E.River - Social
In March 1942 accompanying my parents and the rest of my family on our way north to our home county of Ng Wah, I passed through Waichow where we had three days brief stop. When I returned to Waichow in mid 1942 as an agent for the B.A.A.G., the popular saying was: "Waichow is very Peaceful. So Peaceful that you can openly carry a basketful of Bank Note across the street, and you won't be robbed. For if you are caught, you will be (summarily) executed the next day". The then Garrison Commander, ( ) ( ) ( ) simply would not waste any of his time allowing "Fair Trials". Almost daily at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, one would hear the familiar sound of Twin Bugles, blown to the dull and monotonous tune of "Da` Da` Da` Da' Da' Da'", by two buglers, leading a platoon of soldiers, guarding a number-varying from 2 to 20 -of tied up prisoners, being marched towards the "Execution Site" outside the West Gate of Fu Shing, the West part of the Twin Township the Admin Seat of the Prefecture to be ( ) ( ), ( ). The familiar scene was not unlike the scene of the French Revolution in Paris, except that there was not the crowd or the mob of the proletariat with the women sitting around knitting.
The way such "justice" was dispensed was this a Major, or on rare occasions, a Lt. Col., on the Staff of the Garrison H.Q.,might be assigned to "interogate" the accused mainly to make sure of his identity, but the guilt of the accused would, in most cases, appeared to have been presumed ! The accused would not have been ( ). At the most, a wait of 24 hours or 72 hours for some one (of influence) to come forward to bail out the arrested, would seem to be the only chance of sparing him from being "executed" on the next day. The "Trial" Major or Colonel would sit as the ( ) all in one. The practice of protracted judicial procedings and the requirement of "proving beyond reasonable doubt" were dispensed with; and such a thing as " Rules of Evidence" had never been heard of. Most of the prisoners being marched across the street looked pretty miserable. Being a bystander, it was quite impossible for me to say at the time whether the poor chaps were actually guilty of the crimes of ( ) for which they were "found guilty" and "duly punished" according to law ! "What Law ?", I often wondered. Be that as it might, the local populace, particularly those of the respectable "middle" and the "upper" classes, were apparently quite pleased with the way the General had kept the Peace in his Garrison Area. I had heard more praise for the effectiveness of the ( ) than I had heard criticism against him or his methods.
We had been the Garrison Commander's guests at dinner many a time. When returning home after dinner from a restaurant, we usually accompanied the Garrison Commander, walking down the main street, half way across the twin township. I have been privileged on many occasions to have been so honoured, at least a dozen. On such occasions, invariably late in the evening, fully armed bodyguards walked - in front of us, along both sides of us and and behind us -to ensure we would not be ambushed on the way. The body guards walking in front, would clear the way for us, those by our sides would cause the bystanders to retreat indoors, and those walking behind us would keep any followers a "safe distance" away from us. As we walked down the main thorough-fare, we would continue to talk loudly and happily, as all "half-drunks" or "drunks" would, leaving all the worries to the "Platoon commander" whose job it was to ensure our personal safety. Our places of abode, the St. Joseph's Hospital and the Wai On Hospital Campus, were both closer to "downtown Waichow" than the Garrison Headquarters, at which the Generals lived. Thus usually, we got home safely earlier than the Generals would. While at dinner, we must have been surrouded by armed guards. However, we seldom noticed their presence. When it was the General who played host, the armed guards would have been there before we arrrived; when we played host, the armed guards came along with the Generals or the Colonels. The kitchen staff would have to see to it that the guards were fed, even though it was no more than the unexciting good old "Bully Beaf" of the British Army which we could offer.
There was no Whisky nor Brandy nor Port, not even Beer ! All we had was "rice wine" of varying "strengths". Sometimes, the "Sheung Ching" ( ) ( ) sometimes the "Sasm Ching" ( ) ( ). As I didn't drink, I never knew the real difference. To those who drank, including Colin McEvan, from Scotland, the rice wine could knock them flat out, no less powerful than Scotch . After every dinner party at the restaurants, usually the Sam Yuen ( ), our officers suffered heavy hangovers on the next day. For the daily dinner drinks at the Officers Mess, they chose the milder drink called "Nor Mai Chau" (wine made out of the glutinous rice). For me, it was always been Tea, the "Tit Kon Yun" ( ) variety. I do not recall our ever having any aerated water. The Tea Houses started serving Dim Sums and Tea for breakfast at dawn, but closed for luncheon to avoid possible chaos in case of Air Raid. Certain restaurants had special arrangments for outside catering to serve luncheons at popular spots, where customers fondly congregated. The varieties of Dim Sums in the mornings included the substantial "Tai Pau" ( ) "Big Steamed Stuffed Buns" , of which one would be enough even for a young man as a full meal. In the evenings,however, apart from full course banquets or a la carte dinners, only the sweet varieties of Dim Sums would be served.
Certainly the Food served in the Restaurants for banquets was of the highest quality. The Chefs' had come from Canton or Hongkong, both of which were by then occupied by the enemy. Probably, we in the B.A.A.G. were relatively well paid; on the whole we were extremely well fed through out the two and half years while we were in Waichow. In so far as we were concerned, we never suffered from want, not even any lack in the variety of food. (The British Officers might have found Chinese Food not quite to their preferred tastes). We had an ample supply of rice and vegetables, as well as pork, chicken, ducks and fish, particularly salt fish. However, because cattle were too precious to farmers for agriculture, seldom did we have beef. We hardly ever had mutton, becauce people in Kwangtung Province did not rear sheep, and goats would only be bought for ancestral worship on special occasions, e.g., weddings. Besides many Cantonese did not like the strong taste of Mutton. We had a good variety of vegetables, and Waichow was famous for its specialty, the "Mui Choy" ( ) - a unique specie of cabbage, served only in the preserved form. Fruits too, were in plentiful supply.
