Veteran Stories:
John Duguay

Army

  • Mr. Duguay on July 13th, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"And I arrived in Canada like that. I kissed the earth. I remember I was kissing earth. I said, jeez, I’m home, oye vey."

Transcript

We didn’t know we’re going onto Hong Kong. We only found out as we went on the train back to Vancouver. And when we got off of there, we knew we were going to Hong Kong. It was a new place to us too, I’ve never been too much out. I still remember the first time I was in battle, the first encounter that I had with the enemy and it didn’t last long. We were taken right away. Didn’t have time to know much about war. We were taken 15 days after the battle and then we were put into a prisoner of war camp. Therefore, almost five years, going to Japan.

But after a while, I got to know him and I used to communicate with him with a language of my own. And we used to get along together. I was over four years with them, so I got to know them quite a bit. And I got to know the language quite a bit. The Japanese didn’t accept us too much. They figured that we were the lower grade. Well, I guess that was part of their nature to be like that because they were not treated too well with us either, the Japanese and in Canada. They were really, really treated roughly by Canadians. Old countries, the diseases, we didn’t know nothing about and we contacted that but didn’t know what to do with it. And we were not helped by any of them. I guess they wanted us to die too, you see. They didn’t give too much about our lives.

We were working ten hours a day and sometimes more. We used to leave sometimes at 2:00 in the morning and come back at night because there was flights from Hong Kong, not flights but boats, ferries more or less, that used to carry people. And then they used to take us in between. Like 2:00, 3:00 in the morning, we used to go to work. Get over there and only two meals a day and very very scarce. Like we went many, many, many days working without breakfast. It was hell.

I was released when they had dropped the bomb over Osaka. When they had dropped the atomic bomb on Osaka, then all of a sudden, they came and we didn’t know what the heck was going on. We just walked all over the place. They didn’t know what was going on. We didn’t know the language too much and didn’t want us to know too much. They put us on a hospital ship and we were sprayed and had a little pair of jeans and a little white shirt, that’s all to wear. And I arrived in Canada like that. I kissed the earth. I remember I was kissing earth. I said, jeez, I’m home, oye vey.

I worked for Canadian Tire all my life, 45 years. I became quite a man with Canadian Tire. I, I was treated like a different man and I realize now that I was treated as a different man than others because I was a prisoner of war.

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