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Working in the Sendai Coal Mine

Heroes Remember

Working in the Sendai Coal Mine

Interviewer: What was the purpose of the prison camp at Sendai? Why were you guys there, to provide labor doing what? In the coal mines, oh no we’d go right down in the coal mines and we’d leave at dark in the morning and we’d come back at dark at night. The way I put it we were gone about 14 hours a day and half the time I had nothing to eat, they’d give us a little bit of rice and lots of times we’d eat the damn rice we were so hungry we’d eat it before we went down in the mines but at last they caught on to that and they were watching us because they punished us, they caught quite a few of our guys going down in the mines with nothing, and they wanted them to have that little tray or whatever it was of rice and that’s about all you had and you get down there and you are handling dynamite and stuff like that, stuff that we didn't know the first thing about blowing to get coal and that, it’s not like today. And I remember one time, we didn’t have the guards down there we had these coolies or whatever they were. They were the ones that were guarding and I can always remember one fella I cursed one fella and he came up behind me with a two by four and he hit me over the head and after he hit me over the head he took off and he started to run, I think I was so mad if I would have caught him I would’ve killed him. Anyway, they would say you were going to put out so much coal, so many tonnes of coal and you damn well stayed there until you put out the coal and that was it.

Mr. Lecouffe describes a fourteen hour work day in the coal mine, where the men were expected to meet a tonnage quota of coal every day.

Lionel Lecouffe

Lionel Lecouffe was born in Campbellton, New Brunswick on March 23, 1922. His father was a First World War veteran and his mother a war bride. Mr. Lecouffe worked on the road for food vouchers before becoming a deliveryman to Easton Bakery at $2 a day. Only seventeen and already a member of the Campbellton militia, he lied about his age to enlist with the Royal Rifles at Matapedia. Ironically, after his release from a Hong Kong hospitalization, Mr. Lecouffe found himself attached to the Winnipeg Grenadiers with whom he finished the war.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
October 10, 2000
Person Interviewed:
Lionel Lecouffe
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Royal Rifles of Canada

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