On land, south of Hing Ning/Kukong Highway, the only form of vehicular transport were "Bicycles", which could be hired as "Taxi" for Pillion riding passengers. Even wheel barrows were seldom seen. An arm-chair, tied to two bamboo poles, might occassinally be used, in place of sedan chair, to carry the sick or the elderly. Otherwise, ÷‚á‚ì‚ë‚é‚î‚ç‚ ï‚î‚ æ‚ï‚ï‚ô‚ was by far the most widely used way of getting around and about. On the river, there were, broadly speaking, three varieties of boats. The most up-to-date and the fastest was the "motorized" boat, using an old motor-car engine, adapted to burn charcoal instead of petrol. The next fastest boat was the "Hon Kong" ( ) type of river boat, pushed by 4 boatmen from a raised bow. They were carried overland from Hing Ning, through which county flowed the river "Mui Kong" ( ), which was the main tributary for the "Hon Kong", the River that drained the East end of Kwangtung Province, flowing to the Sea, with its main outlet at Swatow ( ) of the Chiu Chow Prefecture ( ). "Hon Kong" ( ) was named after a famous Man of Letters, "Hon Yue" ( ) more repectfully referred to as "Hon Man Kung" ( ), who was banaished to Chiu Chow for causing the displeasure of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor by being too honest and straight forward in submitting his loyal advice against the Royal preference of the Emperor on certain matters concerning the welfare of the people in the Empire. Legends had it that at the Delta of Hon Kong River in Chiu Chow, there used to be many crocodiles molesting the local inhabitants. Hon Yue took upon himself the task of getting rid of the pests. Instead of finding ways and means of killing all crocodiles, Hon Yue chose to write an Essay, read in front of an Altar, and prayed piously and sincerely to Heavan, asking for mercy. As a result all the crocodiles disappeared and never returned to Hon Kong. (That essay is still widely read as a classic masterpiece to-day.) The 3rd variety of boat was the native craft of the East River, the "long boat", with walking planks on both sides of the hull, to facilitate the boatmen pushing the boat by walking to and for on the level planks. These long boats could be quite spacious, so spacious that we had found it worth our while to buy two of them, tied along side the river bank near the Wai On Hospital. One of the boats was used as a spare office, which could be used for urgent or confidential work during the day time, when our office on land had to be closed because of the risk of air raids; the other was used as a Store. It proved really worth while, when in early 1945, on the approach for the third time of Japanese Troops to take Waichow, we had to evacuate the entire A.H.Q. up stream to Ho Yuen. By which time, we had bought a small motorized tug boat, which we fondly referred to as H.M.S. "Hoi King" ( ),in addition, to tow our two long boats. This tug boat proved to be spacious enough to hold all our stores and office equipments and the bulk of our essential personnel, for the evacuation. In such a way, A.H.Q., B.A.A.G. was moved, lock, stock and barrel, up river first to Ho Yuen, and subsequently to Lung Chuen( ) and later further up the river to Lai Tsui ( ),in mid summer of 1945. It was this very Fleet of two boats towed by a samll tug, which eventually brought us (ther A.H.Q. party) down the East River from Lo Lung ( ) to Canton, from whence we travelled further, via Macao, on our way back to Hong Kong, after V-J Day in September, 1945.
The natives of Waichow, in fact all those living on both banks along the East River, spoke a peculiar dialect of their own, called "Pun Kong Chum" ( ), "soaked half way down the water in river". It was a dialect of mixed Hakka and Cantonese of the Tung Koon variety, seemingly easily understood " but in fact quite "unintelligeble" to the Cantonese as well as the Hakkas. However, all the inhabitants living in villages only half a mile away from the river banks spoke Hakka. The Hakka dialect itself has many varieties. The Hakka spoken in Wai Yeung was of the Tamshui variety, very close to the Hakka spoken in Po On and in the New Territories. The Hakka spoken up the East River on the east bank was of the Tze Kam ( ) variety, whereas that spoken on the West bank was of the Ho Yuen ( ) variety. The Lung Chuen ( ) variety was softer than the Ng Wah ( ) variety, and the Hing Ning ( ) variety was distinctly different from the Mui Yuen ( ) variety. Depite the variations, all the Hakka dialects are, as between themselve, inter-communicatable. The Hakka dialect is closer to Mandarin than, say, the Cantonese. The variety of Hakkas had their own respective variations of custom and tradition, hence their their slightly different cultures. Probably owing to the ruggedness of these parts of the country where the Hakkas lived, they, generally speaking, were a hardy type of people; their women, in particular, were noted for their capability for endurance of a great deal of hardship. Culturally, their "Moutain Songs" "Ó‚è‚á‚î‚ Ë‚ï‚ò‚"( ) were unique. Among the Government Officials as well as the transport workers (e.g., truck drivers, truck mechanics, etc), and the shop keepers, Cantonese was widely spoken, particularly in the Market Towns, such as Waichow, Ho Yuen, Lo Lung, and even in Hing Ning or in Tamshui.
I should have mentioned earlier, that when Duggie Clague and party came to Waichow in July 1942, they brought along with them also a Civilian Unit, which had the authority to pay:-(a) Back pay for any one who could prove that he or she was formerly a civil servant working for the Hongkong Government, and (b) Back pay to any one who could prove that he or she had rendered any of the recognized Essential Services in the Defence of Hongkong. The latter included service with the A.R.P., the A.F.S., the Police Reserve, the H.K.Volunteer Defence Force, the St. John Ambulance and others. This Civilian Unit had nothing to do with the work of the B.A.A.G., but the O.C.,A.H.Q. of the B.A.A.G. was asked to oversee its functioning, and render it such assistance as might be needed. The Unit was manned by three clerks of the Hongkong Government's General Clerical Service. Heading it was a Mr. Wong Yin Sau, who was apparently quite senior in the service. He was obviously very knowledgeable in Government procedures as practised by the Hongkong Government before the war. In those days, as I had never been initiated into government practice of any kind, I had no idea what they meant when they quoted something which sounded like (a) "General Orders", (b)"Establishment Regulations" and (c)"Treasury Rules" etc. But the three of them seemed to know them inside out and by heart. No one who came to claim any back pay, could have cheated them; for they apparently had all the answers in their heads. Once satisfied with the claim, W#ong Yin Sau would ask his assistants to prepare the appropriately worded receipts in "Quadruplicate" and ask the claimants to sign them before he would pay the money, in the Chinese National Currency at the official rate of Exchange of CNC$4-to HK$1.- The O.C.,A.H.Q.,B.A.A.G., only came in when Mr. Wong wished to draw a huge sum of money from the Bank, for which the cheques had to be counter-signed by Major Clague or his successor. Such dishing out of " Back pay" on behalf of the Hongkong Government soon added feathers on to the cap of the B.A.A.G, in Waichow. For the latter had already established its good reputation in providing a much appreciated "excellent" medical service -free of charge.
