Catching Up and Winding Down

June 20, 1955

Dear Dad & Russ,

I’m so far behind in my letter-writing that I honestly don’t know just where to begin. By this time you will have received my Hong Kong story and I do hope it will keep you busy until you receive this letter. As you can see by the length of it, it took me the good part of one week’s spare time to get the whole thing on paper.

Things around here have changed so much in the past few weeks. I think I mentioned in one of my recent “hasty notes” that Errol Wyse is with us now from Tokyo. Also, Mr. Duder returned to Canada last Tuesday. It was a sad day indeed for the entire Delegation. Mr. Duder had won the respect and admiration of not only our Delegation, but of the Poles and indians as well. Things will just never be quite the same now that he is gone. Maj.-Gen. [Eric] Snow has taken over as the Acting Commissioner until Mr. Duder’s replacement arrives in August. Mr. Duder may be giving you a phone call when he arrives in Ottawa.

Tomorrow our new steno arrives from Ottawa, and Hap is expecting to be posted to Hanoi for a month before he goes home. Around the middle of July some of our chaps are heading back home. We have a new Political Advisor here now from Ottawa and Mr. Murray, whom he succeeded, leaves for Ottawa at the end of the month. As you can see, things are certainly changing around here and it is very sad to see all the old familiar faces leaving. It is sad, I should say, for those still left behind!! There is even talk of air-conditioning our office! That, to may way of thinking, is going to take all the fun our of Phnom Penh!

In spite of all the fun and excitement and adventure that this very unusual posting has been, I’m beginning to get very weary of the whole thing. It will be nice to get back into a good old “routine” and be able to live with civilized white people again. Yes, the day I leave the jungle for the last time will indeed be a very happy one. But I certainly have no regrets. It’s been the most wonderful experience for me, especially when you consider my age. But, as I said, I am becoming very weary of this primitive existence and all the hardships that go with it.

At five to eleven this morning and up until 10 minutes to 12, we were fortunate enough to witness a partial eclipse of the sun. The morning was very clear and very bright – nice blue sky and all. You just can’t imagine how an eclipse looks in this part of the world, where the sun is usually so bright!! Everything turned pink and looked very weird indeed in a sort of half-light effect!

And I received a very nice souvenir of Mr. Duder’s departure for Canada. It is an enlargement of a photo taken at the airport just before Mr. Duder got aboard the plane. It shows all the Canadian Delegation in a great long line shaking hands with Mr. Duder. And who do you think he was shaking hands with when the photographer took the picture? You guessed it – yours truly!! It’s rather too big to send home in the dip bag so I shall just keep it with me till I return.

Mr. Duder departing Phnom Penh, June 1955
Errol Wyse to David’s left (NFB photo)

Someone used David's camera to get this shot

 David took this shot before Mr. Duder got to him

I nearly forgot to mention that I’m going up to Hanoi on Thursday and coming back to Phnom Penh on Sunday. Although I was in Hanoi last September, it shall be interesting to see a city now under the Communist regime – “behind the Bamboo Curtain”. I’ll tell you about it next letter.

Lots of love,



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