Today, December 2, I stood in Sai Wan War Cemetery in Hong Kong and marvelled at the fact that almost 77 years ago the men who are buried here were alive and living their lives as you and I do today. It’s a bright, sunny day here, probably something like what the Canadians so long ago experienced during their short stay in Hong Kong before the Japanese attack. For those who survived, there were certainly dark days ahead. We owe a great debt to all members of 'C' Force, and I was proud to lay a wreath on their behalf at Sai Wan today.
HKVCA President Mike Babin lays a wreath on behalf of the HKVCA at Sai Wan War Cemetery
There was an excellent turnout of members of the public paying their respects, who witnessed not only the ceremony but also a fine display of photographs taken before, during and after the conflict.
The annual commemorative ceremony at the Hong Kong Veterans Memorial Wall took place in Ottawa on December 8 A good crowd of HKVCA members and friends gathered for a very respectful event. Ted Terry (son of Capt. Edward Terry, RCAPC, deceased) gave an excellent speech, which brought a tear to more than one pair of eyes. Luncheon followed at the Lord Elgin Hotel, which itself was followed by the HKVCA’s Annual General Meeting.
Ted Terry delivering a heartfelt speech at the Memorial Wall
Four members of the Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) Association of Ontario drove from Toronto to attend the commemorative ceremony and to honour the members of 'C' Force. Also present were representatives of our government, the Legion and other veterans’ organizations. And a number of wreaths were laid by family members in honour of their loved ones.
Members of the Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) Association
The day was very cold, and fortunately there was no snow. However, Mitzi Ross, the tireless organizer of this event for many years, is giving serious consideration to moving it in future to the Saturday nearest August 15, to commemorate the end of the war for ‘C’ Force, and to perhaps make it possible for more of our members and the public to attend.
Our association’s main mission is communication and education, and one of the ways we do that is through our quarterly newsletter. As I reported in an earlier message, we’ve become alarmed at the cost of printing and mailing paper copies of the newsletter to our members. If you receive a paper copy, about $16 of your $20 annual dues goes towards paying for printing and mailing! On the other hand, if you receive your newsletters via email, the cost to us is negligible … and this leaves most of your $20 in dues for us to use in funding other educational activities. Your Board of Directors recently debated imposing a fee for paper copies. After careful consideration, we decided not to do so at this time. Instead, we are asking each of you who receives a paper copy to consider switching to the emailed version. You can do so simply by contacting your region’s membership rep, or failing that, by emailing me at email@example.com . Please help by switching!
Another form of communication, our plaque program, continues to expand across Canada. Legions are very enthusiastic about installing these plaques in their branches, and I encourage you to approach your local Legion’s executive to ask them to participate. There is no cost to the Legion (or to you) for the plaque. Your Regional Director can provide you with more information.
Our Annual General Meeting was on December 8 in Ottawa. Those of you who could not attend can read all the AGM materials here. I’d like to thank the members who allowed their names to stand for election to the Board of Directors, including:
All were acclaimed. A big “thank you” to Emmie Flanagan for her service on the Board over the last several years, and welcome to Mark Purcell who will be serving on the Board for the first time!
The Board is required to elect the Association’s officers from among the Board members, and I am pleased to report that the following are the officers for the upcoming year:
By the time you receive this the holiday season will be upon us. I wish you and your families all the best at Christmas, and for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2019!
As always, I welcome your comments, suggestions and critiques at firstname.lastname@example.org .
We will remember them
Joyce Rollick, widow of Peter Rollick, Winnipeg Grenadiers, on November 14, 2018 (obituary)
Mae Bolger, daughter of John Doiron, RRC, on November 16, 2018
Lillian Dorothy ‘Mary’ McAuley (Nee McAlpine), widow of William A. (Archie) McAuley, WG, on October 17, 2018
Helen B. Hunt, widow of Sydney Skelton, RRC, on Sept 4, 2018
Greetings from New Richmond.
I’ll wish everyone a Merry Christmas, but for me, Christmas is never merry, given the fact that on this day in 1941, we lost the battle of Hong Kong and began the battle for survival, which, sadly, so many of our comrades also lost. On Christmas Day, 2010, my wife, Edwina died. Please excuse the morbid thoughts. This time I chose to write something about fellow-POWs, brothers Joe and Jim Furey.
