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Life in a Prisoner of War Camp

Heroes Remember

Life in a Prisoner of War Camp

They were, they were quite brutal as Japanese guards were everywhere. In the, the, you had to salute every guard and you better do it or, or you were going to get beaten up. Well at Shamshuipo, we got, twice a day, about the equivalent of a, of a, of a tea cup full of rice gruel and nothing else. That was twice a day. The cooks managed, somehow or other, they, to make some yeast which was a portioned out among the prisoners. I forget how much, probably a quarter of a cup or something like that, and we got that, I don't know really how often, but I know that, that they gave us some yeast as a, because of it's high Vitamin B content. But that required flour and they didn't have very much of anything there, the rations in, the rations in Shamshuipo, at that time, were probably the worst in the, certainly the, from accounts that I heard later those who were taken to North Point right away after, after the capitulation, their rations were 100% better than, than ours. The toilets, the, the, the water lines, everything had been torn out by the Chinese, the windows, window sills, window frames all had been taken. So, the toilet facilities consisted of a, of a, of a platform out over the sea wall, and that's, I think that was still there when we left. My, I, I had a bunk bed with, and I didn't have any covers or any pillows or, the, the, the bed had bed boards, that is you slept on bare boards and as I say I didn't have any, any blankets or any, or anything else like that. We had everything from, from body lice, to fleas, to crabs, to... Bed bugs? ...bed bugs, bed bugs, particularly in North Point, well not only in North Point, in other places as well. I think maybe they may have been a little worse in North Point, but they were bad everywhere. There wasn't very much you could do about it except we used to, once a week, move all the beds out, scrape, scrape the eggs and kill the larvae and, and the mature bugs. But it even makes me scratch to, to think about it. The, you just couldn't do very much about it, there was no, no insecticidal powders or anything like that.

Mr. Ewing offers a detailed account of life inside a prisoner of war camp as he describes the guards, rations, sanitation, beds and the bugs.

Kenneth Alexander Ewing

Kenneth Ewing was born in 1925, the 4th oldest of 12 children. His father was a civil engineer for the province of New Brunswick which enabled them to manage fairly well during the Depression. His father was a Lieutenant in the First World War and signed up as an engineer in the Second World War from 1942 to 1945. Mr. Ewing quit school in Grade 10 at the age of 15 to join the army. He was unsuccessful in his attempt to join the Merchant Navy and joined the militia in the spring of 1940. He then joined the N.B. Rangers (militia). In November 1940, he went active with the Royal Rifles. He did his basic training in Botwood, Newfoundland, guarding the port. He did further guard duty in Botwood, Gander, and St. John's, Newfoundland, Valcartier, Quebec, and Saint John, New Brunswick. He was posted to Hong Kong as a rifleman in "A" Company. He was taken POW and sent to a slave labour camp in Japan where he endured beatings, disease, and very poor living conditions but considered himself lucky since other Canadians had been executed.

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

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