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But more looting was in store for us. This time it was more down to earth. A call came from the official in charge of Government rice store in Bangsar area. Over we went and soon we faced our task. Hauling gunny sacks about two hundred pounds each in weight, was a little more than we sedentary gentlemen were ready for.  One unforgettable aside, that still haunts me was that of a screaming Indian mother holding up her baby begging for food. I got the message all right – there was no need for an interpreter – but high a top several bags of rice – that would be 20’ above her, the only thing I could do was to ignore her. What a predicament ……!

I think we made a few trips back and forth for this stuff-of-life, realising perhaps vaguely that our refugees, plus the convent refugees, elderly and not so elderly sisters and orphans and those in their would be among the beneficiaries.

Next, we got a call from Singapore Cold Storage – butter, cooking oil, etc. were ours for the taking. We loaded that and sped home to face a call from Lever Brothers Bungsar. We were on the site very quickly and took aboard cartons of toilet soap and drums of powdered soap until we dare to take no more. Cruising through the once fairly busy streets was quite an experience. Shops were closed, many shop fronts damaged, few people to be seen etc. Kuala Lumpur was dead.                     
Relaxing at tea time over a cup of tea we were suddenly alarmed by two or three earth-quaking explosions near and far. Could be this be the advance guard and kamikaze air arms at work? No, not yet. Shortly after we noticed that the ceiling fans had stopped. We tried the lights and they were gone too. British rear guard troops were desperately trying everything to give the triumphant attackers difficulties in advancing – at least that was the rumour. Not long after this, someone noticed oil dripping from inside the fridge. It turned out to be the melting butter – the loot from Singapore Cold Storage which occupied every nook and cranny. This was a new problem. We phoned the convent for advice and were told to get every container for this important food. We still had to find containers for the large amount of butter still stacked  around the dining  room. Our refugees  benefitted from this problem.  I forgot to mention that the convent had welcomed more than half of our Cold Storage loot and they often referred to it later on. I don’t think there are any sisters alive there now who would have been involved.                                

But the worst was to come! A tremendous roar from very near startled us. “What could this be?” we wondered. We soon had the answer. The Campbell bridge over the Klang River had been blown up and thousands of gallons of fresh water were pouring into the riverfrom large pipes feeding supplies from the Bukit Nanas reservoir. Our supply was soon turned off and our colony of refugees were at their wits ends.

The only answer was a bucket brigade of every available able male from the community. From our colony and from the convent colony for two or three days, we lugged water and very soon stretched muscles became the order of the day. We lugged from early morning till noon.

By this time vanguard Japanese troops were arriving and I suppose through them and the local engineers they tackled the water problem. Soon we exalted at a flow from our taps – strictly rationed.

Somehow or other, schools were ordered to reopen. This had a magic effect and seemed to promote a calm. But ugly rumours of atrocities began to filter in and were a constant source of uneasiness everywhere...
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