Remembering Riflemen Whilst Bushwhacking

Good trick, eh? 11 • 11• 11. Felt like any other, though good news arrived to brighten the short, dark, cold November days. My videopoem Bushwhack is an official selection of the International Literary Film Festival, Director Lee Bob Black, “excited to be screening it along with many other brilliant films.”

I still have not had an opportunity to write an account of our recent Visible Verse Festival, swamped with novel queries, hustling, but did take time to honour our war dead on Rememberance Day. My maternal grandfather Rifleman Reginald Haley of Matapédia, Quebec was a member of the Royal Rifles taken prisoner by the Japanese Christmas Eve 1941, dying of dysentery a few awful years later. My friend author Dennis E. Bolen said it was a damn shame how the outfit had been abandoned by Churchill, tortured for years by the Imperial Japanese. Though we both have many dear Japanese friends, agree that their government’s refusal to apologize is deplorable. He recommended a book on the subject, War Without Mercy, which “attempts to explain the racism wherein the Japs considered North American Caucasians to be effete and we considered Asians to be sub-human. Bad combination.”Indeed. I recently read Michael Crummy’s The Wreckage, which vividly depicted the brutality of a Japanese POW camp and some people, usually Americans, claim that the Kamikaze ideology is what got them nuked. And there’s my hapless big Mick grandfather Reggie caught in the crossfire. Sadly the soldiers that survived received no hero’s welcome either. I regret never having had the privilege of knowing him, sounds like we would have got on. Hell, my mother could barely remember him, only eight years old when he died, leaving her, my grandmother Genora and four brothers and sisters bereft and impoverished. I can honestly say the tremendous loss of my grandfather has impacted our family to this day.

Rest in peace Reginald.

9 thoughts on “Remembering Riflemen Whilst Bushwhacking

  1. Very touching, Heather. I hate to be cynical, but man has an endless capacity for (for want of a better term) “inhumanity” to our fellow-man (in the sense of mankind, not with regard to gender). Your writing is always worth reading — Mark

  2. Hi Heather, I’m currently researching the Haley roots on behalf of my spouse and as well as the story of Reg Haley who actually died on the 21st of November, 1943 according to the records I came across recently. Quite the harrowing story of what he and his comrades had to endure for years while surviving the Japanese prison camps. Reg Haley is the uncle of my spouse. There’s a good Canadian authored book I just read about the battle he took part in with specific mentions to him called The Damned:

  3. Dear Heather,Pleased to see your page,I would like you to know Reggie Haley is not forgotten,but held in the highest reguards in my family.I keep his memory alive by telling my children and grandchildren the stories of Reggie his brothers,Bernie and Bill,and what these boys from Matapedia went through and the pain it caused the family. I am very proud to say Reggie was part of our family. May God Bless you and yours

  4. Hi Heather,

    I have also herd many many stories of Reg Haley from my father, Edwin Haley, Reg Haleys youngest brother. Also from Bill Haley. I only met Bernie once back in the early 60’s when my family traveled to Matapedia for a summer holiday. I knew his son Reg Haley from Winnipeg Manitoba as his family would travel to Red Rock for summer holidays also.

    If any Haley’s can offer any information regarding family roots, I would like to hear from them.


    Edwin Haley Jr.

  5. Thank you for posting, My son has Reginald as his middle name to Honour his Uncle Reginald that passed in “99 , his Grand-father Reginald who passed in “93 and also his great Grandfather Reginald..proud to say the family name still lives on..

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