Very proud of their new outfits are Marjory Windsor, Edith Bell, Marjorie Harrison and Agnes Bell. They were given the clothes by the Red Cross immediately after their release, and everything fitted beautifully. 'It wasn't possible to get clothes for the boys right away, so American soldiers fitted them out in army wear.
Their Internment Camp Made Charming Children
Recipe for a well-brought-up child ― three years' internment with the Japanese.
Twelve such children arrived in Vancouver early this morning, and today they talked to reporters at the China Inland Mission to which they had been taken.
They looked healthy and happy. They were merry and enormously active and quite unrestrained. But their manners were gentle and considerate.
Whatever their three and a half years of privation in Japanese hands had done to them, they had come out of it as pleasant youngsters as one would wish to know.
PARENTS IN FREE CHINA.
The children of Canadian missionaries in China, they had been interned at the school they attended in Che Foo, in northern China, and later moved to Wei Hsien. Their, parents escaped internment at their missions in free China.
Two of them, David and John Birch, aged 13 and 12, were met on, their arrival here by their mother, Mrs. George Birch of Agassiz. One boy, Philip Paulson, 12, will go to his parents in Three Hills, Alta., and all the others will continue to Toronto.
They included a family of three, Agnes, George and Edith Bell, aged 17, 15 and 13, and their two cousins, Ruth and Kenneth Bell, aged 17 and 13; Joy Welbourn, 17; Jimmie Harrison, 17; Marjorie Harrison, 14, and Marjory Windsor, 18.
Imprisoned with them were their teachers, one of whom, Miss Pearl Young of Pictou, N.S., has brought them home. And right through the darkest days their schooling was continued, even though books were almost non-existent, and classrooms were packed dormitories.
Each person in the camp ― there were 1500 of them ― had his own job, and there was a good disciplinary committee in charge.
Conditions of filth, malnutrition, lack of fuel and crowding prevailed in their camp as in all others, but here the Japanese were not cruel.
Marjory Windsor worked in the kindergarten. David Birch helped keep the pumps operating. Others of the children picked stones and twigs out of the grain ration, or helped to make fuel bricks ― two shovels of coaldust to one shovel of mud, add a little water, and form into balls with your bare hands, then set to dry. It burned pretty well, said David, if you weren't expecting too much.
The coaldust was bitterly hard on hands in the 30 below zero weather which prevailed during the winter. Summer was another matter. Temperatures soared to 120, and everyone cut wearing apparel to a minimum.
That would have been necessary anyway, since none of them had any new clothes after their internment. A group of women worked constantly to make repairs. Shoes were the biggest problem. After a while they just wore out entirely, and even the women went barefoot the last, two years.
ONE SATISFACTORY MEAL,
The only satisfying meal they can remember having was dinner last Christmas. The Japanese sent in pork, and they had carrots and potatoes and turnips, which they had saved for weeks, and candy which friendly Chinese had smuggled in.
They made Christmas gifts for each other by cutting up the school curtains and ripping long stockings to knit into smaller articles.
Hints of freedom came to them on August 15 ― "over the wall" ― from the Chinese on the other side. The Japanese admitted it unofficially the next day, and on the seventeenth Americans parachuted into the camp.
The prison doctor looked on with disapproval that day. He said they used up two weeks' energy in their excitement, and on their low rations they couldn't afford it.
Food was the most important thing that freedom brought them, and then the parcels of Red Cross clothing ― they proudly displayed their new, well-fitting outfits ― and then the chance to take a long walk in the countryside without anyone stopping them, and no walls to hold them back.