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Diphtheria Hospital

Heroes Remember

I didn't work at Kai Tak that long. About the middle of October we came in one night and Sergeant Major Colwill, our Company Sergeant Major called me down to his room at the end he said, “I want you to volunteer to go to work in the diphtheria hospital.” You know what I said, “No way I'm getting an extra bun out of work.” He said, “Well, if you don't volunteer I'm going to volunteer your name anyway.” And I went. We had fellows in there with dysentery and diphtheria at the same time. And one I remember was Grenadier Foxhall. We had gone in to help eat, we had to feed him and he needed a bed pan and I put him on a bed pan and finished feeding him and usually they would feebly call when they were finished and it may have been my fault I didn't get back in soon enough but it didn't matter anyway. We went in, when we went in to check he had died sitting on the bedpan. So it's ah, those are things you never forget. And I worked in that hospital until I took diphtheria and then when I, my case, it sort of gone, I guess cleared up, the diphtheria cleared up I worked in the hospital until the end of it until they closed the diphtheria hospital up. There was no more fresh cases.

Mr. Atkinson describes being 'volunteered' by his officer to work in North Point Camp's diphtheria ward. He talks about one of the patients in his care who dies while sitting on his bedpan, and how he feels in some way responsible.

Harold Atkinson

Harold Atkinson was born on February 14, 1922 in Selkirk, Manitoba. He had three siblings. His father, a First World War Veteran, died when he was nine. His family lived on relief, seven dollars a week, and he helped by delivering papers. He finished grade nine, and then in 1940 enlisted. Mr. Atkinson was eighteen when he joined the Winnipeg Grenadiers. He served in Jamaica, guarding German and Italian nationals at an internment camp. He returned to Canada and then went to Hong Kong with his unit. Mr. Atkinson fought against and was taken prisoner by the Japanese. As a prisoner, he heard several comrades bayoneted to death. Mr. Atkinson worked at Kai Tak airport and in North Point Camp's diphtheria ward. In Omini, Japan he worked as a stevedore at the shipyard. When the war ended, Mr. Atkinson was fortunate enough to be flown home.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Harold Atkinson
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Winnipeg Grenadiers
Machine Gunner

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