Individual Report: E30382 Ralph MACLEAN

1st Bn The Royal Rifles of Canada

General Information

Rank: First Name: Second Name:
Rifleman Ralph Angustus
From: Enlistment Region: Date of Birth (y-m-d):
Grindstone QC Eastern Quebec 1922-06-27
Appointment: Company: Platoon:
Bren gun carrier HQ Coy 4 Carrier

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 Arrival Date Departure Date
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 Aug 15
JP-To-5B Niigata-RinkoNiigata-ken, Nakakambara-gun, Ogata-mura, JapanMarutsu, Rinko Coal, ShintetsuStevedore labor at port of Niigata (Marutsu), primarily foodstuffs; mining coal (Rinko Coal ) and labor at a foundry (Shintetsu)4, 5, 3443 Sep 0344 Jan 18
JP-To-15BNiigata-TekkoNiigata-ken, Niigata City, Yamanoshita, Akiba-dori, JapanNiigata Ironworks Company44 Jan 1845 Sep 05

Transport to Japan

Draft Number Name of Ship Departure Date Arrival Date Arrival Port Comments Reference
XD4BManryu Maru43 Aug 1543 Sep 01Osaka, JapanBrief stopover in Taihoku (Taipei), Formosa (Taiwan); then 2 day stopover at northern point for stool testsTony Banham

Transportation: SE Asia to Home

Click for larger view

Basking in Yokohama Sunshine

Pictured here are men of the Royal Rifles of Canada, in uniforms given them by the US Army, shortly after their arrival at Yokohama after being liberated from Japanese prison camps. Looking astonishingly fit after three and a half years as POWs, they are:

Back Row - Rifleman E. Blanchette, Indian Cove, Gaspe. J. McEachren, Sydney, Nova Scotia. J. N. LeBlanc, Petite-de-Grat, Nova Scotia. H. E. Naylor, Victoria, BC. Sergeant T. W. Wilson, New York City. Ralph Buchanan, Lockport, Nova Scotia. R. A. MacLean, Grindstone, Magdalen Islands, Quebec. W. H. Gagne, Brighton.

Front row - D. Bernier, Warwick, Arthabaska Company, Quebec. R. N. Grieves and F. A. McArthur, Campbellford, Ontario. M. Caron, LAnse au Beaufils, Gaspe, Quebec. J. Kelso, Verdun. Credit to Canadian Army photo

Post-war Photo

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Other Military Service

No related information found. Please submit documents to us using the contact link at the top of this page.

Death and Cemetery Information

Date of Death (y-m-d) Cause of Death Death Class Death Ref
2020-03-14Post War
Cemetery LocationCemeteryGrave NumberGravestone Marker
Calgary Alberta CanadaQueen's Park CemeteryYes

Gravestone Image

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Obituary / Life Story

E30382 Ralph MACLEAN June 27, 1922 – Grindstone, Quebec. March 14, 2020 – Calgary, Alberta. Ralph MacLean, of Calgary, AB, passed away on Saturday, March 14, 2020 at the age of 97 years.

Ralph is survived by his son Doug (Barb), and daughter Marilyn Pridgen (Blake). He is also survived by nine grandchildren: Mark Sakamoto, Daniel Sakamoto, Alison Gaine, Ryan MacLean, Faira Taylor, Christine Plett, Steven Pridgen, Keith Pridgen, and Brian Pridgen; as well as fourteen great-grandchildren. Ralph also leaves behind his "daughter-in-love" Melodie Rollins (David), his greatly treasured nieces and nephews and their families, as well as great-nieces and nephews.

Ralph was predeceased by his wife, of thirty-five years, Phyllis (nee Dee) in 1984, and a daughter Diane, in 2001. Ralph’s cherished siblings, Irene, Ada, Art, Lillian, Greta, Mabel, and Ford all predeceased him.

Ralph was born in Grindstone, Magdalen Islands, Quebec, where he lived until he joined the Canadian Army to serve with the Royal Rifles of Canada, in WWII. It was in service to his country that he experienced life changing hardships when he and nearly 2000 other Canadian soldiers were sent to fight in the Battle of Hong Kong. On Christmas Day 1941 these Canadian soldiers were taken as Prisoners of War by the Japanese and were held in captivity for nearly four years. Part way through his time as a prisoner, he and others were sent to Japan as slave labourers, where he remained until the end of the war. These courageous soldiers indeed earned the title "hero" over these many years of starvation, hardship, and torture.

In spite of this incredibly challenging life experience, as well as challenges he faced as a child, Ralph did not let that stop him from moving forward in life. On his way home from Japan, Ralph was on a train with other former POW’s and when the train stopped in Calgary, he met Phyllis, his future wife. They married in 1948 and Phyllis would be key in his moving forward in life. After being discharged from the army, Ralph moved out to Calgary where Phyllis’ father helped him to secure work. Ralph was a reliable, hardworking employee for Cominco (now Teck Resources) for forty years, having achieved certifications as a Building Operator A and as a Fourth-Class Steam Engineer.

