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Japanese Labour Camp Commandants

Heroes Remember

Japanese Labour Camp Commandants

Well we were lucky you know to have a good camp commandant. The one we had before he was awful. He was getting in argument even with the interpreter. The interpreter was a Japanese, old, maybe 65 years old who had been living in the United States many years. And he was used as interpreter in the camp. And he was getting into discussion with the camp commandant once in a while about the outcome of the war and this and that, I suppose. And he was telling the commandant that the Japanese were going to lose the war against the Americans. He didn't like that, he took his, what do you call saber? Interviewer: A sword? Pardon Interviewer: A sword or a saber. A sword, sword. And he gave him a good, a good bang on the head with the sword. He split him you know. So we knew about that. The interpreter had to stay in the place and it was our medical man that had to look after him. And he told all this to the man so we all knew. So he said "Don't you worry he's not going to last very long here, once I get out of here". So when he got out, in no time flat, the commandant was called and he was sent to the front and we had this other one. Otherwise, had I had that commandant when I was parade in front of the commandant I certainly not have gone, come back to Montreal, Canada. No sir.

Mr. Castonguay recalls the difference in temperament between his two different camp commandants. The first was very difficult and violent, but the second was much better.

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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