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'Peter Bazire' psbazire@yahoo.co.uk [weihsien_camp]
Fri, 30 Jun 2017 at 22:03
RE: [weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps

To ex-Weihsieners,

I have just been in touch with a number of people who, like me, had our daily roll call outside the hospital.

Like me, they all clearly remember that midnight roll call occurring at our usual place. So there was not a whole camp roll call on the field that night.

A minor point: it was Block 23 that housed the bell, not 24. Yes, in the earlier period of the camp people did line up for roll call outside where they lived. Later some or all the roll calls occurred at a limited number of sites. I don’t know where Blocks 2 to 22 assembled for their roll call.

Peter Bazire

From: Pierre Ley
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2020 2:28 PM
Subject: weihsien roll call in the middle of the night

From Janette, in English !

The time the roll-call bell rang in the middle of the night :
I was 6 ½ years old, it was very dark, I was walking along Tin-Pan Alley, with my parents, my little brother in Dad’s arms and baby MaryLou in Mom's arms.

Dad was very silent, my mother seemed quite terrified. I remember her saying : what are they going to do to us ? Other people were also walking along towards the baseball field.

We were led and made to wait in the Church park. Many other families from all the surrounding blocks were there too. I seem to remember long benches. All the parents were trying to keep their children next to them.

The general atmosphere was terribly tense, harsh spotlights, Japaneses soldiers very agressive, barking orders, running all over the place. I very well remember my mother trying not to panic, and Dad trying to get some kind of news.

After quite some time we were told we could go « back home ».

Years later my mother said she was aware of Japanese extermination camps in Manchuria, and thought we were all going to be sent there. As a Harbin Russian she had already experienced Japanese cruelty.
She left Harbin for China in 1922.

Janette Ley-Pander.

Estelle Horne estelle.m.horne@gmail.com [weihsien_camp]
Fri, 30 Jun 2017 at 15:06
Re: [weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps

I remember that midnight roll call very well.

We girls (I was 15) had to put on our dressing gowns and pin on our ID cloth badges, and go down to the area outside the hospital. We were housed on the first floor (US second floor) and the boys were in the attic. This was our normal roll call "field" - it was a former double tennis court. We lined up for ages, and then had to individually go between two guards with their weapons crossed.

There were two frightening things:
1) the Japanese always had their bayonets attached to their rifles, and
2) we were taller than they were, so we had to stoop down between the bayonets while they checked our names from our ID badges against the camp list. This was in the light of the corner searchlight which had been turned around to face inward, instead of outward. My badge said Miss E Cliff. I wore it to a garden party at Buckingham Palace at the 50th anniversary in 1995.

Estelle Cliff Horne

Roy Campbell roy.campbell79@gmail.com [weihsien_camp]
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 at 13:35
Re: [weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps

On VE day I was 14 and in block 57.

We always had roll call in the field between ourselves and the hospital. There would be exceptions in the winter I dont remember how often and my grandparents in block 57. did not have to go out. Mr Jennings in Block 57 was our warden.

I believe that Joe Cotterill and Jeannie Hills had been married that day Am I right Joe?!

VE night is one of my clearest memories of camp and we had to file one by one between 2 guards with the searchlight on us and they were pushing and shouting and we were very scared. It was in our usual roll call field but I do not know how many met there that night. Those of us who were old enough to remember are all well over 80

maida Harris Campbell

Albert de Zutter alphadogal@yahoo.com [weihsien_camp]
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 at 09:14
Re: [weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps

"Joe and Joyce said there was never a whole camp roll call on the field, just the six separate roll call sites..." That statement is incorrect.

There definitely was a whole camp roll call on the field following the German surrender, as I related in an earlier email.

A camp resident rang the assembly bell at midnight in celebration of that surrender.

The Japanese rang the bell summoning the entire camp to the field at 1 a.m. That roll call lasted a long time -- perhaps an hour and a half to two hours.

As for the "six separate roll call sites," our Block 2 turned out every morning to line up in front of our rooms, as did every other block in the row houses.

