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Heroes Remember

I don't think that they're interested. I was asked to ah, speak and I've done a lot of it when I was with the CNIB and I, November the 11th, and I produced, reproduced the pictures of the Japanese prisoners as they were, you've seen the pictures I'm sure, reproduced a lot of the material that visually identified the problem and conditions we were in. I would say that out of the group of 70 or 80 people, maybe 2 or 3 said to me, "Gosh, it must have been awful". The rest just went home and had their drink and enjoyed their evening. I don't think, even my own family, I've never talked to my own family about it. I once had brought these books in and I said to Vivian if they would like to look at them and if they would even find them of use I would leave them with them. And she said, "But what about the family?" I said, I doubt if the family would ever even open them. Because it, even for me it's hard to realize and appreciate that this all took place. How can I expect them to do it. Interviewer: Is it important to you though, that Canadians have an appreciation of what happened in Hong Kong? I think it's an embarrassment that they don't have. I listen to a radio broadcast the other day and Bill Good was on, and this chap was saying, "Over in Europe" he said, "its unbelievable. Over in Europe there are the signs, welcome Canadians and thank you for doing this and that and whatever". He said, "I come back to my own country" and he says, "it's the last thing you want to talk about". I remember when I got the Order of BC, I couldn't help but notice when they called me to the lectern, they didn't mention that I was a prisoner of war of the Japanese. They said I was a prisoner of war. But you, they don't want to publicize, the governments don't want to publicize that. They simply rushed over, looked at what it says, what they're talking about. They don't say I was a prisoner of war of the Japanese, I was a prisoner of war. The trade and commerce and all the rest of it, takes precedence over everything that we did. And I think it's a shame that I, I really am not great for monuments and medals and stuff. But I believe that history is pretty important.

Mr. Purse gives a thought-provoking - and somewhat unexpected - answer to the question of what he would say to today's young Canadians about duty, patriotism and love of country.

Ross Purse

Ross Purse was born in Roland, Manitoba on September 10, 1918. He has one brother and five sisters in what he describes as a close-knit family. Their father died when Ross was just 10 years old. He enlisted with the Winnipeg Grenadiers within hours of Canada declaring war on Germany in September, 1939. Following training in Winnipeg, he was sent to Jamaica in defence of the island and for duty at prisoner of war camps for captured Germans. He returned to Winnipeg and was put aboard a train travelling west, eventually arriving in Vancouver from where he and his comrades sailed for the British colony of Hong Kong.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Ross Purse
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Winnipeg Grenadiers

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