HKVCA - Winter 2021 - Contents


"Never Forget"

Memorial Edition

80th Anniversary - Battle of Hong Kong

National Newsletter
of the
Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association

Winter 2021

Thoughts on this 80th Anniversary

The approaching 80th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong has prompted me to think about how our families were affected by the Battle.

There were children born in the months following the troops’ departure for Hong Kong who never knew their fathers because they died there. The families of 'C' Force members who did not return from the war had to endure the devastating loss of a loved one. And the statistics on 'C' Force members who did return to Canada are appalling: 90% of them had physical or emotional aftereffects, many of them very serious. Today’s concept of PTSD did not exist and there were no effective treatments, placing a huge burden on family members in dealing with their soldier’s conditions. Our government was less than helpful, leaving families to fend for themselves financially and emotionally.

Although I do not have specifics on Hong Kong veterans, Canadian research has found the impacts of service-related conditions and military service in general on families include divorce, financial insecurity, stress, low life satisfaction, mental health problems, child behavioural issues, spousal career sacrifices, and lower spousal income. There is no reason to think that the families of Hong Kong veterans were spared from any of this, and were perhaps even more affected than were families of other veterans.

Little did our fathers, grandfathers, uncles and others know when they enlisted in the Canadian Army what kind of ordeal awaited them, nor of how their service would be played out on their families.

This is why it is so important that we not allow the stories of ‘C’ Force men and women to fade as the last few remaining veterans leave us. We can do this by continuing to achieve our mandate of educating our youngsters, commemorating our veterans, and telling the story of the Battle of Hong Kong far and wide. 

National Election

In 2022 we will be holding our national election to select your Board of Directors and officers. Please consider nominating yourself or a trusted family member or colleague with a genuine interest in helping with the HKVCA’s mandate. Elsewhere in this newsletter you’ll find information on the nomination process.

Virtual Events

In keeping with our educational thrust, we ran six “virtual events” during 2021. The feedback from these sessions has been extremely positive, and we will run more of them in 2022, starting with a talk on the transfers of POWs from camps in Hong Kong to those in Japan, to be given by noted Hong Kong historian and author Dr. Tony Banham. This event will take place on the evening of Monday, January 24. Watch your email and our website and Facebook pages towards the end of December for more detailed information on the event.

If you missed any of our previous events, I encourage you to watch the recordings.

War Museum Video

I am delighted to announce a truly wonderful addition to our educational resources. The Canadian War Museum has collaborated with the HKVCA to produce a terrific video, featuring the well-known historian and author Dr. Tim Cook, that showcases the War Museum’s WW II collection, and in particular their excellent Battle of Hong Kong display. The video ends with a poignant viewing of the Hong Kong Veterans Memorial Wall. I encourage everyone to watch. You can find it here. A special thanks to Gail Angel for her tireless work producing the video from concept to release, including engaging the War Museum, and obtaining partial funding from VAC.

“Je me souviens” Project

Another fabulous educational initiative is the “Je me souviens (I remember)” project. You’ll find more information in an article (Hong Kong Exhibition and Resources for Schools) elsewhere in the newsletter, but let me just say that the team involved has developed some absolutely amazing Battle of Hong Kong teaching materials, including videos, banners and web-based information for high school students and teachers. Wonderful!

Indigenous Vets and Reconciliation Statement

Pam Heinrich is continuing to appeal to the families of Indigenous Hong Kong veterans to step forward and identify their veteran as such. This will allow us to create and maintain an accurate listing, and to research and tell their stories. In keeping with this work, your Board of Directors is proud to announce that we have developed a “Reconciliation Statement” which outlines why we have undertaken this work. The statement, which is also published on our website, is:

The HKVCA acknowledges the past and present harms of colonization on the Indigenous peoples in Canada. Among the injustices suffered by them was that many Indigenous veterans of Canada's military did not receive the same honours, benefits or assistance as did non-Indigenous veterans. We are committed to working to understand the injustices and to educating our members and the general public about them. The HKVCA is working to identify and recognize the Indigenous veterans of ‘C’ Force. Honouring them in our Association and learning their stories is a step on the path to reconciliation. We invite you to visit our Indigenous Veterans of ‘C’ Force page to learn more.

Calling all Poets

Are you a poet/But you don’t know it? Check out our 80th Anniversary Poetry Contest elsewhere in this issue.

They Were the Last Ones

We were very saddened by the passing of veteran George Peterson in September. George was the last remaining Winnipeg Grenadier, and was an articulate and outspoken advocate for the Hong Kong Veterans and their story. We salute him and offer our deepest condolences to his family. 

I would also like to recognize the passing of two other gentlemen: Charles Le Patourel, believed to be the last remaining member of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps, and Dr. Po Tin Chak of the St John’s Ambulance. Although not 'C' Force members, they were fellow veterans of the Battle of Hong Kong. We offer our condolences to the families of these veterans of the Battle of Hong Kong.

Please read more information about these men in the “In Remembrance” section of the newsletter.


Happy Holidays!

The holiday season is upon us now, and with luck, it should be more of a family time than we had last year. With COVID restriction loosening in most parts of the country, I hope we can all enjoy a very happy (but cautious) holiday time!

HKVA Report

To the editor:

As I approach my 100th birthday, I find that I  am less able to cope with everyday problems, so I would be grateful if you would just say a simple hello for me in the newsletter and wish the readers well. 

A la prochaine


In Remembrance

Last Post

George Peterson, the last Winnipeg Grenadier, on Sunday Sept 5 (Obituary)

In Memoriam

Dorothy Sauson, widow of RRC Ray Sauson on Nov 3, 2021 (Obituary)

Received on 28 Sept 2021: Alva Steele, widow of Randolph Steele  E1145,  on October 18, 2018

From the Editor

Battle of Hong Kong - Looking Back

This is a special edition of WASURERU-NAI. It has been 80 years since the Battle of Hong Kong, but for many families its effects linger on. Much of our content in this issue is retrospective and serves to remind us of the upheaval and sorrow this battle and its aftermath brought about.

We were overwhelmed with the contributions, both text and photos, for publishing in this Memorial Edition. Due to space limitations in our paper version, some had to be shortened or cropped. Thank you contributors, for sharing.

Thank you newsletter team!

Once again, the eagle eyes of our proofreading team composed of Anne, Kathie, Sandy and Barbara have performed their magic in improving this newsletter.

