Hong Kong Veterans’ Commemorative Association

British Columbia Region

JULY 2002





Regional Director’s Report


We are truly grateful for the active participation of the membership in British Columbia since our last newsletter.  Our Regional committee members are encouraged by the growing membership and by every contact that we have with you.  The luncheons held in May, 2002 in Victoria and Vancouver, were a wonderful opportunity to get to know some of you better and for you to meet again with your friends and comrades.  Thank you all for attending and making those get togethers a huge success.  They really whet our appetites for even bigger and better things to come.

 We have an exciting announcement.  The HKVCA National Convention for 2003 will be held in Victoria, BC from August 13th through to August 17th.  A small committee has set the event to take place at the City Centre location of the Traveller’s Inn in Victoria.  There is much work ahead but I am confident that our members will rise to the task.  And so, this is a call to our membership to come forward to volunteer to be part of the 2003 Convention Committee.  You do not need to live in Victoria to be involved.  You can be involved to a larger or lesser degree.  Just let us know how much time you can devote and we will find a way to use your help.  We need all of the assistance we can muster.   Please contact any of your Regional committee members.  We look forward to hearing from you.  I am proud of what all of our membership has accomplished in BC during this past year and I know that we can accomplish anything we put our minds to.  The 2003 National Convention will turn out to be exactly the way it’s supposed to be and I hope our fathers and mothers will be proud of our attempt to honor them.  Until we meet again. 


Sincerely yours,


Linda Stewart



Goals of the HKVCA in British Columbia:

·        Enrolling children, issuance, and friends in the HKVCA.

·        Maintaining an address database of the Hong Kong Veterans and widows.

·        Ensuring that regular, periodic contact is made with the Veterans and widows.

·        Developing relationships with the “Hong Kong Family”.

·        Attending and participating in memorial services on Remembrance Day, V-J Day, and other special occasions.

·        Review and improve the network and procedures applied in the execution of our mandate.

·        Assist in organizing reunions, National Conventions, and social events.

·        Support the National HKVCA as well as other Regions.

·        Orally and visually proclaim our link to the Hong Kong Veterans.


        Regional Director’s Report---------------------------1
        Goals of the HKVCA in BC -------------------------1
        Victoria luncheon -------------------------------------2
        Vancouver luncheon ----------------------------------3
         Poems by HK Vets -----------------------------------4
         In Memoriam -----------------------------------------4
         Wreath sponsors --------------------------------------4
         Harry White’s birthday ------------------------------5
         Newsletter news --------------------------------------5
         HKVCA National website --------------------------5
         Contacts for the HKVCA in BC -------------------5
         A Golden Wedding Anniversary -------------------5
          Profile of a Hong Kong Veteran -------------------6
          Treasurer and Membership Report ----------------7
          Donations ---------------------------------------------7
          Historical pictures -----------------------------------8 


        Regional Director’s Report---------------------------1

        Goals of the HKVCA in BC -------------------------1

        Victoria luncheon -------------------------------------2

        Vancouver luncheon ----------------------------------3

         Poems by HK Vets -----------------------------------4

         In Memoriam -----------------------------------------4

         Wreath sponsors --------------------------------------4

         Harry White’s birthday ------------------------------5

         Newsletter news --------------------------------------5

         HKVCA National website --------------------------5

         Contacts for the HKVCA in BC -------------------5

         A Golden Wedding Anniversary -------------------5

          Profile of a Hong Kong Veteran -------------------6

          Treasurer and Membership Report ----------------7

          Donations ---------------------------------------------7

          Historical pictures -----------------------------------8






















Victoria luncheon

            The luncheon in Victoria was held on May 18, 2002 and was hosted by the HKVA of British Columbia.  Everyone gathered shortly after noon, and a wonderful roast beef dinner was served followed by apple pie and ice cream.  Lionel Speller, long time president of the HKVA in BC, said grace.

            Twenty-five people attended the luncheon, including eight Hong Kong Veterans.  The event was held at the Travellers Inn, City Centre location.  This is the same hotel that will be hosting the 2003 HKVCA National Convention. Aubrey Flegg, Vice President of the HKVA in BC, drove all the way from Kelowna to attend.

            The luncheon provided a wonderful opportunity for the Hong Kong family on Vancouver Island to get together.  The room was full of chatter and smiles.  Everyone attending had a very nice time, and we are already talking about a repeat in the spring of 2003.  We have included some photos taken at the luncheon for your enjoyment.



