Monday, 9 December 2013

Remembering the Fall of Hong Kong

Canadian soldiers on the lookout for the Japanese invaders in Hong Kong
Yesterday marked the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941. For 17 days until Christmas Day, the unprepared Canadian troops tried valiantly to defend the British colony from the Japanese who had already invaded China.

Britain began to realize that Japan was a serious threat, having entered China in 1937, but the British thought Hong Kong couldn't be well defended and reduced the garrison size.

However in 1941 British planners changed their minds and asked Canada to send two infantry battalions and a brigade headquarter to strengthen the defenses with about 2,000 men.

The Canadian soldiers weren't prepared having only served garrison duty in New Foundland and Jamaica.

The day after the bombing of Pearl Harbour on December 8, the Japanese invaded Hong Kong. They were more experienced and outnumbered the inexperienced defenders four to one.

Japanese troops marching along Queen's Road Central
In a short period of time the Japanese killed a number of defenders who surrendered and later tortured sick and wounded soldiers and civilian hospital staff at St Stephens College field hospital.

They day they surrendered, December 25, 1941 was known as "Black Christmas", as the then Governor of Hong Kong Sir Mark Aitchison Young, surrendered in person to the Japanese headquarters that was located in the Peninsula Hong Kong hotel.

For the next three and a half years, British, Canadian and other Commonwealth soldiers suffered extreme brutality at the hands of the Japanese.

Of the 1,975 Canadians who sailed to Hong Kong, more than 550 never came home. Most were laid to rest at Sai Wan War Cementary in Chai Wan.






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