Page last updated: March 3, 2022
Thank you to all who participated. Watch for our upcoming newsletter for the announcement and the judge's comments.
Prisons of War in Japan took many good men.
Loved ones and selves shouldered pain for what they all lived, and for all that they did. Heroic.
Still Putin is going into Ukraine. What did you fight for not for this day. Unfaltering hearts turning guts in disdain.
Bad dreams play out loudly Nineteen forty-one all, over again.
As promised on ships that were going to war, first food for the fight served up onions and tripe on their plates that were metal each having their own.
They heard different things like, the enemy cannot see you at night, yet they were bombed under moon light, Bombed with plenty of strikes.
All I remember of my father is well after that war. After his work he adored us galore.
He would sit down cross legged on the mat at the door. I would sit in the nest of him,
safe and well-loved. Together we rode magic carpets above
elephants, tigers and lions, and farms. Imagination as vivid as the blue in his eyes as we flew. His fantasy world stuck in my mind as escape.
Now as I’ve grown, I have wondered, did he use those same powers Staying calm through the
thunder of bombs and of beatings and lice. Did he think of that first meal when all they were given was a morsel of rice?
Back on the carpet the smell of his pipe soothed me. My hands held onto trousers that were wrapped around his frame, skeletal, bony from years of starvation as he soared above his pain with his children.
His voice deep vibrations through his chest to my small core. That is what I remember of my dad. I do not remember more.
Hearsay was Russia will be kind, but no. Wish you were alive dad to tell us what is so. Did you go toB eat the mad men or to eat and have a roof, did they arm you well or in the end, only by virtue of youth, and character, to stop the Lunaticparade across Our world stage. When you were a
Prisoner Of War
Dad did you imagine through it all dad? What world did you use for your inspiration? What dreams kept you strong? Slaving in holes, beatings starvations. Dad how did you stand up, after that done?
May your sacrifices bring us to miracles today, that we all can stop laying wreaths, on shiny new graves,
white sticks for markers and thousands to lay. May your stories your warnings you brave,
carry forward and be heard by every today. This day a foreboding for nuclear scores
Remembering Hong Kong and what our parents fought for.
Many were called and
answered the call
to lay their lives on the line
To protect and defend a foreign people
to whom they were assigned
Many deployed to the isle
of Hong Kong
prior to Christmas that year
Never returning home again
or spending four years in fear
Many had fought and oh what a fight
bravely they fought hard and long
Only to finally lay down their guns
and sing the prisoners’ song
Many men died on that cold Christmas day
fighting for freedom and life
Under gunned and under manned
heroically spending their lives
Many had fought from the Wong Nei Chong Gap
to the fabled Gin Drinkers’ Line
Against the aggression of hard-hearted men
in defence of that tiny isle
Many remained a pris’ner in mind
of the cruelty they had received
To live out their lives as best they could
constantly seeking relief
Many forget the battles of old
history’s lost to the young
But we will remember the fam’ly we lost
to the flames and the bombs and the guns
Many are gone and few remain
of the bold and the brave and the strong
But we will remember the price they paid
in the defence of the isle of Hong Kong
Born in 1918, John Oliver Payne,
a life mostly travelled down Memories Lane,
He was adventurous, literal and played the guitar
was a poet, and artist who could draw, paint and carve.
He fashioned a chest set when just 17,
used birch wood and ivory with an India theme.
Walnut and maple were used for the board,
oak formed the box where the chessmen were stored.
Hand carved medallions adorned the top of the case,
on some figures ivory scapings were fitted and placed.
From his drawings, this masterpiece was carved in good time,
taking 3 years to finish - he was just in his prime.
This chest set was valued in 1938
at $2,000.00 the experts did state.
He was moms oldest brother, my Nana's first son,
a Winnipeg Grenadier, both brilliant and young.
He enlisted in the army September 4th of 39',
Serving in the West Indies to train for a time.
He was posted to the Orient in October of 41,
by November 6 his regiment was on the shores of Hong Kong.
Quebec's Royal Rifles and the Winnipeg Grenadiers
were to protect the Crown Colony until free and clear.
32 days later, the Japanese did attack,
for 18 days they fought in a grueling combat.
The fight was unequal, their numbers were short,
Hong Kong finally surrendered as a last resort.
The atrocities they witnessed, the evil that flowed
no human compassion was witnessed or showed.
From there they were taken as prisoners of war,
to North Point Camp China, slave labor in store.
They suffered malnutrition and inhuman cruelties,
brought on by their captors the hateful Japanese.
Cholera and fly season were about to descend,
with dysentery and beriberi they were at their wits end.
After 8 months of mistreatment, so cruel their fate,
Ellis, Adams, Berzenski and Payne did escape.
On the 19th of August, 1942
at midnight they left in a near typhoon.
They scaled the camps wire according to plan
then once by the water, they stole a Sampan.
Chung King was their focus - 1000 miles away.
Unfortunately these soldiers had been betrayed.
The rainstorm was heavy, it capsized the boat,
the men were recaptured, patrollers caught them afloat.
Without trial they were beaten, bayoneted and shot,
then finally decapitated - Veterans noted the spot.
Sergeant John Oliver Payne in his 23rd year,
left many to mourn with a lifetime of tears...
On the occasion of his interment, Oct 1st 2021
The day has finally come for us to lay you to your rest.
We’ve gathered here, those you held dear, whose lives your presence blessed.
Those churning breakers, grief that lashed our hearts with loss of you
have stilled with time. They wash more gently now; the whitecaps few,
ebbing in the tides of life, then flowing back with pain.
Memories lapping at our lives with love and joy again.
