Guest of Hirohito

Description

184 pages
Contains Photos
$10.95
DDC 940.54'7252'092

Publisher

Year

1990

Contributor

Reviewed by Sidney Allinson

Sidney Allinson is the editor at the Royal Canadian Military Institute
and author of The Bantams: The Untold Story of World War I.

Review

Forty-six years after their brutal captivity ended, the War Amputations
of Canada have filed a $4 billion group claim to the United Nations
Human Rights Commission. Their claim is for reparations against Japan on
behalf of prisoners of war from six Allied countries—for crimes
against humanity.

Throughout World War II, the Japanese treated their prisoners with
implacable cruelty, from senseless murder and torture to routine
starvation and enforced slave labor. One survivor is Dr. Cambon, a
distinguished surgeon in British Columbia, who was only 17 when he
joined the Royal Rifles of Canada. After taking part in the heroic but
doomed defence of Hong Kong, he endured four years as a captive, and has
only now become able to voice his memories. He recounts horrific events
with commendable restraint, though they are no less revealing for it.
His word-picture of disease-ridden labor compounds manned by mindlessly
cruel guards is at times almost unbearable. The martyrdom of Canadian
and British women after the fall of Hong Kong makes particularly grim
reading.

Cambon expresses no bitterness now, though; he went back last year to
revisit the scenes of his captivity. However, he does quote a sign the
Japanese had prominently displayed at Hiroshima: “To forgive is not to
forget.” Indeed.

Citation

Cambon, Kenneth., “Guest of Hirohito,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed September 23, 2023, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/33025.