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Stark Raving Mad

Heroes Remember

Well, we were pretty disappointed because there was two regiments. There was one regiment of Sikhs and one regiment of Punjabis and they just laid down their arms and switched sides with the Japanese; surrendered to them and said they would help them. It was pretty disgusting. There was a lot of Hong Kong volunteers though. They fought to the finish. I don’t remember too much about it. There is only one thing that sticks in my mind a bit is we were at the Aberdeen Reservoir and the major that was with us, he drank our rum ration. He was drunk, and he was waving a pistol around. I was on a Vickers machine gun and every time he pointed it toward me I swung the machine gun on to him. But he did shoot one of the corporals, Corporal Jackson, in the shoulder with his revolver. He just was stark raving mad. We held our position there and then orders came in that we were to pile our arms and surrender, that they had surrendered the island. The governor of the island had surrendered the island to the Japanese because they had supposedly had poisoned some of the reservoirs because that is where they got their water from and they were going to poison the remainder of them if we didn’t surrender. When they told us to pile our arms, I smashed mine. At that time I didn’t have a machine gun. I had a Japanese rifle that I had taken off a dead Jap that I had killed. I was using a Japanese rifle, most of the boys were.

Mr. Lowe offers some insights into the effect of battle on group and individual soldiers, and in particular warning off one of his own officers with his machine gun.

Garfield Lowe

Garfield Lowe was born in Cobalt, Ontario, on May 6, 1919. His mother died shortly after his birth. His father was a mine manager, but moved to Rackham, Manitoba, and setup a blacksmith shop where Garfield learned the trade from his father. Mr. Lowe was on his own at age 15, and over the next six years did a variety of jobs, including trapping skunks for two dollars a pelt, farm labourer and sawmill worker. During this time he was married and had two children. At the age of 21, he enlisted with the Winnipeg Grenadiers. After completing basic training in Sherbrooke, Quebec, he performed internment camp duty in Kingston, Jamaica, where he received extensive machine gun training (no live fire), but no infantry tactics. In Mr. Lowe’s words, the Grenadiers were reinforced with “rejects” before leaving for Hong Kong. Mr. Lowe spent time in four different camps during his incarceration, and witnessed some horrifying events which haunt him to this day.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Garfield Lowe
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Winnipeg Grenadiers
Machine Gunner

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