Biography of Wiley B. Glass, Missionary to China,
By: Eloise Glass Cauthen.
In October even our limited liberties ended.
All "enemy aliens" were confined in the Chefoo Civil Assembly Camp. Only one man escaped from it, and he was caught and returned.
The Presbyterian compound on Temple Hill was divided into three parts for the camp. Our part was two one-family residences beside the church. Forty-seven people were placed in one house; Jessie and I were two of the sixty-three assigned to the other. After ten days of impossible crowding, twenty-one were moved to another place; but forty-two of us still shared it.
There were ten people in our bedroom. We spread what we had on the floor and were grateful that Lois' two trunks produced bedding to share. Later we were able to get bed boards, saw horses, and even curtains to partition off our spaces. We appropriated many things from the attics for our use and were especially glad to find plenty to read. Each room had a stove. We were allowed to hire artisans to make boilers, stove pipes, and other essentials. One big snow had already fallen, and it was a long, cold winter.
Each house group was assembled, and a military officer read the regulations that would govern our lives. No one was to leave his assigned yard without an accompanying guard. All men had to go with the military while they took inventory. All funds of any kind were counted and put in a safe, which was never to be opened except in the presence of the Japanese in charge. I was made camp treasurer. We were to feed ourselves as long as there was any money. We made a weekly assessment of twenty dollars per person, but some had come in without a cent; and before long few could pay. Before the winter was over, the Japanese had to feed us. We ran short of meat, butter, and sugar, but we never really suffered.
We organized to share the chores of living. One of the Presbyterian doctors was my partner on the sanitation squad to empty the toilet buckets. There were no flush commodes or sewers. Some chopped kindling and brought in coal. All ashes had to be sifted to find any cinders that might burn again. The younger men pumped water, two at a time. It was a strenuous job, and the pump was constantly getting out of fix. We had to do our own laundry, of course. Folks managed to keep fairly decent. After the ground began to thaw, one old man got his exercise by working in flower beds and planting flowers everywhere they would grow. A particular inconvenience was lack of a dining room. After we picked up our plates in cafeteria style, we took our food to our bedrooms and ate on the small bit of floor space marked out as ours.
Mail was so rare that any letter became everybody's letter. Very few trickled in from the outside. A letter written by Baker Cauthen from Free China in November did reach us in February.
Somehow we learned that the eight thousand "enemy nationals" in Shanghai were all to be interned as we were. We wondered how it would go with them.
We really were not badly off. The Japanese officer in charge of our camp was a gentleman in every way. He granted every request he dared think the military would allow. He had been a captain. Most of the guards were disabled soldiers, and only a few were friendly. Most were brusque and strictly businesslike, so I was touched when one of the officers said of me to others, as we were leaving, "This is my friend from Hwanghsien."
The former Japanese consul, who had been most considerate and efficient, was removed by the military, but his successor seemed to try to help the internees as much as he could. The Swiss consul was our representative with the Japanese and looked after our interests. He obtained some money for milk for the camp when the milkman had said he would deliver no more until bills were paid.
Our Baptist group received some love gifts from Chinese Christians who, like David's men who brought him water from the well of Bethlehem, risked their lives to help us. David poured his water out as an offering, but we used what came to us.
The Japanese insisted that anyone in the camp with money would help to support the camp. In polite English, but with a bayonet at his throat, they told a Greek import-export man, "Yes, you put in money, please. Thank you."
This wealthy man, said to be the richest in the port, was allowed to go home once a month under guard to visit his invalid daughter and his aged mother. At those times we sent out dirty linens to the laundry by him. Through a German neighbor who often visited his home, we were able when we left internment to send our comfort money (five dollars in United States money per month, totaling one thousand dollars in Japanese currency) to the Baptist pastor in Chefoo. Pastor Yang deposited it with Hwanghsien firms that had business in Chefoo. They paid it to our seminary in Hwanghsien.
It was a deep joy to know that Tsang Tien-pao, my former student, then my colleague, and now principal of the seminary, was keeping it going. He led in planting the campus with vegetable gardens from which the students could support themselves.
A great variety of people were interned in the Chefoo camp. Some of the non-religious had a superstitious faith in our daily five o'clock evening prayers. "After we go in and listen to you folks pray," they said, "we know nothing can happen to us before five o'clock tomorrow, anyhow."
At first the various preachers were called upon in turn to lead Sunday services; but by the first of January, our two houses beside the church decided they would choose a pastor. Everybody was given a vote, and I was unanimously elected. We had good music, and I greatly enjoyed preaching. One of the favorite songs was "Higher Ground," unfamiliar to many of the group until that time. Because I taught it to my congregation, I was somehow identified with it.
