Rfm. Beebe, "D" Company, Royal Rifles of Canada ...

"On the 25th, the Japanese reached the hospital where I was and broke in. I can still hear those hideous screams as the Jap soldiers chased the nurses throughout the building and bayoneted them. And I can still see the little brutes as they looked into our ward, singled out a wounded soldier here and there – and without any apparent reason – dragged him out of his bed and bayoneted him in cold blood on the floor. I don't know how they happened to miss me."

Excerpts of evidence given at the War Crimes Trial for the Far East, December 1946 This is the testimony of Captain James Barnet, Canadian Chaplain Services. His sworn testimony reads in part:

"On December 25, 1941, at 06.00 hrs., the Japanese troops entered St. Stephen's hospital. On the first floor, where I was, there were approximately one hundred patients and seven nurses. I saw five unknown Japanese soldiers bayonet intentionally about fifteen or twenty wounded soldiers in their bed. Rifleman Sweet was one of them, I think that Sweet lost his arm through it, but I'm not sure.

“All the patients who could walk, the staff of the hospital, and myself were herded together and put in a store room. We were left there for about an hour, and then we were moved to a smaller room.

“The nurses, who were with me until that time, were separated from us. I saw one of the nurses, Mrs. Buxton, hit on the head with a steel helmet, slapped in the face and kicked by a Japanese soldier, without any reason. Then about ninety men were placed in my room. We were so tightly packed that we could not all sit down together.

“We remained in that room from 07.00 hrs. until 16.00 hrs. We were not given anything to eat, there were no sanitary arrangement. We had about eighty wounded soldiers who had to lie down in turn as best they could.
“During that morning a Japanese soldier came into the room and made us put up our hands. He then stole my watch and ring and some money. I do not know the names of those who were my neighbours.

“Later on, another unknown soldier came to the door with a sack of .303 bullets and started to throw them in our faces. Afterward another unknown soldier came in and took out Rfm. E.J. Henderson, a patient in the hospital. Immediately after we heard screams coming from the corridor close to the room. I believe the screams came from Henderson. A little while later another Japanese soldier came into the room and took out Rfm. MacKay. We heard more screams, which I believe came from MacKay.

“On the 26th of December, 1941, in the morning a Japanese NCO or officer told me that I could move around. I immediately began a tour of the hospital to see what damage had been done and what casualties there were. I noticed that a number of our allied men, I would say approximately seventy, had been bayoneted in their bed and were dead. Others were seriously wounded (bayonet wounds), but I cannot say how many.

“I can definitely say that the patients who were bayoneted in bed were not armed, nor were there any armed troops in the hospital. The hospital staff was unarmed.

“During my inspection I discovered the bodies of MacKay and Henderson. One of them was in the corridor, the other on the steps near the main exit. Both bodies were badly mutilated, eyes, ears, and tongues cut out. On the ground floor of the hospital I found the bodies of Lt. Col. Black and Captain Whitney, both very badly mutilated. They were cut to pieces.

“I saw four of the nurses coming towards me. They were in a dreadful state. They had a very bad night. They had been assaulted by the Japanese soldiers. One nurse said she had been forced to lie on two dead bodies and used by the Japanese as they desired. Three of the nurses were missing. I began to organize burial parties, but the Japanese forced me to cremate the bodies. I cremated about 170 bodies, some from the hospital and some from the battle field. I remember that the bodies of MacKay and Henderson were cremated and there was no doubt in my mind that they were dead when they were carried to the fire because their bodies were cold.

“During the morning, one of the nurses came to me and said one of the Japanese soldiers wanted her to go to the hospital with him and that he had made hand signs to her indicating that he had found the three missing nurses. Sgt. Peasegood, of the RAN, and myself went with her.

“The Japanese took us to a clump of bushes about l00 feet from the hospital, and there we found the dead bodies of the three nurses. The bodies were covered with blankets. I did not see many wounds but know that one of the nurse's head was practically severed from her shoulders and have every reason to believe the bodies were badly mutilated by reason of the amount of blood around. I read the burial service over them and ordered the stretcher bearers to take them to the funeral fire.

“One nurse told me that a Japanese soldier had told her that all people in the hospital were to be killed to revenge the death of his brother who had been killed on the battle field. The surrender of Hong Kong saved us.”
The above testimony is a confirmation of my Dad's personal diary.

A culture to whom honour was everything makes it impossible to associate the word with those Japanese troops who perpetrated these merciless acts against helpless unarmed and wounded prisoners. The ancient code of the Samurai Warrior...?

Recalling the reference of author Brig. John Masters who refers to the Japanese as: "...the bravest people I have ever met. They believed in something and they were willing to die for it, for the smallest detail that would help to achieve it. What else is bravery?", the real question is ... “What is compassion, honour, humanity and decency?”




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Books on the Battle of Hong Kong