OTTAWA, Dec. 8, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement on the 74th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong:
"Nearing the end of 1941, Canadians were called to join our Allies in the defence of Hong Kong. Though vastly outnumbered, and facing grim odds, the bravery shown by Canadian soldiers under such dire circumstances represents the finest dedication to democracy and freedom. For that, we are eternally grateful and proud.
"Over 18 days, Allied forces stood against the invading Japanese. By the time the Allies were forced to surrender on Christmas Day, some 290 Canadians had died and nearly 500 more had been wounded defending the colony. Approximately 265 Canadian soldiers subsequently died under harsh conditions as prisoners of war.
"The Battle of Hong Kong would be the Canadian Army's harrowing introduction to major combat during the Second World War. Infantrymen from the Royal Rifles of Canada and the Winnipeg Grenadiers were selfless in their resolve, knowing that the pursuit of peace was inevitably met with deep sacrifice.
"And peace would ultimately triumph over the tragedies of this first engagement, with the end of the Second World War in the Far East almost four years later. In a heartfelt gesture, the Japanese government issued a formal apology in 2011 to Canadian Veterans of the Battle of Hong Kong for the mistreatment of Canadian prisoners during the war.
"On this solemn anniversary, we remember those Canadians who would never return home, and we honour all the courageous Canadians who understood that their actions were for the sake of future generations."
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468