Individual Report: E30603 Joseph COTTON

1st Bn The Royal Rifles of Canada

General Information

Rank: First Name: Second Name:
Rifleman Joseph Leonard
From: Enlistment Region: Date of Birth (y-m-d):
Gaspé QC Eastern Quebec 1918-11-24
Appointment: Company: Platoon:

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 Arrival Date Departure Date
HK-SM-01StanleyFort Stanley, Hong Kong IslandCapture 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)43 Sep 0345 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

Hong Kong Repats in 'Frisco

Caption: Members of the Quebec Royal Rifles and the Winnipeg Grenadiers were among 244 Canadian prisoners of war aboard the U.S.S. Ozark when she docked in San Francisco. Above, left to right, fron row, are: Rfn. L.A. Cunning, Gaspe, Que.; Pte. Arthur Diehl, Winnipeg; Pte. John Humicky, Winnipeg; Rfn. George LeBlanc, Quebec. Back row, left to right: Rfn. Isaac Comeau, Maltempagua, N.B.; Sgmn Jack Rose, Vancouver; Cpl. E.A. Dayton, Chilliwack, B.C.; L/Cpl. Sam DiSensi, Winnipeg; and Rfn. L.J. Cotton, Montreal.

From Len Cotton (son): This photo entitled "Hong Kong Repats in 'Frisco" figures in to what Dad had described as his trip home on a US military ship where he had been assigned a US seaman to help him with whatever he wanted. He stated that, while in San Francisco, they had been met by the President of the USA and Shirley Temple and been given a new dollar bill for a souvenir and been offered automatic US citizenship if he wanted that, but Dad decided to keep on going home to Canada. He did not like the train trip home to Montreal from Vancouver because the high number of soldiers on the train made them feel like they were in a cattle car.

Post-war Photo

Click for larger view

From Len Cotton (son): This photo taken in 1946 shows my dad in Montreal with his future wife, Irene Collette. They lived there for many years before moving to Moncton NB in 1988

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
1999-03-07Heart AttackPost War
Cemetery LocationCemeteryGrave NumberGravestone Marker
Nepean Ontario CanadaCapital Memorial GardensYes

Gravestone Image

Click for larger view

From son: Len: Since dad and mom chose cremation and cremation urns, my brother and I decided to create the plaque containing dad's information and topped it with a HK badge.

Obituary / Life Story

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

Links and Other Resources

There may be more information on this individual available elsewhere on our web sites - please use the search tool found in the upper right corner of this page to view sources.

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

Other comments from Len Cotton (son):

Pre- and Post-war, we all knew him as Leonard (Len), but the army knew him as Joseph. His birth certificate shows him as Joseph Leonard Cotton and the government would not stray from that. All boys in Quebec in the old days were baptized and named Joseph plus whatever followed, and the girls were named Mary/Marie plus whatever followed - my mom's full name, for instance, was Marie Irène née Collette Cotton.

Wounds - Dad once told me his watch had been shot by a sniper and he still had bits of the watch or bullet shrapnel in his wrist 'til the day he died that had not all come up through.  That's not making any reference to his medical/psuchological condition as the result of being a PoW for those 4 years, but that's a whole other story.

Hospital Visits - Dad spent many years visiting the Queen Mary hospital in Montreal after the war, and my brother Doug remembers him having had something like a month or so stay at the hospital when we were very young.  As for prison camp, I or Doug have a copy of a note by Dr. Ken Cambon (now deceased) for a medical visit.  Dad also mentioned that her had been under the medical care of Japanese doctors and nurses while he was at a foundry in Niigata and that he had been told that it had been close but had pulled through over the course of a number of weeks.

Cremation was chosen. The niche # 4001 and the door code is 243. Grave marker was purchased but not used.

End of Report.

Report generated: 18 Jul 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.