For the descendents of Richard Dearie and his son John Russell

5 We slept our way to Kuala Lumpur in quite a comfortable sleeping carriage and early next morning Mr. Drysdale, one of the directors of Malayan Collieries, Limited, met us on the station. During a quick breakfast at the railway station, he gave some advice and instructions mainly concerning my work, and in the meantime our luggage had gone through the Customs and had been loaded into the Company's car, where a smiling Malay driver was waiting for us. Our place of destination was Batu Arang, a village and industrial centre cut out in the jungle, twenty-six miles (about forty-two kilometres) north of Kuala Lumpur. The trip up to Batu Arang was rather pleasant and exciting. The road was windy, but of beautifully kept bitumen surface, and we were winding our way through small native villages, usually connected to a tin mine, rubber estate or coconut estate of different sizes and appearances. Nearly every time we crossed or went alongside a small stream or a bigger river we could see Chinese women standing knee-deep in the often very dirty looking river with big wash basins; washing clothes in that dirty water, we thought, but the driver, who spoke quite good English, explained to us that they were prospecting for tin, which could be found in such abundance in Malaya and was extracted from soil or water beds as a dark, black, heavy mineral-ore. After about an hour’s drive - we had a few minor halts on the way to satisfy the curiosity of Claus and ourselves - we turned sharply to the left and entered a narrow and dusty, but otherwise well-kept jungle road. Another few minutes' drive and we arrived at Batu Arang.

We were taken right through the village till we came to what the driver called the European quarters and we stopped 6 outside a rather bulky looking two-storey building, the ground floor of concrete slightly elevated from the surrounding lawn, and the building itself was a wooden one. This building, which we gradually found quite fascinating to live in, was to be our first home in the Tropics for the next fifteen months. A rather coarse and wide staircase led up to the first floor, where we had a nice and spacey mosquito-room and three bedrooms. Half-way up on a kind of protruding platform there was a built-in toilet, a concrete water container and a bucket bath. The servants’ quarters and the kitchen were situated in a special, small building, connected with the main building by a covered corridor. The whole thing, including beds, tables, chairs, dressing cabinet and wardrobes, was well made but simple and we had not expected to find anything better, anyhow. Round the bungalow some flower beds with beautiful flowers were arranged, all surrounded by well-kept lawns. We felt very content and even more so after having enjoyed our first lunch in the bungalow of Mr. and Mrs. Pash, a Western Australian couple, who besides an excellent meal provided us with a lot of information and good advice about how to arrange our life in the best way and adjust to the tropic and local conditions. Afterwards Reg Pash accompanied us to our bungalow, where he said our three servants would be waiting for us. We had already previously been told that we were expected to keep up a certain standard, which for a married couple with children meant a minimum of three servants. A middle-aged Chinese, a Hylam, had been picked as our Boy, the usual name for a servant doing the cooking and looking after the more general duties, usually carried out by the housewife in Europe. A Chinese girl in her late twenties had been engaged as our Amah, general name for a Chinese children’s nurse. She would keep an eye on Claus and possibly other “newcomers”, besides giving Boy a helping hand and also do all the washing of clothes. An Indian, a Tamil, was to be our Kebun (Malay for gardener); he would keep the garden in good shape and help with general cleaning work. They were all three standing there with expectant, friendly smiles, when Reg told them something in Malay, which we did not understand. Their English was limited to a few words, much of the same standard as the Malay spoken by Molle and myself. We used the rest of the afternoon for unpacking and preparing for our first night on tropical soil till darkness came on in the usual tropical pattern, rather abruptly, quickly changing to pitch dark. The mosquitoes were starting humming around and knowing they were of the malaria carrying type (Anopheles species), we withdrew to the mosquito-room, 7 where Molle and I placed ourselves each in our long cane chair. These were exceptionally comfortable and well suited for a relaxed lie-down. I will soon describe much more of our private life which became so extremely full of fascinating, exciting and touching events that it, in spite of much sadness and despair in the last period of our stay, for us moulded a philosophy and pattern of life which have offered us complete happiness and satisfaction through all these post-war years.

Already the following morning I was taken down to the plywood mill to have a quick look through the place I should soon supervise and I could see right away that I would have a rather tough task ahead of me, remembering the well laid out and modern plywood mill in Kristiansand, Norway, where I as an assistant work superintendent had given five years of service. The plywood mill in Batu Arang had been started up in 1932, based on an old peeling machine and some additional machinery taken over from a German match factory, which, failing to produce a good match-head, had gone bankrupt. Gradually more machinery was added on until we in 1941 had five peeling lathes, two hot presses, three guillotines for cutting plywood into shooks, three taping machines, two sanding machines and one about 200 feet long steam-heated progressive veneer and plywood drier with six rail lines with trucks loaded with veneer and plywood. One big Babcock & Wilcox boiler and a smaller Cochrane boiler provided the necessary steam for the kiln, the hot press and for three bigger and three smaller log vats. Due to the gradual building up of different machinery the placing of same had been somewhat haphazard and congested, specially so because no separate store-room was provided for until 1939, when such a building was erected. Batu Arang was quite a big village cut out in, and consequently surrounded by, dense jungle.

Malayan Collieries Limited had here big coal mining enterprises (batu = stone, arang = coal in Malay), worked as open cuts as well as underground mining. About 10,000 natives lived there, mostly Chinese mine workers and their families in smaller or bigger barracks, many of which had walls as well as roofs built from palm leaves (ataps) and as such they were rather inflammable. Besides the mining operations and the plywood mill the Company possessed a sawmill, a brick-works, a wood distillation plant, a big power station and workshop, as well as an extensive railway system in the surrounding jungle. Nearly all the buildings, including smaller brick buildings for their Asiatic staff members and the different type of buildings for the Europeans, were owned 8 by the Company. The coal mining operation, which was by far the Company’s most important enterprise, supplied coal to the Malayan Government Railways. All the different operations in Batu Arang were continuous operations -seven days a week, night and day. The only complete shut-down officially acknowledged was under the regular four days Chinese New Year celebrations in January. Then we had a couple of partial shut-downs for a day or so during other native celebrations. But for the European staff it was also hard and steady work, often with very long working hours. We had a six-and-a-half day working week with half a day off every Sunday afternoon, when we could manage to take it, and there was no other official leave. However, this was gradually improved upon and from 1939 we had as much as ten days local leave a year, plus two days off every month. The Company had also in the meantime bought a nice, big bungalow up at Frasers Hill, a lovely and well-known hill station only about two hours drive from Batu Arang. There we could spend our holidays in a pleasant cool temperature amidst beautiful sceneries and enjoy all the best of comfort with good meals - all for a very reasonable charge. Also there were golf links, tennis courts, walking tracks and an assembly hall.

A hospital in Batu Arang with a fully qualified Indian doctor with assistants offered free service and treatment to all who needed it, and an ambulance was always ready to call for casualties. Naturally the Europeans had their own club, where we between us arranged for all kinds of entertainment. When we first arrived there were only about sixty white people there, including wives and children, but gradually this number was more than doubled. An elderly Malay worked there as a club-boy and he kept the place spotlessly clean and looked after the outfit, including the billiard table, the piano and radio - and, most importantly, attended the bar. Once a month a special club evening was arranged with dance, card games and entertainment by the club members themselves, out of whom quite a few showed a talent as musicians, vocalists and general entertainers. For Molle and me, however, the greatest attraction was the tennis court. Reg and Ivy Pash, who both were keen tennis players, gave us the following very good advice: "You need to sweat it out here in the tropics and nothing can do it better than a hard game of tennis. If you feel tired and unenergetic and too run down to have a game, ignore it and start playing - and you will soon feel you are full of energy. You are not tired, it is your kidneys which are 9 tired. You just start playing and you will soon feel on top of the world." What marvellous advice it was; advice we will always remember with gratitude. We played hard tennis - one to one-and-a-half hours every day, unless, rather occasionally, weather or duty stopped us. The tennis we always followed up by cold bucket baths, while we were singing Norwegian songs at the top of our voices.

When we after a good year's stay moved down to another bungalow close to the plywood mill, Molle and I got additional exercise in a ten minute bicycle trip to the Club and back. We became very attached to this new bungalow, where all the rooms were on the ground floor, with wooden flooring supported and elevated from the ground by short, solid concrete blocks. Concrete steps lined by big wooden flower pots with a variety of tropical flowers led up to the main entrance and well placed pawpaw and palm oil trees surrounded the bungalow and a small, well-kept lawn in front. The building was on an elevated place so I from the mosquito room could look down on the plywood mill, less than 100 metres away. On the other side of our home, also about 100 metres away, lived another European family, Mr. S. and his wife and daughter. He was originally in charge of the plywood mill, but was made timber superintendent, when I took over full charge of the said mill later on. On the back of our new bungalow an outer, roofed corridor led to the kitchen and Boy's quarters. Our Amah and Kebun lived in the native village, the outskirts of which were very close to our bungalow. Only a couple of hundred yards behind all this the jungle grew dense and tall and when the twilight set in the monkeys' lamenting cries mixed with the shrill calls of the giant flying foxes and the monotonous noise from the myriads of crickets and the regular chunk, chunk, chunk from the nightjars. We found it all so very romantic. I will later relate more of our experiences in our private life where we, as time went on, made many friends.

I will now turn to memories from my working period, so much of good and sad, of pleasure and anxiety, of happiness and disappointment, but it moulded a picture and a foundation of a past which Molle and I think back on with pride and thankfulness. The first couple of weeks I used to familiarize myself with the general conditions in the mill, pick up as much as possible of the language generally spoken, the so-called pigeon-Malay, and to learn to know the different persons of the work force, their names, appearances and working qualities - and that alone was quite a task. 10 About fifty percent of all the mill workers were Chinese, about forty per cent were Indians and the rest were Malays, plus a couple each of Siamese (Thais) and Sakais. The Sakais were the jungle people of Malaya. The Chinese were of three different nationalities, the Cantonese, the Hylams and the Kehs. They all had different features, dialects, habits and working qualities. The cantonese usually were the ones best educated and three of my office staff and the two leading fitters were Cantonese. The Hylams were mainly employed in the packing section and besides, nearly all the house servants employed by the Europeans in Batu Arang were Hylams. The Kehs were employed in the gluing-, taping- and drying section and they were supervised and paid by a Chinese Kepala or contractor (kepala = head in Malay). The Indians were also in three groups, the Tamils, the Sikhs and the Moslem Punjabis. The Tamils, originating from Southern India, were mainly working in the packing, peeling and drying sections together with the Chinese. The Sikhs and Punjabis, who all were well built and strong people, were carrying veneer waste to the boilers and were filling and emptying the log vats. The Malays were mainly employed as operators of the lighter machinery and as tally clerks - and most of the better paid Europeans had a Malay as driver and in charge of their car. The Malays were friendly and intelligent people, but did not fancy much being tied down to heavy factory work. Having people of so many different races and religions and with so many different habits and viewpoints working in the same mill and living, so to say, on top of each other in the village, naturally caused a few complications and problems. One Sunday afternoon when I was down in the timber yard for inspection of some plywood logs I could hear there was quite a commotion over in a couple of the nearby barracks occupied by some of my workers. I went over to investigate and found a laughing crowd of Chinese crouched in front of some of the rooms occupied by Malay families; the Chinese were eating pork in a very demonstrative and noisy manner. This was, of course, an offence and a direct challenge to the Malay Moslems, and a proper fight would certainly have developed if I had not arrived in time and ordered the Chinese to clear off. After this experience I arranged for separate barracks for the different races.

The Company's wood distillation plant was situated about 150 metres away from the plywood mill. A well educated Hindu Indian of high caste was in charge of the plant. His name was Hari Harrahn. We often met and had many interesting talks and discussions covering all kinds of topics. 11 discussing the quality of the casein glue we used for plywood, he asked me what kind of glue we had used in the plywood mill in Norway, while I was working there. “0h yes,” I said, "when I worked there, they used a mixture of casein and blood albumen together with a few other chemical items.” Then I saw how the blood went to his head and in a fit of rage he cried out: "What a cruel thing to do; fancy using the blood of all those beautiful cows, when you had all you wanted of first class casein.” Realizing that I was talking to a sincere Hindu, I made a hasty retreat, saying that they surely must have changed the formula since. This little episode made me even more aware of how careful I had to be not to hurt somebody’s feelings in this country of many races and religions. I did also find out, however, that the caste system was used by many as an excuse for not carrying out certain kinds of work. Every time I engaged a new worker, never mind what race he belonged to, I gave him as his first job to sweep the factory floor, this to find out if he was a willing worker. In a couple of cases the Indian worker concerned told me that he could not sweep the floor as that was the job for a low caste Indian. I told him then that he was too good for me and had to find work elsewhere. In both cases they found they could sweep the floor after all. One evening one of my office clerks, a small but bright Eurasian, came to my bungalow; pale and shivering he told me that a man of Sakai extraction had put a curse on him and his family, so that they should all die the one after the other within a short period. Anthony lived in a nice little red brick house of the type the Company built for members of their Asiatic staff. Within a few years Anthony had managed to fill the house up to bursting point with young Asiatics and his wife was very obviously pregnant again. They lived fairly close to the jungle behind the plywood mill. Apparently Anthony had had a quarrel with the Sakai over some money and the Sakai had burnt strips of paper round his house, giving effect to the curse - and now Anthony was a very frightened and worried man. "You are an ardent Catholic, Anthony,” I said, "and you let yourself fall for cheap rubbish like this. Come, let us go up to your home." I brought with me an old newspaper, tore it up and placed the paper strips round the house, put fire to them, gesticulated with my hands and Buttered some words in Norwegian. Realizing the comical part in the whole situation Anthony started to laugh and the curse was nullified. As the mill progressed the working force was increased and, as previously mentioned, a good 400 men were employed by 1941. When we moved over to the 12 other bungalow, situated in the very proximity of the plywood mill, evening and night control became much easier for me, but the dodging during night hours was still a problem, although on a considerably reduced scale. Coming down one night I could see a black shadow among some big stacks of one inch square battens supplied for rubber chests in the packing section. I pushed over one of the stacks and up came the sleepy and frightened face of a Malay. It was hard for me to keep a straight face looking at his expression of surprise. With a warning of "next time out of the gate you go", I left him. The same warning another of my night workers got a few days later, when I was down on another night inspection. In a corner, where we had a few ready assembled samples of rubber chests, I observed that one of the chests had a rather bulky appearance with the lid placed haphazardly on top of it. I banged my fist hard on top of it and up jumped a small jet black Tamil like a "jack in the box", and with a persuasive smile he called out: "Tidak tidor Tuan." (I am not sleeping, sir). These and other incidents made me realize that I had to treat the natives as naughty children. I also remembered what I had read in a book a long time ago. "If you through patience and understanding can gain their hearts and their loyalty you have come very far." This was why I did not want to rush into things. If I did so without even being able to speak the ruling language, Pigeon Malay, properly, and without knowing their habits and views of life better, I could do a lot of harm to my own prestige and a Tuan without prestige would never get along well with the natives. Each of the three eight hour shifts had a native foreman or supervisor. They were good and intelligent people, but the discipline they kept was rather slack. They did not dare to antagonize the work force too much, specially in cases where other races were involved, as this would quickly lead to accusation of discrimination on the one side and favouritism on the other. So all kinds of disciplinary action I had to deal with myself. So one evening I came home very late after a trip to Kuala Lumpur. I went straight down to the mill and found four of the workers sleeping. As first time offenders I gave them all another chance and went up to my bungalow, where I after a few minutes put out all the lights and seated myself in the mosquito-room. After half an hour in darkness I went down and re-entered the mill, where I caught two of the previous offenders again soundly asleep. I sent them home and told them to collect their pay envelopes the next day. This kind of cured the desire for sleep during night shift and I had also in the meantime engaged a permanent night watchman (jaga) to patrol the mill at regular intervals and call me whenever he found it needed. 13 The jaga, a Sikh, was quite keen on his job, sometimes a bit too keen till I had familiarized him with what was worth calling me for. But even so I had frequent night calls. I can recollect that at least twice I was called three times during one night. This kind of turned me into a light sleeper and Jaga had only to come outside my open bedroom window and in a very low voice call out "Tuan". It was very seldom Molle woke up during my "night escapades." Although there were so many people in the mill there were amazingly few cases of theft. I will only relate one instance which I remember so well, also because I felt so sad about it. On one of his night rounds Jaga had observed a Tamil leaving the mill carrying a bag of limil over to his little attapa house close to the wood distillation plant. It was a Tamil by name Katerasamy, a nice looking, quiet young man who was married and had just got a son. When I came down to my office the following morning the theft had already been broadcasted in the mill and I sent a message to Katerasamy to come and see me. When he arrived I asked him why he had taken a bag of limil from the gluing department and carried it over to his house during working hours. "No, Tuan, I have not taken anything. I am a Christian so I cannot steal," he said and pointed to a silver cross he had on a thin chain round his neck. "You do not make it better as a Christian to add a lie to your pilfering, Katerasamy," I said; "we'd better take a walk over to your home and have a look together." As we started walking I could see he became very uneasy and he soon turned to me and said: "I did steal the bag of limil and I have also taken another one, Tuan." As the whole mill by then knew about it, I had to take proper action and Katerasamy was sacked straight away. But I paid Katerasamy a month's salary as a gift to his new-born child. My Indian pay-clerk managed to find him a job at a nearby rubber estate a few weeks later. With so many people working and with the relatively poor safety precautions taken, coupled with the rather little respect the natives had for human lives, a few serious accidents could not be avoided. The Sikhs, employed on the heavy log work, unloading logs from the railway trucks, pushing them into the steam vats and later hoisting them out of same, were the ones most exposed to accidents and during my first four years term I was four times called down during the night shift to attend to serious accidents. Twice, and in both these cases a Sikh was involved, the accident was fatal, due to third degree burns on the body, when the man dropped head-on into the boiling vat. Molle always kept a couple of sterilized bed-sheets ready for emergencies and the ambulance was quickly on the spot. It was very 14 sad and depressing to witness the pain and despair of the victim. The three bigger log vats were each surrounded by a concrete elevation and the three smaller vats were covered by solid wooden boards during the steaming of the logs. The whole log-yard was well lit up during the night. This was also necessary, as many of the workers used the log-yards as a short cut on their walks to and from the village. One evening I was called down as one of my Tamils, by name Krishnan, had fallen into one of the smaller log vats, while the Sikhs were emptying it of logs. He was badly scalded from the hips down and I immediately got him over to the hospital, wrapped in a bed-sheet. After a few weeks of treatment Krishnan recovered completely and then left Batu Arang. About a year later Krishnan reappeared outside my office. "Do you remember me, Tuan?” he asked. "Yes, Krishnan,” I said, "and how are you getting on?" "I have a confession to make, Tuan, and 1 hope you will not be too angry." I asked him to ease his mind and tell me everything and he then related how his accident had occurred: After work he had gone down to the village, met some friends and together with them he had consumed some samsu (native alcoholic drink) and they all went home via the log-yard. Passing one of the small log vats, just opened for removal of ready boiled logs, he wanted to show off how good he was in long jumping - so he jumped and landed in the middle of the vat. Luckily the steaming logs prevented him from being immersed in the boiling water, but, badly scalded, he was quickly rescued by the two Sikhs at work. By giving a false report about how the accident happened he received the usual compensation money from the Company during his convalescence period, but his conscience had worried him every since. I asked him if he wanted to start working for me again and a broad smile gave the answer. Another of my really faithful Tamils I picked up along the rather steep jungle road at the outskirts of Batu Arang. As often as time did permit it I had a short evening walk on the jungle road leading into the village. Just at the entrance was a small hut, where a Sikh jaga (watchman), who had telephone connection with the local main office, controlled and booked all traffic in and out of the village. I enjoyed the peculiar and wonderful feeling in witnessing the jungle "going to sleep"; half an hour after sunset it is all enveloped in pitch darkness. I had just passed the gate when I saw a Tamil on a bicycle, travelling at rather high speed and using his bare feet as brakes 15 on the front wheel with only limited success. When he was just about to pass me, I to my horror and surprise saw him jumping off the bike, and as he was unable to keep his balance he dropped in front of me, rather badly shaken and bruised. I asked him in Malay what the heck he did that for and became rather surprised to hear the answer: "I cannot pass a Tuan sitting on a bike, I have to pass him walking. My bike has no brakes, so I fell off." He had come to Batu Arang to see a friend. He himself was working at a rubber estate further up at Selangor River, where the discipline evidently must have been somewhat harsh. I helped him up, took him to the Mill and cleaned his bruises, bandaged him and sent him over to Dr. Dason, the nice Indian doctor at the hospital. As the Tamil had friends and relatives working in Batu Arang he soon afterwards joined the work force at the plywood mill. Relating about accidents I cannot but mention one which took place in East Mine, the biggest of the coal mines operated in Batu Arang. It was a tragic event which due to the circumstances also had a comical twist. One Chinese miner had been crushed to death between two coal tipping trucks. He had released the brakes on one truck standing above him on a slope and had not jumped aside quickly enough. The Mines Inspector in Kuala Lumpur came out to investigate on the spot and a friend and work-mate of the deceased said he could demonstrate how it happened. He did this so well and thoroughly that he and his dead friend were buried on the same day.

As I go along I will briefly mention the production items and also describe some of the Malayan timber trees, specially those well suited for peeling of veneer. The production was entirely based on 3-ply plywood, of thickness 3/l6”, for the making of rubber chests for packing of sheet rubber. The plywood was made into sheets 48" x 40" and 40" x 40". The first size were cut on a guillotine into four shooks suitable for top and bottom for rubber chests. Consequently the production was geared to two-thirds of the bigger size and one-third of the smaller size plywood. For each rubber chest ordered the following items were delivered: four shooks for sides, two shooks for top and bottom and further the required quantity of 3/4” square battens, metal strips, nails, tenterhooks and rivets, all ready for a complete assembling of the rubber chests. The shooks were delivered in bundles of one hundred. Very occasionally we produced some 3-ply and 5-ply 48" x 40", made to order. 16 All the timber we needed for veneer peeling was sent in by rail or lorry, by far the most of it by rail. Logs were ready cut to length with a few inches surplus for clean edge-cutting at the veneer lathe. All logs for centre veneers were, of course, delivered in the 42" plus category. At the railway siding in our timber-yard the logs were received by my Chinese timber clerk, Chung Kiang Yoong or by me. All timber, whether sent by rail or lorry, was cut by Chinese timber contractors, who sent the logs in ready to cut lengths. By the Government they were all allotted special areas in the jungle for felling of logs against the payment of a certain royalty per ton of logs taken out. The bulk of the logs brought in for peeling of face and back veneers belonged to the Meranti Family, which again was a sub-family of the Shorea Family. In the mill we classified these logs as white and red meranti, in Malay, respectively meranti puteh and meranti merah. The overwhelming part of the white meranti peeled at the mill was from a stately tree, Shorea bractoolata, also called meranti pa'ang. Trees up to 50 metres high and with a diameter of one metre at breast height were quite common. When peeled they gave a firm and rather smooth greyish-white veneer, which was easy to handle through all the different stages of processing. One of my nicest experiences as a mill superintendent came when the Forestry Department gave one of our timber contractors permission to clear-fell a small lot of white meranti, which had grown under specially favourable circumstances and also had been under the Forestry Department's particular care and supervision for the last thirty years. When we peeled the log butts we obtained from every one of them layer after layer of the most beautiful veneer. I found it also a special pleasure to observe what a wise and correct forest policy could achieve also in the jungle area. Of the red merantis we received a higher variety of species, some of them giving rather a loose veneer with a rougher surface. But one tree under the red meranti group was outstanding both in size, quality and available quantity! Shorea leprosula or meranti tembaga. This seems to be distinctly the most abundant species of timber trees in Malaysia and it is reaching the same dimensions as meranti pa’ang. The tree is easy to recognize in the jungle due to its tall, straight stem and the coppery colour of its crown, caused by the light colour of the under-side of the leaves (tembaga = copper). The wood is pink to reddish with fine grains and easy to peel. Another timber tree, not a 17 true meranti, is Shorea Curtisii Dyer, generally called serais. The wood is very similar, but rather superior, to that of meranti tembaga and of the same reddish colour. It was essential that the rubber chest shooks possessed a high rigidity, and in order to obtain this a strong and tough centre veneer was required. Kempas, Koompassia malaccensis supplied us with such a veneer. It gave a very tough and strong centre veneer (core) of orange red colour. Kempas occurs in abundance but is irregular in quality, often with frequent spots of twisting grains and compression wood. However, the better quality logs compensated for the poor ones and due to its abundance it was obtained for a cheaper price. Keruing, Dipterocarpus app. covers a group of about twenty species of trees which together are nearly as abundant as the merantis in the Malayan jungle. Although kempas was preferred, we found that keruing was quite a good substitute. As the production increased we had to use quite big quantities of keruing logs to satisfy the ever-increasing demand for rubber chest shooks. A small amount of light-coloured, useless sapwood had to be peeled off to obtain the brown- to dark-brown, strong but oily true-wood. It gave us one problem; we had to stop and clean the peeling knives at intervals, as they got clogged up by oil or gum from the logs. Our favourite wood for the ¾ “ square rubber chest battens was jeluton, Dryera costulata Hook. This is one of the bigger timber trees and it can be a good sixty metres in height, and a diameter of one metre is frequently found. The wood is very light, almost white in colour and because of its even grain it is very easy to work. It has a very good "nailability" and is also much in demand as a wood for pattern making. The above-mentioned trees only make up a small number of species. (Before the War about 2,500 species.-were classified in Malaya). Even if I later mention other tree species, I find the description given will have to suffice. When I first arrived at Batu Arang in April 1935 the rubber industry was still in a period of recession. The bottom had been reached in 1932, when the market price of rubber had dropped to 1 ¾ d per pound (as compared with the high price of 12/6d per pound in 1910.) The next few years showed only a slow and small recovery. Consequently, poor sale of rubber brought about poor sale of rubber chest shooks. It had dropped from a monthly sale of good 30,000 chests down to as low as 12,000. This I found rather depressing; we had to keep the 18 production up as high as possible and unsold shooks were piling up in the mill in steadily increasing quantity. On top of this, the rubber estate owners became more and more selective and hard to satisfy. It was a typical buyers’ market. Head Office in Kuala Lumpur informed me that the following demands by the estate owners had to be satisfied: 1. All shooks to be approximately of the same colour 2. All shooks of approximately even weight 3. All shooks to be pre-treated against attack of the Lyctus beetle 4. All shooks to have a smooth and firm surface so no splinter became adhered to the rubber during the packing 5. All shooks to possess good rigidity, able to withstand bulging while about 250 lb. of rubber sheets were mechanically pressed into the chests 6. A firm glue-line, able to resist a certain amount of humidity, to be maintained. To observe and satisfy all these demands was a job and a half. We had, of course, to utilize all the logs brought in and accepted at the mill and it was about twenty different tree species we had to deal with. The colours varied from white to grey, from yellow to pink, from striped to dark brown. The weight could also vary according to the face-veneer used or whether the centre-veneer was from kempas or keruing. A bright head from the Kuala Lumpur office proposed that all the shooks, one by one, should be put on an ordinary kitchen disc scale and be sorted out in different weight classes. This was an additional time-consuming process and a very inexact one, due to the operational speed. The Lyctus beetle, which really turned out to be a rather troublesome pest, we tried to defeat by sending all the shooks through a bath of diluted pentachlorine-formaldehyde, which we, however, really found to be quite as inefficient as the word of the chemical was long. As the damage done by the Lyctus beetle worried me considerably, I made a point of studying the beetle's habit and feeding programme and I gradually came to the conclusion that the beetle specially attacked the shooks rich in starch. Then again I specially examined the more starch rich wood species used for peeling and found that shooks made from medang, covering a larger group of species belonging to the family Lauracea, were the ones mostly attacked by the beetles. The wood, when dried, nearly always has a greasy feel and a yellowish colour darkening to an olive tint after prolonged exposure to the air. The wood also has a high starch content. My next step was to get one of my workers to re-stack some of the piles of shooks and leave about twenty shooks of medang plywood near the top end of the stacks. As I had expected, the medang shooks were very soon subject to violent 19 attacks by the Lyctus beetles and at the right moment the shooks were removed and burnt. The method was rather drastic but it certainly reduced the pest considerably. The sliver trouble we reduced by additional sanding of coarse-grained shooks, and the rigidity problem we practically overcame through always giving the softer face veneers a sound kempas centre. We had very little trouble with our glue-line and any glue rejects were picked up by the packers. But in spite of all precautions taken we had a fair amount of complaints and as the Company worked according to the common principle that the customer is always right, we just had to replace shooks or fittings when they were found to be faulty by the buyers. Anyhow, a few times the estate owners shot over the mark. In one case an estate manager brought for my inspection a few rubber chest shooks, showing how the veneer, because of a poor glue—line, could be peeled off by hand. I could see right away that the glue line was not like the one we made up from casein and when I asked Mr. Harri Harrahn to come over he stated that soya bean glue had been used. The manager then had to admit that the shooks must have been from a consignment he had received from Sumatra a couple of years ago. It was a very apologetic man who left my office a little later. In another instance we had a boxful of rusty nails, rivets and tenterhooks sent to us with replacement claims, followed up by a nasty letter. The contents of the box looked like the floor-sweepings from a dirty assembly room. Fortunately, one of the Company Directors, Mr. Drysdale, was in my office when the box arrived and when we compared the fittings with those we sent out, it was obvious that the rusty fittings must have been bought from somewhere else. The above two instances kind of showed the Head Office in Kuala Lumpur that the customers are not always right after all. A few months later, when Mr. Drysdale was on one of his regular visits, he brought with him a small-built busybody of a Scotsman, by name A.J. Mearns. He wanted to know the exact stock of shooks in the mill, "including every rubble and bit." He was going to work in the Company's Sales Department, and wanted to have everything spick and span with regard to stock and figures. He wanted to come out and personally check our stock and I told him he was welcome to do so. (According to our stock records we had at that time more than 400,000 shooks on stock in the mill, densely stacked in piles, some up to ten feet high, scattered all over in the finishing department, as we at that time did not possess a separate store-room.) Mr. Mearns came out and after we had had a somewhat heated discussion about stock figures, he disappeared out in the 20 mill, only armed with a pencil and a notebook. When I a little while later went out in the mill I found him eagerly counting the shooks in one of the many hundreds of stacks one by one with the tip of his pencil. After a couple of hours Mr. Mearns reappeared in my office and asked if he could have a loan of a foot rule. "I think I will use it to speed it up a little," he said. I handed him a foot rule, informing him that we calculated with sixty-three shooks to the foot. He went out in the mill again, now also occasionally watched by a couple of rather amused clerks, while he was trying to count the number of stacks, which seemed to be too much of an athletic job, when he tried to come on top of the stacks. When the 12 noon whistle went he called to see me again, looking very exhausted and not at all cocky any more, and he asked me if he could have a couple of men with him after lunch. "Come with me for lunch and a glass of beer and meet my wife," I said, "and afterwards you can start refreshed." He readily accepted my invitation and before we went down to the mill again, he had thrown Molle quite a few compliments and we were on A.J. (for Andrew James) and Thiel. Best of all, he had admitted his incapability to take a "rubble and bit” check on our plywood stock and was quite willing to accept our figures as correct. He left with the wish that we would be able to co-operate very well and his final words were: "Do not forget to come and see me and meet my wife, Topay, and our Scottish sheepdog, Julie, next time you go down to Kuala Lumpur." A couple of months later Molle and I called in to see A.J. After having welcomed us, he went into the next room to mix us a drink, when a beautiful, tail-wagging Scottish sheepdog entered our room and headed straight for my chair to be patted. "Hallo Topay," I said. "What a beautiful girl you are. I think I will take you home to Batu Arang." Molle burst out laughing and A.J. appeared with a rather astonished expression on his face. Then we all had a good laugh, while the real Topay entered and shared the joke. As I already have related in the last few episodes, complaints may even turn out to bring you on top of your customer, and in one special case it brought me some very pleasant experiences. One day Mr. Drysdale gave me a ring from Kuala Lumpur and asked me to pay a quick visit to Serambang Estate, situated near the township of the same name, a few miles south of Kuala Lumpur. Mr. Drysdale told me that the estate manager had experienced some problems in assembling the rubber-chests, so it would be a good idea if I would go down by train and find out what was the trouble. A couple of days later I took the train down to Serambang and alone the few 21 hours I spent on the train were very enjoyable. We passed through parts of Malaya that I had never seen before, and I saw it all from a comfortable railway coach with a few happy chattering passengers of mixed races travelling in the same wagon. It Serambang station I was met by a young, friendly Englishman, who introduced himself as one of the manager's two assistants, and after a short drive in his car we arrived at Bukit Seramban Estate, which was beautifully laid out on a broad-nosed hill (bukit= hill), overlooking a wide area of tropical land, deepening in colour as it disappeared on the horizon. It was early in the afternoon, so I asked my new friend if we had time to look into the matter of assembling of the rubber-chests. He just smiled, and w« went to meet the senior assistant, a man of a nice, quiet-spoken manner. Senior told me that the manager had his afternoon nap and that the assembly question was not much of a problem. "I think the old chap (the manager) just wants to meet you and have a chat and a drink with you," he added. We then had a quick look in the assembly room, where the Chinese head carpenter seemed to be fully familiar with the job. I made a couple of suggestions about how to improve upon the rigidity of the chests - and my task was finished. I probably should feel annoyed about being called all that way for so little, hut I felt nothing of the kind, as I fully enjoyed the experience - and there was more to come. The manager turned up soon after. He was a jovial person in his late fifties, of Scottish descent and with an appearance clearly showing a special liking for his native country's most important export product. He had a big airy verandah, attached to the front of his spacious bungalow and we were sitting there having a couple of whisky-sodas before dinner, (in Malaya, when you want whisky-soda or whisky-water you always ask for satengah (stenga), which actually means half, in this special meaning half and half of whisky and soda - a strong drink!) So a couple of satengas on an empty stomach brought us both into a happy mood. He told me about his long experience in the rubber industry and I told him about my life in the forests and mountains in Norway. Soon his Boy came and told us: "Makan siap, Tuan.” (Dinner is served, sir.) It was a very good dinner, spiced with more interesting stories told from his long stay in Malaya. He explained to me more or less the complete running of a rubber plantation, while I was sitting asking questions. After dinner we carried on the conversation and the drinking on the verandah again, but realizing that I had reached the balancing point of sobriety and intoxication, most of the contents of my glass - and the 22 refills, were tipped over my shoulder, generously given to the flowers below when I was not watched. My nice host started getting very sleepy and after a while he said: "I will go to bed now; your bedroom is the big room to the left, when you go up the stairs. Do you want a girl?" I politely declined the last part of his hospitality. I had a brisk little walk, passing some of the different sections of the plantation, and I could hear the lively and noisy chatter from the native quarter. I enjoyed so much the whole change in the surroundings. Then I re-entered the bungalow and went into my bedroom, which was lit up with a very dim kind of light. Looking across the room to the wide bed, covered with the traditional mosquito-net, I saw somebody lying in the bed already. I certainly got a bit of a shock, froze still, became angry, then had another look at the bed. The "person" - I was sure it was a girl - was lying there very quiet. I took a couple of steps towards the bed and became very relieved, it wasn't a person, it wasn't a girl, it was a big "Dutch wife" which was placed there. ("Dutch wife" refers to a long bolster, being frequently placed in beds in the Tropics for resting of the limbs and also for cooling you off). This was my first meeting with one. I gave my "Dutch wife" a thankful embrace, when I went to bed. After having taken farewell of my new friends the following morning I was on the train again on the way to Batu Arang and to my lovely Norwegian wife. Molle and I were the only Scandinavians in Batu Arang. There they enjoyed calling us "the two Scarwegians". Both Molle and I resorted to three languages during the daily routine work - English, Malay and Norwegian. When we were on our own we usually conversed in Norwegian, gradually putting in some more English and Malayan words, but for the first eighteen months we had never met any "Scarwegians". So one day Molle was sitting on the white-washed steps leading up to our bungalow. It was a sunny day, about ten o'clock in the morning, and Molle was sitting knitting for Claus's little sister (we were all definite that a sister it should be), when she saw a well-built man in white tropic suit approaching. When he was quite close, he called out in Norwegian: "Goddag, er det Molle?" (Good-day, is it Molle?) Molle became both surprised and glad, listening to a stranger speaking Norwegian. She rang my office and asked me to come home as somebody wanted to see me urgently. For me it was also a very pleasant surprise to meet the caller, Mr. Foss, at that time Norwegian Consul General for Siam. Residing in Bangkok, he was also part-owner of Rajah Hitam Coconut Estate in Malaya. I had called on Mr. Foss when he was holidaying in Norway just before I left for Malaya and he gave me then many a good bit of 23 advice and told me much about the living conditions in Malaya. Now we spent some very pleasant hours together and getting a day off work the following day Molle, Claus and I met Mr. Foss and his charming wife in Kuala Lumpur, where Claus was taken to pictures (wayang) for the first time. We had some lovely hours together. Mr. Foss also on another occasion, soon after World War II, was very good to me - a story I will come back to later. As I got along I learned to like my job in Batu Arang very much and I tried hard to do the right things and was eager to improve upon matters. But being too keen too soon does not always pay off. One morning as I was sitting in my office one of my workers came running in: "China puniah prum pang churi kayu, Tuan." (Chinese girls are stealing firewood, sir), he called out. I went outside and saw four Chinese girls, each carrying two big baskets of firewood, attached to a yoke over their shoulders. I stood for a little while watching them, admiring the perfect balance with which they were walking, synchronizing the swinging of the baskets with the flowing movements of their bodies and their steps. Then I called out to them to stop and they all immediately dropped their baskets with yokes and all, ran away a few steps and stood looking at me. They sounded just like happy youngsters, standing there chattering, waiting for my next move. I grabbed the nearest yoke and baskets, got it on my shoulders and started to carry it all back to the mill. I did not know what I had taken on -and what a marvellous entertainment I was giving the girls. The heavy baskets balancing on each side of the yoke completely refused to come into the necessary rhythm, for each step I took they wobbled backwards and forwards, the more so the more angry I became. The girls laughed and applauded and then at last I realized my own stupidity and the humour in the whole situation, so I just put the baskets down and joined in the laughter. I told them to take the wood home, but not to do it again. With a happy “Terima kasch, Tuan" (Thank you, sir), the girls left with their burdens. They even turned and waved a friendly goodbye, so I felt I had not "lost face" in any way - but I had learned another lesson about "think before you act." An incident which so easily could have brought about another fatal accident happened during my second year in Batu Arang. I was out in the mill on a quick round of inspection when I suddenly felt the whole place shaking lightly; a few seconds later the same thing happened, and I soon found out that I had experienced my first earthquake in Malaya. I immediately arranged for a thorough check of all the high piles of rubber chest shooks, but as far as we could see none of the shooks had moved. 24 A few days later I called one of my sanding machine operators, a nice, rather slender built Malay by name Ahmed, over to the stacks of shooks and instructed him to give some very coarse grained shooks an extra run through the sander. As we were standing there Ahmed called out: "Lekas, lompat, Tuan," (Quick, jump, sir), and I followed him, as we both jumped to safety, away from tons of rubber chest shooks, which came crashing down with a terrifying noise. Thanks to the alertness and presence of mind of Ahmed we narrowly escaped certain death. We made an additional and more systematic check on the piles of shooks so they did not get a second chance of causing that kind of jumping competition. The Company's Civil Engineer in Batu Arang was an elderly West Australian by name Mr. Marney. He was a clever man, pleasant to talk to and had a good sense of humour. He and his wife were very well liked and specially Mr. Marney was a keen organizer of games and other entertainments during our monthly special Club evenings. His only weakness was a special liking for the "old Scotch", a weakness he never tried to hide. A couple of days after the earthquake we had our Club evening and Mr. Marney came along happy and full of fun, as usual. He had a new story to tell and I will repeat it here in his own words: "I had been out having a specially merry evening together with some friends and the following morning I was sitting in my office with a rather heavy head, perusing some typed letters, waiting for my signature. I took up the pen and started to sign the first letter, when my hand was shaking violently and my signature became more unreadable than usual. I put the pen aside and started wondering if my love for the "satenga" had got the better of me. After a little while I thought it was time to pull myself together and sign another letter. - And there it was again, my hand could hardly hold the pen and now I seriously believed the old whisky had caught up with me and made me a D.T. patient. Soon afterwards my Indian head clerk entered my room and to my tremendous relief he asked me: "Did you feel the two earthquakes, sir?" While all the men in Batu Arang often had long working days with hard and responsible work, the ladies with their three servants had much more time at their disposal for private life and entertainment. For a few of them who had no special interests to cherish, life was straight out boring. On the whole they proved a nice and friendly lot and Molle very soon took part in the ladies' weekly tea parties, held before noon. At these parties all kinds of topics, the present day's events, mixed with a certain part of gossiping, were discussed. Molle quite enjoyed these parties, picking up new English words, observing British viewpoints and habits and sometimes, when more personal matters were touched upon, the discussion could become quite heated. As Kuala Lumpur, offering the nearest golf course, was thirty-two kilometres further south, a game of golf was a luxury for the very few, and the main game of entertainment at Batu Arang was tennis, which was enjoyed equally by the men and the ladies. Once a month we had a well prepared and well attended club evening with all kinds of entertainment, where also friends and visiting guests were welcomed. Then we had dancing, bridge- and billiards-competition, "floor horse-racing", sing~song and different kinds of acting and games, many of which were instrumented by Mr. Marney. But the club commodities were open for use all through the week and the bar and the two tennis courts were in steady use. A couple of times we also had a club picnic. The Company's train was put to our disposal. These were delightful outings. The train trip went through thick jungle up to the Company's water reservoir, beautifully situated with a belt of green grass surrounded by giant jungle trees. Molle never had any time to feel bored. There was so much for her to observe and take care of, so much to enjoy, so much to learn and so much to give from her vivid and charming personality. Every morning Boy approached her about what to serve for dinner, about possible guests and about supplies of different kinds. Amah came and fixed the beds, played with Claus and did all the washing. Molle and I suffered quite a bit in silence, when we observed Amah's treatment of our clothes in daily use. First they were stirred violently in a concrete tub containing a strong mixture of soap and caustic soda solution, then rinsed in water and finally the poor piece of cloth was vigorously beaten against the concrete steps outside. This was the general and accepted way of washing in the country and any kind of protest would be of no avail. Kebun, a very quiet but pleasant Tamil, did all kinds of work in the garden and gave a hand inside whenever required. All three of the servants were nice people and very good to Claus, who regularly was "helping" them in their work. Molle's greatest pleasures and diversions were the dealings with the Chinese and Malayan wandering barrangmen (barrang =goods). They turned up from time to time with their bicycles loaded to the point of overflowing with different kinds of goods. They went from house to house in the European 26 quarter and when the Mem (madam) of the house indicated she was interested they spread all their goods on the floor of the mosquito~room and the bargaining began. The barrang-men usually specialized in different kinds of articles. Some could bring all kinds of linen-wear, anything from ladies' handkerchiefs to big, beautifully embroidered tablecloths; others would exhibit rolls of Thai and Chinese silk, kimonos, dressing gowns and pyjamas in perfect style and materials; again others would offer silverware of different kinds, from tiny salt spoons to big round trays, suitable for table-tops. Much of this silverware had unique, hand hammered patterns. A speciality in this Malayan silverware was the high percentage of pure silver content, hardened with a certain percentage of tin. Our good friends, Lily and Bob Scott, had warned us never to accept a barrang-man's first offer, the price would be too high and it would altogether be no fun. "No," said Lily. "You must bargain with them, and bargain hard, throw your wits about and joke with them - and they will love you for it." Molle took good notice of this and with her sense of humour the bargaining became lively and friendly. One day I came home for lunch to find Molle in the mosquito-room with a Malayan barrang-man crouched in front of her while a variety of beautiful Malayan hand-made silverware was spread all over the floor. When he saw me coming, he greeted me in a happy voice: "Tabeh, Tuan; Mem banyak kras. Sahaya punish harti banyak menangis." (Good-day sir; Madam is very hard. My heart is weeping very much) - and then he nearly laughed his head off. The two of them apparently had had a vivid and amusing bargain-time together and Molle had acquired some nice silverware for a very reasonable price. It may be fitting here to mention something about the Malay language. As in other languages, we also in Malay find many dialects, but the official Malay language, understood by any well educated Malay, is the so-called Raja-Malay, which is well formed and supported grammatically and written in a special Malayan alphabet. But the other line of the Malayan language, the Pigeon-Malay, is a very simplified language used and understood all over in Malaya by the multi-racial population. It is a simple, still very beautiful language, and rather easy to learn and to pronounce. Certain words are used in the formation of special compound words and plural is just expressed through repeating the word: orang =man; orang orang = men. 27 mata =eye mata hari = sun (the eye of the day) mata gelap = smooth eye = detective mata mata = the eyes = policemen mata kayu = tree eye = knot mata kaki = leg eye -=ankle ayer =water ayer mata = eye water =tears ayer bata =stone water = ice, this only to mention a few examples. A Scottish friend of mine, who had spent many years in Malaya and spoke fluently Malay, said to me once we were discussing languages: "Thiel, have you realized how soft and beautiful the Malayan language is? Take the English word "creek", for instance. Hard, isn't it? The Scottish word for it, "brook", is nice, but the equivalent in Malay, Sungai anak, (river child) is both beautiful and romantic. To express the possessive form the word punya is used. For instance, my book = sahaya punya buku. Life was rather happy-go-lucky and carefree in Malaya at that time, and the country was sometimes referred to as the "land of tidak apa", (the land of never mind). Claus demonstrated this very clearly for us one day, when he through mere carelessness broke a plate (luckily a cheap Japanese one). Without showing any sign of concern, he just blurted out: "Tid apa, bli baharu." (Never mind, buy a new one). Claus stayed four years with us in Malaya and had just had his three years' birthday before we left Norway. As we lived at the outskirts of Batu Arang, a good ten minutes walk from the main European quarters, Claus missed having regular playmates and in spite of Molle!s and Amah's watch and care he was very elusive and explored the near neighbourhood on his own whenever he had a chance. He therefore gave us all some rather anxious moments. One day Molle and Amah had been out looking for him and he came home, bringing with him an Indian boy of about double his own age, bony and slender. Claus had a very firm grip round the poor boy's wrist and dragged him step by step towards our bungalow. The boy could hardly talk for fright and Molle asked Claus why he was dragging the boy after him like that. "I wanted to play with him, but he only shook his head and refused, so I took him home with me," was the answer. The prisoner was released and Molle gave him some fruit and sweets 28 to take home - and we had another story to tell. Having to spend so much time with us only, Claus naturally felt lonely and uneasy if we were not around, this specially after darkness had set in. One evening as we were all three of us sitting in the mosquito-room we experienced an exceptionally heavy tropical rainstorm accompanied by deafening thunder and violent lightening. After sitting listening to this showdown of Nature's strength for a while, Claus came in with the following question! "If a very big lightening came into the house, what would happen then?" "Then all three of us would die," Molle answered. "Yes, and then three souls will go together up to Heaven," Claus added joyfully. He should not be alone then, either. Claus was thriving in Batu Arang. He was very active and awake and had an appetite which did full justice to all the good food Boy obtained, prepared and served for us. But then we found that his appetite had suddenly kind of gone off and so it stayed for the next few days. However, Claus was just as happy and lively as before and told us that he did not feel hungry, so he really had us puzzled. Then one day we had the solution. Before we sat down for dinner Molle made a call out in the kitchen to see Boy about some arrangements for the following day. She turned and made signs to me to join her. There in the kitchen we found Boy, Amah and Claus having their dinner consisting of rice, some curried fish and vegetables. They were all sitting on some rather tall, round-seated chairs without any back support, all three having their legs criss-cross under them, eating away from a bowl, skilfully operating their chopsticks with the accompanying pushing and lapping up of the food. What else could we do but shake our heads and smile, feeling quite proud of our son and greatly relieved as well. Once a month Molle and I went to Kuala Lumpur, making it a kind of an outing. Usually we want on a Saturday right after work. We could hire a car and driver (syce) for as little as Strait Dollars 7.- for the evening, (l Str. $ was then worth about 2/6d English currency). The syce would take us around in Kuala Lumpur anywhere we liked. Molle had shopping to do in the grocery stores and the big general stores, while I liked to go round, in the smaller jewellery and handcraft stores finding things to bring home to Norway. Then we had a cup of tea in one or other of the many small but cosy cafeterias in Batu Street and afterwards it was about time for the pictures. Usually they had a couple of shorter breaks during the pictures and as soon as the lights came on the 29 first thing we saw on the canvas was a slogan for the local Tiger beer, "Time for a Tiger"; short, expressive and persuasive for a visit to the bar adjoining the picture house. Finally Molle and I paid a visit to one of the many restaurants run by foreigners from many countries. We got acquainted with a number of delicious dishes which we swallowed down with a "Tiger" - and for us this was usually "the end of a perfect day", when the syce brought us back to Batu Arang. The first few times we left for Kuala Lumpur we had one problem which played on our minds. We left behind us a very unhappy Claus, who with tears and -'yells demonstrated his disapproval against being left behind. But one day one of us had a brainwave. We very timidly asked Claus if we could get his permission to go to Kuala Lumpur. Claus gave us a rather scrutinizing look and then proudly declared: "Have permission." We always had his permission for the following trips, so a bit of psychology often seems to do the trick. We had stayed in Batu Arang about eighteen months when the time for the birth of our daughter was approaching. Claus had repeatedly made it very clear that ho wanted a sister. He could get plenty of brothers later, he said, but first he wanted a sister. So we always talked about the unborn baby in terms of "she". We remembered only too well that Claus arrived six weeks too early and on top of that he was so keen on seeing daylight that when his birth was approaching I just managed to bring Molle to hospital before the event took place. Both Molle and I wanted to make sure we should not be taken by surprise again and it was arranged for her to go down to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital a full fortnight prior to the time the baby was expected. Doctor Dason, the Company's Indian doctor, stationed at Batu Arang Hospital, was a clever doctor with a charming personality and well liked by everybody. But as there was no real provision for hospitalisation for the European staff or for any serious cases, Molle had been secured a bed in Kuala Lumpur, where she also went for regular check-ups the last few months. The Company had its own ambulance for casualty victims and sick people to be taken down to Kuala Lumpur. The "fortnight limit" had just been reached, Molle had everything she wanted for her stay in hospital ready packed and we had agreed that the following day we should take the trip down to Kuala Lumpur, and with that decision we went to bed. But the baby had decided to push it along a bit. Early in the night Molle woke up, feeling very shivery and unwell and we both realised the event was rapidly approaching. I went quickly to the phone to call Dr. Dason, but I could not raise the telephone operator. Fully ten 30 minutes elapsed before the operator's sleepy voice was heard. I said something “nice” about his efficient service and to connect me to Dr. Dason straight away. I told Dr. Dason I was sorry to trouble him at this time at night, but that it would be touch and go for him to come in time. I went into Molle again and she was just lying there calmly instructing me what to do. Before I could quite realise it, I was standing there with the baby's little head between my hands, simultaneously as I heard a car stopping outside. As the baby gave out its life-giving cry Dr. Dason and his assistant entered the room and took over and Claus, who through all this hullabaloo was soundly asleep, was told next morning that his sister had safely arrived. Early the same morning the Company's ambulance arrived and the Indian driver very proudly told me it was a new car just taken over a couple of days ago and that Mem was his very first casualty in his new car. So Molle, the baby and I "embarked", while Claus very reluctantly had to stay behind with Amah and Boy. Molle and I felt very happy about the good service. We had not driven very far, however, before we could smell the exhaust gas entering the cabin and even with a window open I could feel how my eyes were smarting and I was wondering how the exhaust fumes would affect our little baby. After about half an hour we arrived at Rawang, about half-way to Kuala Lumpur, and we had to pass over a railway crossing. Just as we were going to pass, the railway guard slammed the gates in front of us. We could see the railway line stretching out for hundreds of metres on either side of the gate, so I went out and explained to the guard that we had a new-born baby in the ambulance and could he kindly let us pass if I helped him to shut the gates again quickly. He only mumbled something about instructions and responsibility. His whole attitude was one of obstinacy, knowing that he was protected by his instructions, so we just had to wait the twenty minutes it took before the train arrived. We could hear it was coming nearly five minutes before it passed. What would have happened if it really had been a case of life and death? A small-minded man who covered himself under government autocracy. At the hospital in Kuala Lumpur everything was ready for the admittance of mother and child and the doctor in charge could soon tell me that his two new patients were both very well. After another short wait while a mechanic adjusted the exhaust pipe on the ambulance, I had an interesting little chat with the driver on our way back to Batu Arang. He told me we had to watch an Indian fakir, who was due in Batu Arang shortly, and I took notice of that. 31 Back in Batu Arang Claus and I had many talks about his little sister and I had to answer some rather tricky questions, but we agreed between us that the ten days Molle had to stay in Kuala Lumpur would pass very quickly, and a couple of telephone calls from Molle helped to keep us both happy. Exactly a week after Molle and the baby had left Batu Arang some upsetting events took place in our village. When I came down to my office that morning all my clerks looked very worried and excited and they told me all the miners were on strike. I went quickly out in the mill and told everybody just to carry on as usual as this was a matter between the Company and the miners and that I was waiting for instructions from Kuala Lumpur. I soon got through to the Head Office and Mr. Drysdale told me just to carry on as usual unless the miners took a threatening attitude. At the same time he asked me to give the Mines Superintendent all possible assistance. More or less straight after the telephone conversation with Mr. Drysdale, I was approached by the Mines Superintendent who asked if I would volunteer to go down in the bottom of East Mine to guard the motors and pumps. It was very important to keep these pumps going to avoid any flooding in the mine. I was provided with a loaded revolver and a miner's carbide lamp and had my own torch as well. I also took with me a bottle of water and some bananas, and one of my mining engineer friends guided me down to the very bottom of the 800 feet deep mine. He assured me that the motors and pumps were in perfect running condition and had been well looked after and that I would be relieved within the next two to three hours, and with that he left. Being on my own I realized how quickly the whole thing had come on. I had just managed to ask Boy and Amah to look well after Claus and to keep him inside the bungalow till I came back. The first two or three hours passed quickly enough and I found it very interesting to watch the series of pumps and motors working in such a steady, monotonous regularity. But time dragged on and after four hours my carbide light gave up the ghost and I relied on an occasional flash with the torch. Another hour passed and I started wondering if anything had gone wrong up in the village, if the strike had got out of hand, and I was thinking about Claus alone with our two servants. I told myself that nobody would hurt Claus, who had acquired many friends among the miners through his friendly greetings and hand-waving to them during our daily trips through the village on the way to the tennis court, when he was proudly sitting on his special seat at the back of his Dad's bike. And what would Molle think when she heard about the strike? 32 But I got suddenly and rudely interrupted in my thoughts by a sudden silence in my pitch-dark "cave". The motors and the pumps had stopped working. Oh, how I felt the lack of some good electrical knowledge and how much I realized that I just had to see the pumps working again. By now my torchlight only gave a very faint flicker of light, but trusting my good luck I started working on the many switches, switched them off and on again, and then suddenly, to my great relief, the whole system started working again. Later the Electrical Engineer, Mr. Morgan, told me it must have been a case of the system being overloaded and cut out and he complimented me on doing the right thing - "of my darned good luck," I said to myself. I was still left alone in darkness and it was not till a couple of hours later I could hear the voices of people approaching. I patted my revolver and had it at the ready in case it should be people with bad intentions coming down. I soon heard it was English voices and two of my friends arrived, telling me the strike was over and everything was all right. Everybody had been very busy on guard- or operational duties, so we all had had long hours of duty. The Government had at the Company's request sent a company of the Malay Regiment out to Batu Arang, where they marched through the village in a show of strength, and the miners were back at work after having gained a few minor pecuniary advantages. Everything was well in the plywood mill and in my bungalow. The mill figures showed a good ordinary day's running and Claus and his two friends were, of course, glad to have me back again. We all missed our "two women", and the two additional days we had to wait were very long, specially for Claus. But then at last we were on our way to Kuala Lumpur to pick up Mother and child in our usual taxi, and having to answer all Molle's questions about the strike, we were back in Batu Arang, as it seemed to us, in a flash. When we went up the steps to the bungalow it was to the tune of the Norwegian National Anthem, "Yes, we love this country." Boy had followed my instructions very well and had started the gramophone record at the right moment. We were all so happy. Claus had received his little sister and Molle and I felt we were now a complete little family. But we had still one problem to solve. In Batu Arang there was no stationed minister or any clergyman belonging to any other Christian denomination, apart from a Church of England minister, who came up from Kuala Lumpur once a month and held a sermon. We wanted our little daughter, whom we had decided to christen Valborg Marie, to belong to the Lutheran Church. So we decided that I should minister the 33 christening according to the directions given in Landstads Coralbook. So I did, witnessed by Molle, Claus, Amah and Boy. Later on I could proudly boast of being a "triple father" (compared with a triple nurse), being Valborg’s father, midwife and pastor. And so time passed on.

