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In memory of
Rifleman
JOSEPH MICHAEL WHALEN
who died on November 20, 1942
in Japanese prisoner of war camp
Son of Frank and Agnes Whalen, of Kirkfield, Ontario

Cemetery:
SAI WAN WAR CEMETERY
Victoria,Hong Kong

Grave Reference: VIII. F. 24.

Location:
SAI WAN WAR CEMETERY is in the north-east of the island of Hong Kong, in the Chai Wan area, about 11 kilometres from the centre of Victoria, the capital of Hong Kong.

Note: Local History says “these Boys trained with broom sticks on the way over
and the government knew they were doomed before they left”

 

The following was recounted to me by my neighbor Al Jamieson ,a Hong Kong
 veteran and neighbor of mine in 1959.

 Al came from Kaladar and like thousands of others in the 30’s and early
 40’s was out of work. Thousands like Al and Joe joined the army as much for
 a steady job as for King and country.
  They were shipped to Hong Kong which was immediately overrun by the
 Japanese at Christmas 1942. After heavy fighting they became prisoners of
 war.

 The first year was spent in a ship yard sorting scrap metal which had been
 purchased in North America !

 The second year they were in a coal mine in northern Japan. They were in
 unheated barracks with the same weather as Canada. Al said the only warm
 place was down in the mine.

 At the end of the day each prisoner had to carry back a four foot piece of
 firewood for cooking and heating the guards quarters.

 The first camp commander was a cruel and sadistic man and allowed guards to
 beat prisoners- sometimes to death. Al was a witness at his war crimes
 trial . They hung him.

 Due to malnutrition the men were sick with many infections that their shots
 should have but couldn’t protected them from. As a result T.B. Palagra,
 Small Pox, damaged eye sight and Diptheria and other infections marched
 through the camp.

 Twenty percent of the men died. There was a doctor but there was no
 medicine so there was little he could do.

 Joe  caught Diptheria and Al told me how he held his good friends hand
 while he died. Al said it was all so needless and so sad, All they had to
 do was feed them properly.

 When the war ended the new commander called them together and told them
 they must be friends again. As the civilians were starving in the area and
 no policing he issued the guards arms to the prisoners to protect
 themselves as well as their large but inadequate garden. The guards then
 marched away.

 They made signs on the grass–P.O.W. It was ten days before they were
 spotted and the first food canisters were dropped. They were full of
Hershey chocolate bars–which made them sick

Ten days after that they were rescued by the American Army and
returned to North America in an American battle ship

Herb Furniss

Website Exec.


Submission Committee:
Frances Laver
Lisa Burke
Fred Lamb
Mike Crosby


Content:
P.D.McNamee

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