A Newfoundland man who was a prisoner of war in Japan when the Americans unleashed nuclear war on Japan has passed away at the age of 94.
At the age of twenty-one, Ford enlisted. The realities of war were quickly impressed on the Port Aux Basque native when the troop ship he was traveling on to England was attacked several times by German U-boats. He was captured in 1941 when the Japanese attacked British bases in Singapore. From that period to the Japanese surrender he endured horrendous treatment as slave labor.
Dr. Jack Ford was in Nagasaki when the atomic bomb known as “Fat Boy” was dropped on August 9, 1945. His account of the terrible devastation, his time as a POW and his eventual freedom are found in Jack Fitzgerald's book, The Jack Ford Story: Newfoundlander POW in Nagasaki.
He describes the event like it occurred yesterday. A forced labourer, he was seven kilometres from ground zero, working on the city's dockyard. Stone and shards of wood hurtled through the air; intense heat washed over the screaming people who ran for shelter; the devastation and the obliteration of most of the city’s buildings. The explosion killed more than 70,000 people and flattened 20 neighbourhoods within a one-kilometre radius of the blast. At the centre, where the temperature was as hot as the surface of the sun, people were reduced to ashes.
Ford’s exposure to the blast's radiation led to four operations over his life-time for skin cancer.
Minister Katsuya Okada to prisoner of war camp survivors and described their treatment as "inhumane." He compared the Canadian treatment of interned Japanese to how the Japanese treated their POWs. In a CBC interview he stated “Apologies don't mean a thing to me…..They refused to give us any money for the labour we performed in Japan. Canada did pay the Japanese that were interned in Canada, but Japan never came forward with any money of any kind."
More than one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in Canada's Armed Forces, in Allied forces or in the merchant navy; over 47,000 of them gave their lives. The Newfoundland Book of Remembrance commemorates the men and women of Newfoundland who gave their lives in defence of freedom during both the First and Second World Wars - before Newfoundland became a province of Canada on April 1, 1949. The Merchant Navy Book of Remembrance commemorates the men and women of the Merchant Marine who gave their lives while serving Canada at sea during both the First World War and the Second World War.