Joe and Jim Furey were sons of Irish immigrants who lived in Portage-la-Prairie, Manitoba. In ShamShuiPo they both served as hospital orderlies until they were shipped to Japan to work in a coal mine.
I became close friends with both of them and was intrigued and amused by their wit and good humour. They would sing songs learned in childhood and two other notable ones.
One of the songs was “De ye ken John Peel”, a song about an English-Scottish fox hunter by the name of John Peel. If you look it up on Google you can find a youtube with the words and music. The Fureys had another version of the song that was hilarious. I could print it here if it was more fit for family listening.
Another song, “An Old Maid in the Garrett”, also to be found on Google was even funnier. It is about a woman who is afraid that she will never get a husband. It is typical Irish humour.
Jim and Joe were both sent to Japan. Tragically, Joe was killed when the roof collapsed under the weight of snow. Jim survived and returned to Canada where he operated a Service Station on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg. I visited him there in 1963. He died shortly after that.
I also have to mention my gratitude for the efforts of our Lady members who work untiringly to keep the memory of the Hong Kong battle alive. I promise to write more about them in the next issue of Wasureru-nai.
I was delighted by the reaction of the students in NRHS on Nov 2nd . They were most respectful and keenly interested in what I had to say.
I met two groups, first the elementary classes and then the high school students. Some were quick to say that their grandfather was a POW in Hong Kong, others wanted to know what I had to eat and if I still liked rice.
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting them. It is good to know that there is an interest in war veterans and the apparent eagerness to learn and remember.
Speaking to Grades 3 to 6 at NRHS (submitted via Facebook by Darlene Dimock) “To commemorate Remembrance Day, our school received WW2 veteran and Prisoner of war Philip Doddridge who shared his experiences with the help of Tom Eden. It was an honour to have Mr Doddridge visit.”
(Read more of this visit in Tom Eden's submission below and read Phil's memoirs on our website)
We have another feature-packed issue for your reading (and sharing) enjoyment.
Our feature article is a speech given by Vaughan Mitchell in October in Winnipeg. Worth a careful read, given the times in which we live. Hong Kong veteran, Gerry Gerrard continues his reminisces as he recounts more of his experiences as a POW.
Installation and dedication of our Commemorative Plaques continue with several more sites now displaying them, along with a few more in the planning stages.
HMCS CALGARY: Ship’s company wreath-laying at Yokohama Cemetery on Remembrance Day in memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. (Photo from HMCS Calgary posting. More photos on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Hkvca
Hong Kong Veteran, Gerry Gerrard paid tribute at the Victoria Cenotaph on Dec 8. Joining him were (L to R): Jim Trick, Gerry Tuppert, Linda Quesnel, Vera and Mike Philip, (name not known) (Photo by Anne Trick)
And, as always, many thanks to our crew of eagle-eyed proofreaders: Kathie and Anne.
Good afternoon everyone. My name is William Vaughan Mitchell and I am extremely honoured to be speaking with you today.
When I was asked to share some remarks today, I wasn’t provided a specific theme or topic to be covered, so I have cobbled together some thoughts and feelings that have been bouncing around in my head for some time.
If my name sounds somewhat familiar, you will likely know that my father is Barry Mitchell, and that I share the same name with my paternal grandfather, Lt. William Vaughan Mitchell of the Winnipeg Grenadiers. My grandfather and his brother, Lt. Eric Mitchell, left their humble lives in Winnipeg, MB to enlist in the military and fight for King and country. They did not return home.
The story I understand is that they were captured, became prisoners of war, and were taken along with a group of others to an abandoned building. Shortly after being herded into this garage-like structure, bombs began to fall, possibly from Allied sources. During this attack my great uncle Eric was severely wounded along with others. As Eric laid there wounded, the Japanese were ordering the evacuation of the facility of all prisoners of war, which included my grandfather. With his brother wounded, Lt. William Vaughan Mitchell, did the unthinkable--he refused to leave his brother. Neither my grandfather nor my great uncle was ever seen again.