People who lived in Block 24 (which housed the bell) and others who lived in other dormitory sites (single men and women, sisters, Catholic priests, etc) may have had other arrangements, hence the perception of "six sites." But ordinary roll calls took place in many more than six sites.

Tara Gully-Hightower taragullyhightower@yahoo.com [weihsien_camp]
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 at 05:38
Re: [weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps


Did any of you know my grandfather James Robert Hightower? He was in the camp during the first 6 months.

'Peter Bazire' psbazire@yahoo.co.uk [weihsien_camp]
Wed, 28 Jun 2017 at 22:34
RE: [weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps

To ex-Weihsieners,

I have had a phone call with Joe & Joyce Cotterill about the correspondence on certain roll calls and the alleged playing of tunes by the Salvation Army Band at one of these roll calls. I joined the band as a 12 year old in October 1943, soon after arriving in Weihsien from Chefoo. So I was not in the camp for its first six months. Joe & Joyce told me that one day in that first summer there was a softball game: USA v Britain. At the end of the game the SA Band played “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” to the tune of “God Save the King”. Some of the spectators stood to attention. The guards did not take kindly to this and brought the band conductor, Brigadier Len Stranks, to the guard room (he was Joyce’s father) for questioning.

Joe & Joyce said there was never a whole camp roll call on the field, just the six separate roll call sites in different parts of the camp. The band members were scattered among the different sites, so they were not together to make up the band at any one roll call. I might add that Joe was 100 back in March 2017. He has an alert mind, and he and Joyce are very knowledgeable on Weihsien. I visit them every year. Joe & Eric Liddell were great friends in camp, sharing the same room. Joyce also knew Eric well. In March this year there were over 100 people at Joe’s 100th birthday party.

In February 1945 in Weihsien we in the SA Band were playing outside the camp hospital. Eric was seriously ill in the hospital, and he requested that we play “Be Still My Soul”, one of his favourite hymns. Eric died two days later. At Joe’s party this last March I, a lone trumpeter, played this same hymn tune on my old Weihsien trumpet, 72 years later.

Best wishes to all,
Peter Bazire

Brian Butcher bdbutcher@telus.net [weihsien_camp]
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 at 19:55
[weihsien_camp] Singing God Save he King

The quote from “Children Of The Camps” is attributed to Mrs. K. S. Snuggs and is archived in http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/35/a2350135.shtml

I have quoted it below. It is copyrighted but the provision with that copyright allow it to be used for our group. It is not for commercial use and it must acknowledge the author. Mrs. Snuggs was a British teen at the time.

God Save the King!icon for Recommended story
by Mrs_KS_Snuggs

You are browsing in:
Archive List > Civilian Internment
Archive List > World > China
Contributed by Mrs_KS_Snuggs
People in story: Mrs K S Snuggs
Location of story: Weihsien, North China
Background to story: Civilian
Article ID: A2350135
Contributed on: 26 February 2004

It was a swelteringly hot day one summer during the second world war. On a dry, dusty, shadeless field in Weihsien, North China, fifteen hundred Allied civilian internees were lined up for the monthly roll call of the whole camp. (For daily roll calls they were sub-divided into six smaller groups.) They were a mixed lot - adults and children - tired, ill-fed. ill-clad and bored. The sun and glare were pitiless - so were the sullen Japanese guards who marched up and down the ranks, counting and re-counting. Between counts - it invariably took several before they reached the correct total - the internees sat or lay down, some reading or chatting, school children playing, parents trying to amuse fractious toddlers . . . anything to relieve the boredom. There were several Salvation Army officers among them, who played band music to help pass the time. So it went on for a couple of hours in the intense heat, and still the numbers we not right. At last the guards realised they hadn’t counted the internee official who was accompanying them around! So, to the great relief of all, the order to dismiss was finally given.

