This is my first opportunity to greet our members across Canada as your President. I’m very pleased to serve in this role!
Perhaps a little personal background would be in order. I am the son of Alfred and Christina Babin. Alfred (known to his friends as “Babin”) was a Rifleman in the Royal Rifles. He was captured at St. Stephen’s College on December 25, 1941 and interned with his colleagues at Sham Shui Po camp. In August, 1943 he was shipped to Japan and spent the remainder of the war at the dockyard in Niigata, in camp 5B. Alfred passed away in 2014. My mother, Christina (known as “Teeny”) was also in the army during WW II in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWAC). She also passed away in 2014, shortly before my Dad.
My wife, Dawn, and I have two daughters (Shelley and Julie) and two granddaughters. We live in Toronto, and have just recently downsized our home. My working career was with IBM in the enterprise software field, primarily in sales and marketing roles. I retired in 2004.
As I’m sure was the case for many of you, my Dad didn’t have much to say about his time as a POW when I was young. As I got older, though, he began to open up more about it, and I learned a great deal from him about what took place before and during the battle in Hong Kong and in the POW camps. This piqued my interest, and when I retired I decided to become involved in the HKVCA in the Ontario Region. This led to my becoming the Regional Director some years ago. I’m proud to be able to devote some of my time to helping achieve the HKVCA’s mission, and to commemorating the 1,976 Canadians who served there and those who died while doing so.
I think it’s worth repeating the HKVCA’s mission here:
To educate all Canadians on the role of Canada's soldiers in the Battle of Hong Kong and on the effects of the internment of the battle’s survivors on both the soldiers and their families. We also assist in the support and welfare of Hong Kong veterans and their widows.
Although the Battle of Hong Kong looms large in our minds, the same isn’t true of the average Canadian. Every Canadian is aware of Canada’s role in WW I, especially with this year’s 100th anniversary of Vimy. Similarly, Canadians know that our soldiers fought in WW II, but most think in terms of our military’s participation in the European theatre. Few are aware that our government sent soldiers to Hong Kong. This is why education is central to the HKVCA’s mission.
Education takes many forms. What comes immediately to mind is the teaching of the Battle of Hong Kong in schools. Less obvious, perhaps, is the dissemination of information through our web site and Facebook. And every mention in the media, such as newspapers, TV and radio, is an educational moment.
It will come as no surprise to you, then, that during my tenure as President I intend to maintain a strong focus on our education mission.
Unfortunately, though, we’ve had to make the decision to not run our Cross Canada Writing Contest this school year. Although a few schools have embraced this program, and some wonderful compositions have been submitted over the seven years we’ve been running it, it is just not getting the widespread uptake that we feel it needs. So, we are taking the time to re-examine it and figure out how to improve it.
You may be aware that the ALPHA (Association for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia) organization has embarked on a project to build a museum in Toronto dedicated to educating the public - especially younger people - on the atrocities committed during World War II, particularly those in Asia. The story of the Battle of Hong Kong will be featured there, and we will be involved in the preparation of the museum’s exhibits and material on the topic.
As you can read about elsewhere in the newsletter, we’ve embarked on a project to place plaques commemorating the Battle of Hong Kong in places such as Legion branches, retirement homes and other locations where Hong Kong Veterans spent time after the war. So far, we have placed six, and we have a growing list of potential locations. In addition to being a permanent commemoration, each placement gives us the opportunity for media coverage and helps us to spread the word about the Battle of Hong Kong. This is a national project, and we invite members in all parts of the country to participate in this worthwhile program.
As important as education is, another major focus for me will be on attracting new members to the HKVCA. In particular, we need to bring the younger generation of Canadians into our organization to provide the energy and creativity we need to execute our mission. When the HKVCA was founded in the early 1990s, it was with a solemn commitment to the Veterans that we would carry the Torch on their behalf. If we are to continue living up to this commitment, we need to encourage the younger members of our families and friends to join us to help.
In September, one of our members in Ottawa, Ian Doull, passed away unexpectedly. Ian was a member of the HKVCA’s Board of Directors and our National Secretary, and we will sorely miss all of the work he did on behalf of the HKVCA. Another Ottawa resident, Ted Terry (son of Edward L. Terry, Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps, deceased) has agreed to join the Board to fill the vacant position. Lucette Mailloux-Muir has agreed to assume the responsibilities of Secretary. Both positions are effective until our next election, and I thank both of these members for volunteering.
I look forward to hearing from you on any of these topics, and especially with your ideas on how we can better execute our mission. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
We will remember them.
Allison Pollock RRC, E30460, on Dec 10, 2017 (obituary)
Gerald Sunstrum, RRC, B68309, on Nov 29, 2017 (obituary)
Charles Dallain, RRC, E30404, twin brother to Paul Dallain (deceased), on Sept 8, 2017
(Read about these veterans on our 'C' Force site - ed.)
Audrey Acton, widow of Robert Acton, RC Sigs, on Jan 14, 2017 (obituary) (we apologize for the lateness of this notice)
Eileen Cambon, widow of Dr. Ken Cambon RRC, on Aug 8, 2017 (obituary)
Gwen Day, former Director BC Region, daughter of Major Bertram Gilbert, RRC, on Aug 18, 2017 (obituary)
Joe Killoran, HKVCA, son of John Killoran, RRC, on May 25, 2017
We Will Remember Them
Greetings from New Richmond to all in the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association!
Because I have no news worthy of printing, perhaps I will be permitted to say something about a comrade, long departed but well remembered. Today I write about CSM Frank Ebdon(E29977) RRC. Frank was a World War I veteran of the British Army. He had emigrated to Canada and settled in Delhi, Ontario. After the somewhat questionable departure of CSM Bert Holt, of “D” Company, RRC, in Valcartier on the eve of our departure for Hong Kong, Sgt. Frank became company sergeant-major of “D” Company, all five feet tall, one hundred fifteen pounds of him.
Frank had been a drill sergeant. He had a peculiar way of conducting parade. While most drill sergeants shout “left, right, left, right” to maintain discipline, Frank’s instructions came out as “Eef, ight, eef,ight, eef, ight” much to the amusement of his recruits.
