Far East, No. 9, Vol. 1, August 1945

l'jr East .Au gust, 1945 VITAMINS BY POST I theN Search for any means by which even small quantities of badly' needed medical supplies could be sent tc prisoners of war and civilian internees in the Far Fast, nearly 300 small pack­ages of concentrated vitamins and medi­cines have been despatched by letter post. This method was first suggested as an experiment by the Committee of the International Ked Cross in Geneva in April. 1943. A number of packets con­taining Vitamin “B"and“ C "tablets were prej>ared in Switzerland and sent to their Delegation in Tokyo in October of that year, the costs being met jointly by the British and American Red Cross Societies. They eventually reached the Delegation in Tokyo in December last and were distributed to prisoner of war camps in japan, Formosa, Manchuria and Shanghai Choosing the Drugs There is no parcel post service with Japan, and under the Universal Postal Convention no packet sent by letter post may weigh more than 2 kilogrammes (just over 4 lb.). The items to be sent had to be most carefully selected in order to secure the maximum benefit for the recipients. Eventually the British Red Cross decided to send mainly Vitamin “B, ’Compound Vitamin tablets and drugs of the sulphonamide group— drugs which would prove useful in the treatment of dysentery, malaria and septic conditions. Under the Convention it is necessary tom secure the consent of any country" through which mails are passing in transit before including drugs in those mails. The prisoner of war mail for our men in the Far East handled by the Soviet Authorities is setlt over the irans- Siberian route. As soon as Soviet agreement to the inclusion of these pack­ages containing drugs in the prisoner of war mails was received, the British Red Cross Society began to despatch the pack­ages addressed to Camp Leaders, in anticipation of Japanese agreement to their distribution to the Camp Leaders. Japanese agreement was not received until the end of lanuarv this vear and v -j j was conditional on the packages being addressed to the Japanese Prisoner of War Information Bureau in Tokyo. The Bureau undertook to distribute them€ t as fairly as possible where the need is greatest and to see that receipts were sent from the camps to the International Red Cross Committee Delegate in Tokyo. Change of Address Thus packages are now being ad­dressed to the Japanese P .W .I., and it is hoped that those already sent and addressed to Camp Leaders before it was known that they should be sent to the P.W .I. will be distributed, too. Drugs are still being sent, but sometime must elapse beiore acknowledg­ments of receipt in the camps can reach this country. Readers will be kept informed of later developments in sun- sequent issues of Far East. The limitations of what can be sent by this means will be obvious: the quan­tity, of course, will provide abut small part of the elementary needs of our men in Japanese hands. But the possibility of increasing the quantities is being examined. The practical difficulties en­countered in getting this small schemo into action are paralleled in every en­ deavour to send relief supplies to our men in the Far East. rP lIE camp is divided into two distinct ±sections— the North Camp, in which are interned the prisoners of war, mainly officers, who were transferred from Argyle Street, and the South Camp which, though apparently not intended to bo an"other ranks" camp, contains only a small proportion of officers. The majority of Canadian officers are in the Southern Camp. The quarters in the Northern Camp are said to be slightly better than those in the Southern, but in other respects the conditions are similar, both camps being directly under the same Japanese officials. Internal arrangements prob­ably vary between the two compounds Conditions in Shamshuipo Some information has become available of conditions in this Prisoner of War Camp at Kowloon, Hong Kong> at the end of 1944 as no communication is allowed between the two senior British officers. Rations, which are generally inade­quate, include fish, vegetables, rice, a little sugar, salt, soya beans and nuts. No tea, coffee, cocoa, milk, eggs or butter are ever issued. Prisoners of* war do their own cocking and eat in their barracks. All have knives, forks and containers. There should officially be three meals each day, but often the shortage of food is such that only two meals can betaken. It is thought that the prisoners have mosquito nets. The men have iron bed­steads, but there is a shortage of bed­ding. Some have enough to wear, but the majority do not, An aerial photograph of Hong Kong, taken before the war. and there is a considerable shortage of shoes and boots, most prisoners of war going about barefooted. Working parties outgo from the camp each day— usually by truck— and the men receive avery little pay. Religious services are held in both camps. Care of the Sick The medical care of the prisoners of war is. for the most part, in the hands of British medical officers. A Japanese doctor visits the camp monthly for the purpose of examining the prisoners of war and reporting on their health. This examination is generally very' casual. In an epidemic, the sick are removed to hospital and the remainder inoculated. There is a cemetery situated near the former officers' camp in Kowloon, in which the bodies of prisoners of war who have died in Shamshuipo camp are interred. The graves are marked by a stone bearing a number, and friends are allowed to attend the funeral. Some prisoners receive private parcels from friends outside the camp, and there have been issues of Red Cross parcels. The parcels are examined by the Japanese and distributed by representa­tives of the prisoners of war under super­vision 'by the Japanese.
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