Everyone stood up, turned, and carrying their varied belongings, or children, surged forward, eager to leave the field and the sun. All, that is, except the Salvation Army bandsmen, who stayed to play their fellows off with cheerful music. Suddenly, with great daring, they played the National Anthem - the fifteen hundred moving internees stopped as one man, dead in their tracks. Gone was boredom, forgotten the heat and the guards, backs were straightened, heads held high, not a muscle moved as they remembered King and country. Standing to attention they affirmed their loyalty to all that was dear, although hundreds of miles away.

The Japanese guards were furious; this was something completely unexpected. They shouted orders to move, no-one even noticed. They jumped up and down with rage - everyone else stayed immobile until the last note of “God save the King” had died away. The internees then dispersed, but with far lighter hearts and jauntier steps than before. The guards seized the officer who was conducting the band and took him to the guard house. He protested that he wasn’t responsible for reaction to national tunes! Mercifully he was released. I know; I was there, a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl. That was my moment of most intense patriotic feeling - “God save the King”

Entered by Petersfield Library

Albert de Zutter alphadogal@yahoo.com [weihsien_camp]
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 at 16:23
Re: [weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps

It was after two or three days of heavy rainfall. We were up to our ankles in standing rain water.

What caused the jubilation was the fact that the perimeter wall crumbled in what was left field (in baseball terms) of the playground/general roll-call field, and that happened on July 4, Independence Day. The significance of our prison wall crumbling on that day was immediately apparent to all of us.

Unlike the night-time roll-call on the occasion of Germany's surrender the next spring, there were not dozens of half-drunk armed guards present and it was full daylight.

Mary Previte mtprevite@aol.com [weihsien_camp]
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 at 13:48
Re: [weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps

Leopold, these tiny snapshots of events in Weihsien are a priceless gift to all of us. Please give us more.

Mary Taylor Previte

tapol@skynet.be [weihsien_camp]
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 at 10:53
RE: [weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps

Hi 😊

… there is an incident related to singing “God Bless America” in camp …. An excerpt from Ida Talbot’s dairy:

It happened on a fourth of July just after a very heavy rainfall.
It was peoples’ voices … not the band ! and not after roll call !

… all the best,

Roy Campbell roy.campbell79@gmail.com [weihsien_camp]
Sun, 25 Jun 2017 at 23:00
Re: [weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps

To all

My name is Maida Campbell.

I was in the Chefoo group and 15 at the end of the war.

I never heard the episode of the band playing the national anthem at roll call but I do remember being really scared the time we were called at night of VE Day.

It was my sisters boy friend who rang the bell.

I was extra scared when our neighbour in block 57 said we were all being taken out to be shot.

We had to file through the guards who had the searchlights on us and they were mad. We heard that the end result of counting us that no one was missing but they were a couple extra! Peter Bazire from Chefoo would know about anything going on with the band

Sent from my iPad

Albert de Zutter alphadogal@yahoo.com [weihsien_camp]
Sun, 25 Jun 2017 at 22:47
Re: [weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps

Dwight, I remember playing chess with your father in that very dining room!

Dwight W Whipple thewhipples@comcast.net [weihsien_camp]
Sun, 25 Jun 2017 at 22:02
Re: [weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps

I remember that dining area and the piano. My late father, Elden Whipple (1905-2004), was a gifted pianist who played and accompanied many in both the Tsingtao and Weihsien camps. I particularly remember one day after a meal in the Tsingtao dining area lagging behind and poking the keys of the piano and then looking out a window down into a courtyard and seeing a Chinese boy being beaten by the authorities. Indelibly etched in my mind. I was six years old.

-Dwight W Whipple

Albert de Zutter alphadogal@yahoo.com [weihsien_camp]
Sun, 25 Jun 2017 at 20:41
Re: [weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps

To Leopold, Janette, Brian et alia,

My immediate reaction upon reading the passage quoted by Brian was disbelief. Janette's response in French pretty well expresses my own thoughts about that passage. The most memorable general roll call in my memory had no such Hollywood ending. It was fraught with tension, as we were summoned to the playing field for a general roll call at 1 a.m. That was in retaliation for a prisoner having climbed to the tower that housed the bell and ringing it at midnight in celebration of the news that Germany had surrendered. In my memory, there was no frivolity during the entire, seemingly endless, experience that was marked by such things as drunk Japanese guards "counting" people by pointing their pistols at them instead of their fingers. I was four months short of my 13th birthday that day, and my memory of that incident is vivid.

