Hong Kong Veterans’

Association of Canada

Manitoba Branch April, May, June, 2000

Box 381, Winnipeg, MB   R3C 2H6                                    Editor:   Carol Hadley, (204) 837-6754   Fax (204) 477-7189

Email: cahadley@videon.wave.ca


Spring is here!!    

What wonderful weather we are having this year.   It’s hard to believe that we only missed golfing for a couple of months .

The Pilgrimage to Hong Kong is progressing well as you will read a little further along.  

The Commemorative Association has plans well in hand for the Convention 2001.

The Vets and the Commemorative have a good working relationship across Canada so that the merging of the 2 bodies is progressing well.

More to come ….

President’s Report

-          George Peterson

The latest that I have heard re: the up-coming trip back to Hong Kong is that 19 Hong Kong Veterans have indicated their willingness to participate.   This is a remarkable figure considering that there are only 300 Hong Kong survivors left out of the original 1975 Canadians who made up “C” Force and sailed to Hong Kong on October 27 th 1941.   May they all stay well and enjoy their trip along with many relatives and friends.

I am sorry to report another of our family left us to join our departed comrades in the Great Beyond.   I had a phone call from Vancouver March 20 th to say that Ex. Sgt. Bill Laidlaw passed away.   May he rest in Peace.

            Everything is under control re: the handing over of our Branches affairs, etc. to the Commemorative Association.   This being accomplished in a smooth and business like manner.
            May everyone enjoy a good and healthy summer.   Any problems – please don’t hesitate to call and we will continue to do our best to find the answers for you.


from Barry Mitchell, Treasurer and Membership


Greetings to all members!! We really appreciate receiving the dues and donations you have been sending us over the past few months, particularly those that were sent a reminder and responded by forwarding two years' memberships. Sorry about the mix-up with the widows and the Commemorative Association but we ask that you bear with us during this time of transition. The important thing is that we keep you on our mailing list, as we sure don't want to lose touch! The Manitoba newsletter is sent to all members, whether you are in the H.K.V.A. and/or the Commemorative Association. All dues are sent to me, with Veterans being assessed $15.00 per year and Associates $7.50. The fees for the Commemorative Association have been increased to $15.00 and now cover the calendar year. Don't worry, we'll get it all straightened out in due course!!


Received a nice note from Donalda Munn of Winnipeg along with a donation in memory of her husband, Art Munn…..Lovely Christmas cards from Mona Zane and family in Carlsbad, California, John Pollock in West Hill, Ontario and George Edgecombe in Mount Morris, Michigan…..Thoughtful note from Florence Wiebe of West St. Paul, MB, along with dues for two years. Florence has been fighting the flu but passes on her best for the New Year to everyone…..Greetings received from Jessie Gard on behalf of Fred along with two years' membership dues….. Leon Sokalski of Gravenhurst, Ontario, is surely keeping up with his bookwork as cheques were received for both HK and Commemorative Associations…..Wow--terrific note and photo from Gordon & Louise McLellan in Escondido, California. Photo of the handsome couple was taken on Gordon's 80 th birthday--still going strong!!…..Appreciate the note from Mary Anderson in Emerson, MB, along with dues and donation. Hope you're feeling better, Mary!!…..Thanks to Laura Birch who took the time to send us a donation, all the way from Ventura, California…..Terrific note from Bill Nicholson in Tempe, Arizona, along with two years' dues and a generous donation. Thanks Bill!!…..Appreciate the stamps from Gloria Sokalski who sent them along with a nice note and 2001 dues…..Very special mention to Jean Curtis for her generous donation and kind words of support for the H.K. Commemorative Association…..Another terrific note from Mona Zane in California who sends greetings to all Grenadiers, with a wish for health and happiness throughout the year…..Enjoyed receiving a generous contribution and cheerful note from Alvin Zaharychuk of Stenen, Saskatchewan …..Appreciate the note from May Broome regarding the passing of her husband Norman, and relocation to Swan River. Our best regards to May and her family….. George and Kathleen Belcourt say hello to all from Strasbourg, Saskatchewan. They write that they are doing well and will celebrate their 60 th anniversary on April 15. Congrats!!!…..Thanks to Alice Harris in Swan River for the note that came with her dues. Sorry to hear of your health problems but wish you well with your battles….. Thelma Lajeunesse of Keewatin, Ontario, notes that Regis is still at home and his condition is unchanged as he remains paralyzed…..At 93 years of age, Maude Crawford of Ottawa sounds as bright as a dollar!! She passes along greetings to all, particularly Bert Delbridge who she remembers from a Hong Kong trip years ago.