Gradually business seemed to work its way out of the slump and by 1937 rubber had slowly but steadily come more in demand. Consequently, the sale of rubber chest shooks also increased; we let the production follow step simultaneously as we got rid of a lot of surplus stock piled up in the mill. I really became more and more fond of my work and so also of ay native working force. Not once during all those years - seven and a half years all told - did I hear any insulting remarks or hear any complaints about driving them too hard. An important thing I also learned was that among all these people, who rather derogatorily were called coolies, we would find some very brainy fellows with a lot of pride and self respect. The kepalas (heads), leaders of the different labour gangs, were experienced people with a lot of authority behind them. My head fitter, a Chinese by name Ah Lok, looked after all the machinery in a very efficient manner. During my years among plywood machines I had learnt to listen to them during their running and if I heard something irregular I pointed it out to Ah Lok, who always found the source of the trouble. In more difficult cases we had to call for the engineers at the big and well equipped workshop in the centre of Batu Arang. I had two Chinese kepalas in my service, both of them clever and trustworthy people. Wong Choon, a happy, jovial and hefty-built Keh, was in charge of the gluing operation and also arranged for labourers whenever we needed extra help in the taping and drying operations. He had quite a few Chinese, all Kehs, working at the mill and they all lived together in a small compound of barracks -in a "kongsi", where Wong Choon provided food for them and their families on top of their pay. My other kepala, Chan Chung, a small, polite Cantonese, was in charge of five carpenters, but the latter were paid directly by the Company. Chan Chung never failed to do first-class workmanship. At the time I took full charge of the plywood mill we still used a brand of rennet casein, supplied by an English firm. This casein gave us a fair bit of trouble due to uneven quality. One smaller consignment which we had stored for some time because of its doubtful quality, had to be used when we, because of shipping delay, had no other stock at hand. Wong Choon and I spent the whole day together trying different ways and means in attempting to obtain a workable glue, but we did not have much success. The following morning I cane down to the mill round about six o'clock and to my surprise and joy I saw 34 Wong Choon and his gang gluing away as usual. With a broad smile he called out: "Ada baik sekarang Tuan." (It is all right now, sir). After a bit of persuasion he revealed his secret. A friend of his had advised him to add some cooking salt to the formula and that was tried out in different proportions by Wong Choon till he achieved a reasonable result. We were able to carry on till we a few days later received a fresh supply of better casein. It was rather a good effort by my kepala, whom I always found keen and alert. Some months later we changed over to Australian clean latex casein and this gave us a very strong and reliable glue joint. After I had worked at the mill a couple of years we received a small consignment of teak logs (Tectona grandis) from Burma. I spent days matching the veneer from this superb veneer timber and we glued some very nice 5-ply plywood from it, beautifully figured with a rich golden-brown colour.

Next time Mr. Drysdale visited the plywood mill and saw the beautiful teak plywood he asked me if I could make a big round table-top of eight feet diameter covered with teak plywood. The table was to be used in Kuala Lumpur at a garden party given for a prominent businessman. I decided to make the table-top with a two feet centre consisting of a sixteen sided diamond of red meranti with sixteen stripes of matched-together teak plywood branching out from the diamond. The whole surface of 5-ply to be glued on to one inch thick solid wood. I sent for Chan Chung and told him about how I wanted the table-top made and that I would construct on paper a pattern for the sixteen segments which were to make up the outer part of the table-top. It did not take me very long by means of a drawing compass to make the sketch and I took it out to Chan Chung's little carpenter's shop to show him. When I saw him he just quietly said: "Sudah bikin, Tuan." (Already done, sir). He had already cut a pattern in veneer, covering exactly one-sixteenth of the circumference. I have often been sorry that I did not ask him how he with apparently only primitive means had managed to make the pattern so fast and exact. Between them, Wong Choon and^ Chan Chung made a beautiful job of the table, which was much admired by the guests at the garden party. I have seen much beautiful straight grained and figured veneer peeled from logs from all five world continents, but none of them have surpassed teak veneer in appearance when you are lucky enough to strike a log of A1 quality. The enchanting golden brown colour playing in different shades and figures gives an exhibition of extreme beauty over the complete panel.

35 To make a little side-step: When I a few years later met an elderly British forester in the Japanese prison camp in Singapore I heard some rather exciting stories about logging of teak timber in Thailand- The forester, Mr. Chipp, had worked there over a long period in his younger days. He told me that the logging was more or less identical in Thailand and Burma and that as much as twelve years would elapse from the time a teak tree is marked for felling till it is offered on the market as ready seasoned materials. Mr. Chipp gave me an account of the different operations during those years as follows: 1st year the tree is picked out by an experienced forester and marked for felling. 2nd year the tree is ring-barked from the root up to the first three feet. It is left for drying on the root for at least two years. 4th year the tree is felled and cut into suitable log lengths. 5th year the logs are pulled up to the smaller river-beds. 6th year the logs are rope-hauled by elephants in the small rivers down to the main river. 7th year the logs are floated down the main river until the last rapid is passed. 8th year the logs are rafted. 9th and 10th years the logs are taken to the coast. 11th and 12th years the logs are cut and the materials stacked and seasoned. Modern technique and machinery have, no doubt, even considerably reduced. the long handling period of the teak trees, but, I am sure the conditions of the jungle and the tropical weather charts still will put a limit economically as well as well as working technically to the use of even the most advanced machinery in place of the well disciplined elephants and their masters. Sometimes even more than twelve years may elapse before a chosen teak tree is converted into seasoned timber ready for the sales market. The felling of these giant trees (they may be up to 120 feet high) can only take place in the rainy season. If they are cut in the dry season they may either be split into match-sticks at the impact with the dry and hard forest ground, or they may be devoured by forest fires which are specially frequent round dried-up river-beds.

Malayan wild life: Before we left Norway we had heard and read quite a few stories about the wild life in Malaya, anything from roaming elephants, man-eating tigers and 36 crocodiles, deadly and fierce snakes, down to a continuous menace of malaria-spreading mosquitoes and troublesome ants of different size and colour. Between the extremes in size, between the first- and last-mentioned animals, we also heard of a great number of other animals many of which we should soon encounter. All the stories we were told did not, however, by any means discourage us. Like all healthy young people we found the whole thing very exciting and we were looking forward to the challenge and experience in store for us. After we had arrived in Batu Arang and had moved into our first bungalow we took the precaution before we went to bed, besides shutting the doors to the base floor, also to close the wooden shutters to our bedrooms on the first floor. A couple of days later we spoke to one of our close neighbours, who was rather a veteran in tropical life and customs, and he asked us how we were getting on. We told him we were getting on fine, but that we found it very hot having to sleep in a room with closed shutters. "But why do you keep the shutters closed then?" he asked. We told him that we had Claus sleeping in the room next to ours and that we had heard stories about small children being carried away by tigers and that both tigers and black panthers were sneaking around in the jungle. Our friend had a good laugh. "That must be a really funny tiger, jumping in like that, and also the first tiger we have seen here in the village." We never slept with closed window shutters any more, not even when we later moved down to our other bungalow with only a ground floor and situated next to the thick jungle, and we never saw any "funny" tigers. During all the seven and a half years we stayed in Batu Arang we only heard of one case of a man being killed by a tiger and that was in the wild and wide plateau of Cameron Highland in Perak. Although during our stay crocodiles still existed in a fair number in the bigger rivers and swampy areas, they were certainly not a menace in ordinary, well organized villages and living quarters. We were told not to go into any lonely swampy places near the river beds and give in to the temptation of having a swim in the river. In Selangor River about twenty miles north of Batu Arang a rubber estate owner had lost three workers, all Indians, when they against his instructions had a swim in the river. They were dragged under and killed by the crocodiles. Bigger and smaller scorpions and fat, poisonous centipedes about a foot long were more of a menace. We had them in the timber-yard, from where they paid an occasional visit to our office; we found them crawling on the floor in our bungalow and once a medium sized scorpion dropped on the floor when I shook 37 my bath towel, a precaution we had learned to take. But apart from causing some very painful stings and a few days in hospital for a couple of my workers nothing more serious happened. Although black cobras were rather common - personally I killed three of them right on the doorsteps - they did not by any means constitute the deadly and sneaking danger we so often had heard about. They were rather sluggish and nearly docile until they got cornered or attacked. I have always had a kind of sympathy for snakes. They seem to have been hated and condemned by everybody right from Adam's time and, after all, they do not move about trying to kill people, but are rather trying to avoid them, so as not to be killed themselves. But when they try to enter the house and be part of the family they naturally over-step the mark. In Malaya we also find one of the most powerful and poisonous snakes on Earth, the king cobra or hamadryad. Luckily it is rather rare and is seldom encountered, so it was much of a surprise to me when I one day at lunch-time entered the steps up to our bungalow and on the slope next to the steps barely nine feet away from me saw a hamadryad slowly moving. It immediately partly curled up and had its head lifted about eighteen inches from the ground, swinging slowly backwards and forwards, its blood-red tongue partly sticking out moving rhythmically, while its emerald-green, lidless eyes stared into mine. It must have been about thirteen feet long, an arm-thick black piece of flesh and muscles. The beauty of the animal and its movements were so enchanting that I just stood there and stared at it. Then I realized the potentially deadly danger if the animal attacked and in a couple of big jumps I was up the stairs, into the bungalow and grabbed my shotgun. But the snake had disappeared and I never saw it again. It must have been because of the suddenness and the beauty of the whole thing which had fascinated me so much that I had not felt any fear. But my thoughts have often wandered back to this, one of my life's most amazing experiences. The king cobra or hamadryad is said to attack any living being in its way. Its powerful poison will paralyse a man's heart within five minutes and it could also with a shot of its saliva instantly blind its opponent. In Ambrose Pratt's book, "Magical Malaya" I found the here abbreviated description of the hamadryads from the above author's visit to the Snake Park in Bangkok: "Ten minutes spent in gazing down at those pugnacious demons - they attack any moving object in sight with the ferocity of tigers -was enough to satisfy me for a lifetime. Either they were heavily asleep or moving with furious activity. In the whole range of animal creation there is 38 probably nothing more beautiful than a hamadryad in action. But oh! the cruelty of them; their hateful swiftness and their terrifying stealth." - I must have been very, very lucky. The biggest of all the snakes in Malaya, the rock python, I did not see in its natural surroundings. During my second term in Malaya I visited Singapore and in the Zoological Museum there I saw a stuffed rock python twenty-three feet in length and with a diameter at the thickest part as big as a well-fed bulldog. In Batu Arang I saw a smaller member of this family, a sixteen feet long python trapped and caged in a solid wooden box with a trap door of 1/8” steel rods. It had been trapped in the Chinese kampong (small village or part of a village) by means of a bait, a live chook. The case or cage it was trapped in was very small for this rather big animal. I went over to have a close look at it and the Chinese, who had caught it, asked me to put my hand against the steel rodded opening. So I did and instantly the head of the python shot forward with a mighty blow against the rail. I repeated it a couple of times and the same heavy blows were directed towards my hand, but luckily for me with the rails between. Each blow would easily have knocked out Mohamed Ali if correctly placed. I really felt for this brave snake with the handsomely figured skin and luckily I did not hear till later what a terrible fate was in store for it. Later on the Chinese and a couple of his friends nailed it to a long board and skinned it alive, this in order to get the skin off more easily; the snake was then killed and the meat sold as a delicacy. It made me wonder which is the most cruel animal in the world, probably the homo sapiens. In spite of the fact that most of the natives in their daily life went around barefoot or used trampers (wooden clogs) we only heard about surprisingly few accidents caused by snake-bite. One night during my first four years in Batu Arang I was wakened by our jaga (watchman), who asked me to come down quickly as one of my Indian workers, by name Katharasamy, was lying in a corner a very sick man, bitten by a snake on the ankle. I found Katharasamy lying in a dark corner, shivering of fright. In the rather dull light from my torch I could see two marks on his ankle and with a razor blade I made two sharp incisions along the punctures and put a couple of Condy's crystals (permanganate of potash) in the cuts. In the meantime the ambulance had been called for and our patient was quickly taken over to Dr. Dason. Next morning I rang Dr. Dason and inquired about our casualty: "He is doing fine, Mr. Marstrand, but he was not bitten by a snake, he was bitten by a rat." I felt a bit of a fool and started apologizing for making all that 39 fuss out of such a small matter, but to my relief Dr. Dason added: "You did exactly the right thing. Here in the Tropics a rat-bite may be poisonous as well as disease injecting and should have instant care." As I have already mentioned, an encounter with a tiger was very rare in Malaya, specially because they as all wild animals try to avoid a tête-à-tête with man unless special circumstances are present. I never saw a tiger during my numerous, sometimes long, walks out in the jungle, but I had nevertheless an exciting experience. One morning. Lee, a brother to our biggest log contractor by name Lee Lip Ling, took me far into the jungle to inspect a few beautiful stands of timber, mainly consisting of red meranti, ideally suited for veneer logs. Lee estimated it would take us about three hours of steady walking to come to the area. We walked on a narrow track most of the time and. occasionally we had to resort to our parrangs (long jungle knives) to hack our way through the thick, fast growing undergrowth. It was hot and after a couple of hours we became very thirsty. Lee asked me if I wanted a drink of cold tea and he pulled two big bottles out of his rucksack. It was cold, strong, unsweetened tea, not very palatable, but it had a wonderful thirst-quenching effect, which I took due notice of for future use. 1 little later we found a big tree, a windfall, blocking our path and Lee stopped me in front of it. "Don't climb over this tree, Mr. Marstrand. This is a rengas. You see the black juice seeping out of the tree? It is poisonous and even touching the leaves may cause skin irritation and development of a very painful and itchy rash, which may last for the best part of a week. Some people even get a very swollen head and fever, others seem to be immune to the poison." "I must belong to the last category of people", I said, and I told him why I thought so: "When I was in California in the redwood district there at a place called Scotia in 1927, I on one of my many excursions unwittingly came into a thick growth of poisonous oak and was told that I within twenty-four hours would suffer from a very irritating and painful rash - but nothing happened to me, so I am probably immune to this poison too," I said, and in a rather challenging way I climbed over the fallen stem, while Lee carefully avoided it, by going right round it. We carried on further into the jungle and then suddenly I noticed a very strong, unpleasant smell, something like the smell from a sweating buffalo, but even much stronger. The odour increased in intensity till I traced it coming from a rather big dent or impression on the right side of the track. "Have we chased away a tiger?" I asked Lee. "No, 40 there is no tiger here," was the answer. We walked on at a good speed, but Lee was very quiet and looked kind of worried. After we had walked a few hundred yards, he turned to me and said: "It was a tiger, Mr. Marstrand, and judging from the strength of the smell we must have been very close to it." Soon afterwards we arrived at the selected stands of trees and a beautiful lot they were. Next morning I went down to my office in a somewhat timid mind. I had not proved immune to the rengas poison and the next few days I had to swallow a few nasty "compliments" about my rosy looking face. But - I had nearly seen my tiger! From tigers I will turn to a considerably smaller, but even more bloodthirsty animal, the mosquito. In Batu Arang, as nearly everywhere in jungle areas in the Tropics, mosquitoes were a constant menace, even if it was greatly reduced through efficient preventive methods. Both day and night we were exposed to blood-thirsty attacks by mosquitoes. The daytime mosquitoes were just a menace while the "from dusk to dawn mosquitoes" constituted a potential danger as carriers of the dreaded disease, malaria. The daytime mosquitoes are of the Stegomyia variety; they bite in bright daylight, while species of the Anopheles family are active during the dark hours. Altogether seventeen or eighteen different species of Anopheles are known in Malaya but only three or four of the species are really dangerous ones, capable of transferring malaria. Now we have to take notice of the following: Only the female mosquito sucks blood, while the males are innocent vegetarians. The males are provided with very feathery antennae or feelers and long proboscis (sucking organ) with which they suck nectar from flowers. The female mosquito needs a feed of blood to ripen its eggs. When it becomes pregnant it must obtain blood and consequently bites man or beast. If the man is already infected by malaria she (the mosquito) will be infected. Then the malaria parasites which she has swallowed in the blood meal undergo a change in her body and finally come to rest in the salivary gland. When she takes a new blood meal she has to inject saliva into her victim to prevent the victim's blood from clotting in her proboscis. With the saliva she injects some of the malaria parasites; these enter the blood cells of the human victim and he is infected with malaria. It will take ten to fourteen days or even up to twenty days before the malaria parasites can be traced in the new patient's blood after he has been 41 bitten by the malaria mosquito. However, sometimes the malaria bacillus may be present but latent in the patient's blood-stream for months and then suddenly an attack is developed. Everyone living in a potential malaria district will, of course, go round with some fear of being victim of an attack of malaria fever. All the European bungalows were provided with mosquito rooms and over each bed there was a mosquito net. Sometimes, of course, mosquitoes came in through open doors, but then our good little friends the "cheechahs" would make short work of them. These little house lizards have obtained their name from the rather amusing, kind of whispering, chee-cha- noise, sounding as happy war cries in the constant hunting for mosquitoes and other insects. Their favorite hunting ground is under the ceiling and with their "suction padded" feet they move with lightning speed. Frequently you will hear a little thud, indicating that one of the eager hunters lost its foot-hold and parachuted to the floor, but none the worse for the experience. I have heard of cases where they have landed in a plate of soup or on the head of an occupant, but who would not forgive such an ardent little friend a trifle of an inconvenience? In Batu Arang the Company had many gangs of Indians, working in gangs of three to four men, having as their constant work to spray any wet spot or swampy area in the village and its near surroundings with oil. The purpose is to kill the mosquitoes already in the larva stage. Using rucksack sprays, the workers sprayed the suspected spots with a fluid made up of a mixture of kerosine, heavy fuel oil and dieseline; this mixture gave maximum poisoning power, maximum spreading power and maximum lasting power (duration). The cause of death in the larva is chiefly a poisoning by fumes rather than choking. The health officer who gave most of the above information also told me that the Anopheles mosquitoes and the more innocent mosquitoes showed different resting positions. The sketch will illustrate this: Anopheles Other species One of the saddest effects of malaria fever I witnessed already during my first month in Batu Arang. We had some smaller gear trouble at one of our peeling machines and I took my bike and went over to the main workshop to see the Engineering Superintendent, Mr. P. I introduced myself and told him about our trouble and asked him if he could kindly attend to it as soon as time permitted. He was rather flushed in the face and suddenly he was overtaken by 42 rage and abused me in a very insulting manner. Being so new on the place I did not really know how to face up to and react in the matter, but luckily Apanah, a nice, young Gurka, who was one of Mr. P.'s engineering assistants, saw my plight and with a head movement he beckoned me to come outside with him: "Do not worry, Mr. Marstrand," he said. "Mr. P. is having one of his bad attacks of malaria, affecting his brain, and he is then completely out of his senses. We will attend to your peeling machine and I am sure you will soon hear from a very apologetic Mr. P. " Two days later Mr. P. came biking down to the plywood mill- the usual transport in Batu Arang was the bicycle; he came towards me and said: "I know I owe you an apology, Mr. Marstrand. I was told by Apanah that during my last attack of malaria I abused you very badly. Please forgive me." I felt really sorry for him. A few months later Mr. P., under another attack of this dreadful fever, fled into the jungle believing his workers were going to kill him. He had to break off his career in Malaya and return to England for treatment. Another fiery little animal, found nearly everywhere in the world, we also find in Malaya in many species, sizes and colour shades. I am referring to the ant, which also in Malaya is present everywhere you live or go. In a rather amusing way a Malayan proverb, an equivalent of the English "no roses without thorns", reads "Ada gula ada semut." (where there is sugar, there are ants.) Inside our bungalow we were not really worried by the ants as long as we took the necessary precautions. All legs on our dinner table, food cabinet and beds had to stand in small bowls filled with water. One day we had let one of the bowls under the food cabinet go dry and our negligence was immediately taken advantage of by myriads of small black ants - and what a feast they had before they were discovered! One evening Molle and I came home late after a trip to Kuala Lumpur and we undertook the usual inspection of the bungalow to see that everything was in order. On entering our bedroom we heard a weak crackling kind of a noise, and to our horror we saw one of the walls almost completely covered by ants on the march in three thick columns. They came in from the back of the bungalow and disappeared out at the front end. They did not cross the floor, but just marched in endless streams along the wall; they were simply ants on the march. Luckily we had "Flit" sprays and plenty of "Flit" and for an hour and a half we sprayed and sprayed till we were dead tired, but finally we won the battle and a thick belt of dead ants was lying on the floor. 43 White ants were very destructive once they got a hold, but thanks to the effective control supervised by the Company's civil engineer they caused no real trouble in Batu Arang. A certain time of the year a rather small, green coloured type of pigeon could appear in fair quantities over a short period. I was told their meat was a delicacy worth trying. So one Sunday afternoon I saw a flock of pigeons settling down in some dense shrubbery not far from the bungalow, I grabbed my shot-gun and went out to try my luck. I pushed my way into the shrub and soon I could see some of the pigeons sitting in one of the bigger bushes. I fired and could see three of the pigeons fall to the ground, and advanced to pick them up. Then I suddenly felt an intense burning pain on my arms, legs, neck and chest and in the shrub next to me I saw a colony of rather big reddish ants, all of them ready for the attack. I quickly beat the retreat, but before I had brushed off all the ants on my body they had given me a really bad treatment. I never went out for any more pigeon shooting. Later in my record I will mention another encounter with this type of ant, which happened under quite different circumstances. When dusk was setting in over the jungle we could hear the more distant rather mournful cries from the monkeys and the shrill cry from the flying foxes as they slowly moved over the tree tops, and when the village and the jungle were enveloped in darkness the crickets joined in strength in their monotonous concert, the fire-flies were dancing in the air, often in pairs like moving fire-eyes, the mosquitoes were gathering in force in their hunt for blood and the nightjar joined in with its irregular choonk, choonk, choonk. Mr. Marney told me that when a bunch of drinking companions were together in more lonely places, they could sit listening to the nightjar and bet upon how many "choonks" it will produce next time. This could vary right from one to eight or nine and the one in the party who was farthest away from the right number had to pay for the next round of drinks.

As our new bungalow and the plywood mill were situated at the outskirts of the native village, about a kilometre from the proper European quarters, we had a good chance to come in closer contact with the natives, and once we had overcome the language difficulties we enjoyed talking to them and learning about their private lives and special customs. They were all so nice and sometimes we really felt somewhat embarrassed at the respect they paid us. One special event which took place during my second year of duty in Batu Arang contributed much to the confidence and loyalty given us by the natives. 44 It was an ordinary working day and Molle, Claus and I were just having our lunch when Boy came rushing in and called out: "Api, Tuan, api" (Fire, sir, fire). One of the barracks, built entirely from ataps, that is, coconut palm leaves in thatched style, had caught fire and the bone dry materials were already fully ablaze. A couple of my men and I rushed over to the barracks holding ready prepared, big 5-ply shields in front of us. These shields proved to be a very efficient insulation and protection against the intense heat and by arranging a "bucket brigade" of all our workers we managed to save the adjoining barrack; Molle had in the meantime gone from room to room in the barracks, making sure that no children or sick and old people had been left there, in case the fire should spread. - And then the "emergency troops" turned up. Assisted by Boy, Kebun and Amah, Claus had on his own initiative emptied our fridge and storeroom of all soft drinks and edibles and distributed it all to the fire-stricken people. Soon after the fire was under control and Mr. Marney turned up and told us that already the next day a new barracks would be erected of bricks, supplied from the Company's own brickworks. But so many of my workers came afterwards and told me how "Kechil tuan (the little master) had warmed their hearts.

A couple of mouths later I was personally quite unexpectedly "put to a test of strength." I had never needed to as much as lift my hand to any of my workers and all the officials at the different departments had been warned that striking a man was absolutely forbidden, apart from in self-defence. Soon after I had left the mill after a busy day's work Ah Lock came up and told me that a young Sikh who had only been working at the mill a couple of weeks - his job was to carry veneer waste to the boilers - had suddenly become violent; he had started playing with an old peeling machine, temporarily out of use and was brushing aside anybody trying to stop him. Ah Lock said the man could ruin the machine in no time. I rushed down in real anger and I saw the man standing there, playing with the old peeling machine, running it, luckily without load, while he was brushing aside anybody trying to talk sense into him. Quite a few of the workers stood around just as spectators, waiting for something exciting to happen. The young Sikh, a boy of about eighteen years of age, good-looking and well built, about two metres in height, was just standing there enjoying himself. Angry as I was, I went straight to him, grabbed him firmly by the neck, guided him right to the mill front door and told him he could collect his pay the next day. He could probably easily have knocked me to pulp, but he hardly resisted my push and walked quietly away. I wondered what had been playing on his mind. He was not drunk, he might only 45 have wanted to show off and luckily for me he must have had too much respect for the white man to resist me or be violent. But when l went back into the mill I understood from the way my workers eyed me that I had gained a few marks in their esteem. One morning I was testing some glue together with Wong Choon; he asked me if Molle and I could come to his kongsi the following day and help him to celebrate the wedding of his ten years old son to the eight years old daughter of a good friend of his. The wedding had been arranged through the mutual consent and wish of the respective parents and the young bride and bridegroom-to-be had to comply with the choice of their parents. When we arrived we found we were the only Europeans present, but we were introduced to quite a crowd of Wong Choon's friends, who had gathered to celebrate the event. The bride and bridegroom were beautifully done up and seemed fully to enjoy the attention paid to them. Through a special ceremony already performed the two children were bound together for life, but they were not going to live together till they were found mature to enter into matrimony with all its duties. All kinds of nice Chinese dishes were served together with whisky, beer and soft drinks, all in abundance, and the guests clearly enjoyed themselves. A couple of days later when Molle and I went up to Wong Choon's kongsi with a little gift for the newly-weds we found the pair of them happily running around playing with the other children. This kind of child marriage was not very common, but they are still fully legal and we also found out that a Chinese could have more than one legal wife. Molle found that out in a rather amusing way. She often had a chat with the natives while taking Claus out for a morning walk and on one occasion she met a young, good-looking Chinese girl. She told Molle that she was happily married and had two small children and that she was on her way to work in a local shop. "But what about your children, who is looking after them?" Molle asked. "Oh, sahaya punijah laki punija bini" (my husband's wife) was the answer. The girl was the younger of two wives.

We were also present a couple of times witnessing the Indian Hindus in the village having their yearly big festival which was celebrated with a number of ceremonies. One of the ceremonies was to kill a goat, usually a buck, by decapitating it. The buck had been groomed and even beautified with flowers beforehand and was then taken on a lead to a previously prepared spot where 46 the executioner was waiting, equipped with a big, broad-bladed knife, more like a butcher's chopper. The executioner had to sever the head from the body in one powerful blow; if he failed it would mean bad luck for the Hindus in Batu Arang. Most of the Europeans present did not want directly to watch this part of the ceremony, which, however, was carried out with great skill. Afterwards the carcass was cut up and the meat shared between the Believers. The village also had its Holy-man who had taken on the burden of sin and evil done by its people during the year. In order to rid the village of evil spirits the Holy-man also had to walk barefoot on glowing coal and eat fire. He managed both things, but specially the fire-eating caused him obvious pain. I should not think he would reach a high age before he would succumb to internal injuries, but for each year of performance he had a year ahead of free-feeding, entertained by the village. But the really big day for all Hindu Indians is the celebration of Thaipusam and the main meeting place in Malaya was Batu Caves, situated about thirteen kilometres outside Kuala Lumpur. Bob and Lily invited us for a drive down to the Caves so we could have a direct view of the celebration and the rather gruesome ceremonies connected with it, an event we all the same were looking forward to. Batu Caves are a conglomeration of bigger and smaller limestone caves in a maze-like fashion. Roughly hewn out steps, 272 in all, are leading up to the main entrance and there we find a couple of spacious halls. The plateau in front of the Caves had been extended and improved upon so it could be a rallying place for any big crowd of people. When we arrived we found a big multiracial crowd talking and chattering at the top of their voices in competition with a still noisier "band" of old long-horned gramaphones. The main actors in the ceremony, the Holy-men, had already started coming. Some of them had come from rather remote lying villages and all of them were followed by a small crowd of ushers from the respective villages, who wanted to see their Holy-men safely arriving at their final goal - in the halls on top of the steps. The Holy-men all presented a pitiful sight. They carried the sins and misdoings of the villagers and suffered for them, for so by this painful walk over shorter or longer distances to work their way up to the cave entrance. The upper body of these men served as a wandering pin-cushion with fish-hooks, pins and nails stuck into their bodies, some of the items made heavier by leaden weights attached to them, and silver pins were sticking through their tongues and lips or deep into their cheeks. Their eyes were glazy and their whole bodies bathed in sweat, 47 but they were pushing on to complete the last but hardest part of their walk, the many steps up to the cave entrance; many of them were supported by their ushers. Bob and I wanted to see the whole ceremony at the end-stage, so we negotiated the steps up to the cave hall, where the Holy-men were received and taken care of by Hindu priests, who extracted the hooks, pins and needles and sprayed them with camphor and fanned their faces and bodies to bring them back to full consciousness. Remarkably enough, we saw hardly a drop of blood seeping from the fresh wounds. Bob and I were the only Europeans present and right from our entrance we could see some of the Indians eyeing us in a not too friendly way. Then a couple approached us and one of them, speaking English, addressed us rather angrily: "You Christians think you are the ones preaching the right faith and can offer salvation. But I will tell you there is only one religion with the right faith, through which you by sacrifice and affection, as you have witnessed here, can find salvation." As he was talking some more Hindus had started gathering around us and we found it was time for a retreat and just murmured a good-bye and went down all the steps to join our ladies. We were both wondering what would have happened to us, if we had not cleared out before we were forced into a discussion. The whole thing was an interesting, but not exactly pleasant, experience. We had, of course, heard about the Indian Fakirs, who could control their minds and bodies to an incredible degree, and when one of them visited Batu Arang to demonstrate his skill, quite a big crowd turned up to watch him. The first three rows of benches were reserved for the European staff and quite a few of the ladies were also present. Assisted by two young boys the Fakir performed many of the usual tricks we had read about and seen at the pictures. Among other feats he put himself on a tray of sharp nails, while the boys jumped up and down on him; he had cobras moving their raised heads and necks in rhythm with his flute music; he ate fire, etc., but then he took something like a spoon and carved both his eyballs out, put a lever in each eye-hollow and lifted a pair of heavy weights without any other support. Then he put his eyeballs back again. But in the meantime, all the "front row" ladies had disappeared.

Bob and Lily Scott became specially good friends of ours and Molle and I enjoyed their company so much, also because they were kind and understanding enough to tell us the correct words to use and the correct pronunciation of words, whenever we failed. As Labour Superintendent, Bob also had many good stories from the "international” labour field. One day we talked about newspapers, 48 I said to Bob: "I do not like the Malayan newspapers, they never bring me any news of Norway." A few days later when Bob and Lily turned up for a game of bridge, Bob brought a newspaper with him, the "Malay Times". "I have some interesting news from Norway for you, Thiel," he said with a smile. Eagerly I grabbed the paper to read the news. It was about a Norwegian sailor who had been arrested in Kuala Lumpur for being drunk and disorderly. - Rotten paper! On one occasion Bob and Lily asked us to join them for dinner at Hotel Majestic in Kuala Lumpur, an experience we enjoyed so very much. Everything was so perfect in the big dining-room where we were served some delicious dishes. All the guests were sitting in groups round small or big tables. All were immaculately dressed, the ladies in a splendid and colourful variety of Western and Eastern styles, the men in tropical evening suit - a white monkey jacket and black trousers. Bob pointed out to us a small group of Chinese, including a young, newly married couple. The girl was extremely beautiful. The marriage had merged together two of the richest Chinese families in Kuala Lumpur. Quite a big orchestra entertained us with a variety of pleasant, gentle music and the lights, the flowers and the almost noiseless precision service gave you a feeling of being in fairy-land. During a pause in the music Bob had a quick trip over to the orchestra and spoke to the conductor, and the result was half an hour of Grieg's music: Solveig's Song, the Spring, Anitra's Dance, In the Hall of the Mountain King and other Grieg compositions warmed our hearts and made the whole thing so perfect for Molle and me. Later the conductor came over to us, at Bob's invitation, and we were introduced to him. Over a glass of wine we had a nice chat. His name was R. Eisinger. He was a Polish-born Jew and was an extremely gifted man. He lived for his music. This had made him visit many countries and he spoke about a dozen languages. Without any trouble he switched over to Swedish and we discussed "Gluntarrne" with its great variety of song and music, besides, of course, music and life of our beloved Norwegian, Edvard Grieg. —What an evening it was. A few years later I was to meet R. Eisinger again, but under quite other circumstances.

As members of the exquisite Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur Bob and Lily invited Molle and me to partake in the celebration of St. Andrew's Day on 30th November. We knocked off from work early enough to be at the Club about 5 p.m. and there we met Lily's sister Ivy, and her husband Cliff Calvert, two charming people. 49 The Club was beautifully decorated with flowers, flags and streamers and later, after dusk had set in, a mass of coloured lights in many shades put an extra fancy into' the picture. On the spicy front lawns some of the city bands were lined up and they took turns in entertaining with delightful music. Most of the music was, of course, from Scottish songs and the bagpipes with their fiery marches sounded splendid and challenging in the clear sunset air. Outside the low fence on a more narrow strip of lawn the natives had gathered to have a look at all the splendour. Most of them were small, beautiful children, who were staring wide-eyed at this display of a fairy-land, being so close, but still outside their reach. We all wined and dined and danced during the next few hours and Molle and I witnessed for the first time a mass exhibition of Scottish Reel. Many of the dancing guests, both the men and the ladies, were dressed in kilts, proudly displaying by their tartan cloth the colour and pattern of the clan to which they belonged. This made the whole thing even more impressive. The bagpipe band, which had moved inside, gave the music. Later in the evening soldiers from the Scottish Regular's, stationed in Singapore, gave an exhibition of Scottish Reel round the traditional two swords placed as a cross. Specially during the "mass exhibition" the dance was emphasized by the usual shouting and heying in which the dancers also were ably supported by the non-dancing guests. We were introduced to many people and we also had a long, cosy chat to Mr. and Mrs. Drysdale. Mr. Drysdale, as one of the Directors of Malayan Collieries, helped me on so many occasions during my years in Malaya, a matter I always remember with gratitude. Towards the end of the festival the then Governor of Malaya, Governor Thomas, entered the stage, placed at one end of the big hall, and after a few speeches by different authorities the highlight of the evening came, the piping in of the Haggis. Two well-built pipers in their impressive Scottish uniforms marched in front up the long hall, blowing their bagpipes, followed closely by one man with one assistant on either side, the man holding a plate of haggis over his head; when they came up to the Governor, His Excellency had a taste of the haggis and of the whisky, carried by one of the assistants. - A miniature Scottish Tattoo so well performed. It was late before we arrived back at Batu Arang that night, but another pleasant experience had enriched our lives.

