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POW work as a Riveter

Heroes Remember

POW work as a Riveter

Ah, the Japanese lined us up and they gave us numbers, okay. My number was 209 and, and there were, there were 250 of us, Canadians. So there were 250 numbers. So they said alright from number 1 to number 42 you're going to be plate workers,steel plate. From number x to number z you're going to be something else. When it came to me, my thing, they said you're going to be a riveter. My question is "What is a riveter?" they said "Well we'll show you". I, I, I had only seen a ship when I was transported over there and another one when I went to Japan and that was my knowledge of, of, of the sea and much less working in a shipyard. So, I, I got to take a little bit of time to tell you about this because some of it is a bit, a bit amusing. Anyway, after all this thing was done, the numbering allo, number allocation and the job allocation, we were taken to the shipyard. So, I forget maybe it was 3 or 4 miles whatever it was and then you had to jog to the shipyard. And we got to the, we got to the shipyard and a whole bunch of the Japs. Everybody's talking Japanese, don't know. They'd, they'd go blah, blah, blah, and don't know. Anyway, with my group there were 3 or 4 of these Japanese detached themselves from the group and they came towards us. So we said to ourselves these guys must be bosses of some sort, okay. And they turned out to be foremen and my two foremen one was Gus and the other one we called him Geeco. Geeco is a Japanese word which means trouble. I'll tell you later why we call him Geeco. Anyway, these people didn't speak a word of English nor did we speak a word of Japanese. They proceeded to teach us how to be a riveter. This would have made a movie for John Cleese anytime because it was, it was a hilarious, a hilarious scene. These people trying to use body language and hand signs to describe the action of a pneumatic tool, such as a riveter. Never mind explaining the whole pneumatic, you know, delivery system nor explaining what you do with the bloody piece that you have in your hand. What, what's the end result of this? And this took some time, you know. And as I say, some of it was hilarious I forget, I was going to cover another point. Piggy back on this, on, on, on this here. Interviewer: Did this have to do with gerco or the? Yeah Geeco. Okay one of, one of the foreman the, the Geeco which is the Japanese word for trouble. He was a good guy. We considered him a good guy because whenever he saw the guards coming, the armed guards or, or, or tai tai cho or somebody coming, he would run to us and say geeco, geeco, geeco and he'd motion for us to hide behind a plate or behind a bulkhead. So we called him Geeco. We didn't know what the hell the word geeco meant. We, we figured that geeco was a good word you know and we called, he was a good guy and we called him trouble, which is a, which is an irony of sorts you know. But anyway, coming back to, coming back to work we finally, within a rivetting crew , it's made up of a hammer man, the biker, the guy on the forge, the fireman and the pitcher. Okay. So you have the forge over there and you're rivetting over in that corner over there. Alright. So the fireman, he's the rivet has long pair of, of, of tongs, takes the rivet and he flips the rivet in the air and depending how strong his arm is, that rivet would travel quite a distance and the catcher would catch that rivet. Alright. And he will place that rivet in the hole. And the bunter or the biker has a hammer with a blunt head or with a, with a rivet shaped head and goes up against that, that, that, the rivet and the guy with the hammer's on the other side and he rivets that white hot rivet against the plate. That was my job. I was a hammer man. I weighed 89 pounds. The hammer was, weighed almost as much as I did, but anyway and I got to be damn good riveter by the way.

Mr. Cyr describes his work as a riveter in the shipyard at Camp 3D.

Roger Cyr

Roger Cyr was born on March 6, 1922 at New Richmond in the Gaspé region of Québec. He was the oldest of nine children. His siblings were four brothers and four sisters. His father was a lineman for an electrical company in the United States. He eventually returned to Canada and worked as a chef with Canadian National Railways. Roger enlisted in late 1941 with the Royal Rifles of Canada. In late October 1941, he and hundreds of other members of the Canadian Army left Vancouver, arriving in the British colony of Hong Kong on November 14, 1941.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Roger Cyr
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Royal Rifles of Canada

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