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Finally Free

Heroes Remember

Well, we didn’t go out to work for one thing, which was unusual because that was only one day a year that we hadn’t been going out to work up until then. And this went on for two or three days and finally they announced that the war was over and that they would stay there to guard us against their civilians which was fine because I remember another little guy from the Rifles and I were sleeping next door to each other in the so called hospital so we decided we might as well see some of this city. But first we had a couple of guys down at the foundry we wanted to have a little chat with and I had had a little knife that I had made out of some stuff we had stolen from the foundry. So I stuck that on my belt and away we went down to the foundry and, of course, any of the guys we wanted to knife, I couldn’t find and we’d probably got killed anyway if we tried which was probably lucky. So that didn’t work out well so the next morning we still wanted to see some of the city so we went out to the guard house and grabbed a young kid looking guard and took him with us because we were both on crutches, we weren’t walking, didn’t want to walk very far but we got downtown. We saw one of their trucks coming so we told the guy to commandeer the truck. So we stopped the truck and we climbed in the cab. And they were funny because they didn’t have any gasoline by this time and these trucks were running on natural gas which was a big bag on the back, took up almost the whole box. Anyway we got downtown and we went to a show and then we went to a restaurant and then we went back to camp again. There was nothing to buy, we had no money anyway but we did get to have a real Japanese meal.

Mr. Gyselman discusses events immediately following the Japanese surrender. His initial reaction is to head for the mine with the intention of knifing his Japanese guards, who are nowhere to be found. Later he and a friend head to town, hijack a truck and go to a Japanese restaurant.

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
Winnipeg Grenadiers
Truck Driver

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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