80 Years Later - Reminiscing

Memories of Bill Nugent

Ted Terry

I am Edward (Ted) Terry jr. Son of Capt. Edward L. Terry Sr., paymaster of the Winnipeg Grenadiers during the battle of Hong Kong in 1941.  In 1942 my dad died while a pow in H.K.  When I was young my mother told me stories regarding my dad and his best friend Lt. William (Bill) Nugent Platoon Commander of ‘C’ Company W.G. 's,  who was awarded the Military Cross for bravery in the battle of H.K.  Bill returned from H.K. to Canada after almost 4 years of captivity. I don’t remember ever meeting Bill after the war. But I frequently saw his sister Lillian.  When I was young I was a puppeteer and Lillian created the costumes for my marionettes.  Over the years I had every intention of getting in touch with Bill, but I never did.  Recently my memory was stirred when I read in our HKVCA newsletter the name of Bill’s wife and that Shelagh Purcell had been unable to reach her.  I thought, that’s not odd as Bill’s wife would be around 100 years old now.  I got the phone number from Sheila and I called. 

The phone was answered by Bill’s daughter Mary Nugent who informed me that her mother had passed away a few years ago.  Mary and I had a long and wonderful conversation.  She told me that her dad Bill had passed away at only 53 years of age.  She also told me that he was a wonderful father to her and her older sister but, like so many other veterans,  he never spoke of his experiences during the war. That is likely why I never heard from him.  I had to tell Mary a terrific story about her dad.  In prison camp, my dad knew he was not doing well and likely to die.  My dad gave Bill his wedding ring to keep safe and to try to return it to my mother after the war.  My mother told me that Bill wore the gold ring on a toe inside his shoe for three years to keep it from being taken from him by the Japanese captors. After the war he brought it to my mother in Ottawa.  She was shocked and extremely grateful to Bill. Mary had never heard the story and I was really pleased to tell her and add it to her good memories of her dad.

Memories of Alfred Babin

Mike Babin

My Dad, Alfred Babin (RRC), stayed in the Army after the war, and finally retired from active duty in 1971 as a Warrant Officer. He was a quiet man, and not given to talking much about himself. So when I was young - although I knew that he had been a soldier in the war - I didn’t know much more than that, and certainly nothing about the horrors of battle and the brutality of the POW camps. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s, when he and my Mom, Christina, had started attending HKVCA meetings and conventions, that I began to ask him about his wartime experience. He was always willing to speak to me about it, never over-dramatizing but always giving lots of detail. He had brought home only a couple of items  … a cloth patch with his POW number and a handmade tobacco pipe  …  and was pleased to show them and talk about them.

Mom and Dad had met before the war, and Dad had promised Mom that he would return to marry her. He often said that it was thinking of Mom that sustained him throughout the ordeal of his internment.

Our family was lucky: Dad did not have serious health issues (although he was not in any way a complainer, so any problems he did have he kept to himself); he was not a drinker; and we had what I consider to be a “normal”, happy home life. Although Dad did not finish elementary school, after the war he and Mom worked hard to earn their high school diplomas at night school. Shortly before his passing in 2014, I learned that Dad had applied to the University of Western Ontario many years before and had been accepted, but decided not to attend.

Every photo I have of Dad shows him standing erect and looking dignified and proper, sometimes with a gentle smile. He was proud, in his quiet way, of his wartime service and of his long career in the Canadian military.  And I am proud of him.

Memories - The Women of War

Carol Hadley

Today as I sit and watch the Remembrance Day service in Ottawa, it is the first time that I can remember not attending a Service in person.  I think of my family members that served in WWII.  I also think of the women that were left behind to continue to look after the family.  

As I reflect on my mother’s life, I admire her strength and determination.  She never took a leadership role that I remember but quietly went about getting things done.  She met my father at a St. Patrick’s day dance that had many military attendees.  They had a couple of dates until he was sent to Jamaica in 1939 for garrison duty relieving British troops to return to the war in Europe.  They continued to write and get to know one another.  Through this communication they began to care about one another, so when he returned in the fall they were married October 18, 1941.  A few days later my father and the other Winnipeg Grenadiers boarded a train to head West to British Columbia to be shipped to Hong Kong.

My mother continued to live at home to help support her family as her brother and brothers-in-law were also serving their country.  She worked in Eaton’s department store from leaving school, however the manufacturing companies needed to replace the men that left to serve so she became a riveter for Trans Canada, who made planes to be shipped to the war effort in Britain.

My father continued to write to her with letters of hope and funny stories that occurred on their journey.  The soldiers landed in Hong Kong on November 16, 1941 and began more training as several of the men were recruited as they travelled across Canada.  There were stories of how life was good, as their Canadian salary when converted into Hong Kong dollars gave them many benefits, like rickshaw travel, busboys to do their laundry, etc.  This was good news to the family back home to know they were safe so far from home.

As we know now this didn’t last long as the Japanese attacked Hong Kong on December 8, 1941, and therefore communication became non-existent.  News back home was scarce but serious, as they learned of the Japanese attack and the subsequent fall causing the colony to become prisoners of war.

For almost 4 years, communication for my mother was checking the newspaper daily looking for names of those who were killed, missing or POWs. This stressful time was compounded by the rations of food, money, etc. 

My father was among some of the last soldiers to return home in October of 1945, after a debriefing in San Francisco and more hospital time in Vancouver.  Because of his war injuries and diseases that he suffered from, my father spent many years in and out of Deer Lodge Veterans hospital.  The decision was made for my father to leave the military due to his health.  He found work in a mine in Northern Ontario in 1947, so my mother and I went too.

This was an extremely hard life for my mother as there was no running water and accommodation was scarce.  We lived on an island.  Water was obtained by going down to the water's edge and hauling pail loads up to heat for cooking, washing or laundry.  There was little transportation on the island, so a lot of walking.

We were there for almost 3 ½ years then came back to Winnipeg where my brother was born.   My father continued visits to Deer Lodge, where my mother packed up 2 small children to journey by streetcar to visit him on the weekends.  My father continued to have nightmares, which was very stressful for my mother and at some point he was given electric shock treatment to alleviate the terrors.  His treatments at Deer Lodge became less frequent and he had a good life.

My mother’s strength and fortitude to keep the family sustained on limited funds and supporting my father and 2 small children was a tremendous feat.  This does not diminish the strength and fortitude of my father as he endured the pain of memories, injuries, disease and supported his family.  My brother and I are fortunate to have such strong parents who encouraged us to follow our wishes and dreams and gave us the life skills to be successful.  We love them forever.

