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Bad guard - good guard

Heroes Remember

Bad guard - good guard

We had one guy, he had various names - Pistol Pete, Cyclone Pete, the Japanese name escapes me but Cyclone Pete had gone to Tokyo the day before and when he was on duty we always were searched when we came in from work. And he was away so we each had a loot bag full of raw soy beans and we got in and lined up to bango, to number off for roll call and who out of the office comes but Cyclone Pete and he got up on his hill, his little mound because he was so short he had a hill, he could look over the men and we knew what was going to happen and he had a fellow with him. Taffy Richards was in the rank behind me, well when the guard searched his bag and found the soy beans and “Nonda canaro (sp)” I won't use, interpret it but “What's this you s.o.b.?” And he backed up and when he backed up he hit me and I went ahead and my jacket fell off and the guard was searching the guy next to me and he pulled my haversack around and pulled my beans out. Well, I say now we looked at Cyclone Pete, he was clapping because here he was going to show his friend from Tokyo how he handled prisoners of war. He stood us at attention and he went to work on Taffy Richards first. As I say I was lucky in that sense, with his fists and we stood there and took it. If you fell to the ground they put the boots to you so you braced yourself and you took those blows. Then he went and got some black ink or paint or whatever they use to do their writing with and in Japanese characters he wrote stealers on our foreheads. And we stood at attention in front of the guard house all night long. The dockyard gang came out the next morning to go to work and we figured oh we're going to stay, they'll put us in the guard house. No, “Line up!” We lined up, march out to work, no breakfast. March out to work and Sibiason when we got out there; Mack Haws had learned to speak Japanese pretty good and he was one of our sergeants and thank God he did. He saved us a lot over the length of time we were in Japan. Sibiason looked at our foreheads, “stealer” and he said, “Mack, anunda?” (Mack, what happened?) And Mack told him that we got caught stealing soy beans and old Sibiason laughed. You know what he did, he told Richards and I to go in the mess shack and go to sleep. Mack told him we hadn't had any breakfast and had been up all night so that's what I say. Sibiason was a good guard, a good civilian.

Mr. Atkinson describes the punishments he and a comrade received after being caught smuggling stolen soybeans into their camp in Niigata. They are beaten, branded as thieves, and forced to stand at attention all night. The following day, they're back to work as usual. When their guard at the shipyard finds out what had happened, he allows them to sleep for the day.

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
Winnipeg Grenadiers
Machine Gunner

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