Frank accompanied us to Hong Kong and fought along with us in all of the battles, leading up to the debacle at Stanley Village on Christmas Day. In the thick of the battle he received a Japanese bullet on the point of his chin which tore out eight teeth and badly disfigured his face. He survived the rigors of prison camps and returned to his family in the tobacco country of Ontario at Delhi.
The last time I met Frank it was at the reunion in Edmonton. He died soon after that. He is remembered.
That will be all for this time. Be good to each other and May God Bless.
(Read Phil's memoirs on our website - ed)
Yep, we missed publishing an Autumn edition of WASURERU-NAI due to lack of content, but we hope you'll agree that we've made up for it with this extended issue. You're familiar with our regular contributions such as the President's Report, and Region Reports, but I recommend that you also take the time to read some special human-interest stories such as Reflections of a Son and Grandson and Growing Up With Dad. As you read them, you may find they ring a chord with your own experiences – why not share your story with our HKVCA family. I'd be pleased to publish your efforts in a future newsletter.
There's been lots of activity in the past few months both on our websites and on our Facebook page. Thanks to Lori, Lillian (see related story), and many others, we've added significantly to the personal reports of our 'C' Force members.
Also, thanks to the dedication of Dan James, our Facebook administrator, many of our 1000 followers have submitted information and photos on family members. We're doing our best to capture this information and will keep working to add it to the individual reports.
Our visitors are also spending time browsing the content on our websites. This chart below illustrates "sessions" which represent visits where the visitor interacts with site content, as opposed to just clicking through. (Click on the image for a larger view)
Pictured above is a thumbnail image of a graph showing number of sessions on our web site during a recent time period.
Thank you for electing to receive this newsletter online. You're saving us money - money that can be used in support of our mission. It's a sobering thought to realize that it costs about $3 to mail each newsletter, so from $20 received in dues $12 is spent on mailings. Please spread the word to those who still receive a paper copy, but have an internet connection. You can always print a copy - instructions can be found at the bottom of this page.
On Sunday, October 22, 2017 the dedication took place at the Field of Honour at Brookside Cemetery (one of the largest military cemeteries in Canada). There were approximately 130 attending this special day.
The memorial is comprised of a plaque that came from Hong Kong as an extra from the dedication at Jardine’s Lookout. The second plaque was made for the 75th Anniversary last year but didn’t arrive in time. The design for the memorial has both these plaques on grey granite with black china granite side pillars. On the pillars are the grenadier grenade and the red shoulder patch with the white HK.
L to R – Jon Reyes, Special Envoy for Military Affairs; Padre Paul Lampman; Dr. Doug Eyolfson – Member of Parliament for Charleswood — St. James — Assiniboia — Headingly, Member of the Standing Committee on Health and Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs; Mayor Brian Bowman and Lt Col. Moran, 38th Brigade Cdn Armed Forces
Dignitaries included -
The 283 ANAF Pipe band with Bill MacQuarrie (played Lament) with the Winnipeg Grenadiers cadet corps (as escort) and bugler Cpl. James Langridge and Lt. Col. Moran, 38th Brigade Cdn Armed Forces Winnipeg (was to escort George Peterson (last Winnipeg Grenadier HK vet) to lay a wreath but George was ill and couldn’t attend.) The wreath was laid by Ladena Hogkinson Mabley (HK widow). Our Colour Party (Vince & Stan Lopata, Alex Taylor) and Padre Paul Lampman participated in the ceremony. Thank you to President Ron Anderson from Manitoba/NW Ontario Command and members of St. James, Henderson, Norwood/St. Boniface Legions; John Osborn ANAF (and their members), and the Portugese Veterans for their support and attending.
Ladena Hogkinson Mabley (HK widow) laying the wreath escorted by Lt Col. Moran, 38th Brigade Cdn Armed Forces and a Winnipeg Grenadiers cadet.
We were thrilled to have HK widows – Ladena Hogkinson Mabley, Ann Richardson (recently out of hospital), Joan Watson and family from Birtle, MB; Helen Prieston and family from Swan River, MB; and Helen Trick from Stonewall (celebrating her 99th birthday), and family.
I wish to thank Jane Saxby, Administrator from Brookside Cemetery and the City of Winnipeg for their help with the 75th Anniversary plaque and the land, Larsen’s Memorial for the wonderful job of the monument and Richard Rosin and Eirik Bardal at Neil Bardal Centre for their assistance with the reception and Chamberlain’s catering.
Looking East 75th Anniversary plaque with Grenadiers grenade on the pillar
Looking West with the Jardine’s Lookout plaque and the Red shoulder patch with white HK on the pillar
Because of the time of year, a brief ceremony was held at the memorial with greetings from our dignitaries, blessings from Padre Paul Lampman and Ladena Hogkinson Mabley (Hk widow) laying the wreath.
We adjourned to Neil Bardal Centre to continue the event with the Protocol Ceremony, (assisted by Dennis Bell and Barry Mitchell), reading of the Honour Roll (Marleen Bell) for the past year. Bill MacQuarrie (played Lament) and bugler Cpl. James Langridge played Last Post and Reveille. A brief history was given on the HKVCA and their activities, everyone was encouraged to view the display and the event concluded with refreshments.
In December 2016, my son John and I embarked on a trip to Hong Kong. Our purpose was to trace the story of my father, Bernard Jesse, a member of the Winnipeg Grenadiers “C” force, and to retrace the memories recorded in his book “Seared in My Memory”.
It was a significant year to make this journey, as 2016 was the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong. We began our trek on December 4th by participating in the annual Canadian Commemorative Ceremony at Sai Wan War Cemetery, the resting place for over 2000 Commonwealth soldiers. Over 600 individuals from Canada and Hong Kong attended this moving ceremony. Most significant for us was the presence of four individuals who participated in the battle, including a 96-year-old member of the Hong Kong volunteer defense.
A profound comment made at the ceremony struck us personally and created a greater sense of how important and misunderstood this event is in our perceptions of WWII:
“The defense of Hong Kong was the first shot taken by a Canadian in WWII, and following the defeat and their captivity they were the last Canadians to return home.”