Remembering my Grandfather- George Thomas Palmer

Michael Palmer, Grandson

My grandfather, George Thomas Palmer, was born on March 6, 1909 in Newcastle, New Brunswick. He was only four when his father disappeared, so he and his mother moved to PEI where she raised George into a fine young man. By early 1940, though, George was looking for an adventure abroad. With WWII breaking out, he decided to join the fight by volunteering for active service. Before long, he was with the Royal Rifles and heading overseas to an unknown destination, soon revealed to be Hong Kong. He was part of 'C' Force – a Canadian contingent of 1,974 men who were defending the British colony if the Japanese invaded.

Weeks later in 1941, on the same day of the Pearl Harbour attack, the Japanese advanced toward Hong Kong, which initiated the desperate defence by the Allied defenders who were only 14,000 strong with virtually no navy, air force, heavy artillery or reinforcements to assist them. Facing them were approximately 60,000 battle-hardened, mechanized, fanatical, tenacious Japanese troops fresh from battles in China. Little did George or the rest of his comrades know that this battle for survival would continue for 45 long months. At least, for those that survived.

George fought the good fight in the hills of Hong Kong for 3 weeks – taking up perimeters, rescuing comrades, getting shot in the leg and being hospitalized, and then surrendering to Japanese forces. Once the battle ended on Christmas Day 1941, George would enter a new phase – to survive as a prisoner-of-war under the brutally harsh conditions of the Japanese. He started off at Sham Shui Po POW camp in Hong Kong where he was involved in an escape attempt with two others. Unfortunately, the breakout didn’t transpire due to illnesses. By 1943 he was transferred by ship to Japan where he ended up at Omine Camp to work in a forced labour camp, toiling in the mines during 12-hour shifts. There were beatings, severe illnesses, degrading behaviours, starvations, threats of execution… just horrible conditions. And this went on from 1941 until late 1945 when, finally, the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A few weeks later, Japan surrendered.

My grandfather was often asked how he could’ve survived such insanity all those years. “Hope” was his constant reply. He had much hope that he would survive the worst the Japanese threw at him. But he almost didn’t make it. By the time the Japanese surrendered, he was down to 99 lbs (he weighed about 170-180 lbs when he enlisted in 1940). He and the rest of the men wouldn’t have lasted another winter in the Omine Camp. I heard from a few of his comrades that he also had a great attitude within the camps – always trying to cheer up the men and in one case, stealing an orange from a nearby orchard for a friend who was deathly sick from Beri Beri. Any bit of food could help immensely with the assortment of sicknesses those men endured.

With the Americans finding the camp in late 1945, the men marched out the front doors and never looked back. Over future weeks, they ate until their weight returned to normal and then they began their journey home aboard an assortment of ships. Upon arrival in Vancouver, he travelled by train across Canada, until he landed back on the good ol’ red soil of Prince Edward Island and into the arms of his lovely wife, Jeanette. He put the war behind him and focused on family, farming and the community. It was time to shake off the war demons and get on with living a meaningful life. With one child already (from before the war), George and Jeanette would have eight more. All would grow into wonderful people with families of their own, products of George and Jeanette’s strong family values and beliefs.

In 1991, after living into his 80s, George passed away peacefully, surrounded by family and much love. A life well lived.

(the complete story of George Palmer can be found in his book biography at

“My Father”

Norma Fuchs

My father, John Leo Doiron, Royal Rifle, F-40908 was in the Battle of Hong Kong in December of 1941. He was born into a large farming family in Hope River, PEI.  He had been working on his family farm and for other farmers in the area until he joined the Royal Rifles in 1940. He spent some time in Quebec and Newfoundland before he was shipped over to Hong Kong with almost 2000 young soldiers. They had no idea where they were going and what was in store for them in the next months and years. 

He had met my mother, Alice, not long before he joined up and they were not married before he went to Hong Kong.  She waited for him, receiving only a couple of short letters the whole time he was in the camps. When he got back home in November of 1945, they picked up where they left off and were married in March of 1946. They went on to have five children in the next seven years and life went on. 

Growing up I do not have many memories of Dad talking about the camps. I do remember that Christmas was an emotional and sad time for him. I know he tried to make it fun for us; however, the memories haunted him around the Christmas season.  

He worked hard his whole life. I think that was his escape. In their later years he and mom went to some of the Hong Kong Reunions and connected with some of the people he knew in the camps. I am not sure that he really enjoyed that, it seemed to spark the memories again. He passed away in 2003 shortly before his 85th birthday. I am not sure that he ever was free of those horrible memories.

A Tribute to her Mom

Marie Gutenberg of Thorsby, AB

Marie sent a letter in response to HKVCA’s request to share stories about our veterans. Her dad was a Hong Kong veteran, Sidney Blow, a Winnipeg Grenadier. Marie’s mom, Alice Elizabeth Blow, met Sydney in 1952, when she worked as a nurses’ aide in the Fort Qu’Appelle Sanitorium. Sidney was receiving treatments for Tuberculosis after he returned from World War II. They married shortly after, had six children, and continued their lives mostly on a farm. Her mom was very talented and resourceful. Marie explained that her mom never cooked rice for her dad, but he sure loved Chinese food at the restaurant. Our thanks to Marie for her great letter. (Kathie Carlson)

A Brief History of Club 13 – Friendship & Loyalty

Researched by Megan

In 1932, a young Tillie Balliet moved to Swift Current, Saskatchewan. At that time, Swift Current was in the midst of the Great Depression. Yes, the entire world suffered but the prairies seemed to suffer more. Their economy, built primarily around farming, had turned to dust – much like the fields that surrounded them. In 1934, despite the challenging and depressed prairie environment, Tillie, ever the social organizer, decided to ask a new friend if she wanted to start a club. It sounded like, with some convincing on Tillie’s part, her friend eventually surrendered saying “I’ll join the club but I’ll warn you – all I do is darn socks.” And thus, the Sewing Club – later to be called Club 13 – was born.

Depending on where you come from or what you believe in, the number 13 can either be lucky or unlucky. For the ladies, though, Club 13 just sounded more interesting than Sewing Club and so, they adopted the famously conflicted number as part of their identity. Club 13 was probably a more appropriate name because, it seems, there was only one member who sewed. None were “domestic giants”, to quote my Aunt Kathie. If a member left the group or, in later years, when a member passed away, she would be replaced so that there were always 13 ladies. This continued until their 50th anniversary in 1984.

My grandmother, Gladys Corrigan, was not an original member of the Club but joined soon after it started. She was a member when she married Leonard Corrigan, she was a member when, in 1941, he joined the South Saskatchewan Regiment and later volunteered to transfer to the Winnipeg Grenadiers, and she was a member while he was imprisoned for four years in Hong Kong. She wasn’t the only one whose husband served in the war, but she did win the prize every time they played the “Whose husband is farthest away?” game. These women buoyed each other, and their friendship deepened as they persisted while the men were overseas.