That's it for now. Keep the cards, letters, cheques, money orders…whatever… coming, and we'll do our best to see that your organization continues to move ahead and keeps you informed.



V p;              Bill Laidlaw passed away March 19, 2000


We will remember them .

Pilgrimage 2000

The first mailing to those people who are going to Hong Kong/Japan went out in the later part of March.   There will be 19 vets, 5 widows, and 36 others making the journey.   All people from across Canada will be meeting in Vancouver and travelling on together.

We had 12 sites identified to place plaques in Hong Kong, however some sites no longer exist; have buildings over them; or are now privately owned.   Therefore the 3 sites agreed upon are:   #1.   Brigade Headquarters Bunker.   #2.   Pillbox on the lower side of Jardine’s lookout. And #3.   The Lye Yue Mun site.

There will be several more mail outs detailing the itinerary and any other pertinent information …. So stay tuned, if you are involved in this trip.


                Sometimes we get returned mail and it usually because it has been forgotten to notify us of a move.   We want to stay in touch with everyone --- so I will post names, periodically and if anyone knows something about these people – please let me know.   Here is the first name:

            Bernice Kitt from Kamloops

In discussion with Gerry Mabley of Winnipeg


May, 1997

Gerry Mabley was born in Kelwood, Manitoba, 81 years ago. He spent his youth in that small town and fondly remembers growing up in a quiet rural setting.

With the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, he joined the Winnipeg Grenadiers and shortly thereafter the entire Regiment was sent to Jamaica for Garrison duty. This posting lasted for 16 months and in 1941, they returned to Canada for preparation for their assignment to Hong Kong.

Following the war, there was a period of settling back into civilian life but also a deep desire to keep in touch with the comrades from the Regiment. Thus in late 1947 or early 1948, the first meeting of the Winnipeg Hong Kong Veterans was held in the War Amps Hall at Langside and Portage. The main floor of the building was occupied by the Manitoba Liquor Commission with the meeting rooms upstairs, later to become the Club Morocco.

The first executive was formed that night with Jack Norris (Capt.) as president. Unfortunately, Jack would pass away during his first term in office. Other members of this initial executive included Freddy Adams, Paddy Keenan, Alec McFayden, Charlie Watson, Bob Boyd and Gerry Mabley as secretary.

The group was to be kept on the move as far as meeting locations were concerned and the following year they assembled at 194 Main Street, known as the Winnipeg Grenadier Building (Reserve). Next, they met at the Guards Club, just off Portage Avenue, followed by quarters at the Free Press Building.

It was at the Free Press location that the first Hong Kong Veterans Association newsletter was published, but it was done by Charlie Watson, a hard line Communist and without the permission of the rest of the members. The newsletter was filled with Communist propaganda and the group was severely taken to task by all who read it. Charlie, of course, was asked to take his campaigning elsewhere and he did. Today he and Gerry Mabley are the only living members of the original executive.

Remaining on the move, the HKVA then met at the Duke of Kent Legion, followed by the ANAF on Young Street and finally the ANAF on Ellice Avenue.

The main instigator for forming a national association, however, was Charlie Clark of Toronto. The Hong Kong Vets from Eastern Canada belonged to the Royal Rifles of Canada and Brigade while those from the West were with the Winnipeg Grenadiers and Brigade. It wasn’t until 1956 that a truly national organisation took shape when Gerry Mabley, Bert Delbridge and Swede Olcen representing the West, went to Toronto and met at the Royal York Hotel with Charlie Clark, Johnnie Stroud, Wally Gray and Colin Standish of the Royal Rifles. Here the first close ties between East and West were established and with the leadership of Charlie Clark, a truly national organisation was born. The two groups got along famously and lifetime friendships were formed. The real fun began when a national reunion was held in Edmonton in the 1960's and that camaraderie continues to this day.