I have heard it said once, loud and clear, by a senior police officer, that there are advantages as well as disadvantages in having "ranks" like the Army or the Police Force. When you have ranks, then every time you see a senior officer, you have to stand to attention and salute him, before you come to discuss any serious business; and you have to keep on saying "Yes, Sir", or "No, Sir" or "With respect Sir......", as the case may be; but you do have the advantage of discipline which guarantee effectiveness and efficiency. I also recall in late 1945, the time when Mr. John Barrow, who only held the war-time rank of a Lieutenant in the HKVDC, was appointed the District Officer to head the entire New Territories Administration, and there were several of us, who held the temporary military ranks of either a major or a captain, appointed Assistant District Officers to work directly under him, assisting him in running the New Territories. I recall his writing a special memo to the then Chief Civil Affiars Officer, Brig. MacDougall, requesting early demobilization, saying he would rather be a civilian Cadet Officer than a peace time Lt. Colonel. In Uniform and in a Disciplined Service, you do enjoy certain privileges, which might be denied to those who were not, particularly in War Time. That was my case in the British Army Aid Group from March 1942 right up to my being "enlisted, commissioned and promoted to the temporary rank of a captain" all in one day, in July, 1945. As a civilian "personal assistant" to Col. Ride while in Kukong, I did not have to "Sir" him, except on the fisrt day, when I was looking for a job. Thereafter. he was simply Doc Ride to me. As the Civilian Secretary for the Advanced Headquarters of the British Army Aid Group - in Waichow and elsewhere, I did not have to "Sir" Clague, or Hooper, or Holmes or Cooper, or Urquhart. I could either addressed them as Major, or Col. So and So as the case may be, or called them by their Christian names, Duggie, Dick, Ronnie, Bob or Sandy respectively. At the VII War Zone H.Q., I needed only to address Gen. Chu as "Chu Chu Cheung ( ); I never recall having to stand to attention and address him as "Sir", nor to greet him by the usual salutation: "Po Ko" ( ), i.e., "Reporting, Sir". The same applied when carrying out my assignments at the Garrison Headquarters in Waichow, be it interpreting for my superior Officers and the Generals, or presenting messages on B.A.A.G's behalf. At dinner parties, when they all had to exchange their questions and answers or views through an interpreter (me), when they might have to let their hair down to make their points, and when all their respective dignities would have be melted (through me), so as to get the true meaning of the questions answers or views.across, I must had to be treated as one of their equals, if not "a more than equal". It was precisely because of this, that I think I earned the "First Class" rating as an interpreter in Clague's Testimonial. It was also because of this that years after, in peace time Hongkong, my service as an interpreter was always demanded at all B.A.A.G. Reunion dinners. I recall the occasion, while I was the District Officer, Yuen Long, when the then Governor, Sir Alexander Grantham, insisted that I should be his impromptu instant interpreter, phrase by phrase, when he addressed the gathering at the Official Opening of the Pok Oi Hospital in Yuen Long in the early Fifties. When you have done this again and again between Majors/Colonels and Generals, soon they would forget that you were only a "junior", and they would unconsciously accept you as one of their "social" equals. For a civilian rank of a Secretary could be anything between a high ranking Cabinet Minister or a very lowly placed Clerical Assistant ! However, because I was not an officer in a disciplinary service, I was not entitled to live in the "Officers' Mess", nor to what little rations which found their way to China that were only issued to, or purchasable by, Service personnel. I could of course be sacked or I could resign at any time, whereas the service personnel could be court marshalled but not sacked. If they left the service on their own accord , they could be treated as deserters, and might be shot on sight !
Socially, to be courteously treated as an "equal" with Generals, or as a Major or Lt. Col. of a "Foreign Army", was quite a plesant position to be in. When calling on the G.O.C. in the Garrison H.Q., I was saluted by all the Officers and Other Ranks in the campus, certainly including the Majors, though not necessary all the Colonels. Individually, the Colonels courteously treated me as a social equal, and I fully enjoyed such courtesy. With the backing of B.A.A.G's unique medical teams, rendering free of charge, a much treasured medical service, I, as The Secretary of B.A.A.G.in my own right, had, by courtesy of others, been seen publicly as a socially accepted equal by Generals, Colonels as well as the Civil Administrators; and I had a really great time when I was in Waichow. My personal social position was further enhanced after I announced my engagement to the elder daughter of a widely respected retired local General who was, in his younger days, the superior officer of the incumbent Garrison Commander. The latter was Major General Yip Man Yee ( ), successor to Gen. Cheung Kwong King, who, by early 1943, was transferred elsewhere when his 187th Division was transferred. Gereral Yip was a native of Tamshui, therefore also a "neighbour" of my father- in-law. For similar reasons, my father-in-law also commanded the equal respect of Gen.Yip's Chief of Staff, Major General Tam Tin Yee ( ) who was also a native of Waichow, whose private house happened to be right next door to our office. The guerrilla Colonel repsonsible for garrisoning the Canton Kowloon Railway Regions, Col. Tsui Tung Loy,( ) not only happened to bear the same surname as myself, but also his troopers had been receiving substantial benefits from BAAG's medical teams. Col.Tsui, therefore, had more reason to socialize with me then the rest. The other guerrilla chiefs operating in the coastal region, were all fully aware of the prestige and personal influence of my father-in-law. Thus, when Rose and myself got married on 12 January, 1944 at St. Joseph's Church, it was the Society Wedding of the Year. Every one in Waichow who was anybody in the Military Circles, came to the Wedding. The Wedding photograph herewith reproduced, speaks for itself. Fr. Ma who had never had the honour of so many Top Brass gracing his church all at the same time, was very excited. So excited on the occasion that he had forgotten to Bless our wedding ring, and had even forgotten to formally ask me or my wife, whether we agreed to be married. From thence onwards, I was not just the Secretary of the AHQ,BAAG, but also an "Honoary Member" of the Local Gentry - a much envied position to be in. The real test came, when I took a "taxi" bicycle from Waichow for the 30 mile journey, on my own, to pay my respects to my father-in- law in his village of Wong Mo Ling ( ) near Daya Bay. I need only to mention that I intended to go to Wong Mo Ling, and the cyclist responded by asking : "Are you going to call on Gen Lin ?" When I said yes, he then had a lot of praise for Gen. Lin. When I disclosed that I was his son-in-law, immediateley he was doubly polite and courteous. He then did all the P.R. work for me, telling every body on the way, at Tea huts, at shops and eating places in Pak Mong Fa Market ( ), that I was the son-in-law of Gen.Lin. I learnt from the cyclist, that my father-in-law was responsible for constructing that part of the motorable road from Tamshui to Ping Shan in the East. He was respected, not only by the Officials, military as well as civil at Waichow, but also by the guerrillas, of both the Kwuomingtang and Communist camps, throughout the Region.