As many authors and historians have noted, the defense of Hong Kong and Canada’s presence in Asia during WWII is not well recognized nor seldom included in our national historical discussions. Perhaps this is due to the attack on Hong Kong being overshadowed by the simultaneous attack on Pearl Harbour, or perhaps because Hong Kong was a military defeat for the Commonwealth forces, in spite of the extreme valour and bravery of the forces assigned to the island's defense.
As we travelled across Hong King Island and Kowloon, we traced the locations, dates and events recorded in my Dad’s book, Tony Banham’s book “Not the Slightest Chance”, and the extensive knowledge of our local historian and guide, Martin Heyes, significantly supplemented our journey. Our hikes and stops through the Wong Nai Chong and Wan Chai gaps as well as the Gin Drinkers Line helped us better understand the challenging topography, strategic mountain locations, and reservoirs that were coveted territory for control of the island.
Historical photographs and records made us realize how much different the landscape would have been in December 1941, not only due to incredible building and population changes that have occurred over the past 75 years, but also the reforestation that has occurred. Both the island and New Territories forests had been clear-cut in the early and mid 1900’s to supply wood to other parts of Asia. Defending the low lying areas from large forces stationed on the mountains and upper trails would have been challenging if not impossible even with sufficient armaments, soldiers and an effective strategic plan.
Sai Wan Cemetery
History records the many strategic errors that contributed to Hong Kong’s capture. We learned a great deal about this at a visit to the Naval Defense Museum and during our tour of the New Territories and the Shing Mun Redoubt area. As we hiked the trails, toured the pillboxes and tunnels built to defend the most significant reservoirs, we experienced a deep sense of battle conditions and the impossibility of defending Hong Kong.
Our subsequent trips to Stanley Cemetery and retracing our steps back up through the gaps helped us identify the area where we believe my father and his company surrendered on December 24, 1941.
Our final days took us to the Sham Shui Po Camp area, now a beautiful urban park. This location and North Point Camp, was where POWs were detained. Some were imprisoned here for the entire war while others, like my father, were sent to Japan to work in hard labour camps. The North Point camp is no longer locatable due to extensive shore reclamation and massive urbanization.
Two small plaques are all that remain of the Sham Shui Po Camp. This peaceful courtyard stirred powerful emotions in us; a spot where 75 years ago, soldiers including my father were imprisoned and mistreated. The plaques contain profound words “In Memory of All Who Died In Battle of Hong Kong, in the Prison Camps, and Since as a Result of Their Suffering ”.
Will all the details of every troop movement, location and decision ever be realized? That is unlikely and probably impossible. More valuable is the tremendous work of the HKVCA, dedicated historians, and the many families who contribute to its historical records, as they have provided us all with a living journal and a record that none of us as the descendants of this horrific event and subsequent imprisonment and violation of every human right and dignity should ever forget.
What did our 10-day journey reveal to us? It is impossible to answer this in a few short sentences, but it was certainly a life-altering experience. To walk the trails, see the remnants, learn the history, appreciate the geography, and better understand the motives and strategies of both the Allies and Axis forces, brought my Dad’s personal story to life.
As we toured, talked and analyzed the events of 75 years ago, interpreted through our current global condition and status, we felt how one soldier’s involvement in WWII has profoundly affected who we are and how we view the world. Our visit gave us the very precious gift of perspective for what my Father and his fellow soldiers endured and shed some light into the wounds, both physical and emotional, that he bore when he returned home.
Will we return? Time will tell, but our extended family and the next generation of descendants will never forget how profoundly important our parents’ generation were in defending a way of life they envisioned for us all through the giving of their lives or the living hell they all endured both in prison and upon their return. My Father returned home from Hong Kong as man marked but not defined by his struggles and perseverance during his time there. My son and I also returned from the same place as changed men, with a deep appreciation for the experiences of my Father and a perspective for how his history forms a part of who my son and I are to this day.
Howard Jesse is the son of Bernard Jesse Winnipeg Grenadier ‘C” Company who authored his personal experience in the defence of Hong Kong in a book entitled “Seared in My Memory”. Howard retired from the Regina Public School Board in 2009 having held positions as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, vice principal and principal. In those capacities he made numerous regional and provincial presentations to colleagues students and the community on the Battle of Hong Kong and the impact it had on his father, mother and family. Howard and his siblings have been members of HKVCA for a number of years and value the work they do to record the past, and informing us of our current role in supporting all veterans.
My name is Kevin Turcotte. I was recently honoured to share a brief account of my first visit to Hong Kong at a plaque dedication ceremony at the Port Credit Legion on November 5, 2017. I am the proud grandson of Lt. Leonard Bertram Corrigan of the Winnipeg Grenadiers, son of Patricia Turcotte (Corrigan), brother of Carole Turcotte, cousin of Mark Purcell and Megan Coles, nephew to Shelagh, Mik and Kathie Corrigan and especially proud father to my daughter Natalie Jaye Turcotte. I would like to thank these family members for their time and dedication to the HKVCA and the assembling and publishing of Leonard's diary. Though I have seen and held much of my grandfather's collection of war memorabilia that is on display and in storage at Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg, I may have been the only immediate family member yet to visit the place where he spent almost four years of his life fighting for principles that were important to him and his fellow countrymen.
As a freelance musician and trumpet player, I have traveled to many countries around the world but had not yet set foot on mainland China or in the city of Hong Kong. It was with great excitement and anticipation that I was able to accept an offer to play at the 2017 Hong Kong International Jazz Festival with Canadian pianist David Braid. We were asked to perform music we created for the soundtrack of a film called Born to be Blue about the life of American jazz trumpeter, Chet Baker . During my flight from Vancouver I figured it was high time to pull out my copy of Hong Kong Diary Revisited and set the mood for my first visit. I re-read the passages where my grandfather tells in fascinating and riveting detail how the battle unfolded around him and how he personally engaged with the enemy. Every time I pick up this book I am reminded what a unique opportunity it is for me and others to get inside the mind of a respected and revered officer who generally did not volunteer information and anecdotes about his time in the War.
