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You’ll be Going to an Interesting Place

Heroes Remember

You’ll be Going to an Interesting Place

I was walking down the street one day, one of the days I was home on this embarkation date. And this, there was an army, it had to be a Dodge of some kind, a car, a camouflage was parked in front of the Royal Hotel restaurant. Out walks this major general. Up with the salute. He started talking to me. He said, “Are you with the Royal Rifles?” I said, “Yeah.” “Well,” he said, “you’ll be going to an interesting place. You’ll be well off.” Because he knew probably we were going to Hong Kong. And at that time, Hong Kong was no problem for anybody. The Chinese were still fighting the Japs. And the Germans were pretty far from Hong Kong. He figured we were going to a nice place. He didn’t tell me it was Hong Kong. We figured maybe India, we didn’t know really. Oh, we went back to Valcartier. We were in Valcartier then and they started handing out summer clothing. This was early October, I think. Summer equipment, so I said, “We’re going to Egypt, someplace.” We had no idea, No idea at all, at all, at all. And that’s, when I stop and think about it, which is very seldom, it’s strange that it didn’t leak out. That’s what I find, that we were going to Hong Kong. And we got on the train, that was a miserable trip across the country. We had some old trains that had sleepers. We had sleepers. We couldn’t sleep because all our equipment was up in the upper bunks. But these were old sleeper cars. They had cane, you know what cane is? Like chairs that are made with bamboo and that sort of thing. Well, the upper bunks there had cane for support. Maybe just as a decoration, I don’t know, but anyway. But we were well fed there. Got out to Vancouver and I was soon aboard the boat Awatea, which was an Australian boat.

Mr. Jessop describes his trip to British Columbia for embarkation.

James Robert Jessop

James Robert Jessop was born in Edmunston, New Brunswick, in 1921. He and his twin brother were the eldest sons among nine children. His father worked full-time as a mechanic at the local pulp mill. Mr. Jessop recalls having had good teachers in school, where he also played hockey and rugby. He eventually worked at Fraser’s Mill for twenty-four cents an hour, but enlisted in 1940 for the prospect of better wages. He applied for and was accepted into the Royal Canadian Air Force, but switched to the Royal Rifles to be with his brother. Before leaving for Hong Kong, Mr. Jessop trained and served in several places in Newfoundland. Mr. Jessop’s experiences in the Hong Kong campaign were typical; forced to surrender and work as slave labor in both Sham Shui Po and Omine, malnourished, ravaged by disease and subjected to abuse at the hands of his captors. He also witnessed first hand the devastation of Nagasaki. Mr. Jessop’s service ends with a touching family reunion and a heartfelt sense of loss for his fallen friends.

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

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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