AJAs 2016 Finalists


Slug/Label Secret Diary
Date Aired or Published November 11, 2016
Media outlet where first aired or published: CBC Radio
Name of Program: Information Morning
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Moncton
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio): 12:35

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

Ralph Nicol didn't talk about his experience as a captive of the Japanese during the Second World War. Lynn Nicol was only five or six when she learned how painful the subject was for her father, who spent four years as a prisoner of war, almost wasting away in the Japanese camp known as Omine. Over the years Lynn, now a producer with CBC Radio in Moncton, learned the outline of her father's wartime experience, but little about the hardship and horror of his years as a prisoner until she read his diary. In the fall of 2016, she decided to share her father's story. Lynn and Information Morning producer Karin Reid-LeBlanc worked together on this piece for CBC Moncton's Remembrance Day program for the province. It includes a dramatic reading of excerpts selected from Ralph Nicol's prisoner of war diary, the pocket-size journal he kept hidden from his captors. You can hear our host, Jonna Brewer, read the intro/extro on the attached website link (the intro is not included in the attached audio file). Here's the script: Intro: The New Zealand ship Awatea left Vancouver Harbour on October 27th, 1941 carrying two battalions from Canada: The Royal Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada. Nearly two thousand soldiers in all. Men from the Gaspé coast and northern New Brunswick made up the Royal Rifles. Private Ralph Nicol, a 25-year-old farmer from Sillarsville Quebec, near Campbellton, was on that ship. So was his older brother Noble. In mid November, they sailed into Hong Kong Harbour. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, and just hours later, invaded Hong Kong killing 290 Canadian soldiers. Many others, including the Nicol brothers were taken prisoner. Ralph Nicol kept a secret diary during his time in captivity, under threat of death. His daughter Lynn Nicol is one of our producers on Information Morning Moncton. tape NICOL DIARY final in: When i was 5 or 6... runs: 12:35 out: experienced in Japan. Extro: Lynn Nicol is a producer for Information Morning Moncton. The excerpts from Ralph Nicol's diary were read by Gavin Simms of CBC St John's. And thanks to Karin Reid-LeBlanc, our producer here at Information Morning Moncton for putting that together. Ralph Nicol went back to farming and raised three children. He died in 1981 at the age of 64. In 1998, the Canadian government announced a compensation package of up to $24,000 each to the Hong Kong veterans on "humanitarian grounds". In 2011, the Japanese government formally apologized for its treatment of Canadian prisoners of war.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

We worked on this project over the course of a month as we continued to produce our daily current affairs show. This involved selecting which diary entries to record, research to check the historical accuracy of the contextual detail in our story, recording the entries, selecting the music and the final mix. There are eight people in our station, five who work directly on the program and three reporters. We enlisted the help our our St. John's colleague Gavin Simms to read the diary entries. For Lynn, this project truly was a labour of love.

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