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I Kept Asking Where my Mother Was

Heroes Remember

I Kept Asking Where my Mother Was

We were boarded right quick onto trains and taken to Quebec. Ottawa first, Ottawa, then Quebec. The Ladies Auxiliary of our regiment had organized things for when the boys came back - came back in spurts and a few at a time, sometimes a dozen. Anyway, when I got there, I was the only one from Hong Kong. There were others from Quebec but they got off in Montreal to see the sights. When I came through Montreal, and I stopped in Montreal. I met some people there I knew - one of my uncles, one of my former teachers that was in Ottawa. Anyway, got to Quebec City and there was a big band out there playing and I got off the train. A friend of mine from Toronto had joined and got on the train with me in Ottawa. He was in the air force. So we got off the train, a big band, there was a major general or something there, a bunch of officers and some women and I was the only one there from Hong Kong. What a reception! Anyway, they asked when my train was leaving for Edmundston and I told them. I knew that ahead. I don’t know how come I knew that. And they said, “Is there anybody you know in Quebec?” Well, I said, “Not very many, I have a cousin here. I have two cousins." “Who are they?” So I told them. One of them was a manager of the Chateau Frontenac. They said, “We’ll take you up there to meet him.” It was dark by this time. I forget what time it was, nine o’clock, maybe. So they took me up to the Chateau, but George wasn’t there. But I was well received and told to come back if I could. I said, “No, I’m taking the train tonight for Edmundston.” When I arrived at the station, I got off the train and my father was there, my sisters, three or four of them, and some friends of the family. And I kept asking where my mother was. I wanted to see my mother. And when I saw my mother - we drove home, we lived on the other side of town - we drove home, in my mother’s arms, I figured I’m home. Thought that was, that was it. One of the ones that didn’t come back it’s pretty hard to, it puts me out to talk about them, you know, I had a lot of friends when I was in high school, that age. But, in the prison camp you have friends, some of them are good friends, and to lose them, well that’s a little bit rough. And since then, well, I weep for every Veteran.

Mr. Jessop touchingly describes returning home to his family and sadly reflects on those who didn’t make it home.

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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