Individual Report: H6300 George WATTS

1st Bn The Winnipeg Grenadiers


General Information

Rank: First Name: Second Name:
Private George Allan
From: Enlistment Region: Date of Birth (y-m-d):
Winnipeg MB Manitoba 1916-11-19
Appointment: Company: Platoon:
HQ Coy

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

Name of hospital Date of admission Date of discharge Comments Reference
HK-BMH09/22/1942N/A118

POW Camps

Camp ID Camp Name Location Company Type of Work Reference Arrive Depart
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 Dec 15
JP-Os-11B NarumiAichi-ken, Aichi-gun, Narumi-machi, Arimatsu Mura 114-3Nippon Rolling Stock Company and Daido Electric Steel CompanyMen employed as slaves for Daido Electric Steel Company and made wheels at the Nippon Wheel (Vehicle) Mfg.844 Jan 0645 Sep 10
JP-Na-8B Tateyama1-Banchi, Shimookui-cho, Toyama City, Toyama, JapanTateyama Heavy Industry CompanyManufacture of small steam rollers, used for building of airfields or roads133N/AN/A

Transport to Japan

Draft Number Name of Ship Departure Date Arrival Date Arrival Port Comments Reference
XD5ASS Soong Cheong / Toyama Maru43 Dec 1544 Jan 04Moji, JapanArrived at Takao, Formosa, 43 Dec 20; Transferred to Toyama Maru, 43 Dec 30, went to NarumiTony Banham

Transportation: SE Asia to Home

No information found. To submit, attach to an email and send to webmaster@hkvca.ca

Post-war Photo

No information found. To submit, attach to an email and send to webmaster@hkvca.ca

Death and Cemetery Information

Date of Death (y-m-d) Cause of Death Death Class Death Ref
1984-09-08Post War
Cemetery LocationCemeteryGrave NumberGravestone Marker
Thedford ON CanadaPinehill United

Gravestone Image

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Obituary / Life Story

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Links

No specific links found. 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.

General Comments

H6300 George WATTS - I had the honour of meeting George Watts, who was a member of Centennial Lodge #684 (Freemasonry) in London, Ontario shortly before he passed away in 1984. Centennial is a "dinner lodge" (calling off and having a meal at every meeting), and George always went first, in deference to his service in Hong Kong and his subsequent ordeal as a POW in Japan. George always liked to check the ballot box after a ballot and for many years after he died the box was checked in his memory.

The following information is mainly from what various people told me about him. In 1995 I was the master of the lodge, and we specifically honoured our veterans for the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, and George was one member who was frequently mentioned. I also called my dad, John MacLeod, who I've cc'd on this message to give me some more details.

During the Great Depression George found work in the lumber camps in northwestern Ontario, cutting trees. He was a healthy, muscular young man, and this was probably the peak of his fitness. Given the extremely cold weather in the winter (which is the prime time for harvesting softwood trees) the men ate massive amounts of food. One story I specifically remember hearing was that they would cook a pound of bacon, eat it, and then drink the fat in order to have the calories needed to help keep them warm and do the work of the day.

Shortly after the war broke out George went into Kenora to enlist. This is how he wound up in the Winnipeg Grenadiers, as they were the nearest army unit and were actively recruiting in Kenora at the time. His rank was Rifleman. George was sent to Jamaica for garrison duty, and then they were recalled to Canada. They did not have much actual training.

George was sent to Hong Kong and was captured there by the Japanese when the Canadians surrendered on Christmas Day - as a result Christmas was always a bittersweet holiday for him. He was in Hong Kong for almost two years, and then was sent to Japan on a very crowded ship to be a slave labourer in the factories.

Conditions in Japan were awful as there was very little food, and they were worked very hard. George said that by the end of the war he probably weighed about 100 pounds, was mainly skin and bones, and his bones had gotten soft - as a result he was hunched over and much shorter than when he first entered the service. He also said that if the war had lasted much longer he probably would not have survived - probably no more than a month or two. This came up in a discussion about the Americans dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki - the prisoners knew something had happened but not the specifics, and they could tell that the guards were agitated. As far as George was concerned, dropping the bomb was the best thing that could have happened, and he said he was thankful that President Truman had ordered it used.

When the camp was liberated he was taken to an American Red Cross hospital ship, and they had to feed the prisoners very carefully so as not to overwhelm their systems with food. He was transported to San Francisco, and then sent from there to Vancouver.

George's mother was living in London, Ontario, but the Canadian Army would only pay to transport you back to where you enlisted, so he was sent to Kenora by train. He got off in the middle of a bitterly cold night, and walked over to the hotel. He then took a train next day to London, Ontario, Ontario.. When he arrived at his mother's doorstep she did not recognize him as he had lost so much weight and stature - he had to tell her who he was.

George never completely recovered his health following his mistreatment as a Prisoner of War. He was very stooped over when I met him, a few months prior to his death. He worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs at Westminster Hospital in London, Ontario until he retire, and remained a bachelor for the rest of his life.

George loved to collect tools, and he gave his collection of tools to the Lambton Heritage Museum. He carved a nice gavel which he gave to my father. George died on September 8, 1984, and is buried at the Pinehill United Cemetery in Thedford, Ontario. As you can see by the inscription on his headstone, he was deeply impacted by his years as a POW.

I taught Canadian and World Studies at South Huron District High School in Exeter, and when we studied World War II I often told my students about George and his experiences, so that they would have a greater appreciation for what their ancestors went through, and what they accomplished. He was an ordinary man, who lived through extraordinary times with courage and endurance.

Thank you for your project which is collecting information about these men - we will remember them.

Sincerely Dave MacLeod. Submitted December 2017


End of Report. Report generated: 23 Jul 2018.


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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. 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.
  3. Currently some reference numbers are not linked to further information. We are working on this.
  4. Our POW camp links along with our References link (home page - scroll down) 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.
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