I am not sure how complete that history is, but that is what I know. Lt. William Vaughan Mitchell’s wife back in Canada (Doris) and young son (Barry), were never to see him again. Sometimes it is difficult to remember and recount painful moments in history, especially when they have a profound personal and familial impact. It is much easier to forget or create an alternate history.
But I don’t think anyone that is here today buys into that. We choose to remember not because it is easy, but because it is necessary. It is necessary because the valour in victory and pain in the loss of those who did not return must act as a beacon of light to ensure the darkness of war never again descends upon us.
For this to occur, the history we share must be told, widely, loudly, and accurately. Together as the family and loved ones of the Hong Kong veterans, we are the gatekeepers for a small but important piece of history -- the siege of Hong Kong by the Japanese Imperial Army and what the experience was for the Winnipeg Grenadiers and others during that event and aftermath.
Fast forward to today, where find ourselves in a time where the idea of accurate storytelling is under attack. This is equally true for history as it is for current events. We now see on a daily basis that the lens through which current events are being viewed is being bent and twisted so as to distort our understanding of what is happening around us.
This sad reality is having a profoundly negative impact on the way of life that our fathers and grandfathers fight to defend and preserve. This “fake news” era has seemingly flipped the script of who the heroes are, and who are the villains.
Let me be clear, Japan is no longer our enemy. It is a nation that is a vibrant and contributing member to an international order based on the values of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. The enemy we were fighting against in WWII wasn’t as much the Japanese people as much as it was totalitarianism, aggression, racism, misogyny, militarism, and other weapons of intolerance.
Even the most novice of historians can tell you there was no single ideology that brought the axis powers together. Their common thread was the evils which I previously mentioned.
Increasingly, symptoms of these diseases are beginning to resurface. The re-emergence of these social cancers, in my opinion, threatens the legacy that Grenadiers, and all those who fought against these toxic, ideologies, achieved while sacrificing their youth, and for some, their lives.
With each passing year, the privilege and responsibility of carrying on with HKVCA is falling to the children and grandchildren of those who sacrificed. Over the past many decades we have worked to solemnly remember the commitment and sacrifice displayed during the siege and the subsequent internment of the survivors. As we continue to move forward in time, and as time moves further away from the events which occurred in Hong Kong (as well as elsewhere during WWII), it is seemingly becoming more difficult to articulate the lessons of history in a manner that makes it relevant to many key facets of today’s society.
Recently in England, students at a prestigious university voted down a motion to promote Remembrance Day Sunday amidst concerns about the ‘glorification’ of conflict. The motion had called for the university, its colleges and faculties to be more proactive in promoting the cause of remembrance. So, some of the smartest youth in the world have chosen to adopt a position that re-interprets what remembrance has represented for several generations.
It may not be immediately clear as to WHY this is happening, but – to me at least – it IS clear as to what we can and should do about it. Great work has been done to date on capturing the actual facts and stories around the sacrifices made during the siege of Hong Kong. When the forces of history are under attack from those who wish to distort and bastardize it – it is the responsibility of those who hold the truth to make sure it is heard.
I know there are many in this room who will hear my words and say “of course we are doing all we can to share this important history”. I know you are. Thank you for doing so. I can appreciate how difficult it is (sometimes) to get today’s society to listen, especially about something that happened long before many of them were even born.
But, I would suggest to you my friends that we have never been in such precarious times when it comes to sharing history and making it relevant for people and communities. Sadly, I see this willful blindness all around me. We reject history. We reject science. We reject responsibility. We reject accountability. We reject remembrance.
I say “no more”.
The story we can tell as those who DO understand the commitment, sacrifice, and valour that came with leaving regular homes and regular jobs to fight for King and Country, to fight against oppression, hatred, racism, aggression, and intolerance, we have a responsibility – a renewed responsibility perhaps – to continue to do this work.
If there was ever a time to not doubt the importance of the work you do to share and spread the history of the Winnipeg Grenadiers, it is now. More of us need to do more than remember. We need to become storytellers. Tell our children, their classmates, our neighbours, and extended family members about what happened in Hong Kong, why we were there, what we fought for, and why it remains incredibly important today.
