Wow, it’s December already. I hope you will enjoy this special 75th anniversary issue. We’ve got some very special articles to mark the occasion.
In the last newsletter, the incoming board was introduced. A small change has occurred since then. Atlantic Region has a new director, Ruth Murgatroyd. Ruth is the granddaughter of RRC Rifleman William Joseph Hickie. Read more about Ruth in the Atlantic report. We are so fortunate to have Ruth on the team. Ruth steps into Emmie Flanagan’s role, but Emmie isn’t leaving. Emmie has decided to apply her enthusiasm to our Education Program, a decision for which I am immensely grateful.
You may have noticed that you are getting emails about our newsletter differently than in the past. Due to Mike Babin’s excellent suggestion about how to better announce the launch of annual Portraits of Valour writing competition, we investigated the use of MailChimp. This email service is free for organizations as small as ours, and has simplified the work dramatically. It also allows us to use the service for many other things, such as our newsletter. Nancy Doddridge has the job of working on a coherent communications plan and she is looking for volunteers.
Ever since the Memorial Wall was installed in Ottawa, we’ve held a commemorative service on the Saturday closest to December 8, followed by a luncheon. Mitzi Ross, Ottawa Area Rep organizes this every year. New in 2016 is the addition of an Annual General Meeting to stay compliant with CRA regulations. The reports presented at the AGM will be posted on our website. The normal AGM as part of our Bi-annual conventions will continue. It’s a little usual, but you can expect it like this: in odd-numbered years, the AGM will occur in August, as part of the convention. In even-numbered years, the AGM will occur in December.
Nominations for next years’ board will begin again next spring; remember, this is now an annual requirement.
Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and a rewarding New Year.
HKVCA member Len Freemen of Sherwood Park AB passed away on October 2, 2016 (obituary)
Alexandra Slovinsky, widow of Walter Slovinsky, WG on October 27, 2016
Evelyn St. John widow of Ralph St. John RRC, on 30 Aug 2016 (obituary)
Gail Michalkow, daughter of Joe Michalkow, WG, on 10 Oct 2016
We Will Remember Them
Greetings from “way down East”.
I hope that you will permit some rambling thoughts about the 75th anniversary of the Hong Kong debacle . the four years of incarceration that followed, and the return to sanity for those of us who were fortunate enough to make it.
A group of innocents arriving at Holt’s Wharf in Kowloon on November 16 after a Pacific crossing with stops at Honolulu and Manila, with only some three weeks to enjoy the delights of Hong Kong before the bombs fell.
I remember well the long march up Nathan Road from Holt’s Wharf in Kowloon to Sham Shui Po Barracks. The street was lined with civilian onlookers and also some British Army individuals. To me. the atmosphere seemed to be one of welcome and perhaps one of hope for the welfare of the Colony.
Good times were short-lived. In early December we were moved to the defence positions on the Island and on December 8 Hong Kong was bombed. The Japanese forces made a landing at Lye Mun on the night of December 18 and quickly pushed westward on the Island. From our “D” Coy position at Obelisk Hill we were deployed to Bridge Hill and our first encounter with the Jap Army.
The rest of the story is well documented. Fierce fighting with limited armament and outnumbered, the Colony capitulated on Christmas Day, 1941.
That particular day stands out in my memory. “D” Company of the RRC was overwhelmed at Stanley Village, with the loss of almost half of the Company.
Defeat, surrender to a superior force, not a pleasant experience. It was a low point in my life. I’ll not forget it and I’ll remember the comrades whose bodies remain forever in Hong Kong and the hell camps of Japan.
I’ll remember them. Je me souviendrai d’eux.
That will be all for this time. Be good to each other and May God Bless.
This expanded edition of WASURERU-NAI is a special one, as we pause to reflect on the tragic events of 75 years ago when Hong Kong fell to the Japanese. We’ve included reflections by some of our veterans and stories of families as well. Those who are members of the HKVCA family need little reminding of the widespread effects of this event, but of course our mission is one of educating the Canadian public at large. We need to continue to advocate that this part of our history be taught to the younger generation, and that it form a more prominent place in the history of our country. When you’ve finished reading this, please pass along your copy to others of influence who may find what we do of interest.
There is a lot of activity within the Regions that you’ll read about in this edition. A change of executive in Atlantic Region, Ontario’s Mike Babin speaking at the Hong Kong Forum, presentation in Winnipeg of the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong silver coin. Lots going on.
We have gathered some interesting stories as well - how a lost Regimental Ring helped tell the 'C' Force story, and poignent memories by a nephew of an uncle who was a Hong Kong veteran.
We were overwhelmed with articles for this issue, so there is a lot of great information that didn't make it into the paper edition. This online version also contains live links, so feel free to "click around" to find even more interesting background.
Thanks to Mitzi and Anne, our ace proofreaders.
In 2005 the City of Ottawa launched a street naming-initiative to honour local veterans. The initiative is a partnership between the City of Ottawa, Veterans Affairs Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion and local private developers.
Local developers participate in this initiative by voluntarily naming streets within new housing developments. The permanent street sign that is installed during the final last stages of construction of the subdivision bears the Poppy – the ultimate sign of remembrance.
The presentation of the street sign takes place during the Candlelight Tribute for Veterans every year during the month of November. The event is co-hosted by the City of Ottawa, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Canadian War Museum. As part of the ceremony, the Mayor presents the family with a replica of the actual street sign.
Presentation of the Street Sign
This year, the City of Ottawa honoured RRC Eric Maloney. His daughter Cynthia gave an excellent address. In this photo you see a picture of Eric on leave in Douglastown QC, projected on the big screen. Eric moved to Ottawa in 1987 and volunteered regularly at the Nepean Museum. Also shown are Mayor Jim Watson, Cynthia Maloney (just peeking over the sign), and other members of Eric's family. The street will be built sometime next year, in the Kanata area of Ottawa.
