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The Shinegawa POW Hospital

Heroes Remember

The Shinegawa POW Hospital

When I first arrived there, there was one Japanese who was supposedly a doctor, and an American doctor, who wasn't very well thought of, never and, maybe by the Japanese but not by anybody else. And, so, it was, we were in a hut that had, one, two, four, four rooms. Each room would hold, let's see, about, about twelve people, and the, you slept on a rice, a rice, a straw, a straw mat, tatami mats, I think, mat. The, the place was infested with fleas, bed bugs, body lice weren't so prevalent there, but mosquitos. Anyway it, it wasn't a very good place, and the rations, once you became sick in, in, in prison camp your rations were cut by, I think it was, a third. So you got, instead of getting good food, you got less of whatever there was. Interviewer: On that regime, in your condition, what affect did that have on you, your personal health? Well, I, I gained weight on it. I suppose because once the infection was controlled, the, I don't know why I gained weight but I did, mind you it was only coming up from, I'd say, around a hundred pounds, a hundred and ten pounds, up to maybe a hundred and twenty. But I gained that weight back. Interviewer: What was your normal weight? When I joined the army it was a hundred, around a hundred and fifty, I think. So yes, I lost quite a, quite a lot. Interviewer: During the time that you were a prisoner, did you receive Red Cross parcels? Yes, we received, I'm not sure just how many or, probably only one or two full parcels. But then the, the, perhaps on four or five occasions, partial, one Red Cross parcel would be divided among one, two or three people. Or not among one, but among two or three people. Interviewer: Were you expected to work? Not at Shinegawa. The, in fact I never, I never got outside the gate in Shinegawa. Some, we were in a hut that was quarantined, it was, so really we were in a prison within a prison. In that particular, they, the Japanese were very fearful about tuberculosis and, and stayed, fortunately for us, stayed away most of the time. And we did have a guard, one of the guards was, was very good and he saw us on more than one occasion doing things that were not according to Hoyle and he just turned his eyes, turned his head the other way and kept on walking.

As Mr. Ewing recounts the conditions he and the other sick men lived in, we understand more about Japanese war prisons.

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
Royal Rifles of Canada

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