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Physically Unfit to Work

Heroes Remember

Physically Unfit to Work

I became so debilitated that I couldn't work at all but I had to go to work because of the military demands. My boss in the shipyard gave me jobs that were out of sight - menial little tasks that an eight year old child could perform. I just wasn't physically fit, but he would always give me something he knew I could do rather than have me turned over as refusing to work or unable to work. The conditions, you could only survive something like that when you think that it's not going to be permanent. When you believe in your cause, when you know that this is an aberration, that this is not the way it's going to be. You were fighting for something, you lost out in that battle, you're going to have to put up with this situation for as long as you can because at the end of the road, we will win this war. We will put an end to these conditions and we will return to our families. And with those beliefs it's quite possible to put up for a long time with the physical difficulties. If you believe in your cause and you believe that this is not going to go on forever, that it's a temporary phenomenon, and that like on the battlefield you just have to survive it, but you're never going to give up and never lie down and say, “This isn't possible. I'd rather die.” And then you had your comrades to talk to. Now I always told my men, “This is all temporary. We're going to be out of here by Christmas.” You'd be surprised at what you can do and what you would do given the circumstances. Most Canadians would perform just as well. Being in the Canadian Army of course was a great help. The comradeship and the tradition that we felt we had to uphold was very important.

Mr. MacDonell describes his physical state and inability to function all the while keeping hope alive.

George MacDonell

Mr. MacDonell was born in Edmonton, Alberta on August 15, 1922. He lost his parents at an early age and was raised by his uncle and family. In 1939, he ran away from home and made the decision to join the army. Mr. MacDonell served as Company Sergeant Major during the Battle of Hong Kong and in 1941 was captured and was a POW for four years. Post-military, Mr. MacDonell earned his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Toronto and went on to have a successful business career. Mr. MacDonell is very active in his city and very proud of having served. Mr. MacDonell is retired and resides in Toronto, Ontario.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
George MacDonell
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Royal Rifles of Canada
Vehicle Technician

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