50 After the first couple of years at Batu Arang Molle and I started feeling a certain longing for the sea and one Sunday, straight after work had finished at lunchtime, Bob and Lily took us up to a place called Morib, situated at the coast, about fifty kilometres north-west of Batu Arang and at the estuary of Selangor River. We had a lovely picnic there enjoying the sun and the sea breeze. But when Bob and I had a quick dip in the rather muddy, brackish water, I must admit I did not really enjoy it, remembering being told there were sharks in the surrounding sea and crocodiles in Selangor River. It was a quick dip and I was glad to be on dry ground again. A couple of months later I had two days off from work and with four other friends we went down to a lovely seaside resort, Port Dicksen, further down south on the west coast. Two married couples, Joe and Marion Geddes and Gotfried and Erna Beck were our companions. Joe and Gotfried were both engineers, Joe in the workshop and Gotfried in the mines. They all were close friends of ours and just as Bob and Lily, they have left us with many pleasant memories. Joe had beforehand arranged for housing: bungalows with complete outfit, supervised by a Chinese Boy, who also did the cooking, were available for rent over shorter or longer periods. Oh, how we enjoyed those couple of days! Lovely, sheltered sandy beaches, and the sea water was crystal clear and very salty and round our special beach a big shark-proof fence had been built. Being a poor swimmer I fully enjoyed this salty, crystal clear water. I felt as if I could almost effortlessly push my way through the water, could swim under water or float on the back like a cork. Molle, being an excellent swimmer, really had a go and we all enjoyed it so much. We had before asked the Boy to serve us ikan merah for dinner, this tasty medium sized sea fish, which we could get absolutely fresh, (ikan merah - red fish; the scales and the skin round the back of the fish are of a reddish colour). Later in the afternoon we had a walk along the coast and on a pleasant and elevated spot we had our afternoon tea, ready prepared and packed by the Boy. We all felt somewhat pleasantly drowsy in the sunny breeze and stretched out for a while. We all sprang to life again by an outcry from Marion: "Oh no, look at this!" she said. "We are surrounded by water!" The tide was rapidly coming in and within a short time we would at least have "wet feet". Luckily for us, a Malay fisherman was standing at his boat close by; he saw our plight and came out to us straight away. First he brought our three ladies ashore and then he rescued the three husbands. The Malay was all smiles when he had 51 finished, and so were we. He made some very quick and good money and we were saved from a very embarrassing, maybe even dangerous, situation. The whole thing was something new for Molle and me. In the southern part of Norway the difference between high and low tide varies between a foot or two, and no tidal water comes rushing in in the way we experienced at Port Dickson.

Very soon after this we were to get a real taste of the sea again. Through common friends in Norway, Captain Karl Svensen and his wife, who was accompanying her husband at sea, had heard that we were living at Batu Arang. Captain Svensen was in command of s.s. Ngow Hock, a Norwegian ship, chartered on regular route between Hong Kong, Singapore, Port Swettenham, Penang and Bangkok. One day Captain Svensen rang us and told us how he knew about us and asked us if we would like to call at Port Swettenham the following day, as the ship would stay on there for another couple of days. We gladly accepted the invitation and this trip was the forerunner to many more trips later on, partly also during the sad years of Norway's occupation by the Hitler hordes. We set out early in the morning and via Klang, the then capital of Selangor and residence of His Highness the Sultan of Selangor, the distance was covered in an hour and a half. We had our usual, reliable Chinese driver, who had only one fault - he loved speeding. Klang looked a delightful little place and Lily had advised us to spend some time there whenever we had a chance to do so. We decided to stop there for an hour or so on the way back. Port Swettenham turned out to be a small, rather dull place and we found it very hot there. But what a lovely experience again to be on board a Norwegian ship and be treated as V.I.Ps. Claus was also with us, while we had left Valborg, then only a few months old, back in Batu Arang in Amah's care. Captain Svensen and his wife and all the officers were Norwegians, while the crew were all Chinese, mainly from Hong Kong. It was a vivid and happy conversation carried on round the dinner table, all in Norwegian, and also the officers made us feel that we were very welcome on board. The Chinese cook had prepared a variety of tasty dishes, which we swallowed down with Tiger beer and burgundy. After lunch Molle and I spent a couple of cosy hours in the Captain's cabin, where we together with our nice hosts covered a wide range of topics, relating our different experiences abroad and memories from our home country. Claus had in the meantime had his round on the ship in the care of different officers and then he also had a good opportunity to excel as a linguist. 52 Without any trouble he switched over from Norwegian to English, from English to Malay or Chinese, to the great amusement of some of the Chinese crew members. We left Port Swettenham about 4 p.m. as we realized they had a busy time onboard "Ngow Hock". Captain Svensen and his wife promised they would come to see us in Batu Arang next time they came to Port Swettenham. So they did a couple of months later and we had a day of mutual pleasure. Later we also were visited by another Norwegian sea-captain, Captain Erling Nielsen, in charge of the Norwegian ship s.s. Hero, chartered for service between Hong Kong, Singapore, Port Swettenham, Penang and Rangoon. It was, however, first during my second period of duty in Batu Arang that we came in really close contact with our Norwegian friends and I will later on relate about the interesting and lovely meetings we had during that first couple of sad and frustrating years of war. Back to our first trip home from Port Swettenham via Klang. We spent an hour and a half there and firstly we had a look at the Sultan's garden and his fairly small but luxuriously equipped palace or mosque with a fine display of oriental art. For a small charge a Malayan guide took us round the place. Then we visited the Japanese shop recommended by Lily and it turned out to be a real curiosity shop and we left the smiling and bowing Japanese owner after we had bought quite an armful of his variety of products. We had among other things bought half a dozen men's ties and half a dozen of wallets and purses all made from python snake-skin; further we bought ladies' shoes, a lady's handbag and a couple of belts made from crocodile hide, three stuffed baby crocodiles, 12", 14" and 18" long - bigger sizes were also available, but we found the said sizes were awe-inspiring enough. The year 1938 was our happiest year in Malaya. Both Molle and I had familiarized ourselves with the overall conditions in the country, we had no real language difficulties any more, we had found some very good and real friends, had no economical worries and our two small children were thriving. Personally I also found my own work increasingly interesting and rewarding and I felt a growing affection for my native staff and workers, also experiencing that the feeling was mutual. But September 1938 was also in Batu Arang a month of anxiety and uneasiness, because of the international development, caused by Hitler's aggressive attitude. We all in our small community feared the outbreak of a new world war, which could isolate us from our dear ones in our respective home countries. 53 On 30th November we received the news of the sacrifice of Czecko Slovakia with sadness in our hearts, mixed with a feeling of relief over the removal of the, at least immediate, threat and outbreak of a second world war. During all this anxiety Christmas was again rapidly approaching and our small community in Batu Arang decided to make the most of Christmas this time, also to help sooth the strain the political situation had on our private lives. The ladies came together to arrange the different preparations and share the tasks between themselves. The Clubhouse was luckily nice and spacy and the Company had granted us a special sum of money for Christmas decorations. On Christmas Eve I knocked off from work about 4 p.m. and in our mosquito-room Molle had neatly fixed up some special Norwegian decorations with live candles placed round the shelves and on the children's special table. In one of the corners was a small artificial Christmas tree surrounded by gifts to Claus and Valborg. They got a nice little lot each, as we in Kuala Lumpur had an abundance of selection in European, Chinese, Japanese and Indian shops. We sang Norwegian and English Christmas carols with the children with an able and well-needed support by gramophone records, told them about the meaning of Christmas and left them to enjoy all the goodies on the table under the care of Amah and Boy. Before we left for the Club Molle helped me to write down the Christmas presents sent to me by a couple of my Kepalas and by logging contractors. Already soon after my arrival at Batu Arang I had asked Mr. Drysdale what attitude I should take if some of the natives brought gifts for Christmas, a custom I had heard was rather common in the East. Mr. Drysdale told me that it was common practice in the East to send the bosses and business connections gifts for Christmas in shape of food delicacies and drinks and that I certainly could accept that. "But never accept any money," he said, "for then they have you in their pockets." This was good advice and a principle I followed strictly. Twice I had to use harsh words to a Chinese logging-contractor who tried to bribe me with cash. However, for this special Christmas I found four nice cardboard boxes which Boy had taken care of. There I found whisky, brandy, turkeys and a couple of hams and boxes of chocolate. It was all very nice, of course, but I never really liked to receive that kind of gift. About 7 p.m. Molle and I biked over to the Club, which for the occasion was brightly lit up, and all the decorations looked fine. During the evening 54 our little community proved to possess quite a few talented entertainers. We were met by carol music and we joined in the singing of the wellknown Christmas carols. The one I think is the most beautiful of them all, "Silent Night, Holy Night", was sung simultaneously in three languages - English, Norwegian and German and it sounded so nice in the tropical quietness. At least half dozen people took turns in providing the music on the Clubhouse piano. As we went along drinks, sandwiches and delicacies were served, and after an hour or so the singing changed to a lighter genre and many of the Scottish and Irish songs came next on the programme. Specially our Scottish friends contributed excellently in their fiery singing of "Scotland the Brave" and other war-songs. Now the solo numbers also started. To everybody's surprise a Scottish lady, Mrs. Craggs, whom none of us had heard singing before, asked if she could sing for us "Bonnie, Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond". With a beautifully clear voice she sang this lovely song, born in the Scottish Highlands. A Canadian lady, Mrs. Baker, sang "Love and love and love again" and "When Irish eyes are smiling" also with a clear and loud voice. Gotfried played the Canary on his violin, making everybody feel bright and happy and George Hinschliff recited "Little Alfred and the Lion" in an amusing manner and in true Cockney style. Jack Moore, a hefty, red haired Englishman, who after a few beers always seemed to have a few tricks up under his sleeve, entered the Club and to the great amusement of all of us he demonstrated his latest trick. Well inside the Club hall he raised his right arm high to a true Hitler greeting and with the words "Heil Hitler," he shot his legs under himself and landed with quite a thud right on his stomach. Then he got up and handed a big box of chocolate over to the ladies. Later we split up into smaller groups. Some played bridge, others joined in guessing competitions, some of the men had a game of snooker and again others joined a "horse-racing game." As the celebration drew to a close one of us proposed a toast to all our dear ones at home, then we all joined hands, singing "Auld Lang Syne" - and a memorable Christmas Eve had come to a close.

Soon after Christmas we had a couple of interesting visits at the plywood mill. Mr. Drysdale rang me up one morning informing me that he was taking with him Sir Thomas, the then Governor of Malaya, and also some of the Governor's executives, to have a look at the mines and the plywood mill. They would arrive at Batu Arang in an hour's time and as the plywood mill was lying next 55 to the road of entrance this would be their first place of call. The said telephone message resulted in a feverish activity of preparation and cleaning up, specially round the four peeling machines then in use. The Governor was on one of his familiarization trips and Mr. Drysdale asked me to give a good demonstration. When the party arrived the mill was nearly suspiciously clean and four selected logs were ready fixed in their machines and already peeled round and smooth. As the visitors entered the mill I gave the pre-arranged signal and four peeling machines were spitting out layer after layer of fine veneer. Sir Thomas shook hands with me and gave me a few friendly words and by an acknowledging nod and a smile I understood Mr. Drysdale was well pleased with the demonstration. Another visit of more personal interest to me was paid by Mr. Harold E. Desh, a highly educated English scientist, who was in charge of the Forest Research station at Kepong, Selangor. Mr. Desh was very interested in the different woods we used for veneer peeling and a friendship between us developed, based on our common interest in and love of trees and wood as a material. Later Molle and I were invited to the wedding of Mr. Desh to a charming English girl and it was then arranged that we a couple of weeks later should inspect the Forestry Research Station. The beautiful and well arranged display of samples, pictures and descriptions of such a wide range of Malayan trees was very impressive. I was presented with many wood samples and also a couple of books written by Mr. Desh. Unfortunately I lost it all later during the War, but although I later lost contact with Mr. Desh, I will always remember him with affection. The last month of our stay in Batu Arang, prior to our long leave, we were invited to a number of small but intimate farewell parties and we realized we had found some really good friends in Batu Arang. One of the parties I best remember was, however, the one given by Wong Choon, my gluing foreman. He approached me one day and asked if Mem (Molle) and I would come to Kuala Lumpur, where he wanted to give a farewell party for us. He told me that we would be the only Europeans, but that he also had invited my Chinese clerks, Ah Lock my head fitter and a couple of other friends. The party was held in a Chinese restaurant in one of the side streets in Kuala Lumpur. Quite a big, private room was reserved for the occasion and the party went off with a bang. From the menu card we learned that fifteen dishes were to be served and whisky, brandy and beer were continuously poured into our glasses. I stuck to whisky and beer and I soon found out that if I only took a 56 sip from one of my glasses, it was immediately refilled to the brim. I had to go slow in all the toasting in order to stay reasonably sober. Very considerately Molle and I had been given knives and forks besides the spoons and chopsticks given to the other guests. As the party proceeded and the merriness gradually reached the peak, Molle, to the amusement of the other guests, demonstrated her skill in using the chopsticks and I amused them even more by my clumsy attempts with same. The dishes were all delicious and among other delicacies we were served swallow's nest soup, shark fins, two or three kinds of curried meat dishes, fried and cooked fish, ducks and chooks, vegetable dishes and many kinds of fruits and sweets. On the middle of the table on two big trays two or three beautifully cooked, tender ducks were placed. The guests were expected to help themselves, and so they did. When the time came for the "attack" on the ducks everybody, through skilful use of their chopsticks, carved out bigger or smaller pieces of the tender meat, while keeping up a very noisy and animated conversation. It was fun to watch them all. When we had come through a good half of all the dishes and we began to feel we had had a bellyful, everybody at the table was supplied with a bowl of steaming hot perfumed water and a soft linen cloth. Willing hands dipped the cloths in the bowl for Molle and me, wrung them out and dabbed our faces with them. Oh, what a delight and relief they brought! We also felt that we could start eating all over again and we really enjoyed the rest of the menu as well as the last couple of hours of the merry party, and our taxi driver brought us back to Batu Arang in the early morning hours.

The next couple of weeks turned out to be very hectic ones in our effort to make everything ready for our six months long leave and return trip to Norway. Molle did most of the packing, while I had long hours at the mill, trying to leave everything there in good order for Mr. S. to take over during my absence. In the middle of all this we had to entertain visitors and well-wishers, who came to bid good-bye. Our main luggage was labelled and taken to Batu Arang Station to be forwarded to Singapore, later to be brought on board the Danish ship m.s. Meonia, East Asiatic Line. And then late in March 1939 the day of departure arrived. Molle and I got up very early in the morning also to get the children ready. Claus and Valborg were both very excited, of course, maybe most for the prospect of a long trip by boat. I went down to the mill to take a last farewell with my staff and workers and there I found them all lined up as on parade in one long line from my office 57 door to well out on the jungle road. I went along and shook hands with them all and in a short speech in Malay I thanked them for good work and loyalty during my four years of service and expressed the hope of seeing them all again in six months' time. I had in the meantime also sent for Molle who came down with Claus and Valborg, who waved and kissed good-bye with their hands. The whole thing was a touching event. Soon afterwards the four of us were seated in the Company's car with its friendly Malayan syce, heading for Kuala Lumpur, where we were catching the night train for Singapore. While Molle and the children did a bit of shopping and were resting in a room we had rented at Hotel Majestic for the day, I paid a visit to the Company's head office in Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Building in Kuala Lumpur, where I took farewell with Mr. Robbins, Mr. Drysdale and other officials and I was also handed a nice cheque, covering my six months' leave pay. They were all very nice to me and Mr. Robbins' last words to me were: "Thanks for good work, Marstrand. Let us shake hands and you will promise me to come back." With Mr. Robbins' words ringing in my ears I joined Molle and the children again and after a good supper we boarded the train and slept our way to Singapore. We had been told that m.s. Meonia might leave for Copenhagen already late in the afternoon on the same day of our arrival, so we went straight on board the ship and took possession of our quite spacy cabin, which was to be our home for the next six weeks. A special cot was put in for Valborg, Claus slept on the cabin's sofa and Molle and I had each our single bed. A private bathroom adjoined our cabin. While we were unpacking our personal belongings our main luggage had been brought from the Railway Station and we felt relaxed and ready for our six months break or holiday. We contacted our friends from Frazer’s Hill, Harry and Joy Proud and they came on board for lunch and Harry and I had a couple of solid drinks together. During all those four years in Batu Arang I had only on very special occasions gone over the limit of one nip of whisky or half a bottle of beer, as I always felt I had to be ready to act quickly in any emergency, but sitting there with Harry, exchanging views and stories and jokes with him, while we enjoyed our drinks, I felt immensely relaxed and happy. We had an extra couple of hours together, while our ladies went ashore shopping. Harry reminded me about the happy days we had together at Frazers Hill, where Claus and I had eagerly 58 watched Harry's superb golfing. He had once won the Malayan premiership in this sport. He also reminded me about how Claus had solved a problem in his own innocent way. As Claus watched Harry, he was approached by another onlooker: "Is this your daddy?" he asked. "No," said Claus, "he is not my daddy, he is my other daddy." I will not here linger much on experiences and events on board the "Meonia" or ashore at the different ports of call. We had some pleasant and relaxed days together with the other passengers, numbering about thirty, people of half a dozen different nationalities, We played cards and deck games and exchanged courtesies with some we liked as well as with some we disliked, and in the meantime the regular beats of the engine brought us nearer and nearer to Norway. We called in at Aden, Port Said and Marseilles. In Marseilles we were very much amused by witnessing an outburst of the hot temper possessed by these Southern Frenchmen. A small collision between the tramcar we were travelling on and a van produced an angry argument between the two drivers. It was carried out with real fury and a stream of abusive words, artfully supported by waving of arms and clenching of fists, but no blows were exchanged. The traffic came to a standstill as the crowd of merry onlookers was rapidly growing, until finally some gendarmes arrived, took some names and notes, and the crowd scattered and the traffic started moving again. A little later we entered a big three-storey drapery store, where Valborg nearly caused a traffic jam on the first floor. All the attendants there and many of the customers flocked round Valborg to have a look at that little Nordic girl with the rosy cheeks and the carrot red hair. As the ship left Marseilles we were nearly two days behind schedule and our hope of landing in Kristiansand in Norway before or on 17th May, the Norwegian National Day, was hanging in the balance. But our luck was in. When we arrived in Copenhagen, we cut out all sight-seeing in Denmark and went on the train directly to Hirshall. We secured a cabin on m.s. "Skagen" and at about 11 a.m. on 17th May we stepped ashore in Kristiansand to a happy reunion with Molle's parents and many other close relatives and friends. Everything was so wonderful. The sun was shining brightly over a town in holiday mood, with song and music and children's happy hurrahs filling the air. It was a real home-coming and a fitting start of a three months' stay in our old country. 59 During those three months we were sharing the time between Molle's and my relatives. We visited my mother, my sister, and my brother and his wife in Oslo and had some lovely weeks with our relatives later on at the seaside in the south, in the rich country district and in the mountains - and I had some special walks deep into the pine- and spruce-forests, talking to my wooded friends again. The nearly constant bad weather did not dampen our joy to any great degree but at the beginning of August Hitler's greed for more power and more land again put Europe on the alert and rather abruptly put an end to our holiday in Norway. What then happened and what was in store for us the next six years I will record in Part II of my memoirs.



It was August 1939 in Norway. The war clouds had once more started gathering on the West European horizon, this time very dark and threatening, and Molle and I had to make a final decision as to whether we should return to Malaya or stay put in Norway. I felt loyalty to my employer, Malayan Collieries Limited, also remembering the departing handshake I gave Mr. Robbins, but on the other hand, if war should break out, if Hitler should carry out his threats about attacking Poland, I would prefer to stay on and see how things developed in Europe. It was a very hard decision for Molle and me to take and I went to see Mr. Eriksen, my old boss at the Norwegian plywood mill, Lumber Co., about his advice. Mr. Eriksen had all the time paid regular visits to Germany on business and mixed with important business people there and his wife was German as well. His answer was: "I think you can safely go back to Malaya, Marstrand. Hitler may try to press his demands to the very limit, but he is not a fool. To start a war against the Western powers will mean suicide for him and Germany." How wrong he was in the first part of his prediction and how right he was in the last part. Anyhow, towards the end of August Molle, Valborg and I boarded Wilh. Wilhelmsens m/s "Toulouse" in Amsterdam to start on our second voyage out to Malaya. Claus was then 7 ½ years old and he stayed behind in Kristiansand to do his schooling and through all the sad war years he was so lovingly and cleverly cared for by Molle’s parents. It was really both hard and sad to say good-bye to all our relatives and friends, who had all been so kind and helpful to us during our three months stay in Norway; but we all tried our best to take an optimistic outlook, that we should soon meet again. On one of Fred. Olsen Liner's ships we were taken to Amsterdam and the 61 three of us were soon after comfortably installed in two spacy cabins on board M/S "Toulouse" where we at the dinner table were introduced to the Captain and the handful of passengers: A charming young wife of a Norwegian Diplomat was on her way to Tokyo to join her husband; a middle aged Norwegian lady with her two young children was on her way to New Zealand to re-unite with her husband who was farming there; a middle aged Scottish doctor, who was minus one leg, lost in World War I, was on the way out to his practice in Shanghai; two ships engineers joining their respective ships in Singapore; two young Dutch teenagers, a boy and a girl with obviously some Indonesian blood in their veins, were on their way to Java and finally an elderly Norwegian skipper on his way to Shanghai to continue his duty as harbour master in Shanghai after a holiday in Norway. We were not a happy lot of people, all of us being deeply affected and depressed by the quickly worsening international situation, still desperately hoping that a miracle should happen so war could be avoided. As we came out in the Biscaya we struck bad weather and high sea while we were sitting listening to Hitler's harsh, guttural voice, first threatening to invade Poland, then a day later triumphantly announcing his shameful attack on this unhappy country with the following massacre by his powerful war machine and with this bad news we entered the port of Lisboa. The day after we had arrived, on the 3rd September, Great Britain honoured her obligations to protect Poland against any unwarranted attack and declared war on Nazi Germany - and World War II was on. M/S "Toulouse" was berthed for four days in Lisboa, while the Captain was waiting for instructions from the ship owner's office and he was then told to take the ship round South Africa and sail immediately. During our short stay in Lisboa we had a good chance to explore this old and magnificent city, where immense wealth rubbed shoulders with extreme poverty, but everywhere the population was friendly and helpful. The day Great Britain declared war on Germany our Scottish doctor, Dr. Burton, went ashore and returned a few hours later "greeting drunk". He solemnly declared Hitler war on behalf of old Scotland, which he said again would be ready to fight to the bitter end. He then also told us how he lost his right leg in World War I during a trench attack in Flanders. He had been a keen soccer player, and when the war broke out he and all his team mates volunteered as one man. 62 As a combined kindness and joke he handed me a gramaphone record he had bought on his trip ashore, a record with the beautiful song, "Only God can make a Tree". Already the first day we met on board he looked my slender 6'2" body up and down and sang just the one line, "Only God can make a Tree", which turned out to be his usual morning greeting to me. He proved later to be a very nice and helpful person. The following day the shipping agent had arranged for a small boat to take the passengers on a trip on the River Tagus. It was a glorious and warm day and I was looking forward to a swim in the river. I put my bathers on underneath my trousers so I could quickly jump into the water, when it was convenient. Unfortunately the boatman did not speak or understand a word of English. After a while we had come quite a distance up in the estuary and we had come within a couple of hundred metres out from a beautiful, sandy beach where quite a crowd of people were sun-bathing between swims. The boatman stopped the boat and threw out the anchor and without further ado I just jumped overboard to enjoy a dip in the river. When I came up to the surface and turned round I found that I was already 30 metres away from the boat and in spite of a keen try to come back to the boat (I have always been a poor swimmer, but know how to float) I was by the strong current forced further away from the boat. By now I could see that the people ashore had discovered my ordeal and quite a few of them motioned me with their hands to swim towards them. I realized this was the right thing to do, but then I saw the life-buoy, which the young Dutchman had thrown out, coming rapidly floating down towards me. It was, of course, quick thinking and the right thing to do by this young boy, but for me it developed into an act of trying to save the life-buoy instead of it saving me. I managed to grab it and started pushing it in front of me towards the shore. A clever swimmer, who proved to be a handsome, well educated Portuguese, swam out to me, took over the life-buoy and together we swam ashore. I thanked him heartily for his kindness and help and we shared a joke about a new world record in river swimming. By now our boat had pulled up the anchor and came towards us and after a short swim on to deeper water I was pulled on board. I waved goodbye to my new friend, braved myself for some scolding and teasing from the "boat crew", which all ended in a good laugh and we all had a dip in the river, but this time we were all holding on to small ropes which were very securely fixed to the boat sides. Tagus had turned out to be a "friendly river" with a 63 surface current, which was my good luck, A few years later when Molle, Valborg and I were taken across Irrawadda River at Rangoon in Burma we were forewarned to sit quiet and steady in the little open boat, as the strong current would drag you underneath and drown you, if you plunged overboard. In the evening on the same day Molle was standing at the shiprail together with Dr. Burton. It was a wonderful clear and quiet evening with all the varieties of the city lights fully lit up and above, a dark ceiling punctuated by uncountable bright stars completed this picture of solemnity and beauty. Molle and the Doctor stood there for a while in silent admiration and serenity and then it came from Dr. Burton: "Thanks to God in Heaven. There must still be some decency left in this beautiful world." A heart-warming remark from a man who had already gone through so much, but who even at the beginning of a new terrible outburst of war could see light ahead. The following day, the fourth and last day of our stay in Lisboa, Molle, Valborg and I went ashore again to have a closer view of those glorious landmarks, cathedrals and old buildings which abounded in this beautiful city of the very rich and very poor. We found a nice restaurant on a high plateau overlooking a great part of the city and the harbour and we dined and wined in the most delicious way for an extremely reasonable price. But we could not avoid that little sting of bad conscience, sitting there round a table of plenty, knowing that further north tragedy had struck millions of people. We went afterwards to one of the very nice cathedrals, one specially recommended by the shipping agent because of its rich ornaments, treasures, sculptures and glass-paintings. An old Catholic priest in full clerical, colourful robes was our guide and made it a very interesting experience for us. When we had completed the round I was wondering how to pay the priest for his trouble. But then, in a very nice way he offered us ten cards illustrating different parts and features of the cathedral. When I had put them safely in my pocket, he told me with a smile: "The cards will cost you two shillings each, Sir." A good price at that time and the guide had got his "pound of flesh" in a very diplomatic manner. Back to the ship we found some of the crew engaged in painting a big Norwegian flag on each side of the ship and the Captain had received orders from Oslo, instructing him to leave Lisboa later this afternoon for Cape Town, which meant we would go round the West coast of Africa. 64 We left the port in good time before dusk and the departure was not without excitement, as we an hour before we left, over the radio heard that an English ship had been sunk by a German submarine in international waters outside Lisboa. But nothing happened and as the weather was calm and sunny it could have been very pleasant if it had not been for the continuous bad news about Hitler's raping of Poland. We had some very hot and nice days as we were approaching the Equator and the ship's carpenter rigged up a canvas swimming pool out of a double layer of canvas. It was big enough to allow a few of us at a time to have a nice dip and a bit of a paddle. Molle and I used it frequently and so did the Doctor, while we at the same time kept an eye on Valborg, who was in and out of the pool a dozen times, running around on the deck full of life and joy. Doctor Burton had acquired for himself two different artificial left legs. As he expressed it himself; one, the more rigid and most natural one was his walking leg, while the other more springy and movable one was his sports leg. He was quite clever in the use of both of them. When he walked, he supported himself with a walking stick and apart from a distinct limp he moved about quite at ease. With his sports leg he played quite a good game of deck tennis or deck golf, which was our morning exercise before we had our little dip in the swimming pool. Before the swim, however, Dr. Burton took off his sports leg, put it nearby on the deck, took a couple of one-leg jumps, and was in the water. He did the whole thing in such a natural and unconcerned manner that none of us felt embarrassed. But one day we had a dip together with the Doctor. I could see Molle suddenly got a look of dismay as she looked at Valborg. She was sitting there nearby handling joyfully a new-found toy - Dr. Burton's artificial leg. He discovered it about the same time, so we had no chance to consider how to deal with the situation. To our great relief he laughed heartily and said to Valborg: "What a lovely toy you have found, Val. It looks as if we have to share it from now on." We had a couple of days' stay in Cape Town. We had a lovely trip up to the Table Mountain hanging in the air in one of the small cabins on the funicular railway and had quite a walk on the wide, flat top of the mountain. From there we could fully view the beautiful lay-out of Cape Town both as a city and as a port. We also visited the snake park, where we saw an impressive and awe-inspiring exhibition of deadly reptiles. Finally we spent some hours with my second cousin, Hans Horn, and his lovely wife and family. We had 65 dinner in their nice and spacy home and in their garden the Norwegian flag was playing with the wind for the occasion. Then we were off again for the last couple of weeks of our trip. We left Cape Town late in the evening in perfect weather. In the horizon millions of stars in the clear and overwhelming tropical sky in the moonlight merged into one brilliant ceiling with the gradually dwindling multi-coloured lights of Cape Town. What a gift of nature to such a stupid world. The next couple of weeks went rather fast. We felt depressed by the continuously bad news about Hitler's steady advances in Poland and by the reports of ships sunk by German submarines. It was in fact hardly a bright point in any of the news broadcasts and with the exception of one Norwegian passenger, an old sea captain, whose name I will not mention as he was a fanatic Hitler admirer, we all were very much on the side of the Western Powers. At arrival in Singapore we could see right away that things were not quite normal anymore. Although the lively, pulsating life in the City was as vigorous as ever, the military seemed to be much more in the fore-ground, the control of foreigners more strict and the control by the customs officers more thorough. But as we managed the Malay language quite well and had our friends the Prouds to assist us in different matters, we encountered no trouble and already the same evening we were on the train en route to Kuala Lumpur. In Kuala Lumpur we had breakfast with our good friends Lily and Bob Scott. Bob had resigned from his position as Labour Superintendent and taken on the management of Hong Fat Mines, a big tin mining enterprise, mined as open cast in the vicinity of Kuala Lumpur. It was, at least then, considered to be the biggest man made hole in the earth. Afterwards I called at the Head Office of Malayan Collieries Limited at Russel Square, where I was very friendly greeted by Messrs. Robbins and Drysdale and other members of the office staff, and outside our old friend, the Company's Malayan syce greeted us with a broad smile and helped us loading our belongings into the spacy Company car. An hour later we entered our old bungalow, where Boy, Amah and Keban stood waiting for us. Assisted by our three servants we soon had everything in order to resume our rather simple but happy life in the tropics after a break of close to six months. A few of our European friends came to see us and to welcome us back, bringing different kinds of food and drinks and we settled 66 down in the mosquito room, where we told about our trip to Norway and our trip out on board M/S "Toulouse". The latest war news and events were eagerly discussed, then also the effects the war would have on the general conditions in Malaya. The following morning I went down to the Mill and it was encouraging to see all the old friendly faces again both in the Mill and in the office and I felt happy about being back in the old job. But, I should soon feel otherwise after Mr. S. had welcomed me back. He started telling me that he had had a longer discussion with Mr. Robbins about re-organization of the plywood and timber departments, which, he said, really should be regarded as - and managed as - one unit and with a rather sly smile, he added: "Of course, now Great Britain is at war, top positions should not really be in the hands of foreigners," He showed me a letter he had drafted to be sent to Mr. Robbins and in this he proposed that any letter sent by me and having my signature should have the signature preceded by "for the Timber Superintendent", Mr. S. finished by saying: "Would you please add your signature to my letter to Mr. Robbins, indicating that you agree to my proposal," By then I had worked up a real temper, realizing the intentions of Mr. S. and how he must have worked to undermine my position during my leave of absence, and now he tried to take me by surprise, I just curtly told him that I was not adding my signature to his letter and that I was back in Batu Arang to again take full charge of the plywood mill. When Mr. Drysdale called at the plywood mill a couple of days later he asked me not to take any provocative steps, but wait till Mr. Robbins was visiting Batu Arang next weekend. Molle and I also found it wise to ask Bob Scott about his advice in the matter, so we went into Kuala Lumpur to see our friends there and I remember so well the valuable and sensible advice Bob gave me: "Whatever they offer you or tell you, Thiel, never get angry and say you will go back to Norway. In such a case you will most probably have to pay for all the return tickets yourself. No, let the Company sack you and let them pay for your tickets. But I am convinced they want you on the job." I got a good advice from a good friend. When Mr. Robbins came out to Batu Arang the following Sunday afternoon he found me down at the Mill and I was waiting for him full of fight. I had great respect for Mr. Robbins, a clever, energetic and courageous West Australian. 67 He immediately approached the subject about the proposal of Mr. S, and asked me not to let any jealousy get the better of me. I then reminded him about our hand-shake before I left on my six months leave and that I was back to fulfil my part of the promise and expected a fair deal. We were both of us very calm and no harsh words were said. Mr. Robbins told me he would send me a letter within the next day or two and left me with that. Two days letter I received a letter from the Head Office in Kuala Lumpur confirming I was in charge of the plywood mill and was only responsible to the Head Office, The letter was signed by Mr. Robbins and a copy was sent to Mr. S. I felt now I could carry on happily in my job, but realized, of course, that I would meet much of passive resistance and direct antagonism from a certain source. Due to the war in Europe, rubber became a raw material of vital importance for the Allied war machine and for U.S.A.'s war preparation, and consequently rubber chests were very much in demand. I managed to increase the production from 60 000 chests a month up to 80 000, but more were wanted and I was under constant strain. My native workers certainly were loyal and hard working and I felt rather warmly for them all. In Batu Arang as in the rest of Malaya one started feeling in different ways some effect of the war in Europe. Quite a few merchant ships bringing supplies of different foodstuffs, machinery and industrial necessities from Europe and America were sunk by German submarines and raiders. Also in the plywood mill we ran short of certain items but by taking various precautionary measures and by introducing some emergency steps we managed quite well. Old peeling knives and guillotine knives earlier discarded, but not thrown away, were taken into use again and used to the very limit of their usefulness. Mow that no complaint over slightly rough surface would come in, we eased the pressure of the sander rollers and thereby made the sand paper last longer. In a rather amusing way we solved a temporary shortage of taping paper, used for taping our veneer strips into full sized sheets, this being a must for the maintenance of top production. The strips were piling up out in the mill and I was sitting in my office wondering how to solve the rather tricky veneer strips problem. As I was sitting like this my eyes fell on the small stapling machine on my table and in the next minute I was out in the mill 68 stapling some veneer strips together. As the guillotines only cut along side and across the centre of the sheets plus along the edges, we could easily arrange the stapling in such a way that the guillotine knives did not come near the staples. We only had to arrange the spacing of the staples in the right way and select strips of suitable width to overcome the problem. The following day we received quite a load of paper staplers from Kuala Lumpur and we kept the new process going till we a couple of weeks later received a new supply of taping paper. It was just a lucky coincidence. We had only been in Malaya a good six months on our second term, when we over the radio heard the sad news that Hitler's troops had invaded Norway. Molle and I felt completely stunned and Helpless, being so far away from our dear ones and from our beautiful country not being able to partake in their ordeal at all. We were sitting listening to the comments and reports broadcast from London, when our good friends, Erna and Gotfried Beck came visiting us. They had not heard the latest news and when we told them we could see how much it saddened both of them. Gotfried, who was born in Germany, had served his country as a cavalry officer during the first world war. Most of the war years he had spent in Rumania and he had often told us about the beautiful and varied sceneries in this Balcan country. As an educated mining engineer he later immigrated to Australia, where he married his lovely wife Erna and became an Australian citizen. In Batu Arang he was employed as an open-cast mining engineer. Our friends tried to comfort us, but I am afraid it was a very sad evening for us all. We all know the tragic events which took place on the different war fronts with one country after the other over-run by the mighty German war machine, but the saddest of all days for Molle and me was the 10th July, 1940, when Norway surrendered and all fighting stopped in the Country. I was lying on the sofa in the mosquito room so desperately unhappy, so desperately confused, wondering why God could permit my beautiful little country to be over-run and ruled by an evil, power drunk despot - and I should not have left Norway! It was so good to have Molle with me that day. She surely was just as heart-sick as I was, but she was sitting there gently stroking my hair, comforting me, telling me I could not have acted otherwise. I gradually pulled myself together and went for an evening inspection of the mill. I had work to do and now there should be stacks and stacks of rubber chests. 69 A few days later we learned that King Haakon and the Norwegian Government and also a greater part of the Norwegian Navy and Air Force had eluded the enemy and safely arrived in Great Britain, where from the fight would go on. Late in July, Captain Karl Svensen paid us another visit in Batu Arang. He had left his wife with relatives in Norway and was now in charge of a bigger and more modern boat, M/S "Mgow Hock". He was full of fight and confidence and really cheered us up. He asked us to sit down and write a letter to our respective relatives in Oslo and Kristiansand and he would then mail them from Bangkok as soon as the boat had berthed there. This could be done because Siam (Thailand) still was a neutral country. We heard later that the letters had been duly received by our relatives. And so life went on in Batu Arang. I had long working days and tried to find any possible means to increase the production. This again meant I was on the move all the time in the rather big mill area. So one day in September I felt sick and shivery and Dr. Dasen told me to go to bed and stay in bed for the next 3-4 days as I had caught a flu and had quite a high temperature. After I had contacted Head Office in Kuala Lumpur and arranged with Mr. S. to supervise the mill during my absence, I went home. I certainly had copped it this time. Feeling very weak and very hot I was just lying there on the sofa in the mosquito room, listening to the rather varied humming of the different machinery, mixed with the increasing drone of a rainfall which gradually increased to real tropical downpour. Then suddenly all the machinery came to a standstill and I imagined it was another power failure. But it dragged on and I started wondering what had gone wrong. Then I heard Paul Raz, my Indian pay clerk, talking to Molle and she came in and told me what had happened. Mr. S. had taken an inspection round in the mill and apparently one of my Indian guillotine operators had been a bit slow and then defiant to Mr. S.'s criticism. Consequently the Indian, Mutasamy was his name, had got quite a hard one under the ear and the whole work force downed tools immediately. The whole following day nobody turned up for work with exception of my office staff and I was told that even threats of sacking any of the workers who did not turn up for work had no effect. In the meantime the incessant downpour, if anything, increased in strength and in the afternoon on the second day small streams of water were running everywhere. Then somebody brought the message that one of the main drains just outside the factory entrance was completely blocked and as nobody was there to 70 attend to it the flood water had already reached factory floor level. This made me forget flu and fever and I went straight down to the mill and came right to the trouble spot. Smaller and bigger twigs and branches had completely blocked the entrance to the main outlet drain and the water had just reached floor level. I worked quickly to clear it all away and in the end I even had to dive right under to remove twigs which had been jammed against the drain walls at a junction between two meeting drains. But to my great satisfaction the drain again functioned to capacity and the danger of flooding of the mill was over. I walked slowly back to bed and to Molle's care, but I felt very weak and the dip in the water and this heavy rain had certainly not made me any better. During the night the rain eased and the next morning the sun again appeared after having subdued and broken through the heavy morning mist. But at the mill everything was still very quiet and at about 10 a.m. Kiang Yoong came to enquire about my condition and also told me that Mr. Robbins had called all the workers together in an effort to get them back to work. Only a few minutes elapsed and Kiang Yoong was back again. He came into my bedroom and told me that Mr. Robbins asked if I could possibly come down immediately and talk to the workers as they were not willing to go back to work. I asked Kiang Yoong to wait for me, and slowly we went down the 100 metres to the mill where Mr. Robbins and a couple of clerks were facing the greater part of my work force. Mr. Robbins asked me to speak to them and in Malay I just said the following: "I am very sick now, but I will ask you all to go back to work immediately and I will soon be back and I will see to it that you will all be happy. Thank you all of you." As on command they all turned round and went into the mill. Mr. Robbins sent me a rather surprised look and just said: "Thank you Marstrand. You go back to bed now." Didn't I bless all my faithful workers who had given me the proudest moment of my life! Already before I came back to the bungalow I could hear how some of the machinery was started up again and in the doorway Dr. Dasen was waiting for me. Molle had sent for him. Dr. Dasen found that my chest was badly blocked and said that I had to go up to Frazers Hill to have complete rest in the cool and fresh mountain air. Already the next morning Molle, Valborg and I were on the way on the 2 hour trip to the highland area. It turned out to be a nice, sunny day and after we had passed through 71 Rawang and a couple of native villages the car started climbing the steep, winding road leading up to Frazers Hill. We could feel how the air became cooler and we all by turn got that "knock" on the ear, followed by a short period of partial deafness caused by the sudden change of air pressure. In spite of my sickness I had not asked for any sick leave as my 10 days local leave was due, so we hoped that 10 days up in the cool, peaceful highland would put me right again. Before we left Batu Arang we had a few days earlier been informed that the Company had started a superannuation scheme for its European staff and had as a start paid in 1 month's salary for all of us. A very generous gesture. Further the Company had acquired a very nice and rather big two storey building, situated on one of the many smaller hills, providing for a beautiful view and surrounded by a tropical garden with an exhibition of the rich variety of tropical species and colours. For a cheap daily rate all staff members could, by applying for room or rooms beforehand, spend some carefree days up there. A clever Chinese cook assisted by a couple of natives supervised the upkeep and tidiness in the house and in the garden, besides serving the guests with tasty meals three times a day. The first few days I made very slow recovery. I could hardly eat and could only walk a few steps, mostly supported by Molle. But when I woke up on the ninth day, I could not believe it first. I could breathe easily, felt strong and hungry. The fresh highland air and the peace and care I found there must have worked like a wonder-drug. The Company granted me an additional week's leave so I fully could recover and all three of us spent some lovely days exploring the nearest surroundings and Molle and I even had a couple of games of moderate tennis. During the evenings we enjoyed a game of bridge and a pleasant talk with new-found friends, the whole thing made even more cosy in front of a live fire and with a refreshing drink. While I was recuperating I also found time to work on a subject I had had under consideration for quite some time, I was working on the proposal of a bonus system for the plywood mill, a bonus system serving the dual purpose of increasing the production of rubber chest shooks and giving my workers a fair chance to earn more money. I will come back to this matter later. Both Molle, Valborg and I felt rather sad when the car called for us to take us back to Batu Arang, but it was much work to do down there, work I really enjoyed. We had, however, already decided that we would call at Frazers 72 Hill again and spend one of our "2 days a month" holidays up there. When I the following morning came down to the mill it warmed my heart to see all the smiling faces and things were normal and the production was kept to standard. Due to the war in Europe all the different kinds of Malaya's production items were sped up and all the senior staff members were rather over-worked and could well do with some extra junior staff members. This was timely realized by Head Office in Kuala Lumpur and we soon saw quite a few new faces in Batu Arang. It was not easy to secure people with sufficient experience and the necessary qualifications, a fact we regrettably also found out in our region. Soon after I had come back from Frazers Hill I was introduced to my first assistant, one Mr. H., who Mr. Drysdale had interviewed in Kuala Lumpur. Mr. H. was an elderly gentleman, a previous technical school teacher, and it was arranged that he should take over the supervision of the afternoon shift, sometimes of the night shift, whatever I found most suitable and helpful from time to time. I soon found out, however, that Mr. H. had one special physical weakness and too many "bright" ideas. His physical weakness was that it proved very trying to come closer than three feet from his breath, an experience I had to endure quite often near the rather noisy machinery. Of his different ideas, two of them were rather outstanding. He asked me if I would allow him to build for himself a small elevated office somewhere in the centre of the mill, so he could from there keep an eye on the working force. Unfortunately, I will say, I let him go ahead and Chan Chung, our head carpenter, built him a nice "pulpit" 2.5 metres above floor level with a stair-case leading up to it. The floor area of the pulpit was big enough to allow for a chair and a slanting writing-con reading desk to be placed there and one of the ceiling lights provided for the place being well lit up. And there Mr. H. was sitting the better part of his working time, always having a book in front of him. How much he was awake and how much he was asleep was rather hard to guess and the workers clearly were amused by the pulpit idea. One evening in the Club Jack Moore asked me when Mr. H. was going to conduct his first sermon at Batu Arang. I let Mr. H. clearly understand that I was not at all satisfied with his ways of controlling the work force. The situation became even more tragicomical when I late one evening called down to the mill after a trip to Kuala 73 Lumpur. Further down in the mill I caught a glimpse of Mr. H. walking around with a periscope, while near me, pressed up against a high stack of rubber chest shooks, 6 of the young boys in the packing section were sitting laughing their heads off, quite safe from being observed by the periscope and its operator. The whole scene was so comical that I would have liked to sit down between them and join them in their mirth, but I had to show a straight face and chase them back to work. I went up to the bungalow where I shared the joke and a good laugh with Molle. When I the following day told Mr. H. what I felt about his periscope and his work as a whole he relieved his temper by giving one of the "sinners" from last night one under the ear and this also put a full stop to Mr. H.'s work for the Company. I felt really very sorry for him, an old, tired and disappointed man. A couple of months later Head Office sent out to me a young, well built chap in his early twenties, Mr. P., who proved to be quite good at paper work but completely lacked experience in practical work and in dealing with a native labour force. As time went by he proved very capable at two things. He played a hard and good game of tennis and was a first-class woman chaser. He was an undisputed No. 1 on our tennis court and I had to submit to the fact that I always played a losing game in all the singles we played. The nearest I ever came to winning was a game of 24-22 in his favour. Regarding his second ability he restricted his field of operation to the ladies belonging to the mining staff and he was already marked out for a healthy thrashing by a couple of annoyed husbands when war came to Malaya and fully absorbed everybody's minds. He only worked for me in the supervision of the factory work for 2-3 months before he was grabbed by my friend, Joe Geddes, for paper work in connection with the later emerging Selangor Local Defence Corps and I was glad to let him go. He never seemed to worry about anything concerning the production. One day I was sitting in my office writing a couple of letters to Head Office when Mr. P. came rushing in, seemingly very excited. "Marstrand, I saw something terrible happening in the mill. One of the coolies was spitting on the floor!" I was at the point of giving him a very rude answer, but I managed to give him an innocent smile, asking him the following question: "Did you pick it up?" He did not talk to me more all that day. Of course I objected to anybody spitting on the floor, but why did not Mr. P. tackle that problem himself? I also objected to the word coolie, all of my working staff were good, loyal workers and the word coolie was used in a degrading kind of sense. 74 Over in the Club we also found a couple of new arrivals who did not really pull their weight. One was a middle-aged Australian, a tall man who usually placed himself on one of the small tables, sitting there drinking beer and cursing the Government for not sending him back to Australia. Eventually he got his wish fulfilled though. We knew him by his pet name "Horseshoe", a name he had obtained in Gallipoli during the first World War. His platoon had dug in in one of the trenches during an artillery duel and a well placed Turkish shell had wiped out all his friends. He was left as the only survivor, but minus one eye. Another first World War veteran was a smallish built Englishman, who had been awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery. He told me how he had obtained his high distinction during the trench war in France. His company had been greatly worried by a few German snipers, who by their accurate shooting had fataly injured some of his less careful friends. Being a marksman himself he had under cover of darkness crawled out to a position from where he at daybreak had bumped off the German snipers one by one. He told me the same story at least 4-5 times when we met in the Club, always being very animated by a number of "satengas". He also told me that he could stay and work in Batu Arang as long as he liked: "A Victoria Cross winner can never get the sack you know." I had my suspicion about the correctness of this when he soon afterwards disappeared from the village. The V.C. winner had probably become a D.T. loser. With the few exceptions I have mentioned everybody else of the staff worked very hard with long hours, thereby trying to contribute to the war effort in Europe. In the plywood mill I tried eagerly to push the production above the 85 000 rubber chests a month, but failed in my efforts, I had, however, during my long stay at Frazers Hill worked out a bonus system which I had sent to Messrs. Robbins and Drysdale for their approval. Naturally they expressed some fear that a bonus system at the plywood mill would bring about similar claims in their coal mining field, but after a few more months vain attempts to increase the production Mr. Robbins called on me at the mill and told me to go ahead with the bonus scheme for a couple of months trial period. 75 The bonus scheme worked as follows:- 85 000 rubber chests per month = ordinary salary
90 000 + 2½%, 95 000+ 5%, 100 000 + 7%, 105 000 + 10%, 110 000 + 12½% The above system started showing results right away. The workers were all whole-heartedly in it and one month we even reached the figure of 112 000 rubber chests. For me it was a great satisfaction to see the scheme working so well and I had also great pleasure in observing how the workers themselves found many of the "short-cuts" - time-saving methods and ways of handling the products at the different stages of manufacture. The bonus, which was also passed on to the office staff, was working to everybody's satisfaction right till the Japanese invasion forced the activities in Batu Arang to a stand-still. The bonus system made my work more pleasant, as I did not need to be on a constant watch-out for more and more production and I could concentrate more on the quality of our product. We did not receive a single complaint from the rubber estate managers. They did, of course, also realize that the rubber chest marketing had completely turned into a seller's market. Soon Christmas was again rapidly approaching. Both Molle and I expected the 1940 Christmas to be a rather gloomy one with Norway under German rule and the Axis Powers still advancing on all fronts. But two weeks before Christmas Eve we received a letter from our good friend Captain Karl Svensen giving us the very welcome news that "Mgow Hock" was scheduled to come to Port Swettenham 23rd or 24th of December and would be lying there a couple of days. He invited all three of us to come for a Christmas Eve celebration on board the ship, an invitation we accepted with great pleasure. When the day arrived Molle and I left Batu Arang about 4 p.m. bound for Port Swettenham. In the care of our usual syce and sitting between us we had a very excited little girl. We went via Klang and already 5.30 we were at the ship's side. There was no work at the wharf that afternoon and well on board, Captain Svensen introduced us to a smiling group of Norwegian ships officers, the chief officer and his two mates and the chief engineer and his two engineers. They were all in shiny white uniforms and we noted with pleasure how 76 their faces really lit up at the sight of that little Norwegian girl of ours. We had a quick refreshing drink in Karl's cabin and then we all gathered in the nice and spacy lounge-room where an artificial Christmas tree was decorated with multi-coloured electric globes, yards of gold and silver paper and strings of Norwegian flags. After a cup of tea, served by the cheerful and busy Chinese cook, who, as we later should find out, certainly knew his job very well, we all joined hands round the Christmas tree. Specially to Valborg's joy we sang the old, dear, Norwegian Christmas carols, also those in the lighter genre. A couple of the officers had very clear, nice voices and the whole thing was so heart-warming and beautiful, culminating when we sang the Norwegian national anthem: "Yes, we love this country of ours." We could not help that our eyes became misty and our voices a bit thick - but it was alright. We were on a small piece of floating Norwegian territory, far away from and free from any German occupation army. The time then came for the sharing out of Christmas gifts and the little girl in our party, as expected, got the lions share and a great variety of presents. Valborg had never before had so many generous "uncles" and amused them all through her enthusiasm. With a happy smile and a deep bow the cook announced that dinner was ready to be served and we all found our seats round the artfully decorated table - and what a dinner. We were seated about 7.00 p.m. and it was mid-night before we rose from the table. But then we had managed to make full honour to 15 dishes of great variety, tasting two varieties of table wine, had a dozen or more "skals" in Norwegian acquavite with all the sing-song which follows. The Captain delivered a nice speech for King and Country, we remembered our dear ones at home, the Norwegian and Allied fighting units, our brave sailors and our dead heroes. This all constituted a solemn and beautiful part of the celebration. We all had anxiety and sorrows buried deep in our hearts and we could be forgiven for giving vent to them for some short emotional moments. (I like to add here that Captain Svensen later in the war successfully brought more shiploads of oil to the Allied bases in Iceland by running the blockade in different convoys). Well, halfway through the dinner Valborg showed clear signs of drowsiness to the disappointment of our sailor friends. Then two of them approached Molle and politely asked if they could have a loan of our little daughter for a few moments. Permission granted, the three of them disappeared. Ten minutes 77 later the two officers re-appeared with a lively and happy little girl, now wide awake. They had taken her into the bathroom and given her an icy cold bath and shower and during the rest of dinner Valborg showed no sign of tiredness. We rose from the table about 12 o'clock and a few of us had a cup of coffee in the Captain's cabin. Here the chief officer gave me a tiny Norwegian flag in enamelled silver to be pinned on to the shirt collar. This little emblem was to become very dear to me during the next few years and it is also today one of my real treasures. About 12.30 a.m. Karl told us it was time for the London news and with an enchanting little smile he added: "You will have to listen well." It was unbelieveable. King Haakon's voice came loud and clear over the radio. His Majesty sent a greeting to all Norwegians at home and abroad, asked us all to keep up the spirit and wait in confidence for the final victory. What a wonderful experience and what a heart-warming, encouraging message given to us as a unique Christmas gift at the end of a perfect day. We took a hearty farewell with our nice sailor hosts and soon we were on our way back to Batu Arang with Valborg soundly asleep on her mother's lap. I was lying awake most of the remaining night hours. The whole evening had been so over-whelming, Norway had been so near, almost bodily present on this blessed Christmas Eve. I was glad I believed in God and could thank him for all. In connection with the above event I will mention a couple of other adventures in the coming together with other Norwegian sailor friends. Early In 1941 we had a telephone call from Singapore. It was from a school-day friend of mine, Odd Henriksen, whom I had not seen for years. Odd had chosen the sailor profession as his livelihood and he was at the time of our re-union Captain on a big freighter, part of a fleet owned by a near relative of his. As his ship would stay berthed in Singapore for a week or more, he asked if he could come and stay with us for a couple of days. We, of course, heartily encouraged him to come and it turned out to be a lovely experience for all three of us. Odd was the same good, jovial friend with quite a bit of the happy-go-lucky spirit mixed with a natural charm. Molle and Odd also became good friends and the two of them inspected Batu Arang, the different enterprises there and the native village while I had to attend to my work. In the couple of evenings we had together Odd and I re-lived much of our early youth in Norway. He told us the latest news from home and how he had heard about us from a common friend stationed in Hong Kong. 78 I arranged with Head Office so I could take my monthly two days off and by train Odd and I went down to Singapore and I spent a night and a day mostly on his big, well-kept ship (regrettably I have forgotten the name of same). Before I left Odd filled my suitcase with all kinds of delicious food articles like herrings, sausages of many brands and shapes, cheeses from many countries, tinned fruits, smoked salmon etc. It was a very heavy suitcase I took ashore with me. I put the suitcase down and waved a last good-bye to Odd and when I turned around again a lanky little Indian boy already had a firm grip on the handle. "Maho tolong Tuan." (I want to help you Sir), the little boy called out, obviously hoping to earn some much needed pocket money. But the poor chap could not so much as lift the suitcase from the ground and sent me a despairing look. However, his face was all smiles when I rewarded him a strait dollar for his good try, A taxi took me to the railway station and I slept my way back to Batu Arang, while the train was winding its way through the pitch-dark jungle, smaller and bigger villages and plantations and a couple of well lit up bigger stations. After the war we received a letter from Karl Svensen informing us that he and Odd had met in New York where they had remembered us in a toast during a spell they had in the capacity of Captains of ships bringing oil from U.S. to Iceland for the Allied forces. A third and also very interesting acquaintance with Norwegian sailors had its start also during our first period of stay in Malaya. One Sunday morning we were approached over the phone by Captain Erling Nielsen on M/S Heron, a Norwegian ship which was chartered for the run Hong Kong, Singapore, Port Swettenham, Penang and Rangoon and back. Captain Nielsen asked whether we could meet in Kuala Lumpur that evening and go to pictures and have a talk. We spent a nice few hours together and this was the beginning of a few meetings, alternatively at our bungalow in Batu Arang and on board M/s Heron when it was berthed at Port Swettenham, Although M/s Heron called regularly at Port Swettenham we could not always find time for a meeting, but all our "gettings together" were pleasant and enriching. Captain Nielsen made it a habit to give me Burmese cherroots every time he came from Rangoon to Port Swettenham; if we did not meet, he mailed them to me from Port Swettenham. Being a non-smoker I took the cherroots, about three dozen at a time, over to the Club and threw them on the billiard table from where they quickly were removed and distributed 79 between the cigar smoking members of the Club. As Jack Moore expressed it: "These cherroots, you see Thiel, they taste so nice, because the Burmese women are handrolling them on their thighs." During our second term in Malaya we also kept up the contact with Captain Nielsen on M/s Heron, when we could arrange time off for a meeting. Late in September l941 my ten days annual local leave was due and although both Molle and I had so much looked forward to some restful days up in the highland area of Frazers Hill, Captain Nielsen persuaded us to take the trip Port Swettenham, Penang, Rangoon and back as his guests on board M/S Heron. We badly needed a break, both Molle and I, because of the uncertainty about the fate of all our dear ones in Norway and the constant demand for an absolute top production of rubber chest shooks. To this was added the regular and often strenuous military training, an item I will tell more about later. Anyhow, we arrived on board M/S Heron and Captain Nielsen proved himself the perfect host. We spent the days between the deck chairs, the Captain's cabin and the dinner table. Although the sun made it very hot, a cooling breeze made shorter stays in the deck chairs rather pleasant. In his cabin Captain Nielsen, who had bought himself a piano, played Grieg and other Norwegian music and, of course, we talked about the situation in Europe and the possible danger of Japan being involved in the war. The ship's Chinese cook served some very tasty - and for us - also very interesting meals at the table. We only had a few hours stay in beautiful Penang and a couple of days later we berthed at Burma's capital city, Rangoon. We had pre-arranged booking of two rooms at a hotel belonging to the medium price range and a reliable amah to look after Valborg was included in the price. Valborg, of course, had enjoyed the time at sea tremendously, always being watched very carefully by us and the officers and the crew members on board, specially the Chinese loved to talk to her, as she had picked up quite a few Chinese words and seemed to be so charmingly satisfied with her own efforts as a linguist. To come over to the main shopping and business centre of the city we had to cross the river Irrawaddi, which, not unlike a huge fast moving conveyor belt, cut the city in two. The boats, big or small, used for the crossing, were skilfully handled by the natives whether the driving power was provided manually or by motor, but we were strictly warned beforehand by Captain Nielsen never to stand up in the boat during the crossing; a sudden swell or windcast 80 and we could lose our balance and fall over board, for so to be dragged under by the treacherous undercurrent and appear again as a corpse further down the river. Every year Irrawaddi had claimed a few lives and on the trip across the river I sent a friendly thought to river Tagus in Portugal, which had carried me so kindly on its "back". Molle, Valborg and I went out on a combined shopping and sight-seeing walk. Specially Valborg was very much impressed by all the Buddhist temples with towers of "real gold". Before we had finished our outing darkness had set in with all its tropical suddenness, and in the few moments the rays from the evening sun were allowed to play on the surface of all these masterpieces of style and beauty, we felt as being in a fairy-tale city. Among the things we bought were a couple of typical Burmese floor rugs which greatly improved upon the cosiness of a special sun-room the Company had arranged for being added to our bungalow while we were away on our local leave. Unfortunately we were only given three months to enjoy this welcome addition to our tropical home, which we had grown so very fond of. Coming home from our outing Valborg was put to bed and Molle and I joined a "Dutch dinner party" (everybody paying his own share) arranged by Captain Nielsen in the dining room of the hotel we stayed in. It turned out to be a lively evening round a table for ten, all of whom were Norwegians. I enjoyed so much the optimistic spirit of them all, this in spite of the rather dull news from the war fronts and the lingering, over-hanging danger of the Japanese joining the enemy camp. Molle and I were introduced to Captain Bugge and his wife, a Norwegian Chief Officer, a Norwegian married couple, both employed in shipping offices in Rangoon, and Captain Jorgensen and his wife, all happy people wanting to do the best out of a special evening. So much sadder it was to find out later the fates of all sitting round the table that evening. Two months later the formidable Japanese forces made their triumphant conquest of the whole Malayan Peninsular, including the "impenetrable" Singapore. Captain Nielsen's boat, Heron, was sunk by a Japanese bomber plane and he himself killed by falling debris from the ship as he jumped over-board. When the Japanese carried out their first severe bombing attack on Penang, Captain Jorgensen had his ship berthed in the port. He went ashore to take a closer look at the bombing as it went on and was killed. His wife went later 81 ashore to find out what had happened to her husband and was herself killed. Captain Bugge later on during the conquest of Singapore scuttled his ship and was taken prisoner by the Japanese. Mrs. Bugge, after many adventures found her way back to Norway. The Chief Officer and the married couple, all of whom we had met at the hotel party, managed to escape before the Japanese also conquered Burma. With regard to Molle and myself we certainly also had it coming to us, but I will now carry on with our story. The day after the party the boat was again heading southwards and in order to come back to Batu Arang before the end of my leave we left at Penang and took the night train to Kuala Lumpur and were soon back to our little bungalow and the plywood mill.