Ottawa HKVCA members Ron McGuire and Derrill Henderson worked together on the application to nominate Eric for this honour. Here is an excerpt from their submission:
“Eric…, as a young man of 18 years of age, he joined the Canadian army … As a member of the Royal Rifles of Canada, he along with his comrades in “C” Force sailed to defend the colony of Hong Kong. Cut off from any reinforcements and supplies, they held off the … Japanese invasion force for eighteen days. “C” Force was the first Canadian unit to see battle in WWII and earned many commendations, including the first Victoria Cross awarded to Canadians. Following their surrender on Christmas Day 1941, Eric and his comrades endured four years and eight months as Prisoners of War, which… was essentially four years and eight months of slavery. He, and his comrades, did everything in their power to disrupt the Japanese war effort including risking their lives in acts of sabotage.
Upon his return home Eric pursued his dream of becoming a chef. Probably reinforced by the starvation diet experienced as a POW, Eric gained basic knowledge of his chosen profession working in various locations as he saved to take formal training. He was successful and graduated from McGill University with certification as a professional chef. He then continued to serve his country by applying his talents on NORAD’s Distant Early Warning sites (DEW Line) in Canada’s arctic for several years. To remove the limitations this placed on his family, Eric moved them to Toronto where he became the managing chef of several establishments….
In 1987 …he adopted Ottawa as his own and became a financial supporter of many of its charitable organizations, a primary being the Nepean Museum. Eric “just liked people”, especially the youth .…. bringing personal anecdotes to the history of our nation … making it more relevant to the listener. Eric died March 12, 2015. “
This is the second street in Ottawa named to honour a HK Vet. Poetically, Eric Maloney received the honour on behalf of William LeBoutillier’s family in 2006. Here is the citation from the City of Ottawa’s website:
“Captain LeBoutillier was in "D" Company of the Royal Rifles of Canada and saw action at the infamous battle at Stanley Village, Hong Kong, in 1941. Canadian soldiers successfully counter attacked the enemy by crossing the open terrain of the cemetery and driving the enemy from their positions. Unfortunately, the Japanese returned with greater numbers and with concentrated mortar fire, drove the Canadians back to their original positions.
Captain LeBoutillier received a battlefield promotion to Adjutant of the Royal Rifles of Canada for his leadership and courage in the 17-day battle for Hong Kong. Captain LeBoutillier was also awarded the Member of the British Empire.
Valecraft Homes Incorporated, with the cooperation of Canada Lands Company who owns adjoining lands, agreed to include LeBoutillier Avenue as part of their Aviation Private development.”
Presentation by Mayor Chiralli of the Street Sign to Mr. Maloney (accepting on behalf of the LeBoutillier family)
The more we learn about the stories of the soldiers who were involved in the Battle of Hong Kong, the more we realize that fate and circumstance are quite capable of dealing a cruel blow. Sometimes twice in a generation! Such was the case for the third and fourth born sons of Mr. and Mrs. Walter P. Fitzpatrick of St. Julia Street in Quebec city.
John Joseph Fitzpatrick was born on January 6th, 1921. By all accounts he was a popular lad with the ladies and very protective of his younger brother Charles. After high school he enlisted along with many of his St. Patrick's High School classmates in October, 1939. He was shipped to Botwood, Nfld. for basic training and soon promoted to corporal. It is here through his poetry that we get a glimpse of his scrappy leadership style that was soon to be tested in battle.
Charles Joseph Fitzpatrick was born March 22nd, 1922. Charles was the prankster in the family but always looked up to his older sibling. No one was surprised when he enlisted after his March birthday in 1941. Although the brothers were assigned to different platoons they were reunited in Nfld. In November of that year the Royal Rifles contingent was mobilized and sent across the Pacific to bolster the garrison in Hong Kong.
Hostilities broke out on Dec. 8th and soon the island's defences were overwhelmed. As the days wore on the fighting grew more ferocious and desperate. On Dec. 22nd John was retaking a hill and after loading himself up with ammunition and grenades he disappeared over the rise never to be seen again. Later it was determined that he had been killed by artillery fire.
For his bravery on the battlefield John received an MID.(Mentioned in Dispatches). His name is located on a memorial panel at the Sai Wan cemetery in Hong Kong.
At some point during the 18 days of the battle Charles incurred a serious leg wound. Somehow during the long challenging weeks ahead, his injury managed to heal despite the fetid conditions of the internment camps. Thirteen months later he was one of hundreds of POWs crammed into the unventilated hold of a hell ship bound for Japan. There, at the notorious Omine camp, he toiled long hard hours mining coal in treacherous conditions. One and a half years after he arrived at this camp tragedy stuck the younger brother when a rock ledge collapsed and crushed him. Charles died on July 14th of 1944 an agonizing 13 months shy of VJ Day!
These two fine young men were laid to rest in a foreign land thousands of miles away from each other and their native town. Even after 75 years the poignant memory of their bravery and immense sacrifice still serves to personify the words, “They gave their todays for our tomorrows.”
PS: Many thanks to Kym Martin and Nathalie Martin for the character reminisces of their uncles and shared conversations with their mother, the last surviving sibling of the Fitzpatrick boys.
On September 1st I took a West Jet flight to Calgary in order to visit with my three sisters as we attended a family wedding in Lethbridge. Nothing unusual transpired on the flight that I was aware of, but when I reached my hotel in Lethbridge and opened my suitcase, I discovered that my father’s gold Regimental Ring was missing. I had packed it carefully in a special box, separate from my other jewellery so that I could show that ring one final time to my three sisters before putting it in a safety deposit box back home. Imagine my shock, particularly when nothing else in the suitcase had actually been taken, although my other jewellery had been scattered throughout the suitcase.
