There is a scene an hour into Viveka Melki’s documentary The Fence in which George Peterson, the last surviving soldier of the Winnipeg Grenadiers imprisoned by the Japanese during the Second World War, cannot go on.
It is, perhaps, one of the most poignant living testaments to Second World War suffering that exists anywhere, a Canadian’s first-person account of the abuses their Japanese captors inflicted on them after the fall of Hong Kong in December 1941.
“I wasn’t injured during the war at all,” says the 96-year-old veteran. “But mentally, I think everybody was.”
Speaking publicly about his four-year ordeal for the first time, he then starts to relate what happened on his first night as a PoW and the “one thing” that happened that he says he will never divulge.