Once in Hong Kong, we were hosted by the MetroPark Hotel in Kowloon. Our concert was to take place at the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre on the Island. This City Hall has no mayor or city council. It is a multi-purpose cultural complex built after the war solely for the community of Hong Kong. It's an historic landmark in the central district situated on the reclaimed seafront of Edinburgh Place with a spectacular view of Victoria Harbour. The Memorial Garden and the 12-sided Shrine commemorate soldiers and citizens who died in defence of Hong Kong and is a popular backdrop for photographs when couples celebrate their marriages in the City Hall Registry. The Concert Hall itself looks beautiful, and the acoustic design of the room makes it sound beautiful as well. We played to a packed and enthusiastic house of music fans including some members of the office of the Consul General of Canada.
During our concert, in the middle of one of my trumpet solos, our leader, David Braid, was suddenly struck by an amazing realization. The grandson of a Canadian soldier who helped defend this city was now making music in the very spot where his grandfather put his life on the line and ultimately survived as a prisoner-of-war. David and I had chatted about my grandfather's story on the plane and without any prompting from me, he simply felt compelled to announce to the crowd that I was the grandson of a Hong Kong Veteran. He went on to say what an honour it was for us to be in the position of making music for them as a direct result of the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers in particular. These comments were well received and provoked a warm and spirited round of applause.
Afterwards, I had the pleasure of meeting some members of the audience including the Consul General Jeff Nankivell. Not only did he enjoy the concert but he was quick to broach the subject of my connection to the Battle of Hong Kong. It became apparent that he was passionate about the friendship and bilateral ties between Hong Kong and Canada. Mr. Nankivell reiterated that one of the main foundations of this relationship was the commitment made by those 2,000 or so Canadian soldiers. He seemed genuinely inspired by this history and expressed his support for all who try to encourage and maintain awareness of this very special time. As a matter of fact, Cindy, a spokesperson in his office asked, in a subsequent email, to be kept updated about the plaque installation ceremony at the Port Credit Legion. She hoped people would share a few comments or photos on the Consulate's Facebook page so that the office could share and re-post these items on different sites during this Remembrance season. She also encouraged me to mention that they have fond memories of George MacDonell's last visit to Hong Kong and sends regards to all.
I wish I had the time and space to share all that I was able to experience on my next and last day in Hong Kong. Ultimately, after grabbing a 16x green minibus at the end of the Metro line, I was able visit the beautiful mountainside Sai Wan Cemetery, the Tai Tam Reservoir, Stanley Market and the Pier with its breathtaking panoramic view of where it all began. I ended the day by locating the plaques and maple trees planted to honour fallen soldiers at Sham Shui Po park not too far from the former site of the Sham Shui Po prison camp where my grandfather spent most of the war. I even managed a raincheck with local historian Tony Banham for a personal tour, when I return, of the locations where my grandfather fought on the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail. I am certainly glad that I was able to spend as much time as I did with the people and a Chinese culture that I know my grandfather grew to love. I look forward to revisiting Hong Kong in the future to make more music and to spend more time exploring the island that means so much to me and my family.
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.
On Sunday, Nov. 5th, 2017, at Branch #82 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Mississauga, we were delighted to have the Legion host our installation of one of the Hong Kong plaques currently being introduced to the public at various locations around the province. It was a very special circumstance as the Legion had just rededicated Mississauga's Community Park the previous Saturday in Port Credit, renaming it Vimy Park to honour those who fought in WWI at Vimy Ridge. Following that ceremony, the Legion hosted a luncheon for the 200 or so participants in that event. They were also in the midst of their Poppy Drive, and their preparations for Remembrance Day. To the Legion's credit, with thanks to Jim Camilleri, the Legion President, it was agreed that our event would be inserted into the mix on Sunday, Nov. 5th at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. It became a really special event in that George MacDonell, RRC, and HK veteran, was able to be present, and quite a number of Legion members attended to hear him speak.
Regarding the ceremony itself, Mike Babin, as the new HKVCA National President, responded to Jim Camilleri's words of welcome. The politicians at the various levels had all been invited, but having been involved the previous week in the renaming of Vimy Park, we didn't anticipate that they would be able to return for a second Ceremony. Charles Sousa, our MPP for Mississauga South did send a young man to represent him. This young man was especially happy to chat at length with George MacDonell after the ceremony. Of special note was the fact that many members went the extra mile to be there. Jackie Le Drew and her husband Ken arrived from Chelmsford, near Sudbury, Jackie being the Area Rep. for Northern Ontario. They were joined by her two sisters, Linda Guglick and Sandra Strom. All three are the daughters of Augustin Cyr, RRC, and are very active in HKVCA. Both Pam Newhouse, our own West Central Rep., and Lori Smith, the initiator of the HK Plaque project, managed to join us from quite a distance, along with a number of members in the immediate area. We thank them all for coming.
What was very special for me personally was that members of my own family had the opportunity to participate in an HKVCA event for the first time, including my son Kevin, his wife, Lisa Martinelli and their daughter, Natalie. They assisted in a number of ways, as did others from my sister Shelagh's family. Shelagh Purcell is the Area Rep. for Central & SE. Several members of her family, including daughters Sandra Fox, and Megan Coles, with husband Bob, and son Mark Purcell, helped prepare for the event.
Having been concerned for some time about the importance of engaging the third generation's participation in HKVCA, I was pleased to find that my son, Kevin, fit the bill, as he had just returned from a concert tour of China in October, which included two days of performances in Hong Kong. He was asked to speak to the attendees at our Dedication Ceremony, after having agreed to prepare something for the Newsletter about his time off spent scouting the areas where the Battle of Hong Kong took place. Those who attended the Dedication found his comments quite interesting and well worth hearing.