I recall an instance in the Tsingtao internment camp when I was 10 years old. I was in the common dining room in the former Iltis Hydro Hotel where there was also a piano. I was going through some of my music on the piano, and I started playing "America," which is the same music as "God Save the King." A British subject (male) hissed at me, "Are you crazy? Stop playing that!" That would have been in November of 1942, long before things turned sour for the Japanese, yet that full-grown British man, father of one of my peers, was terrified of what the Japanese might do if I continued playing that tune. Imagine the reaction of half-drunk, armed Japanese military personnel if "God Save the King," played by a Salvation Army brass band, had burst out in the tension of that ball-field! It is much more likely, if that incident happened at all, that someone conflated the incident I described above with something that happened in Chefoo before the Chefoo school was brought to Weihsien.

Albert de Zutter

tapol@skynet.be [weihsien_camp]
Cc:'Peter Bazire'
Sun, 25 Jun 2017 at 09:00
RE: [weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps

Dear Brian,

Quite right !

A few years ago, when I had the privilege of long conversations with Father Hanquet … I don’t remember him mentioning this incident and it was exactly the kind of story he liked to talk about.

We must investigate.

I phoned Janette, … but doesn’t remember this …
I know that some families still have diaries written in camp. Those who read this message should be able to confirm or infirm. Please?

Peter Bazire who was a trumpetist in the Weihsien band will certainly remember! I’ll forward this message to him too. I trust he will be able to help 😊

Who else can help?
… all the best,

brianbutcher60@yahoo.com [weihsien_camp]
Fri, 23 Jun 2017 at 23:19
[weihsien_camp] Children of the Camps

I came across a book I had not read before, "Children Of The Camps" by Mark Felton published by Pen And Sword Military in 2011.

Wonder if any of you have read it. It details conditions leading up to internment in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia. There is a reference to an incident in Weihsien that I had never read anywhere. During a long roll call, the Salvation Army Band played lively tunes to entertain the inmates. As the prisoners were allowed to disperse, the band played God save the King. Immediately the prisoners stoped moving, stood to attention and waited as the guards screamed at them. Since we were all children at the time in Weihsien, this has some relevance to what we experienced although the stories of situations in other camps make it obvious that we were treated far better.

Mary Previte mtprevite@aol.com [weihsien_camp]
Cc:Shude Sui
Tue, 20 Jun 2017 at 01:20
Re: [weihsien_camp] new book

Contact Mr. Sui Shude, who welcomes and coordinates activities of visitors like you who had family members in Weihsien.

Mr. Sui also created and supervises the Weihsien museum now located in the building that was the hospital and also dormitory for many of us who were interned in Weihsien.

Mary Taylor Previte

Tara Gully-Hightower taragullyhightower@yahoo.com [weihsien_camp]
To:mieke kiebert-melief miekemelief@kpnmail.nl [weihsien_camp]
Tue, 20 Jun 2017 at 00:54
Re: RE: [weihsien_camp] new book


My name is Tara Gully-Hightower and I am writing because I would like to visit Weihsien camp, when I go to China in a couple of weeks July 4th-17th.

My grandfather, James Robert Hightower, was interned in Weihsien camp for the first 6 months of the war and then was repatriated during a prisoner exchange. My grandfather passed away about 10 years ago. Do any of you know of him? Do any of you have advice about visiting the camp? My grandfather must have told me the story of the camp a thousand times, and I am looking forward to seeing it for myself. Any advice or feedback is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!
Tara Gully-Hightower

Angela angelalousia@yahoo.ca [weihsien_camp]
Mon, 19 Jun 2017 at 19:43
Re: [weihsien_camp] new book [1 Attachment]*** Sure you will enjoy the book
1045 am Mon jun 19


Life & Death in Old Peking gives far more detail than Midnight in Peking.....just heard from someone who had met DR Cappuzzo - said he was creepy & with bad reputation.

