Individual Report: H6465 Donald MACPHERSON

1st Bn The Winnipeg Grenadiers

General Information

Rank: First Name: Second Name:
Lance Corporal Donald H. J.
From: Enlistment Region: Date of Birth (y-m-d):
Miniota MB Manitoba 1920-05-09
Appointment: Company: Platoon:
Section Commander B

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-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-Os-3BOeyamaKyoto-fu, Yosa-gun, Yoshizu-mura, Sutsu, JapanNippon Yakin Nickel Mine & RefineryMining nickel & work at the refinery43 Sep 0145 Sep 02

Transport to Japan

Draft Number Name of Ship Departure Date Arrival Date Arrival Port Comments Reference
XD4AManryu 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


Travelled from Yokohama to Guam aboard the US Navy hospital ship Benevolence.

Post-war Photo

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

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
2005-04-12Post War
Cemetery LocationCemeteryGrave NumberGravestone Marker
Surrey British Columbia CanadaValley View Memorial Gardens Cemetery

Gravestone Image

Click for larger view

Obituary / Life Story

MacPHERSON - Donald passed away suddenly at home in Richmond on April 11, 2005. He leaves to mourn his passing his beloved wife of 43 years, Pearl; daughters Heather, Sandra (Michael) Braun; son John (Wendy); granddaughters JoAnne, Michelle (Andy) and Emily Rachel; sister Evelyn (Bill) Barrett of Miniota; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of friends especially Verne (Carol) Willams his longtime hunting companion. He is predeceased by his parents Peter and Louise MacPherson; sisters Doris, Marie, Marjorie, Audrey and Lorraine; brothers Gordon and Alex and his first wife JoAnne Garson MacPherson. Don was born May 9, 1920 in Isabella MB moving at an early age to Miniota, MB where he lived and worked until September 1939 when he joined the Winnipeg Grenadiers, serving first in Jamaica and then fighting in the battle of Hong Kong in 1941 and was promoted to Sergeant during the battle. He became a prisoner of war December 25, 1941 when Hong Kong fell and for 44 months endured many hardships. Only his determination to win that war and to return home helped him to survive that ordeal. In 1953, Don moved to B.C. and worked for the BC Liquor Board until retirement in 1981. Don was a member of the Hong Kong Veterans Association, the Sir Arthur Pearson Association of War Blinded and the Richmond Curling Club. His love of and accomplishments in curling and golf were an example of his determination to overcome his vision impairment. But first in his life was his family, he was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend to all he met. A gathering to a glass to Don will be held at the Executive Inn 7311 Westminster Hwy. Richmond on Saturday April 16, 2005 at 2:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, please donate to a charity of your choice in his memory. Published in Vancouver Sun and The Province from Apr 13 to Apr. 14, 2005

Links and Other Resources

Don MacPherson's memoirs are available online

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

Mr. Donald MacPherson was born on May 9, 1920, in Isabella, Manitoba. His proud parents were Peter and Louisa MacPherson. He was born on his grandmother’s birthday, and was her first grandson. Don spent his boyhood years growing up with six sisters and two brothers.

When Don was seven years old his family moved to Miniota, Manitoba. Don kept busy as a boy and teenager performing his chores and playing hockey, hardball and softball. At the age of nineteen Don left his hometown and traveled to Winnipeg, accompanied by two friends from Miniota and a third from Melville, Saskatchewan. On September 19, 1939, these young men freely and unselfishly stepped forward for their country and enlisted with the Winnipeg Grenadiers.

Don received his basic training at the Minto barracks in Winnipeg. His company was shipped out to Jamaica in 1940. In Jamaica he received more training and served guard duty. The Grenadiers were guarding prisoners of war such as German submariners, as well as guarding political prisoners of the era. The Grenadiers had returned to Canada for only one month when Don and his comrades found themselves on the “Awatea” sailing out of Vancouver to reinforce the British in Hong Kong.

On December 23, 1941, during the battle of Hong Kong, Don was promoted to sergeant. He never became aware of his new rank until after the war when he returned to Winnipeg and was issued his back pay. During the battle Don was standing beside his brother in law, Wilf Barrett, when Wilf was struck down and killed by enemy fire. Mr. Barrett was also from Miniota, Manitoba. Six brave young men from Miniota enlisted with the Winnipeg Grenadiers. Only one returned.

Like all of our Hong Kong Veterans, Mr. MacPherson spent almost four years performing forced labor under the most inhumane and hellish conditions imaginable. The first POW camp Don found himself in was North Point. After some time he was transferred to Shamshuipo. In August of 1943, he was sent to work in the nickel mines at Oyama. The mines were hellholes where the prisoners endured malnutrition, disease, starvation and torture.

As a result of the atom bombs the Americans dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the war came to an end. The Japanese abandoned the POW camps. The first airdrop in Oyama came from three American fighter planes, and consisted of coffee, tea and sugar, and a note that promised they would return in three days. True to their word, the planes returned in three days and dropped plentiful amounts of food, blankets, and medical supplies.

The POW’s had not been the beneficiaries of proper sustenance of any kind for almost four years. There were no doctors present to advise them, and as a result they became extremely sick from eating too much at once. These men were suffering from diphtheria, dysentery, pellagra, and other diseases. Don recollects eating thirty-two large Hershey chocolate bars and eleven cans of peaches in two days. He paid the price by being violently ill.

A month later the Canadian prisoners in Oyama were transported to Tokyo on a train. It was here that Don met General MacArthur, who shook his hand. Don eventually found himself onboard a hospital ship named the “Rescue”, which delivered him and approximately ten of his comrades to San Francisco. They were then transported back to Canada in hospital cars on a train.

After almost four years as a POW, at the age of twenty-five, Don returned to Winnipeg. As a result of malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies and disease in the POW camps, Don MacPherson had lost his eyesight. He spent the next six months training at the Canadian Institute For The Blind in Toronto. He then found himself working as an elevator operator in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa for five years.

Don moved to Vancouver in 1953. He worked in the UDL distillery in Marpole for four or five years. He left the distillery to work at the Liquor Board in downtown Vancouver for twenty-one years.

Don currently lives in Richmond BC with his lovely wife, Pearl. They have two daughters, Heather and Sandra, who live in the lower mainland, and a son John, who resides in Winnipeg. Heather MacPherson, Don’s oldest daughter, is the Secretary for the HKVCA in British Columbia. Don and Pearl also have three grandchildren, and needless to say, they are very proud of their family.

Reprinted from HKVCA BC Region newsletter July 2002

End of Report.

Report generated: 24 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.