Individual Report: P7563 Horace GERRARD

The Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

General Information

Rank: First Name: Second Name:
Signalman Horace "Gerry"
From: Enlistment Region: Date of Birth (y-m-d):
Red Deer AB Alberta 1922-01-19
Appointment: Company: Platoon:
Signals Operator Brigade Headquarters Attd 2 RS

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

Excerpt from Gerry's Memoirs:

On Dec.7 H.K. time the two battalions took up defence positions on the Island of Hong Kong. The signals stayed and set up a temporary wireless station on the parade square immediately in front of the Married quarters where we were housed. About 8:00 am the first wave of bombers came over, I saw the bombs exit the plane and only one hit our building while several dropped into the harbor. I was sent to join the British signals with the Royal Scots. Beside the Scottish battalion were 2 India Battalions, the Rajputs and Punjabs. All three were soon overrun by overwhelming forces and on Dec. 11 were ordered to retreat to the island. The Island is solid rock, very little flat land all very high peaks and valleys. We did not have maps and our vehicles were diverted to Manila. The roads are all narrow and winding being cut into the rock face. There was very little cover as all trees and bushes were cut down by the residents for fuel; now it is against the law. I stayed with the Scots regiment at Lye Moon Bay until Dec 13 then was sent to our signals at Wan Nei Chong Gap on Dec. 13. Brigadier Lawson commander of the Canadian troops was stationed about 100 yards behind us. It should be noted that the artillery ran out of ammunition and there was no anti-aircraft defence which allowed the enemy to have spotter planes overhead all day.

On Dec. 19 one of the enemy landings was Wan Nei Chong Gap. It was a dark night and the Japanese advanced right up the valley and by dawn we had to retreat. That day a British officer led us down to a place called the Jockey Club taken over by the British signals. The next day we did guard duty and then hiked to Wan Chi Gap.

Dec 22: While there I located the signalers but was called away when the shelling started again and shortly after I returned to see them but entered the wrong door of this all brick building. It was dark in there and as I waited for my eyes to become accustomed to the light a shell came through the wall. What saved me, I was blown through an opposite door into another room. There were a few men sleeping in the first room which now had a 6 foot diameter hole in the wall. We got the wounded out patched up and sent to hospital. By this time the shelling had ceased. My mouth and eyes were full of brick and mortar dust , my helmet was lost due to a hit on the head no doubt a brick. I wiped my hand across the back of my neck to see if it was bleeding , it wasn't so I forgot about it. A little bit of the old British army discipline came into play here. We were told we would spend the night with the Middlesex regiment at the bottom of the hill, so some of us started down only to be called back by a British signal sergeant, we had to line up and march down in plain view of the spotter plane. The men quickly formed up, then someone mentioned the rations were in the damaged room and I was one delegated to get them. Walking through that shell hole took every bit of will power I had. Arriving at the Middlesex bunker I sat down and was going to put my head in my hands when I noticed they were caked with blood and and I thought to myself that's human blood, thank God it isn't mine.

On Christmas day two others and myself were sent back to the Grenadiers at Wanchi but at a different area than before. We always set up our equipment apart from the regiment headquarters because the fighter planes would locate us. About the middle of the afternoon one man went to deliver a message to the Company headquarters only to find it occupied by Japanese. Luckily he saw them first and let us know we were behind enemy lines. We manage to make our way out but lost our equipment, so had to find our headquarters for a new supply. When we arrived they were preparing for the last stand, This was the Victoria barracks, the building's three barrack blocks were built one above the other up the side of the hill. I was posted on the top one with orders not to retreat as we would run into fire from the men below. I realized afterward that troops who would be attacking us were the same ones we had just left. The Japs would have lobbed mortars over the hill and obliterated us before we could see them. After waiting a short while for all hell to start, the order to surrender came through. I think the Japanese who came to us were tired and happy the fight was over, They marched us over to a telephone co. warehouse where we spent the night, no food. I slept on a large coil of wire.

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-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 building43 Jan 1945 Apr 16
JP-Se-4B OhashiIwate-ken, Kamihei-gun, Katsushi-mura, Ohashi, JapanNippon Steel Company45 Apr 1645 Sep 15

Transport to Japan

Draft Number Name of Ship Departure Date Arrival Date Arrival Port Comments Reference
XD3ATatuta 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

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

Post-war Photo

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Gerry at the 2015 convention in Ottawa.

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
2019-05-22Post War
Cemetery LocationCemeteryGrave NumberGravestone Marker

Gravestone Image

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Obituary / Life Story

Horace (Gerry) Gerrard (January 19, 1922 - May 22, 2019).

Born in Bolton, England. Dad Passed away May 22, 2019 after a very courageous fight with cancer. He was predeceased by his loving wife Evelyn. He leaves behind 2 daughters Bev (Eric) & Pat (Dave), also, his grandchildren Carla (Sean), Tracey, Brian (Correna), Kevin (Kelly), Michelle (Jon) and 9 great grandchildren.

Dad lived in Red Deer, Alberta from age of 4 to 17. He joined the army reserves and was trained as a signaler and gunner. He was 19 when war broke out and he was sent to Hong Kong.

Dad served with the Royal Canadian Corp of Signals in the Battle of Hong Kong and was a POW in Japan for over 3 ½ years. His time in a Japanese prisoner of war camp was horrific and treatment often barbaric suffering through hard labour and malnutrition.

After the war, he married and lived his life in Victoria, BC, working as an electrician for the Provincial Government. He worked hard and enjoyed an early retirement. Mum and Dad were able to do a lot of travelling and Dad enjoyed his golfing and square dancing into his 96th year. He was a dedicated member of Branch 127 of the Legion for 70 years and held many positions. His commitment to standing at the cenotaph every Remembrance Day and laying a wreath on Christmas Day was very important to him. He was very committed to the Hong Kong Veterans Association and was determined to travel to every Hong Kong convention.

Dad was a quiet man and a great listener. His friends and family were very important to him.

He will be missed. Rest in Peace, Dad.

Obituary updated by daughter, Bev, in July 2019.

Links and Other Resources

Read Gerry's account on our HKVCA web site

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

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

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 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.