I reported the theft right away to WestJet, attended the wedding and returned to Mississauga, where I contacted the Peel Police to tell them about the theft. They immediately assigned an officer who works at Pearson Airport to follow any possible leads. Within a few days, it was determined that there was little hope of discovering who had taken it, and where it might be found.
I then reported the resultant failure to WestJet’s Claims department. I had several discussions with various people, and was told that that there would definitely be compensation. After some weeks, I learned that a decision had been reached as to what that compensation would be.
I had been in touch with several HKVCA members, all of whom were sympathetic, and offered some suggestions. Some, like Vince and Stan Lopata, did some searches of archival material, and were able to provide a list of WG officers who might have had a similar ring, but I wasn’t able to get even a picture of another ring that matched, although one person remembered seeing his grandfather wear such a ring.
The amazing part of this story was the genuine concern on the part of the WestJet Claims staff when I explained my story during several phone conversations. None of the three ladies, Jaysi. Avril and Elisabeth had ever heard about the Battle of Hong Kong, but when I told them various things that centred on the battle and what it meant for the Canadian soldiers that survived to be sent to horrible POW camps, it became obvious that the historical aspect was an important part of my trying to come to terms with the loss of the ring.
Elisabeth was my final contact, and we had more than one conversation. She explained, when we last spoke, that although she had worked at WestJet for five years, she had never been more moved than when she heard some of things I mentioned to her to give her some idea of what the soldiers had been through. She had discussed my information with the others on the Claims team, and they had decided not only to provide the best compensation they could, but they offered me a $500. Travel voucher to be used by anyone in the family to let us know that what was a traumatic event for us was a sobering thought for them, and they wanted to provide a little extra for what we had endured with the loss of the ring. What really brought home to me the fact that they really did care about our situation, Elisabeth told me that the Claims team had decided that as an extra-special gesture they would, as a group, be making a donation to the HKVCA. We are now waiting for the cheque for compensation, we have the $500. Travel voucher, and the donation will arrive shortly.
I will be forever grateful for the care and concern shown by the three WestJet staff members who did their utmost to show that they cared about our loss, and that they were willing to go the extra mile to help compensate for what had happened.
A copy of this letter will go to the CEO of WestJet to make sure there is an awareness of the good heart exhibited by this group.
One of 4 daughters of Lieut. L.B.Corrigan, WG
Editors note: read more about Lt Corrigan by visiting our 'C' Force site and viewing his Individual Report.
My name is Bill Calder and this is a tribute to my Uncle, Vince Calder. He was a POW in Hong Kong and shipped to the coal mines of Japan, specifically the Omine, Fukoka Camp.
He was a young man when he enlisted because he wanted desperately to enter the military and hoped he could be a part of the force that was sent to defend Hong Kong. His story is on the HKVCA web site and so I will not dwell on his time as a POW. Instead, I would like to focus on his life after he came home.
He was born in Simcoe, Ontario, the youngest of 4 boys, one of whom was my father, William G. Calder, who served in Burma as a member of the Green Howards. The oldest brother, my Uncle Jack served in the RCAF as an instructor and the other brother, my Uncle Harry, did not enter the service due to a horrendous accident at Dofasco in Hamilton which mangled his foot.
I was born in 1951 and so did not really know him until I was about 5 years old.
He was a very big man, 6’ 7” and built like a bull. He was very loud and liked his beer. According to our Dad, the prison camp in Japan destroyed any chance of him having a "normal" life. Dad loved him very much and never turned him away as long as he was sober, which, I guess was not a lot. We all loved him dearly and he and I used to have long talks but unfortunately I was too young to really appreciate what he had gone through and since my Father would not talk about his war experiences, I assumed Uncle Vince was the same.
He loved his nieces and nephews (there were 6 of us) and he would sometimes call our Dad late at night when he had been drinking and want to come for a visit but was only allowed to be around us when he was sober. He had a steam cleaning business and I used to love the red and white pickup he drove with all the machinery in the back of it. He sometimes stayed overnight and when that happened, I saw a side of him that has stayed with me all my life. He had sores on his legs stemming from the time he had to work on his knees at the Japanese mines because he was too tall to stand up in the mine shafts. The Japanese eventually placed him in the Blacksmith shop but the damage had already been done. These sores would not heal and as a result, for the rest of his life, he had to bandage his legs and ankles up to his knees every day. In the mornings, he would cough for 2 or 3 hours, again as a result of his time spent as a POW. Despite all this, he was always smiling and always cheerful with us but as I grew older, it became apparent that he was a very lonely man.
He loved marching in the annual parade and proudly wore his medals. He loved those medals and was so afraid of losing them that he placed them in the care of my mother and would pick them up every year and return them to her after the parade. I am now the caretaker of the medals and look at them fondly every now and then.
He lived alone in Simcoe and spent most of his non-working time at the local Vet Club.
He died of cancer on December 15th 1974 at the age of 56 and the legion in Simcoe gave him a very stirring and touching funeral.
He was a great man with a big heart, a true Canadian Veteran who loved his country and I am sure that he would be very proud of the good work being done by the HKVCA. They are keeping his memory alive as well as the memories of all who served with him.
My Uncle's Account: http://www.hkvca.ca/historical/accounts/Vince%20Calder/index.htm
My favourite picture of him: http://www.hkvca.ca/cforcedata/indivreport/indivdetailed.php?regtno=B46619
Our Dad, Bruce Cadoret, did not speak of his nearly 4 years of torture in a Japanese prison camp. Though haunted by nightmares he preferred to spare us the heinous details of what he endured. We feel it is his optimistic outlook and sense of humour which kept him alive against all odds.