From then on there was not much time for private life. Molle used nearly all her time sewing and knitting for ourselves and for the Red Cross. My time was shared between work at the mill and military training on the Company ground and the going was tough in both cases. One of the first days of November quite a few of the able staff members in Batu Arang joined the volunteer force when a recruiting officer turned up. The age limit was set at 35 years, but no questions were asked when I cut 7 years off my age. We felt happy about this chance of coming together with regular soldiers and do our part in case of war in the East. However, when we after a good two weeks of rigorous two hours a day training turned up for another session, we received some very disheartening news. The Government had sent out a decree announcing us all as key people in our different jobs and that we had to pay full attention to our work and could not move outside Batu Arang more than strictly needed. We went home very disappointed but were told by our Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Joe Geddes (also my good friend) that some other military arrangements were in store for us. About a week later a fiery Irishman and Major from World War I arrived at Batu Arang. His name was John Draper and he told us that anybody feeling fit to do so could join the newly established Local Defence Corps. We would be part of Selangor Local Defence Corps and John Draper would be our Captain. We in Batu Arang were sufficient in number to make up a platoon and Lieutenant Joe Geddes became our Platoon Commander. Later we met Colonel Fletcher, a nice grey haired gentleman and high ranking officer from World War I and now head of L.D.C. 81(a) And so time went on. We could again use all possible time for military training. We were told that our main task would be to assist the police in maintaining law and order, but that we, if the country was attacked, could be called upon to fight side by side with the regular soldiers. We had our rifles and bayonets and learned how to use them in the different thinkable situations. This gave us a feeling of satisfaction and self-reliance, although we also unconsciously were in the grip of anxiety and uncertainty, as if we were waiting for something very serious to happen. We should not carry that feeling of uncertainty for long. As we met up for more military training on the Batu Arang sports ground on 8th December, we heard about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, which also meant that the British Empire was at war with Japan. The immediate reaction was expressed in many ways. Some showed surprise, but most of us felt a mixture of sadness and relief. Sadness about the fact that Malaya now became part of the war theatre and that to a degree we could not even imagine at that stage; and relief about the fact that the hovering uncertainty was over and that we could be playing a more active part in the war effort. One little episode I remember so well. A Scottish mining engineer, also a member of the L.D.C., came bursting along in high spirit, clearly animated by his country's well-known fluid, gesticulating with arms and fists and called out: "I give the Japanese two months." How right he was about the timing and how wrong he was about the outcome of that period. On the whole there were a lot of speculations and prophesies about how the war would affect Malaya. We had all heard about the impenetrable fortress of Singapore, which with its big guns could stop any attack from the sea and we heard about how the Air Force had dozens of planes stored in crates ready for immediate assembly and use. But whatever the speculations were, the Japanese made a mocking of it all with their actions of surprise, determination and fighting power. Our military training was now even more intensified and some of our training was also co-ordinated with the exercises carried out by another important group of people, the A.R.P., the air raid precaution people, who did some very fine work during the next couple of months. The A.R.P. people were mainly-engaged in fire fighting and first-aid work. 82 Both in L.D.C. and A.R.P. we would find quite a few of the better educated natives and they proved themselves keen and loyal. But we could all feel how the native working force in the mills and plantations became gradually more restless and lost interest in their work. Every day seemed to bring new shocks and bad news. On 10th December the Japanese landed at Kota Bahra (the new fort) in the North-Eastern end of Malaya and on the 12th Penang was heavily bombed also causing the death of many of the citizens. Soon after this Penang and Ipoh were in enemy hands and the Japanese had secured a solid foot-hold in the northern part of the peninsular. While all this went on, we all tried our best to show a brave face, but we found it hard to convince the natives that the Japanese would be beaten back. After we had finished our military training near the Club one afternoon, George Hinchcliff and I agreed that a game of tennis might cheer us up. We had a good game and enjoyed it even more, while the radio played some very nice music. We had probably played a quarter of an hour when the music was interrupted by a call over the radio: "This is an important announcement. We regret to announce the sinking of His Majesty's two battle ships, the Repulse and the Prince of Wales." We just threw the racquets into the Clubroom and went hone. What a blow it was. Two fine battle ships simply stung to death by Japanese Kamikaze death pilots and all support from the sea side brought to a tragic end. The Allied Air Force we also had heard so much about and which had done so many heroic acts in Europe, was non-existent in Malaya and the Japanese war planes made their appearance more and more frequently and in increasing numbers. The Japanese continued their rapid advance down the peninsular. Military sources asked us to keep calm and assured us the enemy would soon be brought to a halt and then driven back. But we took more notice of the increasing number of Japanese planes and listened to the discouraging stories from people who were on the run after the enemy was on the point of invading their homes. Our turn came very soon. From Kuala Lumpur we received orders for all European women and children to leave Batu Arang within the next couple of days, take with them the bare necessities and proceed to Singapore by train or by car. Molle and Valborg left on the 27th December and were among the last few to leave. Before this happened we were clinging to a feigned hope of improvement in the situation. We carried on with intensive military training and took guard duty in the power station, main store and other important places which could be subject to sabotage or looting. This involved a certain amount of night duty, which was carried out in pitch darkness after orders about complete 83 black-out of the area had been received. The wheels were still running both in the mines and the plywood factory, but the production decreased daily due to the decreasing morale of the natives which was quite explicable and also due to the increasing visits by Japanese planes. Air-raid shelters and air-raid alarms had been well organised; we had for instance, two quite big and good shelters right outside the plywood mill. Molle and Boy had prepared their own little dug-out next to our own bungalow. One day during an air-raid alarm I went up to the bungalow to convince myself that all was under control there and I found Molle, Valborg and our three servants packed in the little shelter. Molle was next to the opening holding my loaded shotgun at the ready. It made me smile, but I knew that Molle would have defended her little fortress if the situation should force her to act. We saw more Japanese planes the following days and our work was frequently interrupted by air-raid warnings, but no bombs were dropped on the village. And Christmas was there once again, but Batu Arang was not any longer the happy and lively place it used to be. Most of the European women and children had already left for Singapore and the ladies who still stayed on were busy packing to try to save as much as possible of their personal belongings. Molle and Valborg were still with me, but we had only a little celebration on our own, as all activities in the Club had ceased. But we managed to give Valborg a happy evening and many of the natives arrived with small gifts to our little child. I also received quite a big and unexpected Christmas present. Molle had watched a Chinese come in a car; he had parked it at the front entrance of our bungalow, unloaded an obviously heavy case of goods and had then driven away in a hurry. We opened the case carefully and among other drinkables we found ½ dozen bottles of whisky and the same amount of champagne, brandy and gin. We left the items untouched as I wanted to find out who was the sender of such an expensive delivery, a Christmas gift out of proportion, smelling too much of an attempt of bribery. We did find out a couple of days later. By a misunderstanding from the driver's side the case was delivered to me instead of to the bungalow next to us, the one occupied by Mr. S. When we found out, Molle and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. It was good to feel that we could still do that. On the 27th December Molle and Marion Geddes left for Singapore with each their child, being the last of the European women and children to leave Batu Arang. We all went down to Kuala Lumpur in Joe's car. It was sad to see them 84 go. A quick and silent embrace before the train left Kuala Lumpur railway-station. Words were so unnecessary and we had already been over-fed with false hopes and optimism. Now we had to steel ourselves for more bad events to come, may be even death and disaster.

A couple of days later British military arrived in Batu Arang and we were told all of us to meet at the Police Station where we should have our quarters the next few days. Soon after we had arrived we were told that military experts were going to blow up the Power Station. As this happened it also became a signal for the looting to start and we were told to stand by showing a passive attitude so long as no violence took place. The few remaining policemen, mainly some fine and loyal punjabees, were in a smaller building close by, while 26 of us, all Local Defence people, were crowded together in a rather small room in the main building. We entered the room after some additional hard training and during the day I had obtained special permission to go back to the plywood factory and my bungalow to have a last look - all under the definite understanding that it was under my own responsibility and risk. I had my loaded rifle with me and felt quite safe. I took a short cut through the Chinese quarters and to my joy I only was met with some friendly "goodbye Tuan", from some of the families living there. As I arrived at the plywood mill many people, including quite a few of my workers, were carrying all kinds of items away and I told some of them to secure some of the good Australian casein, which could be quite suitable for porridge if need be. My bungalow was already stripped completely and the case of drinks from my unknown "friend" had already been distributed. On the way back to the Police Station I had a rather interesting little experience. I was just passing over a small hillcrest as I heard the buzzing noise of a Japanese aeroplane which was rapidly descending to a low height and was positioned right over me. I felt somewhat uneasy as I must have been a very good target and then suddenly a shower of paper strips descended all a-round me. I picked a few of the papers up to have them as souvenirs as they in a very threatening language warned that any mal-treatment of Japanese subjects in Malaya would be paid back hundred fold when the country had been conquered. I kept a few of the papers for myself but unfortunately lost them later. Coming back to the Police Station many of my friends had already 85 Fallen asleep on the floor. We were, of course, all dead tired after days of intensive training, work and watch duty and as the tropical evening already had started setting in we all knew that after another 30 minutes we would have pitch darkness. No use of light and no smoking was permitted. We put our rifles neatly down in a small adhering room and spread ourselves as best we could on the floor. We were then told by our platoon commander to relax and try to get a good sleep. We could do so safely, he told us, as the Japanese still were at least 30 miles away. Most of us then took off our boots and our bayonets and belts to be more comfortable and very soon we were all enjoying the sleep of exhausted men. I dc not know how long we had been asleep, hardly more than an hour or so, when we were awakened by loud, excited voices: "The Japanese are already here. Hurry, hurry, hurry!" And then hell broke loose. In pitch darkness sleep-drunk men were crawling on the floor, trying desperately to find their boots and get hold of their rifles, fighting for disentangling themselves from a bundle of swinging arms and kicking legs, attempting to come clear, all this while perplexed men were shouting, swearing and moaning. I was sitting with one boot in one hand trying to come clear to find my rifle. "Oh please God, don't let me be slaughtered like a sheep without being able to defend myself," I prayed in a silent prayer, while I could feel my heart hammering away as if it was on the point of bursting out of my body. The pitch darkness made it all so desperately hopeless and our drowsiness certainly did not make it easier. I did not know how long this nightmare had lasted, when we heard the strong voice of the Bengaly police sergeant: "False alarm men, no Japanese soldiers approaching." Gradually we regained our senses and we realized we by a hostile person had been tricked into believing the Japanese were entering the village. I had felt what real panic was and I felt very ashamed about being taken so aback. But it was a good lesson for me as well as the others: always to be ready to come up fast, have rifle and ammunition ready and be prepared for any eventuality.

Already the following morning we left Batu Arang. Our personal belongings, whatever we had managed to save of them, were loaded on one lorry and in some of the private cars and in a couple of trucks and all of the Local Defence members were placed more or less comfortably in private cars. Twice Japanese 86 planes circled over us and we were ordered out of the cars to take shelter in the dense jungle surrounding the road. Nothing happened however, and a few miles further down, near Kundang Estate, we settled down for the night. We were all detailed certain guard duty, but made as comfortable as possible in three deserted bungalows, which all had been thoroughly ransacked by looters. Broken glass and bottles, torn papers and smashed up inventory were all which was left of the previously nice and well equipped homes. We stayed there another day till we were told to proceed to Kuala Lumpur. It was a very sad trip down to the city. All around us we could see red flames waving with the wind high into the air, mixed with thick black smoke, all more prominent when darkness set in. The pride and wealth of Malaya, its rubber industry, was going up in smoke as the scorched earth policy was introduced by the retreating British army. We arrived in Kuala Lumpur rather late in the evening and we were given different quarters for staying during the night. Together with most of my Batu Arang friends I stayed overnight in a beautiful mansion belonging to one of the rich Chinese business people. I had never earlier seen so much of furniture, cutlery, crockery and ornaments of such enchanting grace and beauty gathered in a private home. We were told by our lieutenant that we had the owner's permission to move freely in the house and go to sleep anywhere on one of the soft and pleasant carpets. "But please do not touch any of the valuable items you are surrounded by," he added. Later in the evening I spoke to the Chinese businessman and his son. They were both in L.D.C. uniforms and had joined one of the units on its way to Singapore. The wife and daughters had already left for the City. I have forgotten the name of our Chinese host, but I will always remember his sad but brave smile when he told how hard he had worked to obtain this beautiful home with its invaluable collection of Chinese art and craftmanship, which now within the next day or two would be left open to looting and destruction. The following day quite a few of us were detailed for the breaking of wine and spirit bottles. Some of us were carrying bottles from one of these big stores containing all kinds of household goods, while others were breaking then against the gutter stones. The purpose was to avoid as much as possible the wild drinking orgies which would develop when the military and much of the police force would evacuate the City. 87 When I entered one of the big store-rooms, where whisky and brandy bottles were stored in abundance, half a dozen Chinese scattered in all directions with a smaller or bigger amount of bottles. One of them was not quick enough and was hiding in a corner under a small table. He made the most comical sight. His bare behind was protruding under the table top very inviting for a good football kick. I withstood the temptation, however, and left him still sitting there motionless. The following morning our Batu Arang platoon was lined up and we were told that the military would make a stand at Batu Tiga (the third mile) close to Kuala Lumpur and they wanted as many volunteers as possible of the L.B.C. members to take part. Soon after four of us from Batu Arang were on the way to Batu Tiga, led by our Company Commander, Captain Draper. Before we left our friends came forward, shook hands with us and wished us good luck, I got some specially warm handshakes from my six natives whom I had under my command as a recently appointed lance corporal. They were nice and loyal people, three Chinese, two Tamils (Indians) and one Bengali. I told them not to worry and that I would soon be back. At Batu Tiga we were lined up some distance from a smaller river and we had some shelter in a rubber plantation which, however, had a rather open stand of trees. Captain Draper was with us and he told us we would face a formidable enemy, superior in equipment and manpower and with air support. I was sure I was not the only one feeling tense, but I also felt a solemn happiness at the prospect of soon "to be in it". We were signalled to advance slowly, when suddenly Japanese planes came diving out of the sky. They came very fast and we could hear the rattte-ta-ta of the machine guns. We had beforehand been told not to give ourselves away by firing any shots and only throw ourselves down with the steel helmet covering head and neck. I did as instructed and was lying flat on the ground as the bomb exploded and I was sprayed with soil and dirt, but lying there, I felt I was not hurt at all until a few seconds later I felt a terrible burning pain in my stretched out, right arm. The pain was so intense that I had to get up in a kneeling position and I could see my right arm was covered with angry, biting red ants - oh they could bite. I swept them off but I was wondering what could have happened if more planes had come over. I would have been "a sitting duck" and might have given my friends next to me away. As the planes had passed, Sergeant Yates, one of my friends from Batu Arang, waved to me and I waved back. We were both alright. Only a couple of 88 men had been slightly wounded during the air-raid. As one soldier expressed it: "Had it been German planes and German bombs quite a few of us would have been dead, lying exposed as we were, in the open rubber plantation. The Japanese had only used 25 lb. bombs." A few anxious moments came again when we were waiting for the first Japanese to be seen - and then suddenly the anti-climax. We were told to gather for immediate withdrawal and that the Argyles were going to cover us by rear-guard action. Just like that: no fight, only steady retreat. I felt so terribly depressed. As we arrived back to Kuala Lumpur we found that all, including my friends from Batu Arang, had joined a big convoy and left for Singapore. Before I left for Batu Tiga I had asked a couple of my friends to look after a rather big suitcase I had managed to take with me from Batu Arang. Among other personal belongings the suitcase contained quite a quantity of old, inherited sterling silver cutlery, my valuable stamp collection and some Eastern rarities. I felt I had at least saved some items for a new start. On my return to Kuala Lumpur I received a message that my suitcase was safe in one of the trucks of the convoy. I was now under the command of Lieutenant Coutts and all the members of the platoon were new faces to me. Already the following day we left Kuala Lumpur, now a city of complete disorder and confusion, with the streets full of rubble and broken glass and bottles mixed with books and more occasional precious items rejected by the looters who did not find any use for them or simply did not understand their value. I could not help feeling down-hearted seeing such a beautiful and wealthy city being ransacked at will by a desperate and bewildered crowd, left alone and at the mercy of the victory drunk Japanese army. I felt somewhat of a stranger in my new platoon, as most of the others were old friends and were slightly older than myself. They did, however, all of them treat me correctly and the fact that I was a Lance Corporal and as an N.C.O. (non commissioned officer) was in command of some of the guard duties, also helped me along. On the other hand I felt a little embarrassed about having the command over some of these people who had served in World War I and had four years of active war service behind them. A young Czechoslovakian had also joined our platoon in Kuala Lumpur. He was not very keen on obeying any military orders and in an attempt to make 89 things a bit easier for all of us, he was put in charge of the kitchen, a job which mainly consisted in making tea in four gallon empty kerosene tins. For each meal we were provided with tins of a variety of food articles. His job was a one-man job, but he did not do too well there either and he also had considerable language trouble, he became the laughing stock of the platoon and the poor fellow had a rather hard time. When he had prepared a mug of tea, for instance, he always called out: "Tea finished," and was met with a barrage of laughter. (In German as well as in Scandinavian languages the word "finished" could mean ready made as well as nothing left, according to the circumstances under which the words are used). A couple of times he was also met with: "Is this tea or dish water? Make us a decent cup of tea." I could see how he flashed with anger the second time he was told off properly and I decided to watch him next time he was on the tea making job and possibly help him along. But then I saw him standing there with a four gallon tin of boiling water and a one pound packet of tea. Emptying the whole packet into the tin, I heard him mumbling: "I shall give the boggers tea alright." He was taken off the job and left alone till we reached Singapore, where he later managed to come on board a ship bound for South Africa.

We were advancing steadily southward in a car convoy and although we a couple of times were observed by Japanese spotter planes, we were not attacked. But it was depressing not to see a single British plane in the air, even so close to Singapore air base. All along the road we saw discarded cars and trucks, standing there, wrecked in different ways, so they could not be used by the advancing Japanese. Numerous columns of thick, black smoke, most of them spiralling into the air from more or less elevated areas, told the sad story of burning rubber estates and a temporary end to a prosperous industry. We arrived at Johore Bahru and then it was only the well-known Causeway which separated us from Singapore. We were told to disperse, have a rest or a look around, but to make sure to be back for mustering three hours later. I preferred to walk on my own so I just loitered around in the delightful little township which was almost completely deserted. As I was walking along I passed the town's European Pub and to satisfy my curiosity I decided to have a peep inside. It was a very nice and neat looking place still not disturbed by looters, which indicated that the localities only very recently had been abandoned by the owners and their regular guests. The different kinds of spirits were 90 placed nicely exhibited in rows on shelves and the bar-counter was spotlessly clean. But I was not on my own. A short, but well-built Scottish soldier of the Argyles had also found his way into the Pub and had a bottle of his country's famous product standing in front of him. With a smile he invited me to join him and during the next half hour we had a very vivid and interesting conversation further animated by a couple of "saten gas". I have forgotten his name but I can still in my mind see a clear picture of this tight-built little Argyle who told me about rear-guard actions they had fought and how their number gradually had been drastically reduced because of the high casualty list. "We might meet again in Singapore old chap or we might not," he said, "let us drink for good luck to both of us." We did not meet again, but I hope he is still alive and well.

At the previously arranged time, our platoon together with many of the regulars, lined up for the march over to Singapore on the Causeway. We made up quite a long line of men and right behind me a little band of pipers was playing different Scottish songs and marches. The air was very clear, the sun bright and warm and a light sea breeze made it all very pleasant and the challenging tunes from the bagpipes sounded also as if they were in their right element, I became quite worked up and when so the band started on "Scotland the Brave" I had to turn to my nearest companion and utter: "I think we are going in the wrong direction." In Singapore we were stationed in a spacious, lovely house surrounded by a big garden, all abandoned by the owners. But we were almost immediately given a couple of days leave to arrange our private affairs and, for many of us, also to meet our wives and children again. For me this meant to go straight to Molle and Valborg. It was so lovely to meet them again and see them safe and sound. They had a few days earlier had a nasty experience, when a house nearby was destroyed through a direct hit by a Japanese bomb. Luckily the owners had already left their home and apart from a somewhat sensational feeling of a shake-up nothing had happened to Molle and Valborg and their fellow lodgers. Among them were our old friends from Batu Arang, Erna and Gottfried Beck, who already had been told they could expect departure order any time. Molle had been down at the railway station to pick up whatever of our belongings had come through from Batu Arang, but of all the boxes and trunks 91 we had sent, only Molle's sewing machine had turned up. Molle had heard that Japanese planes had smashed up a high number of railway trucks when attacking Malakka railway station. A greater disappointment I had to digest, however, was when I was told by a couple of my Batu Arang friends that my big suitcase, left in their care when I left for Batu Tiga, had been lost. One of the trucks being part of a big convoy under military command had been ditched near Serembang and with all its luggage it had been left at the roadside for looters to have a free go. I took it very much to heart. After all, it was the last and most valuable of our belongings and I felt specially sorry about losing my stamp collection and all the inherited silver-ware. Molle faced up to it much better and asked me to realise how much luckier we were compared with so many, many others. Molle, Valborg and I spent as much time as possible together and we also went up to see Mr. Robbins, who, with a few of his staff members, still tried to save whatever possible of the Company's assets. He was very concerned about my two ladies, when he was told that we had not as yet secured any bookings for them, and he smiled happily a couple of days later when we could tell him that Molle and Valborg had just been told to meet up at the wharf at a specially numbered place to enter a ship, the destination of which would not be made public for security reasons. This was in the morning of January 16th, 1942. The little Molle had to pack, consisting of a few personal belongings for Valborg and herself, plus the sewing machine, was quickly made ready and Mr. Robbins had provided us with sufficient cash to see Molle through the first couple of weeks. Soon we had the last little embrace in a corner of the house and I was both touched and encouraged by the words of my brave little wife: "I want you to know, Thiel, that you must act the way you want to without considering me, if you are called upon to fight again." I accompanied my two girls down to the ship, a big vessel with hundreds of evacuees streaming on board. Only the passengers who could produce a previously supplied ticket, were allowed up the rather steep gang-way and as it was a dark and cloudy afternoon and fog was gradually setting in, I only got some very misty glimpses of my two dear ones waving to me. Altogether three big ships were leaving in a convoy under the protection of a small warship and soon they all were swallowed up by the fog and darkness. It was very sad to see them go and they were by no means secure as Japanese 92 planes and warships were active along the coast watching for their prey. But at least the convoy was heading for an allied and friendly country, where, we did not know yet.

Although I never mentioned it to anybody, I did not in my own mind hold up much hope for Singapore. The Japanese striking strength had been sadly under-estimated and Dame Fortuna had certainly not favoured the British. But, that we already a month later should see the first Japanese tanks rumbling in the streets of Singapore, certainly shocked the whole world. In the meantime I had regular guard duty and we were moved to different quarters quite frequently. Sometimes we were quite a crowd together, other times I was only together with my new friends in Lt. Coutt's platoon. When we were not on guard duty or fatigues we were free to move around quite unrestricted and we all took full advantage of it and personally I had quite a few calls to do. My first visit was to our old friends Sue and Harry Proud. They were both well and had not so far offered evacuation much thought. Sue took me in to a well-filled storeroom and said: "You see, Thiel, we are well prepared for a long siege." We had a cosy chat most about past days and forgot for a moment the sadness we all felt at the bottom of our hearts. Both my friends escaped eventually in the last moment, but we have not heard from them since. My next call was at the big building of the city's General Post Office at the institution's Savings Bank, where I had close to Str. $1 000 on conto. When I arrived I had to join a long queue of people, all anxious to cash their savings or have them sent to a more secure place. I wanted to send my savings to Molle and before she left we had agreed on sending all letters and messages to her c/o The Norwegian Consulate in Melbourne. We did not know at the time where Molle would be landed, but it was an address easy to contact. So I lined up hopefully, with my bank-book ready for visitation. At least 50-60 people were in front of me and soon a similar number had joined up behind me. I was both surprised and relieved to see how quickly the queue surged forward towards the counter. It was only one man serving us at the counter, a young, nice looking Eurasian, who worked with great speed and precision and soon it was my turn. I handed him the bank-book and on his request I gave him the above address which he quickly scribbled down and then called out: "Next please!" "But what about my receipt," I said. "No, No, no time," was the answer. I understood I could obtain nothing more so I left convinced that I 93 would never hear anymore about that money. But years later I heard that Molle promptly had received the money as soon as she called at the Consulate. It was certainly a marvellous service. Another call I had to do was to a special branch of the Government Office dealing with payments to evacuees and as I had served in the L.D.C., Molle was entitled to a certain weekly allowance which I asked them to send c/o The Norwegian Consulate in Melbourne. This functioned perfectly all through the war. I like to add here that thanks to the generosity and fore-sight by my old Company and the British-Malayan Government and due to Molle's initiative as well, we found out fairly soon after the war that in spite of our losses we were far from bankrupt. Already a couple of days after her arrival in Melbourne Molle was on her way up to Bendigo, spurred on through the advice by friends. This pleasant and hospitable city was to become Molle's and Valborg's residence for the remaining war years. She applied for a job at the Bendigo Ordnance Factory and worked there in the capacity of a "female operator" till the end of her stay in Bendigo. This extra income enabled Molle to keep Valborg at a good school, Girton College, in the city. There Molle also found some lifelong friends, brave women who worked at the "home-front" while their men were in the war theatre. After the war Mr. Drysdale went back to Malaya to look after the assets of the Malayan Collieries Ltd. and in a letter he asked me to hold him informed on my movements. When I a few months later wrote and told him that Molle and I were going back to Norway, I received a very nice letter with a cheque enclosed from him, wishing us a happy trip and at the same time he advised me that the Company ex-gratia had granted me travelling allowance for the trip Melbourne - Oslo, a very kind gesture by Mr. Drysdale. "When approaching the Norwegian shipping authorities in Sydney we were however told that we, as displaced persons of Norwegian nationality, would be sent home to Norway on the expense of the Norwegian Government if we so wanted. We did not like the idea of becoming a liability to our Country, so we approached a Norwegian shipping company in Sydney and straight away were signed on, Molle as a stewardess and I as a mess-boy (later promoted to second cook) while Valborg was allocated a bed in a cabin shared with another stewardess. We were on full salaries and 94 we had a trip and an experience which really made up quite a good story on their own, but it would be out of place here. Soon after our arrival in Norway I received a cheque from the Malayan Collieries Ltd., arranged through the British Military Administration, covering the amount of 18 months' salary as a back-pay. On the top of this I received another letter signed by Mr. Drysdale also with a cheque enclosed. In the letter I was informed that the Company's Superannuation Scheme, which had been started by the Company in 1940, had worked right through the war, being specially insured by the Company. A very welcome surprise! Finally, quite a few years after the cessation of the war I received a final settlement from B.M.A., who had granted me 15% on an official claim of lost personal belongings caused by the war. I thought it appropriate to mention the different above compensations. When we take into account the immense losses suffered by the British nation during the war and the huge number of war damage payments handed out, I think we were treated very generously. I remember the fear expressed by some of my fellow prisoners: “We will probably become the 'Forgotten Army" No, we certainly were not members of that battalion. As the days passed on, the Japanese bombers carried out their raids on Singapore with great regularity and at will and over a longer period, only a couple of planes were shot down by the British ac-ac fire. Falling splinters from the anti-airgun grenades could, of course, also cause a certain risk for people in the street, although we did not hear about any such casualities. Mr. Llewellyn, a member of the Company's Head Office staff, and I were standing on the balcony of the big Singapore Banking Corporation Building chatting about future possibilities, when suddenly a grenade splint with a big thud landed on the concrete floor just between the two of us. "That was close," said Mr. Llewellyn. "Yes, that was close," I answered and we carried on our conversation. At the same time the Japanese bombers released another "dose" of bombs on some near-by targets. Although I had been wandering quite a bit around during different guard duties and also when I was off duty, I had so far not experienced any near misses from Japanese bombs in Singapore, but very soon I should get a full taste of what they could do if my luck should run out. 95 I was walking along one of the more narrow streets in the City, heading for my temporary barrack in the tall Dutch-owned KPH Building. Alongside the streets there were two-three of the common Chinese coffee houses, which all at that time of the day were frequented by the natives. Above us Japanese bombers were zooming, looking for a suitable prey, but although the air-raid sirenes with regular intervals sent out their shrill warning signals, quite a few people did not take much notice, while others were heading for one or other of the many air-raid shelters. I am afraid I was one of the more careless ones, so I carried on towards my quarters, as I still had a fair distance to go. Then I saw one of my Batu Arang friends, Andrew Bruce, about to pass me in his car, so I stopped him and asked for a ride. The next moment there was a deafening explosion and the air was filled with desperate cries from wounded and dying people, Andrew started the car and only 100 metres further down a Japanese bomber had scored a direct hit on one of the open-door coffee houses. Sixteen people had been killed and many more wounded. Mutilated bodies, heads, arms and legs were spread inside the wrecked shop and on the pavement and the whole scene was dreadful to the extreme with blood spluttered everywhere over dead and wounded people, many of them lying among smashed furniture and crockery. Within the next couple of minutes first-aid people were on the spot, so Andrew started his car again, but he had only got the car moving slowly when we struck more tragedy. From a little ditch beside the footpath a European woman came screaming towards us completely hysterical and shocked and in the ditch her husband was lying dead and maimed by a bomb. We took her to the nearest First-aid station or Casualty ward and explained what had happened and where to find her dead husband. The whole thing was a nerve wrecking experience for Andrew and myself. We both understood and agreed on what a close shave we had had. If I had not seen him and stopped him for a ride, and if he had not been kind enough to stop for me, we had both of us been butchered by the Japanese bomb. Before I went to sleep that night I thanked God for his infinite guidance and care, care I should feel so often during the coming months. As the military situation grew more tense and also more hopeless from day to day, looting of deserted houses and shops became more frequent and even the stores and warehouses were raided if they were not strongly guarded. We were a couple of times detailed to chase away looters and on one occasion about 20 of us were sent down to a section of the wharf where regular plundering was 96 taking place. But we were told not to be too aggressive. As we arrived looters spread in all directions. I was chasing an Indian who was running away with a bale of cloth on his head. Suddenly he threw the bale away and dived into a near-by air-raid shelter. In my effort and eagerness to catch up on the man I had not noticed the rapidly approaching low-flying Japanese planes now right overhead and they were spraying the place with machine gun fire. I had no time to run to the shelter so I just threw myself down between some short, upright-standing earthenware drain-pipes, while machine gun bullets spluttered all around me and the noise of the striking bullets, smashing against the drain-pipes, hammered my ear drums. Lying there I remember I said aloud to myself: "If this goes well everything will go well." When the planes had passed and I had come to my feet again I could see from the smashed up pipes how a couple of bullets had missed me by four inches. But there were no more looters to chase away, as they all had cleared off during the air-raid interval. Soon after our arrival in Singapore I was approached by an English shipping agent, then a member of the Perak L.D.C. He told me he was a friend of Captain Erling Nielsen, M/S Heron, and that the Captain had given him a rather bulky envelope containing money and letters to his wife, to be delivered to her in case Captain Nielsen should not survive the war. "You'd better take care of this envelope," said the agent. "You are closer to him than I am." I did take over the envelope and it was good that I did not know by then what I had to go through before some of its contents finally reached its destination in Oslo. The full story of this rather exciting task will be told gradually as the events developed. We had just moved into another house more in the outskirts of Singapore and as we all were free of any guard duty that evening, Lt. Coutts threw us a party. We were about a dozen men together and we all enjoyed this little break so much - and I must admit - drank so much, that we for a couple of hours forgot all the sad things we had gone through. It was a nice gesture of Lt. Coutts, whom I later on often met in the prison camp.

