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Heroes Remember Presents The Battle of Hong Kong POW

Heroes Remembers Presents


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Heroes Remember Presents The Battle of Hong Kong POW

We were taken prisoner on December 25th, 1941. Christmas Day. "Savage Treatment" The Japanese culture has little regard for prisoners of war. The Japanese treatment of the Canadian prisoners and all of their prisoners was savage in the extreme. I also seen them take the nurses out of Bowen Road Hospital and rape them while they held machine guns on us and then slit them wide open with the bayonets. And I still have nightmares over it, I wake up just screaming. And we couldn’t do nothing because they had two machine guns there and two on the other side, like so, in case anybody moved. Kilfoil had been wounded and couldn’t keep up and all that the Jap guard did was just cut him out and we continued on and we heard Kilfoil scream but we just can imagine what happened. And they would bayonet them right there and then. One would hit him from the front, one would hit them from the back and the guys never yelled out or anything, they just gave a grunt and went down. Then the Japanese took control and they took us into the fields. I don't know where exactly. Somewhere on the island of Hong Kong. They stripped us of our clothes, the whole damn gang and handed us g-strings. That's all we had for four long years. We would get beaten for the stupidest reasons. We had an interpreter. They called him "Slap Happy." He'd get us up in the middle of the night, the whole crew. He would skip over one of us, beat three or four and then we'd stay there an hour, hour and a half. Afterwards, you'd go back to bed. "Starvation" It takes about 3000 calories to keep a person, a hard working person alive. We were fed about twelve hundred. We all suffered from hunger. We woke up at night because we were hungry. It was just boiled rice but it was full of rat dirt, maggots. The sight of it made us sick. We didn't want to eat it. It was full of little white maggots, like rice. And we had to eat that. Eat it or starve to death. There was no meat. Well, maybe just a taste now and then. Once there was a prisoner, ravaged by an illness like diphtheria or something serious like that. He was losing his strength, his muscles and everything and couldn't get it back. There was no protein. Nothing like that. A big man needs more. So, you could see these big men, two hundred pounds and up, they didn’t last too long. He lost his weight so fast he was down to under a hundred pounds. His hide hung right almost to his knees like a skirt. If they wanted 500 guys to work, only 500 were fed. If you didn't work in Japan, you weren't fed. "Disease and Death" There was almost no medical supplies, people died of things like diphtheria because the Japanese refused to give us any serum. And these people were lying there just skin and bones and it’s no word of a lie, there was just skin and bones. It was terrifying there. You'd be talking to a guy one evening and the next day he was dead. Gone. We had nothing to offer them except encouragement. And a pat on the back. If we had a sickness you had to either pull through or die. I’ve seen guys in the huts and die right in front of me because they were spewing out blood. You can’t imagine the smell of dry blood in the heat. It was sweet sickening smell, it was terrible, really terrible. If you had a decent pair of boots or remnants of a uniform you would be called upon to carry a body maybe as many as four or five times in a day. There was guys that was 6 foot 2 and there was little coffins about 5 foot long. But with a bayonet in my back the Japanese asked me to saw their legs off so they would fit in there. How could I do that? They didn’t do military burials anymore because the sound of The Last Post was too much, couldn’t take it. "Labour Camps" Now war is a terrible thing but slavery is a hell of a lot worse, they refused to obey the principles of the Geneva Convention. Well, I would say that probably Dante’s Inferno would have been a picnic compared to that coal mine. You got to the top of the mine. And you saw the steam rising. It was so hot.

A coal mine.

The temperature varied between 95 and 120 degrees. You worked in the water up to your knees because there was water everywhere. The pump didn't work properly. Our bodies swelled up from the heat. After three months, my morale was gone. Practically all of us wanted to die. They'd tell you, “You had a good day’s work.” Tomorrow, instead of doing 10 cars you’ll do 12 cars so we'd do 12 cars and it just kept going. They always wanted more. It’s unbelievable how much work a human being can do when we were as skinny as we were. We were skeletons walking around with skin pulled over us and we still worked like slaves. If you didn’t, you died. And I said to Mount Fuji everyday, “You didn’t get me yesterday you so and so you won’t get me today either.” And I think this was the attitude of most of our guys, you know. It was a will to live. So the story is about the Canadian spirit three thousand miles from home with no hope.

Canadian prisoners of war

They never gave up.

Canadian veterans describe first-hand experiences of being a prisoner of war in the the Battle of Hong Kong.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
November 28, 2016
Person Interviewed:
Heroes Remember Presents
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Hong Kong

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