In adddition to being the Parish Priest for Waichow, Fr. Anthony Ma was also the Prefect for the Vicarage of Waichow, which extended from Ap Chai Po ( ) in the west, through Waichow stretching eastwards right up to Luk Fung County ( ) in the east, covering the entire coastal region, including Nym Shan ( ) at Daya Bay, and Swabue ( ) in Hoi Fung County ( ). The Vicarage came under the Vicar Apostlic of Hongkong, and was a mission country for the Italian Order of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (P.I.M.E.). Italy was an Axis country, thus at the outbreak of the Pacific War, all the Italian missionaries had to be "interned". However, on account of the good service they had rendered, special arrangements were made, so that all the Italian missionaries were allowed to be kept within the bounds of the mission houses of the American Maryknoll Fathers in Mui Yuen ( ). The Maryknoll Fathers had, as their Mission Regions, Mui Yuen ( ), Hing Ning ( ) and Ng Wah ( ), further North. Amongst those "interned" at Mui Yuen, was Fr. Lawrence Bianchi who, after the War, when Hongkong became a Diocese in its own right, was consecrated the First Bishop of Hongkong. When the Italian Priests were "interned", a group of young Chinese Priests from the South China Regional Seminary at Aberdeen in Hongkong, were granted the equivalent of a "War Time Degree"; they were ordained priests ahead of their time, and were sent to Waichow to replace the Italian Missionaries. Thus at the time when we were there, a group of young Chinese priests, notably Fr.Thomas Yu, Fr. John Wong, Fr. Lam So and others were also there. Leading them, apart from Fr. Ma, were a few senior priests; notably, Fr. Joachim Chan, Fr. Chow, Fr. Nigel Ngai, Fr. Leo Chan, Fr. James Wong (Darkie) and for a short time, Fr. Luke Fung. It must have been quite an experience for this group of young priests, when they were sent to a mission country in war time condition. The mission was formerly manned by Foreign Priests, who were declared "enemies" because of the war. Because of the War conditions, no more funding from abroad would be forthcoming. The group of young priests would need to have to find ways and means for their own living, let alone the provision of social services of any kind or form. For their personal transport, each of them had a bicycle, which was the most precious thing they possessed. Every now and then they came to Waichow for their periodical meetings of some sort. I presumed they might have been more conerned with the ways and means of keeping their bodies and souls together. At one time the Rev. Fr. Felix Shek, later a Vicar General, was sent by Bishop Valtorta, to Waichow to see how things were getting on there. It was he who brought along the sad news that the Bishop had no alternative but to sell the big Bells in the Cathedral Belfry, so that the priests left in Hongkong might have food to stay alive ! So much so, that for our nuptials, we had Fr. Chow, who was Parish Priest of (?)Fan Wo Kong, to which my wife should have belonged, leading two others celebrating High Mass with the Gregorian Chant. Also in Waichow shortly before our nuptual, was a Maryknoll priest, Fr.Trube, MM. He came from his parish in Ng Wah, but was in Waichow trying very hard to establish communication with the interned American Missionaries in Hongkong. The St. Joseph's Hospital was originally run by the Canossian Daughters of Charity. Being an Italian Order, they too had to suspend their service at the outbreak of the Pacific War. All these made it possible to have the spare rooms for the B.A.A.G. to step in as from mid 1942.
Waichow itself was quite an ancient township with history tracing back to the Sung Dynasty, identified with the historically well known Scholarly Minister, So Tung Po ( ), who beautified the West Lake to rival the world renown West Lake of Hang Chow ( )in Chekiang Province ( ). There were many old Mansions which had seen many glorious days of the past. Some were very spacious, some very well decorated, but mostly not properly maintained. The Garrison Headquarters was housed in a very elaborate Mansion, with an Ancestral Hall at the centre, flanked by supporting living units on both sides. The General's private office occupied one of the out houses, at the far end to the north-west. The main buildings were spacious enough to house the many departments of the Garrison Headquarters. The Adjutant's Office was closest to the main entrance at the southern end; neigbouring it was the pay master office, then the political commissisar's office, then the Staff Officer, Operational, and then the Staff Officer, Intelligence, closest to the Chief of Staff and then the G.O.C. Surrounding them were sufficient outhouses to serve as barracks for the platoons of guards. The staff of the B.A.A.G. had no difficulty in renting rooms for their respective families. A few more enterprising individuals went out of their way to negotiate renting a part of a ruined house, reconditioning it by adding matsheds for roofing and turning it into quite a spacious home for their wives and families. The foot paths in the old sectors of the town were paved with centuries old granite slabs. Although the houses were not well maintained, the structure and walls of many of these old buildings were very substantial. The floors, in particular, were mostly well paved, and well drained. They were generally cool in the summers and warm in the winters. Some of these buildings were built as "Town Houses" for the scholars from the villages in the Prefecture, who used to have to sit for their "Local Examinations" in this, the Adminstrator Centre of the Prefecture.
