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I was Going to Kill him ‘cuz I was Scared to Death

Heroes Remember

I was Going to Kill him ‘cuz I was Scared to Death

Oh, some of them were bastards, but most of them were alright. Oh yeah, most of them. They were ex-soldiers and some of them were terrible and made my life miserable, a couple of them. Oh yeah, the first guy I had was Ichi Buntai Jo, little son of a gun. I hated him. He was bad. They’d slap you around just to show their, I don’t know, superiority, I suppose. And then San Buntai Jo, he was a bad bugger. Was it San Buntai? It was like, number three platoon, San Buntai, san, san was three. San Buntai. Buntai was an element of a work force, like a platoon. Only platoons are small. There’s only twenty something men in it. Anyway, I did everything possible to make things miserable for them and they got wise after a while. I was sort of a leader, I guess, the cause of trouble and mishaps in the mine and he had me, this was after the period that I worked in hard rock, we went into the coal scene. And, long story short there, he brought me down to a portion of the coal face that was really dangerous, really dangerous. And he had me work there, mucking the coal. And it wasn’t all pure coal, there was a lot of rock. So I would sort that out and they had me working down there alone and he was sitting up 10 or 15 feet from me. And every now and again something would fall from the ceiling, small bits, but when that happened you knew there was a larger fall that was going to come. It always happened. I was sweating it and I was scared and I said if he gets any closer before the sky falls in on me, I’m gonna kill him. I had this hoe, I described, it wasn’t a nice round hoe like that. It was out this way and this way and here and these points were jagged. It was for digging in the muck and I said, “He’s going to get a swipe of this before I’m done.” Sure enough, he moved in closer to me and I was just about getting ready to let him have it. He had no arms or anything. He only had a little stick, a walking stick. I was going to let him have it and I was serious too. I was going to kill him. Because I was scared to death. Well, all of a sudden, he says, Yo si ke. Well that meant, “Lets get out of here.” We got out, we just went twenty yards or so to the rest of the guys working and all of a sudden - BOOM! Down she came, where we had been. That was about the worst experience I ever had.

Mr. Jessop describes being disciplined in the mine for acts of sabotage he had instigated. He describes his fear during a close call at the rock face.

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
Royal Rifles of Canada

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