As children, he told us the light side of imprisonment. Asking guards for permission to use the outhouse, “benjo” in Japanese had soldiers in agony as they searched their memory banks for the right musical instrument and yelled “bango” for relief. He had no grudge against the Japanese. He liked to tell a story about a guard taking some of the prisoners to his own home for dinner after the war was over and explained that the guard “was just doing his job”.
Government posts were offered to many soldiers after they returned to Canada. In the small town of Bougainville, Quebec the only government position was “postmaster” and though he was offered this he just couldn’t take his neighbour’s job. Instead he went to Toronto (without his new bride and son) to look for “work”. He did odd jobs for room and board and money to send “down home”. He finally moved the family to Toronto after he got steady (shift) work in maintenance for a seniors’ home where he stayed until he was 60.
Our Mom and Dad travelled extensively during their golden years and were known for their generous hospitality. Their door was always open to family and friends and there was a party almost every weekend. That was yet another facet of dad’s joie de vivre: every birthday was a full-blown celebration of gifts and food and wine. Christmas was always a truly beautiful holiday with guests, jubilation and piles of wrapped gifts that dwarfed our 8 ft. tree. Mothers’ day, Father’s Day…Even Easter was a time for great celebration and presents.
Every day Dad thanked the “Bon Dieu” and his cheerful “attitude of gratitude” touched everybody (and animal) he met. His motto was from an old poem called Solitude:
Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Cry, and you cry alone.
Editors note: read more about Mr. Cadoret by viewing his Individual Report on our 'C' Force site
Prairie Region members were very pleased to have the Battle of Hong Kong coin unveiling in Winnipeg. It was held at the Legislature in Winnipeg on September 29, 2016 with over 80 people in attendance. This coin is part of a series commemorating the WWII Battlefront and Canadian participation.
We were pleased to have Tom Roche - Senior Director, Winnipeg Manufacturing, Royal Canadian Mint as the Emcee; our Padre Reverend Paul Lampman, St. Luke's Anglican Church - to deliver Far East Prisoner of War prayer; speakers - Jon Reyes – Member of the Legislative Assembly, St. Norbert and Bonnie Staples- Lyon – Board member, Royal Canadian Mint.
George Peterson – Battle of Hong Kong veteran representing Winnipeg Grenadiers and former employee of the Royal Canadian Mint also addressed the audience. We were happy to have Ralph MacLean and Melanie MacLean Rollins come from Calgary to represent the Royal Rifles of Canada. We were also happy to have widows (Ladena Hodgkinson Mabley, Ann Richardson and Myrtle Lytle), and many HKVCA members attend along with other military and veteran representation. George Peterson, WG, HK vet was part of the ceremony as he is the only Hong Kong veteran to work in the Mint in Winnipeg when he received the coins in the vault to make them currency.
The event went well due to the assistance of Dwight MacAulay, Chief of Protocol and Secretary to the Order of Manitoba Advisory Council who arranged for the use of the facility and light refreshments following. Other representatives of the Royal Canadian Mint were - Alison Thomas - Coordinator, Corporate Events, Crystal Hiebert - Advisor, Internal Communications and Photographer - Doug Little.
As a result of the work that was done in the Prairie Region over three years, the representatives of the Royal Canadian Mint told us that they were going to send a coin to all surviving veterans then added that they would include the widows. We were thrilled with this announcement and are working to get correct addresses for our widows and phone numbers for the courier to deliver the coins.
Thank you to Dan James for the promotion through social media and several others who also shared photos of the event and who attended.
The coins can be ordered through the Mint website. Once on the site, search for "hong kong".
Or going to your local post office as they should be handling them also.
Presentation of Battle of Hong Kong coin (Hong Kong veterans Ralph MacLean (L) and George Peterson) (Douglas Little photo)
More photos are available in our Photo Gallery in the Recent Events - 2016 folder. (ed)
The picture below was submitted to me by Nancy
along with this inspiring and educational story:
Hong Kong Veteran, Phil Doddridge with students
I was a witness to a group of students who “gushed” over Dad at the November 11 cenotaph ceremony. They were so excited because they had never met such a famous person before… their teacher had been preparing them for Remembrance Day by viewing the Youtube interviews of Dad that have been done by Tom Eden.
They all wanted to shake his hand, they all wanted to be sure that he felt respected, and they all wanted to know if he remembered the events of “that time”. Clearly their teacher, Darlene Dimock, had bestowed on them the pillars of Remembrance Day – Respect and Remembrance. You have no idea how pleased Dad was to see these young people there at the service. He then became humbled by the gift of their time and respect… it was very touching!
A picture is worth a thousand words!
Sincere thanks to their wonderful teacher Darlene Dimock, who bestowed upon her students the pillars of Remembrance Day. Her approach in the classroom through watching videos of Phil, and then meeting him on Remembrance Day was simply brilliant! Darlene is an elementary school teacher from New Richmond, Quebec, and a new contact for the HKVC education department.
Hong Kong Veteran, Phil Doddridge with students
On this memorable day a hero of WWII sits with a group of 'gushing'students, who are so excited to meet him and pepper him with questions...yet he is humbled by the gift of their time and respect. Wow, if that’s not a lesson itself on humility and humanity. Phillip Dodderidge – a man with such grace and dignity that we’ve got to wonder if he even knows how famous, important and truly inspirational he is! Thank you to Tom Eden, for sharing his video on Youtube.
In this report, you will see more examples on how our youth can become inspired. This information comes from regional educational events that took place throughout Canada during October and November, 2016.
