Pierre Delarosbil at the Royal Canadian Legion, New Carlisle, Quebec, July 13th, 2010.Historica Canada
"You couldn’t break my spirit....they could make me do anything and it didn’t bother me."
We had almost nothing here in the Gaspésie. That’s the only reason. There was no work. There was nothing. I told my mother and my father that I was joining [the Royal Rifles of Canada]. They started crying. I told them to stop, "You’ll get a nice cheque every month. You’ll be fine." We didn’t have anything to defend ourselves [against the Japanese at Hong Kong]. They sent us there [in 1941] with nothing [soldiers sent to Hong Kong received little training]. They took us prisoner right away. It wasn’t fun being a prisoner, not fun at all. They would send you anywhere, make you do anything. You had to do it, you couldn’t refuse. You had to listen otherwise, you knew what was coming and it wasn’t funny. That was guaranteed. They sent us to work in the coal mines and other places here and there. It was senseless, the things they made us do. But you had to go anyway. There were guys from New Richmond and guys from Paspébiac [Quebec]; there were a lot of us.
We would catch rats and grass snakes; all kinds of things that you could catch anywhere in the fields. It was incredible what we had to go through. If it had been one or two months…but it was long… You always think about your father and mother, and about how things are at home. You can’t let it go. All sorts of things like that.
[After our liberation] we were loaded onto a ship. We went all the way to Vancouver on a big transport ship. They fed us well, oh yes. We had a lot to eat and a nice place to sleep. We didn’t have any complaints about those people [Japanese civilians]. It’s not them who did it; it was the "big shots" [Japanese commanders]. You know what I mean. It’s like here in Canada.
My spirits were high. You couldn’t break my spirit. I could do anything and it didn’t bother me. They could make me do anything and it didn’t bother me. They could to anything to me and it didn’t bother me. That’s how you protected your health. The priest came to my house and blessed me. He stayed for a good while. We talked. He asked me how it was over there, what kind of place it was. He wanted to know things so I told him a bit.