Sure you/ll enjoy reading it Mieke ..

cheers angela

PS Fyi if anyone is trying to read Maida Harris Campbell please note her new e mail is roy.campbell79@gmail.com

mieke kiebert-melief miekemelief@kpnmail.nl [weihsien_camp]
Mon, 19 Jun 2017 at 16:00
[Attachment(s) from mieke kiebert-melief included below]
RE: [weihsien_camp] new book [1 Attachment]

Hi Leopold,

I also ordered it and received it a week ago!
I ‘ll let you know how it compares for me with the book Midnight in Peking

Best regards,

tapol@skynet.be [weihsien_camp]
Mon, 19 Jun 2017 at 15:54
[weihsien_camp] new book

Hi !

I just received (from amazon) the book : « Life and Death in Old Peking » complementary to the book « Midnight in Peking » written a few years ago.

Accessible on the website at:

Feedback welcome
Best regards,

Angela angelalousia@yahoo.ca [weihsien_camp]
Sat, 3 Jun 2017 at 09:54
Re: [weihsien_camp] RE: 'Life & Death in Old Peking. The Murder of Pamela Werner' by G. D. Sheppard.
1250 pm Sat June 3


Have read Midnight in Peking & thought it was pretty good by Paul French - actually wanted to take the route as outlined of Pamela in Peking but havent & its wud all be changed now - the badlands ?? Her FAther was in camp - he/s has quite a history behind him - ex consul but he & wife did pick a few flights accord to *The China Consuls* PD Coates *** maniacal quarrelsomeness was the description however a very learned scholar.

Glad to hear of this book & will order from Amazon too -

cheers angela

tapol@skynet.be [weihsien_camp]
To:'Peter Bazire',weihsien_camp@yahoogroups.com
Sat, 3 Jun 2017 at 09:15
[weihsien_camp] RE: 'Life & Death in Old Peking. The Murder of Pamela Werner' by G. D. Sheppard.

Dear Peter,

Quite correct … The book you mention in your message is not the same one as “Midnight in Peking” … the one I mentioned in the Weihsien Paintings’ website in the Weihsien-BOOKS chapter.

I just ordered the book from Amazon. Hope to get it soon !!
I shall ― of course ― add the book to the list as soon as I will be able to scan the front and cover pages and possibly other pages with the permission of the author.

Thanks again for the info 😊
Best regards,

From: Peter Bazire [mailto:psbazire@yahoo.co.uk]
Sent: Thursday, June 1, 2017 1:50 PM
To: tapol@skynet.be
Subject: 'Life & Death in Old Peking. The Murder of Pamela Werner' by G. D. Sheppard.

Dear Leopold,

I trust you are well. I have just bought the book “Life & Death in Old Peking. The murder of Pamela Werner”, by G. D. Sheppard. The author emailed me about it, as he had interviewed me a few years ago concerning a few Weihsien details he wanted to know about.

I found the book mentioned in ‘Weihsien Paintings’. Would you be able to draw attention to the book on the Weihsien Website, and to the Weihsien-camp@yahoogroup.com people? I think the author Graeme Sheppard would be grateful.

I visit Joe & Joyce Cotterill 2 or 3 times each summer. He was in the same camp room as Eric Liddell. Joyce’s father was Brigadier Len Stranks who was in charge of the Salvation Army Band in camp, and who conducted the Weihsien Symphony Orchestra. (Joe married Jeannie Hills, our Chefoo History teacher in camp. Joyce married Marcy Ditmanson after the war – he, like me, - was in the SA Band in camp. Many years ago both Jeannie and Marcy died, and some years later Joe & Joyce married.)

I hope it all right to ask you

Many thanks,
Best wishes,