Prisoners of War at Sham Shui Po Camp, September 1945.
National Archives of Canada (PA-155525, photo by Jack Hawes).

Prisoners of War at Sham Shui Po Camp, September 1945.

Prisoners of war are sometimes the forgotten heroes of the war. Although freed from the battlefield, POWs still had to overcome the tremendous hardships of imprisonment. During the Second World War, many Canadian POWs perished during this struggle; others survived, but were profoundly and negatively affected by the experience. Some prisoners never fully recovered from the trauma.

Like troops fighting in the battlefield, captured soldiers often suffered through deplorable conditions in the POW camps. Although taken out of the war, Canadian POWs confronted the indignity of being captured and having their freedom taken away. Their captors also often denied them the basic necessities of life, including adequate food, shelter, and medicine. The Japanese regularly tortured and intimidated the captured Canadians and deprived them of adequate rations. They also withheld medicines needed to treat the numerous diseases the POWs contracted. While better, life in German POW camps was still very difficult.

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