Club 13 met every Thursday night for 50 years. Imagine the life these women shared together with all of its triumphs and heartbreaks – especially during the war. Their bond was profound. Between gales of laughter and moments of silliness, these friends provided extraordinary support for each other during the heaviest of times. The “meetings” would have been an oasis amid their uncertainties, fears, and worries.

How fortunate that Tillie decided to start a club in 1934; she would never have known how important it would be in the years to come. Her eyes glistened when she recalled those treasured friends and the time they spent together. She remembered, with great fondness, all of that “silly fun” they got up to. “I can honestly say that we had just wonderful times.”

Book Excerpts

Here are highlights from Veterans’ books on how they got involved with the “Battle of Hong Kong”as researched by Shelagh Purcell and Kathie Carlson.

 Excerpts from Andy Flanagan’s book “The Endless Battle”

At age twenty-five, James Andrew Flanagan began an adventure he believed might add a little excitement to his life. He enlisted in The Royal Rifles of Canada and soon found himself on a ship heading to war in the Far East, accompanied by thirty-seven friends from his hometown area of Jacquet River, New Brunswick. This was the first group of Canadian soldiers to see battle in the Second World War. As Flanagan and his young fellow comrades encountered the cruel depths of war, his exciting journey turned into a never-ending nightmare. His story is both tear-wrenching and at times comical, as we see these young soldiers endure terrible experiences and try to add a little humour to their otherwise dismal lives.

Excerpts from Bernard Jesse’s book “Seared In My Memory”

The road to the Second World War taken by Bernie Jesse was not an unfamiliar one. Attempting to break away from the grip of the Great Depression that had locked the Canadian Prairies like a vice in the 1930s, Bernie had sought out a Canadian fighting unit he could join. It would be a good way out of the Depression for this young and single adventurous man. It was a way to collect a few dollars too, something that he never had. He would get those dollars from the Canadian government that was willing to pay a young man like him to don a uniform of the Canadian Army, Air Force or Navy. The Winnipeg Grenadiers Infantry, ill-equipped as it was, offered the first opportunity for Bernie to escape the Depression. “We didn’t even have uniforms at first. It took us some time before we got them, Bernie explained. “When they finally did arrive, they were the old First World War varieties…. so were the rifles. The machine guns we were supposed to learn how to shoot, old, water-cooled Vickers were what we were given…. eventually.”

Excerpts from Leo Paul Berard’s book “17 Days Until Christmas”

My proper name is Leo Paul Berard. My Godmother named me Leo Paul (not Leopold) after a boyfriend she had known in France prior to coming to Canada in the late 1800s.  Moving ahead to 1933, I was eighteen years of age, unemployed, and broke. Of course, it was the Dirty Thirties, and a lot of people were in the same state. I was pretty good at sports in those days and if you couldn’t work you could at least play. The Winnipeg Grenadiers militia unit coaxed me into playing for their baseball team as they needed a good first baseman. In order to play, I had to join up, and that included wearing a uniform. I was given a regimental number, 1544 Pte.Berard of the Winnipeg Grenadiers, in Military District No.10, which represented the province of Manitoba.

Excerpts from Ken Ewing, from the book “Betrayal” – author Terry Meagher

At the hospital, I was offered the regular ration, -two thirds of a cup of rice. But it tasted like sawdust, and I couldn’t eat it. So, I gave it to an Englishman. At that moment, I realized I had to change my ways if I was to survive. I had an epiphany and I never forgot it all the time I was in prison camp. Eat or die.! Struggle or give in to death. I didn’t have to look far to be reminded. One chap in my company just turned his face to the wall and died.

Excerpts from Dr. Stanley Banfill, in the book “Hell On Earth” by Dave McIntosh 

The food was inadequate in both the amount and kind. Rice and greens (green horror) with hardly any fats, and an occasional minute ration of fish, was near starvation to us. As a result, we developed severe malnutrition, and this aggravated the tropical diseases and those spread by overcrowding which now hit us.

Excerpts from “My Wartime Experience December 1941- December 1945”by Philippe Yvanovich (The Hong Kong Volunteers)

The cleanup of the lavatories was not without humour. The more fussy ones, instead of grasping the handles of the tray by hand, used hooks scrounged from scrap. These trays were old and rusted and overloaded. They had to be tackled by two men each and had to be lifted head high to be loaded on the cart. I remember one chap getting drenched with the lot from the tray when the handle snapped when his hook broke through. He took about ten showers to clean himself.”

I was involved in putting on risqué skits. I also took part in a musical number. The Japanese had allowed musical instruments from families. We put on the show for our boys and invited some of our Canadian friends, including the camp Doctors, Blaver, Le Boutillier and Corrigan (Canadians). The show was so successful we were told to do a show for the camp. So was born “Cafe Casa Nova.” The concerts on the parade ground had the band in the middle on a raised platform, and the audience in front. When the Americans raided and blew up Lai Chi Kok Oil Farm, we would sit and look at the stage and the burning going on behind, and cheer when an explosion occurred - like we were cheering the band!

The escape of the three, Pearce and company, stopped the work party. We would have to fill in on the parade ground at about 5:30 am in the dark in three ranks, two lots of 60 men. This morning the Volunteer contingent were being counted by this silly sergeant in the dark – the boys kept on slipping around the back and standing at the end to be counted again. RSM Jones finally put a stop to it as the count got to 90.

We were plagued with flies, what with dead bodies, unsanitary toilets, etc. so the Japs promised to pay one pack of cigarettes for 100 flies. Imagine someone swatting at a fly, half killing it and someone else kills it. Whose fly is it? Fights broke out. After a couple of weeks of success, the Japs reduced the reward to five cigarettes per 100 flies. Some chaps would cut a fly in two to increase their kill.

Excerpts from “Seared in My Memory” by Bernard Jesse.

Early on, during the first days of capture, Bernie and a couple of other POWs had been allowed to speak on a short-wave radio set that had been organized by the International Red Cross. That was also the last affiliation the prisoners would have with the Red Cross. There was no way any of them knew who or if anyone else who spoke English would even hear them that day, but the offer was extended to Bernie, so he had spoken out in front of a microphone. As luck would have it, a ham radio operator in the United States picked up the signal just as Bernie spoke. Further luck was found in the fact that this operator also had a crude recording set-up in his garage that enabled him to make the recording of Bernie’s voice. None of us remember what I said. Obviously, I had identified myself in some fashion, but this guy picked it up and believe it or not, had my voice transcribed onto this record and had it sent to my folks in Lampman, Saskatchewan. “It was a wonderful surprise for mom”, he said.

