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No Canadians Would Leave the Camp

Heroes Remember

No Canadians Would Leave the Camp

On the one hand we were afraid to leave the camp and since we were being supplied from the air we didn't need to leave the camp. Now we had a lot of wounded men, a lot of dangerously ill men who were now receiving food and medical supplies. We didn't know what would happen if we tried to move them. Now we were so far north, there is no road system there at all, we would have to go to the nearest railway station, we'd have to take over a train and take the train to Tokyo where you would hope to run into American military with their medical supplies and hospital ships. But what would happen if you ran into a hostile Japanese military force? They might kill the whole bunch of you whereas if you sat quietly in your camp you might be a lot safer. Well we decided that no Canadian would leave the camp without our permission and that our decision was to sit tight, don't provoke them, we're in the mountains, we're a long way from anybody, maybe this is the safest place to stay. Let the Americans come to us. Going to them may be very, very dangerous and fatal. And how would we do it anyway? We didn't have any trucks, we didn't have any stretchers, we couldn't figure out how to move the really sick people. But with the supplies from the air including penicillin which our doctor had never heard of before we were making amazing progress in restoring the health of those who were just on the verge of dying. The effect of penicillin at that point in our... when there was no built up resistance to this wonderful drug was absolutely amazing. Men that were dying of infections were getting out of bed in eight hours. The impact on these infections of this new drug was absolutely astonishing. That saved I don't know how many lives.

Now free, yet still in camp, the Canadians decided to stay put until rescued..

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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