Carol Hadley registered to do a presentation for teachers on the Battle of Hong Kong. Stan Lopata and Alex Taylor (of the regions Colour Party), manned the display where several hundred teachers and student teachers stopped by for information. Wow, several hundred is a good number, and we hope Manitoba will participate in our writing competition.
I attended a workshop presented by Flora Fung. A high school teacher from Whitby, Ontario, Flora is a member of Durham History Teachers Association, and Department Head of Canadian and World Studies. Flora is also ‘Winner of the 2011 Governor General's History Awards for Excellence in Teaching’.
Flora gave an inspiring power point presentation to a room full of SS teachers on “Finding the Local Perspective”. Her belief is that the best way to get students interested in history, is to make the learning experience as real as possible. She does this by making connections between students, th school, the community, and the country. Flora engages her students in loca history by making it relevant in their lives.
For those of you who may not be aware, Flora was very instrumental in raising awareness for local Hong Kong veterans who had never before received formal recognition in the community for their bravery during the battle of Hong Kong in World War II.
In 2007 during a special commemorative ceremony attended by dignitaries and the community, her school adopted nine Oshawa Hong Kong veterans, and had their names permanently engraved on a plaque.
Flora explained how teachers can use local history in their current practices to help their students gain a deeper understanding of the local perspective She also has a unique approach for –“When the kids can’t get to th museum…get the museum to come to the kids”. Through the use of loca documents and artifacts, a teacher is able to bring large historical event down to a more personal, more identifiable level, and truly bring the past to life...which in turn inspires our youth. Flora also talked up our HKVCA writing competition, and distributed copies with more information about the project. When she asked for a show of hands from those who were aware of the Battle of Hong Kong, only two hands were raised. Flora invited me to say a few words, of which I eagerly accepted. Keeping in her footsteps, I suggested the teachers search for Hong Kong Veterans from their own region, to bring local perspective to the classroom. And especially to remember that this chapter of WWII has never been taught in Canadian schools.
Flora Fung is brilliant in the way she brings new and inspiring approaches to history in the class room. I applaud Flora for sharing with teachers across the nation, her way of ‘inspiring our youth’. Wake up Canada!
Some Quotable Quotes from Flora’s students:
Flora has graciously offered to help me with HKVCA educational projects, and is only an email away when her professional advice is needed. We are only so lucky to have Flora, for all she has done, and continues to do for our HKVCA. We owe her a basket full of thank you’s!
Hong Kong Veteran, Phil Doddridge with daughter, Nancy
Thank you Ian Doull, for providing such a wonderfully detailed report (PDF) on behalf of the Ontario region. Thank you to Ted Terry and his partner Ann for helping Ian during the events.
Ted is the son of Capt. Edward Terry, the paymaster of the Winnipeg Grenadiers. Ted was about one year old when his father went overseas. He died in prison camp and is buried at Sai Wan; Ted has no memories of his father. Ted and Ann are retired teachers, and, in Ted’s case, a former vice-principal. According to Ian, the three of them were recruited some years ago by Pat Turcotte for the Library of Parliament event. Ted and Ann had done the Billings Bridge event before and invited Ian to join them, and they have been doing both events ever since.
With such a short window of opportunity/time, Ian, Ted and Ann were able to knock off three important educational programs in the early part of November. It is great to hear all events were well attended, and interest in the writing competition is gaining momentum.
It was most impressive the way they approached 300 grades 3 - 7 students, whereby they introduced the story of Gander. As Ian so eloquently put it… "Captivated by the Gander story, gave us the 'hook' to talk about the Canadians in Hong Kong". Again, another lesson learned in ‘inspiring our youth’.
With that said, I will be proposing a national educational project concerning the Gander Story, to be introduced and taught in Elementary schools throughout Canada. After all, it is another way to inspire our youth. More details to follow in the very near future.
Greetings To All from the Pacific Region.
Firstly, a huge thank you to Gwen Day for being our Director and representative here in BC for the past year. Gwen has always spoken with a deep and abiding respect for our all our Veterans and we’re grateful she represented us here on the coast.
Around the middle of October a small group of us got together for a luncheon in Langford just around the corner from HK Veteran Gerry Gerrard's residence. We socialized and renewed contact with each other and chatted about the upcoming busy month of November. Always a pleasure to visit and see Gerry in fine form. I hope he will show us his commemorative coin next time!
At the beginning of November, Mr. Cameron Cathcart, Director of Ceremonies for Remembrance Day in Vancouver spoke at a UBC function. Being the 75th Anniversary, he elected to talk about the Canadian involvement in the battle of Hong Kong and our Veterans. Mr.Cathcart who originally hailed from the small town of Breakeyville. QC was familiar with the Royal Rifles contribution and knew some of the soldiers and their families. Good choice Cameron and thank you for the timely exposure. We hope to post the text or presentation from that speech on the website, stay tuned.
November 11th Events
Perhaps it was my new vantage point a few close rows from the Victoria cenotaph, but the attendance seemed to have swelled and, if that is even possible, the ceremony more solemn than ever. Gerry had been asked to place a wreath on behalf of The Royal Canadian Legion Branches #7,#127, #292. A huge honor for him and something he has always done with panache. A few moments later he returned with the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association wreath, paused for Linda Quesnel and I to turn and handed it to me for the laying. A very memorable experience indeed. Afterwards he mentioned that he missed the cenotaph ceremony only once in 55years! Inspiration, loyalty and dedication came immediately to mind.
Linda Quesnel, Gerry Gerrard and Gerry Tuppert at the cenotaph
So that’s it for now folks, continued good health to all our Hong Kong family, safe travels.
Together in Remembrance,
Gerry Tuppert, BC Director HKVCA
Greetings from the snowy, wet Prairies! We have been busy with many projects some of which you will read in other parts of the newsletter.