I believe one can not live without salt. Yet I recall when a boy, my mother once asked me to buy 10 cents worth of salt from a shop in Taipo Market in the New Territories. I got 10 catties for my 10 cents. I then found that 10 catties of salt was pretty heavy for me to carry. Salt must be one of the cheapest possible, if not the cheapest, of commodities. For salt was made simply by evaporating sea water, on the sea side. At the sea side, sea water is so plentiful that one does not need to pay for it; nor would one ever need to worry about any possible shortage of supply of sea water. Neither need one pay for sunshine, which was needed to evaporate Sea Water into salt. However, one might have to pay for the land used as salt pans; and labour would be needed to level the ground to form a salt pan. The surface of the salt pan must be paved and rendered impervious so that it would hold enough sea water, and the pan must be drained so that only the right amount of sea water would be retained to speed up the evaporation, so that the residue would quickly crystallize to form salt on the surface of the pans. The salt when formed and dried, would need to be scraped for packing. The closer you were to the sea, the cheaper would be the price of salt. Equally, the further away you were from the sea, the more expensive would be the salt. For salt weighs heavily, and transporting salt from one place to another required a lot of energy. Hence the greater the bulk and the longer the distance, the greater would be the costs. The greater the costs, the higher the price. As the price goes higher, the greater would be the risks of the commodity being stolen, adulterated or otherwise interefered with. Thus in the old imperial days, China had to have a very senior official of ministerial rank called "Yim Wan Si"( ), a ( ) to administer the "affairs" relating to the proper transportation of salt. It was not until I was posted to work for the A.H.Q.,B.A.A.G., in Waichow that I came to realize and appreciate why it had to be so. Salt was worked along the sea shore in Po On, Wai Yeung, Hoi Fung, Luk Fung, Wai Loy and other coastal counties. To bring the salt inland from the sea shore, unless you have a net work of well paved roads, fit for motor traffic, it would cost a lot of money simply to have them carried by human labour. In war time China, a majority of these regions were, in effect, controlled by local militant communities, if not by potential bandits or pirates. Some parts were actually controlled by Communist Guerrillas. Merchants buying salt from these coastal regions would first have to pay "protection fees" for thier own personal safety in addition to the safety of the money they brought to buy the commodity, and also the safety of the goods they procured, as well as the safe transport of their goods out of the danger zone. Over and above this, they had to pay the wages for the labour engaged to carry, manually, the salt over land to a place where they could either hire a boat or a truck to convey it in bulk further inland. The protection moneys were paid for by way of Tolls, often included or allowed for in the complex system of calculations for the "C.I.F." costs, quoted at the main trading centres at Waichow, where many specialized agencies congregated. The cheapest means of transportation of course was by boat, down stream, along the net work of tributaries of the East River. Apararently, Tamshui was the only town from which flowed a tributary northwards, to join the East River at Waichow. Tamshui was the township closest to the sea shore where there were salt pans, and where cheap salt could be bought. Thus most of the "Salt Routes" led from the Coast to Tamshui. But from the salt pans along the coastal regions, the salt had to go through a number of Toll gates. Some were Toll gates of the local villagers, others might be Toll gates of buccaneers and yet others might be Toll gates of the "Guerrillas" "Left" and "Right". Paying Tolls to the Guerrillas, particularly to the Communist Guerrillas, could be a very sensitive matter. The contact man could easily be accused of being an agent of the "enemy" - and the "Enemy" in this context means the Communists, who would be treated as an enemy worse than the Japanese. It was almost an open secret that every one in Waichow, who had any authority of a sort, be he in the military garrison or in the civil administration, was involved in one form or another in the salt trade. A good many of the Colonels (if not generals or majors) or Heads of Departments in the Civil Adminsitraion were part time merchants, or "protectors" or providers of "escorts" or "armed guards" or "store keepers" or "merchant bankers" or "auditors" or "customs brokers". Even soldiers of certain units could be hired as "porters" to carry the loads over land, and some of the solders were in fact quite skilful boatmen. Transporting salt from Tamshui by boat to Waichow would mean "flowing down stream", which would easily be the cheapest. But transporting salt by boat from Waichow northwards would mean pushing the fully loaded boats upstream against the current, which would be very tough and hence much more expensive. The main bulk of the cargoes moving northwards by boat from Waichow was salt. The second after salt was salt fish. Other goods, such as motor car parts or old clothes were a very poor third or poor fourth. Drugs, such as Quinines, a relatively small variety of Sulphur drugs, and Injection prescripts, though valuable had hardly any bulk, for which freight could hardly be charged. What mystified me most at the time was what cargoes, if any, moved southwards in payment for the salt and other imported goods. There were the visible huge rafts of Timbers and Bamboos, flowing down the River from the north. There were also bags of soya beans from the north. There were also certain items of foodstuffs from central China, but the quantities, when compared with the quantities of salt moving northwards were negligible. Rumour had it that much of the salt was paid for by "opium" and sometimes by "arms and ammunitions", but never haveI seen solid evidence in support of such rumours. There were a few goldsmith shops in Waichow, doing pretty good business, but they did not impress me as sufficiently significant enough to be able to pay for the quantity of salt that were moved. There were of course, branches of the many State and Provincial Banks in Waichow, through which money could be remitted; but inflation moved so fast in those days, one wondered if the Salt producers would accept Bank Notes as payment for the salt they sold. (Forty years after, a senior official in the Communist Government of Canton told me (in Hongkong) quite frankly that at the time when we were both stationed in Waichow, he was managing one of the Shop, handling salt and other commodities in Waichow, which was in fact a "Front" or "Safe House" for the Communist underground at the time. Having now told me the fact, I began to appreciate and understand, why his particular shop was so prosperous, so efficent and so dependable at the time.) I also appreciate now, why the Generals, the Colonels, and the Civil Officials, though so poorly paid, had so much money to spend on banquets, yum chas, and on buying lovely items from the so called "old clothes hawkers stores"
Waichow had been taken and occupied by Japaense troops three times during World War II. First when the Expeditonary Forces landed, in 1938, at Daya Bay and took the route via Waichow on their way to take Canton. Then in late 1941 when Japan attacked and took Hongkong; and the third time at the beginning of 1945, when the Japaese were apparently, consolidating their forces in South China, as Allied Forces applied pressure in the Pacific Theatre. Each such occupation lasted only a few months, and Waichow returned to what it was - andcontinued to be as properous as it had always been. My own explanation has been, that it was because of the Salt Route and the Salt which was vital to the livelihood of so many people in China. While I do not have the evidence to support the theory, I have good reasons to believe that Salt continued to be transported from the coastal region, through Tamshui, to Waichow and thence northwards to central China, right through the periods when Waichow was occupied by Japanese Troops. As far as I am aware, Japan never attempted to colonize Waichow. Japanese Troops took and occupied Waichow purely for military or strategic reasons. In point of fact, apart from Hongkong, Japan never even tried to govern South China. Even in Canton, the administration was entrusted to the hands of the Puppet Government under Wang Ching Wei ( ). Goods, other than military weapons, were allowed to move freely in and out of the Japanese Occupied Areas. If anything, it was the Nationalist Government which promulgated a Policy of "Embargo", but the embargo was more frequently broken than observed.Through out the 3 years of war, we could, in Waichow, buy almost anything which could be bought from Japanese occupied Hongkong, and equally we could send almost any thing into "Enemy Occupied" Hongkong. The Check-points at the border were more concerned with military items like arms and ammunition. I often wondered, whether the Japanese sentries on duty at the check points could ever read or even identify an intelligence report, if such a report was actually discovered by their search at such check points. It would, of course, be different if a pistol was found being carried by one of our agents.