Thank you for listening. Thank you for remembering. Thank you for sharing your histories and your stories. And don’t keep them to yourself. My name is William Vaughan Mitchell and I am a proud descendant of a regular man who sacrificed everything so others could enjoy the freedom he was never to see again.
A major continuing activity of HKVCA is the dedication of plaques in various locations across Canada. Not sure what the plaque is? Check out the Plaque page on our website for all the details including how to get involved in the project.
Please Note: only a sampling of photos from the various presentations are included here. All photos are available online in our Photo Gallery.Would you want to have one in your community public library? Sports centre or arena? Royal Canadian Legion branch? School? Hospital? Retirement community? Really- anywhere we can educate Canadians and further our Mission of educating Canadians. Connect with your region. Contact your regional director to find out more information on how you can have an HKVCA Commemorative Plaque in your community.
We’ve highlighted some recent installations in the following articles.
(L to R): Cynthia Melanson, HKVCA Area rep; MLA Grant Hunter for Cardston, Taber, Warner; Legion President Don Melanson; Sergeant at Arms David Smith
Cynthia and her two daughters, Elisha Melanson, and Terra Moreland. All are HKVCA members.
We had 35 people attend from Estevan, Regina, and Bienfait. This plaque unveiling was so special in that the two families of Hong Kong Veterans Bernard Jesse and Howard Bembridge were so well represented as reflected in the pictures. Community friends of the families and Legion members came out on a rainy cool day to support the families.
Bembridge family on left and Jesse family on the right
We were given such a warm welcome by Legion President Lyle Dukart, and his wife Sharren.
The Mayor, Roy Ludwig welcomed everyone to Estevan, as well as Member of Parliament Dr. Robert Kitchen, MLA Lori Carr, and Captain Craig Bird, a Legion Historian.
The plaque is now hung in a very honourable spot in the memorabilia room in the Legion.
Estevan area MLA Lori Carr on left and MP Dr. Robert Kitchen on right. - both spoke at the Estevan plaque unveiling
We had about 36 people attend, with 13 HKVCA members, including Hong Kong Veteran Ralph Maclean, and David Vidalin, Landing party, as well as a Korean Veteran Harold Jamison.
The Legion asked if they could provide the Colour Party, consisting of the Sgt. At Arms, and four flag-bearing members march in which was tremendous. They were marched in by Piper Jim Perry. They also had the Last Post with Legion Trumpet player Todd Gow. We were so honoured that the Legion wanted to offer us this special service.
We had three dignitaries present to offer a welcome/ greeting – MLA Aman Kazim, retired Member of Parliament Art Hanger, and James Boudreau, Veterans Affairs Calgary. We were also amazed by David Vidalin, who told his story about being a member of the Landing party who rescued the POW’s to bring them home.
Blake and Marilyn Pridgen unveiling the HKVCA Plaque
Arlene and Greg Auld. Greg is the son of Veteran George Auld
David Vidalin, a member of the landing party, and Hong Kong Veteran Ralph Maclean
We were invited by the High River Legion #71, to be a guest at their Annual General Meeting, held October 22nd, to do a presentation along with the HKVCA plaque unveiling. This meeting was also the launch of their “Poppy Campaign, 2018”.
What made it very special was the fact that not only were our loyal HKVCA members, Norma and Glen Fuchs, Calgary; Dawn and Stan Parker; Okotoks, and Greg and Darlene Auld, High River there, but Greg’s mother Marg, widow of Hong Kong Veteran George Auld, was visiting from Winnipeg. Marg was a recipient of the Silver Cross, and wore it proudly. Glen honored his mother by talking about how her life was during and after WW II. We followed the meeting with a lunch for the ten of us at the Legion restaurant.
President Bob Collins on right and High River Legion Executive with plaque, also holding Veteran George Auld’s medals
We unveiled and displayed the plaque at our Remembrance Day service on November 11th. There were over 150 people attending our service that day. The plaque has been prominently placed at the main entrance hallway of the Branch so all who enter the building will see it.
Thank you to HKCVA for supplying this plaque honouring those who served in Hong Kong and Japan during World War II.
