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Take a Step Forward and I Will Cut Your Head Off!

Heroes Remember

Take a Step Forward and I Will Cut Your Head Off!

They were people that had no, no sense of feeling, that’s the impression we got, anyway. But they wouldn’t hesitate to, if you walked by you had to salute them every time you went by. If you didn’t salute them, you would get a bayonet or a slap in the face or, they weren’t hesitant about meting out any kind of punishment. Our medical officer was in charge, Major Crawford, and he, along with all the rest of them, were slapped and, as a matter of fact, there was, we were told, this was the understanding that I had at the time, and most of them understood the same thing, but through an interpreter, this Japanese officer said, I guess he was a medical officer, a Japanese medical officer, and he said, “If you think you’re doing your job”, now this is what he said, “If you think you’re doing your job, take a step forward, and I will cut your head off.” Now, would you have stepped forward? One man did. Les Farley stepped forward. And, of course, they didn’t cut his head off, they just said he was a brave man. But they came down and they gave the rest of us a swat in the face for not doing our job in the hospital. And it wasn’t our fault, it was their fault for not providing, of course, the proper medical facilities. Anyway, that was just one incident of many, really. I had an awful pain in the side, I couldn’t figure out what it was, and it occurred to me that I was hit with a rifle and it had cracked a rib. And when I went to see the doctor about it, he said, “You’ve cracked a rib. We can’t do anything about it", but he said “you’ve cracked a rib.” And I couldn’t, for the life of me, what it was, but, you know, they were always doing this sort of thing and that’s what it was. If you resisted, they would beat you, really, to unconsciousness or death. And if they were the type that were carrying swords they could probably, they would probably take the sword out and lop your head off.

Mr. Babin describes intimidation by Japanese guards

Alfred Joseph Babin

Alfred Joseph Babin was born in Moncton, New Brunswick, on October 15, 1921. He was one of five children. His father was a carpenter. Mr. Babin completed grade 8, but left school to work at the local 5 & 10 to help support his family. When old enough, he enlisted, citing better income as his reason. He first joined the New Brunswick Rangers, but quickly transferred to the Carleton and York Regiment. Basic training only consisted of infantry drills. He then joined the Royal Rifles, performing guard duties at the airbase in Gander, Newfoundland. After arriving in Hong Kong, Mr. Babin was volunteered as an ambulance driver, in which capacity he served until Hong Kong surrendered. Mr. Babin recalls in clear detail, life in the POW camps and slave labour in the coal yards near Niigata. After safely returning to Canada, Alfred Babin remained in the Canadian Armed Forces as a member in the military band.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Alfred Joseph Babin
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Royal Rifles of Canada
Ambulance Driver

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