Thomas Edgar: Two Post-war Letters

My father was one of the earliest non-governmental workers to leave Stanley after the arrival of Harcourt’s fleet on August 30, 1945. On September 3 the South China Morning Post reported that the Stanley internees could expect their first half pound loaf of wheat bread that day – baked by him. There had been an intensive search for the flour by members of the Food Control organisation and I think it’s likely he was involved in that search and that he left camp on September 1 or 2nd.

In this post I transcribe two letters he sent to his family in Windsor Berkshire in October 1945. The telegram he sent telling them he was alive and free has been lost – they knew it was genuine because he signed it ‘Ooke’ his family nickname (see below). He probably wrote at least one letter in September but if so that too has been lost.

Scans of the original letters and some indication of the context of his work in September and October 1945 can be found here: https://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/thomass-work-6-post-war-reconstruction/

1-10-45

32, Hong Kong Hotel

Hong Kong

 

Dear Mum & all

Well I think it is pretty well official now that I can not come home till about Christmas. Everybody is shouting for bread (we have not had bread, meat or fish since January 1944[1]) so will have to stay for a short while.[2] Glad to know everybody well have just received your Aug 23rd the first since Sept 1943. Wish Dad many happy returns on the 5th.[3] hope to be home for your birthday.[4] We are quite fit really & the navy & Australian Red Cross are doing their stuff now.

Write again soon am very busy getting bakeries into working order.

Love

Lena & Ooke

17-10-45

              Lane Crawford’s

     Hongkon

Dearest Mum & all

Very many thanks for Joyce’s[5] letter. Glad to know that everybody’s well. Congratulations on Joyce’s engagement.[6]

I put on 17 lbs. since I left Stanley. Life in Stanley was pretty grim. What really saved us from starvation were our private gardens (which produced sweet potatoes, tomatoes, vegetables etc.) and what we could buy from the black market with money we obtained through selling our engagement ring & watches. the Formosan guards used to smuggle the goods into the camp.

We don’t know when we shall be going home yet as everything is still in a horrible mess. I am still trying to have Lane Crawford’s bakery in production. I have four men from H.M.S. Resource[7] but the Japs were using our bakery as a button factory, rattan basket factory & for salt fish, so you can imagine the state of affairs. We hoe to leave here about January or February.

Mr. R. Bauder a great friend of ours might be staying in England on is way to Switzerland [8]and will call home for a few nights, hope you can look after him O.K.

Love

Ton & Lena

[1] Mistake for 1944 – even then this is not really true as small amounts of low-quality fish continued to be sent in to Stanley.

[2] In fact Thomas and Evelina didn’t leave Hong Kong until the summer of 1946.

[3] Herbert Sidney Edgar was born on October 5, 1878.

[4] Alice Edgar was born on January 1 1888.

[5] Joyce Edgar, Thomas’s sister, was born in Windsor in the first quarter of 11920.

[6] Joyce married Ernest A. Sadler in the second quarter of 1946.

[7] A Royal Navy Repair Ship.

[8] Robert Bauder worked in the watch department of Lane Crawford. He ended the war as an Assistant Superintendent of Rosary Hill Red Cross Home. He left employment there on October 31.

HMS Resource in 1932.jpg

H.M.S. Resource in 1932 : Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33574907

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