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
"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
“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
“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?”