Individual Report: E29871 Thomas SMITH

1st Bn The Royal Rifles of Canada

General Information

Rank: First Name: Second Name:
Staff Sergeant Thomas William
From: Enlistment Region: Date of Birth (y-m-d):
Drummondville QC Eastern Quebec 1915-12-10
Appointment: Company: Platoon:
Company Quartermaster Sergeant D Coy HQ

Transportation - Home Base to Hong Kong

Members of 'C' Force from the East travelled across Canada by CNR troop train, picking up reinforcements enroute. Stops included Valcartier, Montreal, Ottawa, Armstrong ON, Capreol ON, Winnipeg, Melville SK, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Jasper, and Vancouver, arriving in Vancouver on Oct 27 at 0800 hrs.

The Winnipeg Grenadiers and the local soldiers that were with Brigade Headquarters from Winnipeg to BC travelled on a CPR train to Vancouver.

All members embarked from Vancouver on the ships AWATEA and PRINCE ROBERT. AWATEA was a New Zealand Liner and the PRINCE ROBERT was a converted cruiser. "C" Company of the Rifles was assigned to the PRINCE ROBERT, everyone else boarded the AWATEA. The ships sailed from Vancouver on Oct 27th and arrived in Hong Kong on November 16th, having made brief stops enroute at Honolulu and Manila.

Equipment earmarked for 'C' Force use was loaded on the ship DON JOSE, but would never reach Hong Kong as it was rerouted to Manila when hostilities commenced.

On arrival, all troops were quartered at Nanking Barracks, Sham Shui Po Camp, in Kowloon.

Battle Information

We do not have specific battle information for this soldier in our online database. For a detailed description of the battle from a Canadian perspective, visit Canadian Participation in the Defense of Hong Kong (published by the Historical Section, Canadian Military Headquarters).

Wounded Information

No wounds recorded.

Hospital Information

No record of hospital visits found.

POW Camps

Camp ID Camp Name Location Company Type of Work Reference Arrive Depart
HK-SM-01StanleyFort Stanley, Hong Kong Island20, 31, 33Capture 41 Dec 30
HK-NP-01North PointNorth Point, Hong Kong Island41 Dec 3042 Sep 26
HK-SA-02ShamshuipoKowloon, Hong Kong42 Sep 2643 Jan 19
JP-Fu-5BOmineKawasaki-machi, Fukuoka pref., Kyushu Island, JapanFurukawa Industries OmineCoal mining843 Jan 2345 Sep 22

Transport to Japan

Draft Number Name of Ship Departure Date Arrival Date Arrival Port Comments Reference
XD3BTatsuta Maru43 Jan 19, left Shamsuipo Camp, 0500 hrs; left Hong Kong 1300hrs43 Jan 22, 0400 hrsNagasaki, JapanTony Banham

Transportation: SE Asia to Home

No information found.

Post-war Photo

No information found.

Death and Cemetery Information

Date of Death (y-m-d) Cause of Death Death Class Death Ref
Post War
Cemetery LocationCemeteryGrave NumberGravestone Marker

Gravestone Image

No information found.

Obituary / Life Story

No information found.


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General Comments

Facebook comment February 2018- Philip Doddridge says Tom Smith, CQMS, D Company, RRC. TW Smith. We jokingly called him Tight Wad Smith. He was a good guy

Newspaper Montreal Daily Star 5 October 1945

Manila, Oct. 5th: Members of a party of 160 Canadian prisoners of war who spent 32 months working in a coal mine at Kawasaki in Japan related yesterday how they planned to break out of the camp when the Allies invaded Japan and fight with other Allied prisoners as a guerrilla and sabotage group. The prisoners who were repeatedly told by the Japanese guards that when the invasion came they would all promptly be killed, made plans according to that advice. They prepared maps of the area and slowly built up in the camp a hidden store of 800 sticks of dynamite stolen from the mine. When word of the invasion came they intended to smash their way out of the camp, destroy bridges and other installations and attack an airfield.