Just because Waichow had been taken twice before our time, and could be taken again, at any time, the high command could not ignore such a possibility. Plans were already ahead, long before I got married, for wives and children who were dependents of the Sfaff of the B.A.A.G., to be evacuated northwards to Ho Yuen, some 50 miles up River, and such plans were in fact being implemented towards the end of 1943. Thus, by the time I got married in January 1944, the bulk of the dependents of the B.A.A.G. staff had already been evacuated to Ho Yuen, where B.A.A.G. had leased a house large enough to house the bulk of the evacuees. The dependents were not compelled to live in that house, but were free to do so, with out payment of rental, if they so wished; it also offered certain communal facilities. So long as I was not married, Rose and I were immune to such restriction. The moment we got married, our immunization ceased to be effective, unless I chose to resign from the BAAG. It also meant that the moment we got married, my wife and I had to live separately. To over come that momentarily, I applied for and was granted 2 months leave for my "Honey Moon", which we spent by way of travelling up north, first visiting my parents in Ng Wah County, near Lo Lung; then to Kukong, visiting my sister Agnes, who operated a shop on the West bank; and visiting our friends and relatives, as well as calling on our colleagues at BAAG Headquarters, in Kweilin. I tried to find a place where I could lodge my wife in Kweilin, but failed. On our return journey, my sister Agnes was kind enough to set aside a room in her shop for Rose, and accept her as a lodger. In this way I left my newly wedded wife behind in Kukong, conforming to the 'Separation Rule" of the B.A.A.G., with myself returning alone to Waichow to continue my work. Soon Rose was diagnosed as pregnant, and I was very pleased to hear the good news. This was soon followed by the bad news that she had an attack of Malaria, a pretty severe attack which might affect her child in the womb. So hurriedly, I arranged for her to return to Waichow - not to live with me, as it would be against the BAAG's Separation Rule, but to return to her father's house in Wong Mo Ling, near Daya Bay. There she stayed until Autumn, when she obtained permission to pay me a visit in Waichow for a few days. During her short visit, she had a miscarriage, and son we lost our first born, who lived only for two days, despite medical attention by an experienced midwife in the person of Mrs. So, wife of Dr. So, the Medical Superintendent of Wai On Hospital. Thereafter, Rose returned to her father's house for a rest and for rehabilitation. When Chinese New Year came, it was the custom of the land that married daughters should not remain in their maiden home, and so once again, she obtained permission to spend the Chinese New Year with me at Waichow. During that holiday, I first heard the news, through Archie Hunt, that I had been awarded the M.B.E.; I thought he was pulling my leg, but soon it was confirmed by Major Cooper, who had by then taken over from Ronnie Holmes as OC,AHQ,BAAG. Ronnie Holmes had by then gone on leave to Australia, where he too got married to Majorie Fisher, formerly of Hongkong. Rose had yet to complete her one week holiday with me when, early one morning, Bob Cooper knocked at my window, saying,"Paul, sorry to disturb you at so early an hour. We are told to leave Waichow as soon as possible. Gen. Sung Si Toy, the new Garrison Commander, ( replacing Gen. Yip Man Yee), has confirmed that Japanese Troops are advancing towards Waichow, We have only two hours to pack." I then asked: "What about Rose ?" Bob then said, "Take her along with us". So Rose and I joined Bob Cooper and several others forming the A.H.Q. Party, and we were soon on our way to Ho Yuen. This time, we travelled on board one of the long boats, towed by our Little Tug, the H.M.S. "Hoi King".
Soon after we landed at Ho Yuen, Major Lai Yuen Lung, the CHinese Army Liaison Officer, attached to our A.H.Q. helped me to arrange to rent a house for Rose and I. We soon bought some simple furniture and made a sort of a "Love Nest" out of it, for the two of us. It was in fact a lovely house, only about 20 yards away from our office. It had a sort of "orchard" around the house; and in it, there were a few chest nut trees, coming tofruit just at the time when we moved in. Both Rose and myself loved that little house. We also had with us, our pet, Dolly, a bitch, which I had bought in Waichow, when she was a tiny animal about the size of my palm. She was a very loyal and friendly dog, liked by all who were working or lodging at the BAAG. She followed us all the way from Waichow. When we were travelling on board the boat, the bitch simply followed us on shore, walking along the river bank. (A few months later, when we had to evacuate further north, again she did the same, and followed us all the way, walking on her own along the river bank). Compared with another dog, kept by the Officers Mess and named, Musclebound Dolly was very much more intelligent. Musclebound was in fact pretty dumpy and stupid. We did not enjoyed our "Love Nest" at Ho Yuen for long. Soon Rose was again pregnant. Later,we had another O.C., by the name A. Urquhart, in place of Cooper. Major Urquhart felt that we could not expect to remain long in Ho Yuen, as he was sure the Japanese Forces would sooner or later come and take Ho Yuen next. (In fact events soon proved that he was correct). Urquhart ordered that the dependents should again evacuate and move northwards, first to Lau Shing ( ), but later to Pui Tun ( ). On hearing this, I arranged for Rose to go home, this time not to her father's house, as it was then behind the "Enemy Line" but to my own father's house in Ng Wah, which was north east of Ho Yuen. By then Au Fai had already chosen to transfer to Yan Ping as his operational base for "Group J", several of my other F.I.G. suffered from set back of varying degrees, Besides Ho Yuen was so much further away from Hongkong that our FIG operation was so badly affected that it virtually had stopped. Further more, for reasons unknown to us, the Kuo Ming Tang Party Officials seemed to have turned their guns against us, the B.A.A.G They sent a senior Official, by the name Ko Shun ( ) to investigate our activities. Through one of Rose's cousins, I later learnt that they suspected that the B.A.A.G. had a certain "undesirable" relationship with the Communist Guerrillas. Ko Shun"s investigations at Ho Yuen took place just at the time when I was sent to Lo Lung, to negotiate a loan from the Lo Lung branch of the Bank of China. The quizzing or inquisitioning was applied to Bob Cooper, with my brother Matthew, acting as the Interpreter.
