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Crude Medicine

Heroes Remember

If you had a headache or a stomach cramp they had a little horse doctor that used to come up to the camp there and first thing he'd look at ya and say, Joto, which meant good, you know. And I split my eye open here coming up the mine and we were, the Koreans had had this pipe across because they were prisoners too, called the Koreans. And I got up there and the doctor just poured pure alcohol right in the cut, sewed it up with khaki thread and I got two days off in the mine. There was a little hospital down in the village and I had a hollow tooth and it was aching and I went to, they had a British fellow on the medical staff there cause he could talk English and I went down there and they looked at the, they opened my mouth, looked at the tooth and said, “I fix, I fix!” He fixed alright. He took and he scraped it all, all the stuff out, packed it with cotton batting and then saturated the cotton batting with carbolic acid. Just about sent you crazy, that burning and it was that tooth right there. Yes, saturated it with carbolic acid and away he went.

Mr. Billson describes two incidents where he received crude medical treatment. One was having a gash above his eye doused in alcohol and stitched without freezing, and the other was an aching tooth that was packed with cotton and soaked with carbolic acid.

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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