... a few days after liberation in 1945, Ronnie Masters and I made
our way to a secret airfield -- a small landing strip -- a few miles south of
the camp. We'd heard of the strip, and find it we did.
On the strip, we saw two or three small Japanese fighter planes with their pilots
nearby. I don't know how we had the nerve to climb up and look in the cockpit,
but we did.
Ronnie could speak Japanese because he was 1/2 Japanese. He said to me, "Peter,
they're talking about shooting us. So move away from the plane. Don't rush,
but move on into the woods. "
The pilots looked pretty tough and hard-faced. It was a relief to get out of
their sight and range.
... two of us were catapulting pigeons on the roof of the church.
A Japanese guard shouted at us and gave chase. I ran between two blocks where
four people were outside playing cards. I don't know how, but they knew I was
being chased. They pulled me down under their table and between their legs.
For about five minutes I was surrounded by four pairs of shins. When it was
all clear, I crawled out and slunk away.
... one day when two of us sneaked into the Japanese quarters to
climb trees. It was such a thrill to climb a tree. We hadn't done it in a long,
long time. But this tree had a bull tied to it. We'd been up in the tree for
a while and the bull seemed docile, so we took turns sitting on it. That bull
died a few days later.
... that on another occasion, we sneaked to that tree. We had to creep along
the ground so as not to be seen. We loved staying hidden in the branches --
until the Japanese commandant came along with a book to read and sat under the
tree. Of course we had to stay put. However, after about 30 or 40 minutes, we
knew we were in trouble because afternoon roll call was approaching. We dropped
from the branches. With hardly a glance from the commandant, we dashed away
as fast as we could. He must have had a benign disposition, because no one pursued
... I pitched for the Chefoo School boy team against the Weihsien
boys. Once a week, we played. But the BIG contests were the regular games between
the men of Kitchen #1 and Kitchen # 2.
One day when our Chefoo boys were playing Weihsien, I heard one of the Kitchen
# 2 players say, "This guy Peter Bazire should pitch for us."
My modesty has held me back from mentioning this for 60 years.
... when Chefusian Alvin Desterhaft
was to be repatriated, he gave his trumpet to me. I taught myself to play it
and then joined the Salvation Army Band. We practiced once a week and played
marches and hymn tunes a couple of times a week.
On a bitterly cold day in February, my lips were chapped and I couldn't wear
gloves because the trumpet valves are to close to play with gloves on. The Salvation
Army Band gathered outside the hospital window to play for Eric Liddell -- Finlandia
-- "Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side."
I think Eric died the next day.
I have that trumpet still.
(EDITIOR'S NOTE (MaryPrevite): For the last 41 years, Peter Bazire has played
violin for the Bath Symphony Orchestra in England. For the last three, he has
played the trumpet in the Bath Spa Band and occasionally 3rd cornet in the main
Peter Bazire, Bath, UK