Growing up on a mixed dairy-grain farm in Manitoba in the 50's and 60's I had no idea of what my father had been through during and after the war years. While I understood that his health was not the best, I was much too busy to think much about it and what the circumstances might have been that caused it.
I grew up listening to his severe coughing bouts, but had no idea what caused them. I knew that he spent a lot of time journeying into Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg, sometimes even staying for extended periods, but as he never talked about what had happened (and I never knew how to ask him), I had no appreciation of how the war changed his life.
Thanks to the Web, this memorial adds my father's experiences to the expanding body of public documentation relating to the Hong Kong veterans and the Battle of Hong Kong. His story is not unique, but read in conjunction with the other accounts will add to the depth of knowledge relating to this important part of our country's history.
Given what Dad went through in the war, in retrospect it was astounding that in the spring of 1963 he drove me to Minto Armouries in Winnipeg and strongly encouraged me to join the Young Soldiers Training Programme (YSTP). Even with his experience with the military, he still was able to see the value in a military career, and I thank him for this insight.
I'm amazed the diaries survived Dad's time in POW camps. The contents tell a chilling story of semi-starvation, deteriorating health and a constant battle against the elements.
What is most telling is what is missing - for certain periods, days and sometimes weeks there are no entries. It is the interviews that shed some light on what Dad was going through during these times.
In 1971, the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature in Winnipeg interviewed over 150 members of the Winnipeg Grenadiers who survived Hong Kong. My Dad's interview was recorded at the time and he kept a copy of the tape. I have transcribed it so it can be read here.
The interviews were woven into a CBC programme Between Ourselves which aired some months later.
This fills in gaps and provides Dad's last recorded look back at the war years. Our thanks to Pat Corbin for publishing it, and allowing us to share it on this Memorial site.
A brief look at Dad's life after the war, and an insight as to how it changed him.
|2 Oct 39||Joined Canadian Army - Winnipeg Grenadiers|
|7 Jun 40||Departed Winnipeg for Jamaica|
|30 Aug 41||Left Jamaica for Canada|
|11 Sep 41||Arrived Winnipeg|
|4 Oct 41||Wedding day|
|25 Oct 41||Departed Winnipeg by train - destination: Vancouver|
|27 Oct 41||Arrived Vancouver. Boards ship AWATEA|
|16 Nov 41||Arrived in Hong Kong|
|19 Dec 41||Captured by Japanese|
|22 Dec 41||Moved To Argyle internment camp|
|30 Dec 41||Moved to Shamshuipo||On mainland (Kowloon)|
|23 Jan 42||Moved to North Point Camp||On island|
|26 Sep 42||Moved to Shamshuipo|
|19 Jan 43||Left Hong Kong for Japan|
|22 Jan 43||Arrived Japan|
|24 Jan 43||Arrived Camp 3D (Yokahama/Kawasaki) (Map)||Near Tokyo. Worked in a shipyard|
|30 Mar 45||Moved to Ohashi (Map)||Worked in a mine|
|15 Aug 45||War is over|
|11 Sep 45||Left camp for Tokyo|
|15 Sep 45||Arrived Guam||via US Air Force|
|17 Oct 45||Arrived Victoria, BC||via US troop ship (to San Diego) and rail to Seattle|
|24 Oct 45||Arrived home||Took over the family farm|
|22 Feb 46||Discharged from Canadian Army and joined the Legion|
|1966||Sold the farm due to ill health|
|1972||Received Meritorious Service Medal from the Legion|
|1981||Received Life Membership from Legion||Photo|
|5 Feb 96||Died at Stonewall hospital - age 79 years||