Among the highlights of the ceremony were the words spoken by George MacDonell, in which he extolled the courage and determination of the soldiers who fought in Hong Kong. When he moved over to the display in the glass case in the front foyer of the Legion which was to be part of the Dedication, what he saw was not only was the story of the Battle of Hong Kong illustrated in words and pictures on the Hong Kong plaque, but also, nearby, copies of three of the books that George has written, all relating to important facets of the Hong Kong story. Following the Ceremony, George very kindly stayed to meet the many people, including my own family members, who were thrilled to have the chance to chat with him and take a few pictures. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that we had had the pleasure of meeting a man who is truly an icon, and a very special gentleman.
It takes many volunteers to keep our Association humming. Not all are members. Some of them work quietly away from the public eye, but the results of their efforts help HKVCA keep the memory of 'C' Force and the Battle of Hong Kong alive for Canadians. We acknowledge them here.
Gene is a semi-retired printer/owner who has worked in the printing trade for over 50 years.
Gene loves history and his hobby as a philatelist, specializing in the postal history of Lincoln County, Ontario; stamps of Great Britain used in Ireland during the Queen Victorian Era; and Japanese Occupation of the Philippines and its Liberation. He has written several articles on Canadian postal history, and Philippine postal history and military postal history. Currently he is working on a large project: “Operation Magic Carpet, Bringing the Boys home”, which tells the story of the repatriation of British and British Commonwealth Prisoners of War from the Far East who came home through Manila, Philippines. When this is finished, the Canadian content will be removed and the Canadians' trip home via Guam will be included and the resulting manuscript will be sent to the HKVCA for their website.
Through the research for “Operation Magic Carpet”, Gene has saved newspaper articles from across Canada relating to the Canadians coming home from the Far East, and these are available in his data base. He assists Jim Trick when members have inquiries about their relatives’ trip back to Canada. In the event members have any questions about how their family member came home, they should contact Jim Trick and he will forward the request, and Gene will do the best he can with the information available to tell you their story.
Gene is a volunteer at the Niagara Military Museum as Director of Research and Archives, and currently is building up a collection of Niagara Camp post cards and postal history of Niagara Camp for their archives. He is currently writing their first publication, “Victoria Cross Recipients of Niagara”, which will be followed up by their second publication, “World War II Ships of Niagara”.
(From Lori Smith). Lillian Randall and I connected thru Facebook and then email. Since our initial connection, Lillian has played a huge part in finding historical information online for over 300 of our guys.
Lillian had been and continues to look for the location of her uncle's military uniform. Her uncle is Sgt. George Thomas McCarthy Winnipeg Grenadier H6754. George's uniform was sent to a Winnipeg Legion when his son passed away in 2007.
Her support of our organization has been phenomenal and for this we truly thank her!
(Do you know of someone who should be recognized for their “behind the scenes” work? Email the editor (email@example.com) with the details and we'll feature them in a future edition.
Holiday greetings from the Pacific Region. There are several happenings from the past few months to report on.
This August our only Veteran Horace (Gerry) Gerrard RCCS, made the cross country pilgrimage to the Fredericton convention. Accompanying Gerry was his grandson Brian and his great grandson Brodie.
Please do browse the convention link on our web page for more information and photos.
As you can see a good time was had by all and our thanks go out to Ruth Murgatroyd and her band of helpers who worked hard to make it a success.
In November we were all excited to present Gerry with the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative plaque. It was a fitting prelude to the Remembrance Day ceremonies.
Friends, family and fellow Legionnaires crowded into the room to be a part of the happy event. The plaque was personalized and dedicated to Gerry in honour of his 68 years of service to his Legion Branch #127.
Gerry was in fine form to accept and acknowledge the applause and had a few humble words for the attendees as well. He had time for many pictures with friends and a long interview with reporters.
The plaque will hang in a prominent location where members and guests can read about the “Defense of Hong Kong” and reflect about the huge sacrifice that our Veterans made during WW2.
Later that week Linda Quesnel (past BC Director) and I accompanied Gerry to the Victoria cenotaph for the always poignant laying of the HKVCA wreath. The unpredictable weather co-operated and attendance for the event was at an all time high.
Other wreaths were laid in several BC communities. Pitt Meadows, Clearwater and West Kelowna. We encourage members to notify us of these locations so that individuals can re-connect with other HKVCA members and possibly attend functions together. Please do consider purchasing a wreath with a Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association ribbon on it and laying one in your community. Your BC regional treasurer will reimburse you and process your dues too.
Our membership chair and treasurer Murray Doull has been busy in the Clearwater, BC area. The area has a somewhat small population but an active group of individuals who attend Veteran activities. We support and applaud all their efforts considering the long difficult fire season they have experienced.
On November 14th Mr. Cameron Cathcart, Master of Ceremonies for Remembrance Day activities in Vancouver spoke about “The Defense of Hong Kong” to an audience of the Probus Club. The talk was well received and well attended by the enthusiastic listeners. The success of this talk is a testament to his skill of public speaking and goes a long way to promoting the Hong Kong story and its aftermath to the public.
Cameron's connection to the Hong Kong story comes from his roots in Breakyville, Quebec. He was well acquainted with Lt. Ian Breaky, RRC, and knew some families whose boys never came home. We are very appreciative that Mr. Cathcart made himself available for this speaking engagement and look forward to working with him again.
As this year come to an end it is with a heavy heart but with wonderful memories as well that we think of the members we have lost. Two great ladies, long time member Eileen Cambon and past BC Director Gwen Day come to mind. Shortly after the convention we lost our HKVCA Secretary Mr. Ian Doull. Our organization is that much richer for having these people touch our lives.
We will remember them.
Please do take a few moments to send feedback via our survey. The executive would like some input to chart our path in the new year, especially where the location of conventions are to be held. This is the most effective way members can help contribute to the process.
Wishing you all a safe and Happy Christmas and a Festive New Year
Greetings from the Prairies!
Congratulations to Atlantic Region on a wonderful convention – sorry I couldn’t make it but from all accounts a good time was had by all – thank you for all the hard work.
I have included some excerpts from our Annual Report for your information – so I apologise if you know this already.
Prairie Region has 193 regular members, 34 widows and 3 veterans for a total 232 members. We hold regular monthly meetings in Winnipeg and special lunch gatherings in Alberta under the direction of Kathie Carlson and her area reps, with regular quarterly communication with our members through the national newsletter and monthly minutes.