From left to right:


Ron Parker, WG

Cy Stewart, WG

Gerry Gerrard, RCCS

Larry Stebbe, WG

Alton Jewers, RRC

Richard Johnson, WG

Lionel Speller, RCCS

Aubrey Flegg, WG


Standing, left to right:


Ria Doull

Mary Jewers

Edith Harvey

Evelyn Gerrard

Fiona Hyslop

Ann Stebbe

Harvelyn McInnis

Linda Stewart

Beverly Dayton

Phyllis Johnson


Sitting, left to right:


Ida Speller

Marge Stewart

Betty Waldenberger

Vancouver luncheon:

The buffet style luncheon in Vancouver was held at the Quality Inn on Kingsway on May 25, 2002.  The HKVA of British Columbia hosted the event.  Among the fifty-five people in attendance, there were thirteen Hong Kong Veterans.

            Benton Duncan and Ken Cambon read poems in memory of their comrades who didn’t come home.  You can read these poems on page 4 of this newsletter. Lionel Speller and Aubrey Flegg stood up and addressed the gathering.  Lionel said grace.

            Lionel Speller and Larry Stebbe drove from Vancouver Island to attend.  Aubrey Flegg, who lives in Kelowna, had been visiting family in the area since the Victoria luncheon held on the previous weekend.  Frank Brown, also from Kelowna, was present.  Linda Stewart, the Regional Director for the HKVCA, arranged to fly to Vancouver from Victoria on a private plane.  Ian Doull who lives in Ottawa, and is the editor of the National HKVCA newsletter, was a special guest.  Sidney Vale from Vernon was unable to attend but he sent a big hello to everyone.  The luncheon was a memorable event.  The only thing that was better than the food was the good company and the warmth that everybody generated. Please enjoy the pictures below.


Standing, left to right:


Larry Stebbe, WG

Claude Corbett, WG

Bill Doull, RRC

Jan Solecki, HKVDC

Aubrey Flegg, WG

Richard Maze, WG


Sitting, left to right:


Duncan Benton, WG

Frank Brown, WG

Don MacPherson, WG

Will Allister, RCCS

Ken Cambon, RRC

Walter Gray, RRC

Lionel Speller, RCCS

Standing, left to right:


Moira McCarthy

Pearl MacPherson

Claire Doull

Ann Maze


Sitting, left to right:


Mona Allister

Joyce Brown

Jean Gray

Rita Burton

Daisy Forbes

Betty Waldenberger




Two Poems written by Hong Kong Veterans:

At the Vancouver luncheon held on May 25, 2002, Mr. Duncan Benton and Mr. Ken Cambon recited poems in memory of their fallen comrades who never came back home.  Duncan thought about the words for his poem for a couple of weeks before the luncheon, and then put them on paper.  Ken wrote his as a POW in North Point and first presented it there as a song, dedicated to his great buddy, “Joe”.

Both Duncan and Ken have graciously allowed us to share these poems with you. Mr. Benton Duncan, 1st battalion of the Winnipeg Grenadiers, writes the first poem.  Dr. Kenneth Cambon, Royal Rifles of Canada, writes the second.



“Rest in peace comrades”

In Hong Kong and Japan my comrades

Lay so quiet and still.

While in Hong Kong at Sai Wan Bay,

They lay on a grassy hill.

In Japan, I don’t know where,

Because I was never there.


We who grow old and weak

Will toss the torch on high,

So generations will know, by and by.

We must keep the Canadian flag flying high,

In respect and honor

For those who died.





On a hill in Hong Kong

There is a small wooden cross

You can see as you travel along.

For there is a grave

Of a man true and brave

Whose life to his country he gave.


Oh I’ll never forget that young lad,

And the times that together we had.

At home we will learn

That a mother does yearn,

Still hoping her son will return.

But to Canada’s shore

He’ll go back not again,

But the memory will with us always remain.