Another occasion of note also took place in Edmonton at a reunion in the 1980's. George Porteous, an officer with the YMCA attached to the Grenadiers, had gone on to become Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan and was attending the reunion in the capacity of a veteran. At one of the functions, he was seated at the head table with the serving Lieutenant Governor of Alberta and it is believed to be the first time the two L.G’s had met on any kind of a formal basis. Also, George Porteous was the first Native Canadian to be appointed Lieut. Governor.

Past Presidents of the Manitoba Chapter who have been very active in Association affairs include Bert Delbridge, Robby Ashton, Harry Atkinson and Art Lousier. All held office for many years and have devoted much of their life to the affairs of the Hong Kong Veterans Association.

While the Association was originally formed for the purpose of keeping in touch, many causes came up over the years--first overall in nature but later individual challenges that needed to be dealt with. As Gerry states, the group was made up of many characters, which he fondly refers to as “loveable scallywags”. It sounds like there are many stories that can be told but won’t!

Gerry Mabley joined the Manitoba Government after the war and worked in the Land Titles Office until his retirement in 1974. He then moved to British Columbia but returned to Winnipeg in 1990. As much as he likes his home province, he is realistic about the weather and returns to B.C. each winter. Gerry keeps in touch with Bob Ferguson, a school teacher in Neepawa, Manitoba, who collects memorabilia from the Grenadiers’ action in Hong Kong and has it on display in the Neepawa Legion. Speaking of Neepawa, Len Seaborn, who lives there and is known for his fabulous woodworking skills, is 87 years young and is likely now the oldest Grenadier in Manitoba. The oldest Hong Kong veteran in Canada, however, is “The Old Warrior” Lionel Hird of the Royal Rifles in Quebec who turned 91 this year.

Gerry has given most of his mementos to the school in his hometown of Kelwood but stays active and in touch by retaining membership in B.C. and Quebec & Maritimes Branches as well as the Manitoba Branch of the Hong Kong Veterans Association. He attended the 50th Reunion in Ottawa in 1991 and enjoys as many social events as time and health permit. He tells us that almost all the vets believe the Association is Great!! and it has battled through many issues on their behalf. Recommended reading on Hong Kong includes “ No Reason Why” and “ To Hell and Back”.        


Written by Barry Mitchell following a meeting with Gerry Mabley on May 26, 1997. Gerry passed away in 1999. This history was first printed in the national H.K. Veterans' Commemorative newsletter and is being reproduced for the interest of all Manitoba members.

Notes & Phone Calls

I received a call from Bob Ferguson from Neepawa, friend of Len Seaborn .   He is looking for a photo of Headquarters Company and D Company to complete the Winnipeg Grenadiers display in their Legion.   He will return the original after making a copy.    So hopefully someone will be able to help him out. He also mentioned that Len is doing well and has recently turned 91 years of age. Way to go Len!!

Pat & Bill Maltman will be selling their place in Arizona and re-locating.   Bill has had trouble breathing this past winter with all the smog. Good luck to them with the re-locating and hope to see them soon.

Jim Moar from The Pas, was in hospital, hopefully he is home now.

Lillian Bjornson of Selkirk, (sister of George Townsend, H6135) accompanied by her daughter, has gone on an early pilgrimage to Japan to visit George’s grave.  

  It was nice to see Bill Pople , out to the monthly lunch.     His sister-in-law and her husband, Dorothy & Don McKay from Elm Creek, brought him in from Carman for the lunch.   Unfortunately there weren’t too many fellows out this time.   Hopefully the usual crew were away on cruises, etc and not laid up sick.   With the nice weather back   - maybe there will be more at the April lunch – if you are not out golfing.

I received a letter from the Last Post Fund informing us of the election of   their new President, Len Johansson, a Korean Vet.   He replaces Art Christensen, who held the office since 1984.   If you need information from the Last Post Fund their number is   (204) 233-3073.   The Last Post Fund is committed to ensure all veteran’s are afforded a decent funeral and burial which covers most costs of the funeral service, gravesite and a standard military marker.   They will come out to any veteran group and explain the history, eligibility   and financial criteria of the Fund at no cost – just send a letter with dates and times.   Address is 51 St. Annes Rd, Winnipeg, MB   R2M 2Y4.

