes his escape from Longhua Camp; but he first recounts his feelings beforehand. He was deeply aware of the serious risks involved ― of being shot at by Japanese guards while affecting the escape, as well as the possibility of being recaptured, and facing torture and imprisonment in far worse conditions than those in Longhua. He speaks of the intense mental strain in the last few days prior to departure, comparing it with his experience in World War I of "going over the top", which he points out was not so prolonged as waiting to escape.
Five men took part in the getaway ― Louis Murray-Kidd, Roy Scott, Tom Huxley, Michael Levy and Reg Ulrich (who could speak both Chinese and Japanese) ― and in their planning they had to take cognisance of the obstacles which they would have to overcome. The grounds of the camp were surrounded by ten strong rows of barbed wire eight feet high, and also a tidal creek eight feet wide. The items the five men procured for the venture included wire cutters, a rubber raft, various tools, tinned food and $6,000 CRB (smuggled into the camp in a Municipal Council water cart). Each person had his own equipment in case they were separated. One of their last actions before departing was to write a letter to the Japanese Commandant, saying that they were escaping as a protest against the bad treatment and poor conditions of the camp.
met as planned on the night of 22 May 1944 at They
cut the double thickness of wire, crossed the tidal creek which was at low
tide, and made their way along a path. During the first night they were
challenged by Chinese police; they informed them that they were hikers, and
their appearance with heavy ruck sacks gave credence
to their story. Then they ran into a Japanese post; and Ulrich, their
interpreter, told the Japanese that they were four Germans and a Russian from
they proceeded, they met some pro-Chongqing guerrillas, who helped them with
food, hospitality and money, and directed them on to the next guerrilla
stronghold. Each military group, both guerrillas and Kuomintang, was to do the
same for them, escorting them on to the next contact by truck, ferry and junk.
At Wucong, where they arrived on 4 June, they learned
that Jack Conder had escaped along this same route,
and been given hospitality by the same groups. From this base they sent a
telegram to the British government in
week later, on 4 June, the men sent a further telegram to
next stop was Shanjao, where they stayed in the
C.I.M. compound with Mr. and Mrs. Dunn and Miss P. Loosley.
Here they had their first three-course English meal in fourteen months. While
here, on 24 June 1944, they received a telegram from the British Embassy at
five men arrived in
Back in the camp which the men had left, the guards had been angry about the escape, and become short-tempered, resorting to face-slapping the internees. Also, Rollcalls had become protracted, and had been summoned at irregular times of the day and the night; and camp lights were being turned off earlier. But the punishments soon died away.
Three months after this escape from Longhua Camp there was another from the same camp. This was led by W.C. Henry, who has written an unpublished account of his experience. The author of this story had been a mechanic in the Shanghai Gas Company, and on 12 March 1943 had been interned in the Pudong Camp. Initially Henry's wife remained free, as she was a Swede and was working in the Swedish Consulate.
Subsequently Mrs. Henry was interned in Longhua, and W.C. Henry was able to transfer to her camp. He found that conditions in Longhua at this time were an improvement on those in Pudong.
Later Mrs. Henry was given her freedom, and she returned to work in the Swedish Consulate. At this stage W.C. Henry, K. Pate and Tom Crossthwaite began to make plans to escape. They managed to obtain a compass, maps, wire-cutting pliers and tinned food, and packed them into rucksacks.
On the night of 19 August 1944 the three men cut a hole in the wire fence at Longhua, crawled through it and put on their well packed rucksacks. In the first few days they made little progress, having to change their course and return to where they had started.
were severe thunderstorms followed by heavy rains. Weighed down by soaking
rucksacks, they decided to discard one, including some tinned food. They found
their way to
They travelled by ferry and walked many miles. They found that they were in territory controlled by Japanese and Chinese puppet troops, so they chose their route carefully, walking across paddy fields, wading knee deep in slimy mud, and then travelling by sampans.
they reached Kashing on 1 September their feet were
swollen from walking for so many miles. Here they were given hospitality by
guerrilla troops. They learned from the captain that this unit had also helped
Roy Scott and his colleagues a few months earlier. The three men spent two days
here, and were each given $2,000 for the journey. They were passed from the
care of one military group to the next, and given accommodation, food and
funds. Through drinking creek water they were all suffering from dysentery. In
Henry's notes end with the three men near to
As a reprisal, the internees were confined to their billets. There were drastic cuts in food, reducing their already low rations still further; and there were Rollcalls. Those who had been in the same rooms as the three escapers were arrested and cross-examined; and all pleaded ignorance of the escape.
One incident associated with the escape of the three men caused a tense situation. A young man of twenty was being questioned about the escape, and on giving a confused answer was struck by a guard. He ran out of the guard room across the football field pursued by three guards. He fell and the guards kicked him with their heavy boots, and hit him with their revolvers. Internees rushed to the scene to assist him; and there was a confrontation for two hours as prisoners protested at his treatment. Guards then prepared to fire into the crowd. But Dean A.C.S. Trivett intervened and calmed both sides down, and a serious crisis was averted.
Japanese guards faced discipline or demotion when prisoners under them escaped, and had to account to their seniors for their failure to avoid such escapes, and so there was understandably tension and anger when such incidents occurred.
End of Chapter.