In Manitoba we continue to hold monthly meetings at NOON on the second Thursday of the month at Viscount Gort Hotel on Portage Ave, near Polo Park.
Due to the HKVCA National Convention and AGM that was held in Fredericton, NB and other scheduling difficulties we delayed our observing of VJ Day. However, VJ Day was held in conjunction with a ceremony to dedicate a beautiful new monument at Brookside Cemetery, Field of Honour on Sunday, October 22, 2017. (See the separate article on this event).
We have more interest in the Mitsubishi apology and another place to search but need to know the service man’s first and last name, service number, rank regiment, country - this is needed to search the British records. If you can help please contact me to proceed with the search.
November was Remembrance month and we observed it in all areas of our Region.
Remembrance Sunday, November 5 was observed at St. Luke’s Church with our Padre Paul Lampman, our Colour Party, Winnipeg Grenadier Cadets and several members.
On November 11th wreaths were laid by Barry Mitchell escorted by Stephanie Mitchell Zeidan at the Winnipeg ceremony where thousands of people gathered to pay their respects.
Carol Hadley at the Charleswood Legion service at Oak Park High School with dignitaries, military, cadets and community residents attend.
Wreaths were laid by Helen Prieston in Swan River, MB.
Our HKVCA Area rep, Mik Bergersen out of Beaumont, battled the cold to attend an outside service, with approximately 500 local community people in attendance. Mik and her family laid a wreath on behalf of HKVCA.
Bill Agerbak in Edmonton on behalf of his family and the HKVCA
Veteran Ralph Maclean attended the Calgary Remembrance Day service at the Jubilee Auditorium, accompanied by his family. Our Area rep Norma Fuchs also attended and shared how Ralph received huge applause when he laid his wreath. He was also pictured on the local TV news later that evening - once again a celebrity! After the ceremony, 44 family, friends and HKVCA members got together at a local restaurant, also joined by Terry Kwok, and members of the Chinese community.
Karen and Gary Boland laid a wreath on behalf of HKVCA at the Military Museum in Calgary. They also attended the social event at the local restaurant.
Veteran Ralph MacLean at the Calgary Jubilee Auditorium Remembrance Day Service and at the following luncheon with Norma Fuchs (R) and Karen Boland
Over 2500 people of all ages, attended the indoor Remembrance Day services. It was most impressive. My granddaughter and I laid a wreath on behalf of Hong Kong Veterans and their families.
Our Area rep from Cardston, Cynthia Melanson, who is very involved as a volunteer at the Legion in Cardston, helped to organize the activities that day, with 300 local people in attendance, later followed by a supper at the local High school attended by 80 people.
Our Area rep from Regina, Marion Poh, was away, so nothing to report from Regina.
Sorry to report the passing of HKVCA member Jean Arsenault - Jean’s father was veteran Cam Rutherford. We wish those who are ill a speedy recovery and to those who are bereaved, our sincere sympathy.
As we begin the holiday season we can be thankful for all our blessings – our family, good health, good friends and helping others who are not so fortunate. I wish you all a wonderful season as you reflect in your own faith and may you be granted wonderful memories. On behalf of my family, I extend warm wishes and many blessings to each of you.
Take care everyone - hugs
Two years ago Robert Ryan (HKVCA member of Plainfield, near Belleville, Ontario) began his search for the grave of Jack Arthur, RRC, who died in 1952. Robert believed Jack Arthur was a cousin. Memorabilia belonging to Jack Arthur had been given to Robert, his cap and RRC badges. Robert knew only that Jack had been in the Battle of Hong Kong and had been a prisoner of war, later shipped to Japan. Finally locating Jack's grave in Glenwood Cemetery, Picton, Ontario, Robert notified the cemetery managers about the HK grave marker he wanted to be put on the gravestone and left his name in case there were any problems. He also notified the Picton Gazette newspaper about the story and pictures were published in the paper.
Shortly after, Robert got a call from the daughter of Jack Arthur who was still living but had become separated from the family, neither side knowing about the other. Robert and his wife decided to go to Whitby to meet his new cousin, the daughter of Jack Arthur and to learn more of what had happened. What they found was that Jack Arthur's brother in law had taught Jack how to be a barber and Jack moved with his family to Quebec to see if he could make a better living there. When volunteers were called for, Jack signed up and was sent to Newfoundland where the RRC's were stationed. His wife and young daughter were then left to make their way back to Bloomfield, Ontario. His wife left to work at GM in Oshawa, Ontario. His young daughter was brought up by her maternal grandparents in Bloomfield. What Jack 's daughter learned later was that her father was often asked to be the barber for the Japanese in camp (always with a guard close by). She was 18 when her dad passed. She had only seen him a few times after his return from war.
Robert Ryan had found his great-uncle (Robert's grandmother had been Jack's sister). And because of the newspaper story the connection was made. Jack's daughter also decided to check Jack's military records and discovered that her mother was entitled to the sum of money given to the Hong Kong POW's as compensation, paid by the Canadian government, not the Japanese, as well as Jack's pension which had never been claimed. It has been a good ending to this family story.
But is it an ending? Jack Arthur has relatives living in Ottawa and Robert introduced them to the HKVCA Memorial wall.
Remembering Jack (John) Arthur - Teresa Stevens and Robert Ryan were among those who gathered at Glenwood Cemetery to remember their relative Jack (John) Arthur. The County native survived internment in a Japanese Prisoner-of-war camp after he and Allies laid down their arms at Hong Kong in 1941. (From The Picton Gazette by Jason Parks on August 17, 2017)
More news- Members in the region were contacted to ask about Remembrance Day events and to let them know about the gathering on Dec. 9th in Ottawa at the HK Wall, followed by a lunch. Connie Darling, daughter of Edward Phillips, RRC, made sure in October that her name was on the list to lay a wreath and it turned out well. Jack Russell (son of Albert James Russell, RRC) planned to be in Ottawa for November 11th.
It is hoped that the new plaque depicting the Battle of Hong Kong might be placed in many venues where the public would be made aware of the history of the Canadians sent there. This is a project of Ontario but available across the country.
