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Harper Government Marks the 71st Anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong

OTTAWA, Dec. 8, 2012 /CNW/ - On behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Senator Vernon White laid a wreath today at the "C" Force Memorial Wall during a commemorative ceremony to mark the 71st anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong.

"Canadians who fought in Hong Kong demonstrated great courage and determination in the defence of peace and freedom," said Minister Blaney. "Those who fought in Hong Kong suffered greatly. I encourage all Canadians to recognize and honour the incredible efforts and sacrifices they made so that we may live in a safer world."

"I was honoured to join Veterans and their families to remember the courage and sacrifices of those who fought in Hong Kong," said Senator White. "We remember these Canadians who represented our nation with pride and determination."

Canadians arrived in Hong Kong on November 16, 1941 to help defend it from Japanese invasion. Japan attacked Hong Kong on December 8, 1941. On December 25, 1941, greatly outnumbered and exhausted from continuous battle, the Allies were forced to surrender. Approximately 1,975 Canadians, from units that included the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada, participated in this 18-day Second World War battle.

Of the Canadians who participated in the Battle of Hong Kong, approximately 290 were killed in the fighting and almost 500 more were wounded. The survivors were taken prisoner and spent the rest of the war in brutal conditions that saw more than 260 additional Canadians die 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 many of the surviving Canadian prisoners of war finally returned home.

Last year, Canadian Veterans of the Battle of Hong Kong received the Japanese government's apology for the mistreatment of Canadian prisoners during the war. A delegation of Canadian Hong Kong Veterans was accompanied by Minister Blaney to Japan for this special announcement.

For more information on Canada's contribution in Hong Kong, visit veterans.gc.ca.

SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada

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