Nagasaki survivor Jack Ford dead at 94

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Captured in 1942, Port aux Basques native spent three years as a prisoner of war in Japan

One of the last Canadian connections to the prisoner of war (PoW) experience during the Second World War has died. John (Jack) Charles Harvey Ford died Tuesday at the age of 94.

Jack Ford, a Royal Air Force member during the Second World War, was a prisoner of war for more than three years in Japan. — Submitted photo

A native of Port aux Basques, Ford was 21 years old when he joined the Royal Air Force in 1940. He trained for six months in England as an aero-mechanic before being sent to Singapore to assist the war effort.

He was on the island of Java when Japanese forces captured him on March 8, 1942. Shortly thereafter, Ford was sent to Nagasaki, where he stayed at a prison camp and was forced to perform slave labour at a shipyard.

“Conditions in every prison camp were very similar, there wasn’t a great lot of difference — starvation and beatings and everything like that,” he told The Telegram in 2011. “The conditions in the camps were pretty rough.”

Ford was in Nagasaki when an atomic bomb was dropped on the city on Aug. 9, 1945. It was only six days later that Japan surrendered to Allied forces. He and other prisoners in Nagasaki did not learn of the surrender until the following month.

In recent years, Ford became increasingly critical of how Victory over Japan Day (VJ-Day) was honoured. He felt it deserved more recognition from both the media and the public.

“You soon forget, and if you forget, everything is lost,” he told The Telegram on VJ-Day in 2012.

“If you forget, it could happen again — and who in the name of goodness wants to be involved in anything like that again?”

Ford was named to the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2012.

A funeral service for Ford is scheduled to take place Friday at Wesley United Church in St. John’s starting at 11 a.m.

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Royal Air Force, Wesley United Church

Geographic location: Nagasaki, Port aux Basques, Japan England Singapore Island of Java Newfoundland and Labrador

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  • Myles W. Vardy
    September 25, 2013 - 21:20

    I met Mr. Jack Ford many years ago when I worked with CN Railway in Port Aux Basques. My father told me stories about Jack Ford. I appreciated the stories, however, the stories as told by Jack impacted me much more. I was sad to hear of Jack's death. May he rest in peace, never to be forgotten.

  • Krista Savoury
    September 25, 2013 - 11:55

    As a resident of Port aux Basques, I grew up hearing this mans name. My Dad told me Mr. Fords story at a very young age it really stuck with me. This man faced horrors that we could never imagine. I've read countless stories, articals and books about this man and his courageous life. A true hero. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your service and sacrifice. Rest in peace Mr. Ford.

  • Harry Pardy
    September 25, 2013 - 08:11

    Jack Ford hired me to work at CN in Port Aux Basques, in 1966. To read his book afterwards, makes me wonder how he could be such a compashionate person to us young fellows, as we wern't that easy to take orders. He was a Great man.