On this day in 1945, James ‘Jimmy’ Philip Gard (1919-1945) died while being held as a Canadian prisoner of War in Japan in the Second World War.
Jimmy was 26 when he lost his life on July 14, 1945.
His military records reveal that he died after ‘drinking fuel that was handled by prisoners of war on the docks at Niigata, Japan.
‘The fuel tasted sweet and being without sugar for such a long time, the desire got the better’ of him.
In a letter to his family – sent from the Niigata Camp on October 21, 1944 – Jimmy wrote:
‘Hope you are all in the best of health. The weather here is very good, hope it’s the same there.
‘Say mother, would you send me some pictures of yourselves, and the girlfriend.
‘I suppose you have finished threshing by now, and preparing for the winter.
‘I only wish that I could be there with you. Before I forget, see if you can send me a package. However, do send me some pictures.
‘Must close for now, best regards to all. Your loving son, Jimmy.’
Jimmy was a private in the Winnipeg Grenadiers when he was captured by Japanese forces in Hong Kong.
He was a farmer when he enlisted on January 26, 1940 in Fisher Branch, Manitoba, Canada.
He served in Canada (between January 26, 1940 and October 27, 1941), in Jamaica (between May 22, 1940 and September 13, 1941), and in Hong Kong (between October 28, 1941 and July 14, 1945).
His remains were originally buried at the Yokohama Mausoleum in Japan.
They were later re-buried at Yokohama British Commonwealth War Cemetery in Japan.
Jimmy, born in Manitoba, Canada on February 15, 1919, was the son of Philip Gard (1886-1977), who emigrated to Canada from Rose Ash in Devon in 1904. Philip was one of 16 children of George Gard (1841-1897) and Mary Ann Burnett (1843-1897). Philip’s first cousin – Philip Gard (1885-1915) – who died in the Battle of Loos in France on September 25, 1915 – married Henrietta Lewis (1893-1934) in 1915 in Exeter. Henrietta’s sister, Laura Mary Lewis (1888-1940) married William Henry Bristow (1889-1978) in South Molton in 1913. William was the brother of Ethel Bristow (1886-1967) who married John Burnett (1878-1954) in 1906 in South Molton. John was the son of George Burnett (1826-1910) and Amelia Arscott (1836-1908). Amelia was the daughter of John Arscott (1807-1879), my great-great grandfather.
Yokohama War Cemetery, where Jimmy was buried. Picture taken on March 28, 1915 by Aw1805 (CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons). https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yokohama_War_Cemetery.jpg
A picture of Jimmy can be seen on Find a Grave