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I Had Never Handled A Bren Gun

Heroes Remember

I Had Never Handled A Bren Gun

We were assigned to different places and the first thing, I was handed a Bren Gun. I hadn't handled a Bren Gun in my life. And I was handed a Bren Gun and four privates, I was then put up to corporal and I got put in a pillbox up in Tai Tam Gap and we got up there and we had no ammunition. We had these, we had four Bren Guns mounted; we didn't have any ammunition. So when I asked for ammunition they said, oh yes, we'll give you ammunition, sure all kinds of it. Fine. And a truck came along with all these boxes on it, brought them into the pill box, stacked them up and I had to sign a paper that I had received ammunition in the form of 1,600 hand grenades. Now this was the first part of it. So we said, “We didn't want those.” “Well, we're not taking them back. You got ‘em, keep ‘em!” And we were in the, oh probably 10 or 12 days in the pillbox there. We did get some small quantities of ammunition after a while.

Mr. Billson describes being placed in charge of a Bren gun, a weapon he had never handled. His unit is sent to protect a pillbox at Tai Tam Gap without being issued any ammunition. When the ammo arrives, it isn't Bren cartridges, it is hand grenades. Eventually a few cartridges arrive.

Walter Billson

Walter Billson was born in Lennoxville, Quebec on October 2, 1914. After completing grade six, he went to work at a local garage. He also joined the Sherbrooke Regiment so he could take rifle practice. In 1940, he enlisted with the Royal Rifles of Canada and became a dispatch rider. After training stints at Valcartier, Sussex and Gander, he returned to Valcartier and was married. The next day, he was heading for Hong Kong. When the battle for Hong Kong begins, Mr. Billson, by then a Corporal, is put in charge of a Bren gun, guarding a pillbox at TaiTam gap. After being captured and imprisoned at North Point Camp, he is sent to a Japanese labor camp near the Omini coal mine. After being liberated, Mr. Billson sees the devastation of Nagasaki as a result of the atomic bomb.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Walter Billson
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Royal Rifles of Canada
Dispatch Rider

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