Remembering our Hong Kong Veterans

By the time you read this newsletter, eight decades will have slipped away since our fathers and uncles first experienced the horrors of war. Their short but courageous part in the Battle of Hong Kong ended badly for all the Canadians sent there. The ensuing years of cruel captivity for the survivors were arduous and memorable for all the wrong reasons. 

HK veteran Mr Philip Doddridge's account of those years is titled “Memories Uninvited”. His choice of combining those two simple words really does stimulate your imagination and curiosity.

We all have memories of those historical events and they are as varied as the lens we filter them through. March forward 80 years and now there are grandchildren and great-grandchildren who have their own perspective of their relative's role as a soldier, father or grandfather.

Over the years, what thoughts or feelings have come to mind when you reminisce about your favourite HK veteran? Recording them in poetic fashion can be powerful and evocative. It can be a revealing and positive way to share the inter-generational influence of this singular event on your family. I will say with certainty that whether or not you use colourful rhyme schemes, your words will still resonate loudly with our HKVCA fellowship across the country.

All of this wordy preamble is just a buildup to announce our…..;

80th Anniversary Defence of Hong Kong Poetry Contest

Open to all starting December 8, ending February 28, 2022.

  • Prizes: 1st $150.00 , 2nd $100.00 , 3rd $50.00.
  • Theme: 80 years later Remembering our HK veterans
  • Length: 1 to 2 pages. Winners TBA in the next newsletter.

All submissions will be read and adjudicated by well-known author and acclaimed poet, Mr. Gary Geddes. Gary is uniquely qualified to accomplish this task as his 1987 work “The Ventriloquist'' is being republished as I write this! Tucked inside those pages is his very own collection titled “Hong Kong Poems”.

Send your entries to Our webmaster will provide a link to your poetry on our webpage.

Depending on the enthusiasm and response we receive there may be enough material for a future zoom presentation. Why not make it a holiday event with your family and challenge your siblings to a creative and inspiring competition.

Best of Luck Everyone and Happy Holiday

Extraordinary Contributions to the Hong Kong Story

 This very special 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong gives us an opportunity to honour the soldiers who fought there in 1941, but also to recognize the many contributions of the returning veterans who continued to fight the good fight after such a debilitating experience as POWs in Hong Kong and Japan. Even though these soldiers had had dreadful experiences, they were determined to let Canadians know what went on during those years, and to fight for redress of their grievances regarding the government’s lack of recognition of their difficulties in readjusting to life in Canada. The fact that the public was not aware of the serious consequences of what they had experienced played a large part in that readjustment. Many of the veterans who came home have made tremendous contributions to this effort.

George with Nick Brune (Author-Ten Lessons)

George with Nick Brune (Author-Ten Lessons)

Among them two gentlemen in Ontario, George MacDonell and Bob “Flash” Clayton, have been able to speak and write with such strength and conviction that the public was able to understand their concerns. They knew each other well, and spent many years meeting in various settings that have become legend in this province and across the country. Here are a couple of examples of their interactions with the public.

In 2002, HKVCA became aware of the book called “One Soldier’s Story” which George MacDonell had originally intended for the members of his family. It became so popular that George was invited to present a workshop at the Ontario History and Social Science Teachers Association Conference (OHASSTA) to be held in the Toronto area on November 8, 2002. The event involved between 400 and 500 History teachers from across the province, and George’s presentation generated considerable interest. Many of his books were purchased at that time, and among the buyers was a very enthusiastic young lady named Nancy Hamer Strahl (who on Oct. 18th this year made a very special presentation to Zoom listeners in the HKVCA series currently happening).  She has said in the recent past that George’s lecture that day prompted her to have a serious interest in the Hong Kong story. The success of the OHASSTA event prompted us in the Ontario Region of HKVCA to get in touch with the Rotary Club of Mississauga to sponsor the book’s use in all of the High School Libraries in Mississauga. George spoke to the members of the  Rotary Club at one of their luncheons, and those present agreed that it was an important book for High School students to read. 

Flash and Jessie with one of the Host teachers

Flash and Jessie with one of the Host teachers

The final result was that the Rotary Club not only sponsored 300 copies for Mississauga High School libraries, but an additional 405 to cover all of the Toronto High School libraries as well.  This is just one of the many situations where George MacDonell was a flag-bearer in terms of presenting the facts of the Hong Kong story itself to the Canadian public.

The second person who has made a tremendous impact in increasing the understanding of Canadians regarding the Battle of Hong Kong and the subsequent internment of the Canadian survivors is Bob “Flash” Clayton. “Flash” made a point of keeping the Ontario Region Executive fully informed about what he was doing when he visited various High Schools, Legions and other organizations who heard about his very straightforward, personal stories about what the men endured for 44 months, the entire period of World War Two. There was one very gripping presentation at St. Augustine’s Catholic High School in Markham on Nov. 21, 2003. The auditorium was filled with the whole school population as “Flash” and his wife, Jessie, who had also been in the military kept this audience spellbound for the whole of the hour or so that “Flash” and Jessie spoke. No mincing of words. The students heard about many of the things that the soldiers were subjected to…..and there was a feeling of awe when they finished what they had to say. It was a very interesting combination of serious and humorous, and the students certainly were impressed by what they had heard. There were many visits by both “Flash” and Jessie over many years. Talk about ambassadors for the cause!

One final session to be mentioned involved both George MacDonell and “Flash” Clayton. These two best friends who continued reaching out to the public for many years, separately, and occasionally together when the situation warranted, were invited to speak at an Education Workshop for all subject areas in the Kawartha Pine Ridge District near Peterborough, Ontario. George MacDonnell was to give an overview of the total picture of the Battle itself, considering that some of the participants would not be History teachers and would be in unfamiliar territory. “Flash” would then go into personal detail regarding what he and the men around him actually experienced in the battle and the POW camps. To say that the teachers, in two sessions of 50 persons each, were mesmerized would be an understatement. Fortunately, there is a video somewhere that shows how well these two fellows told their story with moments of humour in the midst of distressing information that kept the audiences in the two sessions fully engaged.

Those of us who attended these sessions, and many others as well, will treasure these memories always.

Hong Kong Exhibition and Resources for Schools

To commemorate the 80-year anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong, the Je Me Souviens educational program is releasing a new exhibition, videos and a series of classroom-ready activities on the Battle of Hong Kong. 

