Diary of Arthur Seaforth Blackburn, April 1942 - November 1944, Part 26 of 26

Conflict:
Second World War, 1939–45
Part of Quest:
Subject:
  • War Diaries
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Awaiting approval
Accession number:
AWM2020.22.18
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4

Page 1 / 7

that I have had cinse leaving Java- was served to us in the dining room- rich soup with onons& weat -yreed fir with mi potate beautfll cooked rice + pables itc. Hote was a model of cleanlinesss staf of botce as well as hipponese Aviy officials who met us were as courseous as anyone could possibly be, an inteciting pature & one where was macey to mommend it was that as the entrence we all had to take of onr ent or shals & walk about isids in our sos the locals of course having sliffers which they sepped on bythe mean all ontside dirt ate is hert out of s & rooms, We were shown into mon baicly were my sare but very camfatcto& tidy shich sof, gran mats covening whole ploon little takles about 1t 12 high in each rome aua s a nipponese Dr came to the hotel to enquire aboue our balte & prepared to breat anyne who waded for treatment, He eemined & gave medicing fotwo officers who became eck in plane. After about 1br. we were driven in buses to Rail Station where we bourded a spcial camiag on on admary parienger train, carriag who theough confortable with roony u bolstered ceats + quite Clean rain legt at 1700 bro We travelled close se the caster coast oeiard unte w0 us ween we darmed. view on bain yuney was extrencle pett. It was wonderful to see the sea again. Everyone saned masperourg waltly evng as for as we could se From station we which I believe to be bEPPU- we were driver in ties to an letee gajanse cmilat tone at landing pot a equall conptable It is nig on the sea shore + is I understand a well known laalt resat. We were allded to veomr 495 fer room which gave auyle room to eade of us, we were then collen to dining
or given encellent weal of hat soung bread rol Fllowing Japanese custom our beds conjert of couses of a chick mattrers on the floorg a thch blanket, quil agairover one. it was uttene comportable boor curists almost etirel o stideng doov & wnders io that one cn eet in nlst as wlish air ete as one wores. It was quite goe which was very accepole after the tropica teat of the last few mns The sea brsege was most regueshing We under stand tht we are to stay heve for a short time until our cmp is ready. The balanceor no equad, of our squad & live surpest) the Senior officers are expected to arrive very eoon; Bu 5 Oct. Had Dutal sleep last night. heals still continue as nise as ever. Pai asternoon aad a et eath in the bot opring water for weich this place is famous. It was deligiiful. It is gixta eite awkward fitting us in at freant as this is a proye notel & we are P.D. ws but the Niffonese staff are doing everytting they can to make things smoore for everyon cnsad & I am size we are al trying to co-operate. A bigliospital Ilip is lying in here at ancugrage + from the balsony we leaded view out avey the town & the tarbour & it is anayingl refreting to see nernal cleanly nice looking yeotl pertil women children going about their odenany avocation. We citle childrey are absolutely deligentful s0 pety & clean & childlit. Ind 6. conditions still entenue the same of the ret & u & breake in our old conditions are very aful & deligaiful stll no sign of the balance oour parte but we are expecting ther tonight. Another hot oath avenlable odr but as have dweloab oa I did not leve one as I am not sue that there is cod water after it. st 7 balance of our party still lave not arrival
Weighed 21/10/44 - 49 hilos. a loss of 22 hibor He Remained ao Repr until Tuesday 10 Octand lada Oroughl restful haaltly time. The food continued ample for all my requirements & it was the conylete change of it all which did me a lot of good. We had a let bath every day. meals were cerved on takes about 14 high at which we squatted on to floor whilst the bed consisted of a nattrer spread out on the floorg a Plarket quilt consern to spread over oney It was I gather a Japancse hotel run on the native style and very well run. on Sunday 8 Oct. a saand party consisting of the senior officers who left us at Famasata jeus the governor of Bornes + a Dutch retired le general & all the remainder of Squalo &2 enegt mchillan amial. on is oct we were driven in buses to be railway station where we entrained at 1040 lrs + proceeded nothwards being provided with two weals from the hotel to eat en wute. We readed mage in te early afternoon & enfected to go under the tunnel to the rent island. However after about an hours wait we were kooked onto another train & poceited westwards close to the coast. We finally reached a place (I believe EUKISoxA) after dark & Again got wite buses. After a fairly long vougs uncomportale wide we debussed to find ourselves alongside a staamer, We were put on board this slup about 3or oatons) fathe night in rather crowded quarters early vert morning we were naved to a room apparently a smoring room- wel forward & were