On the 8th February quite a few of us of the L.D.C. members were stationed with the regulars at an outpost facing Yohore Bahru. Right behind us an antiaircraft battery had taken up position and somewhat further back a British artillery detachment already was engaged in a long distance artillery duel with Japanese units on the other side of the Straight. We were not told much about 97 what should happen, other than to be ready for any eventualities. Already the intense artillery duel made our position a very noisy place, but this was only a fore-runner for the next stage of this long distance battle. A big formation of Japanese planes appeared, while our ac-ac guns went into action, unfortunately with a negative result. We were all ordered into air-raid shelters already prepared on the spot. Well inside there we could hear the thuddy noise of the striking bombs as the planes released their load. while their machine gun fire added to the orchestra as the bullets knocked themselves flat against the roofing of the air-raid shelters. Probably the most noisy moments I have ever experienced. As the planes had passed we were lined up outside and were told we should march back to our quarters - another disappointing withdrawal order. The next day, on the 9th February, the Japanese advanced across the Causeway and established a foot-hold on the Singapore island - "The beginning of the end" as one of my Scottish friends expressed it. Later in the day we had a visit by Captain Draper who wanted a few volunteers assisting him on a secret mission. He said that he could not and would not tell anybody what it involved until we actually were on the spot for action. Anyhow, I was glad to go with him and together we were a little group of about ten people who, under Captain Draper's leadership, headed for one of the biggest warehouses at the wharf. There, among a lot of other goods, we found a few oblong, solid wooden boxes and when we opened the first one we saw a beautiful Wickers machine gun laying in parts ready for assembling and the other boxes had a similar content. We took a couple of essential parts from each box and threw them into the sea, this to make them useless for any enemy who should find them. How sad it was to see the fine machine guns lying there unused and why had they not been used in action? Captain Draper warned us that we also for the sake of our own safety never should utter a word to anyone about our doings at the wharf.

On the 12th February all L.D.C. members received another heavy blow. We were told to hand in our rifles to the military authorities and that we should join the local civil defence in the capacity of policemen or assist the hospital staff in their effort to cope with the steadily increasing number of wounded soldiers and civilians brought in by all kinds of transport. The officer who gave us the bad news added as a dry kind of a joke: "This arrangement will classify you as civilians and we hope as such you in time will be 98 evacuated from Singapore." A very faint hope which rather quickly faded away. This was an extremely sad moment for so many of us - surrendering without a fight. I had also to bid farewell with my six native soldiers, who during this retreat, had been under my command. They had all been so loyal. It was a farewell with tears in our eyes and we were not ashamed of it. All the native L.D.C. members were told to find their own way, hide the uniform and mix with the crowd. The next day, the 13th February, was my first and only day I spent in my new capacity as a policeman and I certainly had an eventful day. I was patrolling near the Danish Consulate which had offices in the big building of the mighty Danish firm East-Asiatic Co. (O K) when a formation of Japanese bombers appeared on near house-roof altitude. They dropped some of their bombs on an open square used as a car park and within seconds some of the cars were alight with burning petrol rapidly engulfing the whole square. Luckily nobody had been hurt as everybody had headed for the air-raid shelters as soon as the air-raid signals sounded. The Japanese pilots had become more reckless and daring as they met no real resistance any more. Many of the new "policemen", including myself, had a strenuous job in putting cut the fire, but after two hours consistent work everything was under control. A few of the Danes who were gathered in the Danish Consulate had also given us a helping hand. One of them, R. Helslev, was an old acquaintance of mine, as he during the last 3-4 months of our stay in Batu Arang had been working there in the engineering department. He had now found refuge in the Consulate. Another of the Danes, Mr. Stake, was an exceptionally well-built and handsome man in his late thirties. Stake approached me first and he told me how he had been watching me when I was throwing myself against a group of panic stricken children to stop them running into a ring of fire from exploding motor cars. It was nothing to it but as a normal human being, I enjoyed a pat on the back. Stake and Helslev invited me over to the Danish Consulate for a glass of beer and I was introduced to the Danish Consul General, Mr. Erling Strandberg. He was also the local manager of the East Asiatic Co. This Company had quite a few enterprises in the timber and rubber industries besides its extensive shipping interests. Forced southwards by the Japanese advance there was now quite a crowd of Danish people gathered in the spacy consulate building. Mr. Strandberg was very kind to me and told me that Helslev already had asked him if I could seek shelter in the Consulate when the Japanese conquered 99 Singapore, an event which regrettably seemed to be a matter of days only. "You are welcome to stay with us if you want to," Mr., Strandberg said, "and you will be treated in the same way as everybody else here." Later in the afternoon after a couple of hours of patrol duty I was on my way to our quarters. I passed a big building, the base of which probably was a deserted restaurant and bar. From the loud penetrating voices coming from there I could guess a wild party or orgy was in full swing. I realized that I should not go in there on my own, but curiosity got the better of me and I went into a dark corridor leading to the hall. Through a half open door I saw a big crowd of civilians and soldiers and quite a few scantily dressed women in different stages of singing, drinking and making love. Seeing all the bottles stored in a couple of corners, most of the bottles being "hard" liquor, I could imagine what an orgy it would be. Nobody had seen me, also because I was standing in a dark spot, so I decided to leave, also for fear of being forced into it all. In a way I pitied these people very much. A last spree and dissipation before the dark days to come. In a very confused state of mind I arrived back to the barrack, now fixed in one of the big buildings near Alexandra Hospital. Many of the L.D.C. members were there, also quite a few of my Batu Arang friends and everybody seemed to be in a very gloomy mood, with exception of one person though. George Hinchcliff met me with "There is a telegram for you, Thiel. I hope you also receive some good news." I grabbed the telegram, which read: "Safely arrived Fremantle, Molle", Oh, what a message! George had just received a similar telegram from his wife and we joined hands and danced around like two happy boys. Nothing would matter now. Our wives and children were safe in a friendly country. My evening prayer was full of thankfulness that evening. Before we settled down for the night we were told that the next few days ahead we were needed at Alexandra Hospital assisting the medical and nursing staff there in different ways. The following day I was in a gang of men assisting or carrying wounded soldiers up to the 3rd and 4th floors of the Hospital. It was rather a tough and also very sad job and because of the great number of casualties it was a kind of non-stop job as well. Many of the soldiers managed to come up the steps when supported by us, but some had to be carried up, I specially remember two of the cases I had to deal with, both soldiers were seriously wounded and had to be carried up to the 3rd floor. A young British soldier of Jewish 100 birth had been blinded when a Japanese bomb blew up the supply lorry he was driving. Even with his face being terribly disfigured I could see he had been a very handsome man. As I was carrying him on my back up the hospital stairs I tried to comfort him with friendly, encouraging words, but his only words were: "Thank you, Sir, but I know I am finished and it is just as well." Very distressed I went straight down to my next task, a very corpulent man, an English soldier, who had been bleeding heavily from a shrapnell wound in the chest. We were two men carrying him up to the 3rd floor and very carefully we lowered him down on a mattress. He was lying there very quiet with an empty stare and a passing doctor only shook his head, indicating to us he gave no hope for the poor soldier. I was assisting quite a few wounded soldiers up the hospital steps, but the two said cases made a very deep impression on me and I can still clearly visualise the two men. At the 14th February we were still working at Alexandra Hospital and suddenly it became very quiet, no shelling, no Japanese plane formations and consequently no air-raid alarm. It soon leaked out that the British and Japanese military leaders were negotiating peace terms, which for the British only meant surrender terms. It was only what I by then had expected, but it was so incredibly hard to realize in my disturbed mind. I felt kind of a bad conscience about being alive. We were told not to go too far from the Hospital where we were stationed at the ground floor, so when I was free later in the afternoon I only took a short walk down the street and then I spotted a group of soldiers and civilians being addressed by a man standing in an open-roofed car. It was Sir Thomas, The Governor of Singapore, who was breaking the news of surrender as gently as possible to the surrounding crowd. I had walked right up to the car and an Australian soldier standing next to me, asked Sir Thomas: "What will happen to us, Sir, when the Japanese take over?" "You should not need to fear anything bad," was the answer. "After all, Japan is one of the great countries and is bound by the Geneva Convention." "I hope you are alright Sir," said the soldier. "Anyhow let me shake hands with you." They shook hands and Sir Thomas ordered his driver to proceed on their sad mission.

After a restless night on the Hospital's ground floor, we were told to stay put in the building, do odd jobs if called upon and keep calm. The whole area was enveloped in an uneasy calm - a kind of silence before the storm. Then somewhat later we heard a rumbling noise from the paved street 101 and the first Japanese tank drove past. Soon more tanks and vehicles followed and a handful of Japanese soldiers took over the Hospital, We were left in peace and it was no provocation on either side and the day passed, although very, very slowly. The following morning some of us were detailed to march down to a nearby warehouse to pick up some tins of biscuits with special permission from the Japanese. Japanese soldiers were patrolling the streets but luckily our timid little flock (we were now all in civilian clothes, and very scanty ones in the burning sun) found our way without trouble. We collected our biscuits and went out through the back door of the warehouse. There we were confronted by Japanese soldiers who, with a sergeant in command, had rounded up quite a few Chinese who had been forced down in a kneeling position and were flogged by the sergeant. A couple of the Chinese were bleeding from the nose, probably from pre-treatment before the flogging process. The Chinese evidently had been caught looting in the warehouse and we were wondering what more punishment was in store for these poor people. It was the Chinese population who suffered most under "the new order". Many thousands of them were rounded up and put behind barbed wire fences heavily guarded by Japanese soldiers and thousands were liquidated. But it was only a matter of a couple of days before the white population from Great Britain and its allied countries would be interned.

Subjects from neutral countries as Sweden and Switzerland - and from Denmark, which had been subdued - were not to be interned, but nobody could leave the City. My Danish friends had called on me more times the last couple of days, trying to persuade me to come over to their Consulate now that nothing could be gained by, as they said, just becoming a prisoner and a number in an internment camp. I was very much in doubt what to do. Most of my L.D.C. friends advised me to accept the Danish offer, others advised me against it, specially as the discovery of my true nationality could bring me into trouble, but in the end I agreed to go over to the Danish Consulate and see Mr. Strandberg once more. He was again very nice to me and as it was dinner time he asked me to queue up with the others and then I could take my decision afterwards. When we had finished eating, a nice little lady, Mrs. Michaelsen, came over to me, brought me over to a footstool which she mounted to measure my own height, laid one hand on my shoulder and facing me, gave me a real lesson. She emphasized what 102 I owed my wife and family now that I could not help the soldiers any more. "You just will have to endure years in an internment camp and possibly die there unless you get rid of your stupid pride," she said. She won and I joined the Danes. The first couple of weeks we spent nearly all the time in the Consulate and for my part I only took some regular, shorter walks. We were not troubled by the Japanese. One of the Danes was married to a Japanese, a very nice and respectable lady, in a marriage, which through many years had proved to be a happy one. She did much to ease the position for the Danes also by advising us all how to behave when Japanese officers came in and by being able to explain to them in their own language all kinds of problems arising for the little Danish community. I always withdrew to my own little corner during such visits to avoid possible confrontation. We all had smaller routine jobs to carry out, as cleaning, sweeping, helping the ladies in the kitchen, etc. but for me at least, in spite of all friendliness shown to me, the days usually became very long. Mr. Stake stayed in the Consulate with his Malayan wife and their twin daughters, then about 15 years old. The two girls were always together and were the best of friends. The one was tall, slim and beautiful with the complexion of a European girl. She was, however, very shy and reserved. The other was well-built, but short with quite ordinary features, but had a golden-brown complexion and a beautiful smile. She was lively and quick in the uptake. We all enjoyed having them with us and we could see how Strake was fond of his three girls and he was full of good stories. One afternoon he had been on an outing on his bicycle and being in high spirit he had another good story to tell. He had been visiting a native friend, they had had "a few" together and on the way back to the Consulate he had not felt exactly too steady on his bike. As he biked along he had the bad luck to run into a Japanese control post and two Japanese soldiers signalled him to stop. As he did so, one of the soldiers let out an angry cry as the pedal struck one of his fibulas and the other soldiers started gathering around. Most people would probably feel somewhat stunned for fear of what would happen to them, but not so with Stake. He quickly ran into the guard room and loudly complained to the n.c.o. (non commissioned officer) in charge over brutal treatment of a neutral Danish subject. The n.c.o. went straight out to the 103 guard post and gave two of the soldiers one each under the ear and offered Stake a beer, which, as he said, he swallowed in quite a hurry to get away from the trouble-spot.

As the days passed on we were all the time hoping for evacuation order. Our Japanese lady had even been told by Japanese officers that evacuation of all Danes to Siam (Thailand) was quite a possibility. A couple of days later we had a real anti-climax in rumours that all Europeans including Danes, Swedes and Swiss would be interned shortly. What then mostly occupied my mind was the parcel or envelope I had in my charge for Captain Nielsen. A Tamil, who was employed in the Danish Consulate as a messenger and rouse-about was highly regarded by the Danes for his honesty and reliability. I approached him regarding the parcel, told him what I knew about it and asked him if he was willing to look after the parcel during the war. With a big smile he declared his willingness and I felt rather relieved when the parcel shifted hands. But not relieved for long. Only another couple of days had passed when it was officially stated that General Yamashito, the conqueror of Singapore, had ordered that no Europeans could leave the City and had to obtain special permission for going up-country. But a message which really disturbed me was when I heard that my Tamil had left in a hurry to stay with some near relatives at the outskirts of Singapore. He had left a message to me, giving his address and assuring me that he would look well after the little parcel. I felt, however, very concerned about having the parcel placed so far away under so uncertain circumstances. But then I received help very unexpectedly from a young Dane I had befriended during my short stay at the Consulate. His name was Olav Palnum. He was a handsome and well-built young man and, as I soon learned, quite a bit of an adventurer and very fond of the girls, never mind colour and race. All this and maybe other matters, which I never cared about finding out, made him unpopular among most of the other Danes. But for me he turned out to be a real friend, who put his friendship first and did not care about what the consequences could be for himself. When he heard about my plight in connection with the parcel, he patted me on the shoulder and said: "We will fix it Thiel. I know where to find the street where the Tamil is supposed to live and I know where to find a car and how to acquire petrol. We will be off this afternoon." When afternoon came I met Olav at a previously arranged spot not far from the Consulate. Helslev was also with me as Olav had asked him to come and assist in the first part of the "operation", Olav was sitting in a rather old-looking 104 car and Helslev and I joined him. "I got the car, Thiel, but do not ask me where I got it from," said Olav. He told us that it was not much petrol in the car, but that he knew about a former market place close by where a lot of cars had been parked and abandoned by their owners. "I know we will find one or two Japanese sentries there watching the cars and it will be the task for you two to divert their attention while I milk one of the cars," said Olav, and he pointed to a two gallon petrol container and a piece of rubber hose next to him. We parked the car round the corner close to the "car park" and walked slowly along to the desired spot. We saw two Japanese sentries standing there in one corner and in the opposite corner Olav found a car behind which he was completely hidden. Helslev and I were on our way over to distract the attention of the sentries, but our luck was in. The two soldiers became keenly interested in a group of native boys who wanted to play with a couple of the cars on the far side. A sign from Olav told us that he had secured the petrol and we were soon back in the old car and Helslev went back to the Consulate. But Olav and I had still the greater part of the adventure in front of us. We did, of course, have no idea about where we could run into a Japanese guard post or even concentration of troops, but Olav was full of eagerness and I was also keen, although I felt a clear, tickling sensation in my stomach. But we really found the place without being stopped by anybody and eagerly I knocked on the door. An Indian woman answered the door-knock and informed us that our Tamil and his wife only a few hours ago had moved to another place. Olav got the street and street number and with an "at it again, Thiel", he started the car. We drove a mile or so and found a two storey building with the wanted street number and with a small crowd of Tamils sitting chattering on the doorsteps. We immediately asked for our friend and the answer was: "He is not here today (my heart sank deep down into the stomach), but his wife is here." (heart climbing up again). We contacted the wife and, wonder of wonders, she went inside and returned with the parcel intact. We thanked the woman heartily left some money for her husband and headed straight back to the Danish Consulate and that without encountering a single Japanese soldier - it was really an unbelievably lucky day and I would give Olav full marks for his initiative and undauntedness. After I had joined the Danes I still saw my British friends and bid them 105 a "temporary" farewell. I did not realize then that it would take 1 ½ years till I met them again and that should be inside Changi Gaol. I will later tell about their plight also in the early days of their internment, which for many of them started as early as 16th February, 1942. I was naturally not feeling too safe when all this was going on. As a Norwegian I was an enemy subject and I had served in the L.D.C. till the day of the surrender. Many Danes coming from up-country had also served in L.D.C., but we had all disposed of our uniforms and were hoping to avoid any tricky questions. But I kept my little Norwegian metal flag safely pinned under the shirt lapel.

Good two weeks had passed and with exception of the skeleton office staff most of us felt dreary as we had too little to do and we could not pay our way because we had no money coming in. Mr. Strandberg fully realized the situation and during a dinner hour he gave us a brief speech, emphazing that all of us who felt fit to do so, ought to take jobs inside or outside of Singapore in civilian enterprises, if such jobs would be available; this also included work on Danish owned rubber estates and other Danish enterprises. But as all enterprises were run under the supervision of the Japanese Military Government, we had to watch our steps very carefully. "But none of you will need to starve as long as we have food in this Consulate," Mr. Strandberg concluded. Within the next week or so quite a few of the Danes had moved up-country and some of them rented abandoned houses in the City, stayed together in small groups and made the best of it. I joined Olav and a couple of other Danes in renting a nice little house with quite a big garden. I spent much of my time in the garden and we lived quite well, really too well for my small and rapidly dwindling cash reserve. There were also two other reasons for my uneasy state of mind. One evening just before tea-time, Olav came home visibly upset and agitated. He told us that he, sitting on his bike, had passed a Japanese guard post, ignoring the standing instructions of getting off the bike and bow to the sentries. He had ignored their shouting and he saw two soldiers mounting their bikes to catch up with him. Olav had just finished his story when there was a hard knock on the door and a furious Japanese soldier came in, recognized Olav and would surely have man-handled him if not the other Japanese soldier had turned up and restrained his friend. One of the Danes shouted to Olav half in 106 anger: "Why don't you bow to the b.. and say you are sorry." Olav followed the advice and it had the desired effect. A bit later the two sentries left in a rather reconciled mood. But this event probably was the reason for more visits by Japanese soldiers and I felt uneasy about it, also because I did not like the aspect of being questioned about my nationality. Another thing which upset me was the fact that my Danish companions, all three being bachelors, cultivated "free love" with native women who frequented the house and I would not by any means be mixed up in it. So, when I heard about a Eurasian couple having single rooms to let at Grange Road I went to enquire about the possibilities and the following day I took possession of a small, but well furnished room at 130 Grange Road. It turned out to be a big, well-kept house, surrounded by a lovely garden, big enough to secure privacy and in a district where traffic noises seemed to be a minor problem. The owners were an elderly Eurasian couple, she being considerably younger looking than her husband. They were both very nice to me and I was always welcome to do my cooking, 80% of which consisted of making porridge, my staple diet, cheap and nourishing. I only paid a cheap rent, how much I cannot remember and I do not remember the names of my hosts either. Gradually I gained their confidence and one day, when I asked the wife how she and her husband got on with the Japanese, she opened her heart to me. "You have probably already found my husband to be a very shy person," she said, "but the truth is that my husband is a Dutchman, born in Java by Dutch parents, and we have so far been successful in convincing the Japanese that we are both Eurasians, and as Eurasians we are still allowed to live in our house. I hope I will continue convincing the Japanese, so each time any of them call for inspection I make an effort to serve them a good dinner, while my husband usually manages to stay away. She must have been a very clever and courageous woman with a lovely disposition. I stayed with them for good two months and I can safely say that was my most carefree time during the war. My hosts knew I was Norwegian and that I also wanted to avoid the Japanese as much as possible. One evening they invited me to dinner and it was some dinner. Beautiful food in a lovely room and they made everything possible to let me feel at ease. Another couple of times they brought me a tray of good food. In my photographic mind I often see these two kind people before me and I remember them with real gratitude. But the greatest thing my hostess did for me happened 107 when I on l5th May was sitting talking to her and she had asked me to tell her about Norway. So I did and I told her also about King Haakon and how we Christmas Eve, 1940 had been sitting on board M/S Mgow Kock at Port Swettenham listening to our King's speech from London. "In two days time, on our National Day, he will surely be broadcasting again," I said, "You can listen again on the 17th Mr. Marstrand," my hostess said. (The reason why I remember the exact date of the l5th May is that I that day mailed two postcards addressed to myself as a stamp curiosity). On the 17th, late in the evening, my hostess and I went down into the cellar where a big radio was concealed in a corner. She tuned it on to London and told me not to sound it too loudly, but that she would warn me if she should get any undesirable visitors. Oh, it was wonderful. I was sitting listening till late at night and then I heard an announcement mentioning the 17th as the Norwegian national Day and a Norwegian programne to follow. Then came our lovely National Anthem, followed by King Haakon's message to his people. It was an address full of faith, hope and encouragement; what a moment to remember! In spite of all the kindness shown to me by my two friendly hosts, my pecuniary means carried on dwindling. Not having any hope left of being evacuated, I started seriously to consider the apparently only possibility left, to go to the Japanese authorities and ask for internment. But then an entirely unexpected move from my previous work force in Batu Arang made the decision for me. I was having a quiet walk in the garden, when I saw four Sikhs approaching me. As they came closer I recognised two of them straight away. They were Inder Singh and Sundar Singh, bringing two of their friends with them. They rushed forward to me, went down on their knees and grabbed my hands: "Please come back to us, Tuan," Inder Singh said. "We need you and we miss you and we have no work and will soon be starving." I told them that I could not go back to Batu Arang as nobody without special permission could leave Singapore and that disobeying such an order only would result in severe punishment. Then they told me that some picked people of my previous labour and office staff had approached the local General Superintendent in Batu Arang, Mr. Kuda, a Japanese representing the powerful Mitsubishi Company. They had asked Mr. Kuda if he kindly could arrange to bring me up to Batu Arang. Mr. Kuda then said he would agree to their request provided the military authorities would sanction it and I would obey by the rules and orders laid down by his 108 Company. And Mr., Kuda had added that it also, of course, depended on whether Mr. Marstrand would like the responsibility of looking after them and whether he is found suitable to do so. All this Indar Singh and his three friends told me and they had come down to sound me out and prepare me for an eventual interview by a military authority. In a kind of a daze I told my four friends that I would take the risk and come up and help them, but that I could not promise or forsee what I could do for them all and how long I would last up there. My four Sikks left me with the assurance that all of my old friends in Batu Arang would be loyal to me and would never give me away whatever I did. Long after they had left I walked, up and down in the garden wondering what to do, realizing I could still refuse to go up there. But whatever argument I tried to find for or against, I always came back to the point that up in Batu Arang I would have a mission by looking after my old workers; in the internment camp I would only be a number, a number tied down by restrictions, force and even brutality. Another week or so passed and then I was called down to a Japanese Military Office where two officers of Captain's rank were waiting for me. The cross-examination I had feared did not take place, I was asked a few questions about the pre-war conditions in Batu Arang and about the machinery in the plywood mill and the size of the mill, I was then told that I very soon would hear more from the civil authorities in Batu Arang and that I should stay put till then. The only interrogation I was put through was when they lightly touched the subject of what I did before the surrender, I told them that I went down to Singapore to see my wife and daughter off to Australia and that I, because of the rapid advance of the Japanese army (a well-placed remark I could see from their grins) was trapped down there. The next day I called at the Danish Consulate to bid good-bye to Mr. Strandberg and thank him for all his kindness. When I told him about my plans to go up-country to Batu Arang and how the whole thing had developed, I saw that he became somewhat thoughtful and I soon learned why. He told me that two of the Danes who had gone up-country to work had been executed by the Japanese after being interrogated and accused of espionage, "One single antagonistic native could put you in such trouble, so be very careful in all your movements," warned Mr. Strandberg. This kind man also offered me a loan of Str.$200 - payable whenever I could afford after the war, or not at all. I am glad to say I managed to pay my debt later. 109 Then I went back to Grange Road and waited, waited and thought, thought and waited.

BACK TO BATU ARANG Late in June I was approached by one Mr. Chichio, a Japanese engineer working for Mitzubishi in Batu Arang. He was a nice, friendly man and he told me to meet him the following morning about 10 a.m. at the Singapore railway station and to bring with me what I had of personal belongings. Round about noon I should be on a train going up to Batu Arang. So now my decision was irrevocable and after a hearty farewell with my Grange Road hosts I the next morning found Mr. Chichio waiting for me at the railway station next to a train with a long row of C.G.s (covered goods-wagons). Mr. Chichio asked me to leave my belongings, which consisted of a few pieces of clothing, a mosquito net and some toilet articles, all stuffed in a small suitcase, in one of the empty C.G.s. He took me over to a small Chinese restaurant and asked me to eat well, as I had a long journey ahead of me. When we had our meal Mr. Chichio asked me to be careful in Batu Arang, where a Japanese garrison was stationed and the soldiers would regard me as an enemy. "Watch your steps and do what you are told to do and Mr. Kuda and I will see to it that you do not suffer any hardship," he added. Later episodes in Batu Arang convinced me that he was a good man, who loved his country, but hated any form of cruelty. A little later Mr. Chichio introduced me to a young Japanese, Marasto (?) who should be my travelling companion and probably also should watch my movements on the train. He had spent many pre-war years in Malaya and spoke good Malay. Quite a few Australian soldiers were loading wagons on a train next to ours and I asked Mr. Chichio if I could talk to them for a moment. He said it was alright and I had a nice chat with a group of the P.O.W. till a couple of Japanese soldiers approached us and we found it advisable to break it up. We did so with a mutual Good Luck wish, Marasto was on his own when I returned and I was taken a bit aback when I learned how we were going to travel. Marasto and I had an almost empty C.G. wagon for ourselves in the middle of a long row of wagons, but it was nothing but the empty steel floor to sit on and to sleep on. It was a hot day, so my travelling companion had left a couple of feets gap in the sliding doors, unbundled a couple of rugs, laid down on them and he was soon asleep. I found some clothing in the suitcase and spread then on the floor as a bedding and 110 took also out my wallet and put it in my hip pocket. In it I had close to Str.$200 and quite a few notes of different currencies belonging to Captain Nielsen. Before I left Grange Road I had opened Captain Nielsen's parcel which contained the above cash plus a thicker envelope obviously containing letters etc. This envelope I left in my suitcase. I laid down and tried to sleep but I had had too much excitement the last few hours and the uncomfortable steel floor, the hot sun and Marasto's loud snoring did not exactly improve matters. Best part of a couple of hours must have passed, when I heard the noisy closing of all wagon doors and I saw a man walking alongside checking that all was in order in the long string of wagons headed by two locomotives. A sharp whistle, a sudden strong pull and we were off. This was about 2.30 p.m. I must have dozed off and it was about 5pm. and we stopped at a village station. A Malay was standing on the platform selling bananas and other fruits. I bought some bananas and he said to me: "Itu bahru puniah orrang, orang banyak susah, Tuan." (This new people are causing a lot of trouble, Sir). I just smiled, gave him a nod and soon we were off again. As I was sitting there darkness started coming on in usual tropical fashion, suddenly and quickly, and Marasto had again fallen asleep after he had had a quick meal consisting of rice, fish and vegetables, ready prepared for the trip. I was lying awake now and twice the train made short stops at stations. I was thinking of how easily I could have escaped, just a jump out into the darkness; at the same time I realized, of course, such a thing was out of the question as it could bring about some terrible punishment to the people I was coming up to help and I myself would be like a hunted animal in quite strange surroundings. Thinking like this I went to sleep again. It must have been about an hour later and I woke up by a lot of noise from the shunting of wagons; apparently the train would stay put for a while. I listened to Marasto's snoring, grabbed my torch and hoped it was safe to cross the railway line between two wagons to satisfy nature's call. Nobody could have seen me and I was soon safely back on my place in the wagon. After a little while I felt for my wallet to convince myself it was still safely placed in my hip pocket. I became completely stunned when I realized it had fallen out during the said operation. A crippling feeling of numbness and despair came over me - all the work, risk and danger Olav and I had gone through to save Captain Nielsen's parcel had been in vain; all the money lost in a 111 ridiculous way. The shunting noise had stopped and the train could start again any time. With a real effort I pulled myself together, without using the torch I felt my way between the two wagons. I flashed the torch on the spot where I had been seated and to my immense relief I saw the wallet lying there. I grabbed it and in a flash I was back in my wagon and to Marasto, who was still snoring. Less than a minute later a sound from a whistle and a jerk on the train indicated we were on the way again. My heart was pounding for quite a while afterwards - and that blessed Marasto who could sleep and snore like that! Daylight came again and we passed through a variety of scenery typical of this beautiful, tropical country. Marasto, now awake after his long sleep, had become more talkative and he told me that that long string of wagons behind the locos, mainly were loaded with an assortment of British ammunition, consisting of hand-grenades, shells, bombs and ordinary explosives, all to be used in the coal mining process in the open casts in Batu Arang. A good target for the guerilla forces, I was thinking. Soon we arrived at Rawang, the station before Batu Arang. Rawang was a small town, a junction for traffic to Kuala Lumpur and to Frazers Hill resorts, bringing happy memories to me. But now it was very quiet there. Then the whistle blew for our next arrival, Batu Arang station. I had expected to find a few of my old workers there, some of my previous staff and a few Japanese to check on me. But it was quite a big crowd who surged forward to shake hands with me and welcome me back and in one corner of the station I saw a couple of rather stern-faced Japanese "observers". Inder Singh and Sundar Singh had brought their bullock cart and insisted upon taking my luggage to my bungalow together with an old mattress they had collected for me. They also told me that they already had placed an old bed in my bedroom. Not to endanger or embarrass any of my friends I stayed at the station as briefly as possible and followed the bullock cart to my old bungalow, a good 20 minutes away. Arriving there, I discovered that no furniture and utensils at all had been supplied by the Japanese. It was sad to see my old, cosy home in such a state, completely empty with exception of one ramshackle iron bed (brought by Inder Singh) and everywhere dusty and dirty. But I realised this was no time for sentimentality and moaning and I started right away cleaning the bedroom and the mosquito room, the only two rooms I wanted to use, also because I had been told that I only was allowed two light points. Mr. Chichio told me before 112 I left Singapore that the first day would be my own, but to go over to the Main Office the following day to meet Mr. Kuda, the local manager. My first effort in refurnishing the house resulted in a solid 3' square box to serve as a table and a smaller box became my permanent chair for the next 11 months. The mattress Inder Singh brought was put on the bed and I fixed my mosquito net ready for the night. Luckily the netting round my mosquito room was undamaged, so I should be fairly well protected against the mosquito plague both at evenings and nights. Unfortunately already the first night I became acquainted with a new plague I had not experienced, not even heard about before, the bed bug. This blood-sucking little beetle is very hard to get rid of once it had been permitted to establish itself. My mattress must have been infested and in spite of all my efforts to get rid of the pest it continued to be a nightly discomfort through the whole period of my stay in Batu Arang.

Next morning I went down to the mill and there I found nearly all of my old office staff waiting for me. It was with rather mixed feelings I met them, but my mind soon came to rest when they all pleaded their loyalty to me and told me that they only wanted money for daily bread for themselves and their families and hoped I could help them in securing this. We all agreed we should be very careful in all we said and carried out and just hope for future better days. They told me about the military garrison stationed in Batu Arang, supervising order and discipline in a strict way, but that they all had found Mr. Kuda a nice person, who did not want any cruelties or personal persecution so far his authority could prevent it. When I somewhat later went over to see Mr. Kuda I had a working proposal to put forward to him. Mr. Kuda greeted me with a hand-shake and asked me to sit down. (By offering me a seat he wanted to show me courtesy). He was very nice and said he could quite understand my feelings coming back and seeing the place in such a state, but he wanted to help the natives making a living and, as so many of them had uttered the wish of seeing me back, he had yielded to their request. I told him about all the logs which were lying on the bare ground in the mill yard exposed to attacks by fungi and insects. If they all were cleaned and stacked on wooden rail supporters most of them would still yield good veneer and that quite a few of my old workers could be employed in this way. Mr. Kuda asked me to go ahead with it and for my fitters to clean and repair 113 different machinery partly demolished or destroyed before the British evacuation. As I was sitting there talking to Mr. Kuda, I could not but like this friendly and rather handsome man, who no doubt first of all had his own country at heart, but at the same time he wanted to help the native population. As time went on it was he and Mr. Chichio who stopped other Japanese from punishing me severely in spite of the fact that they could not avoid detecting the real feelings I was hiding in my heart. During the following couple of weeks many of my workers, some of them just arrived after they had heard about my return to Batu Arang, were kept busy cleaning and stacking logs under the supervision of Kiang Yoong and myself. I remember that we in a rather wet corner killed close to a dozen big, black scorpions and afterwards we were somewhat more careful in inspecting the logs before we handled them. While the above work was going, my Chinese cook, Boy, from pre-war time, turned up to see me about work. I told him he could start on uncertain wages until I found out how my own financial position would be and under the strict condition that he kept the food bill as low as possible. I instructed him to fix up his old quarters at the kitchen and to bring his own bed, table and chair. But he asked my permission to stay with friends in the village at nights When I asked why he would go to such an inconvenience, he was rather reluctant to give a proper answer, but finally it slipped out of him that all the explosives taken up to Batu Arang on the train I was travelling by, had been stored in the plywood mill's drying room next to my bungalow, less than a stone-throw away. (A fact I was fully aware of). Apparently Boy was afraid that the jungle troops would blow us up sky high. I considered this to be highly unlikely, as such a step would hurt the villagers much more than the Japanese. But I granted Boy permission to spend the nights with his friends. The nice, elderly carpenter, Ah Chang, had also come back to work and only a few days later he had made a nice wooden bed for me and my bed bugs. I killed them by the hundreds but could never completely get rid of them. One of my Indian clerks one day came over with a long chair, cane chair, of the type which was so popular, arid so very comfortable, in the tropics. I spent a lot of my evening hours in this comfortable chair reading in the mosquito room. When we nearly had finished stacking the logs, I went over with another proposal to Mr. Kuda. I told him that all the logs now were neatly cleaned and stacked, so they were ready to be sorted out according to colour, quality and condition. I knew before-hand that I took a "calculated risk" coming with such a proposal, as all this could have been carried out in one operation as we were stacking the logs. But it would mean another couple of weeks work for all of us, so the risk was worth taking. Luckily Mr. Kuda agreed to it without any comments, but I had a little sting of bad conscience because Mr. Kuda was such a nice person. As we were on this second bout of log rolling I was asked to come over to Mr. Kuda as quickly as possible. I had in the meantime been provided with a bike, so it only took me 5 minutes to come over to there - and of course, I had not the best of conscience. Arriving there I was told that Mr. Yoda, Mitsubishi's No. 1 in Malaya, wanted to see me. When I was called in to Mr. Yoda I managed a small bow and seated myself on the chair opposite to him. Through his interpreter Mr. Yoda told me that I had to stand when I was talking to him. I think Mr. Yoda saw how confused I became for he looked at me with ever so little of a smile. He then told me that I would receive a monthly salary equivalent to half my pre-war earnings and I could see how he was watching my reactions. I just half whispered a "thank-you", but could not show any kind of joy. I did not want any of their "banana money", but I had to live with it and of it while I was up in Batu Arang, as I had no other source of income. But the few times I met Mr. Yoda he was treating me correctly, nearly friendly. This I certainly could not say about another of the Japanese officials whom I regrettably quite often had to encounter. Mr. N. was supervising the engineering department and the power station. He was a most unpleasant person and he clearly disliked me because of the colour of my skin. First time I met him was when I brought a requisition for some machinery tools for him to sign. Mr. N. cross-examined me about what I wanted to use the tools for and it all went through an interpreter, as he could not speak or understand a word of English. Finally he put his stamp on the requisition and angrily waved me aside. My old Ghurka friend, Apanah, who was back on his old job in the engineering department came after me when I went out. "Do not worry about that nasty b.. Mr. Marstrand," he said. "Next time you require anything from the store, just give the requisition to me and I will put it together with all the other daily requisitions we are bringing for him. Mr. N. cannot read them so he sits there stamping the whole bundle one by one with the speed of a piston pump." A good advice from a good friend. 115 The same Mr. N. had already at that early stage practised ear-slapping both on his native as well as his Japanese subordinates. One day there had been a fight in the village near my bungalow and I was called over to Mr. N. who told me it was my duty to report all irregularities, if not I would be punished. What a nasty man he was! Soon after this I was sitting in my mosquito room just after work when I heard a sharp shot down near the drying room. I went down immediately and found a very nervous Sikk watchman outside the drying room. He was placed there by the Japanese to ward off possible sabotage of the explosives inside. The Sikk was standing there leaning nervously on his shot gun. I asked him what had happened and in a stuttering voice he told me that as he was patrolling outside the drying room area he had surprised a Chinese who was acting rather suspiciously. As he started running away he had fired two shots after him, but missed. I told the frightened Sikk to wait ½ an hour till the relief watchman would arrive and then we would go over to Mr. Chichio and report the matter. "But I want the whole story and you'd better tell me the truth, if not I cannot help you," I told him. "I only heard one shot, and I do not think you saw a Chinese either." The relief watchman arrived and carrying the empty shot gun I took the Sikk over to Mr. Chichio's bungalow, as it was after working hours. I carried the shot gun so the villagers should not think that I had been arrested. On the way I got the full story out of the Sikk. He had simply become somewhat fed up on the job and had started fingering with his shot gun with the result that both cartridges were fired simultaneously, barely missing his head. Mr. Chichio was very friendly. He asked me to sit down and share a soft drink with him and promised that nothing would happen to the Sikk. But something should happen to me. Next day I was called over to Mr. N.'s office and I was wondering what he had in mind this time. As I entered the office a very angry Mr. N. stood ready for me. Next to him Captain Kami, the military supervisor, not connected to the garrison, was sitting in his chair. At my entrance the Captain dramatized the situation by pulling his pistol out of the holster and put it on the table ready for use. "Why did you carry a rifle yesterday?" Mr. N. barked out. "It was no rifle -," I started, but I was interrupted by a hard blow right behind the left eye. Two more powerful blows followed in quick succession and painful as the blows were, I remembered the pistol on the table and the danger in any resistance. Luckily Mr. N. stopped 116 after his third blow and half dazed as I was I felt a certain pleasure in thinking of his sore fist. "If you report this to Mr. Kuda you will be in serious trouble," Mr. N. warned me. I went straight over to Mr. Kuda and told him the whole story. Mr. Kuda thanked me for telling him and told me he should deal with Mr. M., as he would not tolerate any beating going on, specially under unfair circumstances. I was later complimented by Dr. Dasen and others of my friends for having put a brake on Mr. N.’s beating practice. Mr. Chichio told me that Mr. N. had been reprimanded by Mr. Kuda - and I hope it was in the Japanese way. In the months to come I did not have any real confrontation with Mr. N. but the few tines he passed me he sent me some angry glances and shouted "Bugger", one of the few English words he had picked up.

In the meantime we rolled and stacked logs and more logs and we had also in the meantime been busy with stock-taking of plywood sheets and shooks left over and not looted after the British retreat. The fitters, under Ah Lock's care, had fixed most of the machinery back to running condition. Unfortunately for my mill staff and for myself it went as I had suspected. We would not in the long run be left so much alone, working but progressing very slowly and not producing anything. Sometime before Christmas Mr. Ukawa, a Japanese plywood expert from Japan, arrived and a much tougher time was ahead for all of us.

I will now leave the development in the mill for a while and describe a number of events in Batu Arang, ranging from the comical to the very tragic. When I arrived in Batu Arang Mr. Kuda had told me that I could walk freely round in the village, but never to be involved in any political or anti-Japanese discussions. For the sake of my own safety I ought to stay inside my own bungalow after darkness, as the soldiers in the Japanese garrison would not hesitate to shoot if they found my movements suspicious. After work had finished at 5 p.m. I used to take strolls in different directions and, to avoid the six man guard post at the entrance to the village, I had so far used a little jungle path. But one afternoon I somehow decided to walk past the post and on the point of doing so I was stopped by the soldier on duty and he told me to bow. I just stood there and the sergeant in charge was called out. He also told me I had to bow. I stood quiet, I could not bow to them and their flag. Luckily the sergeant must have been a decent fellow; probably he also thought I did not understand him. He waved me off with a 117 "Tid apa" (never mind) and I had won my case. But I avoided the guard post in the future. One evening I was sitting in my mosquito room reading a book when two soldiers suddenly entered. The told me they were just having a round of inspection and they only asked a few friendly questions about how I was getting on. One of them made a sign that he wanted to test me in "Indian hand-wrestling" and to their and my own surprise I had an easy win. They left me with a friendly "sayonarah".— But when they were "on the war-path" the soldiers could be cruel enough. One of my previous leading hands, Gurdial Singh, a handsome and well-built young Sikk, had one evening been sitting in a local restaurant and getting drunk he had loudly and in strong words accused the Japanese of brutality against the natives and said that they wanted the British back. Unfortunately all he said was over-heard and reported to the Japanese by a personal enemy of his. Gurdial Singh was arrested and taken to the military quarters, where he had been interrogated and tortured and afterwards he had been taken out in the Jungle and bayonetted to death and buried on the spot. I heard the whole story the following day and felt very sad a-bout it. It could also easily be more cases of similar nature. Another incident of Japanese justice I heard about soon after the execution of Gurdial Singh. An Indian Kepala (overseer) was caught in embezzling a bag of sugar which should have been distributed among his working gang. The soldiers grabbed him, put him in a big sized bag and beat him to death. Nobody was working at the mill on Sunday, so I had decided to go deeper into the jungle, hoping to find a suitable hiding place in case I later should have to run for it. I walked fast along the railway line, previously built by the Malayan Collieries Ltd. for bringing out logs. I had been walking for a good ½ hour when a Chinese was coming on the line in the opposite direction. None of us slowed down and as he passed me he smiled broadly and handed me a nice corn cob. A "thank you very much" and a smile from me and we walked on in each our direction. A little later I saw a small track go into the jungle on the right side of the line. I followed it and after 10 minutes walk I saw a tiny timber shed partly hidden by the jungle. It was quite deserted and could not have been occupied for a considerable time, but it was well built and would give good shelter against the tropical rain. I decided that this should be my first place of resort in case I had to go into hiding. I went 118 back to the railway line, walked along for another ½ hour and then decided to explore a bit on the left side of the line. I came into very thick jungle and after a while I thought I'd better start thinking about going back to Batu Arang. But then I found that I was helplessly lost. In the thick jungle I had lost all sense of direction. I stood for a while wondering to which side I should go and then I chose to follow a small elevation leading to a slightly swampy area which I thought I had passed. I walked as fast as I could for a few minutes and to my great relief I saw the railway line in front of me. I sat down for a while eating my lunch consisting of a few tasty strawberry bananas and a jar full of rice flavoured with fish and vegetables. (Strawberry banana was a small banana with slightly pinkish flesh and with a delightful sub-flavour of strawberries). I also had a couple of good bites of the juicy corn cob I just had received. As I was sitting there next to the railway line I heard the shrill shrieks of baboons. Judging from the sound I guessed it would be quite a flock of them. The noise grew in strength rather rapidly. Then I could see them. On both sides of the railway line, bordered by smaller and bigger jungle trees, baboons were exhibiting their amazing acrobatics, swinging rapidly from branch to branch, from tree to tree. Soon they were close to me on either side and I realized I would soon be surrounded by these rather unpleasant animals. I jumped up and ran, ran for my life and did not stop till I had left the baboons well behind. I decided I had had enough excitement for the day and soon I was back in my bungalow again.

