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Eventually They Let Us Come up on Deck

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Eventually They Let Us Come up on Deck

Well, if you were able to walk then you could get on the draft. That is to say, they would put you on the draft. Because they wanted able-bodied people, but the walking didn’t have to be all that great. They were willing to take anybody, really. What they wanted was slave labour. I would have stayed in Hong Kong rather than go to Japan, because nobody really wants to go into slave labour, not willingly. The ship was a small, I would say it’s, it would be maybe 300 fee long, something like that, or less. And it had, there were about 300 if I remember correctly, on board - prisoners. But they also had Japanese soldiers going back on leave, and it was very crowded. You had to sleep in shifts, you know, you couldn’t, because you were so close together. And at first you weren’t allowed up on deck at all, and it was stifling. Very, very hot. And eventually they allowed us to come up on deck at night and the only latrine was two boards just outside, the same as they had in North Point Camp, just on the side of the ship. So that’s where you went. There we had two cups of rice a day. One in the morning and one at night. That was it. And then we got to Formosa and there was a submarine scare. American submarines were in the area. We were actually with a small convoy. So we, actually, were laid up in Formosa for about 2 weeks. Now, I’ve talked to other guys, and some of them were on the ship and they don’t recall that, but it’s with me in my mind and it’s - we wer there about two weeks because it was hot, and it was terrible there. And they did bring some fruit from Formosa, so we had a li bit of fruit there. But once we got on the way, everything went back to two cups of rice a day and that was it, until we got to Osaka. We went in through the inland sea. And we got to Osaka, and I think that’s just across the way from Kyoto, I think it was Two cities, one facing the other. We were in Osaka and they just loaded us on trains and they gave us a little box of rice with a few daikon, that’s radish, slices on top and that was it. So that did us for the whole day till we got to Niigata.

Mr. Babin describes being drafted to a Japanese labour camp, and the voyage by ship to Japan

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
Royal Rifles of Canada
Ambulance Driver

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