In Memoriam


We regret to inform you of the deaths of the

following Hong Kong Veterans.  Our sincere

condolences to the families and friends of:


Albert W. Bilodeau, RRC      June 21, 2002

Charles Brady, RRC              June 27, 2002

Charles Chesser, RRC           May 3, 2002

Robert Dunlop, RRC             May 23, 2002

William J. Hickie, RRC         May 10, 2002

Wilfred (Buddy) Orr, WG     July 5, 2002

William Pople, WG               March 12, 2002

Arthur Roberts, RRC             June 20, 2002

Austin Roberts, RRC             April 9, 2002

Ray Squires, RCCS                June 21, 2002

Nick Zytaruk, WG                 April 9, 2002



“ We will never forget them”






Wreath sponsors for Remembrance Day


In March we sent out an appeal for HKVCA members to sponsor a wreath on Remembrance Day.  We would like to thank Mrs. Alberta Rafferty and Richard T. Johnson (WG) for responding with generous donations to help in this effort.  We would like to see as many wreaths as possible placed at cenotaphs in communities throughout British Columbia.  If you are willing to participate in this endeavor there are two ways you can help.  One is by informing your Regional Council of your intent to lay a wreath in your hometown on behalf of the HKVCA.  Just let us know and we will print your story in the December newsletter.  The other way you can help out is by sending a donation to the HKVCA specifying that you would like to see the money used to sponsor a wreath.  Hopefully this concept will be popular and more wreaths will be placed throughout British Columbia in 2002 to honor our Hong Kong Veterans.



Harry White celebrates his 95th birthday

On May 24, 2002, Harry White (WG) celebrated his ninety fifth birthday.  A surprise party was held at Legion Branch #227 in Okanagan Falls.  Many family members and friends were in attendance.  Harry’s wife Marlene, who maintains the beautiful roses in front of the Legion on Highway 97, was at Harry’s side.  Ed (Chic) Query (WG) from Oliver and Maurice Lapointe (WG) from Penticton, along with their wives, were present to help Harry celebrate.  Ironically, Chic Query is the youngest surviving Hong Kong Veteran and Harry is the oldest.  Many of Harry’s fellow Legion members filled the hall and helped to make the event a huge success.

The following evening, a family gathering took place in Penticton.  Harry’s wife Marlene, along with his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, made this a very special event.  Harry’s daughter, Priscilla Jane Reid, drove from North Vancouver to attend.  Harry’s daughter Shelley, and her husband Greg, hosted a reception at their home in Penticton after a wonderful meal at the restaurant.

Rumor has it that a couple of weeks after his 95th birthday, Harry was spotted on the golf course taking a few swings and driving the golf cart!  Congratulations Harry from all of us in the HKVCA.


Articles and stories for future newsletters

            We encourage members to send us their stories and ideas.  If you have any thoughts that you feel will help us to improve the newsletter, please let us know.  We would welcome your input.  By contributing, you will help us to keep the newsletter vibrant, interesting, and reflective of the membership in our Region.  It is our newsletter and belongs to all of us.  Your letters to the editor are welcome.  Please send them to the contact address for Murray Doull.  Thank you.


 HKVCA National website

We encourage everyone to visit this website.  You will find it at:  Linda May is our Webmaster and she has put together a site full of interesting, informative, and historical information.  If you do not have a computer, but know somebody who does, pay them a visit and ask them to take you to this website.  We guarantee that you won’t be sorry you made the effort.  


Contacts for the HKVCA in BC:


Linda Stewart, Regional Director

320 – 252 Gorge Rd. E.

Victoria BC  V9A 6W3

Phone: 1-250-480-0442



Heather MacPherson, Secretary

302 – 102 Begin St.

Coquitlam BC  V3K 4V2

Phone: 1-604-525-0690



Murray Doull, Treasurer and Membership

20138 Ditton St.

Maple Ridge BC  V2X 9H4

Phone: 1-604-465-0579







A Golden Wedding anniversary

Heartfelt congratulations from all of us to Lionel and Ida Speller who will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on August 16, 2002.  Their daughter Carol, from Medford Oregon, and their son Ross, from Kamloops BC, will be at their side on this special occasion.  Lionel and Ida also have three grandchildren.  We wish them many more years of happiness together.



The next newsletter

            The next issue of The Western Torch will be released shortly after Christmas.  The July issue should have reached you a few weeks ago because the Regions are supposed to send out their newsletters in June and December.  The National HKVCA newsletters are sent out in March and September.  Our first newsletter as an executive was mailed out in March of this year.  We will now be able to enter the cycle which has a reasonable offset between Regional and National newsletters.




            In this newsletter we are continuing the tradition we have started of writing a brief life history of one of our Hong Kong Veterans.  Mr. Donald MacPherson has graciously agreed to be interviewed, and we are happy to share his story with you.