tod to st deam it was very crawded. We sailed about 090 hs arter a few troops had seen narched aboard. I was very struck with the absence of war distress in Japan The georle all seened hapy contented well pd+ indusinians. There was no sign of animosity owards us &te plitary plice weid guarded us throughout our travds in Japan were very courtious & contiente We were issued with a meal bee we sailed from FUKISORA. Io is an enelent well Basltered hareour, v beautiful & apparently a big port. after we got see two other sleyps jaied, us & we frouded N.W. nttrip in middle a day a fleasing mine was observed + our senp stopped + opened fire on it to emlode it. However a seaplane expeared & so the mine was left for it to deal with We reached FUSANin Southern Krea about 1700 bvs, another incellent not- very lndeached + pretty. We were taken dange of on the boat before we left Japan an another eatell of military polike & thay were it passible over were considerace & generas than Our samer guards. At FUSAN we were taken to a bik, hotol Paparently too raiway hotel & received toe surprise your lives as we wre sat dawn at table wilh clean talle clothes & encellent cuttery to a four course turopn deiiner, soup, fishy meat I readables (including cauliflower & waite sance) & a sived tvei apprently the terminus of the South marchemien & Krsen railway- in fact the railway from Europe + the hotel in normal times would be catering for towist traffic. It was all bautiully cooleed & Served & was followed by a cup of black coffes I know of nothing that could have seen dane for us which I would have appreciated were, after dinner we were driven in suses to anth botel where we slapt the night. We slept on wate the same as in BEPD and were issued with three blankets each nent morning; 12 act, we rose at 0500 lwo & were driven back to the same botel as
- intere on thar own a & ring would be the usual com gir & dld Eating Laughin nerious, in buses. We there had an incellect breakfest of anargst Conselves Towards evering we were sned rollo, fried fish & tea ) after a brig rest in the burge were taken out out the railway platferm & boarded with a Japanose greatcont (amy gattern) will a hood to pull right over the head & a blanlat a train. We were in carriages marked toI cass, but eash. After davk it ase intenrely cold & owing to this Ca were very confortable & built obvisily agot & the crawded conditions I found it impossible cold weather as all the windows were double to to sleep fr more than an hour o two ach nights prevent cold, draughts sto. We were a little Eeuliant shaved us the countryside white in crowded bere but our guards still did all they could to help us. We were alladed to an heavy frost. It was still the same bind of Country & mostly under srops but with many grwary passanger train and left nortawards eclands - maidly aples-now appearing. at at 081d. We travelled all that day up through fairly freguent incervals we sw lige vsion Korea lunch & tea of rice, wext, fisy piasle ate electes wires leading acrosth colatencite to being provided at apropriate bours packed in fastories otc & still fau through odvesional a little wooden ban ach. all nanin big towns. Te local transert seemed to be small we followed the course of a river up a two whee carts drawn by small standy ponies. faily noren valley Towards midday we We ran ae again all day through Dimiler climbed uphat apeared to be country. It was a loright Dunny day. Archards a big plateau & in te afternon ran on crossing frequent rivers & passing neuous i became more & more frequent. At dusk we raw into a town which I believe was villages + an occasional pair-sized town The mountains were always comparatiod close bet he Ee Palia ha wah to us. Hy are fairly thickly wooded with Rrea from what we saw of it is a berg pretty country & not in te least the forbidding barren a low five at first & later on with firs, Ashes sta Poplars were very frequent. The place I had imagined. We braveled all nigat in a xn Eirection. He nigat was whole country slamed very pertile agrecuterl nothing like so cold but as it was imposible land under rice, millet canacotton a to lie down I again found I could get w sta crops which I could not maguie. sleep. Just as day was breaking we aame The peotle seemed stardy, bealthy & quite into signt of a very sig city which I am happy o chearful. At each station were certain was MUKDEN & Wited abolute
boundaries ont, passing chrough a buse railway yard where there must have been at least too engines under steam we could e the city sintaing away for an immence distance - ar so it looked in te dun ligat. We had brealefast, bere a big loag of gread aacl, from now on until our destination be received a loap of bread each at each meal, We want pen through aanicultural countre with occaninal undustrial centres until about 1140 avs when we readd a place alled SUEPINANAtor STEPINANAI see we were told we would have a take hour wait. We left again about 1400 lvs attaced to a small local train +travelled on a brande line almst dis weas until about 1630 when we & teacled a small place (called I believe chikei rone) near the edge of Eastern goli desert. Here we detrained & were marched to a camp about 200 yas away. We were there addresed by a Col. and who in effect said we would be well treated as long as we belaved properly. novF. up till now there has been nothing special to rejort. Treatment contanues good. Food is incellent. no rice, Corn mush for Brealefast. Vegotable soup with plenty of vegs-potatoes, carrots, turnips etc + rich gravy usually with a little mat for lundling + beans in sour, with a cooleed up barley, regotable etc dish to evening meal with a good nation of bread a midday sevening meal- Guards are kept right outside the camp boundary fence + we are not expected to keep saluting them. The rooms are very crowded + there is no cuboards & very little shelf-sace for clothes, Te place -an old Sarraceris very dirtig but generally it is an immense improvement on anything
we have so far expenienced, a nixpanese arm doctor comes in every two or thre days to attend to the dises. I hve paraded before him gored to get him to remove the hollep in m nose but wid n result, every othey day we have a good bot wath yee weather has been getting steadily colder with, heavy jrost at right lent today it remained befow thLeying all day. at 0930 aus s washed out two pairs o sacks in warm water & hung there out in thesen tdry. I went to get, them at 1230 lirs & found them frayen etif with bg wrisles hanging from c the toes where the water lead srted dropping out sa

