The Official Website of Author Janet Whitter

About the Book

Through her book, with the clear eyes of a child, Janet recalls events in her war-torn, uprooted childhood such as:

  • Early days as a bi-lingual child in Japan
  • Arrival as a refugee in Australia
  • Life on a sheep station and in a New South Wales provincial town
  • Wartime sea journeys on troopships in dangerous waters
  • Unrest in India during the last wartime days of the British Raj
  • Unhappiness aged seven in a restrictive Himalayan boarding school
  • Temporary freedom in the Cumbrian countryside
  • Americanisation in the bourgeois suburbs of Washington DC
  • New York to San Francisco by 1st Class Pullman
  • Daily Sunday School with Seventh Day Adventists across the Pacific
  • Unrest and hyperinflation in the International Treaty Port of Shanghai, awaiting the arrival of Mao's Communists
  • Life in besieged Peking
  • The beginning of modern Hong Kong
  • The shock of arrival in austerity Britain
  • Learning to be approved of in Barrow in Furness
  • Surviving English boarding school, with parents abroad in Ceylon
  • Coping and thriving in a girls grammar school until freedom and final departure for Oxford

Janet makes first-hand, candid observations on the kaleidoscopic sequence of her ever-changing environment. Her unselfconscious pragmatic resolutions of dangers and difficulties encountered, and her analysis of the changing relationships with parents and family provide a thought-provoking account of development from childhood through adolescence to adulthood.

Believing that this type of memoir is only valuable to the extent that it is frank and truthful, sometimes uncomfortably so, Janet would like to take the opportunity of asking for YOUR help in correcting, corroborating and supplementing her childhood memories, some of them from very early years.

She would particularly welcome input from anyone with information about the following:

DatePlaces & Events
1935-40International Community at Shioyu (Kobe) Japan, especially 'Rising Sun' (Shell Oil Co) employees.
Late 1940Evacuees from Japan heading for Australia, New Zealand, attacks by German auxiliary cruiser 'Komet'(alias 'Semyon Dezhnev', alias 'Donau' alias 'Manyo Maru') on allied shipping North East of New Guinea, New Britain archipelago.
1941-42Evacuation of war-refugees from Sydney to western New South Wales, possibly Goulburn area. Life on sheep stations, especially that of McGaw family (Three children, daughter Faye or Fay, mid 1930's). Information concerning 'radio school' or 'radio doctor'.
1942-44Armidale, New South Wales, Australia. Information about this town at that time especially the teachers training college, the primary school system, any arrangements for the reception of war refugees.
1945-46Darjeeling. St Michaels Diocesan School (Anglican Convent boarding). Budge-Budge on Hooghly River (distributary of the Ganges) near Calcutta.
1946Hallthwaites, near Millom, Cumberland, UK.
1946-47Community of Cherrydale, Arlington, Virginia, USA and its local Grade (primary) schools
1947-49China: Shanghai expat community, especially Shanghai British School, Cercle Sportif Français, Country Club (American). Shell Oil Co. connections, especially compound in Rue Ratard, French Concession, also Peking under siege, 1948.
1949-52Fairfield PNEU School (boarding) Ambleside, Westmorland, also Charlotte Mason College, Ambleside, both now closed.
1952 – 1956Barrow Grammar School for Girls, now closed

How to get involved:

Janet would welcome anecdotes,comments and historical data from anyone who lived in Japan, Australia, India, USA, China or UK during the relevant periods. Feedback of any kind is gratefully received. If in doubt, send it in!
Get in touch here.
Read a sample chapter of the book here.