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Then They Started to get Tough

Heroes Remember

Then They Started to get Tough

We started, it was a little, about 11 miles, and well, this is where they started to get rough, now. And, of course, I was young. The only thing I had was a bullet that grazed me here, but it was nothing wrong. Some of our boys were wounded quite bad, and as they fell out, they bayoneted them. We could not do nothing about it. They just would bayonet them on the side of the road and that was it and you just had to keep going or you would die too. So we just kept going along, and you know. This was probably the hardest part when you realized that you know, what was going to happen. It could be your friend. This could’ve been my brother. But the ones that had been wounded and couldn’t walk, and some of the different ones... One fellow I could see when they put the bayonet in, they drove it in through the back of his shoulder. And another fellow, they put a bayonet right through his wrist and they left him there. I don’t know who picked him up but we seen him after. Well, then he had, the wrist was twisted because of no treatment. When he came back from the war he had a twisted arm, like the wrist. So we marched down to the barracks. After we got in there for a few days it was fine, and the North Point Camp, we had to clean it up. I think Chinese lived there and I think somebody said horses had been in there. Anyway, we cleaned that up for a while and everything was not bad and then they started to put up barbed wire. Electric wire went along side of it afterward. Then they started to get tough, and there was beatings. Everybody was getting beat up and this and that. The food came down, we started to lose weight. If, like the Chinese, some of the Chinese people, they liked you or something, maybe they knew somebody, because we had everybody in there: British, Dutch, people from Java, Canadians. We didn’t have Americans there yet. But, they’d pass some food through the fence and the Japs saw them, they would tie them to a pole and they would bayonet, bayonet practise on them, bayonet practise. But not to kill them, in the arm, in the other arm, or this and that. Them poor people tied up and they left one fellow there at night. I can still see him with the head down and tied and couldn’t move. The next morning they cut him down and he was dead, and they just threw them into the China Sea. I guess that’s the part of it that goes between Hong Kong and the Kowloon. They'd just throw them overboard there. So we, at that time, we had no toilets. We had to go to the sea wall and we had to do our works there and, of course, then we started to get lousy and everything started to go bad and some of the boys were getting desperate. Some could not quit smoking. This was the worst for them, and others were hungry. A lot of others were, I would say, they couldn’t take it as tough as the farm boy. We came off the farm and we come off that Depression. I think if they didn’t have a hard time, they failed faster than us.

Mr. MacWhirter describes the march to North Point camp and the bayoneting of the wounded. He also describes the murder of Chinese sympathizers as well as deteriorating conditions in the camp.

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

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