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Who’s the Enemy?

Heroes Remember

They had little mountain howitzers they were fond of using, maybe two inch shells they fired, little wooden wheel. One man could pull the thing around the mountain trail. They were a neat little piece of equipment. Anyway, they turned that on this post because they knew exactly where we were and everything and anyway, our platoon sergeant had been shot through the face and he was laying in this pill box and this door there, this observation window came in and kind of buckled like a half round and just settled over him as neat as could be. So then one of us went up, Lieutenant Berket was up on top of this, it was a bit of a depression up above it so we snuck up to ask him what are we going to do now and he was kind of full of bullet holes so he said, “Well, you might as well get out, there’s nothing more we can do here. We can’t hold it.” So I think it was only about four of us left that were mobile. And we started down the slit trench, we could cut over a little bit and there was a water course going down the hill, a real steep water course but it was sort of protected from the machine gun fire down below. So we got going down that thing and one of the guys, I don’t know whether he got hit in the foot then or what but he said, “Help me, help me, I can’t walk.” So I looked back and here he had been shot through the foot. So I got him on my back, I figured I will give him a hand for a few feet until we got down in shelter and so I gotta kind of jump from rock to rock down this water course with this guy on my back. We get about a quarter of the way down and there’s much heavier machine gun fire coming up the water course. So I looked and here the British Royal Scots had pulled into position there and they’re shooting at us. So somebody had a, one of us had a white handkerchief, we yanked a twig off a tree and tied that white handkerchief to it, waved it and the Scots stopped firing and we got down to them, very grateful to get down to them I’ll tell you because they had Bren gun carriers and quite a bunch of men and everything so told them what had happened, “You try and make your way back to your own quarters, we’ll have them cleared out of there by morning.” Of course he never did but...

Mr. Gyselman describes being shelled by miniature Japanese howitzers, which inflicts serious casualties and forces the remaining men to retreat. Escaping along a water course, the men are mistakenly fired upon by their British allies. They show the white flag, and are granted safe passage by the British.

Harry Gyselman

Harry Gyselman was born on February 11, 1920 in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan. His father left the insurance business to farm, but went broke during the depression. After his father’s death, Mr. Gyselman worked odd jobs to support his family. Initially interested in joining the Air Force, he opted to join a friend who was enlisting with the Winnipeg Grenadiers. Mr. Gyselman was a truck driver during the battle of Hong Kong, and was in the POW camp in Niigata, Japan when the war ended. He has the distinction of being the first Canadian POW to reach mainland North America after the war.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
October 10, 2000
Person Interviewed:
Harry Gyselman
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Winnipeg Grenadiers
Truck Driver

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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