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Risking Extra Food

Heroes Remember

We were starving. You must have seen pictures of our guys in books and that just the flesh covering the bones eh? That’s the way they’d force us to work, you know, I mean we were starving to death,we had nothing to eat. We couldn’t live on that food. I’ve seen me eating, catching grasshoppers and eating grasshoppers and I heard guys had snakes, how true that is I don’t know but I would believe it. I remember one time me and a couple of other guys we decided that we were gonna gamble we were gonna pick a night that it was really dirty out, real good rainstorm, lightning and everything and we were gonna try and get out of the camp altogether and raid some gardens, get some turnips and things like that out of the gardens. So we had that all planned and we went into the washroom, well it was a washroom but I mean there was nothing there and so we opened up the window and watched for the guards when they made their rounds and I can always remember going out, getting out the window and we’d go out in the pitch dark and roam around and see what we could find to eat. Now we would come back with quite a bit of stuff out of the gardens even look in some of the houses, their windows, look at the Japanese. So then they caught on to that, they knew there was something fishy, we did that two or three times and they tried to find, we had all that hid underneath in the ground in our hut, and they tried hard to find out who in the hell was doing that because they knew there was somebody getting out. We worried then, holy cripes we were scared. If we would have got caught we were gone, we were shot but they never caught us and every night when everything was quiet and was dark we’d get up the boards and all that and take out some vegetables and we’d chew on that but we kept that bunch to ourselves, about four or five of us. We didn’t spread that around the camp because if that would have got around, we had it.

Mr. Lecouffe describes sneaking out of camp after dark and raiding local gardens for extra food, which, although suspicious, the Japanese guards were never able to find.

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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