Wasureru Nai

"Never Forget"

Volume 1, Number 3 June 1, 1998

Association receives Letters Patent

Official Incorporation

We reached a major milestone when we received our Letters Patent. We are now a legally registered organization. Where this brings benefits, it also brings extra duties. There are two main benefits from this action.

The first is that we can now apply to be recognized as a Charitable Organization. Once this is approved, we will be able to issue Income Tax receipts for donations made for Remembrance and Education Projects.

Please note that Membership dues and general donations for administrative costs, will not be eligible for an income tax receipt.

The second benefit is that our title cannot be used without our permission. At some time in the future when the Hong Kong Veterans Association of Canada ceases to exist, we will apply to have our logo, the H.K. shoulder flash, protected by copyright.

The main function on the negative side is that we will have to file an annual income tax return as would any registered business. This just means a slightly higher Audit fee, for this duty will fall to our external Auditor. Another task is the annual preparation, and submission of a budget to the authorities to justify this classification. This is taking longer than it will in the future as we are learning the ropes, so to speak.

I am pleased to announce the Quebec Regional Council will soon be up and running. Mr Larry Everett has agreed to undertake this organization task, and is making good headway. Quebec members have always been active with the veterans and remembrance activities, but till now there was no regional administrative function. This August they will be meeting in August along with the veterans at a reunion in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Please see the announcement located elsewhere in this newsletter.

I am continuing to investigate other avenues our association may pursue in the attainment of our objectives and the fulfilment of our Mandate, but the main advancement we have made in the past few months is with the development of the Regional Councils. I cannot give enough emphasis of the superb jobs your regional councils are doing. This is where our activities will surface to the public. This is where we announce to the country that we exist and will not let the Hong Kong sacrifice fade from memory. I encourage you all to enlist another member for our organization.

As your President, I continue to attend functions where it provides the opportunity to make our presence and our objectives known. The majority of these are in the political arena, but a couple have been to the press.

Derrill Henderson

Veterans Closer to Deal

(The following article is reprinted from the Ottawa Citizen. Ed.)

Saturday 13 December 1997

Hong Kong veterans deserve compensation, committee finds

- Joanne Laucius/The Ottawa Citizen

The Canadian government should compensate Canada's Hong Kong veterans for almost four horrifying years they spent as slave labourers in Japanese prison camps, says a parliamentary standing committee.

Roger Cyr, one of only three surviving Ottawa-area veterans of the battle for Hong Kong, says the federal government has ignored the veterans for too long and they need closure.

The approximately 350 surviving veterans who were captured by the Japanese in Hong Kong in 1941 should have their claims recognized by the government, agreed all 18 members of the all-party standing committee on foreign affairs and international trade. Canada should also look at claiming the total amount from the Japanese government, the committee said.

"Our committee said, `Let's go after the Japanese.` But the government should look at equitable compensation and some form of recognition," said Liberal MP Bill Graham, chair of the standing committee. "If the Japanese government won't cough up, maybe the Canadian government should."

The federal cabinet must now decide whether to accept the committee's recommendation.

Hong Kong veterans are feeling both elated and cautious.

"I won't believe it until I see the cheque," said John Stroud, the president of the Ontario branch of the Hong Kong Veterans Association.

But Roger Cyr, one of only three surviving Ottawa-area Hong Kong veterans and chief spokesman for the veterans, said this is the most optimistic he has ever been.

"Up until last October, the government steadfastly refused to admit that we had a claim," he said. "We've fought this war for years and years. We're a bunch of old men. We collectively feel that some sort of closure has to come about. Some movement on the part of the Canadian government would give that closure."

Although no amount of money was specified in the committee resolution, the veterans have claimed a total of $20 million in the past, to be divided among the surviving veterans and 500 widows.

If the government goes ahead with the compensation, there could be a ripple effect all over the world.

American, British and Australian soldiers who were also slave labourers in Japanese prison camps may attempt to get compensation from their own governments. So far, none has been successful in wresting compensation from the Japanese government.

The Canadian veterans survived atrocious conditions during their imprisonment in Japan and Hong Kong. Many were exposed to dangerous and unhealthy conditions as they laboured in mining and shipbuilding.