We had fun times, too. Occasionally we planned a social evening. Every Thursday some qualified member of the group delivered a lecture. Daily classes were offered in a variety of subjects.
We were aware that negotiations were continuing in Tokyo for a second repatriation ship, but as we saw little prospect of a speedy release we made the best of our confinement. Having committed our situation to the Lord, we did not feel alarmed for the future.
Repatriation and Release
When repatriation plans were at last made definite, I requested permission for Lois and me to visit the cemetery. Everybody in camp helped to gather flowers with which we filled the two rickshaws we had hired. The guard who accompanied us rode a bicycle. We heard Chinese people along the way speculating that there had been a death in the camp. As no conversation was allowed en route, we could not tell them they were wrong.
The gardener's daughter and another girl in the cemetery had been at our school in Hwanghsien. When they saw us they called out, "Our teacher, our teacher!" and came running to know why we were there.
I spoke to them, explaining our errand, until the guard came toward us threateningly. The girls backed away, but watched while Lois and I went throughout the cemetery laying flowers on the graves of all Baptist missionaries and children of missionaries. We longed to talk, and the girls longed to hear; but we had to return to camp without another word to them. Enough had been said, however, for the Chinese to know that we were to leave China.
It was a relief not to be rebuked for having spoken to the girls. Lois had received one reprimand, and that was all she wanted. She had written postal cards in Chinese and received letters in internment; consequently, she was reported by a spy. I had been called on the carpet twice but I was never abused, struck, or manhandled.
Three days after the cemetery trip, fifty-five of us were shipped to Tsingtao. There we were put on a train for a huge camp at Weihsien. Swedish missionaries visited us at the train in Tsingtao, bringing us welcome news of Hwanghsien. "The seminary is open," they said. "We've just sent a group of students there." How we thanked God for the spirit of our Christian brothers in Hwanghsien!
We were held in Weihsien sixteen days, the remainder of the Chefoo camp joining us a week after our arrival. The well-organized Weihsien camp held about two thousand internees housed in the dormitories and classrooms of a Presbyterian school compound. Japanese officers occupied the residences. We enjoyed meeting old friends and attending concerts by a gifted pianist who was interned there.
Our real troubles began when we left Weihsien for Shanghai. The whole experience from then on was a nightmare. It was summer. On the train for two nights and nearly three days, crowded, hungry, and thirsty, when we finally arrived in Shanghai, we were kept waiting in the station because of a bomb explosion.
The ship we boarded was an old French liner renamed the Teia Maru. The typhoon season having begun, it rained constantly. We could see that the lifeboats were so cracked that the rain ran right through them, and there were enough only for about one-third of the sixteen hundred on board. The masts were cracked, and the ropes were rotten. We sailed from Shanghai on September 20 and spent a whole month reaching Goa, on the west coast of India, where the exchange was to be made for Japanese nationals from the United States.
Food on the ship was the worst of our experience. Rice was steamed all night, but only three-fourths of the worms were well cooked. We received fat pork only half-cooked. Once in a while we had eggs, but they were not good. Coffee was hard to get because persons who had Japanese money raided the kitchen and left no coffee to serve the tables. During this time Jessie developed sprue, the sore mouth and inflamed digestive tract that follows dietary deficiency. It continues for life.
At each port where repatriates were to be picked up, our vessel sat out in the sea. Our ship stayed several days in Hong Kong and four more days in stifling heat off Dagupan in the Philippines without any fresh water. We touched Saigon, pulling into the river, and small boats piled with fruit immediately began to crowd around. That fruit looked tempting after our deprived diet. The boatmen threw ropes up to the deck where we stood. A basket was tied to the other end of each rope. We pulled up the baskets, placed money in them, and lowered the baskets to pick up the fruit. When the Japanese observed what was going on, they ran a launch around the ship and chased all the vendors away. That seemed unnecessary cruelty to us.
End of page.
... but not end of the story ... [click here]
Temple Hill Map
Thirty six of the Chefoo Girls' School slept on matresses in the attic of Irwin House in Temple Hill Camp, Chefoo (In Whose Hands? by George Scott)
Christmas at Temple Hill
Christmas at Temple Hill
A BOY'S WAR is a true story of a boy in China in a Japanese concentration camp during World War II. Yet it is an account more about children and their adventures than the atrocities of a deathcamp. And it includes glimpses of Olympic Gold Medalist Eric Liddell not included in Chariots of Fire.
What might have been simply a tale of an agonizing separation of a schoolboy from his parents—a separation that spanned six years and included war, danger, malnutrition, and tragedy—is a story that lights up with adventure, ingenuity, heroism, and hope. The unquenchability of the human spirit under extreme pressure and the influence of godly faith and sacrificial example in hard circumstances shine through.