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I was put on a drill.

Heroes Remember

I was put on a drill.

I was put on a drill. Now these weren't stopers, these were just ordinary air drills the same as if you were breaking up pavement and you got on that and you had to drill in coal that was running down the coal face. You had to drill 80 holes, three men on a drill, 80 holes, blast and load 30 cars of coal and the cars held four tonne of coal and three tonne of rock so if they were wanting to open up a shaft they would put you down there and then you would drill 30 holes but they had to be five feet deep, pack them with dynamite and blast them and clean it up by the time the end of the shift. They had little lanterns with a little small flame in them and they would watch that and when the flame started to get shorter and shorter and lower then the gas would be getting higher and then they would stop all work and just let the air blow through for maybe an hour but you had to make that hour up after and if there had been an explosion down there it would have caved in the whole mountain because the whole mountain was just hollow.

Mr. Billson describes his duties in the coal mine as a drill operator, the extraction procedure, and the potential risks of working in the mine.

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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