Je Me Souviens is a Quebec-based program that aims to provide free resources to teachers to help them find innovative and interesting ways to teach Quebec’s role in the armed conflicts of the past 100+ years. In previous projects, such as on WWI, Afghanistan and the October Crisis, we have partnered with local military museums to include original photos, artefacts and stories in our educational resources. 

But why talk about Hong Kong? We wanted to begin producing resources on WWII and we were surprised to learn that the Battle of Hong Kong received barely a mention in the Quebec curriculum and was, indeed, unknown to many Quebec educators. Given that it was the first Canadian land battle of WWII and given that one of the two regiments was from Quebec, we felt that it was important to create more resources and to help teachers and students learn more about this incredible part of history.

This project, however, would not have been possible without the help of the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association. We produced a small exhibition that will travel for free to schools and Mike Babin and Jim Trick provided access to the incredible HKVCA collection of resources and photos that were invaluable to this exhibition. We also created a virtual exhibition with original short videos based on interviews with many of you – veterans and family members of Hong Kong veterans! Through your memories, woven together with images (many from the HKVCA) and archival footage, we were able to tell the stories of Hong Kong veterans and their families in a quick and captivating manner.  A huge thank you to Mike Babin for sharing our callout, to George MacDonell for honouring us with an interview, and to Kathie Carlson, Bernard Leblanc, Gerry Tuppert and Ivan Gray for talking to us at length about Hong Kong and about your memories of your fathers and grandfathers. Each conversation was a delight and an incredible learning experience. You gave us so much rich and interesting information; we wish we could make our videos 10 times longer!

Links: The virtual exhibition with the five videos | Activities for teachers

And if you’re interested in the travelling exhibition for classrooms let us know.

A Hong Kong Connection

My name is Alfred Sung, a new member of the HKVCA. I'm a historian and documentary filmmaker. I first came to Canada in 1996 for my university study, and came again in 2016 for good. I'm currently living in Markham.

Statue representing J.R. Osborn

Statue representing J.R. Osborn

I'd like to share a photo of the J. R. Osborn statue in downtown Hong Kong. I took this photo on a sunny afternoon on my way home. When I was in HK, I walked by the statue every day on my way to Central from my home at Admiralty. I want to let the Canadians and the HKVCA members know that the ‘C’ Force's bravery 80 years ago, and the bonding between Hong Kong and Canada since then, have always been in the heart of the Hongkongers. We simply want to say thank you to Canada, the ‘C’ Force veterans and their families. We will continue this legacy by remembering them and telling their stories to the future generations.

The ‘C’ Force has always been in the hearts of the Hongkongers. Apart from the annual tribute to the ‘C’ Force at Sai Wan Cemetery on the first Sunday of December, the Canadian Consulate and members of the public in Hong Kong also pay tribute to the John Osborn statue during the Remembrance period. It's not a tribute to Osborn only, but to Canada. Web link

And university students will dress up as WW2 Hong Kong Volunteer Corps/British/Indian Forces to pay tribute (I'm not sure if they have ever dressed up as ‘C’ Force). Web link

Please let the families of the Hong Kong veterans know that you all are always in the hearts of the Hongkongers and the Hongkonger-Canadians.

BC Report

This past Remembrance day was punctuated with grey rainy skies, but that did not dampen the resolve of hundreds of mask-wearing socially distanced souls who attended the abbreviated ceremonies. In Victoria, a wreath was laid by the great-grandchildren of HK veteran Horace Gerry Gerrard, RCCS. It's heartwarming to think that a younger generation is excited to continue this time-honoured tradition of respect and remembrance.

Great-Grandchildren of Gerry Gerrard: Tanner and 
				Brody, Alister and Asher

Great-Grandchildren of Gerry Gerrard: Tanner and Brody, Alister and Asher

Meanwhile on the mainland at the Vancouver Centennial square cenotaph, the new Director of Ceremonies, Mr James Stanton, made a point of mentioning December 8th was the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong. He continued with a short but uncensored description of the hardships endured by our veterans for the next 3yrs and 8 months. Mr. Stanton started the proceedings by thanking his predecessor Mr. Cam Cathcart, a long-time friend of the HKVCA in BC who passed away this spring. Thank you to Phil Mondor, son of HK veteran Cpl Paul Mondor, WG, for updating us with that report and pictures of our association wreath at the cenotaph. 

Across town, the beginning of a new tradition was taking place at the same resting place as our well-known HK veteran Captain John AG Reid, RCAMC. The “No Stone Left Alone” tribute honours all veterans buried there with a formal salute and the placement of a poppy.  Mr. Richard N. Liu, Honorary Brigade Division President of the St. John Ambulance, Burnaby Division writes: We are planning to do this NSLA ceremony annually at Forest Lawn as we recently buried our dear SJA Battle of Hong Kong veteran, Dr. Po Tin Chak there this past September. In some ways, it was fate that we now have the resting place of these two good doctors in our City of Burnaby, so that we may have the honour of remembering them every year moving forward. 

Mr. Richard Liu, Mr. Edmund Wu

Mr. Richard Liu, Mr. Edmund Wu

What an inspiring way to observe a moment of remembrance for our veterans. We thank Mr. Liu and HKVCA member Mr. Edmund Wu who will also be our future representative at St John Ambulance functions. 

I would be totally remiss if I did not express sincere  gratitude to those who are working so hard to restore some sort of normalcy to areas stricken by the dreaded atmospheric rivers of rain. With the constant threat of wildfires and living with smoke all summer long this November weather catastrophe was over the top.

To any of our members and all people affected by these recent climatic onslaughts, you are in our thoughts and we as a community will get beyond this. The biggest challenge on our road to recovery will be repairing the very bridges on that road.

I suspect that this Christmas will be very difficult indeed for some and not so normal for the rest of us.

Best wishes to all for this coming New Year

Prairie Prose

Greetings from the Prairie Region.  As I begin this report, Manitoba has had some relaxed regulations, however our numbers are increasing and there is talk of more restrictions coming into place. We had hoped to have an event to recognize the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong but restrictions have prevented that from happening at this time.

We are grateful to the Manitoba Legislature which allows us to have the Hong Kong Veterans flag fly in August and December at the Cenotaph on Memorial Blvd in Winnipeg.  It is a great tribute to ‘C’ Force and their service.

With the health situation in Winnipeg, there was no annual Remembrance Day at the Convention Centre.  However, several legions were holding services in their branches following health protocols. This is the first time that I can remember that I didn’t attend an in-person Remembrance Day service on November 11, but I will watch the Ottawa service on television. 