2                                                      

that I have had since leaving Java - was served

to us in the dining room - bean rich soup with

onions & meat - fried fish with Irish potatoes,

beautifully cooked rice & pickles etc. Hotel was a

model of cleanliness & staff of hotel as well as

Nipponese Army officials who met us were as

courteous as anyone could possibly be. W An

interesting feature & one which has much to recommend

it was that at the entrance we all had to take off

our boots or shoes & walk about inside in our socks -

the locals of course having slippers which they slipped 

on.  By this means all outside dirt etc is kept out

of passages & rooms. We were shown into rooms

which were very bare but very comfortable & tidy,

Thick, soft, grass mats covering whole floor & little

tables about 1' to 1½' high in each room. After a

Stay,  A Nipponese Dr. came to the hotel to enquire about

our health & prepared to treat anyone who wished

for treatment. He examined and gave medicine for two

officers who wer became sick in plane.

After about 1 hr. we were driven in buses to Raily,

Station where we boarded a special carriage on

an ordinary passenger train. Carriage was thoroughly

comfortable with roomy upholstered seats & quite 

clean. Train left at 1700 hrs. We travelled

close to the sea - the Eastern Coast of the Island -

until 2300 hrs when we detrained.  View on

train journey was extremely pretty. It was 

wonderful to see the sea again.  Everyone seemed

prosperous & healthy looking as far as we could see.

From Station, we which I believe to be BEPPU - 

we were driven in buses to an hotel - Japanese

similar to one at landing port and equally comfortable.

It is right on the sea shore & is I understand a

well known health resort. We were allotted to

rooms - 4 or 5 per room which gave ample room

to each of us. We were then taken to dining

 

(corner of page torn off) 

[[?]]& given excellent meal of hot soup & bread rolls,

Following Japanese custom our beds consists of courser

of a thick mattress on the floor & a thick blanket, quilt

affair over one. It was extremely comfortable. Room

consists almost entirely of sliding doors & windows so

that one can let in just as much air etc as one

chooses. It was quite cool which was very acceptable

after the tropical heat of the last few months.

The sea breeze was most refreshing. We understand
that we are to stay here for a short time until

our camp is ready. The balance of no 2 squad, of our

squad & (we suspect) the Senior officers are expected 

to arrive very soon.