We did not stay in Ho Yuen long, soon the report was that Japanese Army was on its way to take Ho Yuen. So from Ho Yuen we, once again, had to evacuate. By this time, the dependents had already been evacuated to Lung Chuen, and so we too made our way to Lung Chuen. Once again we made good use of our "Fleet", which by now had been enlarged to 5 vessels in all, including two boats which Alec Grieves, the I.O, posted to Ho Yuen, had earlier on acquired for BAAG, to be used as our Ho Yuen Office. On our way to Lung Chuen, we had very high water, for it was the beginning of the rainy season, and rains higher north had already swollen the water in the river. When water is high, the flow is much more rapid, and consequently we had to navigate our boats much more carefully. We had to move quite close to the river bank, so that the "bamboo poles" could reach the river banks to assist in the navigation needed. Despite our extreme care, we met an accident half way on our way. The engine of our little HMS "Hoi King" was very powerful, but the hull was apparently wrongly built. She was too short and too tall to balance on the river when the water was high and rapid. When the "convoy" was negotiating a bend along the river bank oppoiste to the market town of Lam Hau ( ), without notice, HMS "Hoi King" suddenly foundered and sank. I was at that moment walking on the deck; I therefore had the presence of mind and the necessary time to simply jump across on to the river bank. I was safe and dry ! But Major Urquhart, Captain Van de Linde, the M.O., and several others who were lounging in the "Cabin" had a good ducing. They were all soaking wet. Luckily none of us was drowned; even though a few boxes of graded "documents" went down with HMS "Hoi King". As none of us was drowned, we did not have to sing the hymn "Nearer My God to Thee". We quickly chartered another motorized boat to tow our 4 long boats, none of which was affected by the "foundering". We continued our voyage up stream to Lung Cheung, thinking that we had to write off HMS "Hoi King". To our surprise, a few days later, the coxswin and the crew of HMS "Hoi King" found their way to our new place of abode at Lung Chuen, to report that HMS "Hoi King" had been refloated, complete with boxes containing important documents etc., and had been tied along side the river bank at Lung Chuen ready for inspection. Major UrquHart and several of us rushed down to the river to reassure ourselves that the report was true. By God, it was !
Although Lung Chuen was supposed to be the seat of a County Administration, it was a very quiet town, with hardly any business activities. All the businesses were being handled at another market town called Ì‚ï‚ Ì‚õ‚î‚ç‚ ( ) located some 4 miles away upstream to the north. As a result, Lung Chuen was not only a quiet town, but also a clean and tidy place to live. At Lung Chuen, we arranged a fairly spacious ancestral temple as our Office cum Barracks. Here we were even further away from Hongkong, and there was hardly any Intelligence work to be done. It was at this time, for the first time since July 1942, that we had our Commandant, now a full Colonel, L.T. Ride, to visit us, his AHQ,BAAG., which he himself had ordered it to be established. It was during this visit, and at a dinner in his honour, that Col.Ride presented me with the Insignia of my M.B.E. Here at Lung Chuen, was also the temporary seat of the War time Provincial Government, of which Lt. Gen. Li Hon Wan was the Governor. Gen Li had to move his office from Kukong to Lung Chuen because the Japanese Army had by this time also taken Kukong, the place where I first met Doc Ride, and the place where the Provincial Government had for quite some time established its war time headquaters. On hearing that Gen Li was at this time in Lunc Chuen, Col. Ride took advantage of the opportunity offered and requested an audiance with General Li, with a view to clear with him certain points of apparent misunderstanding relating to the activities of the B.A.A.G. I was asked to bethe interpretor on the occasion. It was here, for the first time in my life, I came face to face with Li Hon Wan. At the interview, Gen. Li did not impress me in any way as being at all worried about the War with Japan; he was obviously much more concerned with the Communists than anything else. At the interview Doc Ride questioned him, alost bluntly, where and when and in what way, B.A.A.G. or any of its personnel, had done any wrong which might have caused the displeasure of the Chinese Government, which in turn had led the BAAG to have been so unfairly treated ( as compared to the Americans). Li emphatically and categorically said to us, that we had done nothing wrong. To think of it now, most probably Gen. Li had never been so confronted by any one in his life. For the Chinese generally tended to be very polite and say things in round about way. Personally, I was a bit shocked when Doc Ride spoke so directly and bluntly to Gen. Li. Some 40 years thereafter, Jimmy Wu Man Hon ( ), told me that he had read Li Hon Wan's Memoirs, ( Jimmy Wu said that Li's Memoirs were published some years ago in the Sing Tao Jih Pao, but I myself have never read them) and that General Li specifically mentioned that a "Paul Tsui" was possibly one of the communist agents, operating under the cloak of the B.A.A.G. (I wonder what Communist historians might have to say, taking into consideration the part I subsequently played in Hongkong in 1967). It is still a mystery to me, how it came about that Li Hon Wan could have formed such an idea in his head. Could it be from the one and only encounter I had with Li Hon Wan, when acting only as an interperter, which made him think so ? Had this been the case,one is tempted to think that all ranks in the Kuomingtang Armed Forces were obsessed by the problems of Communists and had never thought of a way to fight the Japanese invaders, which in turn would go some way to help to explain why China had taken such a long time in her war efforts against the Japanese, with such success. After the interview, Li invited us to dinner, at which he himself was not present; he was represented by two of his aides. However, apart from Li Hon Wan, there was also in Lung Chuen at the time a Branch Command Headquarters of the VII War Zone, of which the Deputy War Zone Commander, Lt. Gen. ( ) was in charge. Gen. Mau came from the same county as I did, Ng Wah, and he knew of my family on my father's side; he also knew my father-in-law personally and very well, although i had never met him before then. On his staff was also a class mate of mine, Major Yu Shuk Shiu, (Patrick Yu, son of Yu Wan of the Education Department of the Hongkong Government. Patrick Yu later made