Mr. Donald MacPherson, Winnipeg Grenadiers.

            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.                                                 


Editor’s note:

Thank you Mr. MacPherson for allowing your story to be told. Your sense of humor and love of life and family is an inspiration to us all.

Treasurer and Membership report:

Greetings to everyone,

            I am sitting in the shade in my front yard on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon as I write this, thinking to myself how very fortunate we are to be living in freedom in a province of Canada that has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world to live.

            A lot has taken place in our region since the last newsletter in March.  The most memorable events for me were the luncheons in Victoria on May 18, and Vancouver on May 25.  Collectively, there were almost eighty Hong Kong Veterans, widows, and HKVCA members in attendance.  These are tremendous numbers for such a small area of our province.  The luncheons provided an opportunity for old friends to see each other again and for new friendships to form.  Everywhere I looked I saw smiling faces, people talking and laughing, and a lot of hand shaking and hugging going on.  It was an honor and a privilege for the sons and daughters, grandchildren and friends of the HKVCA, to meet some of the Hong Kong Veterans, wives, and widows.  Special thanks go out to Lionel Speller and Larry Stebbe for all their efforts to make the luncheons a huge success.

            We are very encouraged by the growing numbers of HKVCA members in British Columbia.  We hope this trend continues and family and friends of the Hong Kong Veterans continue to come forward and help us to achieve our Regional goals.  Please feel free to pass along the membership application form that is attached to the newsletter.  Together we will keep the HKVCA in British Columbia strong and effective.  There are still decals left and current membership cards for the members from 2001 who have not had a chance to pay their dues for 2002.

            We are very pleased to announce that the National Convention will be held in beautiful Victoria in 2003 from August 13th to the 17th at the Travellers Inn, City Centre.  A committee is working on details and more information will be forthcoming.  Please put these dates aside and plan on attending.  We are looking forward to playing host to the country.  We are appealing to HKVCA members to come forward and volunteer to help make this convention a huge success.  If you are interested in helping, please contact one of the executive members whose names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses are listed on page 5 of this newsletter.  We look forward to hearing from volunteers, and together we will make this convention a memorable one.

            At a National level, with the assistance of the Regions, the HKVCA is very close to achieving charitable status.  Once achieved, charitable status will allow the HKVCA to raise funds for some of our goals, such as building a national monument in Ottawa honoring the Hong Kong Veterans.  The National Board of Directors has been working on this project for some time, and success is just around the corner.    

            The Memory Project has been very successful in Ontario.  It provides the opportunity for Hong Kong Veterans to go into the schools and talk to students about their experiences.  The Veterans are provided with training beforehand. The reaction from the students has been very positive.  If you have access to a computer you can visit the Memory Project website at:  This is a site where young members of our Association can submit stories about their favorite Veterans. If there are any Veterans who are interested in participating in this project please contact Linda, Heather or me.

            I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the Veterans, widows, and members we have made contact with over the past few months.  Your stories and information provide an important basis for our organization.  Many of you have phoned or made e-mail contact as well.  Let’s continue to stay in touch with each other.

            In closing I would like to wish everyone a happy and safe summer, and extend best wishes for good health to all.


Warm regards,

Murray Doull, Treasurer and Membership for the BC Region


Donations to the British Columbia HKVCA

            Since the release of our March newsletter, a number of individuals have chosen to make a donation to the HKVCA in our Region of British Columbia.  Their generosity is greatly appreciated, and goes a long way to help our Association with operating expenses.  We are pleased to mention their names below, and encourage other members to follow their lead.


C.E. Roza Pereira, HKVDC

Cy Stewart, WG

John C. Davies, WG

Mrs. Janis Mayville

Wallace G. Normand, RCCS

The HKVA of British Columbia

Mrs. Pearl MacPherson

Frank Brown, WG

Mrs. Alberta Rafferty (wreath sponsor)

Richard T. Johnson, WG (wreath sponsor)

Sidney Vale, WG

Dr. Ken Cambon, RRC

Claude Corbett, WG

L.T.S. (Bill) Doull, RRC

Duncan Benton, WG

Aubrey Flegg, WG

Richard Maze, WG

The picture below contains members of The Royal Rifles of Canada presenting arms on parade.  It was taken in front of the Citadel in Quebec City, in 1941.



The picture below contains members of The Royal Rifles of Canada, taken in July 1941 at the 7/11th Hussars squadron base outside Bishopton, Quebec.