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Pillboxes Were Death Traps

Heroes Remember

Pillboxes Were Death Traps

That was really a bad, bad scene because they had these pillboxes, and a very bad thing about it, that they had a ventilator at the top like you'd have on a root cellar on a farm. And on a number of cases when the Japanese did overrun us, and we'd had a lot of fellows that had gotten into these pillboxes they dropped a Molotov cocktail down through that ventilator and that was the end of the fellows inside them pillboxes. So later on when the Japanese had chased us off the Aberdeen reservoir, I don't know if it was the same day we surrendered or the day before, we were all down at the big building at the Aberdeen, and they had dropped one of the Molotov cocktails about three miles down the road, down one of these ventilators I was telling you about, and there was supposed to be some guys down there that weren't dead. So nobody would go down there because the Japs were all down there, and so there was an ambulance with a big red cross on the side of it. I heard somebody say, well ask that Canadian, that crazy, they called me, the British called me that crazy Canadian lorry driver, they said, that crazy Canadian lorry driver's around here I'll bet he'll go. So I said, “Yeah, I'll go.” So I went and one British guy went with me and we went down there and we saw Japs were laying all down the road and they had machine guns pointing at us. Well we had a red cross on our arm, they'd put a red cross on it and it was on the ambulance on both sides and on the back. And we went in here to this pillbox, oh my God, there was about 20 guys in there and they were about as black as charcoal, and one guy was standing in the corner holding a Thompson sub-machine gun, and this fellow's name was Tomlinson, and I went in and pulled it out of his hand and he fell and we carried him on a stretcher out and he was burnt, he was in bad shape, matter a fact, he died. And we got some other guy and we pushed him in that ambulance, and we were putting the second guy in, only two alive, and we were putting the second guy in, and they opened up and sprayed the bloody ambulance, these Japanese guys, we could see him down the road. They were only about 75, 80 yards away. I ran and I got into that ambulance and I was gone and I saw this guy was hanging, this British guy was hanging on the side, he didn't have time to get in. I went zoom, zoom down the road in this bloody ambulance.

Mr. Flegg talks about pillboxes being deathtraps. Under enemy fire, he rescues two wounded men from a pillbox which had had a Molotov cocktail dropped down the ventilator.

Aubrey Flegg

Aubrey Flegg was born on October 18, 1917 in Welland, Ontario. His father moved the family to Northern British Columbia when he was three. Mr. Flegg describes living on a “stump farm”, and working from a very early age. Leaving home at sixteen, he trapped in winter and felled timber during warmer months. Mr. Flegg was married with a young family when the war started, but he enlisted out of patriotic duty. He joined Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry, and later reinforced the Winnipeg Grenadiers, thinking he would be going to Europe. Instead, Mr. Flegg found himself trying to defend Hong Kong from the Japanese against overwhelming odds. Imprisoned for four years, he survived the ravages of disease, starvation, abuse and forced labor in both North Point and Sham Shui Po Camps and the Oyama mines. Mr. Flegg offers an impassioned story of the Hong Kong experience.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Aubrey Flegg
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Winnipeg Grenadiers
Machine Gunner

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