The slave labourers were diseased and starved to the point of emaciation when U.S. troops liberated them from the labour camps at the end of the war.

Mr. Stroud was more than six feet tall and weighed only 79 pounds when his camp in Northern Japan was liberated. He had subsisted on boiled barley and grasshoppers in soy sauce and had suffered from malaria, diphtheria and beriberi. "We were starving," he said. "I was a walking post."

Of the approximately 2,000 Canadians who were dispatched to defend Hong Kong, only about 1,500 returned to Canada.

Many died young because of bad health. Even so, it's not unusual to hear about a death among the survivors every week, says Mr. Stroud. Almost 100 Hong Kong veterans have died in the past two years alone.

The returning veterans have been fighting for recognition for 42 years, said Mr. Stroud. They fought for veterans' benefits, and medical compensation. In 1952, a peace treaty between Canada and Japan wiped the slate clean between Japan and Canada, Said Mr. Stroud.

However, he is also optimistic that Japan will recognize their claims. "Personally, I think they will," said Mr. Stroud, "but they'll do it quietly."

In June, 1996, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto apologized for the enslavement of South Korean women who were forced to serve as prostitutes in front-line brothels during the Second World War. It is believed that 200,000 women were pressed into sexual servitude during the Second World War.

Projects On-The-Go

- Erecting of Plaques in Hong Kong

This project is set to go once we receive Charitable Organization status. We will have to solicit funds to undertake this activity but we wish to be able to issue Income tax receipts for all donations. This is not a process that is quickly achieved. The government is very cautious about granting this status.

- Lost Trails

This can be a long and arduous task. Many just don't want to be found, but may be unaware of benefits to which they are entitled. Officially we are working with Veterans Affairs Canada in an effort to resolve this for H.K. Vets and their Widows, but sometimes just bringing up the topic at a social gathering works. If you hear of any veteran or widow, please pass this along to any member of your Board of Directors or Regional Council.

- Visitations

These are continuing to be made on an ad hoc basis. We need someone to start and maintain an official record of these activities by Region. Are you interested, or would you be willing to undertake this with another? We have the information to get you started. If you feel you can help out here, please call or write any member of the Board or your Regional Council.

- HKVCA Member Crests

Here is an image of the HKVCA Association member crest. Mine looks absolutely great on my blazer and has invited several questions regarding what it stands for. They are still available for $18.00 via the main address at the top of the contact list.

- Monument Badges

After an initial surge, demand for these has faded. It is now spring and access to the graves is easier. Please consider honouring your father or any deceased Hong Kong veteran in this manner. Those who have installed them are receiving positive comments.

The badge is 2 1/2 inches in diameter and is mounted on the grave stone by drilling a small hole and installing the included anchor post. Installation time is minutes. The cost is $43.75 taxes included plus $5.00 for shipping and insurance. We are now registering and insuring these mailings since some badges have disappeared on route.

It is our goal to have every grave of a Hong Kong veteran marked to recognize him as a special Canadian.

- Production of Interview videos

All Hong Kong veterans who have not been interviewed were mailed a letter explaining the process along with a card to be returned expressing their wishes. The response has been very positive and as many as possible will be interviewed this summer.

- Hong Kong Bar for Miniature Medal sets

We still have some left, so if your father has a set of miniature medals and does not have the Hong Kong battle bar, or if you know of any inheritor of veterans' medals entitled to this honour, please contact Derrill Henderson. His address is listed on the last page.

- Newsletter Translation

Thanks on behalf of all of us to Bernard Leblanc of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, for trying his hand at the translation of this newsletter. And yes, Bernard, you have to include this kudo in the French version also. Merci bien.

- Membership Dues

It is now time for the renewal of memberships as of April 1st, 1998. Please don't delay sending in your dues as soon as possible so the association can operate properly.

This year, dues should be submitted directly to your respective provincial councils - except for Ontario and Québec which should be sent to the main address shown on the last page.

As always, widows are automatically lifetime members and should not submit any dues for themselves.


