Thursday, August 13, 2009

Today in Historical Soft-Pedaling

This press release, verbatim from the Department of Veterans Affairs:

Veterans Affairs Canada
Media Advisory
August 13, 2009

Minister to Unveil Memorial Wall Honouring Veterans of the Battle of Hong Kong

The Honourable Greg Thompson, Minister of Veterans Affairs, will dedicate the “C” Force Memorial Wall to honour all those who served in the Battle of Hong Kong during the Second World War. Veterans of the battle will be in attendance.

Location: King Edward Avenue and Sussex Drive (east of King Edward
on National Capital Commission property)

Date: Saturday, August 15, 2009

Time: 11:00 a.m.

During the Second World War, Canada sent a force of 1,976 to help the British reinforce their outpost in Hong Kong to deter hostile action by Japan. The force consisted of two battalions - the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada. Over 17 days of fighting in December 1941, 290 Canadians were killed and another 493 were wounded. Those who survived were held in prisoner of war camps until the end of the war on August 15, 1945.

The press release soft-peddles what happened to the Canadians "held in prisoner of war camps..." Canadian soldiers were brutalized from the time they were captured and marched through Hong Kong without water (civilians who tried to give the Canadians water at the Kowloon YMCA were beaten), through their internment in Hong Kong and after the transfer of many of them to slave work in Japan. The Canadians were worked to death in Japanese coal mines and steel mills. All of them sere denied adequate food and most received mo medical treatment. Here's a good link to a web site on the POWs: The Canadian government knew from the start that the prisoners were being mistreated but censored all news of the cruelties inflicted on them.


Anonymous said...

Ottawa Watch said...

Makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Several years ago my daughter was travelling through South-east Asia and she described an incident which quite moved her. She had taken a train to the East of Bangkok to see some caves which were well known for the resident bats. Before reaching the caves, near the border with Myanmar, the train stopped by a museum dedicated to the story of the building of the railroad by Allied prisoners of war. It showed, quite graphically, how they were treated by their captors. It was a real eye opener for a 25-year old young woman. It’s unfortunate that Canada chooses to downplay the sacrifices made by these men who were sacrificed early in the war.

Bob said...

RBain from Mississauga, Ont

I hope we never forget what these brave men did for us in Hong Kong. I surely won't because my 3 uncles were all captured and sent to the Omine mines were they stayed for the rest of the war. They were lucky to come back home to Canada but the treatement they faced at the hands of the Japanese soilders were terrible and inhumane.
In conclusion I agree I haven't heard a lot of apologies from the Japanese government and I think what they did for us should never be forgotten. I surely will never forget as long as I shall live.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see Stockwell Day and his mother at the ceremony. Evidently, his mother's father survived the POW camps only to die a few years after the war from the effects of the imprisonment.
Was the news ban designed to prevent retaliation against Japanese-Canadians? Enough nastiness directed towards them after the war. One can only imagine what would have happened during the war, even with their relocation.