Standing Hours Against a Wall

Heroes Remember

Standing Hours Against a Wall

There was a trench in the airport like, we had left a channel but there was no cover on this here, for the water to run out to the sea. And there was no cover on there so the Japs came in with the plane, taxied in there and when they ran into that damn ditch, you know, boom the tail wing come up and this Jap got out of that plane, nobody got killed or nothing but they got out of the plane and this one says, kept pointing his finger at me, "Hoi, hoi, hoi!!" Kept pointing at me all the time, you know. I thought what the hell is he pointing at me for, you know. I didn't have nothing to do with that, you know. He said I laughed, you know, told his interpreter. "He laughed." So they come over to me and started slapping me around and this Jap officer took a bamboo pole and this guy slapping me and all of a sudden this guy steps back and I thought, wondering why he is quitting now, you know, why he's quitting so quick. They usually give it you for a half hour or so until they're pooped out or something, you know. I wonder why he's quitting. So then this Jap, he's got a bamboo pole seven or eight feet long and he winds up and gives me right across the neck, you know, like hit me on this side and knocked this vertebrae right out on this side over here. I went right down on my knees, eh, "Wham!" I was kind of dumb too, I guess, I heard that wind blowing on the end of that damn hollow pipe, you know, and I should have, I just pulled my neck down, you know, I should have dropped myself on the ground, I'd been okay maybe. But he hit me there, wham, and Jesus, I couldn't even see straight, nothing, the ground was going, my guts were going and I thought, Christ now I've had it, you know. I'm thinking to myself, all this crap that's going through your head, you know, like this is it, you know. And so then he, instead of kicking me, then he'd boot you eh! And instead of booting me he took the pole and drove it in my back and I just went flat out like that, passed right out, Jesus that hurt, you know. Jumped over the bones over my back, you know, I guess so, holy Christ did that hurt! I just went, I blacked right out, boom and down I went and stayed. I don't know how I got to the camp or nothing. They took me to the camp and then the next day I got up and I was still groggy like, you know, like this damn thing was pinching on a nerve and I didn't know it, you know, what it was doing, what was wrong. And I couldn't get up, couldn't get going good so I couldn't use my arms. I couldn't feed myself so this guy was feeding me and he put his arm around my shoulder and went to reach to the right like that and when he did it turned me and something went bang in my back, you know, and when it went bang then I felt better. It jumped back in or something. It went back in place or some damn thing because I got so I could get on my feet right, you know. I was getting up but I couldn't get going right and I finally got going and then I figured now that's all over with, you know, but no, the next day when they went to go to work they told me to stay there. And they took me over to a wall and they put a dot where my nose came and a ring around it, you know, I had my hands in the air and I had my nose on that dot and every time, they change the guards every hour, a different guard would come. So I stood there a whole hour and never moved. So then when, just before he leaves he would hit me in the back of the face and drive my face into the bricks, bungo, you know. So then, when he'd leave another guy comes there. So one of them there, he kept poking me with a bayonet a little bit, you know, yes sir! I never thought I would ever get out but I used to try and kid myself that I would, you know. I never thought I would get out. I thought, the hell, we've had it, you know. Interviewer: Did they tell you that you were going to be killed? The Japanese, did they tell you that you were... They told me, they wanted me to sign a paper after they beat me up there so bad and I couldn't hardly see, only with this one eye, my whole face was covered right up, no eyes, no nothing and my nose was busted, I would be looking over at that floor, they broke my nose on that floor and I... Interviewer: This is on the wall? Ya, on the cement and I took, I got a little piece, I was still working like that but I was bleeding in my throat so bad that I was choking on blood and spitting it out and I got a little piece of stick like that off a green tree and I smuggled it into the camp, had to even smuggle a little piece of damn stick like that in there and the windows, there was a lot of broken windows in there so you'd take a piece of broken glass and you'd break it again, you know, and then there's a sharp edge on it then and then you could scrape the bark off of that and I made two plugs. And I set my nose like that and I pushed those plugs up my nose and moved the bones around, you know, and the water was just a running down, dripping off my chin and then I got one on each side and then I would have to take them out about every 10 or 15 minutes and scrape them off with my thumbnail and lick them, I didn't have no vaseline, no oil, no nothing to put on there. If I didn't do that they would grow in there, start growing in there, pull your damn nose out. So I kept working this and finally got it.

Thought to be laughing, Japanese guards torture and beat Mr. Bembridge as he stands against a wall grasping for his life

Howard Bembridge

Mr. Bembridge was born May 22, 1923 in Saskatchewan. His father was a sergeant major in the First World War and rarely spoke about his service. Being the third oldest child of four, Mr. Bembridge achieved a grade 8 education and at age 14, went to work with the Canadian National Railway. At age 17, he decided to join the military and enlisted with the South Saskatchewan Regiment and moved to Fort William, Ontario for six months. Having a rocky relationship with his sergeant, Mr. Bembridge made a quick decision to join the Winnipeg Grenadiers who were destined for Hong Kong. Having experienced harsh and brutal conditions during his captivity, Mr. Bembridge was hospitalized for a period of time and later returned to Saskatchewan with his family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
August 24, 1998
Person Interviewed:
Howard Bembridge
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Winnipeg Grenadiers

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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