11 November 2010

Pass the word

In Kingston, a new mess at Canadian Forces Base Kingston carries the name of a man who survived internment in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.  His actions while a prisoner saved the lives of many of his fellow prisoners.  he resisted all attempts to break him.

Two retired army colonels waged a private lobbying campaign to name the mess after Major Ron Routledge, DCM.

Colonel Peter Sutton put it aptly:

"Everybody should be conscious of what's gone before, and do everything you possibly can -- as Ron (Routledge) did with me -- to pass on the word."

Routledge set up a communication network between the Sham Shui Po prisoner of war Camp and British intelligence at Waichow through Chinese ration truck drivers. Without hesitation and fully aware of the dangers involved, Sergeant Routledge [his rank at the time] joined the ration party as the contact for the passage of messages to Chungking agents under the eyes of the Japanese guards.

The channel Routledge set up saved many lives through the supply of much needed medicine and  valuable information. The Japanese discovered the system.  They beat, starved and tortured Routledge mercilessly yet he refused to divulge any information that would jeopardize his comrades. A Japanese court martial sentenced Routledge to 15 years in a Hong Kong prison for espionage, a sentence that ended in 1945. Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions, the citation for that bravery decoration reads, in part, “The resolute courage of this [non-commissioned officer] NCO in spite of indescribable suffering and his devotion to duty provide an example of the highest tradition in the service.”


- srbp -