This Week in History
Canada and the Battle of Hong Kong
For the week of Monday November 10, 2008
On November 16, 1941, the Royal Rifles of Canada and the Winnipeg Grenadiers arrived in Hong Kong to reinforce the two British and two Indian infantry battalions of the Hong Kong garrison during the Second World War. Both battalions had minimal training and it was expected that they would see only garrison (non-combat) duty. The expectations were wrong and on December 8, the Japanese attacked.
The Battle of Hong Kong is the only battle in Canadian history where a force of this size suffered a 100 percent casualty rate, as every soldier was either captured or killed. The fighting ended with almost 300 Canadian soldiers dead, nearly 500 wounded, and all survivors taken to prisoner of war (POW) camps. Many were later transferred to labour camps to work in iron and coal mines. There the POWs faced deplorable conditions where they were subject to cruel treatment and near-starvation until the end of the war. The number of Canadians who perished in the camps is nearly equal to the number of Canadians who were killed in battle. Of the almost 2000 Canadian soldiers who sailed for Hong Kong, more than 550 never returned.
The Canadian Role in the Defence of Hong Kong has been designated a National Historic Event for the contribution to the defence of Hong Kong against Japanese invaders during the Second World War.
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