A Debt of Blood: WWII Oral History

Uncle Yung is a friend of our family. During the Second World War, he fought against the Japanese. He tells the following story about his wartime experiences.

Before the Japanese invaded our country, I was just an ordinary villager living in a small and remote village, living a cycle of starting work at sunrise and resting after sunset. I caught fish in a nearby river, fed poultry in the yard behind my hut and grew vegetables on the hillside not very far away from my hut. One day my life changed dramatically.

I heard from other villagers that the Japanese army was invading our country and some of them had already come to Hong Kong. The Japanese forces had taken most parts of Hong Kong under their control. According to that villager, those Japanese soldiers turned every place they visited into a living hell. At that time, I wished those Japanese would never find or be interested to come to our poor and remote village. But my wishes never come true.

On a cool and silent night on Christmas Day, 1941, when most of the villagers had gone back home to have rest, I was lying on my bed reading a book. Suddenly I could hear a lot of noise. My poultry cried loudly. I saw a lot of people walking around outside my hut speaking some kind of language unknown to me. I knew instantly that they were those Japanese. One of the Japanese soldiers broke in and dragged me out of my hut. I could see that all of them had fierce eyes. I didn’t know how to resist even though I had learned some Kung Fu (martial arts). I thought Kung Fu couldn’t beat guns and swords. I was stunned and just went where they wanted me to go. Those Japanese took all of the villagers to the entrance of the village. One of the villagers tried to resist and was then beaten by a number of Japanese soldiers. One of the Japanese officers stood in front of us and told us that they were now taking over this village and that if everyone wanted to live, we shouldn’t resist, that resistance was futile.

“The fate of everyone who tries to resist us will be death” I didn’t know what the officer said as I don’t understand Japanese but another villager told me. Even now, I still don’t know how he could understand the officer.

The Japanese took all our food and valuable things and made us work for them: building campsites for them, cooking for them and treating their injured soldiers. They destroyed most of the farmland.

A few days later, one of the villagers got caught trying to escape and was beaten to death. The body was hung at the village entrance. This event aroused the emotions of all the villagers. We thought that we must fight for our lives or else any one of us would be the next to die.

Twelve villagers joined together to go out to seek help. I was one of them. We had all been learning Kung Fu together. One night, we took action. We killed a number of off-duty Japanese soldiers and took their uniforms and weapons. Some of us used their grenades to bomb their campsite and others tried to escape when the confusion started. Ten of us successfully escaped from the village and we found a group of people who had set up a voluntary defense force against the Japanese army. We joined the force and fought a number of good battles. The ‘Allies don’t come close’ bomb [an action in which all Chinese were warned to steer clear of areas where bombs had been planted] was one of our masterpieces.

Following Japan’s surrender on August 14, 1945. I went back to my village and I found that everything had gone. I really hate those Japanese. They should compensate for what they have done to us. They are to blame for the blood on my hands.

~As told to Wilson Cheng Chi-man (Hong Kong)


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