December 1 was a very bittersweet day because I attended the funeral here in Niagara Falls of Gerry (Sunny) Sunstrum, RRC. Along with several family members in attendance were four HKVCA members, Lori Atkinson Smith (Membership Chair), Gordon Coyne (former West Central Area Rep), Michael Mascitelli and myself. Gordon and Michael were pall bearers. Lori brought our HK Veterans wreath, which stood on one side of his headstone and the HK Veterans flag, which stood on the other. It was a graveside service blessed with crisp, lovely weather. Gerry lived a full, active 100 years and was blessed to be part of a large family. He suffered a heart attack at the end of October and was recovering in hospital until his death on November 29. Before his death, he was already insisting that he wanted to return to his own home where he had lived independently up until his heart attack. After the ceremony, we went to the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 479, where we toasted Gerry's long life. RCL Branch 479 is the same branch where Gerry unveiled the HK Veterans Remembrance Plaque back in May at the ceremony that included the return of Ray Jackson's (RRC) watch, found on the battlefield in Hong Kong, to his great nephew, Steve Burgess. Ken Pifher, RRC, was also a member of Branch 479 and worked for many years with Gerry at the local Ontario Hydro Beck plant.
The reason yesterday was so bittersweet is because I attended, along with Lori and Michael, Gerry's 100th birthday party at the same Legion on September 15, 2017. The birthday party was arranged by Gerry's family and he was in fine form and thoroughly enjoyed himself. He regularly attended the Friday Fish n Chip nights there and still drove himself! In fact, one of the reasons he wanted to get out of the hospital was because he was concerned that he had missed an appointment to renew his driving license! There were many family members in attendance, many of whom enjoyed the fish along with Gerry. The cake was huge and shared with many other people there for the fish fry. He posed for countless photos, opened gifts and had many people throughout the Legion coming up to congratulate him and even helped sing Happy Birthday with us. Gerry was a fun, very independent man who had enviable health for 100 years. Many people will miss him but those who attended the party will always have fond memories of seeing him so happy on his 100th birthday!
Saturday, December 9th in Ottawa we marked the 76th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle for Hong Kong, which was December 8, 1941, at the "C" Force Memorial Wall. This is an annual event that we hold every year on the Saturday closest to Dec. 8th.
This year we had a larger turnout than other years. We had approximately 74 people attend and a total of 23 wreaths were laid, a noteworthy increase over previous years.
We were very honoured to have Veteran George MacDonell from Toronto join us at the wall and lay a wreath on behalf of all the Hong Kong Veterans. Ted Terry (son of Veteran Edward L. Terry) was our Master of Ceremonies as he has been since we started doing these memorial services at the memorial wall. He did a marvelous job as always. Derrill Henderson (son of veteran Stewart Henderson) did the Prayer and the Benediction, as he has done since the first occasion of this memorial. His sentiments were as always thoughtful and insightful.
Attendees at the Memorial Wall service, George MacDonell in front row, fourth from the far end
The “Act of Remembrance” was read by Ian Englehart (son of Veteran Harold Englehart) and Alan Sandeman (son-in-law of Veteran Lancelot Ross), while the “Commitment to Remember” was read by Lucy Harper (great-granddaughter of Veteran Kenneth Roydan Jackson) and Steven Angel (great-grandson of Stewart Henderson). Thank you to all those who contributed.
Also in attendance and laying wreaths were some invited guests from other veterans organizations: Veterans Affairs Canada, Royal Hong Kong Regiment Volunteers (who drove down from Toronto as they have for past memorial services), Royal Canadian Legion, the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada, NATO Veterans Organization of Canada, Allied Merchant Navy, War Amps Operation Legacy and the National Capital Commission.
Memorial Wall Service - Derrill Henderson - Prayer and Benediction
Following the service everyone was invited to join us at Tuckers Marketplace Restaurant for a scrumptious buffet meal and camaraderie. Over 50 of the 74 attendees were able to join us there – another record.
And finally, I would like to thank all the family members of our veterans who attended on Saturday. I like to think that those who have passed before would be moved by our efforts to keep the memory alive.
It is rewarding to organize this event in honour of our brave men who endured so much so that we may enjoy the freedoms we now take for granted. Thank you to each and every one of them! Lest we forget!
As I close I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the best of everything in the New Year.
(Photos of this event and the luncheon which followed are available on our Galleries site)
Here it is 3:30 in the morning. I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. I was thinking of the newsletter submission with the suggestion of writing a piece about "Growing Up With Dad." With tears welling up then streaming down my face I thought of the horrors he went through along with my 3 uncles as Japanese P.O.W.'s. Dad was always pretty tight lipped about the war. I've only become aware of the atrocities in the past few years after being educated about the Canadians in Hong Kong through HKVCA. Maybe he didn't want us to think about his ordeal. He only really ever mentioned it twice.
Once he mentioned that his brother Leo had saved his life by carrying him when he was so ill and tired he could hardly walk to work in the mines. Another was the story how they brought the prisoners in a hall, cleaned them up, put clean white shirts on them as they faced a sort of banquet of food etc. As soon as the propaganda pictures were taken, the food was taken away and they were sent back to their barracks.
After the war, he suffered with excessive sweating, fatigue, loss of appetite, failing eyesight, boils on his arms and legs continually breaking out, unable to sleep at night owing to bad nerves and loss of weight. He also suffered with Avitaminosis and Pulmonary Tuberculosis. He took 8 pills 3 times a day. He had jars and jars of pills lined up on the shelf. I remember after a few beers dad would shout out Japanese orders. My dad had a hard time holding down a job because of his health and had many years of unemployment. He died at age 56 from a heart attack in 1971. When I think of what he went through and if I had known, I would have been more appreciative of his life and those who served our country. Shouldn't we all, now!
At the Remembrance Day Assembly at Keswick Hight School, the School's Senior drama class under the direction of Ms. Amanda Miller (Drama/Art Teacher) performed an original Choral reading in which they told Fred Coopers story about his experience in the Battle of Hong Kong.
