The Battle Of Hong Kong December 8 – 25, 1941
Background • Hong Kong was a colony of Great Britain before the start of World War II. • On November 16th the Canadian government sent two infantry battalions (1,975 personnel) to reinforce the British garrison in Hong Kong. • The Canadian battalions were: The Royal Rifles of Canada from Quebec The Winnipeg Grenadiers from Manitoba Neither battalion had much fighting experience.
Canadian Infantry Defending Hong Kong Canadians Marching In Hong Kong 6 Weeks Before The Battle Started
Background Information Of The Battle • The Japanese attacked at 8am on December 8th less than 8 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. • The Japanese were met by British, Canadian, Indian and Hong Kong troops. • The Allied troops only had 5 planes and no significant air defence system as well as a very limited naval defence.
The Battle • The island was surrounded by the Japanese who started with a bombing campaign of air bases. • From December 8 – 15th the Japanese continued to press forward to the interior and the allied troops had to fall back. • Japan asked for a surrender on December 13 and 17 but both were rejected. • After the December 17 surrender was rejected Japan started their mass invasion in the northeast. • The Japanese overran the Allies and did not take prisoners but instead started to commit atrocities and war crimes by massacring 20 gunners and many prisoners as well as medical personal.
The Battle(Continued) • On the morning of December 19th the Western Brigades headquarters were destroyed splitting the island into two isolated parts. • This caused a massive water shortage for the Allied troops especially for the wounded soldiers.
Black Christmas • On Christmas morning Japanese soldiers entered the British field hospital at St. Stephen's College and tortured and killed a large number of injured soldiers, along with the medical staff. • By Christmas afternoon it was clear that further resistance was pointless and the Allies surrendered the island to the Empire Of Japan. • This was the first time that a British colony had ever surrendered in war.
Prisoners Of War • At the end of February 1942, the Japanese government stated that number of POW’s were: British 5,072 Canadian 1,689 Indian 3,829 10,947 in total
Of the Canadians captured during the battle, 267 subsequently perished in Japanese prisoner of war camps, mainly due to mistreatment and abuse.
The Aftermath • Britain regain control of Hong Kong on August 15th six days after the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. • General Takashi Sakai, who led the invasion of Hong Kong was tried as a war criminal and executed by a firing squad in 1946.
Remembering The Fallen • The Allied dead from the campaign, including British, Canadian and Indian soldiers were eventually interred at the Sai Wan Military Cemetery and Stanley Military Cemetery. • A total of 1,528 soldiers, mainly Commonwealth, are buried there.
Cenotaph in Hong Kong Sai Wan War Cemetery
Awards For Gallantry John Robert Osborn Osborn statue in Hong Kong Park After seeing a Japanese grenade roll in through the doorway of the building Osborn and his fellow Canadian Winnipeg Grenadiers had been garrisoning, he took off his helmet and threw himself on the grenade, saving the lives of over 10 other Canadian soldiers.
Dogs Can Fight Too • Gander was a Newfoundland dog posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal, the "animals' Victoria Cross", in 2000 for his deeds in World War II The first such award in over 50 years. He picked up a thrown Japanese hand grenade and rushed with it toward the enemy, dying in the ensuing explosion, but saving the lives of several wounded Canadian soldiers. At the insistence of survivors of the battle, his name was listed with those of 1975 men and two women on the Hong Kong Veterans Memorial Wall in Ottawa.
The Battle Of Hong Kong Video Interview • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoNbYkEUDzc • An interview with three Canadian soldiers who survived the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941. They talk about the battle, and about their subsequent imprisonment and brutal treatment as POWs for over 3 1/2 years. The veterans are: George MacDonell, James MacMillan (now deceased) and John Stroud (now deceased). The interviewer is Peter Silverman.