I am sorry to say our Brother Arendt is no longer able to receive letters for or from the children, having been warned against doing this. He can still see them, however, and is able and willing to pass on verbally any messages he receives, so the road is not entirely closed.
This morning I got into touch with Mr. Egle of the International Red Cross and he says that I may send all letters from parents to him and he will pass them on to Mr. Egger, who will look after their delivery. This will entail delay, but we are very thankful for the proffered help and if you will send letters to us here will handle them.
I will write Mr. Egger - asking if it is possible for him to receive letters direct through Mrs. Trudinger and will let you know when I got his reply; but for the present all had better come to us here, I think. Those writing to us or the children will, I a am sure, be particularly careful that no information to which objection could be made is included, for the sake of all concerned. We do not want to do anything, which might possibly imperil our present privileges.
I must tell you about the happenings at Chefoo in order that you may know how to pray for the children, their teachers and the other friends. As you know the authorities gave notice some time ago that they wanted our compound for military purposes. A time limit for evacuation was given but owing to the promises offered in exchange being altogether, unsuitable for winter residence, this time had to be extended more than once. Part of the compound had to be given up in September, so before the end of October, when the new "greater east Asia ministry" began to function, our friends had been squeezed into the boys' school building, the girls' school building, and the sanatorium. Our final request was that they be allowed to come to o Shanghai, or failing that, be housed at Temple Hill where the American Presbyterian Mission property was mostly unoccupied, the missionaries having been repatriated.
On the 29th of October our friends were told not to go out of the compound. It was rumoured that the folk still residing at Temple Hill had bean ordered out of their houses by noon. Later it was said that all non-C.I.M. foreigners had to go to Temple hill, each one taking bedding; and a suitcase. Some people had only two hours' notice. The whole group was congregated in two of the mission houses, and had to cater for themselves. Next day some of the men were allowed out on parole to return to their homes and bring out stores and other necessities. In the meantime our folk were warned to be ready to leave their compound and be "concentrated" in other, four of the temple Hill houses. Packing was now the order of the day. Mr. Bruce and others were taken over to view the premises allotted to us. The J. officer who escorted the inspection party appeared very solicitous regarding the welfare of the children. "They must not be allowed to sleep on the verandahs lest they catch cold! They must not be too crowded in case of sickness breaking out!" How could they avoid being crowded? A billeting committee was formed end they did have a job fitting everybody into the allotted space. If you have ever visited Temple hill you will perhaps know the different houses. The rooms are spacious and the verandahs wide. Three of the houses have good attics, and two of them have very satisfactory central heating arrangements. There are at least twenty good stoves on the premises, so with an adequate coal supply as promised there should be some measure of comfort in the very cold season. Pray for the old people for they will feel the inconveniences and discomforts most.
In the billeting the Brown-Irwin House was estimated to take 71. These included all the girls (with the exception of a few who are with their parents in the other houses), the girls' school staff, the Chalkley, Welch and Warren families and Mrs. Brooomhall. The Young-Bryan House was reckoned to accommodate 58, made up of the boys, a few girls who were with their parents, the Bruce, Martin and Seaman families, Mrs. Lack, Mrs. Thompson and Miss Brayne. The Berst house was given over to the Prepites and their staff, eight older boys and some girls to help with the chores, also the Harrises and the Bazires. This group also numbered 58. The remainder of our people, with the exception of Mr. and Mrs. Faers and Mr. Herbert Taylor who are with the community folk in another compound, are in the Lanning House. With them are twelve boys and four girls helping with chores. In all there are 47 in that house. I think the committee, did wonders in their planning.
On November 3 orders were given that our whole compound be evacuated by Friday, the 6th. That would have been impossible without motor transport. As it was the authorities provided trucks and the removal was accomplished on the Wednesday and Thursday. It was allowable to move personal baggage, kitchen utensils, stores and bedding. A special arrangement was made about the supply of coal. No Chinese servants are allowed, so all the cooking, washing up, pumping and carrying water, sanitary and laundry work has to be done by the internees. Most people are sleeping on mattresses on the floor, the few available beds being reserved far the old folk. Food is not being provided by the J. because they say this is not an "internment” camp but a "concentration" camp. We dense foreigners cannot see the difference! Anyhow, food has to be found and paid for just as it was on our own compound. So far our friends are all right for supplies. A Chinese go-between arranges about marketing and other outside purchases. It is yet to be seen how sticky his palm is. The compounds are straightly shut up and no communication, with the outside is allowed. There is ample room for reasonable recreation, but we have not heard whether or not it will be possible to carry on school classes. We are hoping that restrictions will be somewhat relaxed later. On the Sunday (Nov. 8) there was a combined service in the Berst House, conducted by Mr. Wm. Taylor.
