Today - Dec. 8, 2021 - marks the 80th anniversary of Japan’s attack on Hong Kong (then a British Crown Colony).
Canadian and other British Commonwealth forces fought to defend Hong Kong against overwhelming enemy numbers. The Allies were forced to surrender Hong Kong Dec. 25, 1941.Eighty years ago this month, our soldiers demonstrated great courage and perseverance in an attempt to protect the people of Asia and the Pacific...we pay our respects to these Canadians for the ultimate sacrifice which they made in this extraordinary fight for our freedom and the freedom of our allies,” said Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence and Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs in a joint statement issued Wednesday.
290 Canadian soldiers were killed in the battle for Hong Kong, and another 493 were wounded. The remaining soldiers were captured and spent more than three years in brutal prisoner of war camps.
More than 260 of them did not survive the horrific conditions of those camps.
“Those who did return home were forever changed...in all, more than 550 of the 1,975 Canadians who sailed from Vancouver in October 1941 never returned home,” the federal government release said.
“We owe them and their families our deepest respect and recognition,” Minister Anand said.
“Eighty years later, we honour the Canadians who stood fast at Hong Kong. Their bravery and sacrifice in the face of a brutal, determined enemy is something that we have a responsibility to remember, and today, we pay tribute to those hundreds of Canadians who were killed or wounded in combat, and those who endured – and those who never returned from – those prisoner of war camps,” Minister MacAulay said.
The attack on Hong Kong came one day after the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese strike on the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbour, and was part of a massive invasion of several East Asia-Pacific territories then governed by Western Powers.
The invasion of those territories ushered in the long, bloody East Asia-Pacific sphere of the Second World War.
It ended with the surrender of Japan in August 1945 - Japan, by that time, itself facing invasion after the Allies pushed back and after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the U.S.