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Destination Hong Kong

Heroes Remember

Destination Hong Kong

Wherever we were there was no time for training so, actually, I got more training in Aldershot, I was with Karl and York then I did with the Royal Rifles. So that shows how much training we had. When we went across to Vancouver and got on board a uh, it was a New Zealand ship (inaudible) The very first day actually it was quite bad there because they wanted to serve tripe and of course Canadians weren’t up to tripe so a lot of them threatened to walk off. And I guess what happened is they got rid of the tripe because we didn’t get any. Actually when we got to Pearl Harbour, they told us not to say anything to the people on the docks, not to call out, if they asked us, not to tell them where we were from or what not. However, that was defeated because the fellows were throwing coins, Canadian coins on the docks you know to the band and the dancing girls and so on. So really it didn’t matter very much what we said. There were rumours when we were going across that, the fellas were talking and some of them had read or heard about it so they had some idea that the Japanese would be fighting quite soon. They were in China so it was just a matter of time before they got down to Hong Kong. Quite depressing actually but you could smell it before you got there on board ship, I guess they call it the oriental perfume. The harbour was quite adequate, a nice harbour. So we landed in Kowloon and we got off the ship and marched up to Sham Shui Po barracks. And of course it was different, very different to what it is today. The sleeping facilities were just iron, actually iron cots with ticks on them. You know like biscuits I guess they called them. We were used to the single mattress, but they had biscuits, two biscuits to each bed and the beds kind of slid one into the other and were heavy wrought-iron beds and with a mosquito net. I remember the first thing we saw was a mosquito net. It was rolled and was tied in a knot so it just hung there above the bed. And at night the houseboy would come along and undo the mosquito net and drape it around the cot. So it was ready for you when you went to bed. I wasn’t really in the infantry. I was in battalion headquarters and my work consisted of first aid and that type of thing, stretcher bearing details and so on, and I was also in the band. So between all of that there was no time for any training of any other kind, really.

Mr. Babin describes sailing for Hong Kong, reaching Sham Shui Po barracks and his limited training. He briefly describes his responsibilities at battalion headquarters.

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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