Individual Report: K83926 Lionel SPELLER

The Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

General Information

Rank: First Name: Second Name:
Signalman Lionel Curtis
From: Enlistment Region: Date of Birth (y-m-d):
Victoria BC British Columbia 1919-09-10
Appointment: Company: Platoon:
Despatch Rider Brigade Headquarters

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 Arrive Depart
HK-SA-02ShamshuipoKowloon, Hong Kong42 Sep 2643 Jan 19
JP-To-3DTsurumiYokohama-shi, Tsurumi-ku, Suyehiro-cho, 1-chome, JapanNippon Steel Tube - Tsurumi ShipyardsVariety of jobs related to ship building943 Jan 1945 Apr 16
JP-To-6BSuwaNagono-ken, Suwa-gun, Kitayama-mura, JapanNippon Steel Tube & Mining CompanyLabour at an open-pit iron ore mine45 Apr 1645 Sep 15

Transport to Japan

Draft Number Name of Ship Departure Date Arrival Date Arrival Port Comments Reference
XD3ATatsuta Maru43 Jan 19, left Shamsuipo Camp, 0500 hrs; left Hong Kong 1300hrs43 Jan 22, 0400 hrsNagasaki, JapanBoarded train, arrived in Tokyo on 43 Jan 24 at 0700 hrs, boarded electric train for 10 mile ride to campTony Banham

Transportation: SE Asia to Home

From the records of Gene Labiuk: USS OZARK via San Francisco.

Post-war Photo

No information found.

Decorations Received

Image Name of Award Abbreviation References Precedence Comments
Military MedalMM37, 38, 12308Citation not found

Death and Cemetery Information

Date of Death (y-m-d) Cause of Death Death Class Death Ref
2006-04-30Post War
Cemetery LocationCemeteryGrave NumberGravestone Marker

Gravestone Image

No information found.

Obituary / Life Story

Lionel Curtis Speller, MM, age 86, passed away Sunday, A5riI 30, 2006 at the Lodge at Broadmead. Lionel was born in Victoria on September 10, 1919 to Alexander and Melville Speller. He was the sixth of eight spirited children and became a keen participant in sports, especially soccer, boxing and motorcycle riding. During World War 11, Lionel was stationed in Hong Kong as a dispatch rider in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals with the Royal Rifles of Canada. He was later awarded the Military Medal for courage and devotion under fire. Lionel was a POW of the Japanese for almost four years, an experience that through its atrocities, forged an everlasting bond with his comrades. In 1952, he married Ida C. Bergstrom, who was his loving support for the rest of his life. They had two swell children. Lionel remained dedicated to his family and his community, and to helping veterans both personally and through his work at the Department of Veterans Affairs. He held several positions with the Hong Kong Veterans Association and the Royal Canadian Legion, and received many service awards, the Legion Meritorious Service Medal and the Palm Leaf being among them. Lionel is survived by his wife, Ida; son, and daughter-in-law, Ross and Wendy of Kamloops; daughter and son-in-law, Carol and Arlen Goodwine of Medford, Oregon; three grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; two brothers and one sister; and 23 nieces and nephews. He was much loved and will be greatly missed by family and friends. A Legion memorial service with reception to follow will be held Saturday, May 6 at 1 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion, 411 Gorge Rd. East. Donations may be made to the Royal Canadian Legion Trafalgar Pro Patria Branch 292 or to the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association. #28451


Read more about RCCS 'C' Force members in Burke Penny's book Beyond the Call published by HKVCA.

General Comments

No comments found.

End of Report.

Report generated: 26 Sep 2020.

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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 Second World War Book 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: 1918-01-01. 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. Related documentation for information published in this report may be available. Researchers have added significant content on some 'C' Force members in the public group "Hong Kong Veterans Tribute" on Facebook, which you can search by using the member's service number. Feel free to contact us if you would like us to search our offline archives.
  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.