Friday, 11 November 2011


I am lucky to have a veteran in my life. This is my grandfather, Gordon Fairclough (technically he's my step-Grandfather but we've never been big on making that distinction) and I have the pleasure of being able to speak to him on this day every year. 

He had a remarkable experience in World War 2 that you could actually read for yourself in his book Brick Hill and Beyond.

His story reads like the synopsis of an Oscar-winning, Hollywood blockbuster:

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. 
(-from from website ABC Bookworld)


Can you imagine?

Well try, because this day is set apart for us to be grateful for the sacrifices the men and women of the armed forces made and continue to make today.

Thank you.


Barbara said...

Thanks T for reminding us that this day is about remembering that an army is made up of individual people - with lives and families and hopes and dreams. And that for this one moment, on this one day, in we can put aside the politics and just say thank you.

susan said...

Thank you for this!
I posted on Facebook a bit about my great Uncle who was a PoW in Japan, 1941. He was there for 4 years - 4 years of torture, slave labour & starvation. FOUR YEARS! It is insanity - we can't even fathom this - and because of men like him (and your grandpa, and women too!) we don't have to!

We are unbelievably blessed!!

Sparkle said...

A few years back I had a chance encounter with your grandfather in a little bakery/cafe beside a book store in Tsawassen when we missed the ferry back to the island He was reading the paper and dressed so smartly in a natty suit and looked so...Iooking for the right word...interesting, bright, alert, sparkly...that my partner and I were curious what he had done in his life to remain so active and sharp, out and about, and so engaged. My partner left before I did and as I followed I smiled and told your Grandpa how nice he looked and that we'd been talking about him; we'd been rather curious. He charmed me with his story and told me a little of his trek through China to Burma, suggesting I go next door and buy his book, which I did! When I brought it back to be signed he laughed, and I told him its not every morning I meet a hero or someone they should make a movie about! Watching a film..true story..on the same theme tonight, reminded me of Gordon and when I searched for him online your blog came up. I guess he inspired you too, didn't he! I hope he is well and still telling stories! I'll not forget him and what he endured for my rights and freedoms.

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