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Travel from Hong Kong to Japan as POW

Heroes Remember

Travel from Hong Kong to Japan as POW

Well we were put aboard a ship called the Tattoo Tamaru. Interviewer:And what's your recollections of your accommodations? Well, first of all they had cordoned off hatch covers and I was one of the ones that was made to sit on the hatch cover and they wouldn't allow us to move. So after a while bodily function are such that they're going to take place whether you're sitting or laying down or what ever it is and no matter where you are. And that being so, then when there are 40 or 50 guys sitting on a very limited space and giving the motion of the ship. I leave it to your imagination what would happen. That's what happened to us. Interviewer: How were you men fed? I don't ever remember eating on that ship. I have no idea. That's gone from my memory. As a matter of fact, the whole thing is gone from my memory from about maybe 3 hours out of the harbour until we arrived in Nagasaki. I do not remember one second being on the water. I think my mind, probably because I spent 11 days in the hospital on the other ship and I think that my mind did something. Interviewer: I think it's safe to say though that the voyage was a miserable experience? Oh it was. I, I remember landing in Nagasaki and we were all sick and in terrible shape. Interviewer: What's your recollection of Nagasaki? How long were you there? Well, I remember, I remember early evening standing in line in formation on a dock and a whole bunch of Japanese and by this time we could differentiate between Japanese, those Japanese, that were officers and those that were not and there were a few officers. And then one fellow who happened to be taller than the rest of them came and started to speak to us, but he started to speak to us in German. And then, then he switched to English and he told us that we were in Nagasaki and this was the Imperial Japanese realm and from here on in we were going to be subject to all the laws, rules and regulations governing the Japanese Imperial Army and since we were the lowest form of creature on earth, we would be handled accordingly and he went on to tell us that this was the last time that we would be spoken to in English and that tomorrow morning we would be departing for other parts of Japan, but he didn't tell us where and that also tomorrow morning that we would be fallen out in rank in formation and that we would have to number off in Japanese and he said the Japanese numbers from one to ten are thus ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, hachi, kyuu, jyuu... Remember the place where you are in rank so that you can assume that same place tomorrow morning because you better remember your numbers in Japanese. Believe you me, we picked on the brightest of the group and said "you're ichy. And uh, so that was the way we fell in the next morning and that was our, our uh Japanese baptismal as it were. Interviewer: Where did they take you from there? Then the put us aboard train and they give us a little box of rice and a couple pieces of dikon and something else and that was to be our food for our journey. I forget how long we were on the train. Probably a day and a half or something like that. Anyway that was the food we had. And anyway we went from Nagasaki to Yokahama and we got off in, we got off in Yokahama and then was taken to 3D. 3D camp was actually in Kawasaki. Kawasaki is just a little place between Tokyo and Yokahama it's on the, on the Kanto Peninsula. Interviewer: The camp at Kawasaki camp 3D was there for what purpose? You know, I don't know the camp was there when we arrived. I, I, I assume, I assume that it was either built to house us or to house the Korean conscripted labourers. Now one or the other and I couldn't say for sure which. Interviewer: When you men were travelling to Japan, Mr. Cyr, was it your hope or impression that the conditions would be better than they were in Hong Kong? Good question. I can't talk about everybody else's hope. I can only talk about my own because hope is such a personal thing and is made up of many, many elements. My hope from day one to the last day was fairly constant and my hope was, is, based on something which I call faith okay and I'm not, I'm not making a pitch for a religion here. I am talking about faith and I always had that faith I always said somebody up here is going to see me through. I don't know when or how, but it's going to happen, so therefore I'm only marking time. So that's what happened to me. So to answer your question, when I landed in Japan I just saw this as another step on the road to salvation ie freedom. Also, sometimes between day one and sometime after my arrival in Japan there's some, there's some sort of a mental switch that flipped and I completely lost the sense that I was being hard done by I was kind of back into a survival mode. Nobody has anything, nobody's going to get anything, nobody will ask for anything so therefore he's not going to get anything. I was in that mode. It's difficult to put into words, but that's the best way I can explain it.

Mr. Cyr recalls the sea voyage from Hong Kong to Japan, the instructions they received from the Japanese army officers and the train ride to Camp 3D in Kawasaki.

Roger Cyr

Roger Cyr was born on March 6, 1922 at New Richmond in the Gaspé region of Québec. He was the oldest of nine children. His siblings were four brothers and four sisters. His father was a lineman for an electrical company in the United States. He eventually returned to Canada and worked as a chef with Canadian National Railways. Roger enlisted in late 1941 with the Royal Rifles of Canada. In late October 1941, he and hundreds of other members of the Canadian Army left Vancouver, arriving in the British colony of Hong Kong on November 14, 1941.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Roger Cyr
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Royal Rifles of Canada

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