- Quebec Reunion

The Quebec-Maritimes Branch of the Hong Kong Veterans Association of Canada is holding its biennial reunion in Sherbrooke, Quebec, on August 13 to 16, this year. The Quebec Region of the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association will be joining them in this gathering, If you are interested in attending all or part of this reunion, please contact Lucette M. Muir:

by telephone at (514) 375-7439, by Fax at (514) 372-0781, or in writing at

120 Sherbrooke Street

Granby, QC,

J2G 2G6

- Manitoba Council

The Manitoba Council reports that they will be holding their Annual Dinner Reunion for the HKVA in October, with the music to be provided by a new band called "Honey & Spice."

Expressions of interest are still coming in for positions on the Board of Directors of this council. Discussions about a general meeting will be held after a Wine & Cheese social to be centred around the observance of VJ Day in August.

- Alberta/Saskatchewan Council

Make a note! The 1999 Biennial Convention is being planned by the Alta/Sask regional bodies of the HKVCA and the HKVA for Calgary, for the tentative dates of August 19-22, 1999 inclusive (4 days).

The organizers welcome all input and ideas for this convention. For instance, they would like help finding veterans from other countries who were also Hong Kong prisoners of war. Any photos would be greatly appreciated and will be returned.

Naturally, the organizers ask that this convention be mentioned and updated in all regional newsletters as well. Just contact Rob Cameron with your deadline and he will ensure the submission of articles. You can reach Rob Cameron at:

112 West Mcdougal Road

Cochrane, Alberta T0L 0W0

Fax: (403) 932-6597

E-mail: rcameron@nucleus.com

- Official Incorporation

Our organization, the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association, has received its Letters Patent and is now a registered body. This is the first step of becoming a Registered Charitable Organization.

The Book Corner

At the suggestion of one of our members, Richard Buchanan from Sable River, N.S., I am inserting here a listing of books that I have heard about which deal with the Hong Kong battle and its aftermath. The initial list was submitted by Mr. Buchanan but you are invited to send me any suggestions for additions.

The Royal Rifles of Canada in Hong Kong 1941-1945, Progressive Publications, Inc., Sherbrooke, QC, with copyright held by the HKVA.

Guest of Hirohito by Kenneth Cambon, M.D., ISBN 0-9694983-0-6

The Lasting Honour (The Fall of Hong Kong 1941) by Oliver Lindsay, ISBN 0-241-89946-X

The Valour and the Horror By Merrily Weisbord and Merilyn Simonds Mohr, ISBN 0-00-215744-6

King's War (MacKenzie King and the Politics of War 1939-1945) by Brian Nolan (esp. Ch. 4 - Death in the Orient), ISBN 0-394-22036-6

17 Days Until Christmas by (Sgt.) Léo P. Bérard of the Winnipeg Grenadiers in the Battle of Hong Kong, ISBN 0-9683049-0-7

Georges "Blacky" Verreault: Diary of a Prisoner of War in Japan 1941-1945 edited by Michel Verreault (see newsletter of Nov. 1, 1997). A separate video tape of televised interviews of Michel Verreault in Québec are also available in French or English for $30.00 from him at:

Michel Verreault

400, Ste. Eugene

App. 5

Rimouski, QC

G5L 8S3 "17 Days Until Christmas"

17 Days Until Christmas is the recently published book of (Sgt.) Léo P. Bérard, a Japanese PoW camp survivor of the Battle of Hong Kong with the Winnipeg Grenadiers.

The following is quoted from the Foreword by Brigadier-General John Hayter:

"Whenever and wherever Canadian soldiers are sent to fight by their political masters, it is fair and reasonable to expect some chance of success. Some 1,973 Canadians, under the command of Brigadier J.K. Lawson, did not have that chance at Hong Kong in 1941. Some have referred to this as a `Shameful tragedy`.

The Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada were assigned to this mission. The timing was wrong, the level of training was inadequate to put it mildly, the equipment was poor, and the mission was impossible! The Canadians, along with the British, Indian and Chinese defenders totalling over 10,000, were to defend the outpost of Hong Kong against a battle-hardened Japanese force of 60,000.

The attack came on December 8, 1941. After seventeen days of bitter fighting, on Christmas Day the Governor surrendered the colony to the Japanese. Canada's losses were high: twenty-three officers, two hundred and sixty seven other ranks killed. The remainder were taken prisoner. Sergeant Léo Bérard was one of those prisoners.

