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CRAWFORD, John Neilson Brown, Major, MBE

Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps

Canada Gazette dated 15 June 1946 (No. 24, Vol. 80, p.3849) and CARO/6632 dated 17 June 1946.

Major Crawford was captured at Hong Kong in December 1941. Throughout his entire period as a prisoner-of-war Major Crawford's devotion to duty was conspicuous. At all times he performed his duties as a medical officer in an exceptionally efficient, conscientious, zealous and unselfish manner under the most adverse and trying conditions.

In September 1942 Canadian prisoners-of-war were moved from North Point to the main prisoner-of-war camp at Shamshuipo. Just prior to this move an epidemic of diphtheria broke out in North Point Camp. This disease had been prevalent in Shamshuipo Camp prior to the arrival of the Canadians and on their arrival a great spread of the disease took place among the Canadians. At the same time as this epidemic was rife an outbreak of malaria and dysentery occurred, and these three diseases caused about one hundred deaths among Canadians. There can be no doubt that the efficient handling of these epidemics by the officers of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps and their volunteer orderlies did much to prevent a considerably higher death rate.

Major Crawford established, practically without assistance from the Japanese, a Canadian hospital in the Canadian section of the camp and was assisted in his duties by the other medical officers. Sick parades during this period, from the latter part of September 1942 until February 1943, continued at the rate of about 200 in the morning and another 200 in the evening after personnel had returned from working parties.

During the epidemic of diphtheria it was necessary frequently for Major Crawford to deal with Japanese medical sergeants and medical orderlies by subterranean means to purchase serum to counteract this disease. During this period also, besides the diseases already mentioned, many men were suffering from pellagra, beri beri and other diseases caused from lack of proper nourishment and it became necessary to hospitalize large numbers of men.

Major Crawford remained at Shamshuipo Camp for the whole period until the Canadians were liberated in September 1945 and displayed outstanding qualities of courage and devotion to duty at all times, doing everything in his power to alleviate the sufferings of the men. He was responsible for the preservation of essential medical records and managed, though searches were frequent by the Japanese, to conceal from them and retain for future purposes, individual medical histories. Major Crawford's conduct was at all times an inspiration to all ranks and cannot be too highly praised.

 

NOTE: The following Commendation provided by C.65193 Rifleman V.J. Wurm, Royal Rifles of Canada for Captain Banfill (M.O. att. R.R.C.), Major Crawford (M.O. att. Winnipeg Grenadiers) and Captain GRAY (M.O.)

These three Medical Officers did very good work during their captivity at Sham Shui Po Camp, Kowloon. They worked night and day, and their work was especially good during the diphtheria epidemic October 1942-February 1943. They worked under very difficult conditions, without any medical supplies, except what the Chinese could smuggle through, for which the M.O.'s had to pay an exorbitant price. And the M.O.'s and orderlies had to take a lot of abuse - being slapped around, this slapping they received was at its height during the epidemic, the Japs blaming the M.O.'s and Orderlies for the men dying.


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