Page 27 - Austin Roberts' Second World War
ISSUE : Issue 47
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1988/1/1
have you right out on the road. Once they saw you'd give an inch, they'd push you right off the face of the earth. The ordi? nary Chinese, you see. (In the Hong Kong area?) Yeah. We left towards 7 o'clock in the morning, and we got there somewhere around 3 o'clock in the afternoon. They put us in camp there. And they started giving us two meals a day of rice. Well, the first thing that broke out was dysentery. Everybody got dys? entery, pretty well. And malaria, it hit pretty bad. But then the killer came along, was diphtheria. And no medicine or anything else, you know. So, Christ, they were dying off like flies, both the British and the Canadians. We were there all winter. As I said, they had no medical attention. They had no blan? kets or anything like that. So if you were sick, you were simply laying on a concrete floor. If you got better, fine. If you didn't, they buried you. Didn't bury you-- they cremated you. We stayed there till June. Most of it was just these ruined buildings. There were no blankets or anything. You had dug latrines. You only could use them for a day, and then cover them over and dig new ones, and so on.. As far as a bath or anything, if it rained, you could have a bath. As I say, you got two meals of rice a day. (Did you have changes of clothing?) Whatever you had of your own, that's what you had. Whatever clothing you had when you were captured, that's what you ended up with, when the war was over. They didn't give you anything. So you put in the winter. Most of them--the ones that got diphtheria bad enough died off. The ones with malaria were the worst. You'd be all right till about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Then you'd shiver and shake and jerk--till morning probably. Pretty hard to believe how bad it was, to tell you the truth. I had malaria and dysentery and diphtheria--I had the works of it. But I didn't have as bad a case of diphtheria as most of them had. Pretty well everybody caught it, because there was nothing to stop it. Once it started, it just went from one to the other, just spread like wild? fire. See, your throat built up, and plugged up. Stormy Nolan and I, we were both in the DON'S FLOWERS Serving Port Hood, Judique, Inverness and Surrounding Areas p. O. Box 179, Port Hawkesbury, N. S. BOE 2V0 teieptione 625-2215 or 625-2717 Cape Breton Auto Radiator co. RADIATOR HOSES • REPAIRING • CLEANING • RECORING COMPLETE CYLINDER HEAD SERVICE 518 Grand auto * truck * industrial Sydney Lake Road Complete Line of Gas Tanks 564-6362 same boat. We were sort of together with this thing. You could pour water in your mouth and it would come out your nose. You know, your throat was plugged up that much, that it wouldn't go down. There was no way you could eat anything, you couldn't get it down. You couldn't do nothing, but just suffer it out and hope that sooner or later that was going to let go and go down some. If you were lucky, after awhile it would start, and shrink away again, you know. But if you weren't, it just hardened into bone, and you were gone. You had no choice. As I say, there were 2200 of us when we went there first. There were roughly 800 got killed in the battle. During the time that I was in China, there was another 180 died there with sort of diseases, from over the winter. There was one fellow, I must tell you about him. His throat plugged and kept getting tighter and tighter. And finally he was just a whistle, like a tin whistle--his breath. When he'd breathe that's what he'd sound like: just like a tin whistle. He was there. There were two Jap guards there and they were there figuring. What the hell is keeping him alive? He should have been dead long ago. It's impossible for him to keep alive like that. They were watching him. He went into convulsions and he brought up a piece of bone as big as your finger, I guess. And there was a hole into it, it wasn't as big as a needle. Now that's what he'd been breathing through. He broke that clear and brought it up, but whatever hap? pened to you, he lost the use of his limbs from his waist down. He used to try and crawl around on his hands and knees. Now one of the Jap guards brought him one day two little iron wheels and an axle. And another day another fellow brought him two more little wheels, and another fellow brought him a couple little boards. And fi? nally, they brought him enough to make a cart. Now, that's the only time I ever knew any of them to do anything for anybody. They never spoke to*him, never talked to him or anything. They just brought him these things and gave them to him. He got himself a little cart made and he used to THE TREASURE COVE GIFTS AND HANDCRAFTS High quality gifts and crafts from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and abroad 1-902-564-8158 Children's books and toys - pre-school to 12 years 1-902-539-3035 Open Mon.-Sat. 9-6, Thurs.-Fri. until 9 74 Townsend St., Sydney, N. S. BIP 5C8
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