The Japanese almost stumbled on the plan March 16, 1944, when they discovered some of the prisoners had made maps. The guards locked up several prisoners, including British Staff Sergeant Hugh Limb of the Hong Kong Volunteer Force who earned the respect of every Canadian during the imprisonment. Six other in the group were locked in the dungeon and made to stand at attention for 31 hours without a break. They were Sgt Maj W.R. Parkes, Richmond, Quebec; Sgt Maj Frank Ebdon, Donaconna, Quebec; Sgt Maj F.B. Cauldwell, Winnipeg; Sgt Lance Ross, Hopetown, Quebec; Sgt Maurice D'Avignon, Marieville, Quebec and Rfmn "yank" Burns, Harford, Conn.

Parkes called the dungeon "a miserable dirty hole" and said men who wavered during the hours they stood were beaten. To make the ordeal worse, they were fed small portions of salted rice and mouthfuls of salted water. Though the camp was good as such Japanese establishments go, most of the prisoners suffered from malnutrition and had to work despite illness. One Canadian who was seriously ill and was forced by beating to go into the mine, died before finishing his eight hour shift. Last winter the prisoners suffered severely from the cold, but were kept working nearly a mile underground in tunnels which they had dug originally. The tunnels were reinforced with concrete walls in which as a sabotage measure, the prisoners packed mine tools and other implements. The prisoners received numerous beatings administered by the Japanese guards commandant, nicknamed Hitler. The guards and work leaders used every means they could to keep coal production high. Mine cave-ins took the lives of two Canadians and nine others died of illness during the 14 months the prisoners worked to develop the mine and 18 during which they produced soft coal. The mine eventually produced 250 tons daily.

The Canadians learned the taste of horsehead soup, but they managed to keep in good spirits to the utter amazement of the Japanese. The group from Kawasaki, now in Manila awaited repatriation, included CQMS Tom Smith, Donnacona; CSM Harold Shepherd, Riverbend, Quebec; Sgt Leslie Stickles, East Angus, Quebec; Sgt Charles Fletcher, Lake Megantic, Quebec; Sgt Bill Hawke, Cowansville, Quebec; and Sgt Bob Barter, Grand Cascapedia, Quebec.

End of Report.

Report generated: 24 May 2022.

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Additional Notes

(These will not be visible on the printed copy)

  1. Service numbers for officers are locally generated for reporting only. During World War II officers were not allocated service numbers until 1945.
  2. 'C' Force soldiers who died overseas are memorialized in the Second World War Book of Remembrance and the Canadian Virtual War Memorial, both sponsored by Veterans Affairs Canada. Please use the search utility at VAC to assist you.
  3. Some birthdates and deathdates display as follows: 1918-00-00. In general, this indicates that we know the year but not the month or day.
  4. Our POW camp links along with our References link (near the bottom of the 'C' Force home page) are designed to give you a starting point for your research. There were many camps with many name changes. The best resource for all POW camps in Japan is the Roger Mansell Center for Research site.
  5. In most cases the rank displayed was the rank held before hostilities. Some veterans were promoted at some point prior to eventual post-war release from the army back in Canada. When notified of these changes we'll update the individual's record.
  6. Images displayed on the web page are small, but in many cases the actual image is larger. Hover over any image and you will see a popup if a larger version is available. You can also right-click on some images and select the option to view the image separately. Not all images have larger versions. Contact us to confirm whether a large copy of an image in which you are interested exists.
  7. Related documentation for information published in this report may be available. Researchers have added significant content on some 'C' Force members in the public group "Hong Kong Veterans Tribute" on Facebook, which you can search by using the member's service number.
  8. Our librarians have collected thousands of documents from Facebook and other resources. When requested, we will provide any additional information we have on an individual in the form of a zip (compressed) file and make it accessible from the Individual Report. Use the Contact Us form to request an offline search.
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