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There Were six Hundred of Them

Heroes Remember

There Were six Hundred of Them

On Christmas day, well, we were alerted that we were going out to clean out the village. On the isthmus, to this peninsula, there was a small village. There was mostly cottages. There was a prison right handy, too. And God knows if there were any prisoners there or not, I never found out. But we were to go down across a cemetery and into the village and clean out the village. There were thirty or forty Japanese troops there, that’s what we were told. Cripes, there were six hundred of them. The first ones I saw were - actually, the group I was with, 18R Platoon, we were the last to go in. There was a sergeant there from another platoon. I don’t know what platoon he was in. He was a lead coming around the prison wall, big concrete wall. See, what we did over the hill from Stanley Barracks went over the hill down along the seashore and walked around and we came to this prison. This was a penitentiary, like. And, anyway, I can see the guy now. He looked around the corner and he turned around with a big smile and he said, “Jeez, there’s about six hundred of them.” You could seem them. They were in the cemetery. And he probably saw them, some moving around in the village. So we, not me, I wasn’t there. I was there but I was coming up in the rear. So the guys went forward. My brother was in the 17 platoon then, I think, 17 platoon. He was a corporal. They went into the village, anyway, and cleaned up pretty much and we came up the rear like, in through the cemetery - had all kinds of dead Jap soldiers there. Some weren’t dead yet but they soon were. And we went into the village, went into one of the cottages and there was firing going on there, the guys had spread out, the village. And a couple of things I remember was that, one fellow rounded the side of the cottage and said, “Look Corporal, look! I’ll never get killed now.” His rifle butt had been struck by bullets and it broke off like a baseball bat, splintered. And he went around and I never saw him again, got killed. Another thing that was funny, one of the guys was cursing. Boys, he was cursing something terrible, one of our guys. But one of them, an American, had joined, crossed over in Buffalo someplace and joined the Canadian Army. He said, “Look, look Corporal! Do you see them?” We were looking out the window of one of the cottages. I said, “No, I don’t see anything.” “Right there in the tree,” he said. “I don’t see them, I couldn’t see him either.” He said, “I’m gonna get him!” And he brought his rifle and he was shaking like this. So I said, “Hold on a second!” And I put the rifle barrel on my shoulder. It was kinda close there but he steadied down and he fired and the guy fell out of the tree. He got him.

Mr. Jessop describes his final engagement with the Japanese.

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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