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The Japanese Forced me to Saw Their Legs Off

Heroes Remember

The Japanese Forced me to Saw Their Legs Off

When our Canadians died, the Japanese brought coffins in there that were too short for our long, our six footer Canadians. So therefore, a Jap NCO came to me, I’m not the only one that did this, by far. But anyway, I don’t know how come I could do it, but with a bayonet in my back, the Japanese asked me to saw their legs off so they would fit in there. How could I do that? I just, I just . . . I got so bad that one time I was to get six men, they were supposed to be a firing party. How can you have a firing party when you haven’t got any weapons? But, to go and take this truck load of dead to Sai Wan cemetery. They finally got a truck and Sai Wan cemetery is on the side of a hill. Anyway, one day, my diabolic mind started working and I said, “You can’t you know, turn him around by signal.” So, I didn’t know any Japanese. I made them to understand that he shouldn’t bury this man with his head down, because the blood would rush to his head. Somebody of the six men that I had for a firing party, he reported me to Dr. Crawford. Dr. Crawford says, “You could have been killed for that.” And I said, “What difference does it make?” And he looked at me and he walked away

Mr. Bérard describes being forced under threat of death to “shorten” the bodies of the dead to fit the smaller Japanese caskets, and risking his own safety to ensure that proper burials took place.

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

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