Pictured left to right is Howard Raper and Ken Scruton, Branch Vice President
On November 8th a plaque ceremony was hosted at the Royal Canadian Legion 001 Branch in Regina. Following the piping in and laying of a wreath, Howard Jesse (son of Bernard Jesse Winnipeg Grenadier) emceed the event.
Greetings by Ken Eskdale (Branch President) were followed by greetings from Dallas Devine (Veterans Affairs Canada). The history of the defence Hong Kong was narrated by John Jesse (Bernard’s grandson) which included his personal story of his father/son visit to Hong Kong in 2015 to participate in the 75 anniversary of the defence of Hong Kong.
The program was followed by a reception. The plaque is now proudly on display in a very strategic location of the museum. A very big thank you to Ron Hitchcock and local 001 branch for hosting and helping make the event a great success
John and Christeen Jesse (grandchildren of Bernard Jesse) unveiling the plaque
We held the unveiling of the plaque at the Matthew J Dawe Legion in Kingston ON on Saturday December 8. We were very touched by the reception of the Legion members. The plaque has been placed in the main entrance of the Legion where it will be visible by all coming into the hall.
Tom Briggs -Vice president of the Legion, Mary Conway, Kathleen Mills Sevigny and Mary Royer (daughters of POW’s)
After a month of making welding rods I was ordered back to work. I did not mind this as I got better exercise for my knee although the march to work was rough for a while.
While I was working in the camp, Ernie Thomas (WG) who worked with me had made a connection with a Jap in the yard to sell him cigarettes. One day Ernie could not go to work and was afraid of losing his contact so I took on the job. I got ten packs of twenty and sure enough arriving in camp we were searched and I passed much to Ernie's relief. After that we shared the job.
When we marched to work the Sergeants walked on the outside. When we lined they stood in front and were never searched. One of them offered to take them in but wanted four packs for the ten. Ernie took the offer but me being too soft-hearted turned it down. I only made a profit of three cigarettes a day.
Soon after lunch a few of the guys came to warn me that the guards had taken Ernie off the job, so I left the cigarettes where they were hidden. When we arrived we were thoroughly searched and there was poor Ernie standing out there. He had been beaten and cold water dumped over his head, which continued for the rest of the night. The Sgt. just left the cigarettes in his pack in the lunchroom and the guards did a search. Instead of taking the blame he told them he got them from Ernie.
We saved Ernie's food and the next morning got him warmed up, took him to work, and covered for him so he could get some rest. That ended the cigarette business but it was only about a month. Then due to the bombing, we were split up and moved to different camps.
Nippon kokan was a big shipbuilding yard; we were building 15,000-ton freighters and could build four at a time. It also had three sets of two cranes about one hundred feet high and could swing heavy loads across all four slipways. At one end were docks for finishing the ships and it had several smaller cranes that travelled on tracks.
Of course, working conditions were not good. We had no gloves even in the winter. I would wrap my hands with rags plus when there was snow on the ground we were marched to work one route and back another to break a trail. The growling of an empty stomach and the pains of beriberi plus other problems did not help.
(Read more about Gerry on our website)
This past November 2nd, Hong Kong Veteran Phil Doddridge attended New Richmond High School to meet with the students and talk about his war experiences. As someone who spent his post war years in the field of education, meeting with young people is something that is second nature to him.
The first group that met with Mr. Doddridge was made up of 3rd to 6th graders. It should be noted that as the New Richmond area sent 52 of its sons to Hong Kong, many of the children present were descendants of HK Veterans and were already somewhat familiar with concepts such as remembrance, service, and sacrifice. There were also many in the group who were familiar with Mr. Doddridge, having met him at previous Remembrance events.
JoAnne Huntington Barter, President of the local Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion was also on hand, and presented prizes to winners of a Remembrance poster contest.
Philip Doddridge with New Richmond Royal Canadian Legion Remembrance poster winners
Following the talk with students from the 3rd to 6th grades, Mr. Doddridge met with high school level students. Again, this class included many Hong Kong Veterans’ descendants. The group hung on every word spoken by Mr. Doddridge, who was impressed by the level of knowledge of the group on the subject of the Battle of Hong Kong.
If the young people that took part in these two sessions are any indication, New Richmond area Hong Kong Veterans will long be remembered.
