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I was Charged With Sabotage, I Thought I was Finished

Heroes Remember

I was Charged With Sabotage, I Thought I was Finished

They got organized and they sent us to work at the (inaudible) which means “Japanese Steel.” And I was in the department where they bend pipes instead of moulding them. There was some working with the painters shop. There was some in the electrical welding places. There were some on the ship helping Japanese do this and do that. They don’t mould elbows there, they bend them. Anyway, I was filling this pipe and I was supposed to tap it to pack it. And there was a couple of young girls, and I am sure that they were, at my expense, doing the things they did. Their kimonos, and of course they don’t wear braziers or anything like that. And when they bend down you could see, and I’m sure they were having a great time for me popping around there, and I tapped this pipe too much at one place and I flattened it. When I brought it on to the forge with winches and everything else, the part that I had flattened was over the forge itself when I brought it on the platform, and the winch started pulling on it to bend it, it cracked. I was charged with sabotage and I thought I was finished. I thought that was the end of it because sabotage is death penalty, in our world, anyway. But then, no, they didn't. What they said that the Corporal of the Guard would give me punishment. So he told the interpreter, he says, “Tell him that he’s getting four slaps on each cheek.” So I figured, well, I’m going to be a celebrity tonight at camp. But my God, this guy was big. And he took somebody’s running shoe and he slapped me four times. But, he came too close to my ears and I’ve got very sensitive ears. If you touch me in the ear, man, right off the bat. So I pulled back a little bit. And the Jap says, “Tell him he’s getting one extra one for moving.” By this time my face must have been . . . anyway, I was to remain at attention at my post for the rest of the day. And the guys would pass by me and just nudge me, chin up, Léo, because they can’t talk. By the time we marched back to camp, I was back up again and the guys brought me out of it. They don’t guard you from outside the perimeter. They walk through you, right through the lines, they walk in there. Sometimes some of them would like to say a few words in English and if you can, then you sort of look out for this sort of thing, maybe he can help you. But, I never had any help from any of the Japs. I couldn’t understand them. I hated them so much. I still do.

Mr. Bérard describes working in the Kawasaki steel yards and being beaten for alleged sabotage of a pipe elbow.

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
Winnipeg Grenadiers
Platoon Leader

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