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L/Cpl Bruce Cadoret, Royal Rifles of Canada

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Bruce Cadoret had been a regular soldier in the Royal Rifles of Canada for a year before being sent to Hong Kong together with the Winnipeg Grenadiers to reinforce the Hong Kong garrison. They arrived on 16th November 1941. Despite fierce resistance, the battle for Hong Kong was relatively brief and he was taken prisoner after being wounded. The brutality of the Japanese towards prisoners became immediately obvious Ω. This was reinforced as their lives were threatened.

Saved by the formal surrender they went into captivity in Stanley Camp before returning to a ruined Shamshuipo for the period 8th March to 18th April 1942. Dangerous trips outside the camp supplemented the meagre diet but the Japanese showed no mercy to would be escapees Ω. Medical facilities were practically non existent and disease was responsible for many prisoner deaths Ω.  They were transferred from the camp in Kowloon by sea to Omine in Japan with their every move being tightly controlled Ω. After arriving in Japan they had to learn how to work underground under difficult and dangerous conditions in a coal mine Ω. Although they were paid for their labour, it was largely a token gesture Ω.

 Food rations were always meagre and sometimes supplemented by the addition of snakes killed by the POWs Ω.The guards were only used to organise transfer to and from the mine, about mile from the camp, after which civilian foremen took over Ω. The normal working period was 14 days followed by one day off.  However, even the day off was employed on camp tasks such as cleaning out the bathrooms (Ed note: latrines), or other works. Every day, in camp, there was P.T., with no exceptions Ω. As clothing deteriorated it became difficult to stay clean Ω and even though some Red Cross parcels arrived they were never fully distributed. Anyone suspected of stealing was very harshly dealt with Ω.  Some written contact with family was allowed but only under conditions of strict censorship Ω. As always the ingenuity of the POWs provided entertainment to break up the monotony of camp life Ω. Although some guards were reasonable, the presence of a Canadian Japanese guard served to underline deeper tensions Ω. Even among the POWs, occasional breaches of camp norms caused great upset Ω.  

The first indication that something major had happened was the sudden stoppage of work the news of the end of the war was finally confirmed when a Chinese POW translated a newspaper and the camp guards disappeared one night Ω. The US air-dropped supplies and although the clothes were initially incomplete, they represented a sense of real luxury for the prisoners Ω. Inevitably, the more enterprising immediately took the opportunity to supplement their diet with things they could scrounge from the surrounding area Ω. Liberation became a reality with the distribution of boat tickets for Vancouver, then medical checks upon arrival in Vancouver and finally the journey home after being in Japanese camps from 27th December 1941 to 23rd September 1945 Ω. 

Recorded June 2006

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