Here in Victoria, on a Remembrance Day under sunny skies, HK veteran Gerry Gerrard, RCCS, was up front and center to represent all WW2 Veterans and placed a wreath for his Legion#127 at the Victoria cenotaph. A precious minute later he accompanied past BC Director Linda Stewart and myself to the cenotaph where he handed me the HKVCA wreath to place. It is certainly a privilege to be so close and intimately involved in such a time honoured tradition especially with our only BC, HK veteran.
On Dec 8th at 11:00am, Mr Gerrard again performed this solemn ritual, a task he’s performed almost every year since his return from the war.
Hong Kong Veteran, Gerry Gerrard with his family on November 11
At Victory Square in Vancouver Phil Mondor son of HK veteran Pte PE Mondor, WG, laid the HKVCA wreath, this being the 8th time he has done so. He was wreath layer #7 out of 80, a position in the line up that honours the memory of our HK veterans. We thank Phil and the Chief of Protocol for Vancouver ceremonies, Mr Cameron Cathcart for their dedication and thoughtfulness.
In Clearwater, our HKVCA Treasurer, Mr Murray Doull son of Cpl LT Doull, RRC, was part of the colour party so his wife Lucy placed the wreath for the second year in a row. For a small town there was a huge turnout as this was the first Remembrance Day ceremony for their newly completed cenotaph. Well done a sign of good things to come for this proud community and their Legion #259.
In Penticton, Mona Thornton, daughter of Rfn JC Frenette, RRC, has been busy setting up her memorabilia for a HKVCA plaque dedication at their local museum. The plaque unveiling will take place on December 12th. Mona has been working on this for a while now so were pleased to see it come to fruition for her.
In Kelowna, Mr.Len Cotton elder son of Rfn JL Cotton, RRC, laid the wreath on behalf of the HKVCA. A complete account of his experience and some reminisces is posted on our FB tribute site. Len has also been working hard on a plaque dedication to take place at the Kelowna, West Bank Legion #288 on December 10th.
Plaque installations benefit our mission statement and they ensure the ’C’ Force story in the Far East remains a vivid and evocative recording of our Canadian military heritage.
During the week of Remembrance I spoke at a local historical society meeting. In the audience was Mrs Norma Claus, daughter of Pte Norman Matthews,WG. who died of complications due to Beri Beri in the infamous Oeyama POW camp. Norma and family, rest assured that as individuals and an organization we can all agree that time will not diminish this heartfelt sentiment:
We Will Remember Them
Wishing you all Joy, Peace, and a Prosperous New Year for 2019.
Greetings from the Prairie Region.
As the Christmas season approaches, we begin a busier schedule with shopping, baking and visiting family and friends. I hope everyone enjoys this special time. Our prayers go out to those who have had adverse conditions to deal with but hopefully that will improve.
George Peterson, the last Winnipeg Grenadier, is now living in Deer Lodge Centre. He has had a couple of interviews, one by the President of the Manitoba School Board and it was posted on their website for all teachers to read. Another interview was done by a communications student at Red River College.
The Winnipeg Grenadier Colours that are in St. Luke’s Anglican Church were sent to the Manitoba Museum for a conservation process and will be placed in a hermetically sealed case to help keep them from decaying.
HK widow, Ladena Hodgkinson Mabley, (widow of Gerry Mabley and Jack Hodgkinson, WG, HKV) lay the HK wreath at the 73rd Annual Reunion with the assistance of Patricia Bale, her daughter
On October 21, at the 73rd Annual Reunion, there were 65 people who attended the service at Neil Bardal Centre. Pam Shaw from Veterans Affairs Canada spoke to the gathering and unveiled the plaque. Vaughan Mitchell (grandson to Lt W. Vaughan Mitchell, KIA and nephew to Lt Eric Mitchell, KIA in the Battle of Hong Kong), Acting Chief of Protocol for the Government of Manitoba, gave an inspiring address that is shared in this newsletter. We were pleased to have a HK widow, Ladena Hodgkinson Mabley, (widow of Gerry Mabley and Jack Hodgkinson, WG, HKV) lay the HK wreath with the assistance of Patricia Bale, her daughter. Marleen Bell, widow of Dennis Bell and daughter in law of William Bell, WG, HKV read the Honour Roll for the HKVCA. We were sorry to miss the 100th birthday party of Helen Trick (widow of Charles Trick, WG) in Stonewall on this same day. We heard it was a wonderful celebration for this special lady.