a name for himself as a practising Barrister) Major Yu's brother was very friendly with Major Urquhart. With these relationships, we were very well received at the Branch War Zone H.Q.; with them, we had no difficulty whatsoever. We did not stay in Lung Chuen for long. Soon we had to evacuate once again, up north to a place called Lai Tsui. Again we were lucky to have our own long boats and our little tug, HMS "Hoi King". But within that short period of a few months, Major Urquhart received a signal to the effect that I had been enlisted and granted an emergency commission as a 2nd/Lt in the Intelligence Corps, and was promoted on the same day, the 20th of July, 1945) to the temporary rank of a Captain. It came as a pleasant surprise, as I did not recall my ever having applied to be so enlisted, let alone commissioned or promoted to the rank of a Captain. It did strike me as odd that it had come so late, when my Intelligence work had actually come to a "Stand Still". On receiving a copy of the Signal, I did not say no. Rose, who was with me at the time, quickly made for me a cloth epaulet with three pips to indicate my rank. That evening, I dined in the Officers Mess, and Rose was invited as the Guest of Honour and granted Honoary Membership of the Mess. Within a matter of about two weeks ( on 6 Aug 45) it was announced over the Radio that an Atomic Bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima in Japan; and three days later ( 9 Aug 45) it was further annouced that yet another Atomic Bomb had been dropped on Nagasaki Japan. A week thereafter (14 Aug 45) it was announced that the Emperor of Japan had ordered the Japanese Forces to lay down their arms and surrender. Well, that was it. For me, the War which had started so unexpectedly on the morning of the 8th December, 1941, had equally unexpectedly come to an end ! I was caught unprepared when the war broke out, and I was caught equally unprepared when the war ended.
The War was over, there was then no cause for the B.A.A.G. to continue. For those of us who were in uniform, we had to wait for orders. For the civilian staff, which meant most of them in the Advanced Headquarters of the B.A.A.G., it was felt that they should be given the freedom of choice. Those who so wished might remain with us and wait for further developments, those who wished othrwise should be allowed to find their own way back to Hongkong. I envied the few, including my brother Matthew, who opted to leave the BAAG and proceeded to Hongkong on their own. They were each given a piece of paper showing that they had worked for the BAAG in China. They were also paid a sum of money as a sort of severance pay. Thus my brother Matthew found his way back to Hongkong weeks earlier than I did; but I, being an enlisted officer subject to military discipline, had to wait for orders. While waiting, I came across a circular intended to prepare servicemen for a smooth return to civilian life after "Demob". It was one which was designed as a guide for chaps to consider what jobs to apply for when demobbed. Amongst those listed was the Colonial Service, particularly the Colonial Administrative Service. The qualifications laid down included one glaring restriction. It was stated that only ( )‚ would be considered. I must say I resented that at the time, but I did not pursue the matter further. Weeks after, we were transferred to Hing Ning, where by then the B.A.A.G. East, headed by Lt.Col. EDG Hooper, had only recently been set up, in anticipation of a "longer" war to fight. There we awaited our orders to make the next move. We waited for another month, when we were told we should proceed, in convoy with Admiral Chan Chak's party, to Canton, from where we should proceed further to Hongkong. Admiral Sir Chan Chak was named some months earlier as the Mayor Designate for Canton. He and his party of municipal officials had been waiting for transport at Hing Ning for quite a while. When the time came, I recall it was the 15th Day of September, 1945, once again we put into good use our long boats and our darling little Tug, HMS "Hoi King". It was our own East River Fleet which took our party, headed by Major Urquhart assisted by Captain Ian Hutchison, Capt. O. Thomas, myself and Sgt.Turner and a few others with our crews, down the East River, under the Railway Bridge at Shek Lung, to pomp pomp our way up the Pearl River, passing by Whampoa, then under the Pearl River Bridge at Canton, right up to Shameen, where we tied up our boats near the old British Consulate. We arrived at Canton the day after the Mid-autumn Festival. There we reported to Lt.Col. Hooper, who had got there by air before us, and there he functioned more or less as the British Consul, with Capt. Francis Lee, who acted as his Liaison Officer when contacting the Chinese authorities. The day after, Francis Lee managed to secure a few spaces for Urquhart, Hutchison, Thomas, Turner, and myself, on board a motorized Junk which took us to Macao. When we tried to land in Macao, we were told that we had to surrender our arms:- Sten guns, Revolvers, etc. to the Portuguese Police for safe custody. At first we did not like the idea, but soon we were advised by the British Consul that we should. This we did, and as we went ashore we were invited to attend a Dance Party especially organized to welcome the Portuguese ex prisoners of war, who were former members of the HKVDC, and who had come over to join their families. Doc Ride was also in Macao, representing the C-in-C Hongkong, Rear Admiral Sir Cecil Harcourt, and paying a Courtesy Call on the Governor of Macao. It was a British Frigate which brought Doc Ride over. That night we spent at the International Hotel. It was on that night, that a signal came through from Captain Powell in Hing Ning, telling me that my wife had begot a daughter on 22 Sep 45. I was there and then congretulated. The next day, we came back to Hongkong, travelling on board a HKYF boat which had no super structure. We arrived and landed by the Vehicular Ferry Pier at Central. I could not believe my eyes when I noticed there was hardly a person walking on Connaught Road Central, outside the old Fire Brigade Building. Hongkong had the look of being deserted ! That indeed was my first impression, on?25th September 1945.
The War was over, there was then no cause for the B.A.A.G. to continue. For those of us who were in uniform, we had to wait for orders. For the civilian staff, which meant most of those in the Advanced Headquarters of the BB.A.A.G., iit was felt that they should be given the freedom of choice. Those who so wished might remain with us and wait for further developments, those who wished othrwise should be allowed to find their own way back to Hongkon