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The Bravest People I Have Ever Met

by ateamwar

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Major Maurice Albert Parker
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01 August 2005

The following story appears courtesy of and with thanks to Ronald Parker and Father
Major Maurice Albert Parker:

It is the custom for enemies to attempt to diminish the other side by any means possible in order to paint them as, despicable, hateful, less than human, cowardly creatures, and so easier to face on the battlefield, and to kill. This has been done since men threw stones at each other. It was done in Hong Kong, it is still done today. Brigadier John Masters, DSO, OBE, said of the Japanese.

"... they are the bravest people I have ever met. In any armies, any one of them, nearly every Japanese would have had a Congressional Medal or a Victoria Cross. It is the fashion to dismiss their courage as fanaticism, but that only begs the question. They believed in something and they were willing to die for it, for the smallest detail that would help achieve it. What else is bravery?

They pressed home the attack when no other troops in the world have done so, when all hope of success was gone, except that it never really is, for who can know what the enemy has suffered, what is his state of mind? The Japanese simply came on, using all their skill and rage, until they were stopped by death. In defense they held their ground with furious tenacity that never faltered. They had to be killed, company by company, squad by squad, man by man, to the last
By 1944 the number of Japanese captured unwounded, in all theatres of war, probably did not total one hundred. For the rest, they wrote beautiful little poems in their diaries and practiced bayonet work on their prisoners. Frugal, bestial, barbarous and brave, artistic and brutal, they were the dushmen, (the enemy), and we now set about, in all seriousness, the task of killing everyone of them."

These were the kind of men the Canadians faced on the morning of December 18th, 1941. Arthur G. Penny, author of the "Royal Rifles of Canada, a Short History", published in 1962 for the l00th Anniversary of the Regiment said of Brigadier John Masters words, "This evidence, as conclusive as it is comprehensive, surely justifies me in stating--as I do without hesitation--that no troops in the twentieth century--and certainly none in World War II--have been tested more terribly, more searchingly than were the Canadians at Hong Kong: men brave, intelligent, if you will, but all unused to combat and fighting within an area to which they were complete strangers. Nor have any other troops met such a test with greater credit to their country, to their military traditions and to themselves."

These words will no doubt be challenged by anyone who fought, or was held captive by the Japanese Imperial Army anywhere in the world. Anyone held by them was subjected to the most terrible acts of inhumanity, made all the more horrible by the callous indifference of those who tortured, mutilated, and killed helpless people. The prisoners of the battle for Hong Kong do not have an exclusive claim to the horrors of Japanese internment, but that in no way diminishes their suffering.

'This story was submitted to the People’s War site by BBC Radio Merseyside’s People’s War team on behalf of the author and has been added to the site with his / her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.'

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