OTTAWA, Dec. 21, 2012 /CNW/ - A Christmas card sent in 1943 by Prime
Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King to a Canadian prisoner of war is
on display this holiday season at the Canadian War Museum, a poignant
reminder of the service and sacrifice of Canada's veterans and a symbol
of a nation's gratitude and remembrance.
The recipient was Arthur Kenneth Pifher from Paris, Ontario, who was
captured at the battle of Hong Kong in 1941 and held for four years in
Japanese prison camps. The card bears King's signature and the words
"All Canada joins in Warmest Christmas Greetings and good wishes to
you." Mr. Pifher kept the card for 69 years before presenting it as a
memento to Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a Remembrance Day ceremony
both men attended in Hong Kong on November 11, 2012. The card was then
donated to the War Museum.
"This simple Christmas greeting recalls a nation at war, a young
soldier's suffering far from home, and the forms of personal and
national remembrance," said James Whitham, Director General of the
Canadian War Museum. "We are grateful that Mr. Ken Pifher preserved
this important artifact for so many years and we are pleased to add it
to our National Collection."
Ken Pifher was 19 years old when he enlisted in August 1940. The next
year, he was among the 1,975 Canadian troops sent to Hong Kong to
defend the British colony. A large and battle-hardened Japanese force
invaded on December 8, 1941, and the colony fell after 17 days of
intense fighting. Rifleman Ken Pifher of the Royal Canadian Rifles was
among those captured and sent to prison camps in Hong Kong and China.
By the war's end, nearly 300 of his Canadian comrades had died in
captivity from malnutrition, disease, overwork and brutality.
During the Second World War, Prime Minister King on behalf of all
Canadians sent Christmas greetings to prisoners of war. Rifleman Pifher
was one of the few Hong Kong prisoners to actually receive a card. It
became a treasured keepsake.
In November 2012, Mr. Pifher, 91, took the card to Hong Kong for a
Remembrance Day ceremony at the Sai Wan Cemetery, final resting place
for 283 Canadians who died during the battle for Hong Kong. Prime
Minister Harper spoke at the ceremony. Mr. Pifher then presented the
Prime Minister with the card along with this written message:
Sixty nine years ago, while a captive POW in Sham Shui Po prison camp, I
received this card for Christmas. Please accept this as a memento of
today's Remembrance Ceremony.
The card and Ken Pifher's message to the Prime Minister will be on
display at the War Museum until January 6, 2013.
The Canadian War Museum is Canada's national museum of military history.
Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada's military
history in its personal, national, and international dimensions.
Image with caption: "Christmas card sent in 1943 by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King to Canadian prisoner of war, Rifleman Arthur Kenneth Pifher. © Canadian War Museum, photo Bill Kent al2012184-001 and al2012184-002. (CNW Group/Canadian War Museum)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20121221_C3149_PHOTO_EN_22181.jpg
Image with caption: "Christmas card sent in 1943 by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King to Canadian prisoner of war, Rifleman Arthur Kenneth Pifher. © Canadian War Museum, photo Bill Kent al2012184-001 and al2012184-002. (CNW Group/Canadian War Museum)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20121221_C3149_PHOTO_EN_22183.jpg
SOURCE: Canadian War Museum
For further information:
Manager, Public Affairs
Canadian War Museum
Avra Gibbs Lamey
Communications and Media Relations Officer
Canadian War Museum
For more information visit www.warmuseum.ca. Follow us on twitter.com/CanWarMuseum