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There was Blood Running in That Water

Heroes Remember

There was Blood Running in That Water

We got orders to retreat and we started moving back and everything was smashed. Cars were smashed and this and that, and we moved back, we moved into the hills. Then our sergeant would say to us, “Well, I’ll take Mount Parker today," and we would take it, go on up the hill, the boys getting killed. You could see the grass going when you could hear the bullet, “Zip, zip, zip, zip.” You can see the grass being cut. I can’t see anybody being scared because we kept going up and we took, we’d take the hill. Sometimes it was a cold steel bayonet fight, and I was no bayonet fighter. I had no training whatsoever, but some of our boys were good. We’d take the hill, the Japs would be off of it. We had nobody to hold the hill. So we left the hill again. This was the foolishest battle I ever saw. We’d go down the hill, the next day we were going to take Mount Parker. Same thing, we'd take Mount Parker. The Japs wouldn’t face us with cold steel. But, that night we’d go back down, we had nobody to hold it. We were played out. We had nothing to eat. I can remember me trying eating leaves and trying anything. They told us not to drink the water because they cut off our water supply, the Japanese. And the dysentery and that which we would get, we did get in the prison camp, but they told us not to drink the water but at last, you’ll drink anything. So this went on, we were about seven days with no food, no nothing. At last, we were treated and we moved back to Stanley and the “C” company tried to hold her there one night and of course they were outnumbered. So we moved out the next day and we fought in a grave yard, “D” company, and they have catchments, where they catch the water because we had heavy rains there, and there was blood running in that water, the boys were dying that much. And we were still fighting when they got the order to pull back, the war was over. The war had ended at two o’clock and we never pulled back until about eight o’clock at night. We had nobody to let us know so an extra few of our men died in vain there. It’s in my diary, I cried. That’s the first time. They made us pile our, stack all our rifles and we went into Stanley College and there’s the first time we got something to eat. We got some bully beef, corned beef, we called it bully beef. And a lot of boys were crying and when the Japanese did come in, they come in with these trucks and they had a big, like a red cross, you know, all white, but a red cross. And for the first three days they used us all right. They lined us up and counted us, they were real gentlemen. On the fourth day, I think it was, we went out and buried the dead. And then we had to move, they moved us from there, I think it was about 11 miles, to a place called North Point camp. That’s the first camp we were in.

Mr. MacWhirter discusses the futility of the Canadian combat strategy and the human cost of poor communications after the call to surrender.

William MacWhirter

William MacWhirter was born in Niagara Falls, New York, USA, on January 10, 1924. He was one of five brothers. During the depression, his family returned to Hopetown, Quebec, where he completed grade 8 in school. By 1939, his father, a First World War Veteran, had joined the Veterans Guard and two older brothers had enlisted; William became head of the family farm at the age of fifteen. He eventually enlisted in New Carlyle at the age of seventeen. His basic training took place in Val Cartier and St. John, and as a member of the Royal Rifles, D Company, he was deployed to Hong Kong. After a futile attempt to defend the colony, William joined many other captives in the dismal North Point and Sham Shui Po POW camps. He was eventually sent to the labour camp at Omini, Japan. He returned home safely, but he has paid a heavy price, physically and emotionally. He remains, however, an ardent patriot.

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

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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