The evenings I spent alone, usually in my mosquito room, reading or writing. I wrote down in detail everything I saw and heard of importance in Batu Arang. Unfortunately all my notes were lost when I was removed from the place. Every evening before I went to bed I had my little "angelus" which was a great help and comfort to me. I felt a warm thankfulness to God for my being alive and healthy and asked for strength to carry it through till my own lovely country and all the other suppressed countries would be free again and I could be re-united with all my dear ones. The faith my mother so beautifully taught me in my childhood proved strong, good and warm to lean on, free as it was from dogmas, directions and trifles, quoted differently and dividing the Church in more than 20 different denominations. I also sang, that time with a loud and clear voice, the first verse of the beautiful Norwegian National hymn: "God save our dear father-land and let it bloom like a garden. Let your peace shine from mountains to strand - let the winter give way to the vernal sun. Nay the people live together like brethren - worthy of Christian people". 119 By now I was fully aware of the fact that I was under constant observation by the Japanese military authorities, so I asked my friends for the sake of their own security as well as my own, not to visit me in the evenings. In spite of this I had quite a few visitors, all being very nice to me, often bringing me special food and drinks. One Chinese timber contractor, Ah Teck (?) even gave me bread a few times. Some of my friends mentioned that the Japanese, through my presence, were somewhat restrained in their way of punishing and in a few cases I knew this happened. I was sitting in my mosquito room one evening, more or less ready for bed, when I heard somebody coming, making rather a noisy entrance and making good use of the full width of the wide concrete steps. I was wondering if it could be a drunken Japanese soldier, but no, it was my office clerk, Anthony. Small of build and with a pleasant personality, he was usually very quiet and soft-spoken. But now he came in roaring at the top of his voice, cursing "these bl. Japanese who had made life so difficult for everybody". (He was one who usually spoke rather highly of Mr. Kuda). Now Anthony was drunk, very drunk, and his description of the Japanese took a turn, using unprintable words I had never heard from his mouth before. I tried to calm him down, warning him that Japanese sentries could be around any time and I also reminded him about Gurdial Singh's sad fortune. "I do not care Mr. Marstrand," he said. "They can cut my head off - they can cut my bloody head, but I want these b.. out of the country and I want them out fast," I must admit that I became rather concerned for Anthony's head and my own as well, but then I told Anthony what a nice and brave chap he was and what a clever man he had been raising so many children (already six and more to come). He calmed down and a couple of glasses of soft drink sobered him off a little. He went home soon after and the next morning he told me it was nice to feel how it was to be really drunk. "But too dangerous to be repeated," I added. A couple of times I went over to see Doctor Dasen, the nice Indian Doctor who lived in a bungalow next to the hospital. He had stayed behind, with his patients and Mr. Kuda had given him full authority in the running of the hospital and in the care of the sick. To come to Dr. Dasen I had to go through the village and right up to the European bungalows, now occupied by the Japanese. If I had been observed and questioned about what I was doing over there, I could always say I felt sick and was going over to see the Doctor. Educated in Great Britain, he was a 120 staunch supporter of the British, but he was, of course, wise enough to hide his true feelings. He gave me the latest news which, however, was not very encouraging at that stage and he also handed me some tinned food. He was a real gentleman.

One event which could have had some nasty consequences for the Chinese working in the mill if it had not been for the quick-witted action of one of them, is worth telling about. One morning two cars and a lorry arrived at the plywood mill. In each of the cars there were three Japanese plus their Malay driver. Two of the Japanese were strangers from Kuala Lumpur and in one of the cars my old "friend" Mr. N. was seated. He brusquely ordered me to enter the lorry next to the driver and off we went. The lorry driver was an Indian, who for years had been driving the sane lorry pre-war for my old Company and we had also during "the new order" often exchanged a few friendly remarks when he delivered goods to the plywood mill. Being only the two of us in the lorry we could talk together freely, while we were heading for a rubber estate about 20 miles away at the Selangor River. The two cars with the Japanese were in front of us. The driver told me that he never felt at ease, as Mr. N. was his boss and he was always very suspicious and came with all kinds of impertinent questions, "and he told me not to talk to you," he added with a laugh. This was in February 1943 and we had heard about a few set-backs for the Japanese and that the guerilla forces in the jungle had become more active. "But the guerilla forces will not attack Batu Arang, Tuan," said the driver, "there are too many civilians who will suffer if that happens." As we arrived at the rubber estate, which was supervised by a nice, youngish Eurasian, a number of 44 gallon drums filled with latex were loaded on the lorry, while the Japanese took a stroll round the plantation and factory. The young Eurasian approached me and said he had heard about me through some friends of his and he could imagine how lonely and unsafe I would feel being the only European in Batu Arang surrounded by the hostile Japanese. "I realize you cannot run away without any direct provocation, as that will mean severe trouble for your workforce," he said. "But should it ever turn out so that you have to escape in a hurry, you find your way up here and we will look after you and keep you in hiding." I thanked him so much for his kindness and we shook hands The Japanese soon came back and we started on the return trip, but not before our friend, through a small Indian boy, had handed a nice bunch of bananas to the two of us in the lorry. 121 Coming back to the plywood mill, the driver and I were shocked to finding the entrance blocked by Japanese soldiers with rifles and fixed bayonets at the ready and three light machine guns pointing towards all my Chinese workers, who were lined up in front of the building. I was told by a Japanese interpreter to go and sit down in my office and stay there till further orders. There I also found my office staff, all very concerned and uneasy. They told me that the Japanese had discovered some abusive writing inside on one of the drying room doors. The following was written with black crayon in Chinese letters: “We must get rid of these nasty foreigners." The Japanese had lined up all the Chinese working inside the plywood mill and insisted that the writer of the above words should come forward and confess and take his punishment (which no doubt would be a terrible one). The soldiers had already gone along the line of Chinese and given each one of them a slap or two on the ear. The situation was very tense, but suddenly the Chinese were allowed to leave and the soldiers were marched home to their barracks. Then we heard how one courageous and quick-witted Chinese had stepped forward and told that he had seen the writing on the door before the war started, which meant that the abuse was directed against the British. Luckily this interpretation was straight away accepted by the Japanese, who thereby avoided a long and difficult interrogation, and they saved face and even triumphed by seeing their enemies degraded. Later on 'Wong Choong very confidentially told me that he knew the abuse had been written very recently and for the "benefit" of Japonpunya orang (the Japanese). Of all the nice and helpful people I met in Batu Arang, my old timber clerk, Chung Kiang Yoong, was outstanding in his loyalty and friendship and I will always remember him with sincere gratitude. He was also the very secret mediator between the local Chinese and the jungle troops (guerillas) to whom I a couple of times could hand over cash through Kiang Yoong. He even gave me a very timely warning and reprimand once I let out to a Eurasian friend that I had given money to the guerilla fighters. I took very good notice of his reprimand.

One day I was out in the mill, where I was helping a couple of my men sorting out some old rubber chest shooks, Kiang Yoong came hurrying down to me: "Watch out, Mr. Marstrand, and be careful with What you are saying," he whispered. "Four Japanese are here, disguised as Chinese fitters. It might 122 be you they will try to trap." I thanked Kiang Yoong for his kindness and when the four Japanese (whom I definitely would have taken for Chinese) passed, I was very occupied in the job of examining the shooks and to my great relief they passed me without talking to me, they only sent me some cold, stern glances. When Christmas was approaching Kiang Yoong very kindly asked me if I would like to spend Christmas Eve in his home with him and his family, but I thought it too much of a risk to take for both parts. In my bungalow that special evening I tried to pretend I was celebrating. I took a couple of good mouthfuls of the brandy Sundar Singh had given me and started singing "Silent night, holy night! All is calm, all is bright". I did not come any further, my voice gave way and I had to fight the tears back. It was too silent, too far from bright. Also my "old guards" in the mill were keeping an eye on me. One day after dark when I had gone to the village to meet some Chinese friends, I noticed a couple of Malays, strangers to me, were watching me rather intensely. I did not think more about it till one of my people, a stocky Malay by name Mohamed Taub, approached me in the mill the following morning: "Two strange Malays, who were after a job, had seen you in the village last night, Tuan, and they talked about telling the Japanese," he said. "But don't worry, Tuan, we told them they would get their throats slit if they as much as mentioned your name," Mohamed Taub demonstrated it for me with a whistling noise as he took his forefinger quickly across his own throat. We both had a bit of a laugh and I did not hear any more about my small escapade. A few months later I was under much stricter supervision and I had been told not to go far from my bungalow. I used then to take short walks past the wood distillation plant and the local sawmill up to a small hill from where I admired the lovely tropical sunset. On one of these trips, as I was standing there silently enjoying nature's quickly changing colour spectrum, a Sikk was coming towards me from the opposite direction. He was a stranger to me. He greeted me by touching his forehead and a "Tabek Tuan" Then he threw himself on his knees in front of me, grasped my hand and kissed it and affectionately he called out: "Orang puteh selaluh sahaya punya Tuan." (The white man will always be my master). I could not help being really touched by this sign of loyalty, at a time when the white population in Malaya so literally was down in the dumps. I took his hand and gave him a warm hand-shake. 123 As I have already mentioned, Mr. Ukawa, a Japanese plywood expert, had arrived from Japan some time before Christmas. A couple of months later he was joined by his assistant, Mr. Kishi. For a start Ukawa was very moderate in his approach and as his English as well as his Malay were not very good, he could not express himself too well. But as his knowledge in the two languages improved, so did also his authority in the mill and I had to answer for quite a few things I wilfully omitted to attend to. I saw very little of Mr. Kuda and Mr. Chichio after Ukawa had arrived, but when I met them they were always friendly to me. On the other hand I saw a lot more of Mr. N. and I was called over to his office fairly often to answer some tricky questions. Usually my answer was: "It must have been a mistake." "Mistake Huh," he shouted and angrily waved me off, but there were no more beatings. However, down at the plywood mill Ukawa gradually took over that part of Japanese supervision, ably supported by Kishi, but any real brutality or severe beating did not take place. On quite a few occasions I copped it myself, but it was never in my mind to report these beating-up cases carried out in the mill and in the office, as this could lead to a more thorough examination of what we had been doing - and not been doing during the past months. Ukawa could also be quite human and nice, but I could never feel quite safe when he was present and I had to be on the alert all the time. Suddenly one morning he asked me: "Where was Mr. Marstrand when Singapore surrendered?" "In the Danish Consulate, Ukawa San," I answered quickly, and no more questions were asked. I was rather proud of my quick reaction to the question, as I have always regarded myself as being far from quick-witted. Some time in February - March the mill started peeling veneers and making some plywood, but on a very small scale. The drying room had in the meantime been cleared for ammunition and was again functioning in its right capacity. I did not see so much of the work in the mill as my work was mainly concentrated on the log position in the yard. So one day I was told that my work from then on should be that of supervising about 20 Chinese; most of them had previously worked for me in the packing section. We would be required for the work of making a special kind of roofing tiles to be used in barracks and buildings. The tiles were to be made from old rubber chest shooks 18" x 18" and 24" x 18", all 3/16" thick. There was a fair supply of these shooks still 124 stacked in the mill. The shooks were to be dipped in latex and immediately after dipping a fat mixture of cement and sand and water, making a strong concrete was applied on both sides by means of big brushes. The sheets were then left in the hot sun for some hours till they were sufficiently dry and then weighed down by being stacked in relatively high piles, this in order to keep them straight. The process was carried out not far from the office, where we had a drain with running water. There we washed out the different mixing tubs long before they were properly emptied and it was unbelievably big quantities of cement and latex which disappeared down the drain. This, of course, happened when we were not watched. The Chinese, nearly all young boys, chatted away and had a lot of fun and every time a Japanese was looking at them they were deeply occupied in their work and as soon as they felt safe the game was on again. "Be a bit careful, boys, the Japanese may cut the heads off all of us," I tried to warn them. But it was rather impossible to restrain these lively chaps and day after day passed on in the same pattern. The stacks of treated shooks increased in number and quite a few of them were sent away. My chaps asked me if they would be any good for roofing tiles and I gave them my opinion: "The first week or two they would be nice and flat and cover well, then they will start curling up along the edges and the Japanese soldier will be properly soaked." The last part of my remark was met with a roaring laughter. In this connection I will mention that somebody else also had his little game. Mr. Hari Harahn, the Indian in charge of the wood distillation plant, was carrying on in his own quiet way. We had a few good chats together and he confessed to me that he had no love for the British, but that he still more disliked the Japanese. One day he came over to me and seeing no Japanese were around, he told me that all the Japanese in Batu Arang were jubilant now. I asked him why and he told me that he had managed to produce usable petrol from rubber for them. "Mr. Hari Hahran, how could you - I thought you -," I stuttered. "Ah, don't worry, Mr. Marstrand," he interrupted me. "They will only be happy for a day or two till they find the cylinders in their cars clogging up, covered with a thin film of rubber. And I have warned them," he added. As we were proceeding with the roofing tiles Mr. Ukawa was regularly inspecting our work and expressed his satisfaction with the progress. Ukawa was a medium sized, thick-set man with a very round face. During his stay in Batu Arang he put on in weight rather rapidly, which had been the case with so many Japanese civilians coming to Malaya, where they could amply enjoy sugar and 125 sweet foodstuff. He had a few times been out in the jungle together with Lee, Lee Lip Sing's brother, to check on the timber supply. After such an excursion Lee had not been able to give Ukawa all the information he wanted about incoming timber and Ukawa had given him a hard one under the ear. Lee was very upset about it, actually shed tears, when he told us he had to go out in the jungle with the b.. again. I just said quietly to Lee: "Do you remember the Rengas tree, Lee?" About a week later Kishi told me that Ukawa was away for the day on another trip out in the jungle with Lee. The following day we were working on the roofing tiles as usual when Ukawa cane down rather late in the morning and did not come too close to us. But my cheerful little working gang became extremely amused without daring to look towards Ukawa too obviously. The poor man's head was swollen to such a degree that the eyes only were visible as two narrow lines and I could imagine what his chest and stomach looked like - I was really pitying him somewhat -he was so blown up and red coloured by the rash that we could not even see how angry he was. I just wondered if it was Lee who had "remembered" the rengas tree. I never got to know as Lee never turned up again before I was taken away from Batu Arang. The next couple of weeks passed relatively peacefully, but I became more and more convinced that great changes were in store for me. And so it was.

One day straight after work Ukawa came up to my bungalow just as Boy carried in my meagre meal. Ukawa told me that the Japanese military authorities had demanded that I, as an enemy subject, should be removed from Batu Arang and that he in three days would take me down to Kuala Lumpur. "You are allowed to take your money with you and a small suitcase or box and how much money do you have?" asked Mr. Ukawa. "Not very much," I said, "a couple of hundred dollars perhaps," This brought Ukawa into a sudden and terrible rage. "Your Boy must have stolen your money," he said and he turned round, grabbed Boy, and started beating him up, while his rage increased. I had had enough by then and with my very best voice of command I looked him angrily right in the eyes and called out: "Ukawa San!" His arms dropped limply down and with open mouth he stared at me with eyes full of surprise. I gave Boy a small side-ways nod and he quickly disappeared. Ukawa turned round and left me and I wondered what kind of thoughts then was in his mind. 126 Very soon after Ukawa had left, Kishi came up and told me the same story about the end of my stay in Batu Arang. "What more do you know?" I asked him. "I do not exactly know what sending away means." "Ah, Ah, mati tida, mati tida." (Ah, Ah, not to die, not to die), he assured me. He maintained - and in a way I think he believed it - that the Japanese soldiers looked after their prisoners; but how wrong he was. Later in the evening quite a few of my friends were calling to wish me well and they thanked me for looking after them and helping them to earn money for a living. One of them, Supaiah, a nice, small Tamil with a big warrior beard, asked if he could get my drinking bottle, a bottle I used to bring with me full of drinking water every morning. "What do you want that for, Supaiah?" I asked. "Ah, Tuan punya bottle." (Ah, my Master's bottle) was the touching reply. The last ones to visit me that evening were Apanah and Mathaven, who, in common with Doctor Dasen, had the welfare of the village population first of all on their minds. Among other things, Mathaven had repaired and re-installed the Batu Arang water system, a feat which made him loved by everybody. When my two friends had gone, I felt very lonely and I let my thoughts run wild, "calling in" at all my dear ones, visiting the places I had learned to love in Norway, California and Malaya; it had all been so wonderful - and now I was sitting in my bare mosquito room so alone and helpless. I could not run away from Batu Arang; too many people would be suffering even if such an attempt would be unsuccessful, and to sit here and wait could possibly mean to be slaughtered like a sheep or rot away in a Japanese prison - not exactly bright prospects. Then I remembered that I had a half bottle of Dutch schnapps, Bolsch, which I had received as a gift from our previous grocer in Batu Arang, a Chinese by name Hop Kee. Through Boy he had been able to supply me with quite a few necessities, as matches, tinned food, etc. He gave me the half bottle once I went over to see him; he thanked me for the seven and a half previous years when Molle and I had been good customers. I opened the bottle and tasted the Bolsch. It was nice, not unlike the Norwegian aquavit. Well, I could do with another nip. A third and a fourth and a fifth one went down and I was sitting there chuckling and talking to myself. "You are not much better than Anthony, Tuan Marstrand," I said; "but that is not a bad way to be." The contents of the bottle steadily decreased and I became more and more talkative and "courageous". I challenged the whole Batu Arang garrison to come and try to catch me. - The bottle stood there empty and I just felt good, very good. I realized that I was drunk and that I was in for a bad time, but I enjoyed this little moment of recklessness, distracting me from my more serious thoughts and fears. I went to bed and slept like a log.

127 The following morning I was called over to Mr. Kuda's office. When I arrived I found Mr. Kuda and Mr. Chichio waiting for me. They motioned me to sit down and Mr. Kuda told me that the steps they had taken regarding the cessation of my stay in Batu Arang were demanded by the military authorities, "but we have been promised that you will be well treated," Mr. Kuda said. Then Mr. Chichio added something and asked me: "Do you understand what I say to you?" I did not take in what he was saying as he spoke very softly and I was so mentally fatigued by all that had happened the last couple of days, so I did not understand him and would not admit it. Later things happened which made me regret that I had not asked Mr. Chichio to repeat his last words to me. Anyhow, I thanked these two decent men very much for the kindness they had shown me and they both sent me off with a friendly smile. I spent the rest of the day mainly in my bungalow and I made ready a few items I wanted my office staff and Boy to look after till the end of the War. Captain Nielsen's money, which I for months had hidden in a sealed bottle under the bungalow I had already given to Kiang Yoong for safe keeping. The rest of the items consisted of letters from Captain Nielsen to his wife, my own records, a detailed description of the events in Batu Arang, as well as Str.$650 in cash (intended for Molle in case I "did not make it".) I distributed it all between Boy and a couple of reliable Indian clerks, but unfortunately it all got lost. The money probably came to good use, but it was a pity the letters and the records also disappeared. Regarding the money I had left in Kiang Yoong's care, this faithful friend of mine looked after it till a golden opportunity for its direct delivery to Mrs. Nielsen arrived. Consul-General Mr. Foss informed me later, after the War, that he was going to Malaya on business and that he was passing Seremban, Kiang Yoong’s working field after the War. Mr. Foss received the money and delivered it to Mrs. Nielsen on his return to Oslo. It was really a happy ending to a chain of exciting events, being successful through the co-operation of some very nice friends. It was only so sad that Captain Nielsen did not live to see it, and also a pity that his letters to his wife were lost.

Back to my last full day in Batu Arang. - After I had distributed the above items I went back to the bungalow; I had a few more well-wishers and farewell visitors and then I took a last stroll over to the hill behind the wood distillation to observe the lovely sunset there just once more. I got up fairly early next morning, sitting ready for further instructions from Ukawa. He soon arrived and asked me to come down and take a final farewell with my staff and workers. When I came down I saw he had lined them all up in 128 two rows; he put me in the middle of the front line with himself on my right side and Kishi on my left. Then Ukawa wished me good luck (all humbug I soon found out) and he turned towards me with a deep bow, and so did Kishi. I answered by thanking all my workers and wishing them good luck. "You know the Japanese will look after me," I said, "and be careful all of you." I did not turn towards either of my two "guardians"". I wanted to show these two men that I did not want any sentimental play - but it was really sad to leave all my nice and loyal people behind to an uncertain fate. Soon after I was on the way to Kuala Lumpur together with Ukawa and a Malayan driver. All my belongings I had in a small suitcase. There was very little said on the way to Kuala Lumpur and my mind came somewhat to rest when we passed through all the nice small places I had familiarized myself with during my seven and a half years of peaceful existence in Malaya. When entering Kuala Lumpur I was starting to wonder where Ukawa had been instructed to bring me, but on my question Ukawa briefly answered: "You will soon know." And very soon after this the car stopped outside Pudu Road Gaol. "So this was it," I thought. I gaol which had gained the reputation of being one of the worst gaols during the Japanese occupation, should be my next stay and could easily be my last. I was taken in to the Gaol Superintendent, a handsome looking, quiet spoken police officer. He signalled me to sit down on a chair in the corner of his office, while he and Ukawa conversed in Japanese. Ukawa with his rough voice sounded rather excited. A young Eurasian police officer stood nearby listening intently to the conversation. Then Ukawa and the two police officers left the room leaving me alone in a very depressed state of mind. After a little while the Eurasian came back and in a very low voice he told me that he understood the Japanese language fairly well and he had heard Ukawa telling the superintendent that I was a dangerous man who ought to be punished: "But I will help you all I can whatever happens," the nice man added. Then the superintendent re-entered the room alone and I expected the worst. I was offered a seat opposite him at his table (I was surprised that I did not have to stand) and as he apparently could not speak English well he gave a message to his assistant. With a poorly hidden smile the Eurasian told me: "My boss asks me to tell you that you may leave now and you are free to go wherever you like as long as you report to the nearest police station." I stood up and it took a little while before I fully realized what it all meant to me, then I said to the Eurasian: "May you please tell the superintendent that I thank him very, very much." The Japanese then rose from his chair, gave a smile and a very deep bow. It was not 129 hard for me to answer with a similar courtesy this time. After a happy "thank you" also to my Eurasian friend I left the building still rather confused, but realizing that I had just been saved from a terrible fate. Oh, how thankful I also was to God. Again I felt that I was not battling alone and that in so many ways our steps could be guided. Was it the nice Mr. Kuda, together with Mr. Chichio, who had pulled some strings? I wondered.

A new chapter of my life had started and, although it turned out to be a short one, it proved to be a very interesting period in which I enjoyed a considerable amount of freedom in spite of the fact that I always was under suspicion and control by the Japanese. I could without real restraint mix with a few friends who with their friendship and unselfishness saved me from distress and loneliness during the next few months. Again it was the "neutral" Danes I became indebted to. Helslev, the young Danish ships engineer I previously have mentioned, had at an earlier occasion paid me a short visit in Batu Arang soon after I had been taken up there and he had then given me his address in Kuala Lumpur and told me I was welcome to come and stay with him and his friends any time. - I found my way to his address, more in the outskirts of the City and when I knocked on the door I was confronted by a nice-looking, friendly Siamese (Thai) girl, who told me that Helslev on a couple of occasions had mentioned my name. She asked me to come in and meet the other occupants of the house. This was late in the afternoon, just before darkness would start setting in. Then I met another Dane by name of Olav (?) Poulsen and his Siamese mistress besides Helslev, whose mistress I had met at the door. They were all four very nice persons, but Poulsen, who also was the oldest, clearly was the master of the house, who had to approve of the different matters coming up before any discussion was taken, and when he also welcomed me to stay with them I felt I could relax. I stayed with these friendly people a good fortnight and they insisted on me only paying a small weekly amount to help settle the food bills. One day I was called down to the office of the Special Police, where I was given a band to pin on my shirt, declaring in Japanese letters that I was an enemy subject, but Poulsen told me not to worry and that I was just as welcome to stay on as before. "With these people in power you can never feel safe," he said. "People with white skin will always be in danger. All the people interned in Singapore are safer. We, surely, have more and better food and can move around and live more unrestricted, but we are only single individuals exposed to secret spying, intrigues and even treachery by natives, who are ready to 130 send in false statements about your work and movements and are ready to testify to your anti -Japanese feelings.. In the internment camp you at least have the protection of being a number in a big crowd, officially known to be interned. But I have had an exciting life, Marstrand, full of adventure and risks and I want you to stay here with us till you find your way about." Mr. Poulsen than told me that he and Mr. Stake (you will remember Mr. Stake from my earlier records) had been very keen in athletics, where their friendship had started and together they had gone to Finland in 1918 and joined General Mannerheim's forces as volunteers during his war against "the Reds". It was a hard, cruel and short war with a complete victory for Mannerheim's forces. Then the two of them had found their way out to Malaya, where they both, not being married, found native women as companions; Stake later officially married his Malayan girl. "I can still prove my athletic ability from previous days," said Mr. Poulsen. "Feel my muscles, Marstrand." His arms, legs and stomach had stone hard muscles and his whole body was concentrated energy and strength, although he did not have Stake's tall stature. It was a new experience to me to live in the same house as these two couples. Helslev's girl, in her middle twenties, and Poulsen's girl, in her middle thirties, were both good cooks, who could make quite a lot out of very little and they kept the house very clean. I often had a chat with the girls, who told me much about their country and they gave me some examples of how in their native tongue different accentuation (accent) of words spelt in the same way could have three different meanings. The older girl said to me once: "You have told us much about your wife and children, Mr. Marstrand, and I understand that you are a very happy family man, but please do not think that we two girls are bad girls. You will realize from what we have told you that we were very hard up in this country, any job was poorly paid - and now, of course, the situation is rather hopeless for single native or Eurasian girls. We are very fond of our men and we want to stay by them." When I asked Mr. Poulsen why he and Helslev had not chosen to stay in Singapore, where they could be more under the protection of the Danish Consulate, he answered: "Mr. Strandberg is a very nice but also very correct gentleman and he is not liable to tolerate any unmarried couple to stay in the Consulate. We will not desert our girls and we earn enough to keep us going, so here we stay." In spite of all the kindness shown to me by these four people, time passed away slowly. I was longing for something concrete to do and at the same time find 131 a place away from town life and the constant sight of Japanese military and civilians.

On Helslev's advice I had already written to our common friend, Olav Palnum, who had acquired a place up at Cameron Highlands, a beautiful hill- or mountain-plateau with the main access from Ipoh in Perak, a real holiday resort and tourist attraction before the War. The Malayan Collieries Limited had a big property up there, the Boh tea plantation, from where there was a breath-taking, beautiful view to all the surrounding districts. I very soon received a reply from Olav, telling me I was very welcome to stay with him and give him a hand in his vegetable garden. I took a hearty farewell with my nice hosts and early one morning I was sitting on a train on the way to Ipoh. When I entered the train at Kuala Lumpur Railway Station I became rather uneasy seeing the station was crawling with Japanese soldiers, going Northwards on the same train as myself. Before I could quite realize it I was sitting in a railway wagon jammed between the soldiers, who were eagerly chatting away between themselves. Those sitting next to me were scrutinizing my band, declaring I was an enemy subject, but they left me in peace. Then I went to sleep for a while and we arrived at Ipoh before dusk was setting in. A couple of the soldiers even gave me a friendly nod when I left the train and admittedly I was very relieved about coming that far without any trouble. In Ipoh I was looking for an hotel and soon found a nice looking building with the word "Hotel" illuminated on top. I was hungry and tired and considered myself lucky finding good accommodation so quickly. But coming near to it I received a proper rebuff when I found written with big letters at the entrance "For Japanese only". The new order again. I walked in the streets searching for a while, when I found a small hotel and went inside to ask for accommodation for the night plus an evening meal. The hotel was run by an Indian and did not look exactly inviting, but "beggars are not choosers", so I settled in for the night. It was a Chinese girl who served the evening meal, curried rice and fish. I asked her if there was any bus connection to Cameron Highlands and was told there was a bus leaving for that destination every day about lunch time; the place of departure was a market place close by the hotel. So that was a bit of welcome news. When I went up to my room on the first floor I found it was very moderately furnished and though apparently clean-looking, there was a strong smell of tobacco from the bed linen. All the bedrooms were partitioned off by half-walls of plywood panelling, reaching only half-way to the ceiling and this made the rooms far from soundproof. I went to bed, but it was difficult to sleep, because of the strong tobacco stench from the bed-clothes. I could hear the occupant of the room to my 132 right, a man, I soon found out, going to bed in a rather noisy manner. After a little while my neighbour rang the bell; a knock on the door and I could recognize the hotel owner's voice: "Apa mau?" "Kasi satu perempuan." "Baik, sikit jam." ("What do you want?" "Bring me a girl." "All right, in a moment.") Soon afterwards there was another knock on my neighbour's door and I heard the Indian calling out rather business-like: "Inl dia satu ringgit, ini lain due ringgit." ("This one one dollar, the other one two dollars.") I did not know whether he took the one- or the two-dollar girl, but judging from all the noise from a creaky bed and all the chatting in Malay, he must have got good value for the money. But it was irritating and unpleasant lying listening to it. Next morning I saw a very untidy Eurasian and a thick-set Malay girl go out of the room. I was not sorry about leaving the hotel and went down in good time to catch the bus to Cameron Highlands. It proved to be a bus which had seen much better days. It had brought the "Cameron Highlanders" down to Ipoh for shopping in the morning and was now bringing them back early in the afternoon. I was glad I had been early; long before it was scheduled to leave all the seats were occupied, but still many people managed to squeeze themselves inside. It was altogether a happy, good natured crowd, mostly women going home after having visited the food market in Ipoh. I was again the lonely white man, but this time all the happy chatter in Malay, Indian and Chinese was like music in my ears and I became quite excited myself thinking about coming up in the hill country. After hardly ten minutes' run the bus stopped at a Japanese checkpoint and I could see Japanese soldiers of at least company strength having strenuous sport and gymnastics outside a bigger two-storey brick building, serving as their quarters. Two soldiers and a sergeant checked our passes. I had obtained one before I left Kuala Lumpur. The inspection was over quickly. All the people standing in the bus had to go outside while the sergeant just stood next to the driver's seat eying us all for a few seconds - and the inspection was over and another obstacle passed. For quite a while we travelled through relatively flat land till we came to the foot of a hill and the bus started climbing up in the highland. To counter the steepness the road became much more winding and dense jungle had replaced the open fields and gardens. After a while we came to Ringlet, a little village where previously also some Europeans had settled down. It was regarded as the beginning of the real highland area. The road now became rather steep in places, all cut through thick jungle till we soon came up to another plateau surrounded by hills. On the plateau was a group of houses, a small shop area, a post office and a police station. On the surrounding hills many Europeans 133 had had their farms and bungalows, some of which I could see from where the bus halted. Here were also, more in the background of the village, many houses belonging to the natives. As it was the bus terminal all the passengers dismounted, and there I found Olav Palnum and his Chinese mistress, Pansy, waiting for me, giving me a very warm welcome. We walked up a small hill and then we came to "Folly Farm", where a nice, spacy bungalow was surrounded by a tropical garden with all its tropical colours and varieties, and even a small swimming pool was in the setting near the house verandah. Quite a few acres of broken up, partly cultivated ground also belonged to the property. Olav introduced me to his Czechoslovakia friend, Bill Zamara and his Siamese (Thai) mistress, Margaret. Bill had taken over the place through a special arrangement with Olav, and how the whole business and the acquisition of the farm came about for a start I did not regard as any concern of mine. Bill employed a work force of six to eight men and women, according to requirements. They were all Tamils (Indians) and they were willing and easy to keep under control. Bill asked me if I would supervise their work and offer a helping hand where needed. For my part I should then have lodging - my own little room - and all meals included. On top of this I should have $5.00 a week. These I regarded as excellent conditions and it made me very happy. I regularly worked together with the Tamils and the oldest of them proved to be quite a good gardener, but practically all of them had regular bouts of malaria and although some quinine was available for them, the fever weakened them very much. On top of this their food was not as nourishing as could be desired. When they came to work at 7.30 a.m. it was usually quite cold, but as soon as the sun had gained more power it was just lovely. Both men and women were very lightly dressed when working, the men barefooted with a pair of shorts as the only article of dress and the women also barefoot and in a very light and open sari. One of them, a tall, well-built, rather pretty woman, apparently tried to entice me by regularly exposing as much as possible of her body whenever I was around, and her bosom stood out like two heavy sized, brown soiled turnips. I just always looked in another direction - nearly always. One thing I soon found out was that all of them, probably greatly caused through the frequent malaria attacks, completely lacked initiative and resourcefulness. One of the best examples of this I got when Bill asked me to send two men up to cut some firewood for the open fireplace. Bill had shown them a fair-sized log lying there for the purpose and had given them an old, rather rusty two-man 134 cross-cut saw. When I half an hour later went up to see how they were going, they stood there shaking their heads and said in Malay, "Ta buleh tahan, Tuan." ("It cannot be done, sir"). They had not even finished their first cut. I went into the tool-shed and found an old file and some oil and made a saw-blade frame from a couple of one inch boards. I sent the two men away to another job, while I was giving the saw a "once over" with the file and the oil. Next morning I gave the saw to the same two men and asked them to have another go on the log, and left them to it. When I came back a couple of hours later I was met by two eager men who laughed and gesticulated towards a nice little heap of sawn up firewood. I was thinking about the saying: "The one-eyed man is the king of the blind." Fairly soon after my arrival the local police officer, a Malay, called and informed us that we had to report to the Japanese captain who was in charge of the Cameron Highland Research Farm, as he wanted to know what we were doing. This research farm had been built by the British years ago and had gradually been developed into an enterprise of high standard. The following morning the three of us started on our way to the Research Station immediately after we had set our small work force on different jobs. It was probably seven or eight kilometres walk, mostly uphill, and we wanted to make it a kind of an outing. It was a lovely walk in the early morning sun through typical hill country, and a great part of the good road was framed by thick jungle on either side. I specially remember a water-fall with its crystal clear cascade of water broken on some big, flat stones after probably fifty feet or more of free fall, while the sun played with the foam, making it a marvellous exhibition of multi-coloured feather-down. Before the War a river such as this would have been quite a good trout river. The British administration had long before the War introduced trout in many rivers in the Malayan Highlands and the fish were thriving. But as the control was slackened or completely neglected by the Japanese, the Sakais ("the jungle negroes of Malaya") killed off most of the river trout by poisoning them by means of poisonous herbs; the dead fish would float up and were safe to eat; it was a welcome addition to the Sakais' meagre menu. After an additional thirty to forty minutes' walk we arrived at the Research Station, a beautifully laid out area with many buildings. We first met a Malay official, a nice and well-spoken man, who told us to be careful in our approach to the Japanese officer, whom he described as a reasonable but very vain man, who without any artistic sense had collected and stored in his office building all kinds of furniture, pictures and knick-knacks taken from departed European 135 bungalows in the district. "If you can manage to greet him with a good bow it will facilitate matters," the Malay added. We had to sit in the corridor for a good half-hour before "his lordship" found time to see us. After a clumsy kind of a bow - none of us seemed to have taken much notice of the forewarning, we had to stand there facing him and his inquisitive looks: "What are you three fellows doing here in Cameron Highlands?" he barked (in fairly good English). "Farming," it came from all of us. "You farming, hoh, hoh, hoh," he laughed with considerable contempt. I had a look at my friends’ faces. Bill looked straight-out angry, Olav had managed to produce a very offended look, while I just was on the point of laughter. This was the end of a very short audience and we were waved out of the office. -Yes, we certainly were farmers, hoh, hoh, hoh, all right! We bought a drake and a duck and were very soon after proud when the duck in a prepared nest gradually produced fourteen eggs and in time presented us with fourteen ducklings. We had had a few very wet days, but ducklings were born for living in water, we thought, so gradually they developed pneumonia, or straight out drowned, and then we in disdain killed and ate the two parents who could not look after their brood. We bought two goats, which both developed a mysterious sickness, faded away and died. Olav bought a big, beautiful looking chook, a Rhode Island Red, from an Indian (who probably had stolen it from the Cameron Highlands Research Farm) for 25 Japanese banana dollars. Olav was very proud of this chook and very soon the chook supplied us with an egg - and repeated the feat daily for about a week. Then it just disappeared one night; probably it found its end as a delicious curry dish on an Indian dinner table. We did not have too much luck with the cultivation of the land either, apart from quite a good harvest of sweet potatoes, but we were living in these beautiful surroundings and although, at least I realized, I lived on borrowed time, we all tried to get the best out of life from day to day. During the evenings we often were together all five of us; specially we enjoyed the evenings when it was cold enough to have a good log fire going. We had many cosy chats, played cards or mah-jong. It was quite interesting to listen to the two girls and gradually quite a few details of their lives in the past were revealed to me. Margaret, while still a young girl in Thailand, had been acquainted with a young French businessman, became his mistress and he promised to marry her. When things started getting really had in France with Hitler's soldiers invading the country, the Frenchman's business suffered considerably and one day he just disappeared, leaving Margaret to care for two small children, a product of their 136 comradeship. She went to Singapore, where she met Bill and they became friends. Bill looked after her and the two children till war came to Malaya. Then Bill arranged for the two children to be looked after by French Catholic nuns. When Singapore surrendered to the Japanese, Bill as a Czechoslavakian managed to be allowed to go up to Cameron Highlands, bringing Margaret with him. He had made some good money on the sale of office articles, specially on typewriters, so he could afford to live in retirement for a good while. Pansy and Olav had just met and together they had found their way up to "Folly Farm” at Cameron Highlands, a wonderful place indeed. Pansy usually was the first one to break up for bed in the evenings and with a charming smile she called out "Goodnight, anybody." She was a very pretty girl and having lost her parents when she still was a young child, she had been left in the charge of a Catholic mission school for girls. In her own words they were well looked after and well fed. Growing up she had become the mistress of a British colonel, with whom she stayed right up to the time of the surrender. Pansy had brought with her quite a big collection of silver plated cutlery in a rather great variety of designs and engravings. I remarked one day about her nice cutlery and she told me how she the last few years, as the mistress of the colonel, was out dining with him in different hotels and restaurants and during the dinner she always put a knife, a spoon or a fork in her handbag as a souvenir. "So you see, Thiel, during the years I managed to collect quite a few souvenirs," she added with a big smile, not showing the slightest sign of guilt. Anyhow, both Margaret and Pansy were very nice to me and we became good friends. They wanted to know more about my country and my family, so one evening when the two girls and I were sitting alone round the fireplace I told them about Norway and about Molle and our two children. It was nice for me to watch how keen the two of them were listening and when we broke up Margaret pressed my hand and said: "You will soon have your country and your family back, Thiel." Pansy taught us all to play mah-jong, a game involving a quantity of specially painted and numbered miniature bricks of wood, or the most expensive ones in ivory. You had to collect certain series. To have a hope of winning, you have to be quick both in mind and movements and Pansy was a real champion. We were just about to sit down for tea, when an elderly Chinese came to see us. From the tight-fitting, stiff, white collar we could straight away guess he belonged to the clergy. He introduced himself and asked if he could come in and talk to us. We invited him for tea which he accepted with a happy smile. His name was Marcus Chieng and he was working for Svenska Missionsforbundet (The Swedish Mission Association), Wuchang, Hupeh, China. He had been stationed at 137 Cameron Highlands for quite some time in the Evangelic Lutheran service. He was a very nice and sincere man, who was under constant strain because of the Japanese way of treating him. His combined community hall and school was closed down, all the furniture removed and no church or school gathering allowed. He was regularly visited and menaced by Japanese authorities. "It is probably only a matter of time before they put me in gaol, he said." It was nice to listen to his pre-war experiences and when he heard I was Norwegian, he spoke to me in Swedish and spoke the language very clearly and well. He said be would soon call again, which he did, but unfortunately I was down in Ipoh that day. He left behind a Norwegian Bible for me, printed in Oslo 1926. - I will tell more about that Bible later. Marcus Chieng called in once more shortly before I was taken away, so I got a chance to thank him for his kindness. I hope this kind and sincere person did not have to suffer and rot away in any of these cruel Japanese prisons, which claimed the lives of so many brave persons of many nationalities. A Eurasian by name Fernandez, who had a few acres of land some distance away from "Folly Farm" and right at the rim of the jungle, called to see us quite often. One day he approached me: "I know you as an enemy subject are in constant danger, even up here, Mr. Marstrand. If the Japanese call for you, I know they are up to something no good. Would you like to come over to my place? I know the jungle area here and they will never find you." I thanked Fernandez heartily for his generous offer, but told him that if I tried to escape my four friends would be severely punished. "I just have to go through it, Fernandez," I said. "I will be all right, you see I am born on a Sunday, and luck will be with me." Fernandez was one of the persons I always will remember; a very fine person he was. A couple of days after the Chinese pastor's visit a policeman from the Cameron Highlands police station called and told me that the chief police officer in Ipoh wanted to see me as soon as possible. "It is on again, and maybe this spells the end of my stay in these lovely surroundings," I was thinking. My friends were also very concerned about what the outcome of this call would be. I had secured a pass for a trip to Ipoh and back again and the next morning I was sitting on the same shabby bus which brought me up to the highlands, but this time the bus was nearly empty. In case I should not return to "Folly Farm" I had brought the little cash I possessed, my small Norwegian metal flag and a photo of Molle, the children and myself standing outside our bungalow in Batu Arang. The trip down went very smoothly and for some reason or other we drove through the Japanese check-point without having to stop. 138 When we arrived at the bus terminal in Ipoh I noticed a small but well built Indian with a black moustache and sharp, penetrating eyes watching me, but I brushed it aside as being quite incidental. After all, I must have been looking rather peculiar with a six weeks old full beard, reddish-brown of colour, spotted with black and grey, black, long, untidy hair, copper brown in the face and dressed in a white tropical suit rather over-sized and wrinkly. (On "Folly Farm" shaving was prohibited, hair-cut abandoned and clothes wash an irregular- and bath a regular occurrence.) I went into a tobacco shop to buy some matches which already had risen to a very high price and were harder to obtain. Coming outside again I saw the Indian standing looking in the shop window. I realized I was under surveillance and that something was going to happen soon, and after I got convinced of that being the case I wanted to see the end of the game before I made enquiries about the police station. I stopped outside a grocery shop and studied my shopping list; the Indian stopped and studied me. I went into the grocery shop and bought some tinned food and my Indian "friend" came next to me and studied the scanty exhibition of canned fruits. We both went out on the street again but by now I understood I had to cut out the next item on my shopping list which read "buy newspaper", which really meant "see a Eurasian journalist, a friend of Olav, about the latest British war news." So I went into a small Chinese coffee shop and ordered a cup of coffee and some biscuits. When I turned round the Indian was already at the next table chatting with the Chinese waitress. I was now, of course, quite clear about the fact that all my movements were closely watched and I was therefore not surprised when the Indian came over to me: "You are Mr. Marstrand?" he asked. Without even waiting for my answer, he continued: "My boss wants to see you." I told him that that was my reason for coming down to Ipoh and that if he could come with me and show me the way I would like to go to the police station right away. When we arrived there I was taken into a bare, narrow room and told I would soon be called in to the police superintendent. I did not wait very long before I was called in. The local Head of Police turned out to be a typical Japanese, but of the friendly type, round faced with cropped hair and big-rimmed glasses. He greeted me with a faint smile and signalled me to sit down opposite his desk. He mentioned that being an enemy subject it would be better for the sake of my security to be sent down immediately to the internment camp in Singapore. "We have no accusation to lay against you; my Indian detective, who has been watching your movements, has testified to that" he added. I told him that I realized that I would be interned sooner or later, but that I at present 139 stayed with some good friends from neutral countries and could I please be permitted to stay with them a little bit longer? "You see I am married and all I want now is to meet my wife and children again, the same as you want yourself," I said. Then I pulled out the photo I carried in my coat pocket and showed it to him. It had a much bigger effect than I had expected. The police officer had real tears in his eyes and showed the photo to the next in charge, a Japanese, who had just come in. "You may go home now," the chief told me, "but be prepared for a call from us any time." I thanked him for his kindness and went out to do some more shopping before entering the bus to Cameron Highlands. By a stroke of luck Olav's friend, the Eurasian journalist, saw me on the street, recognizing me from the description Olav had given him. We had a chat over a quick cup of coffee in a lonely Chinese coffee shop. Besides some not very encouraging news the journalist told me that the Japanese Gestapo had started combing the country for so-called unwanted persons and that some executions had taken place. "This is not to frighten you, but just to warn you," he added. I then understood better the warning the Japanese police officer had given me. My friends at "Folly Farm" greeted me with loud cheers when I came back and after I had told them about my trip we all agreed that we should make the best out of each one day at a time. Already the following day a car drove up to the bungalow and I, of course, started fearing the worst. But to the relief of all of us we saw an old acquaintance from the Danish Consulate coming out of the car. He had taken on the job as inspector of some of the plantations in a wide district and as a Dane he had a relative freedom of movements. He was invited to a cup of coffee and during our conversation he told us that he was on the way up to Boh Tea Plantation, the Malayan Collieries Limited's property in the Highlands, now under Japanese administration, but not worked for the time being. He asked if any of us wanted to go with him and I wanted very much to do so. Mr. M... was the name of the Dane, and he was more than willing to take me as a passenger. But he told me to sit in the back seat so I could duck in case we passed people or met any vehicles. It was a good arrangement, as I really had to duck a couple of times, but soon after we had passed the Research Station we came on to wide, open stretches, which with the wide surrounding districts disclosed a magnificent panorama. We arrived safely at the plantation, where a Malay, who previously had worked the machinery for my old Company, had been given the job to look after the machinery plant. When he heard that I was an ex-employee of the Company he was very thrilled and said he would do his very best to keep the machinery in good 140 order till his old masters returned. "They will soon come, Tuan," he said, "and the sooner the better." It was a lovely experience for me to have seen this beautiful part of Malaya and I could visualize what it was like before - and would be like again under peaceful working conditions. When we arrived back at "Folly Farm" nothing of importance had happened there and I thanked Mr. M. for another beautiful experience, so welcome a diversion in a most troublesome period. The following days went past with routine work followed by cosy evenings in front of the fireplace and some good games of mah-jong. I also used a couple of evenings to pack ready in a solid gunny bag things which I hoped I would be allowed to take with me, when the unavoidable day came, the day for my internment. In the bag I put some personal toilet articles, bed sheets, towels, shirts and underwear and some tinned food, a lot of the said things so generously given to me by Olav and Bill. Further I put in a few books, among them the Norwegian Bible given to me by Pastor Marcus Chieng. In the centre of the bag, well lined by surrounding bed sheets and clothing, I placed a beer bottleful of concentrated iodine, a bottle I had found in one of the sheds on the farm. I also got hold of and put in the bag two small soft drink bottles, one filled with Australian brandy and the other with cod. liver oil. The two bottles looked completely identical, both regarding size and colour of the contents. The brandy was a gift from my hosts and the cod liver oil I had picked up from a shelf in the old chook house at "Folly Farm". Although the cod liver oil had started going rancid I thought it could come in handy as a medicine. Nearly a fortnight had passed since my visit to Ipoh, when Fernandez came to see us again in the evening. He had just returned from Ipoh, where a friend of his had told him that the Chief of Police there had been transferred to another district and that the new officer in charge was checking up on all undesirable persons. - Not very bright news for me. Two days later we were sitting resting during the lunch hour when a small car stopped outside the bungalow. I quickly slipped into my room and from there I saw two Japanese officers coming towards Bill and talking to him for a moment. Bill came into my room and said in a low voice: "I am afraid I have bad news for you, Thiel. The Japanese give you ten minutes to pack and take farewell with us. They are taking you down to Ipoh and you are only allowed to take with you a small suitcase." I went out to the two officers and told them that I had 141 a ready packed gunny bag containing my essentials. They just curtly told me they had already given me the orders, but added that they would inform my friends later about when they could send me the ready packed gunny bag. Of course, none of us thought that would ever come off, but I quickly changed into some clean clothes, while Margaret made sure I had my wrist-watch, my money purse, toothbrush, etc. I wasted some valuable minutes trying to find my little pin-on Norwegian flag, but to no avail. Olav and Pansy had left us a couple of minutes before the Japanese arrived, going for a walk, so they did not know what had happened. While Margaret was helping me packing, she said to me: "We will all miss you terribly, Thiel, but I will pray for you." "Thank you, Margaret, for everything. You have all been so good to me. Keep smiling - and God bless," I answered. In the meantime, Bill had talked to the Japanese, trying to delay them, but then he came in and told me they were becoming impatient. I shook hands with my friends, went into the car and my highland adventure had come to an end. It was an old, shabby car and the road was very winding. I was sitting on my own in the back seat and we had only driven about five kilometres when I felt violently sick and asked the Japanese to stop. Apparently they could judge from the sweat on my forehead that I did not try to simulate being ill. I knew the reason was the sudden shock I had been exposed to and I was glad my friends had not seen the effect. I felt all right again after I had been at the roadside and we had no more delays till we arrived at Ipoh, where I was left in a small compartment next to some bigger stone buildings.