The Deer Lodge Foundation hosted an informative week March 21 – 23, 2000.   There were many interesting speakers about long term care and displays of the activities that are run there.   The Foundation committee enjoy taking people on tours of the facility and are most appreciative of the funds that are donated to assist them in continuing in their efforts.   The HKVA in Manitoba are supporters of the Foundation.


- by Julie Lafortune

Well - Spring is finally here.   The winter wasn’t too bad and I hope you all fared well.

I would like to thank our anonymous donor for the fax machine.   It sure came at a good time.

Remember this is a new year and you need a new membership.   It is now $15.00.

We, of the Commemorative Association are working hard toward the “Big Convention in 2001”.   We need as many people as possible to help, so no one will get over worked.

Welcome to the following people who have joined our Board and become active members:   Louise Horst, Jodi Fast, and Todd Lytle.

The following dates for the HKVCA meetings at John Osborn, Empress & Ellice are -   May 16 th – June 20 th – July 11 th at 7 p.m.   Please come down, all are welcome.

Happy Birthday to Borge Agerbak, best wishes were extended   to him at our previous meeting, March 21 st .

Don’t forget to let us know of other birthdays, anniversaries or other information you would like to pass on – just call the following:

Julie Lafortune – 338-3354

Carol Hadley – 837-6754

Barry Mitchell – 269-1497

Lora Wachtendorf – 1-204-388-6536

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Crests ($20.00 ) for blazers are available.   They are a military type crest, very distinguished. Monument HK markers ($48.75 ) are available, also.    These are mounted on the grave stone - the marker is metal and coated in a heavy-duty red enamel with white HK emblazoned on it.   The package has a registration inside that should be sent to Ottawa to be archived.   They can be purchased from Lora Wachtendorf (1-204-388-6536).

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F.Y.I.:    The Commemorative Association hold an on-line meeting the last Thursday of every month.   We started in January – a little slow with procedures in a chat room – but we are getting more proficient as we progress.  

In February it was Moved/Seconded by Juliet Lafortune, Regional Director of Manitoba/Lucette Muir-Mailhot, Regional Director of Quebec “that the annual membership period for the Hong Kong Veterans’ Commemorative Association be the twelve consecutive months from January 1 st to December 31 st of each year”.    This will coincide with the Vets and be an advantage for the Treasurers that deal with both groups.

We are still busy setting up the Region Boards west of Manitoba and will keep you informed on how that is progressing.

Other Newsletters

Arthur Gomes from Hong Kong sends me his newsletter regularly and they are most informative.   In the most recent newsletter was an article about the Royal British Legion having a Visit of Remembrance’ , November 16 th – 26 th , 2000.   Just before the Canadian Pilgrimage 2000.   Too bad the visits didn’t coincide,   -   it would be nice to meet these people.


I appreciate George Peterson sharing his Quebec-Maritimes newsletter with me.   It helps me keep you informed of the news from down East.  

We are saddened by the passing of Lawrence Rattie, Membership Chair of the Quebec-Maritimes Branch on March 9 th , 2000.   Our sympathy to Sheila and her family.

Roger Cyr has done another   survey of the surviving HK vets and as of January 14, 2000   - there are 303, distributed as follows:   Nova Scotia – 6, New Brunswick – 21, Quebec – 55, Ontario – 75, Manitoba – 53, Saskatchewan – 6, Alberta – 19, British Columbia 52 and USA – 10.

The book , “The Royal Rifles of Canada in Hong Kong” is out of print, however they would like to do another printing but need to pre-sell 200 books to be cost effective.   Anyone wanting one of these books, please contact   Phil Dodderidge at 418-392-5838 or email philed@globetrotter.qc.ca .


I received some more chuckles from Bill Nicholson in Arizona:

-            Politicians are like polkas.   They have different names but they all sound the same.

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-          Maybe more people would make their mark if they didn’t spend so much time trying to erase their mistakes.

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-          People are like feet.   Every heel deserves a good sock.

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-          You can always spot a well-informed person, they have the same opinion you do.

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And some jokes from others …

-          A man walks into a Psychiatrist's office wearing nothing but Saran Wrap.

The Psychiatrist says "Well, I can clearly see your nuts."