Most recently, December 4, members of the HKVCA attended the “Wreaths across Canada” at Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg and commemorated a plaque (delayed in customs) to the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong. Government and military dignitaries were part of the ceremony along with George Peterson (last Winnipeg Grenadier of the Battle of Hong Kong), our Colour Party, and our Padre Paul Lampman of St Luke’s Church. More on this event and pictures further in the newsletter.
Barry Mitchell completed the flag project and has the various sizes of flags available to purchase – see the website for more details.
In October Alex Taylor and Stan Lopata took our display and information to the SAGE conference for teachers sponsored by Manitoba Social Science Teachers Association where they interacted with 300+ teachers.
The 71st Annual Dinner was held at Neil Bardal’s Centre in Winnipeg with about 60 people in attendance. We were pleased to have HK vet George Peterson, widows Anne Richardson, Ladena Hodgkinson Mabely, and Alexandra Slovinsky in attendance. (Alexandra passed away a few days following.) There were city councillors, Jason Scheyer and Scott Dillingham with several representatives of other veteran associations. Thank you to Juliet Lafortune for coordinating this event and our social events again. We are appreciative of the many years of service Juliet has given to the Association and wish her well as she steps down.
We held two Tea and Tidbits this year but had poor attendance so cancelled in December.
Kathie Carlson and Carol Hadley attended Round table discussions with the Minister of VAC and his staff in our areas. The general discussion was the Budget for VAC and what it included and if they missed anything. Their motto is “Family is involved when soldiers serve.” The HKVCA role was to ensure our VIP program was continuing for vets and widows and it will.
With the declaration of the elections, Carol Hadley was named as Prairie Regional Director with new Secretary, Marleen Bell, Barry Mitchell continues as Treasurer, John Matthews as public relations broadcasting our events, and Dan James, social media person with postings on Facebook. Kathie Carlson will stay in contact with the area reps, forwarding reports for our meeting keeping all members informed. We greatly appreciate Kathie’s continued support.
Kathie Carlson reports that the gala evening, organized by the Royal Hong Kong Regiment in Edmonton, has asked Veteran Ralph McLean to be the guest speaker. This event has been postponed until the spring.
Remembrance Day Sunday held at St. Luke's Anglican Church with Padre Paul Lampman, and HKVCA members and the Winnipeg Grenadier Cadets laying wreaths.
Remembrance Day at the Winnipeg Convention Centre had Dennis Bell and Barry Mitchell laying the HKV wreath. Our colour party (Alex Taylor, Vince and Stan Lopata) were in attendance as they have been for many, many years. Our members in other communities throughout our Region also laid wreaths recognizing the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong. There are so many that space would be an issue but thank you to everyone for doing this and ensuring the memories are not forgotten.
We have sent a communication to the community newspapers looking for the locations of the HK vets in Manitoba cemeteries, to begin and to promote the gravestone marker that we have for sale.
On a wet, snowy December 4, 2016 at Brookside Cemetery, Field of Honour at the Stone of Remembrance, a brief ceremony was held to observe the “Wreaths across Canada” (thanks to Bison Transport for sponsoring the wreaths) and commemorating a plaque to the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong.
At the Stone of Remembrance - Brookside Cemetery (Bob Holliday photo)
Several dignitaries, government and military, along with a company of cadets and our Colour Party were piped onto the Field. Jane Saxby, Administer of Winnipeg Cemeteries, was Master of Ceremonies. Minister Jon Reyes, Special Envoy for Military Affairs, and Councillor Matt Allard on behalf of the Mayor spoke on the special day. Cadets recited the Honour Poem in French and English. Lt. Col. Morantz, Royal Winnipeg Rifles, spoke about the Battle of Hong Kong, recognizing George Peterson. Rev. Paul Lampman, HKVCA Padre, gave the prayer of dedication to the plaque and wreaths. Last Post was played by Dan Whittaker Jr and piper was Corp. Shaun Brown.
Wreaths were laid at the Stone of Remembrance by Minister Reyes, Councillor Allard, George Peterson with the final wreath laid by senior cadets at the Teardrop (original WWI monument).
Finally, we were piped to the existing memorial to the Winnipeg Grenadiers (Jardine’s Lookout) to lay our poppies. This memorial will be redesigned to accommodate the new plaque in the Spring.
Thank you to all our members and family who attended.
More photos are available in the "Recent Events" section of our Gallery (editor)
On December 6, the Ontario Legislature paid tribute to the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong, followed by a reception hosted by Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor. MPPs representing the three parties in the legislature each read a very moving tribute, and veteran Fred Cooper (RR) accepted the honour on behalf of all the Canadians who served in Hong Kong.
Recently, I’ve had the honour of speaking several times to groups in the Toronto area, including the Hong Kong Cultural Studies group and at the Richard Charles Lee Canada Hong Kong Library at the University of Toronto. On a less formal note, I played in the annual Hong Kong-Canada Business Association golf tournament in September. No holes-in-one for me, unfortunately!
I have just returned this week from a personal visit to Hong Kong where I participated in the annual commemorative ceremony at Sai Wan War Cemetery. The Consulate of Canada did its usual stellar work in arranging a very moving ceremony that properly honoured those who fought and died in the Battle and in the POW camps.
The main message to HKVCA members in this area was to let them know about the gathering in Ottawa on December 10th at The Wall. Arranged by Mitzi Ross, it’s been a special time of remembrance - complete with laying of wreaths. John and Bernadine Russell (Albert James Russell, RRC) plan to attend along with Pat and Bernard Turcotte and Mark Purcell and I in memory of Lt. Leonard Corrigan (WG). We’ll hope the weather is agreeable.
