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Hope Returns and Freedom

Heroes Remember

Hope Returns and Freedom

We had half Australian half Chinese men with us from the Hong Kong volunteers, they could read Japanese. So once in a while a puntijo(sp) would bring a newspaper down the line, would pass it on to us, he could read the news. Yes. We knew what was going on. So we were always very optimistic towards the end, but not at the beginning because we had rumours that the Japanese had a special plan to kill us all if ever Japan was being attacked. But towards the end we had more hope as things went on. While at camp, prisoner, we saw these B-52's American you know, 250 at a time, bombarding Fukuoka, which was six, seven miles away from us. And it was fire bomb, you know, the whole sky was full of fire. And it was wave after wave, that was every night. So suddenly there was none, so it's finished? You know. We had heard about the bomb, Nagasaki or Hiroshima so it took maybe a day or so and a camp commandant, the Japanese camp commandant got us on parade and he read us that we were free. He read a speech that the war was finished and that we were free. We were going to go back home.

Mr. Castonguay recalls fearing that the Japanese would kill the POW's should Japan be invaded. Meanwhile, they could see the Americans bombing a nearby city every night which gave them hope that they would soon be saved.

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
Royal Rifles of Canada

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