Trying to Keep Up with the War while in POW Camp

Heroes Remember

Trying to Keep Up with the War while in POW Camp

Interviewer: Did you men have any way of knowing how the war was going? In Shinegawa we did, well at least had some idea how it was going. We happened to have, in the, in the room that I was in, a Chinese chap who was, had been taken prisoner on, on, from one of the, he was a seaman and he was, he was taken prisoner. The, many of the Japanese, apparently, many of the Japanese and Chinese characters are, mean the same thing, so that a Chinese who is educated can read a lot of Japanese. And this, so he would, they, they, somebody would swipe a Japanese paper from the, somehow or other from the, from the office and he would translate it into Chinese. He couldn't speak English but we had one of our chaps, an English fellow, that, that knew Cantonese, so we got the gist of what was in the newspaper, mind you it was the news according to the Japanese, it wasn't necessarily very good. But we, we knew, for instance, when the, when the European war was finished. Interviewer: Were you able to observe any Allied aircraft flying over the camp that you were in? Oh yes, in fact the, Shinegawa was in the, in the Yokohama area and of course as soon as the, as the American Forces approached some, near enough to Japan where they could send off these B-29's they, they did so, and so we were, we were able to see them and hear them almost every time they came over. Interviewer: Did you observe some of the fire bombing attacks in the spring of 1945? Yes, as a matter of fact our, our barracks received one of the, one of the incendiaries and the shell casing, or they came, come apparently, well I know, they come in or they came in groups or pods that when they came down so far there was a little propeller that, that count the revolutions, I guess, and at a certain point, they exploded and, and broadcast these incendiaries. So one of these came down right in the camp. The go-downs right outside the warehouses, right outside the camp burned. Fires started in, in the camp itself but were put out. Interviewer: What effect did bombing raids like that have on the Japanese guards? Well, it was hard, hard to tell really. They, it didn't, in, in Shinegawa it didn't seem to make a great deal of difference in the way they treated us. They, so it's, it's hard to say.

News about the progress of the war was hard to get by in POW camps but it still seeped in from time to time.

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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