OTTAWA, Dec. 7, 2013 /CNW/ - On behalf of the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Pierre Lemieux, Member of Parliament for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, today joined Veterans and family members to pay tribute to the more than 1,900 brave Canadians who participated in the Battle of Hong Kong, during a commemorative ceremony at the "C" Force Memorial Wall in Ottawa.
"Those who fought in the Battle of Hong Kong were among the first Canadians to see action during the Second World War," stated Minister Fantino. "These men demonstrated great courage and determination in the face of almost unimaginable adversity and I encourage all Canadians to reflect on the efforts and sacrifices they made so that we may live in a safer world."
A total of 1,975 Canadians, from units that included the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada, participated in the Battle of Hong Kong. The fighting began on December 8, 1941, and lasted some 18 days before Allied forces were forced to surrender. Approximately 290 Canadians were killed in action and almost 500 more were wounded.
Those who survived were taken captive and spent the rest of the war in the brutal conditions of Japanese prisoner of war (POW) camps. More than 260 Canadians died in captivity. On August 15, 1945, the Second World War finally came to an end in the Far East, but it would be December of that year before some of the surviving prisoners of war finally returned home.
MP Lemieux—who observed Remembrance Day this year in Hong Kong and made a special visit to the Sai Wan cemetery to honour Canada's fallen heroes—said, "The Battle of Hong Kong is a significant moment in our military history. Many Canadians made the ultimate sacrifice during this campaign and their sacrifice will never be forgotten."
On December 8, 2011, the Government of Japan issued an apology to the former Canadian POWs for their suffering during the Second World War. A delegation of Canadian Hong Kong Veterans traveled to Japan for the special announcement.
For more information on the Battle of Hong Kong or on Veterans Affairs Canada's programs and services, visit veterans.gc.ca.
2013 is the Year of the Korean War Veteran—Canada proudly remembers the heroes of the Korean War and their brave fight to defend the Republic of Korea and uphold freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
SOURCE: Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information:
Media Relations Advisor
Veterans Affairs Canada
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs