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As Soon as You’re Shot at, You’re Trained

Heroes Remember

As Soon as You’re Shot at, You’re Trained

The whole east side, right down to Canton was ruled by the Japanese. And they didn’t take prisoners and they were just about ready to attack Hong Kong. We were told we might have to fight our way on to the Island. And probably what went through my mind is we haven’t got any equipment to even land, with a rifle able to shoot. We’d have to use our bayonet, because we didn’t have clips that fitted the Lee-Enfield rifle. But you can't tell your men that. You don’t want to scare them. I had mostly people that had joined our service there in the Prairies so they’re farmers. And you can go and any farmer right across the Prairies there, they have a rifle up hung on the rafters and take it out of the rafters, it’s clean, it’s spotless. And they can shoot because they shoot rabbits, everything. So as soon as there’s a shot at you, you’re trained. Now, because we had been in Jamaica, we were infantry unit instead of a machine gun unit, so therefore we were totally infantry. The weapons we had, we had the Lee-Enfield rifle, we had the two inch mortar, we had grenades. Grenades became a very big item in my life. Anyway, because I’m trained and there was a PPCLI by the name of Watson. And he had told me when I, I got a liking of this little Frenchman, I guess, but he taught me, he said, “You are an instructor all the time, night and day. That’s what you’re going to be. It doesn’t matter, you should tell your men exactly what you know.” When we arrived there, that’s what I did. In fact, I had already had in my mind that I was going to keep the last bullet for myself, because I didn’t want to be tortured. When I arrived there, I didn’t feel like an instructor. I felt like a father to thirty-four 18 year olds. So I looked after them.

Mr. Bérard discusses various aspects of his interaction with and commitment to his men, and his confidence in them.

Léo Paul Bérard

Léo Paul Bérard was born in Ste Anne des Chenes, Manitoba, in 1915. He was one of only four of the family’s thirteen children to survive. His father was a farm and forest worker. Mr. Bérard studied carpentry in school, and helped his crippled brother to learn the trade. In 1933, he enlisted with the Winnipeg Grenadiers to join their ball team - he was given the rank of corporal. He pursued extensive NCO training, attaining the rank of sergeant. Mr. Bérard offers us a view of the Honk Kong/Japan internment through the eyes of a soldier who deeply respected his officers and men, and who was in turn respected by them. Many of his clips include very personal references of this sort. After returning from the war, Mr. Bérard remained in the Army, where he trained soldiers for the Korean deployment.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Léo Paul Bérard
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Winnipeg Grenadiers
Platoon Leader

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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