I was told to stay put there till I received further instructions. I could see I was in a gaol compound and this time I could not expect to be free again. Time dragged on and nearly three hours had passed, when a Sikh policeman appeared and he took me to a small office, where my scanty belongings including my wrist-watch and money purse, even my toothbrush, were confiscated and put in a small locker. I was allowed to keep my towel, which came to good use. Then I was taken into a very small cell and was locked up for the night. The cell was a bit more than six feet long and four feet wide and the only furniture was a wooden bunk with a block of wood for a pillow. The bunk was resting on concrete blocks, which elevated it from the floor. A small window opening reinforced with steel rods allowed for some light and air to come in and was at the same time escape proof. I got nothing to eat so I felt very hungry, but I laid down on the bunk, made a pillow cover round the wood block of the towel and took off my jacket and put it well round my kidneys. As it was a rather warm night and I still had my khaki shirt on, I did not feel cold. I went to sleep fairly soon and did not wake up till early in the morning. I was 142 lying very quiet for a while, feeling hungry and depressed and somehow my hand touched the inner-side of the khaki shirt neck lining and I could not keep back a little outcry of joy - I felt my little Norwegian flag under the lining. I had not lost my little charm after all: "Thank you, God, now I am happy," I said. Soon afterwards a Sikh came, opened the door and gave me some curried rice and a mug of tea. He told me I was free to go out in a small exercise yard adjoining the gaol building till I was called back again. In small rooms, more like cages with one open wall lined with steel rods, quite a few prisoners, mainly Chinese, were locked up. All these small rooms formed a semi-circle opposite my "hotel room". I had a cold shower together with a friendly Eurasian, who gave me a cake of soap. He had been put into a small cell similar to mine. He told me he had been arrested because he had uttered some unfriendly words about the Japanese and their way of behaving and he feared his business would be confiscated. Some relatives had taken care of his wife and children and his wife was allowed to see him once in a while. This was because a couple of the Sikhs were not very strict and were also fond of money; the way he spoke he (the Eurasian) seemed to have plenty of that commodity. I was not the only one he was kind to. Quite a few of the people behind bars in front of us he had helped in different ways. For my part I received some extra food from him every day during my four days imprisonment there. It was rather heart-breaking to watch the people in the cage-like cells. They were usually standing there, their eyes staring just dreamily on an empty nothing. I was wondering how many of them would ever come out again. I was having a walk in the yard when one of the Chinese waved me over to him: "Do not be afraid, Tuan," he said. "The Japanese very seldom come down here and never in the morning. I have been here some months already and I know I will die; but, never mind, the Japanese will be beaten before very long." Four days had passed and I took it very much to heart to see all the haggard people on the other side of the yard. They seemed to have no hope, while I still had hope as well as a strong body. Early in the morning on the fifth day I was told to be ready for transport to Singapore. I took a hearty farewell with my Eurasian benefactor and waved to all the others. I was taken to the little office where my belongings had been kept and was rather surprised to find that nothing had been taken, not even my money had been touched. 143 A Sikh policeman took me to the railway station, where an ugly looking Japanese in an angry voice told me I would be sent on a train to Singapore, and at the slightest attempt to escape I would be dead. He looked rather disappointed about seeing I just ignored him. At the railway station I found the whole platform full of Japanese soldiers, many had also already entered the train - all going to Singapore.

I was placed in an open railway wagon with wooden seats spread over the whole floor space and I was squeezed in between four soldiers with another five soldiers sitting opposite me. I could not but marvel about how all these soldiers during the close to eighteen hours the journey lasted, managed to ignore me entirely. Not a word was spoken to me, they hardly looked at me and we were all sitting tightly squeezed together during the hot day-time. I became very sleepy and a couple of times I really went to sleep, only to wake up again immediately as my head dropped forward. Also the steady shaking of the train and the frequent stops at the different stations made sleep very difficult. It must have been about the middle of the night when a Japanese captain came up to me and asked me to follow him. He took me into quite a nice wagon with proper compartments, one of which he had on his own. He told me to sit down and offered me a cup of Japanese green tea, some bread and peanut butter and a couple of biscuits. I gave him a polite bow and thanked him for his kindness and he gave me a friendly nod in recognition. The rest of the night passed and it was late in the afternoon when the train arrived in Singapore. I was again told to sit down and wait till somebody called for me. I could at least now stand up and walk a few steps forwards and backwards and this time I did not have to wait very long. A good half-hour passed till a Japanese officer approached me and I hoped this time I would be brought to my friends in Changi Gaol. - I was taken to gaol all right, but not to the one I had expected. It turned out to be what they just called Singapore Gaol. There I first had to go through the same process as in Ipoh. They took everything away from me with the exception of my towel; then it was a quick interview by a Japanese police officer and a sharp warning about not trying any funny-business, as they had many ways to punish misbehaviour. After these "encouraging" notes I was taken up a few steps in this big stone building, through a corridor and half pushed into a dirty cell or room, just like a wild beast. I sat down on the place allotted to me, a wooden panel laid straight on the concrete floor, sufficient for me to stretch out on without touching my neighbour on either side. Viewing my new surroundings I counted twenty-five other prisoners sitting one next to the other in an oblong circle and in a corner was a 144 water closet as the only piece of "furniture" besides the bed panels. When I was pushed in, a Malayan police sergeant took over; he was a broad-shouldered, stocky chap, obviously being a very strong man. When I "took stock" of my new comrades a few of them were lying down on their panels. This was obviously not permitted, as the police sergeant took a round whipping the offenders with a leather strap. What an unhappy, starved and suffering crowd my companions were; most of them Chinese, but Indians and a couple of Eurasians were also among them. The prisoners apparently had just had their meal, a handful of cooked rice in a curried sauce, and to my great surprise the Malay returned a little later and rather politely asked me: "Tuan mau makan?" ("You want something to eat, Sir?"). Just then I felt I hardly could eat a grain of rice and I was on the point of politely refusing the offer, when I by looking around at all the hungry faces realized what I had to do: "Thank you very much, Sir, I am very hungry," I told him in Malay. A little later he brought me a big plate of curried rice sprinkled with brown sauce and sweet potato leaves. I pretended to be very hungry until the sergeant had disappeared, then I made a sign and the starved prisoners lunged forward, most of them securing a mouthful of the appreciated stuff. I whispered to them to be quick about it and we would try the same trick again. When it was bedtime (from memory about 9 p.m.) an elderly Chinese came in and joined us. He was a kind of privileged prisoner, helping sweeping the corridors outside the cells, etc., and was allowed extra food and a smoke. Smoking in the cells was prohibited under threat of severe punishment. When the old man saw me, he gave me a piece of a blanket about one metre square to roll round my hips and protect my kidneys. I lay down, went to sleep immediately and I slept like a log on the rough bedding. When I woke up the following morning the other prisoners had already had their obligatory cold shower, but seeing I was fast asleep I had been left alone by the sergeant - another favour granted to me. I woke up as late as 10 a.m. and again I received an "over-sized" rice ration, out of which most was shared between the other prisoners. A sad thing happened, however, soon after. A couple of Chinese prisoners had lit each their cigarette, somehow smuggled in to them. While they were smoking the police sergeant appeared and he gave the two Chinese a really hard beating with his leather whip, causing some loud howling from the two delinquents. It was not very nice to watch, but sadder still it was to see the old man in a very rough manner being thrown into our cell. He obviously had tried to help his smoke-hungry friends. Now he was just sitting there, with a reserved stare - an old Chinese man's way of encountering fate. 145 All the prisoners addressed me as Tuan and they wanted to hear a little of my story also. I could not but smile rather sadly when I thought about the same Tuan a few years earlier. Then I was a Tuan respected by a loyal and willing work force and I had Mem and Mem ketchil (little lady) with me to share a happy life. - Now I heard the stories about how and where the different prisoners were taken by the Japanese, some of the stories disclosing true heroism and sacrifice, others were just unlucky and arrested on false pretences. They all seemed to have given up hope of coming out alive from their prison cell. On the fourth day in the afternoon we could hear somebody talking together in Japanese in the corridor below our cell and I thought I could clearly hear my name mentioned. Immediately afterwards the Malayan police sergeant appeared and told me I was wanted downstairs. I waved a good-bye and good luck to my fellow prisoners and went downstairs to face whatever was coming to me. In a small office room a rather youngish and friendly looking Japanese lieutenant was waiting for me and just told me he was taking me to Changi. I felt again sincere thankfulness to God and I was even more sure now that I should come through it all and meet Molle and the children again.


Two Internment Camps On the way to Changi the lieutenant, whose name was Suzuki, told me to obey the rules and orders set down for the Camp and I would get a fair treatment. He told me he was the Camp supervisor. - I later often wondered how much this young lieutenant knew and how much he did not want to know of all the plight and cruelties so many of the prisoners were exposed to. When we arrived in the Gaol my few belongings were checked by a Japanese, but this time I was allowed to keep all of them. I was then taken straight up to a big room on the ground floor, where more than fifty people camped together and they were nearly all strangers to me. But everybody was kind to me and soon after my arrival many of my friends from Batu Arang turned up one after the other. It was so nice to see them all; they looked to be in quite good health and their spirit was far from broken. Luckily none of us knew then that the War was going to drag on for another two years and that they should be very hard years both for body and soul. After a nice, hot cup of tea and some rice with vegetable spread and even some meat in it, I was shown where to get a refreshing hot and cold shower and I shaved off my ugly, multi-coloured full beard. One of my friends from Batu Arang gave me a haircut and I enjoyed the feeling of being clean again. I was placed about centre in the big room; the camp bed I was supplied with was 60 cm wide and the distance between my bed and the beds on either side of mine was about the same. Not much room to move about, but we managed all right between us. The bed I took over I carried out in the exercising yard for airing in the hot sun, a job I was glad I did thoroughly, as a couple of days later I was told that I had taken over the bed from one of the prisoners, who had died from galloping consumption just before I was brought in. The next few days passed away rather quickly. I had to adapt myself to the daily routine which also included a few duties as floor sweeping in rooms and corridors, carrying of food tins from the kitchen, etc. Changi Gaol was a big complex consisting of a couple of main buildings and many smaller ones and a lot of corridors, exercise yards, all the usual amenities and guard rooms in a gaol and a colossal lot of high, solid dividing walls. The whole complex, including quite a bit of extra ground, was surrounded by the usual type of prison walls. All the big rooms on the ground floor were made into crowded barracks, as the one I was placed in and on the other floors, where the proper cells were placed, 147 two to three men were accommodated in each cell, which before the War had been a one-man cell. The portion of the Gaol now occupied by the European male prisoners had been designed for housing four hundred Asiatic prisoners. Now the number of European inmates was steadily growing till finally before the transfer to Sime Road Camp in May 1944 the number had grown to 2,884 male internees. This made the Camp very congested, all the bigger rooms were filled to capacity and even some of the corridors had to be taken into use. All educational classes, religious services and different entertainment had to be held in the open air. During the nine months I had in Changi I tried in vain to join some of the fatigue parties working regularly outside the Camp on heavier fatigue duties as cutting and carting wood for the Camp or collecting of food articles and other necessities. It was a long waiting list for such kinds of fatigues, as it meant coming outside the restricted area under the guard of a Sikh policeman. If the Sikh was of the friendly type, it could be a chance to buy some extra food or other necessities. My old "bed companions" in Batu Arang, the bed bugs, had not worried me since I was taken away from that place, but in Changi they turned up in force again. They originated in the upper floor in the cells, but spread rapidly to all parts of the building. The high degree of congestion in the living quarters complicated the task of dealing with this pest and the utmost efforts of the Health Officers could only keep the plague from getting completely out of hand. We simply had to live with and fight with this pest all our time in Changi as well as later in Sime Road Camp. The first couple of months in Changi Gaol I was really better fed than when I managed on my own in Singapore and we had three meals a day. The typical menu was: Breakfast: 1 – l ½ pints rice porridge and tea without milk or sugar Lunch: Boiled rice and vegetables with or without small quantities of dried fish Supper: Bread made from rice flour and some form of baked or boiled dish made from rice, vegetables with dried fish (2-3 times weekly) and tea. Before 10th October, 1943 we even got some meat occasionally; and before this date our rice rations were from unpolished rice, which secured us a certain amount of nourishment through the rice husks. We lined up in quite a long queue for our rations. After everybody had received their rations, there was always some food, specially rice, left over and those who finished their rations first could join the rear of the queue for an 148 additional smaller food portion. In my room there were half a dozen men who had developed a real skill in gulping down their meals quickly, jumping up and lining up for a second helping. I was wondering how their stomachs reacted to this racing, but I also enjoyed watching this combination of greed and self-preservation. A couple of weeks after I had arrived, the system was, however, altered so it worked in a more fair way. Whatever was left over, was distributed as we lined up in alphabetical order according to where it was broken off the previous day. Radios were, under threat of severe punishment, forbidden in the Camp. I was therefore surprised to learn from one of my fellow prisoners that after lunch was finished we should gather round one of the beds and listen to the latest B.B.C. news, being read by one of our mates. With a clear but low voice the man read the news for us while always two of us were detailed to watch the two entrances in case of any surprise visits of Japanese guards. The same thing happened as a daily event all round in the Camp, but always carefully and secretly. But being so many people gathered in the camp, people from all community circles and of all age groups, you would always find some careless fools. One day as I was walking in one of the corridors on the way to have a hot and cold shower, I heard an old fellow calling out to a friend of his sitting on a bench some distance away: "Have you heard the latest news?" "Hey, what do you say?" was the answer. "Haven't you heard that the Italians have surrendered unconditionally?" He was now really shouting. A few irresponsible people like those two can do such a lot of harm and people like those two certainly had to take part of the blame for what happened to the Camp on 10th October, 1943. An event I will soon relate. I had been in the Changi Gaol Camp a good fortnight when I was told to come down to the guard room, where they wanted to see me straight away. I was wondering what kind of trouble was in store for me this time. However, when I entered the guard room one of our own Camp officials and a young Japanese were waiting for me - and - could I believe my eyes? In one corner of the room I saw the gunny bag I had packed ready up at Cameron Highlands. - Oh, how happy and thankful I was. The Japanese officer who had called for me at "Folly Farm" had honoured his word, which also must have involved extra work for him in contacting the Japanese authorities in Changi, probably Lieutenant Suzuki, and received his approval for the despatch - a very kind act it was. And about Olav Palnum, what a true friend he was. Without considering his own safety, he must have 149 taken the bag down to Ipoh, contacted the right Japanese sources there and got it despatched by train. After a quick and superficial checking of the contents, even my book with personal notes was stamped for approval (in Japanese letters), I was allowed to take the parcel up to my room. Unpacking the bag was quite an exciting event for me and naturally I had some very interested onlookers from the surrounding beds. I soon discovered that Olav - as well as Bill Zamara - had put in some very welcome extras in the bag. A bed-sheet, a pillow with spare pillow-case, and a light blanket were specially appreciated, as I so far only had had my rolled up jacket for pillow and had no proper bed-clothes. One of my companions offered me a medium sized cane suit case for putting most of my just acquired items in, an offer I readily accepted in exchange for one tin of bully beef and a tin of condensed milk. Later in the evening when I had more privacy, I completed the unpacking - and I had a wonderful time. The big beer bottle full of concentrated iodine was undamaged, being so well wrapped up in clothing and placed in the centre of the bag. My Norwegian Bible was also undamaged and when I turned over the first page to read Marcus Chieng's greeting to me again, I found that Olav had written in Danish: "Thiel, two hundred in money is in the pillow at the bottom of the bag, Olav." In such a thoughtful way my good friend had sent me 200 dollars - a very important item under the circumstances. I found my old suit and a pair of shoes, soap and a pocket knife, about a dozen tins of food and other items. As mentioned earlier in my story, I had among the items in the bag also packed a small soft drink bottle full of brandy and one ditto of cod liver oil. Those were really the only items the Japanese in the guard room queried, so I gave him the cod liver oil to taste -and no more questions were asked. It was so lovely to go to sleep in a properly equipped bed - and I blessed my two good friends. I soon found out that I was not the only Norwegian in the Camp. Twenty-six Norwegians, all sailors from ships sunk by Japanese or German navy vessels or planes, were also interned in Changi. Gradually I learned to know all of them and although we all mixed well with the other nationalities in the Camp, we had our regular coming together in the evenings. Gradually I became specially friendly with Jaan Svads, who was Chief Engineer on M/S "Woolmar" at the time the ship was sunk by Japanese bomber planes.

Recently I received a copy of a report by Jaan, covering the sinking of M/S "Woolmar' and the consequent following events. It is a story about suffering, endurance and heroism, typical of so many 150 events at sea taken place during the two World Wars, often never recorded because there were no survivors to give a report. So here is Jaan's story in a somewhat abbreviated form: "On 23rd February, 1942 M/S "Wolmar" left Colombo for Java with a load of coal in the lower holds and mines and grenades and probably also 500 tons of TNT on the 'tween decks. After some days they received a telegram from Colombo instructing them to proceed to Chili Cap, on the South coast of Java. As a protection the ship had a 12 pound cannon installed aft, served by three British gunners. The ship was very slow going and could only obtain a maximum speed of 7- 7 ½ miles. On 7th March at about 2 p.m. eight Japanese planes appeared and started dive-bombing the ship. The gunners were shooting all the time but without any result. After the planes had scored a couple of bullseyes on the ship the Captain gave the order to abandon ship. While the two lifeboats were being lowered more bombs hit the ship and splinters were flying everywhere. The port-side lifeboat was lowered without any trouble, but the starboard boat took more time to get on the water due to a jammed tackle and a broken davit. After quite a strenuous effort by the Chief Engineer (Jaan Svads) the boat was down on the sea, but full of water. The Second Mate, who had jumped for it, was hauled on board by Jaan. The next thing the two men did was to look for the Captain, who should have been in their boat, but he was nowhere to be seen. Some of the Chinese who were lying in the water close by were helped on board and they then rowed around picking up others of the Chinese, who were swimming around. Finally there were sixteen Chinese on board plus the two officers. They then started bailing out the water and while doing so they were three times attacked by the Japanese planes and came under violent machine-gun fire. During the machine-gun fire most of the men jumped overboard, but Jaan and one Chinese were lying quietly at the bottom of the boat pretending to be dead. After the third attack the planes disappeared and soon all were back in the boat and, what a miracle, they were all unhurt. The damage done to the lifeboat was very small, only some small bullet holes which were easily plugged. After all this they rowed down to the port-side boat. There they found the Chief Officer, Third Mate, Second Engineer and Third Engineer, one of the British gunners and fifteen Chinese. 151 As already mentioned the port-side lifeboat was quickly and safely lowered down to the water and as soon as the boat was clear from the ship's side the search for more survivors started. The Third Engineer was picked up and was found to be seriously wounded. He had a broken right thigh bone and had also got a bullet through his right foot. He told that he first was in the starboard boat but had been thrown overboard by the davit and broke his thigh bone. The starboard boat had also suffered three attacks by the planes. The Chief Officer (Birger Olsen) who had placed himself under the boat during the attacks was wounded by a bullet which must have gone through the boat and right through his left arm. The British gunner got a bullet which went through his helmet and grazed his forehead. Two Chinese had been wounded, both of them in the breast. After the two boats had come together they circled around looking for more survivors. There were still twelve men missing, including the Captain. The search was in vain, however. Then a boats-painter was stretched between the two boats and the sails set. In the meantime the ship, which was still moving forward and had laid quite a distance between the boats and herself, was exposed to more bombing and was burning fiercely. A big explosion took place and the ship sank stern first, while the Norwegian flag folded out to a last farewell. The officers in the two boats had now agreed on trying to find the Cocos Islands. Java they considered likely to be occupied by the Japanese and the wind did not suit for an attempt on Christmas Island. Both of the boats were well equipped with foodstuff, tools and medical outfit, also two compasses and a sextant. But much of the water had been lost before the holes in the water tanks, caused by the Japanese bullets, had been plugged. It appeared that they did not find Cocos Island. After ten days they came into a calm and they were only lying there slowly drifting. Afterwards they came into a gale from North-West, which was so strong that they could not sail the next three or four days. During this period they had a lot of rain and they could refill all the water tanks. After four days of storm, during which period they had been using the driving anchor, they hoisted a small sail and after a conference they decided to aim for Australia. During all this the officers had experienced quite a lot of trouble with the Chinese crew. In both of the boats their behaviour was very unruly, even 152 threatening. During the night they stole from the rations and specially in the starboard boat with their two Norwegian officers against the sixteen Chinese crew members it was hard to keep order. Even when the two officers after a few days were joined by the British gunner this was not much help, as he did not know much of seamanship. The ration per man was from the start fixed as one cup of water and two ounces of corned beef or a biscuit per day. It was specially the small water ration the Chinese complained about. The Chief Engineer and the Second Mate continuously warned the Chinese that if they were not satisfied with the rations and on the whole did not show a more reasonable attitude, they would be left alone. - But this was to no avail, and after ten days of trouble with weather and wind and sixteen mutinous Chinamen it was, after consultation with the other officers, arranged that all the Europeans should be together in one boat. At the same time all the Chinese were given the choice of joining whichever of the two boats they preferred. The final result then was that in the starboard boat there were fourteen Chinese and in the port-side boat seven Europeans and seventeen Chinese. Before the two Norwegians left the starboard boat they made sure that, based on the previously arranged rations, there were sufficient food and water for fifty days for the fourteen Chinese. The boat itself was in excellent condition and was free to follow the other boat. However, very soon after completion of the transfer the Chinese cut the connecting rope and soon disappeared out of sight. After they had set sail for Australia the remaining boat with its mixed crew for a period of six days sailed with an average speed of five knots, but then the wind again died down completely. It became glowing hot and any rowing was out of the question, specially as the Chinese refused to give any help at all. The Chief Officer was still suffering from an open wound in his left arm and the Third Engineer had great pain in spite of a good effort in splinting the broken thighbone. He died after having spent seventy days in the boat. All the seventeen Chinese died one after the other. They could not keep away from the temptation of drinking sea water; as a result they became mad and died. The calm, hot weather lasted one day, then they caught south-easterly wind and sailed thereafter South-West and West till they arrived at 23 degrees South. They had then entered the South-East trade wind, which in the month of March is very gusty on these latitudes. It was high sea, cold and no rain. They were not dressed for the cold weather, so they decided to turn North and aim for Ceylon. They had course of North-West till just South of the Equator and during this period many calm days occurred. Then they rather suddenly 153 were taken by the South-West monsoon which rapidly conveyed them in North-Easterly direction. They also encountered heavy rain. After the eighty-seventh day in the life-boat they observed land and believed they had come to Ceylon. They discovered land early in the morning and came close to it in the same afternoon and went alongshore trying to find a landing place, but had no success. On the eighty-eighth day they carried on searching for a place to land and later in the afternoon they discovered some houses, and advancing forwards they saw a small jetty, where they intended to land. They lowered the sails and tried to land, but wind and current forced them back. Behind another nearby pier a small motor launch was lying. They could only see the red and white colours on a flag hanging slack on the mast and joyfully they thought it was the Union Jack, but then a blast of wind folded the flag out - it was the flag of the Rising Sun - and they had landed at Port Blair in the Andaman Islands. The motor launch with Japanese soldiers on board came out and met them and their epic eighty-eight days struggle and sufferings in a lifeboat had ended in a rather tragic way. What further happened to Jaan Svads and his companions was more the common story of suffering and humiliation which all the prisoners in the hands of the Japanese had to go through. The Second Engineer died from dysentery after about three weeks, but on 2nd December, 1942 the others were sent to Changi in Singapore."

Gradually I came in contact with more Norwegians, out of whom I specially remember Captain Andersen, Chief Officer Birger Olsen and many more sailors, all nice, friendly people and all had different stories to tell about the sinking of their ships and their subsequent capture by the Japanese. A Norwegian-born doctor, Dr. Arnfin Gunsteinsen, had had a very successful career as G.P. in the beautiful Penang for many years and he was always very kind and helpful to me, both as a doctor and as a friend. I handed the full beer bottle of concentrated iodine over to him and he told me that what I gave him there was worth its weight in gold, as the Japanese never gave the Camp any medical equipment worth mentioning. On the whole, life passed on fairly quietly the first couple of months and I felt a real comfort in knowing that I was one of many and that I had many good friends around me. But so one day things changed drastically and suddenly. On 10th October 1943 we were all awakened early, and soon after dawn all the internees in Changi Prison were paraded in the main yard as if for a routine 154 roll call. Soon after this the Military Police (the Gestapo) arrived and armed soldiers picketed all doors. While we stood there for hours in the blazing sun the whole Camp had been searched by the soldiers and radios, cameras, diaries, printed matter, etc., were confiscated. After a while we were told by our own Camp commandant, Victor Clark, previously High Commissioner of Singapore, that from A to Z the names of those immediately wanted by the Gestapo would be called out. When Mr. Clark came to "C" he called out his own name and was taken away. I became very depressed about it. I liked Mr. Clark so much; a nice, friendly man with a lot of authority behind him. He never came back to the Camp. We heard later that he had taken the blame for letting the news be read out and had been subjected to cruel torture and malnutrition and died later from berri-berri in the special Gestapo prison. The calling out of names was continued by the deputy Camp commandant, John Weekley, and I remember how my heart was thumping, when the call was approaching the letter "M". - I was not called out - but how deeply I felt for those who would be taken away for interrogation, torture and starvation. Nineteen of our friends were transferred to the Gestapo prison and this number was increased to fifty-five through further investigations the following days. After the "roll call" we still had to stay outside, but we were transferred to our respective block-yards where further labelling and segregation was carried out. In the meantime a thorough search of all our personal belongings was made, during which wanton destruction and looting by the soldiers took place. The investigation finished after dusk and we were then allowed to return to our rooms inside the prison. Most of us had then been without food for twenty-four hours and some of the older people had collapsed and had to be cared for. The "Double Tenth" inaugurated a period of real terrorism; nobody in the camp could feel safe and secure against atrocities exercised by the Gestapo, so often also completely innocent people were involved. Once the Gestapo had taken over control of the Camp we lost one privilege after the other. Up to the time of Gestapo control we had had opportunity of an occasional hot shower and could wash and spin-dry our clothing on certain days. We could attend regular educational courses in different languages. The Camp Committee had previously had the permission of the Japanese authorities once in a while to organize meetings and entertainment with music and song. Married couples had been allowed to meet monthly for one hour and we had been only little disturbed by Japanese visitors. 155 All these privileges were abruptly taken away from us. Already before the Gestapo took over control of the Camp the food rations had been rather small and also short of vital vitamins, but the unpolished rice, which was the mainstay of our diet, had helped to prevent any berri-berri breaking out among us. But now the rations were considerably reduced and only polished rice, free from the nourishing rice husks, was supplied. Later we heard about how dreadfully the Japanese Gestapo had tortured their victims, of whom many died during the continuous interrogation with its beastly methods of torture, and others died soon after they were returned to Changi. The surviving victims of the Gestapo treatment had strict orders under pain of execution not to disclose their experiences, but there could be no disguising of the mental and physical condition in which they returned to the Camp or the marks of the treatment they had received. Ways and means of torture which in cruelty and resourcefulness easily could have competed with those used by the "big brothers", The German Gestapo, were taken into use. - I have a written record of what went on in the Japanese Gestapo prison, but I prefer not to describe it here. During the Gestapo rule at Changi, which lasted till 21st January, 1944 and consequently covered a period of a good three months, we were kept under the closest supervision by armed sentries by day and night. But this was a small matter compared with the mental strain caused by the frequent raids undertaken by parties of the Gestapo, who continued to make arrests. I will here only describe two of these raids, both of them interesting in their own way. The first one took place fairly soon after "Double Tenth". Without any warning beforehand we were ordered on parade in our respective block-yards early one morning. We were lined up in two rows with our backs to the building and we were warned that anybody who turned to look around would be severely punished. Before the lining up was completed we saw many armed soldiers taking up positions. It gave a very nasty feeling standing like this for more than one hour not knowing what the Gestapo had in mind. One of my friends whispered to me: "These people would gladly shoot us in the back." I think that was a thought which went through the heads of most of us. - However, after a good hour of nerve-wracking uncertainty we were allowed to return to our rooms and, doing so, quite a few of the internees found that some of their books, torchlights and cameras had been confiscated. I was one of the lucky ones, not possessing any of the two last-mentioned items. On a later inspection we were all told to stand next to our beds while Japanese soldiers should carry out another inspection of our belongings. During 156 this action I obtained a good example of how the human element and personality played a big part in the way a routine duty could be carried out. In our room four young soldiers did the inspection and specially two of them were even polite in their approach. When one of them came to my bed, upon which I had piled my scanty belongings, he had a quick look at my diary and books, on top of which I had placed a small Japanese dictionary. In English he asked me what I wanted all these books for and I answered: "Studying languages, Officer." He just smiled and went to the next bed. In the room next to us, also one of the bigger rooms with more than fifty occupants, the story was quite another one. The four soldiers who carried out the inspection there had done so in a rough and reckless manner. Quite a few of the internees there had a few tins of valuable tinned foodstuff which they had hoped to save for the even more meagre days to come. The tins contained condensed sweetened milk, tomato soup, bully beef, etc., but the soldiers punctured the tins with their bayonets and the contents were spread on the floor. Photos of the prisoners’ relatives were torn to pieces and even a few items stolen. (That special room must have had a hoodoo placed on it, as the next story seems to confirm). One day, soon after our meagre lunch meal had been eaten, nearly all my roommates were sitting or lying down on their beds resting, when we heard quite a commotion followed by some loud, rather haughty laughter from our adjoining room; then came some hoarse, angry commands in Japanese and dead silence after this. At this stage one of our room-mates, who was stationed near the door entrance, hushed us all with a timely warning: "If you want to avoid serious trouble, then for Heaven's sake stand quiet and silent at your beds." Luckily all of us, remembering "Double Tenth", took the warning seriously and the next moment we saw the source of the commotion. A very tiny, slender and bespectacled Japanese officer (a Japanese prince we were told afterwards), dragging after him a sword of nearly his own length, was visiting our Camp accompanied by some high-ranking Japanese officers. After a couple of minutes the really funny-looking procession had passed and we could relax, but in the other room all the inmates were kneeling down on the bare concrete floor and under strict supervision by Japanese soldiers they had to remain in this kneeling position for half an hour. It was a rather expensive laugh, punishing both guilty and innocent people in that special room. In such a congested room as ours and with so many occupants, we would naturally find a couple of "professional" snorers and sometimes this became too much 157 for the fellows nearby. One night I witnessed a well-built Norwegian sailor get out of his bed and go over to a New Zealander who was lying snoring so it resounded over the whole room. In a fit of rage the Norwegian shook the bed of the culprit, so it was a wonder it did not collapse. At this rude awakening the New Zealander jumped up and roared: "I will knock your block off!" "Come over and try," was the answer. - It did not come to any more and broadly speaking there were only a few smaller disagreements to settle in our big room. But a more severe disagreement came from a source where we should not expect it. It was one day just before the "Double Tenth" that I had a lonely walk of inspection. There were so many high dividing walls going cross and crisscross, so it was more like a maze. On my walk I came outside a smaller cubicle and from inside came a murmur of angry voices. I became curious and when I found a narrow opening I peeped inside. It turned out to be the heads of the different church denominations in the Camp, who had come together. The goal was to arrange for a united church service for Christmas and what part of the ceremony the different church branches should supervise. I did not need to listen long before I realized that in that little cubicle the message of "Peace on Earth" had not found its way to the hearts. It was at the same time sad and comical to watch the clergy in action. There was no yielding of ground in this matter and when Christmas came, it was celebrated in many different cubicles and yards with various rituals and songs in each of them. The Gestapo had granted permission for the services to be held. A few Salvation Army officers were also interned in Changi and specially one of them, Major Davidson, I remember with gratitude. Somehow we got to know each other and one day he invited me to come and have a cup of coffee and some gula malaea (a syrupy dark sugar), a real delicacy under the circumstances. On my request he told me what turned out to be some very heart-warming stories. He had been some years in Tokio and spoke and understood Japanese so well that he was used as the Camp's main interpreter. This commission also necessitated a few trips outside the Camp and he was then usually allowed to buy some food articles in the city. He mentioned that during his time in Tokio he and his Salvation Army friends, as long as they were in their uniforms, could go anywhere in the Tokio slum quarters without being molested. Being so many people gathered together, people who previously had worked in different parts of the vast pre-war British Empire, the Camp was really one big information centre. I took advantage of this and I quickly found out that besides expanding my knowledge in many interesting fields I also kept my mind alert and kept sad reflections more at bay. 158- And so time went on. After the Gestapo had left the Camp on 21st January, 1944 we obtained more freedom and we could start again with more meetings, discussion circles, teaching classes, etc., but we had learned our lesson and all kinds of information from abroad were passed on in a much more secret and secure way. I had often felt that I would like more physical work; physical exercise and a small amount of camp fatigue duties were not really sufficient to keep the body in reasonable shape. I had not been a long time in Changi before I heard rumours about exchange of civilian prisoners and as the situation in the different war-theatres gradually became more favourable for the Allied forces, the rumours gathered strength. But apart from awakening a kind of entertaining sensation nothing happened. However, late in April 1944 we were told by our Camp commandant to be ready for transfer to the Sime Road Camp in the morning of 1st May. The whole operation proved to be an exchange of camp site between the civilian internees and the P.O.W. forces. The real reason for the exchange was that Changi was a high security prison, while Sime Road with its bigger area and poorer surrounding fences was much less escape-proof.

159 Sime Road Camp

Early in the morning of 1st May we were on parade and roll call and we had our personal belongings in front of us all packed and labelled, including our camp-beds and mosquito-nets. We were stowed in big lorries and soon were behind barbed wires in our new camp. Sime Road Camp proved to be a conglomeration of smaller and bigger huts, most of them in rather poor shape with leaking attaps roof and rough timber for walls. The space allowed each internee for bedding was as bad as before in Changi, about 24 square feet. It took some time to get organized, but after a couple of weeks we all had got detailed our more permanent living quarters. My Norwegian friends Jaan Svads and Birger Olsen were placed in the same hut as me. It was a very small hut in which we were ten occupants, which gave each of us a floor space of barely 24 square feet. But for me the new quarters and the new life in this camp in many ways were a change for the better - and it proved to be the most interesting period in spite of the increasing effect of starvation and the poor living conditions as a whole. We had much more space to move around in and I could even enjoy the colourful sunset in the evening after work. From now onwards I was secured regular work. In Changi I had become acquainted with an English police officer, Luke Prynn, who had been working in a garden gang in Changi. He and a Scottish engineer, Arthur Ross, had been asked to organize a garden gang at Sime Road, a gang which should have as its main task to open up new land for cultivation. This would involve rather heavy work with changkuls (broad-bladed hoes), which were driven into the soil. We had to put quite a bit of power behind each cut as we were swinging the changkuls, and we worked in a line, one next to the other, so everyone of us had to pull his weight. We were eight men to start with, but soon our gang was increased to twelve men. We developed a real comradeship and working spirit between us, and gradually we managed to break up a considerable area of new land, which by other gangs was further prepared and finally made into sweet potato and tree potato fields. We were allowed full ration for doing hard work, a ration which varied somewhat from time to time, but since February 1945 our food ration consisted of nine ounces of polished rice, ten ounces of sweet potato leaves, half an ounce of oil and a little salt. Every ten days we also received a small cupful of brown sugar and ten cheroots (a small cigar with both ends open). 160 The above ration was quite insufficient to work hard on, but all the same we were much better off than a few hundred non-workers, sick and-or old people, who only got half of our ration. I will now leave the general work and condition in the Camp for a while and mention some episodes concerning individuals or a small group of people. Next to our small hut, No. 113, was a bigger hut with close to fifty occupants and between the two huts Dr. Arnfin Gunsteinsen and Dr. Allan had their office and living quarters. Further, there was a small, unused hut about thirty yards from ours. It was locked up and rather unnoticed. At a similar distance, but below our hut, was a cold shower unit and also a partly walled-in chain operated water closet. The last-mentioned unit was very seldom used by anybody from our hut, as we preferred the bore-holes, which I shall later describe. But quite a few people from the other huts visited the water closet every morning and there were specially two very regular visitors, an Arabic Jew, who was a rather dirty looking fellow, and a well-built New Zealand sailor. The W.C. was frequented during the day and often when we returned from work late in the afternoon the closet was smelly and uninviting, and we knew that the Arabian Jew was one of the worst offenders as he never pulled the chain. We had given him frequent warnings and so had the New Zealander, who often took over the "seat" after him. One day the New Zealander came up to us in the morning and said to us: "I think we all have had enough of that dirty lad, so watch what will happen if he does not empty the closet after use." Soon after the Jew came along, used the toilet, did not pull the chain, and was ready to go away, when he was gripped by the neck by a firm hand and his face forced down in the bowl as the chain was pulled. The poor chap had a very sheepish grin on his face as he left with the following comment: "I always forget to pull the bloody chain." After this he must have found another "retreat", as he never paid us any more visits. Jaan Svads and I were often sitting outside our little hut talking after work. We usually had an hour or so before dusk, quickly followed by the tropical darkness. Then the mosquitoes would chase us inside under the mosquito-nets, where the bed-bugs took over the job of tormenting us, but they were at least the smaller of two bad things, as they did not bring on any diseases. Jaan, unfortunately, had many, luckily mild, attacks of malaria, whilst I, according to Dr. Gunsteinsen, seemed to be immune to the disease. As we one evening were sitting outside on our small self-made "box chairs" we suddenly looked at each other in great surprise and then we both smiled broadly. From the small, 161 unoccupied hut close to ours came the clear beautiful tunes of "Solveig's Song" and "Anitra"s Dance", Edvard Grieg's music from Henrik Ibsen's "Per Gynt". It was so unbelievably wonderful, Norwegian music, masterly played on an old piano. I closed my eyes and listened in wild joy. - Soon Robert Eisinger came out from the little hut with a big grin on his face. Jaan invited him and myself to a cup of coffee and it was a very happy trio who were sitting for a long while talking music. We lived up again the happy days before the War and the wonderful treat he had given Molle and me a few years earlier on the evening when we were dining at Hotel Majestic in Kuala Lumpur, when he also had played Grieg's music for us as he was leading his orchestra. He told us that his old father also was in the Camp in the Old Men's Ward and we had later the pleasure to see him, a charming person. We could then bring him some smaller lots of foodstuff, which, of course, was very welcome as non-workers at that time really lived on a starvation ration. Two more evenings Robert Eisinger delighted us with his music and the audience had grown to quite a size, but then he was stopped by the Japanese. Somehow he had discovered that a piano was stored in the hut and the padlocked door was easy to open. The Japanese stopped him playing, but he was not punished for having used the piano. What a beautiful experience it was for us to have heard the old, dear melodies so masterly performed under such strange circumstances. The above episode brings my memory back to another little event, also a heart-warming one. It was a Sunday afternoon and I was sitting outside my hut again, and was humming for myself on the lovely verse, "Only God can make a tree" when a Polish artist I had befriended passed me: "Yes, isn't it a lovely song," he said. "You are right," I answered "and as an artist you must draw me a sketch of a beautiful tree." "I will be glad to do that right now, if you can find a piece of stiff paper; I have a piece of brown crayon in my pocket." I was so glad when I found the paper required and he asked me to describe the scenery I wanted him to draw. I proposed that it should be two small children standing in a garden outside their home, looking at a big, beautiful tree, with one of the children pointing towards the tree-crown. My friend smiled, produced the stump of brown crayon and went to work. It took him about ten minutes to put on my rough piece of paper exactly what I had proposed. The greatness of our wooded friends is so beautifully expressed with the small children looking at one of nature's perfect creations. The little picture is now close to my working desk and the only regret I have is that I did not get my friend to put his name on the drawing. - He never told me his name. 162 "Red Cross" parcels we hardly saw in the Camp as the Japanese authorities refused to let the interests of the internees be handled by a representative of the International Red Cross Society. For my part I received one-seventh of a Red Cross parcel for Christmas 1943 and one-seventh of a parcel during 1944; in other words, twice we were delivered parcels, one for each seven persons and we drew lots for the contents. For Christmas 1943 I remember I drew a toothbrush and a tin of condensed, sugared milk. Specially the first item I was very happy about obtaining. Before I go any further about the Red Cross parcels I will mention that I, since we were moved to Sime Road Camp, for quite a while had let an Englishman, who had spent many years in South Africa, take over my cheroots. He turned up very regularly every ten days, when the cheroots were distributed, and received his extra ration. I had let him have the cheroots because he was a heavy smoker and he assured me he should not forget my kindness. - So one day this man had the extraordinary luck to receive a Red Cross parcel from South Africa. Some way or other the parcel had been passed for delivery to my tobacco-hungry "customer." This man had a special friend in our hut, a man Birger Olsen had christened "Bestemor" (Grandmother). "Bestemor" had been a well-known solicitor in Singapore, an elderly man with a very big frame and even bigger stomach, this when he was taken in for internment. By 1944, however, he still had his big frame, but his bulky stomach had disappeared and had been replaced by big wrinkles of skin hanging down his stomach in layers. He was probably the only man in the Camp who had lost as much as his own weight before the War was over. Anyhow, the Englishman from South Africa paid a visit to our hut and he presented "Bestemor" with some chocolate and sweets. "You would not have a sweet for me too?" I asked. "Unfortunately, no," was the answer. "I do not have any more to give away." "That's all right," I said and turned my back to him. A few days later my "friend" turned up again to collect his cheroots. "Unfortunately," I said, "I do not have any spare ones, not for you, anyhow, and I hope you understand why." I did not see much of him after this. This was late in 1944 and it had come to the stage when the shortage of nourishment told on us all and swollen legs, the beginning stage of berri berri, occurred more frequently in the Camp. In order to feel somewhat more fit for work I had started saving the bigger part of my evening meal for the next morning; at least it filled the stomach a little more before I went out "changkuling". Many evenings I had been sitting with a sucking pain of hunger because of this, until my "friend" from South Africa solved the problem for me.. Instead of 163 giving the cheroots away I now started smoking one every evening and - what a blessing - the hunger pain practically disappeared. The parcel from South Africa had given a nice gift to me also. As we became more and more starved and the Japanese did not seem to worry much about it, we all got into the habit of trying to secure some extra foodstuff, whenever there was a chance. On our way home from work our gang passed a small plot of red chilli plants, which we had been told belonged to the Japanese and that any pilfering or even attempt of pilfering would be punished. We very much had the true ownership in doubt, however, and we had already found out how red chilli freshened up an otherwise rather tasteless polished rice porridge. So when we came to the chilli plot we formed into a tight formation, waved our arms, as if we were in an eager discussion, and when we had passed the plot always a couple of us had secured a small handful of the appreciated stuff. This was then shared between us. We carried on our little game for more than a month till we were directed to another working place. Since we moved to Sime Road we were also taken outside the Camp on occasional fatigue. One day twelve of us were sent out with two hand-carts to pick up some bags of salt from a store a couple of kilometres away from the Camp. We were all in our usual uniforms, that was, nature's garb plus a topless "bikini". The only exception was that I for the occasion had put on a pair of shorts with two big pockets and in one of the pockets I had a small pocket knife. Two Sikhs with loaded rifles escorted us and at the store we got four big bags of salt on each of the two hand-carts. It was quite a load for men in our weakened state, but we were happy about coming outside the Camp. We were six men for each handcart, two in front at the shafts, two pushing behind and two at the sides ready to take over to give the men in front a spell. One of the Sikhs went in front on our left side and the other Sikh went at the rear on our right side. We were not rushed and were allowed a couple of spells. This gave me a chance of opening my small pocket knife, and as I was pushing on behind the cart I managed to cut a small hole in the bag. From then on I "milked" the bag for quite a few fist-fulls of salt, so much that I could feel the weight in my pockets. My friend next me helped to distract the attention of the Sikh. We had been told that the salt was for the garrison, so we had no bad conscience. I had managed to stop the trickle of salt by pushing one of the other bags against the hole and as we were close to the gate I felt very relieved. - But then the Sikh at the rear patted me on the shoulder and with a bit of a laugh said: "Banyak pandai punya orang la" (you are a very clever man). I smiled back and told him in Malay: "Many thanks, you are a very good man." He had seen me in spite of all and if he had been 164 against me and reported me to the Japanese I probably could not have written this little sunshine story. - But that evening everybody in the hut received a good extra helping of salt. Not all the Sikhs were so friendly. One of my friends, a previous police officer from Rawang, had a very nasty experience. Some of us were taken out for another fatigue outside the Camp and we had, of course, to pass through the gate. We all were bare-headed, with the exception of our Rawang friend, who had a broad-rimmed Aussie hat on his head. He went happily chatting through the gate without removing his hat and one of the Sikhs accompanying us gave him a very hard one under the ear. I could see how my friend got red and angry, but he took it very well and nothing more happened. Inside the Camp we were all trying to help one another and it was therefore quite a shock to us all when we by our own camp authorities were informed about a very mean embezzlement of sugar which had taken place in the old men's ward. A doctor in the Camp had managed to put aside a quantity of 25 lb. of sugar of a lot which should have been shared by the old inhabitants, and the doctor had then shared it out between some of his near friends. On a special parade we had, where no Japanese were present, we were told that the doctor in question had been fined $25 and removed from his ward-service. I was thinking of what happened to the Indian overseer in Batu Arang who was reported to the Japanese for a similar offence and was beaten to death after being put in a big bag. In the Old Men,s Ward, old men who were too weak and aged to carry out work were placed. Some of the inmates were also sick. Many of them were very much weakened both in mind and body and behaved more like children. When rumours again went around about Red Cross parcels being expected, this was of special importance for the old men, many of whom were really starved. One old chap was daily asking the attendant in charge of the ward when he would receive his Red Cross parcel and the usual reply was: "Probably tomorrow." So one day the old chap was sitting on the open-door toilet, when the attendant passed. "Hey, what about my Red Cross parcel?" "It might come tomorrow," was the answer. "Tomorrow, tomorrow, always tomorrow" moaned the old man and gave up the ghost. When mentioning the Old Men's Ward I find it appropriate to mention one of my friends from Batu Arang, Jim Darlow. Jim had been working in the Mines Department in Batu Arang and together with his wife and son he had started work for the Company about the same time as myself. They were such a nice little family, modest and helpful and well-liked by everybody. I was therefore not surprised to find Jim among a couple of other men in charge of the Old Men's Ward in Changi and later in Sime Road Camp - a job which needed much patience and understanding. 165 One day he told me about a lucky decision he had made just before the surrender of Singapore. He had been down at the wharf, where a small British warship was preparing for leaving the city. He was offered to jump on board and escape with them, but something in his mind kept him back and he politely declined the offer. Later he heard that the warship had been sunk and there were no survivors. In place of the ordinary toilets which always were in steady use and not really very inviting, most of us preferred to use the bore-holes, when nature called. In many of the different sections of the Camp we found these bore-holes, usually a dozen or more holes in three rows and about three metres between each hole. From memory I think they were about 35 - 40 cm in diameter and 2-3 metres deep. Many of these bore-holes were an inheritance from the "Regulars" time in Sime Road. Early in the morning before going to work, men were crouching over these holes like sculptured figures and when I arrived to occupy one of the holes I always enjoyed a quick study of the different persons and the expressions on their faces, varying from deep concentration to empty stares into nothingness. One day we had received an extra issue of soya beans which unfortunately proved to be fermented. The next few hours the bore-holes became very much in use and became also very noisy places, an event which caused considerable gaiety. On one of my smaller expeditions inside the Camp I fell into talk with a red-haired little Englishman from Yorkshire. He told me that he was on his second term of imprisonment. During the first World War he was taken prisoner by the Germans in France after one week's service in the British Army. He was then only seventeen years of age. Now he was in it again, this time as a civilian prisoner. I asked him what he had been doing between the two World Wars. "Oh, I have been in and out of prison all the time," he said. "That must have been a sad life," I said, becoming somewhat perplexed. "Not really, you know," was the answer, "I was a jailer all that time, most of the time in Changi." Then we both laughed. Once I had personal advantage of the big iodine bottle I had given to Dr. Gunsteinsen. As did nearly all the others in the Camp, I went around and also worked barefoot, and I really felt more comfortable that way. But one day I had the bad luck to step on a three inch rusty nail sticking up from a rotten piece of board. The nail went deep into my right heel and there both the board piece and the nail were hanging on. Luckily this happened close outside our hut, so I shouted to Jaan and Birger and they assisted me down to our doctor friend. Doctor Gunsteinsen got the nail out with a light pull and drove a smooth, thin wooden stick soaked in concentrated iodine into the wound. For me it was a matter of enjoying the intense pain, for I knew then that the iodine did the job. I was working as usual the next day. 166 During my time in Changi and Sime Road we were only three or four times allowed to send short notices abroad to our wives or near relatives and we only received a similar number of messages from them. The Japanese Camp authorities were most unco-operative in this respect and they delayed the delivery of Red Cross mail over long periods. We were all so much looking forward to this mail, which in most cases brought us good and re-assuring news, although some of us also received sad news about death of close relatives and friends. It was one of these great days with letter distribution just before Christmas 1944 and I was enjoying a short but happy twenty-five words message from Molle, when one of my hut mates with a rude exclamation called the attention of everybody in the hut: "Listen to this," he said, and he read the message from his wife: "Dear Jim, It is not much I can tell you when I am allowed only twenty-five words, but we are all well. Love, yours, Jane." - It gave us all a bit of a laugh but, after all, Jane got her message of good news through. One thing I was very particular about from the first day I stayed in Changi was to keep myself as clean as possible and to have a shave every second day. Every day after work I had a cold shower and a wash down. I always seemed to have enough soap so long as I used it sparingly. There was quite a lot of bartering going on in the Camp and I for my part secured soap and razor blades in exchange for pencils and cotton. Some of the internees must have been very afraid of cold water and you could smell them a mile away. I became convinced during my time in the Camp that whenever you have opportunity of looking after your personal dignity, keeping clean in body and soul, this will in considerable degree strengthen your ability and will to survive even under very adverse circumstances.

