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Heroes Remember

We had been, we were in doing kind of a rear guard in a house and I was, had been named platoon runner which sounds good, you take messages back and forth from the senior officer to the guys out fighting. So I was in the, this one house where the officer was and we could hear some of our guys firing from a house higher up. So the lieutenant told me, “Go see what’s going on, we need to know what’s happening, what they can see!” Because we couldn’t see any enemy. So I went up there and they had a real neat situation that they were across this deep gulley was a road and the road had been cut through a rock so they could see the Japanese Army moving up that road and they had to pass through that cut either that or get up on the bald open hill. And they were just at a nice angle that they could pick up a Bren gun and fire into this cut and the ricochets would catch these guys. So they were having a lot of fun, every time they tried to pull up towards this cut, one of the guys would pick up a rifle and chase him into the cut and another guy would pick up the Bren gun and blast him out again which was fine for about half an hour and then they’d turn mortars on the house again. So we got the heck out of there. But to get out of this house we had to go across a little bridge and before that the bridge was wide open, wasn’t very long maybe twenty or thirty feet but it only had about eight or ten inches of parapets on it so the only hope you had was to hit that thing running, but how do you run with two boxes of ammunition, one haversack full of hand grenades, another haversack full of rifle ammunition, a rifle across your back, a gas mask which we had to wear. Anyway, I ambled across the bridge, never got hit but when I finally, that evening I was looking and I wasn’t wearing a uniform, I was wearing coveralls because they were more comfortable in the heat than our wool uniforms, even our cotton, desert uniforms but I think I counted 12 or 13 machine gun or bullet holes through the legs of my coveralls and not one of them touched me.

Mr. Gyselman is designated a platoon runner who is sent to the front and witnesses a deadly ambush set for the Japanese. Eventually, the enemy regroups and a mortar attack drives the Canadians from their position. Heavily loaded down and under enemy fire, Mr. Gyselman escapes. He later notices that his pants legs are full of bullet holes.

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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