Thank you to Master Warrant Officer Anthony Jones and Sgt Delroy Gordon who were also in attendance for the assembly.
Fred Cooper and the students of Keswick High School
A special thank you to Ms Wright, History Teacher, Ms Miller, Drama/Art Teacher along with Senior Drama Students (who performed Fred Coopers story), and all other organizers, Teachers and participants from Keswick High School, Keswick, Ont. on a fantastic assembly
Another year is fast coming to a close.
Since our last report for the summer edition of the Wasureru-Nai with many vacations, family visits, convention etc etc we are back to the regular business at hand.
A few notes regarding our past Convention Fredericton, NB which yours truly attended. The hotel was very welcoming and all was well organised in the short period of time the committee had at their disposal. Attending the Convention, we had the honour of having two HK veterans present, Philip Doddridge and all the way from the west coast Horace “Gerry” Gerard, There were also two widows Mrs Flanagan and Lucette M. Muir. I am very sure many others were with us in thoughts and wishing they could be there.
The weekend began on Thursday evening with a welcome gathering at the Fredericton Region Museum. The Annual General Meeting on Friday morning with reading of all reports, announcement of the election results etc. followed by the visit of the New Brunswick Military History Museum in Oromocto on Base Gagetown. During the evening there was the “book launch” of “The Endless Battle”, book written by Andy Flanagan from notes/diary of his dad followed by a social musical evening. On Saturday there was the Ceremony of Remembrance with the wreath laying by invited dignitaries and members. Well attended by all guests. The rainy/misty afternoon brought a boat tour on the Saint-John’s river for some guests. The well attended banquet began with a presentation by the Director of the New Brunswick Military History Project followed by entertainment and dancing by the jazz band. Sunday morning farewells and wishes for a safe trip back home and when to meet again for the next convention.
I would like to thank Ruth Murgatroyd, Atlantic Representative and her organising team for putting together this nice convention.
Best wishes to the newly elected National Board of Directors for the next year and also thank you for their hard work to the outgoing members, that due to their personal very heavy work schedules or others who had to leave. Thank you to all for taking the time to send in your votes. Congratulations to all.
Welcome to Ted Terry from Ontario region for stepping up as a Director due to the sudden death of our National Secretary Ian Doull.
Many members attended and/or participated in Commemorative Ceremonies locally on November 11 honouring all Veterans and also with special thoughts to all their families.
In September we mailed to all members our news and Regular membership renewal reminders for the fast approaching new year 2018.
In the next few days will be mailing “Christmas Greeting” cards to all our Veterans and Widows.
Soon will be closing another financial year and putting the final touches for 2018 activities.
This will be it at this time from Quebec. Season Greetings, Health and Happiness to All for 2018.
My apologies for losing touch over the last few months. Convention planning kept me very busy during summer months and the fall was spent settling into a new job! Despite being constantly on the go, the HKVCA is never far from my thoughts.
I was so pleased with the convention in August. We may not have had record high attendance but the people who joined us were some of the most passionate, dedicated and friendly people I have had the pleasure to meet. They included some of the youngest to oldest and they were delightful. I am so happy that I can now call many of them friends.
The weather did not cooperate for our Remembrance Ceremony but the hotel was incredible and helped provide a great indoor location. We managed to arrange a very meaningful substitute for our monument and I witnessed one of the most moving ceremonies. Every chair was taken and local dignitaries including the Base Gagetown Commander joined us. As part of the ceremony, we had two veterans who laid wreaths with either their child or grandchild. My son Rhys, a cadet, escorted everyone who laid a wreath. It is so meaningful to include the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in these special ceremonies.
Despite the rain, the Remembrance Ceremony was well attended. The ceremony was made more meaningful by the participation of several members of the veterans' families which included children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren
These moments are burned in my memory as, they hold so much meaning.
A big shout out to all the volunteers at the Convention but a special one to Spencer Murgatroyd (right). The great-granddaughter of a Hong Kong veteran, William Hickie, she volunteered the entire week end and kept everything running smoothly
I would like to express my appreciation for the members of the committee who helped to organize the convention. I am incredibly thankful. I would also like to give a special thank you to my daughter, Spencer Murgatroyd, who helped in all aspects of the delivery of the convention. She was so organized and incredible! At sixteen, I think she has a good understanding as to why we do what we do to remember our veterans.
I am thrilled to share with you the work that Andy Flanagan has dedicated to the memory of the Hong Kong veterans. Andy has written and published his father’s POW diaries with the Gregg Centre for Military Studies at the University of New Brunswick. His father, Andrew "Ando" Flanagan, a rifleman from Jacquet River, was among the Canadian troops who fought in Hong Kong. Andy has worked tirelessly to promote the history and has travelled eastern Canada to promote his book, The Endless Battle.
If you wish to purchase a copy, Andy would be happy to mail you a copy. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (506) 522-5508. You can also find Andy on Facebook.
Have a great day, a great holiday and a wonderful new year!
(More photos are available in our Photo Gallery)
Thank you to IBM Canada for another generous donation of $2000
You may remember that I work at IBM. At various times over the last few years, I’ve mentioned that IBM has a Community and Corporate Affairs policy that awards grants of various sizes to qualified charities. The size of the donation is commensurate with the number of volunteer hours and number of volunteers involved in charitable work within a 12 month period.
I am pleased to say that again this year, IBM has awarded the HKVCA $2000 for our educational programs. If you don’t know what kinds of charitable programs your employer has put into place, perhaps it’s time to find out?
Gail Angel (Past President)
As you can read elsewhere in this newsletter, our convention “down east” in August was a big success! But as great as it was, we’d like to make the next one even better. To help us with this, we’re asking our members to take a very brief survey.
The survey will take you less than 10 minutes, and it is completely anonymous. You will not be making any commitments to attend future conventions by answering the survey, so it is completely risk-free!
Take the online survey now by visiting our home page and clicking on the survey link.
It's time to renew your membership. Please visit our website and follow the instructions you'll find on the page called “How to Join Us”. Looking for membership statistics? They're available online. Just visit our home page, hover over the Help menu and choose FAQ.
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