As time dragged on and we had come through the first couple of months in 1945, we became more and more hopeful that the Axis powers soon would be beaten. I had all the time in Sime Road received regular news from the war front through Doctor Gunsteinsen and a New Zealand sailor, David Holland. I never asked them, of course, where and how they received the news and the only person I shared the news with was Jaan Svads. On the 10th May Dr. Gunsteinsen came up to me and with a broad smile he told me: "The German forces have surrendered and laid down arms in all the war theatres. In Norway, the home guard and military forces are taking over and the enthusiasm is colossal." How wonderful it was that evening to sit on my little chair and be able to thank God for freeing my beautiful little country and its brave people and how sincerely I hoped that all my dear ones were alive and healthy, able to enjoy this grand event. 167 We also heard, of course, that Japan was going to carry on the War, going it alone against the steadily mightier Allied war machine. We became more and more hopeful, but also more and more weakened by the hard work on a starvation diet. Nearly every day somebody in the Camp died. The old Church of England minister died, so did a lovely young Eurasian friend of mine and also Lieutenant Fraser, whom I had learned to admire, while we were chatting together in the open during a heavy shelling by the Japanese artillery. The old minister had with his friendliness and bright outlook been a great help to many in the Camp; I had often listened to him during his sermons. My Eurasian friend was a very clever and intelligent young lad, a surveyor by profession. Unfortunately, he contracted tuberculosis induced by fatigue and starvation and died a couple of months before we were liberated. In connection with my remarks about the old minister I will mention that we at Sime Road also had the Bishop of Singapore, the Right Rev. J. L. Wilson, with us in the Camp. He had been a victim of imprisonment and torture by the Japanese military police and was brought into the Camp as a very sick and starved man. Luckily he recovered through good care and his own willpower and one day he also conducted a service where members of all church denominations were welcome and where everybody who so wanted received Holy Communion. After the service he gave me a few very friendly words about the Norwegians as a nation. - The Bishop was specially honoured by the British military authorities when he was granted a seat close to the table where the formal surrender document, with its eleven copies, was signed by the Japanese general, General Itagaki. Everybody in the Camp did, however, expect to see things moving faster now that the Allies had got big forces on land, sea and air relieved for the coup de grace against Japan. - And so one day while our little garden gang was working on top of a hill, probably the highest point in the Camp, we heard a distant humming, which rapidly grew in strength, and then high up in the clear sky we saw a big formation of bomber planes approaching. Wave after wave of four-engined bombers were heading toward the Singapore Navy Docks. - Oh, how we enjoyed it! We waved and shouted and laughed from pure joy. We saw only one single Japanese fighter plane, which was far below the bombers and apparently had been hit, as it went down in a lump of smoke. There were no Japanese near our working place, but when we late in the afternoon returned to the living quarters, we heard that people had gone wild with joy there also.. We also heard how a nervous and angry lot of Japanese sentries and officials had gone around distributing slaps and kicks to a jubilant crowd, who did not care two hoots about that kind of punishment. 168 This was the beginning of many more raids, and also the B.B.C. news became very encouraging. During one of the British raids a big tank storing palm oil was hit, probably mistaken for a petrol tank. The palm oil was running in streams in the surrounding gutters and the natives scooped it up in tins and buckets, and quite a lot of it was through the "black market" brought into the Camp for sale. It did not look very appetizing and most of my friends could not bear the thought of eating the dark yellow stuff with dark stripes of dirt, so directly scooped up from the gutters. But I bought one gallon of it and started giving it a thorough treatment. I got some cotton gauze from Dr. Gunsteinsen and screened the oil twice after cleaning the gauze each time, then I boiled it in an old kerosine tin. This whole process was repeated and the oil did look much more inviting. I took a couple of big spoonfuls every day right up to the Japanese surrender and I am sure that helped me to avoid berri berri. But, as all the others, I became weaker every day. The Japanese had ordered the doctors in the Camp to take a blood test of us all and I went down to my doctor friend, so he could draw a few drops of blood. As I was sitting there after the blood had been drawn I said quietly to my friend: "I feel I am going to faint now, but I will be right again in a few seconds." "Yes, we are all beginning to be that way, you know," I could just hear Dr. Gunsteinsen say, before I had a blackout. The next morning Luke Prynn came over to talk to me. He told me that I was ten to fifteen years older than any of the others in his gang and that it was high time I had some easier work than swinging the changkul all day. He mentioned that there was a gang of young Eurasian boys ten to twelve years old whose supervisor had just died. They were mainly employed in cutting the tall tropical Lalang grass and were not driven too hard. "If you will take on looking after the boys you are welcome to do so and without any cut in your ration. I hope you will take it on, Thiel," said Luke. - I was glad to start the new job and the boys - about a dozen of them - and I got on very well together. We were working some distance from the living quarters and we were not disturbed by any Japanese inspection. For my part the work was much easier than before. I told the boys to do a reasonable amount of work, so we would not lose the advantage given to us in a bigger food ration and the more freedom than enjoyed by the non-workers. I had also another bit of warning - and a more serious one - to give to the boys. In the Lalang grass we were cutting we would find typhus carrying lice, and tropical typhus had already a couple of times proved fatal in the Camp. To counteract this danger, the Camp's health inspector, Dr, Blakemore, had arranged 169 for a couple of 44 gallon drums to be filled with a much diluted lysol solution. Anybody working in lice infested grass was advised to take a good dip, actually, completely submerge, in one of the said drums every day after work. That should kill any lice involved. I conducted a good example for them by putting a finger in each ear and staying submerged in the solution a few seconds every day after work. None of us had any trouble after this. I did, however, afterwards take a cold shower, although the smell of the lysol was not unpleasant at all. The radio news I received through my two friends continued to be very encouraging and we knew that British and British Commonwealth troops were steadily advancing towards Singapore under the supreme command of Lord Mountbatten. We could any time expect a sudden and violent attack on the city from land, sea and air. Then again suppositions stated suspicion, suspicion started rumours and rumours started fear. The Japanese had by offering extra food rations got some of the internees to dig a big horse shoe tunnel not far from our hut. It was said to be for air raid shelter, but many of us wondered: Could this be another "Black hole of Calcutta" in case of a sudden Allied attack?

On the 13th August, late in the afternoon Dr. Gunsteinsen came up to me: "Come outside and sit down, Marstrand, I have some important news for you," he said. When I was seated, he put his hand on my shoulder and in a solemn and slow voice he announced: "The Americans have dropped a terrific bomb over one of the Japanese cities, killing thousands and thousands of people and vast parts of the city have been levelled to the ground. The Japanese have been told to surrender or face even more terrible destruction." It sounded too good to be true and it stirred up some quite confusing thoughts in my mind. - I should soon be free; how soon would I meet Molle and the children? Were our relatives in Norway safe and well? Would I soon be offered work again and would I be able to carry it out satisfactorily? Where would our future home be? Could my dream about our own little home out in the country, preferably in Norway, near our dear ones, come true? Then gradually my mind came to rest and I realized what a great message we all soon would receive and all I could whisper was: "Thank you, God, for everything, I know you will look after us all." Two days later, in the afternoon, I was sitting on my little stool at the usual place outside the hut, waiting for Jaan and Birger to come for a chat, when David Holland came up to me: "Thiel, I have some great news for you," he said. "So the War is over now, David," I replied. "Yes, Thiel, the Japanese have surrendered unconditionally," said David. "That is good," was my comment. I kind of could not stand up and wave and shout and embrace my friends. All I could do was 170 to give David a happy nod and I went inside the hut to tell the news. An hour or so later the whole Camp went mad. People were shouting their guts out. The Japanese money, the "Banana money" printed by the Japanese Military Government, were by the thousands thrown into the air and scattered by the wind and small fires were lit all over in the Camp for burning rubbish, old clothes, etc. But so many of us were in the grip of that silent, overwhelming joy which is such a wonderful feeling. The same evening and all through the night we heard the noise of a constant flow of motor cars on the road past our Camp. Military as well as civilian Japanese were on the way to the nearby Japanese Shrine to pay a last visit there; for some, how many probably nobody would know, the visit was followed by suicide, for many officers in the hara-kiri style. We had all been clearly told not to leave the camp area until further instructions, but the inhabitants of Singapore were allowed to visit us. The Japanese garrison was still in the Camp, supposed to look after law and order, but the soldiers kept themselves very much in the background. Many of the visiting natives brought with them gifts, mainly foodstuffs, to friends in the Camp, but the majority of the visitors consisted of petty tradesmen offering eggs, soya bean cakes, fruit, chocolate, soft drinks, etc. for rather exorbitant prices. I bought two eggs at a price of 10 banana dollars each, wanting to give one to Jaan and have one for myself. Then I found out that Jaan had already bought two eggs, one for me and one for himself. So we boiled our four eggs, which were a colossal treat for us both. While we were sitting in the hut enjoying ourselves, our lawyer companion, "Bestemor", had a visit from one of his previous clerks, an Indian, who presented him with a bottle of whisky. To our horror we saw "Bestemor" put the bottle to his lips and consume nearly half the bottle of the strong stuff. This was, of course, strictly against the advice we had been given by the doctors in the Camp and strictly contrary to common sense, but, strangely enough, "Bestemor" was only sitting there smiling broadly. We had all been told still to do some work in the field, more for our own good, and to stay in the Camp for roll-call and instructions to be given. The food situation had already improved considerably and of polished rice everybody could get full ration, or even more. Some of the internees did not heed the advice given to them about moderation and, as one of my friends expressed it, they went around as "living advertisements for Dunlop's rubber tyres." I still had my gang of boys with me out in the field for some hours daily, but naturally the whole work was carried out in a very relaxed way. One morning, 171 as we had one of our frequent sitting-down chats a British plane was approaching at a low altitude, heading straight for the Camp. Suddenly the plane released hundreds of small papers which, taken by the wind were spread all over the campsite and I told the boys: "Hurry up and see that you can catch hold of at least one of these papers and I will keep it as a souvenir in memory of some nice boys." A few minutes later I was the happy owner of one of the leaflets. The leaflets gave a combined advice and instruction to all of us to stay put in the Camp, to be careful with what we ate, and that different kinds of supplies would be given to us as soon as humanly possible. On the other side of the leaflets instructions were given to the Japanese guard in English and Japanese, informing them of the surrender and to give all Allied prisoners of war and internees every care and attention and then withdraw to their own quarters. Jaan and I had a few short walks outside the Camp, but, as most of the other internees, we were anxiously waiting for evacuation and shipping news and did not venture to be far away in case of any sudden news. I had filled in a request of being evacuated to Melbourne, Victoria, as I, thanks to Molle's quick action when the war cessation rumours became very strong, had received a letter from her. She sent the letter to me two days before the day of surrender and I was one of a handful of persons who received a message so early, informing me where to go for the reunion with my family. As the days passed the number of internees rapidly decreased. At the day of surrender we were 4507 men and women in the Camp and among them 29 Norwegians. Soon also Jaan and the other Norwegian sailors left the Camp and so did most of my Batu Arang friends. I had a chat with Bill Zamara and his Margaret before they left. They had been interned at the latter stage of the War. Bill told me that he had just heard that Olav Palnum had been reported missing, believed dead. This was a very sad message for me to receive, as I had learned to regard him as a very true friend.

On the 11th September Captain Draper came to me and said: "Marstand, would you like to join my wife and me in watching the surrender ceremonies of the Japanese forces tomorrow? It will take place in the Municipality Building and we have secured a place from where we can see the whole business very well." Wasn't I pleased! Firstly because it was my old Company Commander and his charming wife who showed me such a favour, secondly because everybody expected the surrender ceremony to be a very interesting and impressive show, this time with the enemy being the timid and humiliated ones. When we arrived at the Municipality Building Captain Draper produced passes for the three of us and we were allowed to proceed. We had been allocated a 172 window place at the first floor and from there we looked straight down on the broad, big stone staircase at the entrance of the building and we had also an excellent view over the big padang (a plain open field or lawn) in front of the building; it was an observation post worthy of any V.I.Ps. When we arrived a cadre of allied troops and sailors were lined up on part of the padang, also lining the entrance to the Municipality Building, and the multi-racial population had packed any vacant place in front of the building. Being so lucky still to possess a copy of the "Strait Times" dated 13th September, 1945, I can best give an account of the surrender ceremony by quoting some of the comments the said newspaper had given of this great event.

"The surrender of half a million Japanese troops in Malaya and the Dutch East Indies was formally signed yesterday, 1374 days after the first Japanese bombs fell on this City and war broke out in the Far East. "The Supreme Allied Commander in South-East Asia, Lord Louis Mountbatten, received the surrender at a historic ceremony in the Municipal Building in the presence of his naval, army and air commanders-in-chief and representatives of the United States, Australia, China, India, Prance and Holland. "All Singapore turned out to see the pageantry of the Padang, where guards of honour representatives of the Imperial forces were on parade, and the moments when British bugles rang out and the Union Jack was formally hoisted again after the dark interlude of the Japanese occupation were deeply moving. "General Itagaki, commander of the Japanese army lately stationed at Singapore, received a fiercely hostile reception from the dense crowds when he walked with six other Japanese commanders to the Municipal Building to sign the surrender as personal representative of Count Terauchi, Supreme Commander of the Japanese forces in the Southern Regions." (The following by a special correspondent). "The sky was overcast as the Allied forces forming the guards of honour marched on to the Padang and took up their places. The sun only peeped through the threatening clouds for a short while. The rain, however, held off. Marines lined the streets as polyglot Singapore crowds flocked to the Padang, levelled for the occasion by hundreds of Japanese prisoners of war, who had worked at the double to complete the task. Beyond the flame trees along the esplanade we saw the be flagged ships of the Royal Navy - ships which had been ready for the large scale invasion of Malaya had not the Japanese surrendered when they did. The guards of honour comprised detachments from the 5th Indian Division -heroes of the Burma campaign - Commandos, Digras, Gurkhas, Punjabis, Australian 173 paratroops, French sailors from the battleship "Richellieu", detachments from H.M.S. Sussex and other vessels of the Royal Navy, and from a British battalion, the West York. “ Flanking the steps of the Municipal Offices were Royal Marines from H.M.S. Cleopatra and just inside the buildings was a double file of men from the Chinese Resistance Army under the command of a British officer. Slick and determined looking, they carried Tommy guns and Sten guns, and with their khaki uniforms wore the peaked khaki caps bearing their insignia of three red stars. "The scene was set. Newsreel men and photographers from all over the World got ready. The Commanders-in-Chief of the British, Navy, Army and Air Force in South-East Asia - the men who would have led their forces into action against the Japanese - arrived. "Cheering from the direction of Stamford Road told us that the Supreme Allied Commander himself was approaching. Ex-prisoners of war and ex-internees watching the spectacle - thus completing the last three and a half years - gave him a special cheer. He turned and saluted them. '"Present Anms' rang out and then the Royal Salute. A high-ranking naval officer, standing next to me, muttered "Good" when the parade clicked to a man. "The National Anthem, played by a band of Royal Marines, was heard. Then the bugles. "That was a great moment indeed - to hear the British bugles sounding again on the Padang, scene of so many historic events in the history of Singapore. "Lord Louis inspected the parade. He did so leisurely, stopping here and there to talk to the men. "We had another thrill. "Mosquito bombers" flew over in salute. Then there were cheers from the crowd as the big Sunderland flying boats, used on long-range reconnaissance and bombing missions, droned over, and finally some Dakota transports. "Before Lord Louis had finished his inspection hoots and jeers from the crowd by Singapore Cricket Club told us that the seven Japanese representatives had arrived. "Dust flew up in clouds on the Padang as the crowds rushed in the direction of High Street to see the Japanese officers step out of their cars, each of which bore a white flag. These officers lined up one behind the other and then - escorted by men from the British, Indian, Chinese, Australian and American forces - walked down the road, looking neither to right nor left, faces pale and expressionless under their cloth caps. They wore no swords."

The above is only part of the ceremonies as described by The Strait Times. The completion of the ceremonies included the signing of the unconditional surrender. 174 I will not here tell about the further events and ceremonies which took place that day, but the feeling of most of us could so aptly be covered in the way His Highness the Sultan of Johore, Sir Ibraham, expressed it: "I have never before been so stirred. I am glad to have been there to watch these fellows sign. I am proud to have had the honour of witnessing their formal surrender." When we went back to the Camp I thanked Captain Draper and Mrs. Draper heartily for the kindness they had shown. Mrs. Draper had shown much kindness and courage in looking after canteens and helping so many of us during the last days prior to the Japanese conquest - and her fiery husband had a kind heart. Being back in the Camp I was sitting down thinking and reviving all the details which had enriched this great day, but in the corner of my mind I also felt pity for Mr. Kuda, Mr. Chichio and a few other nice Japanese I had met. Hopefully they are still alive and well in Japan. Most of my more close friends in the Camp had now left and it was mostly a police officer married to a Danish wife I had a daily chat with. His name was Nicholayson, Nick, as Jaan and I used to call him. Jaan and I had taught him Danish during the last half year in the Camp and he had become quite clever. He wanted to surprise his wife when they met again. He had been told that she stayed with friends in Hobart, Tasmania, so he, as I myself, was waiting for shipping opportunity to Australia. So on the 18th September I received the longed-for news: I had been booked to leave for Sydney by M/S "Highland Chieftain" on 15th September. This meant I had only two more days in Sime Road Camp. I wrote to Molle, telling her to watch out for the date the ship would arrive in Sydney and that I would contact her from there about when we could meet in Melbourne. - We had entered the final stage of a long wait. I had very much wanted to take farewell with Consul Strandberg and the other nice people at the Danish Consulate and also with my friends at Grange Road, but I was afraid of missing out on any message or any possible alteration on the ship's departure, so I stayed put in the Camp..

Early morning on the 15th September I stood at the wharf ready for the final checking before I boarded the ship. "Highland Chieftain" proved to be quite a big boat of 14,000 tons and. we were a mixed lot of ex-P.O.Ws and ex-internees on board, altogether 1500 men. Added to this were quite a number of nurses to look after us all and the ship's own crew. All the Local Defence people and civilians were in one part of the ship and the "regulars" in another section. On certain parts of the upper deck we could, however, freely mix. We had our meals in special halls and at night we were sleeping in hammocks, which were placed in rows very densely together. This caused some inconvenience and a fair bit of swearing when 175 some of the more corpulent persons tried to find their way out to the toilets at night and bumped into hammocks on their way. I also remember a couple of rather stormy, rough nights when the hammocks were in a constantly swinging motion and any irregular movement by a sleeping person would disturb the rhythm and cause instant collision between two or more hammocks. - But most of us took it in the stride as an amusing experience. After all - every beat of the engine brought us closer to Australia. On my daily walks on deck I met quite a few of my old friends and acquaintances, among them Mr. Drysdale. He had come as far as Java when he was taken prisoner by the Japanese and so had Mr. Robbins, our Managing Director. Mr. Drysdale could also tell many stories about Japanese cruelties and it was very sad for me to learn that Mr. Robbins had succumbed to dysentery. On board in "Highland Chieftain" we were very well looked after. A good meal three times a day, a cup of tea before breakfast and a cup of tea and a muffin followed our after-dinner nap. After a couple of days we were told to line up before supper and we were given the choice of a nip of brandy, whisky or rum. I was rather surprised about the fact that we were allowed to taste the strong liquor so early after our starvation period. The doctors in the Camp had warned us to abstain from the use of alcohol for a while; but we had doctors on board too and they maintained that small doses of alcohol only did us good, so that was fine - and it was nice. It amused me, however, to watch how some of the chaps increased their rations by persuading friends, who on principal abstained from alcohol, to give them their part. Later we also received half a bottle of beer each once or twice a week for dinner. I spent a lot of time at the bow of the ship, sitting there with my legs dangling outside the ship's side, having a firm grip on a protruding piece of metal. I enjoyed the warm sun and the cool wind and the waving movements of the ship tremendously and I was glad that nobody came and chased me away. I was soon even more tanned by sun and wind and I felt really very upset when the sister in charge at my table gave me an atabrin tablet and told me to swallow it as all my table mates had to do. "It is a precautionary measure we all have to take before we enter Australia," she said. "You will be a bit yellow in the face, but it should stop you from being a source of malaria infection." I told her that I had never taken a single tablet of quinine or atabrin during my eleven years stay in Malaya and that I never had the slightest touch of malaria in spite of living in a jungle area infested with mosquitoes, and that I did not want my wife to think that I had contracted jaundice. However, after a bit of heated opposition I had to give in to reason and I took a tablet every day. I really found my skin turned 176 rather yellow, but as the sister in question a few days after our little confrontation offered to mend a rather visible tear in my trousers, we became good friends again. We had met a few ships and we were told we were approaching Darwin. I was sitting on my favourite place at the bow of the ship, when a young soldier came up to me and after finding out my nationality, he started telling me about Australia and the bright future he predicted for his vast country. In his broadest Australian he added: "And remember this, which I can assure you is fair dinkum. When you come to Australia, you will find plenty of nice girls waiting for you!" I sent him a happy smile. My thoughts went to one very special girl I knew was anxiously waiting for me. Time on board "Highland Chieftain" really passed very pleasantly. We had quite a lot of entertainment which also always involved singing of "Waltzing Matilda", and the nurses went round looking after us all. We were on a couple of occasions lined up for the receiving of Red Cross gifts, consisting of clothing items and personal articles. I felt these small gifts so heart-warming and I understood more clearly the joy the Japanese administration had denied us by not allowing the International Red Cross to function in Japanese-held areas. After nearly three weeks we arrived at Darwin. We berthed outside the town and we were told that nobody could leave the ship with exception of the few on board who lived in or near the town. We were only going to stay outside the harbour for two or three hours. But we got visitors on board. A boat-load of nice-looking, rosy cheeked nurses came out to us and distributed books, journals and newspapers. And then they greeted their own boys, the Australian soldiers on board and it was so nice to watch their common joy at the meeting. I myself received a thick newspaper and a charming smile from one of the nurses and I felt so happy about the whole atmosphere. Just before we sailed we were in for quite an entertainment. - An Australian officer had been taken out to our ship in a small motor-boat to see some soldier friends of his. They must have had quite a party on board, as it was a very noisy departure with hand-shaking and back-slapping and the descent from the ship to the waiting motor-boat on a rope ladder from the ship's side was performed in a rather shaky manner, eagerly watched by the crowd on board. His two friends in the motor-boat assisted him so he made a safe landing. Then he proudly stood up in his little boat, gave a military good-bye salute and dropped headlong into the sea. He was quickly fished up by his friends and stood up again accepting the applause we gave him.

177 The trip from Darwin to Brisbane was a very pleasant part of the voyage. We passed Thursday Island, traversed through the inner line of the mighty Great Barrier Reef with its long chain of bigger and smaller islands and berthed at one of the wharfs in Brisbane early an October morning. We had been told beforehand that as soon as certain formalities had been settled we would be allowed to go ashore for as much as eight hours, if we so wanted. Already we were approaching the wharf we could see a big crowd of people assembled there, friends and relatives of soldiers and civilians returning after years of suffering in Japanese prison camps. Coming still closer we could hear music, sounding a loud welcome to their returning citizens. Nick and I had already arranged to have a look at Brisbane together and when I was standing there on the deck he suddenly came rushing towards me: "Thiel, I cannot go with you," he said. "A lady at the wharf was waving to me and do you know, it was my wife - it was my wife!" He was so excited that he became completely flushed in the face. Soon after I was introduced to Nick's wife, a nice, friendly girl who had come right from Hobart to meet her husband. The last I saw of them was when they turned around and gave me a happy wave from the wharf and disappeared among the crowd. - Soon after this happy little event I went ashore and mailed a letter to Molle, telling her I would try to contact her from Sydney over the phone as soon as I found out when I would obtain train-fare to Melbourne. I had already Molle's address and telephone number in Bendigo. When I put the letter in the mail-box I told it: "It is coming very near now, isn't it?" As I had so many hours at my disposal and was on my own, I traced my way to the Forestry Department in the City, where one of the officers was very kind and willing to give me the answers to my many questions about forests and forestry development in Australia. I bought a book they had for sale in the office: "The Timbers and Forest Products of Queensland", an informative book which became very useful to me, and I was presented with quite a few pamphlets and journals about trees and timber industries. During our conversation I told him that when I went for my forestry degree at the College in Norway in 1924-1927 we were told that Australia was the homeland for the magnificent Eucalyptus trees with their high number of species; at that time there were 150 known species, we learned. Then according to a "Geographical Magazine" from 1939, which I found in Sime Road Camp, 350 species of Eucalyptus trees had been identified. "That certainly is a lot of species," I said. "I am afraid you are somewhat behind in the records, as we now have a good 500 species of our Eucalypts," was the answer. (There are now 700 different species of identified Eucalyptus trees, out of which many have been formed through hybridization). 178 I left the Forestry Office in quite a happy mood and had a good stroll around in the beautiful city, which was alive with people, and everywhere the military of different ranks were part of the picture. The final lap of the voyage, Brisbane-Sydney, went very fast, nearly too fast in this beautiful weather, the lovely and changing scenery on sea and land and the high-spirited sentiment of everybody on board. Near the end of the trip I took a special round thanking all the nurses for their kind care and said goodbye to some of my friends on board.

As soon as we had berthed in Sydney round about lunch-time, we were taken care of by a swarm of Red Cross sisters and friendly ladies and we were taken by cars to a big building, probably the Municipality Building, where we were served " tea and a great variety of delicious sandwiches and cakes and I had the special luck and pleasure to be attended to by Mrs. Drysdale and Mrs. Giles, who both had1 stayed in Sydney during the War, and I was so glad to learn that both now had their husbands with them. Mr. Drysdale, of course, I had already met on board the ship. After a couple of very pleasant hours those of us who should travel further to Melbourne and other places nearby that city were allocated a big bus which would take us to a smaller temporary refugee camp till train and/or bus-fares to our final destination were arranged for. The bus was filled to the last seat and we knew we had only an hour or so to travel to our temporary retreat. Coming out in the countryside the traffic was. not very heavy and we made good speed. Another bus had just passed us in the opposite direction, when we heard a sharp bang and our bus was thrown right across the road; luckily the driver regained control and stopped his vehicle. We all went out for a short stroll, while our driver changed the punctured front wheel. How easily many of us, having survived three and a half years of war and imprisonment, could have been killed or badly maimed just before we were approaching the end of a long trip, if the buses had collided. We arrived late in the afternoon in the refugee camp, the name of which I have forgotten. There also we were well looked after and after a meal I had my first walk in an Australian buso (forest). The ground was very poor and the trees were rather scattered and stunted, but I could walk freely among them, even enjoying the evening song of a few birds; I thought it was beautiful. At the breakfast table the next morning I was told that a ticket for the Sydney-Melbourne journey was arranged for me, the train leaving late in the afternoon. This, of course, was great news, and I went to the Camp's office, received 179 the ticket and put a call through to Molle's address in Bendigo. I spent some exciting minutes before the call came through and when I took the phone it was a strange voice who answered. It was Molle's good friend, Bosh Armstrong, who answered; Dosh, who had meant so much to and had done so much for Molle and Valborg, while they stayed in Bendigo during the long and trying War years. Dosh told me that Molle had gone out for a moment, but that she would give her the message: to meet her at Spencer Street Station in Melbourne, where my train should arrive on the afternoon the next day, the 15th October. From now on time passed very slowly and so it did also when I was sitting in the train on the way to Melbourne. The hours seemed like days. In the last letter I received from Molle, one addressed to me C/o M/S "Highland Chieftain", she had mentioned that a Norwegian friend of hers, Mrs. Lolla Bang, had gone to Sydney to pick up her Norwegian sailor-husband, Captain Alf Bang, and that they should take the train back to Melbourne together. In her letter' Molle suggested I kept a look-out for the Bangs, as it was quite a possibility we could all be on the same train. I had spent the first part of the journey in sleeping, reading and looking out on the changing scenery. When we came to Albury, however, we had to change trains because of the difference in rail gauge at that time maintained in Victoria and New South Wales. We were told we would have quite a long wait at the station because of some delay in the railway schedule. To get some exercise and fresh, air I walked forwards and backwards on the station platform and so did most of the other passengers. I then also remembered what Molle had told me about her Norwegian friends. I was looking for a nice-looking, friendly, middle-aged lady, this according to Molle's description, but I was somewhat reluctant to make approaches in case I should address the wrong person. But then I was spoken to by a lady with a soft, pleasant voice: "Excuse me, are you Norwegian?" (I had my little Norwegian metal flag pinned on to my jacket). "Yes," I answered in Norwegian, "and are you Mrs. Bang?" We had both guessed correctly and the contact was made. Soon after I was introduced to Captain Bang and in the nice company of my two new-found friends time passed quickly as Lolla Bang told me about recent meetings with Molle and Valborg and about her husband's and her own experiences during the War. Then we were told that we were approaching Melbourne, the train slowed down, soon to come to a standstill. What a crowd of people, all so excited and happy, surging forward to meet relatives and friends. I grabbed my bag and my small suitcase and followed the stream of people who soon had melted into one big crowd. 180 Then we saw each other - a few long, quick steps and we were in each other's arms, while an excited Valborg tried to embrace the two of us - and - we were together again.

And this is my story, Jonnie. As you know I won no medals; not being a regular soldier I was not entitled to any, but I feel I can carry my head high. I also received a very special reward: In perfect health I could take up again the beautiful life with a wonderful wife and family; not a thousand medals could replace this. But my heart is bleeding for all those millions of men, women and children both of friend and foe who so innocently died, only because they lived in a country they had learned to love and stand up for. - Let us just bow our heads, John!






“ No Medals, The Saga of Thiel Marstrand during the Malayan Campaign” the memoirs of Thiel Marstrand, sent to John Drysdale in 1978. His letter to John Drysdale and Drysdale's reply can be read here. Thiel Marstrand had worked in a plywood mill in Norway and went to Malaya in 1935 with his wife Molle and their three year old son Claus. He was there for 7 years. (Numbers in bold are page numbers from the original typed manuscript. Notes in the left hand margin have been added by C.G.)

The road to Batu Arang
European Quarters and staff.
The Plywood Mill
Malayan Collieries
Batu Arang Hospital and Club
New Bungalow
Plywood Mill workforce
Wood Distillation Plant. The workforce of the Plywood Mill.
Accident at the East Mine
Plywood Chests and Types of Timber
1935 Rubber Recession and plywood shooks.
Beetles and other problems
Head office in K.L.
Visiting Serembang Rubber Estate
A Visiting Norwegian
Parties and Entertainment.
Travelling salesmen
The Malay Language
Days out in K.L.
Molle gives birth
Miner's strike, guarding the pumps.
Baby's christening
End of the slump 1937 Chinese workforce.
Making a table for Mr. Drysdale.
Teak Timber in Thailand.
Malayan wild life
Sacking staff
Wong Choon's Wedding Celebrations
Port Dickson
Port Swettenham
The Sultan's garden at Klang.
Christmas 1938
The Governor of Malaya visits the mill.
March 1939, 6 months leave in Norway, the journey home.
Wong Choon's party
Hindu celebrations
St Andrew's day celebrations at the Selangor Club
Music at the the Hotel Majestic in Kuala Lumpur


"Why didn't you get any medals during the War, Far?" This question came from my little grandson, John, a few years ago and it gave an extra incentive to my intention of writing down my experiences during the War. By doing so, I will start with my first trip out to the East, this being essential, enabling us to understand and follow much of the development and events during the sad war years, which so completely altered the living conditions for the white man in what for him was a wonderful fairy-tale country. I have recorded all the events and described all the places exactly how I remember it all, not adding anything on to the real thing. Some of the persons mentioned in my stories I have for different obvious reasons only mentioned by their initials, but they are rather few in number. After five and a half years' work as assistant work superintendent at Lumber Co.'s big and well organized plywood mill at Kristiansand in Southern Norway, I was in March 1935 on the way out to Malaya together with my wife, Molle, and our three year old son, Claus. We were travelling on the P. & 0. steamer "Naldera". This was the beginning of seven very exciting, interesting and happy years, which came to such an abrupt and tragic end when the evils and brutality of war to their fullest extent so suddenly also struck down on this beautiful peninsula. 2. We had never travelled on a big passenger boat before and typical for "green-horns" we over-tipped some and under-tipped others of the servants on board. Claus embarrassed us by giving a couple of very loud and rather shrilling solo concerts for a disapproving audience, but after a few days Clans had also adjusted himself to the new surroundings. We had a cold and stormy time in the Biscaya, but just before we were entering the Suez Canal it was as if the whole ship changed its appearance. Officers and crew and servants all changed into tropical suits and so did most of the passengers. The sun was hot in a clear sky, but a fresh breeze made it all very pleasant, which was clearly resounded in the happy and easy-going sentiment on board. Soon afterwards we anchored at Port Said and together with a couple of new-found passenger friends we hired a taxi, which drove us at break-neck speed out to the pyramids, which really were an imposing sight. Back in Port Said we had a look around, stopped to watch a gillie-gillie boy, who managed to get a couple of chickens - and afterwards a couple of our shillings - to disappear mysteriously. On the way back to the wharf I was approached by a street-seller who in a dozen different languages warmly recommended and exhibited a pack of “naughty” postcards. As he changed over to the different languages I just shook my head, but he followed me right to the gangway, where he left me with a final "Din forbannade svenska!" (You damned Swede). A near bullseye, I will say. The following night we went through a pre-conditioning to tropical climate. We had our cabin on B-deck, which was at the very bottom of the ship. Further, our cabin was right up against the boiler-room. All passengers were told to keep doors and portholes shut during the night, as the ship was going to bunker. What a night! It had been a very hot day and with everything shut up in our small cabin it was quickly full of humid heat. From the boiler-room and coal store-room we had to bear a continuous noise of falling coal, mixed with sounds from turning cranes, testing of engines and voices in all scales, and on top of all this we had a demonstration of Claus's best performance as "the ugly duckling". How we blessed the oncoming morning, when all this noise stopped and we were allowed to open the port-holes again. After loading and unloading of different kinds of cargo we were on our way through the Canal, a nice and relaxing experience, the most beautiful of which was the colour spectrum over the desert, produced by the rapidly disappearing sun.3. We stopped some hours in Aden, where British land and navy forces dominated the picture, and then we had some pleasant days on board while "Naldera" was heading for Colombo in Ceylon. In Colombo we had a complete day ashore and we shared our time between four places, which each in its own way gave us some thrilling experiences as newcomers to a way of life, so unlike that we had been used to. We enjoyed the first, cooler morning hours in a nearby botanical garden, where the abundance of tropical flowers, trees and colours was made even more lovely by small dams reflecting all this beauty, while myriads of colourful birds entertained with a continuous, often somewhat disharmonic, concert. In the garden we met a few Europeans and many natives; most of the last ones were employed there and nearly all of them met us with a friendly smile. Meeting all these natives offered us a good opportunity to familiarize Claus with black and brown faces before he came to Malaya. By doing so I also had in mind a little story a Norwegian friend of mine in California told me during my stay there in 1927. He had entered a picture house in Eureka, a small coastal town in the northern part of the country. At this time, at least, it was pre¬dominantly a white town, with very few blacks staying there. My friend had seated himself next to a little girl, who was accompanied by her parents. During the first pause the girl turned round and eyed with surprise and disgust a negro, sitting right behind her. Then she addressed her father in a loud and clear voice: "Daddy, the man behind us hasn't washed her face." This was immediately followed by the embarrassed father's attempt to calm down his little daughter, also using some harsh words about behaving. My friend watched the little girl trying to fight back her tears, and after a while it came very determinedly: "But he, he ha- hasn't washed his face." We would not risk anything like this, would we? Our next call was at a Buddhist Pagoda, where we together with a couple of other passengers from "Naldera" were met by a yellow-robed, bald-shaven monk. We were told to take our shoes off and were then taken round among much gilded ornaments, columns and Buddha figures. Our guide did not display any special eagerness and enthusiasm until he was going to get rid of us. He then handed each of us a small strip of papyrus with written blessings on; so he told us after having received a ten shilling note from all of us. "I don't like that bald-headed man", was Claus's departing remark, luckily in Norwegian. Now it was close to lunch-time and we felt hungry, so we went to a nearby hotel, situated in a nice garden and with a beautiful view of the blue sea. 4. The service there I would, however, describe as distinctly second-rate. The owner of the hotel seated himself at our table and in good English he boasted about all the wonderful fruits on the island, the excellent packages of tea we could obtain in a special trade-hall down at the wharf. "I will give you a taste of mango fruit, grown in my own garden, he said, then leaving us to attend to some other guests. The mango fruits were served at our table and they had a nice taste, but being rather juicy and sticky and we, being inexperienced and rather clumsy, made quite a bit of a mess of it and our light coloured cool clothes were stained with yellow-brown suit stains, which we soon found out were completely "wash-proof". While Molle and Claus went for some combined shopping and window-shopping, I found my way to a native jeweller, who also had quite an exhibition of wood carvings, specially elephants. One of the old-timers on "Naldera" had told me he was well worth visiting. The owner proved to be a middle-aged Singhalese with a persuasive smile, speaking fluent English. When I told him I was from Norway, was a forester by trade and was on my way to Malaya to take on a job there, he became very interested and on his request I told him about Norway's beautiful sceneries, its flora and fauna, its population, industries and trades. His enthusiasm also got me steamed up and it took the best part of an hour before we came down to business. I left the shop bringing with me twelve ebony elephants, ranging from reasonably big to very small, plus a set of moonstones on a silver necklace. Coming on board in "Naldera" again I showed my purchases and told the price to the man who had recommended the jeweller and his instant remark was: "He must have liked you very much." While the lights of Colombo gradually dwindled away in the dark but star-spangled tropical night, life on board the "Naldera" very soon came back to its full measure of music, joy, dance and song, or for the older generation, just a game of cards or enjoying the beauty of a tropical night from a deck-chair. For Molle and me it was the last lap of our voyage; in a few days we would go ashore in Penang, and we would start on our first four years' stay in Malaya. We landed at Penang, this Pearl of the East, at dawn a couple of days later. A fresh morning breeze produced a ripple on the sea and the sun had not yet broken the early morning coolness. The town was nestling against the green-clad Penang Hill and from there spreading out in all its tropical beauty along the different branches of its magnificent harbour. We had about ten hours at our disposal before we should catch the evening train to Kuala Lumpur the present capital city of Malaysia.

Hitler, WW2 and the return journey to Malaya
Arrival in Singapore
Back to the plywood mill. Disagreements with Mr. Sproat.
The effect of the War on the mill.
Norway is invaded and surrenders on 10th July 1940
Mr. Sproat causes a strike at the mill.
Sick leave at Fraser's Hill
Unsatisfactory staff.
The bonus system to boost production.
Christmas 1940 and Norwegian Captains
Penang and Rangoon.
Joining the Selangor Local Defence Corps.
Japanese attack Pearl Harbour
Japanese land at Kota Bahra
Sinking of Repulse and Prince of Wales
Molle and Valborg leave for Singapore on 27th December
British military arrive at Batu Arang. The power station is blown up and the bungalow looted.
Leaving Batu Arang for Kuala Lumpur. Rubber is burned by the retreating army.
Air raid at Batu Tiga
Looting in Kuala Lumpur.
Car convoy south.
Marching across the causeway to Singapore
Lost possessions.
Molle and Valborg leave Singapore.
Sending money to Australia.
Compensation after the war.
Japanese air raid
Guarding against looters.
Air attack on Yohore Bahru. The Japanese reach Singapore island.
Secret mission to destroy machine guns.
Handing in the rifles and one day spent as a policeman.
Helping at the hospital.
The British surrender

Many Chinese people are killed.

Joining the Danes

Living with Danes in an abandoned house in the city. Living with a Eurasian couple in Grange Road.
A request to return to Batu Arang.
Journey back to Batu Arang
The train contains British explosives to be used in the open casts.
Explosives stored in plywood mill.
Working for the Japanese.
Walking in the Jungle.
February 1943. Visit to a Rubber Estate
The Mill starts to work again.
Last days at Batu Arang
Pudu Road Gaol in K.L.
Living with the Danes.
Living in the Cameron Highlands.
In gaol in Ipoh
On the train to Singapore Gaol
Changi Camp
Jaan Svads story of the sinking of M/S Woolmar.
The military police take over the camp.
1944 Sime Road camp.
The end of the war
Watching the Japanese surrender.
The Straits Times reports the surrender.
The voyage to Australia
Darwin to Brisbane
Sydney to Melbourne