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Heroes Remember

Well it was in North Point, I guess it was probably in August maybe of 42', diphtheria started to race through the camps and I still didn't have diphtheria but for some reason they were sending me out of the camp, out of North Point camp to the Bowen Road Military Hospital. That hospital was still operated by the British doctors, but under the control of the Japanese. And I was only in the, in the hospital about a weekend I believe, when I complained of a sore throat. And the doctor looked at me and then he ran and got a needle and gave me an injection apparently for diphtheria and it saved my life all right, but I was still very, very sick from the diphtheria. I, my arms and legs became paralysed, my vision just about went, I just about went blind, and it took me probably a month to get over that, and I had to learn to walk again and, but the, my friend that I joined the army with, he was scheduled to go to Bowen Road Hospital the same day with me, but as we were being loaded into the trucks, a Jap guard gave me a shove and pushed me in and then he said, "No more, no more." And my friend that I joined up with didn't get to go. The next I heard from, about my friend, Deighton Aitken, he was buried outside the Bowen Road Hospital because apparently he must have succumbed to diphtheria, but I don't know.

Mr. MacLean explains how a diphtheria vaccination saved his life, and how a friend of his wasn’t so lucky.

Ralph MacLean

Mr. MacLean was born in the Magdalen Islands on June 27, 1922. He now resides in Calgary, Alberta, with his wife and family. Mr. MacLean signed up for service looking for excitement and thinking he would get to travel to Europe and was assigned to the Headquarters Company of the Royal Rifles. Instead of being sent to Europe Mr. MacLean found himself in Hong Kong in mid-November 1941. He was captured by Japanese forces on Christmas Day after being forced to retreat to the side of a cliff and left with no means of defence. During his captivity, Mr. Maclean was held at Shamshuipo and North Point POW Camps, before being shipped to Niigata as slave labour for a steel foundry. Liberated by Americans, Mr. MacLean returned to Canada soon after, and returned to civilian life.

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

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