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Eventful Voyage to Japan

Heroes Remember

Eventful Voyage to Japan

There was about 250 guys who went on a, it was on a small draft that went with us, and we went on a small boat, a freighter and it got hit with something before we got to Formosa. Today Formosa being Taiwan. And it heeled over on its side and apparently they put battens against whatever the hole was and had the pumps running and we got into the harbour in Formosa while it’s heeled over on its side but wasn't sunk, it was slow. And they transferred us off of that onto a big, long, huge oil-tanker. And we stayed in that harbour 12, 14 days in Formosa while they gathered up a big convoy to go to Japan. And we came out of the harbour in Formosa and we head for Japan. About four or five lines of ships about eight or ten one behind the other, you see, and here we’re sailing down here for a couple of weeks with this bloody convoy. We got torpedoed. And the big tanker that we were on, ran and the rocks came right down smooth into the water down like down in the water, and our boat laid right against them rocks, they put over some ropes so it wouldn't chafe against the rocks down and let us stay there and we went up and down with the tide. We stayed there for three days and three nights. When we came out of there, there was ships, it was like a bloody graveyard. There was the bows of ships sticking up, there was the sterns of the ships sticking up that was running straight down, the masts were sticking up, they were everywhere! All over the place. We went alone. Then we hit a storm, oh my God, a big one, waves were 30 feet high, washed all of the turrets off the sides, and all our cook things. We had our cook things for them to make rice for us on the decks, washed all that away. There was a couple of Japanese sailors on there, one got a broken leg, one got a broken arm. Things were so bad up on there, we had the bloody waves 30 feet high, holy cow, it looked like mountains coming.

Mr. Flegg survives a dangerous voyage to Japan. His first ship is holed and makes it to port listing badly. He is transferred to a tanker which is sailing in a convoy. The convoy is torpedoed, but his vessel escapes only to then face a storm with thirty foot seas.

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
Winnipeg Grenadiers
Machine Gunner

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