Indigenous Project Update – Pam Heinrichs

Work on the Indigenous Veterans of ‘C’ Force Project continues.   We were excited to have our project mentioned in a CBC news article. As a result of the article and posts on Facebook, I have been contacted by several families. Information is being compiled to post on our website. The application for funding for a researcher /genealogist is being finalized and will be submitted to the Metis Veterans Legacy Program.  We look forward to moving this project along!


Selkirk Street Banners

Selkirk Street Banners

From Selkirk MB – Dennis Stewart sent me some information on the banners that the Selkirk Legion arranged for on the street light poles.  What a wonderful way to honour our veterans!!

Remembrance Services

The Colour Party, Alex Taylor, Stan Lopata with Barry Mitchell, Marilyn Gelinas and I attended a filming of a service held at Mulvey School. The adults were at the school on Monday with limited children present in the service due to the restrictions.  The film is to be shown to the student body on Wednesday November 10, as there is no school on November 11.

Mulvey School

Mulvey School

From Wendy Jarvin in Erickson - I attended the service in Erickson Manitoba this morning at Legion Branch #143, I was presenting a wreath, representing the National Association of Federal Retirees. I am president of the Western Manitoba Branch which has 767 members in our large area.  We have approx. 40 members in the Erickson / Onanole area made up of retired RCMP, Veterans and Public Service employees. The service was originally planned to be held outside in front of their cenotaph. Thank goodness it was moved into their newly renovated Legion Hall as the snow was very deep!  It was quite the drive from Brandon, with the snow-packed highway and limited visibility. (My husband Ken drove.) There were approx. 40 people in attendance.

Legion Branch #143 Erickson

Wendy at Legion Branch #143 Erickson

From Judy Preston in Russell - We had a wonderful Remembrance Day Service this morning with very good attendance.  My grandchildren Logan and Lainey laid wreaths they made in memory of their great Grandfather, Riley Prieston, great uncle William Prieston, great, great uncle Edwin Eggie who were all Hong King Veterans; also their great uncle L. Cpl Felix Prieston killed on D-Day and their great-grandpa Rohleder who fought in WWII.

Judy Preston and Grandchildren at the Cenotaph in Russell

Judy Preston and Grandchildren at the Cenotaph in Russell, MB

From John Matthews in Birtle - Please see the pictures below of Grade 9 Birtle Collegiate student Evan Fulton laying a wreath in honour of his Great-Grandfather, Hong Kong Veteran, Cliff Matthews, on behalf of the Retired Teachers Association of Manitoba, in Birtle, MB on November 11, 2021.

Evan Fulton laying a wreath at Birtle cenotaph

Evan Fulton laying a wreath at Birtle cenotaph

There is also a picture of John Matthews (retired Winnipeg teacher and Cliff’s son) with his grandkids Evan and Mae Fulton of Birtle. 

John Matthews, Cliff Matthews' son and grandchildren

John Matthews, Cliff Matthews' son and grandchildren, Evan and Mae

St. Luke's Church - Sunday November 14, 2021 – A service was held on Remembrance Day Sunday at St. Luke's Church in Winnipeg. Padre Paul Lampman was the Officiate.  Thank you to Alex Taylor, Stan Lopata (the HKVCA Colour Party in Winnipeg) with Barry Mitchell and Carol Hadley laying a wreath on behalf of the Hong Kong Veterans. Also attending was Marilyn Gelinas and Allan Hadley.  Members of the congregation also laid wreaths in memory of the Church members and loved ones.

Saskatchewan - On November 11th in Regina, Saskatchewan, HKVCA members Marion and Dwaine Pho, daughter of Hong Kong veteran Bernard Jesse, Winnipeg Grenadier, were present at the outdoor service at the Regina Cenotaph in Victoria Park. Marion indicated it was their first snowfall and was very cold and windy.  This was the only service offered in Regina.

Service in Regina

Service in Regina


HKVCA members Norma and Glen Fuchs and family from Calgary attended the outdoor Remembrance Day service at the Military Museum on November 11th, along with Marilyn and Blake Pridgen and their family. The service was so well attended that parking and observing the service was very difficult.

Lunch followed at the Red Lobster restaurant with the two families, continuing with the tradition of having lunch there after the Remembrance Day service.

Lunch following service in Calgary

HKVCA members at the traditional luncheon, after Calgary’s November 11th Service. L to R: Marilyn Pridgen, her daughter Christine Plette, grandson Jake Plette, daughter Monica, husband Jaysen McMitchell and their son Ian McMitchell. Glen Fuchs & daughter Misty Fuchs, Norma Fuchs & daughter Mandy Fuchs

Lawn Signs

Lawn Sign

Lawn Sign

Prairie Region will offer lawn signs with Judy Preston in Russell coordinating the signs as we need to order 50 at a time. So the first to come forward will get the signs. We have some orders that we hope to fill in a few weeks. Judy can be reached by email - and the cost can be sent to her by e transfer or cheque as the postage and handling charge will need to be added. 

Thank you to Kathie Carlson HKVCA Area Rep for keeping in touch with the other Area reps in Prairie Region and to the Area reps for keeping in touch with the members.   

Ralph MacLean’s “Celebration of Life”, Calgary, AB. October 2/21

On October 2, 2021, a “Celebration of Life” honouring Hong Kong Veteran Ralph MacLean, (Royal Rifles), was held in Calgary at the First Church of the Nazarene, where Ralph and his family are parishioners.

The service was attended by about 100 people, and at least 250 people followed the service on live stream.

Family paid tributes with wonderful memories of Ralph’s life, with many stories of his contributions to his family, church, and community.  Memorabilia was also on display in the foyer.

A pictorial video of his life was also shared with everyone, which was very entertaining.

A reception followed with a great many sandwiches and sweets, which was meant to confirm Ralph’s love of food and desserts.

The family are to be commended on their efforts to remember Ralph and honour his life while abiding by Covid restrictions.


Thank you to all our members that remembered Remembrance Day in their own way and to those who sent in information on their event. 

At this special time of year with celebrations in faith and family gatherings, I hope that you will celebrate the Peace and Joy of living in this great country, Canada. Be thankful for the gifts of freedom that our veterans have fought for. Let the spirit of Christmas be your guide this Holiday season.

I hope that you, your family and friends stay safe and healthy.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

God Bless!!

Ontario Offerings

Remembrance Day Collins Bay, Ontario

A socially distanced in-person Remembrance Day service was held at the cenotaph in W. C. Warnica Memorial park in Collins Bay, Ontario near Royal Canadian Legion captain Matthew J Dawes Memorial Branch 631. Major Retired John H. Russell and Bernadine are on the right.

Attendees at Collins Bay ceremony

Attendees at Collins Bay ceremony

Remembrance Day at Remembrance Garden at 2315 River Rd, London, ON

Service in London

Several people stopped to read the plaque and pay their respects.

Deb Legg, daughter of RRC Lawrence Ross, spoke with each of them and supplied more details about the Battle of Hong Kong.


Remembrance Day in Niagara Falls, Ontario

Remembrance Day in Niagara Falls

Pam Newhouse, daughter of RRC Ken Pifher at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Fairview Cemetery

Remembrance Day in Cobourg

Despite an overcast and windy day, a crowd gathered at Victoria Park in Cobourg on Remembrance Day. Members of the Legion, The Colour Party and the Legion Pipes and Drum Band, assisted by the trumpeter and piper, took part in the traditional and moving ceremony marking the day.

In 1941, almost to the day, eighty years ago, thirty-seven young men from Port Hope and Coburg would have arrived in Hong Kong. A month later, they would have been fighting the Japanese and by Christmas Day, they would be prisoners of war.

Wreaths had been placed around the cenotaph, and Legion M.C. Jay Bevan announced those who were laying a wreath that day and included the names of those being honoured.  HKVCA contributed a wreath for the young men from Port Hope and Cobourg, sent from two small towns in Canada to represent their country. We shall remember them.

George MacDonell, remembering fallen comrades

George MacDonell, remembering fallen comrades

George MacDonell lays a wreath each Remembrance Day, to commemorate his comrades...28 poppies for each of the soldiers who fought with him in the battle at Stanley Village on Christmas Day.


Commemoration at Markham Cenotaph

On October 30, the Vision Youth group in Toronto held a commemoration ceremony at the Markham Cenotaph. About 60 people attended on a drizzly Saturday morning. Mike Babin related the story of the Battle of Hong Kong, and several wreaths were laid by elected officials and citizen groups. The event received considerable coverage in Toronto’s Chinese-language media. 

Vision Youth Group at Markham Cenotaph

Vision Youth Group at Markham Cenotaph

University of Toronto

On Remembrance Day, the Soldiers’ Tower Committee of the University of Toronto honoured all of the U of T graduates who were involved in the Pacific theatre in WWII. Two of them were part of 'C' Force: George MacDonell and Dr. John Reid. Mike Babin laid a wreath in honour of George MacDonell, and both George and Dr. Reid were featured prominently in the speeches. Due to COVID protocols, the ceremony was not open to the public, but was live streamed. 

Remembering U of T graduates who served in the Pacific theatre

Remembering U of T graduates who served in the Pacific theatre

Markham Cenotaph on Dec 4

Recognizing and Remembering with the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps. Mike Babin addressed gathered with synopsis of Battle of Hong Kong and ‘C’ Force

Remembrance Day in Niagara Falls

Left to right: Alfred Lai, Mike Babin, Sue Beard

Quebec Report

Greetings from Quebec Region,

Hope you are all well health wise and our prayers go out to all who are living through these severe weather conditions and loss of property presently going on in parts of our country.

At this time, things are still quiet in the region and hopefully things will get back to a more normal way early in the new year.  Many families, members and friends of our veterans attended abbreviated Commemorative Ceremonies on November 11th.

We Will Remember Them!

We take a moment to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year.  

Take care and stay safe.


It's time to nominate members to serve on our Board of Directors for 2022-24. All the details that you need can be found on our Elections web page.


Dues for 2022 - Be an Early Bird!

Our Online payment system is ready for your 2022 dues. Or, you can pay your 2022 dues by mail, or, if you’re an Ontario Region member, by Interac e-Transfer. Details, including mailing addresses.

Search Pros and a Con

Given the sheer volume of information available on ‘C’ Force it’s vital to use our Search tool when you’re looking for a tidbit. It will save you a lot of time and frustration!

Having said that, this tool has a problem that we’re trying to solve. In some cases, the results are incomplete. For instance, if you search for a ‘C’ Force member named “baty” you will only see results for Arthur, not his brother Stan. Strange! We are reaching out to the Google community to find a solution to this vexing issue.

Winter Special Sale at Our Store

Lapel Pin. $5.00

License Plate Holder (front plate) $5.00

Gravestone Marker $75.00

Winnipeg Grenadier Tie $20.00

DVD—Slaves of the Rising Sun. $10.00

Golf Shirt—Large or XL $20.00

Flag $100.00

Postage Stamps—sheet of 50 $65.00 


No Reason Why $20.00

From Jamaica to Japan $20.00

17 Days Until Christmas $20.00

Where Life & Death Hold Hands $20.00

One Soldier’s Story $20.00

To order, send a cheque to HKVCA, P.O. Box 381, Winnipeg MB R3C 2H6

Visit our Store online for more deals.

"The Ventriloquist

Dear HKVCA Friends: 

Many years ago, I was so deeply moved by the story of the Winnipeg Grenadiers and Royal Rifles of Canada in Hong Kong that I spent a great deal of time, money and stomach lining doing research and learning about their courageous and tragic history. My research included time crawling through former battle sights in Hong Kong, reading issues of the Japanese versions of the South China Morning Post, interviewing veterans and studying their stories as recorded by the Museum of Man and Nature in Winnipeg. 

I’m writing to let you know that my original publication of Hong Kong Poems (1987), long out of print, has now been included in a single volume with four other narratives called “The Ventriloquist”.  The Hong Kong story is in very good company, with “Letter of the Master of Horse,” a narrative about the Spanish Conquest, and “The Terracotta Army,” a sequence about the potter and the First Emperor of China. 

The original Hong Kong narrative was enthusiastically received by the veterans, their families, and the general public at the time. It went on to win two literary awards, the Writers’ Choice Award and the National Magazine Gold Award, and to be staged by Per Brask at the University of Winnipeg. Here’s what literary critic and reviewer Professor Michael Estok had to say about it in Fiddlehead Magazine:

Book cover

“Geddes's work . . . is a weighty, worthy and admirable undertaking and he deserves far more credit than he has yet been given for his distinguished achievements in this direction. . . . [In Hong Kong Poems] Geddes makes telling use of the ancient image of Orpheus, and his book of elegies puts him on the same level of poetic intensity (perhaps he far surpasses it) of Milton's 'Lycidas' or Tennyson's In Memoriam.”

Michael is far too generous, but his words do reflect the reception the book had and are a testament to its intensity and evocative power.

“The Ventriloquist” is available from Rock Mills Press (505 - 1499 Nottinghill Gate, Oakville, ON, L6M 5G1). You can order either the hardcover or paperback editions from Amazon, through your local bookstore, or directly from the publisher: (905) 616-7001. 

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