Author Tags: War

Taken prisoner while defending at anti-aircraft gun site at Brickhill Peninsula on the island of Hong Kong in 1941, Gordon Fairclough at age 22 was sent to the North Point Prison where the flies were so bad he received orders to spend several hours a day swatting them. "A six-foot barrack table would appear to move," he recalls in his self-published memoir, Brick Hill and Beyond (Vancouver: Superior Imaging, $13). "I remember counting the flies that I had killed with one swat, and the result was 49 flies." Sickness was taking its toll, along with outrageous cruelty from the Japanese and a starvation diet, so Fairclough and a companion rationally considered the viability of escape. "Having decided that it was a 50/50 chance of survival whether we stayed as prisoners or attempted to escape," he (and several others during the early 1940s) managed to free themselves by trekking across China and into Burma. When he finally returned home to England as a captain in 1945, after military service in India, he was awarded the Military Cross from King George VI. Troubled by recurring nightmares until 1951, he immigrated to Canada in 1953 and now lives in Tsawwassen, B.C. The degradations endured by Allied soldiers in Hong Kong, including Canadian prisoners held at Shan Shui Po, remain under-publicized, so only an effete critic will not welcome Fairclough's mostly humble and often humourous recollections. Although an editor could have improved Fairclough's text considerably, this homespun autobiography is remarkable for its matter-of-factness and its all-too-brief of account of walking halfway across Asia during wartime. 0-9736019-0-6

Author address: #312 1350 View Crescent, Delta, B.C. V4L 3K3

[BCBW 2005] "War"