[*Thurs. 5 Oct*]. Had beautiful sleep last night. Meals still

continue as nice as ever. This afternoon had a 

hot bath in the hot spring water for which

this place is famous. It was delightful. It is just a 

little awkward fitting us in at present as this is a 

public hotel & we are P.O.Ws but the Nipponese staff are

doing everything they can to make things smooth for

everyone concerned & I am sure we are all trying to

co-operate. A big hospital ship is lying in here at

anchorage. From the balcony we have a view out 

over the town & the harbour & it is amazingly refreshing

to see normal clearly nice looking people particularly

women & children going about their ordinary 

avocations. The little children are absolutely

delightful - so pretty & clean & childlike.

[*Frid 6.*] Conditions still continue the same & the rest & quiet 

& break in our old conditions are very restful &

delightful. Still no sign of the balance of our party

but we are expecting them tonight. Another hot bath

available today but as I have developed a bit of a cold 

I did not have one as I am not sure that there 

is cold water after it.

[*Sat.7*]. Balance of our party still have not arrived.

 

1 Weighed 21/10/44 - 49 kilos. a loss of 2 1/2 kilos 

We 
Remained at BePPU until Tuesday 10 Oct and had a thoroughly

restful healthy time. The food continued ample for 

all my requirements & it was the complete change of it

all which did me a lot of good. We had a hot bath

every day. Meals were served on tables about 14" high 

at which we squatted on the floor whilst the bed

consisted of a mattress spread out on the floor & a

blanket-quilt concern to spread over one. It was I

gather a Japanese hotel run on the native style - 

and very well run. On Sunday 8 Oct. a second party 

consisting of the Senior Officers  who left us at

Tamasata plus the Governor of Borneo & a Dutch 

retired Lt General & all the remainder of Squads 1 & 2 

except McMillan arrived. On  10 Oct we were 

driven in buses to the railway station where we

entrained at 1040 hrs & proceeded northwards

being provided with two meals from the hotel

to eat en route. We reached Maji in the

early afternoon & expected to go under the tunnel

to the next island. However after about an hour's 

wait we were hooked onto another train & proceeded

westwards close to the coast. We finally reached a

place (I believe FUKISOKA) after dark & again got

into buses.  After a fairly long rough & uncomfortable

ride we debussed to find ourselves alongside a

steamer. We were put on board this ship (about

3 or 4000 tons) for the night in rather crowded quarters.

Early next morning we were moved to a room - 

apparently a smoking room - well forward & were

 

2

told to sit down. It was very crowded. We sailed about 0900

hrs after a few troops had been marched aboard. I was

very struck with the absence of "war distress" in Japan.

The people all seemed happy contented well fed &

industrious. There was no sign of animosity towards

us & the military police who guided us throughout

our travels in Japan were very courteous & considerate.

We were issued with a meal before we sailed from

FUKISOKA. It is an excellent well sheltered harbour, very

beautiful & apparently a big port. After we got to sea

two other ships joined us & we proceeded N.W.

On the trip in the middle of the day we a floating 

mine was observed & our ship stopped & opened

fire on it to explode it. However a seaplane 

appeared & so the mine was left for it to deal with.

We reached FUSAN in southern Korea about 1700 hrs,

another excellent port - very landlocked & pretty.

We were taken charge of, on the boat before we left

Japan by another batch of military police & they were

if possible even more considerate & generous than

our former guards.  At FUSAN we were taken to 

a big hotel apparently the Railway hotel & received

the surprise of our lives as we were sat down at

tables with clean table cloths & excellent cutlery to

a four course European dinner, soup, fish, meat

& vegetables (including cauliflower & white sauce) & a

sweet. // FUSAN is apparently the terminus of the Southern 

Manchurian & Korean railway - in fact the railway

from Europe & the hotel in normal times would be

catering for tourist traffic. It was all beautifully

cooked & served & was followed by a cup of

black coffee.  I know of nothing that could have been

done for us which I would have appreciated

more. After dinner we were driven in buses to another

hotel where we slept the night. We slept on mats 

the same as in BEPPU but and were issued with

three blankets each. Next morning 12 Oct, we rose

at 0500 hrs & were driven back to the same hotel as

 

3

previously in buses.  We there had an excellent breakfast of

rolls, fried fish & tea & after a brief rest in the lounge

were taken out onto the railway platform & boarded

a train. We were in carriages marked III class, but

they were very comfortable & built obviously agst

cold weather as all the windows were double to

prevent cold, draughts etc. We were a little 

crowded here but our guards still did all

they could to help us. We were attached to an 

ordinary passenger train and left northwards

at 0810. We travelled all that day up through

Korea, lunch & tea of rice, meat, fish, pickles etc

being provided at appropriate hours packed in

a little wooden box each. For no All morning 

we followed the course of a river up a 

fairly narrow valley. Towards midday we

climbed up over a onto what appeared to be

a big plateau & in the afternoon ran on

crossing frequent rivers & passing numerous

villages & an occasional fair-sized town.