I first met Léo in 1952 during my officer training in Camp Borden, Ontario. He was a meticulous instructor in both teaching ability and dress. We cadets were very impressed and respectful of this man who showed us respect in return. Léo was neither loud nor a bully, which some of his contemporaries were. One quickly recognized Léo's hallmark qualities such as professionalism, integrity, knowledge, courage of his convictions, loyalty and experience. What we did not know at the time was just how experienced he was. To the best of my knowledge, he never referred to Hong Kong, the eventual total casualties of five hundred and fifty-five, the terrible atrocities committed against the prisoners, or the painful memories which I know are a daily and vivid ritual fifty-six years after the fact. Even during our service together in Korea, he never, in my presence, referred to the traumatic memories and deep feelings which are a direct result of his previous tour of duty in this part of the world.

I am proud and happy to say that Léo and I are comrades once again, living in Barrie, Ontario, very near Camp Borden where our acquaintance began some forty-five years ago. I am privileged, as any reader should be, to have now revealed the personal story of Léo Bérard's military career before, during and after Hong Kong.

This book is in English and is now available for $17.50 plus $2.50 for mailing from:

Léo Bérard

171 Codrington St.

Barrie, ON

L4M 1S4

or by telephone at: (705) 726-8316.

My special thanks to Mr. Bérard for delivery of this book to me by courier so that I could highlight it in this issue.


The Story of Gander

There are awards for acts of heroism in war and this holds true for animal heroes as well. I understand there is a story being recounted about a dog named "Gander" who was the mascot for the Royal Rifles Regiment.

Generally, the story goes that "Gander" was present at the Japanese offensive at Lye Mun. During this offensive, "Gander" picked up a hand grenade and dashed away from the Canadian soldiers with it in his mouth whereupon the grenade exploded and killed him. "Gander" was with Royal Rifles "C" Company, and some of "B" Company were there also.

In particular we need eye witnesses to this event. Would those of you who have fathers in the Royal Rifles please ask them about this event and whether they know who would have been actual eye witnesses to it? Of course, any photographic evidence of this animal in any setting with the men would be nice and also helpful in its own right.

You can send any such material or comments to me or to Derrill Henderson at the addresses shown on the last page. If you would rather phone in your information, please feel free to do so. You will find my phone number in the Contacts list on the last page. Thanks for your help.

- Len Cotton, Editor

* * To Do **

Send Len my e-mail address if I can receive the newsletter by e-mail.

Send in my membership dues for 1998-99 right away before I forget. Again!

Send notes on "GANDER" to Len or Derrill.

Founders Series

(None this issue.)

I regret that we did not receive any submissions for the Founders Series for this issue. We will try to arrange for a submission for the next issue.

National Board of Directors President Derrill Henderson 75 Priam Way Nepean, ON K2H 8S7
Vice President Lora Wachtendorf P.O. Box 885 Niverville, MB R0A 1E0
2nd Vice President Neil Darrah Rr #4 Centreville, NB E0J 1H0
Treasurer Sheila Rattie Sheridan 649 Westwood Dorval, QC H2P 2M4
Secretaru Janice Jennings 1366 Indian Rd. N. Sarnia, ON N7V 4C7
Newsletter Editor Len Cotton 62 Furlong Crescent Kanata, ON K2M 2H9 phone 613-692-2478 fax 613-592-9845 e-mail cottonl@cyberus.ca
Manitoba Council President Juliet Lafortune P.O. Box 20 Grp 5 RR5 Winnipeg, MB R2C 2Z2 Phone 204-338-3354
Secretary Carole Hadley 54 Barnstaple Cove Winnipeg, MB R0R 2W3 e-mail alhad@mb.sympatico.ca
Treasurer Barry Mitchell 22 Tunis Bay Winnipeg, MB R3T 2X1 Phone 204-269-1497
Atlantic Council President Neil Darrah Rr #4 Centreville, NB E0J 1H0
Secretary-Treasurer Richard Blaquière P.O. Box 1465 Woodstock, NB E0J 2B0
NS Representative Carol Albright, 4 Swanton Drive Dartmouth, NS B2W 2C4