It was not just surviving his captivity, meeting Phyllis, and gaining education for a career that changed his life, but through meeting Phyllis he also found a strong faith. While he had faith in God as a child and as a young soldier, it was when he came out to Calgary that he began a new journey in his Christian faith. Ralph became a devoted member of First Church of the Nazarene and faithfully served in many capacities throughout his life. He was still attending services until the month before he passed away. He greatly treasured his church friends, his pastors, church activities and serving.

Ralph loved spending time with and helping others…whether it was helping his children with work projects, going to grandchildren’s concerts or sporting events, helping with church projects, or helping a neighbour. Over his lifetime, he had enjoyed cross-country skiing, curling, RV camping, caring for and skating on the rink near his home, travelling to many countries, activities with the Thornview Seniors program, Cribbage at the Banff Trail Community Association, and his involvement with the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association. Ralph was known for having a good sense of humour and for his quick wit.

He loved to be included in, or invited to do, things with family and friends alike. "Thanks for letting me in on this" was his standard expression, even if the event was to help with canning, doing dishes after a big family dinner, painting a fence, or helping with the church’s Mustard Seed meal ministry. Everyone that knew him was keenly aware that with each get-together there would be a lunch, dinner, or a coffee time invitation and they would never be able to pay. He loved to treat people and was generous beyond measure. Ralph had amazing resiliency. When his doctor told him that he could no longer drive, due to his diminishing vision, he said "Well, I’m not going to let that stop me". He became proficient at knowing the many bus routes throughout Calgary. A cell phone was provided for him so that family could find him…his independent spirit remained intact!

However, in 2017 he had been experiencing many falls and had to leave his much-loved home to receive the extra care that he needed. At the Colonel Belcher Care Center, he did what he could to stay strong and active by going to physio, playing Cribbage, and attending activities. However, it was not long until his sight was completely gone. Losing his sight was perhaps one of his biggest challenges in life. Phone calls and visits with people helped to ease this hardship. While he had enjoyed good health overall, Ralph’s health began to decline on February 20 and he passed away peacefully on the morning of March 14. Over those last few weeks, he was so grateful for the visits, phone calls, and expressions of love for him. He especially enjoyed hearing and singing his favourite hymns.

The family wants to express their gratitude to those staff members at Colonel Belcher Long Term Care Center that worked closely with Ralph. The understanding, support, and kindness that you provided to Ralph, especially during those last weeks of his life, meant so much…thank you. We also want to thank the many caregivers from Classic LifeCare that had assisted Ralph. They were key in providing Ralph greater joy and independence in his life. We especially want to extend our gratitude to those that helped over the few weeks prior to Ralph’s passing…their support meant more than words can say.

Due to the pandemic restrictions in place, plans for a Memorial Service for Ralph will be announced at a later date.

If friends so desire, donations may be made to one of the following charities: Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association (, War Amps (, Nazarene World Missions (cheque should go to First Church of the Nazarene indicating World Evangelism Fund on the memo) 65 Richard Way SW, Calgary, AB T3E 7M8.

Condolences, memories and photos may be shared and viewed on Ralph’s obituary at

In living memory of Ralph MacLean, a tree will be planted in the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area by McInnis and Holloway Funeral Homes, Park Memorial, 5008 Elbow Drive SW, Calgary, AB T2S 2L5, Telephone: 403-243-8200.

Links and Other Resources

Ralph Maclean's account

Facebook has proven to be a valuable resource in the documentation of 'C' Force members. The following link will take you to any available search results for this soldier based on his regimental number. Note: results may be contained within another related record. Facebook Search Results

Related documentation for information published in this report, such as birth information, discharge papers, press clippings and census documents may be available via shared resources in our HKVCA Vault. It is organized with folders named using regimental numbers. Use the first letter of the individual's service number to choose the correct folder, then scroll to the specific sub-folder displaying the service number of your interest.

General Comments

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End of Report.

Report generated: 27 May 2024.

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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 Books 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. In some cases the References displayed as part of this report generate questions because there is no indication of their meaning. They were inherited with the original database, and currently we do not know what the source is. We hope to solve this problem in future.
  8. We have done our best to avoid errors and omissions, but if you find any issues with this report, either in accuracy, completeness or layout, please contact us using the link at the top of this page.
  9. Photos are welcome! If a photo exists for a 'C' Force member that we have not included, or if you have a higher quality copy, please let us know by using the Contact Us link at the top of this page. We will then reply, providing instructions on submitting it.