CAF delegation attends 75th anniversary for Battle of Hong Kong

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A 13-member Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) delegation took part in a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong on December 4, 2016. The event was held at the Sai Wan War Cemetery in Hong Kong, and the CAF group represented several Canadian Army units and corps involved in the historic Second World War battle.

At the Sai Wan War Cemetery, part of the delegation formed the Guard of Honour while other CAF members laid wreaths. The contingent also received a guided tour of the site of the Battle of Wong Nai Chung Gap, where some of the fiercest fighting in the Battle of Hong Kong took place.

“As a soldier, I can understand the military aspect of the sacrifice, but it gets more personal when you see those who were left behind and the impact that they had,” said Master Corporal Addison Allden of the Winnipeg Rifles. “These men travelled halfway around the world to fight alongside the British troops in Hong Kong. They were just a small militia from Winnipeg and their legacy still survives 75 years later.”

“It’s a powerful feeling to be standing at the very place where the heavy fighting for the defence of Hong Kong took place, especially after all the stories of the Canadians’ acts of courage and determination we’ve been hearing,” said Lieutenant Rafael Gendron of the Sherbrooke Hussars. “I feel even more proud and honoured to be part of the Canadian Armed Forces.”

A bit of history

On December 8, 1941, the Japanese attacked Hong Kong. Two Canadian Reserve units fought in the Battle of Hong Kong: the Winnipeg Grenadiers (Winnipeg Rifles) and the Royal Rifles of Canada (Voltigeurs de Québec), which were augmented by the 7th/11th Hussars (Sherbrooke Hussars).

These Canadian soldiers became the first members from Canadian Army units to actively participate in the Second World War. Over the following 17 days, Canadian soldiers—inexperienced and outnumbered—defended Hong Kong with determination and courage until they were forced to surrender on Christmas Day 1941. More than 290 Canadians were killed and another 500 injured during the battle. Survivors spent nearly four years in Japanese prisoner of war camps and were the last Canadian Second World War soldiers to return home.

In addition to the battle losses, more than 260 Canadian soldiers reportedly died in the cruel conditions of the Japanese camps.

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