The weather was good during the days of settling in so it was easy to be cheerful. For the past year the school has been extraordinarily free from sickness. Pray that this may continue. Alas! a sad accident befell Mr. Harris on the 9th. He was going up to one of the attics when the ladder slipped away from him and he crashed to the floor. He was unconscious for more than fifteen minutes. Dr. Howie was at hand and Dr. Young of the Presbyterian Mission, was permitted to come in. In their opinion the base of the skull was fractured. Our sympathies will go out to Mr. and Mrs. Harris. The bigger boys and girls looked forward to this latest move as a new adventure, though some of the younger ones may have been a little bit nervous. A non-enemy friend who was able to visit the houses writes that "the children enjoy the change." One of the Chefoo, boys who is here in Shanghai with his parents feels that he has been cheated out of something by being out of school at this time!
We have been praying for many months and the result as outlined above is very different from what we looked for. But our friends up there know and we know that "all things" work together for good to them that love God. He governs our circumstances for us if we have accepted His "purpose of eternal good" in Christ Jesus. It In the “working together" of circumstances that is for our good. God changes these circumstances. Sometimes they are bright and cheerful and sometimes rather dark and dismal, but He makes them ― ― for our highest good. Let us "trust and not be afraid." The four characters - - in Luke 8:50 make one of the most precious combinations I know.
"It must be weeks since you heard of the children, for no mails are allowed in or out these days. Can you imagine the bitter disappointment of the children with all boxes packed, when news came that all British ships had to proceed to Hong Kong! The "Hsin Peking" had taken the northern party up to Tientsin and the southern party were merely awaiting its return. The children were simply marvellous when they heard they had to remain there for the holidays. The Binks family, two now in the Upper one, hadn't been home since they came to us in the Primary. Reg. Bazire had escorted the Northerners up and we all wondered how he would get back to us. He went down to Tsingtao (he has a wonderful story to tell of passes granted at a minute's notice) and then on Monday, Dec.8th, he boarded a bus and came right through to Chefoo in one day. He was greeted, at the Bus Station at night with the news that war had been declared and all the foreigners were in a concentration camp. He wondered if he would ever see his family again. However, a very courteous little J. came up to him and telephoned to headquarters and received permission for him to proceed. He arrived at his home about 8 p.m. to find everybody there. That afternoon we had many visitors on the compound. They were very polite, and after removing our radios and having a good look round, they took Pa Bruce off with them and left us with guards in charge of the compound and a wooden board saying that the great nation now were in charge of the place. Other gentlemen were taken with Mr. Bruce and were housed in Astor House. By other gentlemen I do not mean any of our Mission. They were kindly treated and had good meals which they paid for very handsome, and most of the time had coals supplied. Perhaps you can imagine the stacks of forms we had to fill in for ourselves and for the children, detailing all our possessions and the values and the most minute details of our buildings and furnishings and costs, our names, ages, addresses and nationalities included, in each. Finally we have each been given an arm band to wear when we go out. It has our nationality on it. One day, after filling in a particularly large number of forms all in duplicate, the one who took the prayer meeting gave out "Count your blessings, name them one by one!" We have cut down our meat and milk bills by half and dismissed a number of servants. The boys and girls in the other schools set the tables and clean rooms. Here the Staff do their own chores and spread bread. It is quite a business to clean one’s room before morning school. We are also limited in the number of pieces of bread we eat. The Preps eat 9 a day. At supper they are allowed one piece every 5 minutes and each is very particular that no one gets over his share. We are having the most interesting meals- "teo-fu" (bean curd) in huge quantities and peanuts in a number of dishes, one of the most popular being peanut loaf for dinner. Of course we see no fruit though we have a lot of vegetables and often have raw cabbage and carrots for a salad. I am sure no one has talked so much about food for years. We spend absolutely no money outside the compound more than is absolutely necessary. We are ripping up war knitting, scarves, etc., and remaking them for cardigans for the children. The Staff are busy knitting stockings and other necessities. I wish I could tell you of the wonderful way that God led certain people to prepare for this contingency. Others outside the compound were fearful of changing money at a low exchange and were left with almost nil and a small stock of coal, whereas those of the head of affairs in the compound had laid in a stock of coal for the winter and it was wonderfully sent when there seemed none to be had. Also