Individual Report: H41687 Harold ATKINSON

1st Bn The Winnipeg Grenadiers


General Information

Rank: First Name: Second Name:
Private Harold Angus Martin
From: Enlistment Region: Date of Birth (y-m-d):
Winnipeg MB Manitoba 1922-02-14
Appointment: Company: Platoon:
D 16 Plt

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

Date Wounded Wound Description References
41/12/19N/A
44/01/01Broken Pelvis due to roof collapse

Hospital Information

Name of hospital Date of admission Date of discharge Comments Reference
HK-UNKN/AN/A

POW Camps

Camp ID Camp Name Location Company Type of Work Reference Arrival Date Departure Date
HK-NP-01North PointNorth Point, Hong Kong IslandN/AN/A
HK-AS-01Argyle StreetKowloon, Hong KongN/AN/A
HK-SA-01ShamshuipoKowloon, Hong KongCapture42 Jan 22
HK-NP-02North PointNorth Point, Hong Kong Island3342 Jan 2242 Sep 26
HK-SA-02ShamshuipoKowloon, Hong Kong42 Sep 26 43 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 0245 Sep 04

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

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Military and civilian officials at Vancouver welcomed the first 10 liberated Canadian soldiers to return home from Japan - men captured in the battle of Hong Kong. Tired but very happy to be home, they posed with officials for a photograph on the station platform. Mayor J.W. Cornett and Alderman H.L. Corey greeted them on behalf of Vancouver, Lieutenant-Governor W.C. Woodward on behalf of the provincial government, and Brigadier J.H.W. Landon, for Pacific Command Headquarters. In the picture, left to right, standing, are: Pte. Bert Comeau, Gaspe, Que.; Cpl. J.M. Blacquiere, Summerside, PEI; Mayor Cornett; Rflmn. John Baskin, Blackland, N.B.; Rflmn. Floyd Babcock, Broadlands Que.; Cpl. J.L. Campbell, Elmvale, Ont.; Pte. A.J.B. Briard, Gaspe, Que.; Alderman Corey; Lt. Governor Woodward and Brigadier Landon. Kneeling, left to right, are: Cpl. Mel Carter, Toronto; Pte. Ernest Buck, St. Jerome Province, Que.; Pte. E.B. Arseneau, Fort Frances, Ont, and Pte. Harold Atkinson, Winnipeg.

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
2002-03-02Post War
Cemetery LocationCemeteryGrave NumberGravestone Marker
St. Andrews Manitoba CanadaSt. Clements Anglican Church CemeteryYes

Gravestone Image

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Obituary / Life Story

HAROLD (HARRY) ANGUS MARTIN ATKINSON On March 2, 2002 at the Concordia Hospital. Harry Atkinson, aged 80 years, widower of the late Penny Atkinson, who predeceased him in 1989. Harry was born in Selkirk, MB. He leaves to mourn his passing his two sons, Dennis (Rene) of Edmonton, AB, and Bill (Angie) of Winnipeg; his two daughters, Lori (Doug) Smith of London, ON, and Pat Atkinson (Garry) of Winnipeg, and daughter-in-law Linda; his grandchildren, Christopher (Michael), Jennifer (Paul), Kelly, Michael, Amy and Kyle; his special companion Marge Dwyer and her family; numerous nieces, nephews, other family and a host of friends. Harry was predeceased by his two sisters and one brother. Harry was employed with Robinson Little Ltd. for many years, retiring as Development Representative in 1979. Harry enjoyed hunting and fishing, bowling and golfing and was a member of Rossmere Golf and Country Club. He was a lifelong member of the Northwest Travelers Association. Harry served with the Winnipeg Grenadiers in Bermuda, Jamaica and fought in the Battle of Hong Kong, after which he survived as a POW in Hong Kong and Niagata, Japan until the end of the war. Harry represented the Hong Kong Veterans Association as President of the Manitoba Branch and as their last National President, in which position he secured significant gains for its members, after years of negotiating with the Federal Government. Even at the last moments, Harry displayed strength and determination which had been his hallmark throughout his life. His family will remember him as a caring, devoted father and grandfather who showed his love through the countless things he did for them. A memorial service will be held for Harry at Sturgeon Creek United Church on Wednesday, March 6 at 10:00 a.m. Reverend Gordon Shields officiating. The family would like to thank the staff at Concordia Hospital N3 East, for their caring, as well as the Oncology Department at the Concordia Hospital. Also their heartfelt thanks to Dale Atkinson for his tributes to Harry. www.geocities.com/atkinson_family_newsletterI index.html NEIL BARDAL INC. 949-2200

Links and Other Resources

Interview with Harry Atkinson

1997 Interview

Harold ATKINSON noted on Selkirk Manitoba Ancestry

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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I have been fortunate to go on a Hong Kong Pilgrimage with my dad, Harry Atkinson, WG. In the year 2000. I actually looked at it with trepidation. The knowledge I would be sharing some powerful memories with my dad. Those memories he told to me as a child.

I found the grave marker in Sai Wan cemetery of my uncle, dad's brother. And to that moment I had never thought of him as my cousin's Ronnes' dad. Always I had thought of him as my dad's brother. THAT feeling I had always held in the distance till the moment of seeing his name on that gravestone. That feeling overtook me- swamped me!

