Veteran Stories:
Ralph MacLean

  • Infantrymen of C Company, The Royal Rifles of Canada aboard HMCS Prince Robert en route to Hong Kong. 15 November 1941.

    Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-166999 Restrictions on use: Nil Copyright: Government of Canada
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"We were supposed to set up a defence against the Japanese. We could see nothing. We had no idea where we were. And in the morning, at daybreak, we were attacked from behind."

Transcript

We were sent with a half a dozen other fellas across a small bay from Stanley Village.  And we were supposed to set up a defence against the Japanese.  We could see nothing.  We had no idea where we were.  And, in the morning, at daybreak, we were attacked from behind.

So myself, with about three or four other fellas, was able to hop over a bit of a cliff, and landed on a very small ledge, and in doing so we lost, trying to save ourselves, we lost hold of our rifles and they went down the cliff.  We were only in this precarious position for about half an hour, I guess, or less, when a Japanese officer from across the bay, with a megaphone, he called out and said, “The island has surrendered.”  And he said, “We can see you and we offer you safe passage to our – to come to me.”  And that was Christmas Day in the afternoon, early afternoon. From that point, we were actually prisoners of war.

I don't really, like to dwell on the dreadful things that took place, but I think our younger people, the children, should know what war can do.

My oldest girl, in her high school days, met up with a Japanese-Canadian boy.* And she has two of the most wonderful young men.  My grandchildren are aware of what I've gone through and they're trying to make this world a better, a better country in this world of ours.

*Note: They married. The son-in-law’s grandparents were living in Vancouver when they were relocated and interned in Alberta during the Second World War

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