Mr. Jackson had been extraordinarily wise you can guess along what line. Then at Christmas, our puddings had been made weeks beforehand when supplies were not short and Mr. Olesen very nobly killed one of his goats to supply most of the compound with Christmas fare. Then as presents! We could almost write a book on the way the Preps were able to have about five little parcels each! Just the day or so before things closed up a large parcel came from Shanghai bringing quite a store of children’s presents from parents down there. An evacuating mother left a veritable toyshop behind with Miss Carr and the toys were all as good as new. Two large parcels for a little boy in Kansu have been lying with us for a year or two and we took the liberty of disposing of its contents. Another evacuating child left us with ten tins of jam. Another parcel from America with gifts of books had arrived too late for last Christmas and came in handy for this one. It was marvellous! Then we have been so glad to hold our Memorial Hall services, so we could all meet together on Christmas morning. In the afternoon we had games as usual, and the B. S. put on a very good puppet show which was followed by Father Christmas coming down the chimney. He came with cholera certificates and the usual passes and enormous photos of himself. Mr. Bruce and most of the inmates of Astor House were allowed home for Christmas and had to report again next morning at 9 a.m. They could be seen most days at their windows and waved at and sometimes their wives were allowed to speak to them for a few minutes? To-day, January 24th, has been a wonderful day. Miss Carr and I were down town and saw a number of rickshaws outside the Astor house and later on almost all the inmates came home with their luggage. The B. S. and G. S. lined the walls of the football field to greet Mr. Bruce when they got wind of his coming. All the services in the port are held in our Hall and Mr. Stocker takes a C. of E. one every third Sunday in the month. The spirit of the children has been wonderful and there hasn’t been a grouse about rations or not being able to go home. The guard were left on the compound for several weeks, changing every few hours, but now they hardly come at all. There has been much prayer regarding them as they spent so much time in our kitchens, and with food carefully rationed things became a little difficult when a good deal of milk and bread was tucked away. However, we have much to be thankful for, especially in the courteous treatment, and no unpleasantness of any kind. There is much that I have to leave unsaid, but there will be a great story to tell when the war is over.”
Dear Parents of Boys and Girls at Chefoo: You will rejoice with us in days when so many things are out of joint, that Chefoo continues peaceful, and especially that Foundation Day has been celebrated with almost all its customary functions and happiness. We miss our boating and we miss our visiting parents, and our home letters are few. But hardly any other of the joys of Chefoo and Foundation Day has been taken from us. General conditions, of course, are changed, and we westerners are no longer the spoilt children of the world. The boys' field is marked with the unaccustomed white lines of a baseball diamond, and not infrequently the field is used by the Japanese for their games, particularly on Saturdays and Sundays. One night from 9.30 to 10.30 the field was used for a movie-talkie show of propaganda films, attended by a thousand or more Chinese (but this crowd was entirely orderly and notably unenthusiastic). On the beach our boundary stones have been removed, on the bathing sheds Chinese flags have been hoisted, and our newer boats have been annexed, so the boys change for bathing in their House, the girls in the school day room, and preps in their House. The Compound also is frequently visited by Japanese officials, civil and military, casting would-be-proprietorial eyes around, and as we see them, we realise the more how many amenities enrich our ground and buildings.
But these features are not the whole picture. Chefoo has gone on, normally in the main, through Winter Holidays, Spring term (with hardly any sickness), Spring Holidays (with an exceedingly valuable C.S.S.M,) and more than half the Summer term. Memorial Hall services continue, and though the Union Church and the Anglican Churches are not available, we have (in the Memorial Hall) one Anglican morning service each. Three weeks, and we have the other two morning services conducted under arrangements made by the Union Church Committee. We are fortunate in having still in Chefoo about twenty men (including members of other Missions and business men) able and willing to take these services. Even the Sunday baseball does not disturb the Sunday quiet of the compound as a whole since the field lies (as so many of you will remember) at the western end of the compound away from the main paths and most of the buildings. In many things the Japanese are considerate. Last week, since wells they drew on for some building south of the compound were running dry, they turned the water carriers away from the G. S. well, but later they inspected our various sources of supply and decided to use none of our wells, since the last weeks have been unusually dry. They are therefore carrying water for their building from the sea; six li for each load.
