Language selection


Work as a POW

Heroes Remember

I remember that we were, I think, sixty in my hut when we moved from Kowloon. And after a week there were about six or seven left of us. They were all quarantined the others, with diphtheria, especially diphtheria. Interviewer: What did the Japanese do to stop the epidemic? Nothing, they were giving us nothing. Interviewer: What do you remember about the guards, the Japanese guards at Shamshuipo? Oh, that was a big camp you know and they were distant. So we had to watch ourselves all the time. Some really were unlucky and got beaten, but I was not bothered really. Interviewer: Do you remember any of the interpreters that were there at the camp by their nickname? One of the interpreters was known as the "Kamloops Kid". Ya Interviewer: Do you remember that? Oh yes, very well Interviewer: What do you remember about him? Well I was working on the mountain moving, it was sand, you know the mountain was all sand, for the Kai Tak airport. And he was passing by and he saw me not working. I was, we had a small railroad you know with a cart on it and we were filling this. And I was the one who had to push on that and to bring it back, that was my job. Not to fill it. So he came by and he saw that I was not working. He picked up a hand full of sand and he threw that at me in my face. And really enraged you know. That is what I remember of him. So I start working.

Mr. Castonguay describes life in the POW camp, the camp guards and interpreters that prisoners encountered.

Bernard Castonguay

Bernard Castonguay was born in Montreal, Quebec on February 9, 1921. He was the fourth of eleven children. His father worked for CPR as a seam fitter. Mr. Castonguay left home at the age of sixteen to look for adventure. He worked as a lumberjack and on the railways. Unable to find work in 1940, Mr. Castonguay went to Quebec City and joined the Royal Rifles of Canada. He was then shipped to Gander, Newfoundland where he worked as a signalman and sentry. Afterwards, he went to St. John, NB. While in Hong Kong, Mr. Castonguay was captured by the Japanese and sent to a POW camp (Omeni) in Nagasaki, Japan to work in a coal mine. After his service, Mr. Castonguay worked with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) later becoming the Regional Director of CNIB. He also volunteered and worked with the Canadian Council for the Blind.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Bernard Castonguay
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Royal Rifles of Canada

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: