Battle for Hong Kong over, Christmas Day 1941

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Admiral Beez

1st Lieutenant
Oct 21, 2019
Toronto, Canada
Interesting article, 'Lasting honour': Battle for Hong Kong ended on Christmas Day 1941 and Capt. John Reid was among the Canadians there | National Post

In my career I’ve had the opportunity to visit Hong Kong three times; 2001, 2006 and 2018. On my last trip I visited the Sai Wan War Cemetery. It’s a solemn, contemplative place for sure, with two British Major-Generals and Canadian Brigadier John Lawson, buried alongside 1,525 other Commonwealth soldiers.

In 2006, I toured the Lei Yue Mun Fort and I believe was the only visitor. I spent about five hours walking the entire site, envisioning the Canadian and CW troops defending these Victorian battlements against modern Japanese fire.

Here’s an account of a Canadian defender of the Lei Yue Mun Fort.

“Captain Howard Bush, Winnipeg Grenadiers, quoted in Brereton Greenhous’ “C” Force to Hong Kong: A Canadian Catastrophe (1997), published by Dundurn Press – “The position was being fired upon from all sides. It might be compared with the lower part of a bowl, the enemy looking down and occupying the rim. The main road running through the position was cluttered for hundreds of feet each way with abandoned trucks and cars. The Japanese were using mortars and hand grenades quite heavily.”

The description of the fort being a bowl fired upon from the surrounding hills matches what I thought at the time. This fort, originally fitted with wire guided Brennan torpedoes was ill suited for anything but coastal defence.

Almost 2,000 Canadians were sent to Hong Kong in Nov 1941, all of whom were killed or captured. Not as bad as the Dieppe Raid the following August where of the nearly 5,000-strong Canadian contingent, 68%, or 3,367 were killed, wounded or captured. But I imagine Hong Kong and Dieppe led to some consternation in both Ottawa and Canadian public opinion concerning sending the lads on Britain’s bidding, akin the Australia’s reaction to 8,700 dead at Gallipoli. At D-Day, the Canadians were more in control of their fate.

As I sit here in Covid confinement with my direct family, drinking wine and eating a feast I wanted to remember my fallen countrymen in Hong Kong who fell into enemy hands on Christmas Day 1941.
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