Barry, Vaughan, A.J., Benjamin Mitchell
In October 26, 2018 Alex Taylor and Stan Lopata took our display and information to the SAGE conference for teachers sponsored by Manitoba Social Science Teachers Association where they interacted with 300+ teachers.
There are pictures and write ups on these presentations in other areas of the newsletter. We appreciate the efforts of our members in helping with the arrangements to have the plaques placed in various parts of the Region so that it brings the memory of ‘C’ Force closer to the families and friends.
Swan River, Manitoba
Helen Prieston, (widow of Riley Prieston WG, HKV) arranged to have Tyson & Devin Graham, great-grandchildren of HK Veteran Norman Broome of Swan River, MB lay a wreath for all Hong Kong Veterans.
Winnipeg, MB - Remembrance Day 2018 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre had Wayne Stebbe (son of Larry Stebbe, WG, HKV) and Barry Mitchell laying the HKV wreath.
Barry Mitchell & Wayne Stebbe laying the wreath at the Winnipeg Convention Centre
Carol Hadley, (daughter of Borge Agerbak, WG, HKV) escorted by her husband Allan, laid a HK wreath in her community of Charleswood with government officials, 17 Wing military personnel, and over 800 people from this area.
Calgary, Alberta – Karen Boland reports:
This year our group attended the ceremonies at the Military Museums as well as the Jubilee Auditorium. Ralph MacLean and his family went to the Jubilee to lay the wreath, and Gary and I laid the wreath at the Military Museums. Afterwards, both parties met at Red Lobster for our traditional luncheon.
Speaking with the folks that attended the Jubilee’s ceremony, they noted that the attendance was a bit lower than what is typical for most years. Perhaps it was due to the damp weather.
The service at the Military Museums was well attended and at the beginning of the ceremony, service members carried an empty coffin with a Canadian flag draped around it as a tribute to those who still haven’t made it home. That tribute was quite touching to us.
Beaumont, Alberta – Mik Bergersen reports:
Despite a biting wind and cool temperatures, hundreds attended Beaumont’s outdoor Remembrance Day ceremony, where my granddaughter and I laid a wreath on behalf of HKVCA. There is no Legion in our town, which creates a challenging situation for organizers, but after the ceremony, the Community Centre was available for anyone seeking hot soup and miniature tourtieres.
Cardston, Alberta – Cynthia Melanson reports:
Cynthia Melanson, reading the history of the Battle of Hong Kong. Her daughter, Terra, read out the Legion Honour roll.
Lethbridge, Alberta – Kathie Carlson reports:
The November 11th Remembrance Day ceremony was held at the Exhibition Pavilion, on a very cold wintery day, with about 2500 people in attendance. Along with 24 organizations, I laid a wreath on behalf of HKVCA Veterans and their families. The magnitude of the number of people who attended was such a wonderful tribute to all who have served on behalf of Canada. It was encouraging to see so many children and young adults attending. Following the ceremony at the Exhibition Pavilion, there was an outdoor service at the Cenotaph in front of City Hall. No flyover by the Canadian forces this year, due to snow and visibility.
Prairie Region extend best wishes to all our members for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and celebration of your faith with family and friends.
Peace be with you all.
About 18 months ago several Hong Kong residents were involved in the finding, identification and return of a watch belonging to Rfm Ray Jackson (RRC) in Hong Kong. Rfm Jackson was killed in the battle, and it is believed that he died at or near where his watch was found. His watch was presented in the spring of 2017 in a ceremony at the Niagara Legion to his closest living relative, Steve Burgess. Steve was overwhelmed to receive it. You can read more of the story here.
I was in Hong Kong recently and was fortunate enough to meet with three of the five men involved with the watch, and to present them with a small token of appreciation from the HKVCA.
We’re fortunate that there are people in Hong Kong who are so interested in its military history. Without their dedication, so many of our questions about the battle, the internment and the Japanese occupation would remain unanswered.