News of the coin from the Royal Canadian Mint featuring the Battle of Hong Kong was also announced. More details are available in this HKVCA Newsletter. Widows of veterans are to receive one of the commemorative coins at no cost. Yvonne Southworth and Irene Firlotte are two recipients of the coins in this area. Speaking to Yvonne (Donald Southworth RRC) says she is fine. Irene (Lawrence Firlotte, RRC) settled into a nursing home.
Major Brian Tang, who was so helpful with the planning of the August luncheon, is now headed to the far north. Twenty people began with a meal at a local restaurant and then went to the Air Force Museum after for a tour. Two guides took us around the facility and explained the displays. It was a very worthwhile afternoon, spent in Trenton, Ont. Robert Ryan planned to attend the lunch but had health problems that day. However his efforts to locate the grave of John Arthur (RRC) have given him new information of the family connection. Instead of a cousin, Arthur may have been an uncle. Robert hopes to put a Hong Kong grave marker on the stone he located.
Connie Darling, daughter of Edward Phillips, RRC, went to the Trenton Cenotaph on November 11 prepared to lay a wreath on behalf of her mother and herself. Instead she was told there were 18 wreaths and so her Hong Kong wreath wasn’t necessary. Connie was very upset when she told me about this and so Mike Babin and Gail Angel were both informed, with the promise of a letter directed to The Legion.
Wishing you a Joyous Christmas season and a reasonable winter!
Here it is another year almost gone. Only one snowfall so far in the north thus far. However, as traditional northerners we know there is a lot more on the way. Ho! Ho! Ho! Keep Your Chin Up.
Congratulations to Fred Cooper RRC who celebrated his 97th birthday this past October and attended the 75th anniversary ceremony of the "Beginning of the Battle of Hong Kong" December 6th at Queen's Park in Toronto. Way to go Fred!
When Remembrance Day rolls around every year it’s great to see everyone wearing poppies to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom. It hardly seems enough though “just one day” or “two minutes” dedicated to those men and women who left their families, friends and loved ones to go overseas to countries most of them never even heard of to free them from tyranny. So it was with my father Augustin Cyr, his brothers Clem and Leo and my mother’s brother Wilmer Cyr (my mom’s maiden name was Cyr) who enlisted with the Royal Rifles of Canada in New Richmond, Quebec. They traveled west by train picking up the Winnipeg Grenadiers then sailed from Vancouver to Hong Kong to defend the Island against the Japanese. Little did they know they would end up for almost four years as prisoners of war in the camps working as slaves in the coal mines and shipyards.
My dad or uncles never shared the atrocities and diseases they suffered with their families. I guess they didn’t want us to know what they went through. It’s only in the last number of years that I have found out a lot of information about the events. I’m grateful to the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association and the wonderful volunteers who put so much effort and work into bringing to light “The Battle of Hong Kong” as part of our Canadian History as well as driving the project to build the Commemorative Wall in Ottawa honoring all those who served with the Royal Rifles and the Winnipeg Grenadiers. We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who served sacrificing their lives, those who have passed away, those still with us and to those today who are serving our country. May we “never forget”. We will “remember them”.
Jackie's storefront mall display
Here we are again at the end of another year. 2016 was a busy year with many activities, commemorative ceremonies and the marking of the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Hong. We will remember them!
The administration of our region went well thanks to our membership and continued donations and support from our members. Thank you all. We are in the process of reviewing our membership lists to update certain missing information for our veterans, widows and then all members. We need to have a full mailing list, telephone numbers and email addresses if any, all of this in order to stay in contact with everyone. Please contact your Quebec region membership chair if you are moving, changing your room number in a residence or any other change. Thank you.
Since the last newsletter, we held an executive meeting and many members attended local Ceremonies and the laying of wreaths for November 11th in their respective locality.
We stay in contact with the Bay Chaleur Museum and help them when possible to continue their good work. We refer to the museum, family members who would like to find a good home for their artifacts.
We also stay in contact with Les Voltigeurs de Quebec and attend their functions. They are still fast at work on the reconstruction of the Drill Hall at le Manège Militaire de Québec, the reinstallation of the RRC Plaque and getting things ready for their “museum” or display cases for the RRC. Looking forward to the official opening to be announced some time in the coming year.
That will be it at this time and I would like to wish each and every one of you a Very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year in company of family and/or good friends and specially Health for the new year.
I am thrilled to be the new Atlantic Representative on the Hong Kong Veteran Commemorative Association Board of Directors. As you already know, I am the Executive Director of a history museum and therefore very active in the heritage community in Fredericton. I am also the President of the New Brunswick Heritage Association and am involved in promoting heritage throughout the province and history education in the school curriculum.
I partially owe my deep interest in history, particularly military history, to my Grandfather, William Hickie. I recall spending many hours as a child listening to him tell stories about his childhood, the war and raising his family after his returned from the Pacific. The remaining credit for my interest in history goes to my mother, William’s daughter, who ensured that my childhood was spent going to antique stores, museums and galleries.
I was familiar with the Hong Kong Veterans Association while I worked on my thesis but lost my connection over the years as I raised my family. I have never lost my interest in the Battle of Hong Kong and have always worked towards raising awareness of the importance of this part of Canada’s military history.
I was brought back into the organization in August 2015 when Andy Flanagan called me at the museum and asked me to organize a Hong Kong remembrance event. I had 11 days to organize a 70th anniversary remembrance ceremony and with the encouragement of my museum Board of Directors and the help of several heritage professionals, politicians and summer students, we were able to organize a well-attended outdoor event that incorporated a temporary museum exhibit and a reception that captured the attention of several media outlets.
This year, I was asked to sit on the Atlantic Region reunion planning committee. We hosted a remembrance ceremony and reception on October 15th incorporating members from the younger generation, government officials and the Milton F. Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society.