The mountains were always comparatively close

to us. They are fairly thickly wooded with

a low pine at first & later on with firs,

ashes etc. Poplars were very frequent. The

whole country seemed very fertile agricultural

land, under rice, millet, corn & cotton &

other crops which I could not recognize.

The people seemed sturdy, healthy & quite

happy & cheerful. At each station there 

4

would be the usual coming & going of passengers, all

intent on their own affairs & all chattering & laughing

amongst themselves. Towards evening we were issued 

with a Japanese greatcoat (army pattern) with a

hood to pull right over the head & a blanket

each. After dark it got intensely cold & owing to this

& the crowded conditions I found it impossible

to sleep for more than an hour or two each night.

Daylight showed us the countryside white in

a heavy frost. It was still the same kind of

country & mostly under crops but with many

orchards - mainly apples - now appearing. At

fairly frequent intervals we saw high tension 

electric wires leading across the countryside to

factories etc & still passed through occasional 

big towns. The local transport seemed to be small

two wheeled carts drawn by small sturdy ponies.

We ran all on again all day through similar

country.  It was a bright sunny day. Orchards

became more & more frequent. At dusk 

we ran into a town which I believe was

SINGISYU on the border of KOREA & MANCHURIA.

Here we had a halt of 3 hrs & were issued with a meal of soup & white bread.

Korea from what we saw of it is a very pretty

country & not the least the forbidding barren 

place I had imagined. We travelled all

night in a NW direction. The night was 

nothing like so cold but as it was impossible

to lie down I again found it I could get no

sleep. Just as day was breaking we came

into sight of a very big city which I am

certain was MUKDEN. We skirted the absolute

 

5

boundaries of it, passing through a huge railway

yard where there must have been at least 100

engines under steam. We could see the city stretching

away for an immense distance - or so it looked in

the dim light. We had breakfast here - a big loaf of 

bread each. From now on until our destination we

received a loaf of bread each at each meal. We went

on through agricultural country with occasional

industrial centres until about 1100 hrs  when we

reached a place called SUEPINGKAI or SZEPINGKAI.

Here we were told we would have a three hour

wait. We left again about 1400 hrs attached to a 

small local train & travelled on a branch line

almost due west until about 1630 when we

reached a small place (called I believe CHIKAI TUNG)

near the edge of the Eastern Gobi desert. Here we 

detrained & were marched to a camp about 200

yds away. We were there addressed by a Col. Comdt

who in effect said we would be well treated as 

long as we behaved properly.

Nov 3. Up till now there has been nothing special to

report.  Treatment continues good. Food is excellent. no

rice, Corn mush for breakfast. Vegetable soup - with

plenty of vegs - potatoes, carrots, turnips etc & rich 

gravy usually with a little meat for lunching & beans

in soup, with a cooked up barley, vegetable etc dish for

evening meal, with a good ration of bread a midday

& evening meal. Guards are kept right outside the

camp boundary fence & we are not expected to keep

saluting them. The rooms are very crowded & there is

no sh cupboards & very little shelf space for clothes.

The place - an old barracks  - is very dirty, but

generally it is an immense improvement on anything

 

we have so far experienced. A Nipponese army doctor

comes in every two or three days to attend to the sick. I

have paraded before him & tried to get him to remove 

the "pollup" in my nose but with no result. Every

other day we have a good hot bath. The weather 

has been getting steadily colder with heavy frost

at night but today it remained below freezing 

all day. At 0930 hrs I washed out two pairs of

socks in warm water & hung them out in the sun

to dry. I went to get them at 1230hrs & found 

them frozen stiff with big icsicles icisicles hanging from

the toes where the water had started dropping

out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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