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I Remember the First Night Like it Happened Last Night

Heroes Remember

I Remember the First Night Like it Happened Last Night

We went down the road a piece to help the “C” company of the Royal Rifles to retreat from Limoon Barracks where they had been stationed up on the coast, like on the hills. And they got pushed out of there and there was some bad things happened there. I remember the first night like it happened last night. We were down on the side, on a slope, side of a hill. There’s a road, the main highway was down below. And they were shelling us. And this was when the “C” company was retreating from... and I emptied my bowels, not in my... I got my pants down fast enough. And I’m not afraid to say, boy, it was quite a... I had heard, you know, that expression, that... empty your bowels when you’re scared. Well, I was scared. I had two kids from Toronto who were reinforcements just before we went overseas. Our ranks weren’t filled up when the regiment was sent overseas. So we got reinforcements from Toronto, the basic depots there they had. And one of them, nice, nice kid, jeez he was nice kid he was, he was a machine gunner, Bren, he was on a section I had. And he said, “Look at that, Corporal.” And coming up the street was this officer and he had his sword out, I don’t know why, and he had a whole platoon of soldiers behind him, Japanese. And they opened their Bren gun. Holy boys, talk about guys scatter. And then we moved back because, cripes, we were all alone, actually. Our section had moved back a little further but we had sort of been held there to, well, to give them a chance to move back. So it was our turn to move back. It’s hard to describe because, things happened once... I was never as close to the enemy, as close, well, I was closer than that, actually. Because it ended up that I was reported killed. I was reported, and my brother got a report that I’d been killed. Because, I forget his name now, a fellow from, not Gaspé, I don’t think, but Campbellton. What the hell was his name, I can’t remember his name. Porter Pratt, I don’t know if I should mention individual names. He was about my size, my build and he was dressed the way I was. He had a battle jacket and fatigue pants, long fatigue pants. It was cold there in Hong Kong in the winter time, it could get pretty cool. So we were wearing fatigue pants. And anyway, he crossed, he was running across and he got hit and they reported that was me because I was in the vicinity but eventually I got around that

Mr. Jessop describes his first taste of combat and being mistakenly reported as dead.

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

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