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1. One hand on wheel, one hand on horn: MONTREAL

2. One hand on wheel, one finger out window:      TORONTO

3. One hand on wheel, one finger out window, cutting across all lanes of traffic:     OTTAWA

4. One hand on wheel, one hand on newspaper, foot solidly on accelerator:            BOSTON

5. One hand on wheel, one hand on non-fat double decaf cappuccino, cradling cell phone, brick on accelerator, gun on lap: LOS ANGELES

6. Both hands on wheel, eyes shut, both feet on brake, quivering in terror:   SASKATOON, but driving in TORONTO

  7. Both hands in air, gesturing, both feet on accelerator, head turned to talk to someone in the back seat:                QUEBEC CITY

  8. One hand on 12 oz. double shot latte, one knee on wheel, cradling cell phone, foot on brake, mind on radio game, banging head on steering wheel while stuck in traffic:      VANCOUVER

  9. One hand on wheel, one hand on hunting rifle, alternating between both feet being on the brake and both feet on the accelerator, throwing a McDonald's bag out the window:       RED DEER

10. Four wheel drive pick-up truck, shotgun mounted in rear window, beer cans on the floor, raccoon tails attached to the antenna:   PRINCE GEORGE

11. Two hands gripping wheel, blue hair barely visible above windshield driving 40 km/hr on Hwy 1 in the left lane with the left blinker on:    VICTORIA
12. One ski-do mitt on steering wheel, one ski-do mitt, scraper in hand, out front window scraping frost, Guess Who on the 8-track playing Share The Land, hockey equipment smelling up car interior, waiting at lights for snow removal equipment to finish clearing intersection:

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-          A young man wanted to get his beautiful blonde wife something nice   for their first wedding anniversary. So he decides to buy   her a cell   phone. She is all excited, she loves her phone. He explains to her all the features on the phone.   The next day the   blonde goes shopping. Her phone rings and it's her husband, "Hi hon, "he   says, "how do you like your new phone?"

"I just love it,   it's so small and your voice is clear as a bell but there's one thing I   don't understand. How did you know I was at Wal   Mart?"

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W ords of Wisdom

·          Remember: The ark was built by amateurs. Professionals built the Titanic.

·          Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels good.

·          Love is grand. Divorce is a hundred grand.

·          Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They both should be changed regularly, and for the same reason.

·          An optimist thinks that this is the best possible world. A pessimist fears that this is true.

·          There are two things we can be sure of: death and taxes. However, death doesn't get worse every year.

·          In just two days, tomorrow will be yesterday.

·          Dijon Vu: The same mustard as you had before.

·          I have kleptomania. But when it gets really bad, I take something for it.

·          People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them that Benjamin Franklin said it first.

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Poem by WE. Jeffrey in Kingston, Jamaica, 1941

                I hope some day that I’ll go back

            When this bloomin’ war is over,

            And settle down in a little shack

No more I’ll be a rover.

     I’ll cultivate some peas and corn

And raise some pigs and cattle

And rise up early every morn

Nor dream of strife and battle.

     I’ll find the girl I left behind

They tell me she is still single

And if she hasn’t changed her mind

The wedding bells will jingle.

     And when we come to the end of the trail

And twilight closes o’er us,

I know she’ll help to set the sail

For the voyage that lies before us.



  April 13, May 11 - lunch at Rae & Jerry’s on Portage Ave , near Polo Park .    Hope to see you there.

*Monthly lunches are the second Thursday of each month*


June 15, 2000 is the semi-annual meeting at John Osborn at 1:30 p.m. , Ellice and Empress .


  HKVCA will hold meetings May 16 th – June 20 th – July 11 th 2000 at 7 p.m at John Osborn, ANAF - Empress at Ellice.


Military Ball, Saturday, April 15, 2000 at CROWN PLAZA, tickets $65.00/person.


Your Executive



George Peterson                                 256-7174

Borge Agerbak                                   897-3213

Roy Robinson                                     256-3756

Carol Hadley, Secrtry/Newsletter     837-6754

Barry Mitchell, Trsrer/Mmbrshp      269-1497

Juliet Lafortune, Social                      338-3354

Gerald McArthur, Liaison Officer     338-1356

Terence Jackson, Memorials           452-1460

Harold Atkinson, Nat’l President 1-613-392-8074