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"Canadians in Hong Kong" Topic


14 Posts

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648 hits since 10 Jan 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2019 12:24 p.m. PST

"In the Second World War, Canadian soldiers first engaged in battle while defending the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong against a Japanese attack in December 1941. The Canadians at Hong Kong fought against overwhelming odds and displayed the courage of seasoned veterans, though most had limited military training. They had virtually no chance of victory, but refused to surrender until they were overrun by the enemy. Those who survived the battle became prisoners of war (POWs) and many endured torture and starvation by their Japanese captors.

In October 1941, the Royal Rifles of Canada and the Winnipeg Grenadiers were ordered to prepare for service in the Pacific. From a national perspective, the choice of battalions was ideal. The Royal Rifles were a bilingual unit from the Quebec City area and, together with the Winnipeg Grenadiers, both battalions represented eastern and western regions of Canada. Command of the Canadian force was assigned to Brigadier J.K. Lawson. This was also a good choice because of Lawson's training and experience; he was a "Permanent Force" officer and had been serving as Director of Military Training in Ottawa. The Canadian contingent was comprised of 1,975 soldiers, which also included two medical officers, two Nursing Sisters, two officers of the Canadian Dental Corps with their assistants, three chaplains, two Auxiliary Service Officers, and a detachment of the Canadian Postal Corps. There was also one military stowaway who was sent back to Canada.

Prior to duty in Hong Kong, the Royal Rifles had served in Newfoundland and Saint John, New Brunswick, while the Winnipeg Grenadiers had been posted to Jamaica. In these locations, both battalions had received only minimal training. In late 1941, war with Japan was not considered imminent and it was expected that the Canadians would see only garrison (non-combat) duty. Instead, in December, the Japanese military launched a series of attacks on Pearl Harbor, Northern Malaya, the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island and Hong Kong. The Royal Rifles and the Winnipeg Grenadiers would find themselves engulfed in hand-to-hand combat against the Japanese 38th Division…."
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Amicalement
Armand

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2019 6:03 p.m. PST

When my mom was a student nurse in Winnipeg she took care of some of the vets from the Winnipeg Grenadiers – they had lots of tales of Japanese prison camps, none complementary

Maha Bandula10 Jan 2019 8:25 p.m. PST

Here are some figures produced by King & Country, that veritable Hong Kong manufacturer:

wrgmr110 Jan 2019 11:34 p.m. PST

Thanks for bringing this little known Canadian battle to TMP Armand! It's still a very Canadian thing!

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2019 12:06 p.m. PST

A votre service mon ami!. (smile)


Amicalement
Armand

uglyfatbloke22 Feb 2019 6:36 a.m. PST

Hong Kong is a great wargame arena – small forces/actions, plenty of info and lots of figure rangers.

Legion 422 Feb 2019 7:12 a.m. PST

Great looking models & paint jobs. But yes, like many of the UK Commonwealth Forces in places like Hong Kong fought very well but suffered greatly. Just as we saw with the US and PI forces as at e.g. Bataan, etc.

And AFAIK, no one that survived capture by IJFs had anything positive to say about them. Hence as Allied POWs were rescued, this as well as many other reasons may have contributed to the decision to drop the 2 A-Bombs on Japan.

Windy Miller22 Feb 2019 11:44 a.m. PST

Very nicely painted, but why are they all wearing 2Lt rank pips?

Gerard Leman22 Feb 2019 11:53 a.m. PST

And AFAIK, no one that survived capture by IJFs had anything positive to say about them. Hence as Allied POWs were rescued, this as well as many other reasons may have contributed to the decision to drop the 2 A-Bombs on Japan.

During the Russo-Japanese War, Russian POW's were not subject to any undue hardship, and the limited Japanese involvement in W.W.I did not seem to have included any particular atrocities. The Japanese Army went though a very odd transition in thinking in the 1920's and 30's. Examples of this transition include the mutiny by elements of the army in March and October, 1931 (which were not effectively punished), and the attempted coup d'etat on Feb. 26, 1936. I don't fully understand those incidents, but it appears the plotters were ultra-nationalists, and part of their world-view involved rejecting any moral standards in the waging of warfare, including rejecting the notion that POW's had any rights.

That said, I don't think the dropping of the A-Bombs on Japan in 1945 were directly related to Japanese treatment of Allied POW's so much as a political calculation that the Western Allies, having already gone through 5-6 years of war, would prefer not to suffer the casualties that an invasion and over-running of the Japanese home islands would entail.

Blutarski22 Feb 2019 6:03 p.m. PST

+1 Gerard Leman. The Japanese were correct to the highest western standards in their treatment of prisoners through the end of WW1.

Russian naval officers captured at Tsushima were permitted to keep their swords and were free (on their personal word of honor) to visit local towns.

It has been claimed that a number of Germans captured at the fall of Tsingtao chose to take up residence in Japan after WW1.

B

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2019 9:12 p.m. PST

Glad you like them my friend!.

Amicalement
Armand

Legion 423 Feb 2019 8:42 a.m. PST

Yes, generally before WWII the IJFs were very "honorable", etc., in treating EPWs. But then in WWII and even before in China, etc. They went a bit "crazy", etc., per se.


That said, I don't think the dropping of the A-Bombs on Japan in 1945 were directly related to Japanese treatment of Allied POW's so much as a political calculation that the Western Allies, having already gone through 5-6 years of war, would prefer not to suffer the casualties that an invasion and over-running of the Japanese home islands would entail.
Yes, I'm aware of all the other calculations in deciding to drop those A-bombs. With latter battles, e.g. on Okinawa, Iwo, etc., being big factors in telling the Allies that Japan would fight to the death. If their mainland islands were invaded.

And Allied losses along with for all those on the Japanese island would be horrendous. That would be one the overwhelming factors. But other factors played into that decision. E.g. an election was coming up in the USA, many in the military and some civilians still wanted payback/revenge. Not only for Pearl Harbor, or Hong Kong, Bataan, etc. But for serious losses the Allies incurred in fighting the IJFs through out the PTO and CBI. Never underestimate the will to seek revenge.

Had the IJF's treated their EPWs as they did before WWII. Treatment of civilians, not commit war crimes e.g. Nanking, etc. There may have maybe been more reluctance to drop the A-Bombs. But in the end the overwhelming factor was the losses that would happen to all involved with the invasion of Japan. More so for the Allies, but the Japanese may have been almost wiped out in the last battles for the PTO. However, there may have been many Allies who wouldn't have cared how many Japanese had to die to end the war.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2019 9:55 p.m. PST

Invasion of the homeland islands equal 1 million allied casualties. Was there any question about dropping some unknown but powerful ordinance on the country instead? The irony is that so many Japanese citizens survived the war because the atomic bombs ended the war ended the war Without an Allied invasion.

Legion 427 Feb 2019 7:16 a.m. PST

That I have to agree with … As far as was there a question about dropping the bombs on Japan. I was not in the room but I had read or heard of the thing that added to the other reasons. There was an election was coming up. Who would elect a POTUS that would let over a million US/allied casualties happen ? When there was a another way to end the war in Japan.

Plus as I said, don't disregard, the "negative" feeling many US/Allies had about Pearl, the treatment of Allied POWs, wanton killing of civilians, etc.

Again, I'm pretty sure many really didn't care about how many Japanese would have to die, etc., to end the war in the Pacific. It's basic, it's primal, etc., but it's generally human nature …

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