We think of you, the things you’ve done, and said, the love you gave.
The pictures fill our minds of you from childhood to this grave,
The island shores, your boyhood home, the windswept cliffs and sands,
left imprints deep upon your heart. You grew, too soon, a man.
With youthful brashness, off you went to serve your country true,
but while you gave all that you had, the war enveloped you.
The things you’ve seen, and felt, and heard may well have rubbed you raw.
The friends who never made it home, the horrors that you saw.
Some others who have trod your path stayed prisoner in their woe,
but somehow, you became the man who chose to let it go.
In that grey hut, in thankfulness, you knelt and said your prayer.
Forgiveness that was found that day, meant you could leave it there.
And so, you persevered, came west, and found a love to last.
You built a future sure, and let the past be in the past.
With family, home, and loyal friends, your children , precious wife,
you worked and played and laughed and prayed and lived a worthy life.
By those who knew you well, you will be known forevermore,
as loyal friend and gentleman who always “held the door.”
You held the door for friend and stranger, held the door in care.
Held the door in all our joys and in our deep despair .
With hope and wisdom, listening ear and help when we might fall,
we always knew that you’d be there with love that covered all.
When time came to say goodbye, you were always at the door,
waving out into the night til you could see no more.
Your life was never easy, but you lived it - oh, so well!
You’ve left so many smiles behind and stories we can tell
of laughter, love , and helping hands and good old-fashioned grit,
of bravery and courage, of duty , faith, and wit.
It was our loss to lose you, but to have you was our gain.
Your warmth that we still hold so close, is worth the weight of pain.
So now we lay you down to sleep, your body – worn and done.
Your soul - unending in the Lord, in glory with the Son.
I like to think you’re watching close and waving, while we roam
And when we come, you’ll stand with Christ in welcome to your home.
And there will be no tears, no parting, - life forevermore,
when we arrive and you are waiting, as you hold the door.
80 years after defending Hong Kong
We honor the heroes, courageous and strong
Remembering those who gave it their all
The bravest of souls, they answered the call
For survivors of battle, captivity came
Torture, starvation, suffering, pain
Some returned home, many did not
Forever changed for freedoms sought
80 more years of memories made
Families still growing, stories relayed
80 more years of memories lost
For those who paid the ultimate cost
Take not for granted our liberties, our rights
Nor the sacrifice of those who fought the good fight
We'll remember them all beyond 80 more years
Grateful to those who served without fear
My uncle was born in the prairie sun
the son of two, the husband of one.
He married his wife and went off to war
less than two weeks together
there wouldn’t be more.
A Winnipeg Grenadier so young and so proud
would sail with “C” Force to Nanking Barracks, Sham Shi Po.
With Twelfth Platoon to take the salute
from Maltby and the Lions
at the Peninsula Hotel.
Across the harbor they were sent
to defend from so many with so painfully few.
But they were Soldiers and would do their best
to fight beside their friends for those who could not.
On a Hill called Mount Cameron before Christmas day
my uncle fell, it was his last day. He left behind a family of course,
but I believe that the last thing that passed
was thought of his widow and all that was lost.
His body is missing, no grave of his own,
a grateful Nation has engrave his name in stone.
A place to mourn and to reflect.
A privilege to visit and pay our respects.
For without their sacrifice where would we be?
As they died for both you and for me.
I bless their memories with all of my heart.
Apart for my lifetime my uncle I’ll meet.
To hug him and thank him and in my own way,
to hope that his memory I’ve kept.
May God bless them and keep them.
As I stand in my living room,
I look at the clock and see eleven.
I start to think of what happened over eighty years ago. Allies and Japanese falling to the ground, dead.
And here I stand.
I stand thinking of what any of the soldiers would have thought;
when will this be over, I don’t want to die, and I want to see my family.
When it is finally over, I keep standing to respect the people who fought for me.
I remember, I will always remember.
80 YEARS LATER, THE QUESTIONS REMAIN
THE FLOOD OF EMOTIONS, STILL HIT LIKE A TRAIN
WHERE WAS THE LOGIC, TO THIS ILLTHOUGHT PLAN THAT CAUSED SO MUCH PAIN, FOR SUCH A BRAVE MAN
AS QUICK AS IT STARTED, IT CAME TO AN END
FOR THE TROOPS ON THIS ISLAND; SENT TO DEFEND
LOST ARE SOME MEM’RIES, OF LOVE ONES SO DEAR
WHO TRIED TO FORGET, FOUR YEARS SPENT IN FEAR
NOW ALL ARE AT REST, OR SO WE PRESUME
THEIR BATTLES LONG GONE, NOT MUCH TO EXHUME
THE BIRDS FLY IN PEACE, O’ER BATTLE LINES DRAWN
AND BUSINESS CONTINUES, FROM DAWN TO DAWN
STILL WE WILL REMEMBER, THE VALIANT FIGHT
OF OUR TROOPS IN HONG KONG, AND THEIR PERILOUS PLIGHT
WE WILL REMEMBER, AND KEEP THE TORCH LIT
80 YEARS LATER, IF TIME WILL PERMIT
Open to all starting December 8, ending February 28, 2022.
All submissions will be read and adjudicated by well-known author and acclaimed poet, Mr. Gary Geddes. Gary is uniquely qualified to accomplish this task as his 1987 work “The Ventriloquist'' is being republished. Tucked inside those pages is his very own collection titled “Hong Kong Poems”.
Send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org or use our Contact form.
Depending on the enthusiasm and response we receive there may be enough material for a future zoom presentation. Why not make it a holiday event with your family and challenge your siblings to a creative and inspiring competition.