So by God's loving kindness we go on, and you would find Chefoo life refreshingly normal and, I think, more than usually happy, for wartime difficulties have knit us together even more than before, and God has been speaking to young and old. Foundation Day has been as happy as ever. The celebrations started with cricket instead of the usual boat races. To repair the boats was impossible: this year on grounds of expense, and latterly the newer boats have been taken for the pleasure of the Japanese residents. The boating has been sadly missed. So cricket came first, then some tennis. Then for the thirty boys and girls who would have formed the boat clubs there was a boating picnic all together in the gully south of the Cottage. Simple fare (gone are the ice-creams of the past) but good fun. Then came games and competitions with a nautical flavour, and then singing of the boat club songs to the juniors thronging their dormitory windows. Then the boys bathed and ducked each other by the light of the new crescent moon.
The next day being Foundation Day proper saw the finish of the cricket. The boys had batted first; their team was Calvin Cook (captain), Wallace and Alvin Desterhaft, Ronald Slade, David Clarke, Jimmie .Bruce, John Andrews, Robin Hoyte, Beau Howell, Chris Costerus and Henry Lack, of whom Cook, W. Desterhaft and Slade are the prominent batsmen. They started off well, then several wickets fell, cheering the visitors; but then J. Bruce and J. Andrews, the smallest members of the team, made a stand which gave the School high hopes. All were out for 128, of which Jimmie Bruce made 43. So everything depended for the visitors ― as often in past years ― on Mr. Bruce's success. Mr. Bruce has been complaining of his age; but if he has been less successful lately, it has been due to the age in which he lives rather than the age to which he has attained. At any rate on Foundation Day he was in top form. Many parents will remember the delicious coolness and the gay holiday atmosphere in which cricket starts on Foundation Day. It was just like that this year when Mr. Bruce and Mr. Arthur Rouse (so long and so diversely an affectionate ally of the School) went out to bat. The boys bowled and fielded well, but the visitors, including also Bazire, Houghton and Martin of the School Staff, Dr. Howie, Mr. Seaman, Mr, Murray (of McMullans) and Jim Murray, Jack Bell and Norman Cliff of last years sixth form, were undismayed, when they saw Mr. Bruce invincible. So the score mounted until Old Age triumphed for the first time for three years Mr. Bruce made 81 not out, so you may be assured that the Chefoo Staff are not senile yet.
The Foundation Day service lacked a visiting parent to give the address;, but Mr. Welch's talk on the Foundation of God with its double seal (2 Tim.7:19) was both steadying and stimulating. The service, even more than, in normal times, was truly the heart of the day.
The social tea-time on the north terrace of the boys' House was one of the things we missed this year, chiefly as an economy measure, and partly that we might not flaunt our celebrations in the eyes of the passers-by. For we have been told on good authority that the officials here resent it not a little that we k'uai k'uai loh loh tih ko jih. But the boys and girls had their tea, in three lots, not out of doors, and a pleasant celebration it was.
Two teams had been drawn up representing "Coast" vs. "Inland." For the Coast there were Isabel Harris, Betty Harle, Ruth Jordan and Jean Lack, R, Slade, D. Clarke, H. Lack, C. Cook; for the Inland regions, Grace Liversidge, Margaret Learner, Irene Trickey and Agnes Bell, G. Savage, B, Howell, W, Desterhaft. J. Bruce. I hardly dare report to the numerous Inland parents that the Coast triumphed, by 11 matches to 3. It will not surprise you to learn that the tennis seemed to go on and on and on. The number of visitors must have been less than in other years, but not noticeably less, for the terraces were well filled with conversing adults, and the immediate environs of the cart had their usual fringe of boys and girls ranging from Primary prepites frankly more interested in their own dusty pastimes to Seniors vitally concerned in the success of relative or friend. All just as you remember it; isn't that something to praise for? And then the concert, starting somewhat earlier and finishing with a more meticulous regard to punctuality. The Memorial Hall almost full (instead of crammed) and music of many sorts. Piano pieces by Miss Greening, Miss Hills, Miss Taylor and Mrs. Bazire, songs by Mrs. Lack and a topical one by Mr. Houghton. A new event in two solos on the saw by Mrs. Hess. A reading (from "Three Men in a Boat") by Miss. Hills, and quartettes (Miss Hills, Mrs. Thomas, Mr. Houghton and Mr. Chalkley). The biggest and merriest thing in the programme was the last act of Midsummer Night's Dream, with Andrew Hayman as a genial Duke, and Robin Hoyte as an admirably blockish wall, Nick Bottom with his liveliness and lack of inhibitions was well done by David Clark, and the whole piece gave real pleasure to us all.
The concert concluded with Isaiah 35 set as a vocal quartette, a delightful finish; and then a heartfelt Doxology, in which we invite you to join. God is making His grace abound to us, and we pray that you too may be filled with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.