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A War Story (1981)

A Canadian doctor interned at a Japanese POW Camp during WWII must tend to his fellow British prisoners who are being worked to death in a mine.



(diary of) (as Dr. Ben Wheeler),
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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Narrated by (voice)
David Edney ... Ben Wheeler
... Peter Seed (as Frank Turner)
Doug Kier ... Medical Orderly
Doug Bagot ... Medical Orderly
W. Forrest MacDonald ... Prisoner of War
Brian Laird ... Prisoner of War
Patrick McGuigan ... Prisoner of War
Grant Carmichael ... Prisoner of War
Dean Stoker ... Prisoner of War
Bill Johnston ... Prisoner of War
Alan Stebbings ... Prisoner of War (as Allan Stebbings)
Keith Mullan ... Prisoner of War
Gerry Whelpton ... Prisoner of War
Philip Zyp ... Prisoner of War


Major Ben Wheeler was a Canadian doctor assigned to Singapore when the Japanese forced an unconditional surrender of the British and took him prisoner in 1942. He was taken to the notorious Kinkaseki Japanese POW mining camp in Formosa (Taiwan) and given the task of maintaining the mental and physical health of the British POWs. Wheeler kept detailed diaries of his experiences during his three and a half years at the camp and excerpts are narrated with dramatized scenes of the traumatic experiences of daily life. The working conditions in the mines caused innumerable injuries, and disease and malnutrition were rampant, but Wheeler had to make do with very few medical supplies and equipment. Also featured is newsreel footage of related events, archival footage of the camp, interviews with fellow survivors of the camp who unanimously praised Wheeler for his good work and provide their perspectives on the events described by him, and finally snippets of Wheeler's family life back home in... Written by pr1mal_1

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Drama | War



Official Sites:

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Release Date:

8 November 1981 (Canada)  »


Box Office


CAD 368,000 (estimated)
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Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

Our thanks to so many others who encouraged, inspired and emotionally supported the Filmmaker throughout this project. See more »


Down the Mine
by Trumpeter Arthur Smith
See more »

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User Reviews

19 February 2016 | by See all my reviews

As the daughter of one of the actors in the dramatized scenes, I can tell you that some of what looks like actual footage is recreated. My father, Gerry Whelpton, was at that time a slim man but did "diet" so to speak for the part. I don't believe any actors were harmed in the making of this movie and I am sure their health was monitored to some degree. To their credit and to the producers and directors, they were simply very good at their jobs!

Actors can make you believe in just about anything and it was incredible shot, directed, edited and produced in such a way as to take you back as if you were living the horrors through these talented actors. I have always thought this is one of my father's best work. I first saw it as a child at the NFB library and I can tell you that I carried it with me long after the viewing. If I didn't know it myself, I would have thought the same as the two previous reviewers here.

I may be a bit biased but I was very moved by this film. It was an eye opener for me then, and now, as to the horrors of war and why we should try to be humane no matter what the world gives you, towards every living thing.

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