From left to right, Mike Babin, Leigh Hardwick, Craig Mitchell and Philip Cracknell
This 20th year for the HKVCA Quebec Region is fast coming to a close. The year was busy with activities in the regions. With great sadness we lost Edward Campbelton RRC Veteran, We Will Remember Them! We have two (2) veterans remaining with us the Quebec Region, Phil Doddridge and Robert Barter both from the Gaspe Coast and 28 widows.
We still hold our regular meetings and the monthly BOD meetings. During the summer months, with the help of HKVCA family members the group walked many of our local cemeteries to gather as much information possible such as dates etc on our local deceased veterans. Weather permitting, in the spring, we will continue in other areas.
Last September the Bury, QC Royal Canadian Legion hosted a Dedication Ceremony honouring local HK Vets in the company of many local supporters, HK family members, local veterans, legion members and friends. After the usual presentations and opening ceremony I gave a brief history on the Battle of Hong Kong. The unveiling of the Plaque was done by husband and wife HKVCA and Legion members Larry Everett and Debbie Batley Everett both of whose fathers fought in the Battle of Hong Kong. Their daughter Jessica read the names of the 31 local members of the RRC in HK. Legion President closed by saying “We do this because they deserve it. Today is for them. We thank them for their sacrifice. We will remember them.” A light lunch followed with great conversation, many questions being asked and answered.
Many of our members took part in the Remembrance Ceremonies in their respective regions. All gatherings were very well attended.
We still have plans for more Plaque Dedication Ceremonies in the new year.
On the very cold Saturday of December 8, I represented Quebec Region at the well attended Remembrance Ceremony at the HKVCA Memorial Wall in Ottawa. After the usual ceremony and the laying of wreaths by dignitaries, Mike Babin our National HKVCA President, laid a wreath, followed by me in the name of all RRC Veterans and Quebec Members. Representatives of the Royal Canadian Legion, other Associations and many family members also paid their respects with their wreaths.
Following a luncheon at the Lord Elgin Hotel, members attended the Annual General Meeting. Copies of all reports were handed out to the attendees. Questions were asked and answered and Mike Babin reported on the priorities for 2019. JP Bear, screenwriter, gave a presentation on his work on SGT Gander, a Soldier’s Soldier.
We thank members for taking the time in sending in their votes for your 2019 BOD and region executives.
Thank you to the outgoing members for your dedicated work during this last term and congratulations to all for your positions for 2019.
That will be it at this time.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all Merry Christmas and Health for the New Year.
November turned out to be very busy as our websites hosted almost 4000 visitors, with over 4 out of 5 being new. November 11th was especially busy, as we saw almost 1200 visitors on Remembrance Day.
Our Facebook sites were busy as well, with a wealth of new information on events and on 'C' Force soldiers flowing in.
It’s up to you - online or Canada Post. Our online Services site is up and running, and ready to process your membership fee via PayPal or credit card.
As of August 2018, The Winnipeg Grenadiers Hong Kong Trust Fund has been fully disbursed in equal portions to three final applicants.
The fund is in process of a formal wind up. Accordingly, it is no longer accepting donations.
The Trust Fund was seeded with a donation of monies raised by the Women's Auxiliary for the benefit of The Winnipeg Grenadiers Hong Kong Veterans. The first meeting of The Winnipeg Grenadiers Hong Kong Trust Fund was held on January 25, 1974. In attendance were Mrs. J. Norris of the Women's Auxiliary (elected Chairperson), Mr. L. Stebbe (elected Secretary) and Mr. N. Bardal (elected Treasurer). The Committee, comprised of these members, voted to amend the mandate of the fund and directed that the Trust Fund be used to assist direct descendants of The Winnipeg Grenadiers Hong Kong Veterans with post-secondary education costs.
With immense gratitude for the generosity of numerous donors over the years, the Fund has honoured its mandate and has been able for more than 40 years, to provide post-secondary education financial assistance to the children and grandchildren of these Veterans.
Colleen Stebbe and Donna Remillard,
Trustees for The Winnipeg Grenadiers Hong Kong Trust Fund
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