Atlantic Region Board of Directors. From left to right - Treasurer - Andy Flanagan, President - Ruth Murgatroyd, Secretary - Ellen O'Neill, V. President - Jim Flanagan Missing from photo Membership Rep - Bernard LeBlanc
Since being elected to my position, I have been working to orientate myself with the organization and its membership. I have created a private group on Facebook to communicate with Atlantic Region Branch Executive members and have started to review past activities and become acquainted with our members.
My goals in this position are to focus on increasing public awareness of the Battle of Hong Kong, to promote membership and to engage the youth, such as the great grandchildren of the veterans.
Atlantic Region Board of Directors. From left to right -
Treasurer - Andy Flanagan,
President - Ruth Murgatroyd,
Secretary - Ellen O'Neill,
V. President - Jim Flanagan
Missing from photo Membership Rep - Bernard LeBlanc
Greetings from Winnipeg. I would like to take the time to thank everyone for their support in the last few months, it seems like we are getting new likes on the facebook page daily. I asked Jim Trick for a list of birthdays of our beloved Hong Kong Veterans because I had the idea to honour our vets on their Birthday, in the last few weeks I have been posting the name and the link to their report on the “C’ force webpage for the 700 or so veterans we have birthdays listed for. I have also been using the hashtag #rememberthem so anyone that searched for that hashtag may see those stories.
I have to admit I am enjoying reading the stories of those that have not had their story shared for a very long time, if at all. I ask that you read those reports, and take a minute to remember our veterans. If I missed your loved one’s birthday please let us know so we can update the information. So many of them died overseas and I am sure they have not been remembered for a very long time, so please like and share the posts to help them reach the maximum number of people, and grow the page.
More and more I seem to be looking for info on the battle of Hong Kong, and I enjoy sharing it. I will continue to do so, and I want to make sure to bring the 75th anniversary of the battle of Hong Kong front and centre.
Last month we said good bye to George Nobiss, having never met the man, I still felt the obligation to attend his memorial. I felt the need to go in case I can’t make it to the funeral for the last Winnipeg Grenadier. The passing of Mr. Nobiss means that once again a piece of our history has passed away, and that leaves George Peterson as the last surviving Winnipeg Grenadier.
In the meantime I wish everyone all the warmest wishes for the holiday season, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to you and your family.
Our websites continue to attract increased numbers of visitors as the months go by, attracted by the quality and quantity of our content. In fact, as you can see below, this past November saw the highest number of unique visitors ever with over 5200 unique visitors. Much of this interest is due to our Facebook activity that Dan has described above. Directing visitors to the Individual Reports of our 'C' Force members has resulted in a multitude of updates, mostly from family members.
2016 Web Visitor Stats
Another task that was completed recently was the publishing of professional photos of the Memorial Wall panels and surroundings. Our Memorial Wall section now has an up to date list of the names, and you can "zoom in" to read the detail of each panel by choosing the List of Names or Photo Gallery link.
Work goes on to make our web pages more mobile-friendly. Our sites contain hundreds of pages and each must display well in all browsers and on all devices so this task will take some time. We're experimenting with a new look on the main newsletter page - we'd love to hear what you think. Just drop us a line.
Over the years people move and forget to tell us. At the same time, it’s reasonably common for different government or quasi-government organizations to ask us for contact information for veterans and widows for official business. In particular, we know that we have lost track of some widows because the addresses we have are incorrect. If you have any information that would help us, please send Carol Hadley a message email@example.com, call your regional director or area representative, or send a note to Carol, ℅ P.O. Box 381, Winnipeg, MB, R3C 2H6.
The HKVCA is embarking on a project to develop a Communications Plan and we need your help!
Do you want to contribute to the work of the HKVCA and just aren’t sure how you can help?
Do you have thoughts on the types of information you would like to receive from the HKVCA?
Do you have great ideas on how the HKVCA could be better communicating in this digital age?
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions than please read on…
Our goal is to lay out the path to better communication with our membership and you, the members, are our best source of information to help make this happen.
Over the course of the coming months the Board of Directors will be working on a communication plan and we would like volunteers who would be willing to provide input and feedback throughout the stages of its development. The task would be simple. We will, through email and online surveys that are simple to complete and submit, ask for your thoughts on various parts of the plan.
If you are interested in contributing to this work, please send a simple email indicating your interest with the subject line “Communication Plan” to firstname.lastname@example.org/ by December 31, 2016.
This makes one fabulous Christmas gift! The Gravestone Marker is about 3” in diameter and looks unique on a gravestone. The Gravestone Marker is for individual HK veteran gravestones and costs $75.00 [including postage].
The creation of the Gravestone Marker was based on the shoulder flash the Canadian government gave our veterans as they returned from Hong Kong in 1945. This shoulder flash can only be worn by a Hong Kong veteran. For this reason alone the Gravestone Marker is very unique. And in turn, this makes the HONG KONG veteran gravestones very distinctive.
How do you purchase one you ask?? You can go on line to the HKVCA store for ordering information. Click on this link and look for the Gravestone Marker.
Or send your information to Barry's Emporium, PO Box 381, Winnipeg, MB R3C 2H6
The Chinese Canadian Military Museum in Vancouver has on display exhibits focused on the role of Chinese Canadian veterans of Canadian military service. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong, the Museum recently opened an exhibit dealing with the invasion, occupation and liberation of Hong Kong in World War II. The Museum is located on the second floor of the Chinese Cultural Centre (East Wing), 555 Columbia Street. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. Entrance fee is $5. Website: www.ccmms.ca Email: email@example.com. Telephone: (604) 658-8880
Dues are due! It's that time of year. Just head over to our web page, fill in the info, and mail your 2017 membership dues.
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