Elsworth, Courtenay Eric (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 13297
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 120, Number Of Items 4
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


Object description

British gunner served with 5th Anti-Aircraft Bty, Royal Artillery in Hong Kong, 1939-1941; POW in Hong Kong and Japan, 1941-1945

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Blandford, 1919-1939: family; education; reasons for volunteering for Royal Artillery, 2/1939. Recollections of period with Royal Artillery in Hong Kong, 1939- 1941: character of voyage from GB to Hong Kong aboard HMT Ettrick; initial accommodation at Stanley Barracks; allocation to 5th Heavy Regt, Royal Artillery on Devil's Peak; reasons for transfer to 5th Anti-Aircraft Bty at Lymoon; improvement in anti- aircraft equipment; becoming driver towing bofors guns. Recollections of operations with 5th Anti-Aircraft Bty during Japanese attack on Hong Kong, 12/1941: initial Japanese Air Force attack on Hong Kong; use of cricket pavilion for quarters; use of bofors against Japanese ground troops; narrow escape from tram-line; retreat to Aberdeen then move towards Wong Nei Chong Gap. REEL 2 Continues: fall of Hong Kong, 25/12/1941; his Christmas lunch with White Russian guards at Government House. Period as POW in Shamshuipo and Kai Tek Camps in Hong Kong: becoming officers' batman; reasons why he did not join escape party; setting up of POW bakery at Kai Tek; effect on morale of US Air Force air raids; contracting malaria; his selection for work in Japan. Voyage from Hong Kong to Japan via Formosa. Recollections of period as POW in Oyama, Japan: move to camp; furniture available; work in nickel mine; quality of rations; transfer to ore cutting job; transfer to garden work; his punishment for stealing onions and fig; physical condition of POW s. REEL 3 Continues: injury to finger during loading work; foraging for extra food; how he caught and roasted a sparrow; importance of not finishing food before one's neighbour; capture by Japanese of POWs who stole Red Cross parcels; beating he received from Corporal Harvey; condition of his beri-beri on liberation, 1945; story of taking revenge on Corporal Harvey in Philippines; return to GB via Canada; giving evidence against Corporal Harvey at court martial in Winnipeg, Canada. REEL 4 Continues: how Corporal Harvey had got into position of power in Oyama; behaviour of Japanese civilians in camp. Attitude towards Japanese. Story of food brought by Chinese women to POWs in Shamshuipo Camp in Hong Kong, after 12/1941.

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