Briskly walking around the trails and the mountains dad had always called hills which I could easily call mountains! Actually seeing and touching the pill box close to where my uncle was wounded was overpowering. Standing on the remaining foundation of a building some of the Winnipeg Grenadiers were held when first captured was all consuming. I watched as my brother stepped into a pile of freshly dropped rice from some lunch time picnickers. Dad laughed grimly at my brother's upset at his sticky shoe and declared '50 years ago that would have been a feast'.

During the playing of the last post in Yokohama British Commonwealth Cemetery I looked up and saw our cadets whom had escorted us from Canada. Putting the cadets side-by-side, in my mind with C-Force. Those veterans with us that day. And those 137 Canadians buried there we had come to visit.

I was able to capture the physical part of the pilgrimage on camera. But the turmoil, the highs and lows within my head could not be so easily captured. Something happened to me in Hong Kong. Something that still lives within me, I felt connected with THE spirits- dad's, his brother's, many others, who have been in Hong Kong and Japan since the day they died defending Hong Kong. That something will always be a part of me. (submitted by daughter Lori Atkinson Smith)


HUT COLLAPSE Niigata Camp 5B

Note: Harry Atkinson received a broken pelvis when the hut collapsed. He was told by the doctor that if he didn't "get up out of that bed" he would never walk again.

On 24 December 1943 the POWs moved to the permanent location officially known as Niigata Camp 5B. They stayed less than a month; the new camp apparently had been built hurriedly, perhaps on the principle that it was only for prisoners. During the night of 31 December 1943-1 January 1944, one of the buildings collapsed while about 150 men were sleeping inside. Eight men were killed and many more injured.

The accident in the “permanent” camp at Niigata was catastrophic to the morale of men who had already suffered much. The hut was built on sandy ground and no nails had been used—it was pegged. The main beam down the centre of the building was an eighteen-inch log supported by six-inch logs. “That December there was an abnormal amount of snow. If the buildings had been constructed properly it would not have collapsed.” On the effect of snowfall, opinion differs. The British medical officer, Maj. Stewart, testified at a war crimes trial that weather conditions were not extreme: winds were not blowing strongly nor was snow falling the night of the accident, though it did snow later in the day on 1 January. In a letter to the author, 50 years later, Stewart commented that the building had been supported by outside struts. Some of these had been removed, in order to permit the passage of the benjo carts removing excrement. The building was thus weakened, leading to the tragic accident.5° A cynic might suggest that dysentery and diarrhea caused the collapse.

Dr. Fujii was sent from Tokyo to investigate. He arrived on 2 January 1944, bringing Dr. E.S. Kagy an American POW surgeon, and Shaw (a medical NCO) from Omori Main Camp, as well as medicines, bandages, gauze, and surgical instruments. They found that eight men had died and 20 were injured, five or six very seriously.

After arriving at the camp they helped the POW medical staff treat the injured prisoners. Five or six men had fractures of ribs or pelvis:

“I took them to Shintetsu Clinic and had them x-rayed. After x-ray was taken it was shown to Doctor Kagy and it was discovered two or three men had fractures. I requested Captain Yoshida, the Camp Commandant, to have them hospitalized at the Shintetsu Clinic Hospital and they were hospitalized. Doctor Kagy was left there to treat them. I stayed there for four or five days and then returned to the Omori Main Camp. Doctor Kagy and Shaw stayed there for about one month to treat them.” { NARA, RG 153, File 35-997, Trial of Med. 2/Lt. Fujii Hiroshi, Testimony of Accused, 575}.

After the accident, some of the severely injured Canadians were moved to another place for treatment. Ken Cambon, a volunteer orderly, accompanied them: “four of the chaps with pelvic injuries were moved to a small cottage hospital in the city. I was lucky enough to go along with them to care for their needs.” In this way Cambon had a temporary reprieve from the inadequate food and housing and from the constant threat of brutality by certain of the guards at Camp 5B.

One consequence of this disaster was that, on 18 January 1944, the camp was divided. One group of men, those who had been in the Shintetsu gang that worked at the steel mill, moved to a separate camp nearer the mill, designated Camp 15D briefly, then 15B. Although the POWs were told that the separation of the Shintetsu group was to be temporary, in fact that group never returned to Niigata Camp 5B.

Above taken from Long Night’s Journey into Day- by Charles G. Roland, MD. Chapter 8. Starting Page 234}

H6754 Sgt George McCarthy gave details regarding the collapse of the hut in his Liberation Questionnaire. Sgt. McCarthy was the camp 'carpenter'. His details - "shortly before Christmas 1943 I was moved to Camp 5B. All the buildings at 5B had been recently constructed with the exception of one or two. While I was at 5B, one of these new buildings collapsed, killing eight Canadian prisoners and injuring several others at New Year's, 1944. The building that collapsed was the only building in Camp 5B which had been built without side braces to strengthen the walls. I do not know why this building did not have side braces but I believe that it must have been due to the negligence of the contractor who constructed the building.

The Mansell report says "Men who died 1 Jan 1944 were killed in collapse of barracks from snow load".

This veteran was interviewed by Veterans Affairs. To view, visit the VAC Video Gallery page and use the search tool. Note: VAC moves pages around constantly, so you may have to work to find the video. Currently the best way to access the Hong Kong veteran interviews is to select the "Heroes Remember" category, then use the advanced search option and click on the "Hong Kong" campaign option.



End of Report.

Report generated: 18 Apr 2024.


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Additional Notes

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  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.
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  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.
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