Narrator: This memorial bears the names of some two thousand Canadian volunteers who helped the British defend Hong Kong in WWII. Phil Doddridge: As I look at my comrades today, aged as I am, I recall the slender youths who sailed across the Pacific in 1941 to encounter a well-trained and battle-hardened foe. How innocent of combat we were, how naīve of the horrors of war… Narrator: Japan attacked on December 8, 1941. The Canadian soldiers fought a fierce battle but the Allies were overrun and surrendered on Christmas Day. Close to three hundred Canadians were killed. The rest became prisoners of war and suffered torture and slave labour by their Japanese captors for 44 months, until the war’s end. Two hundred and sixty-nine Canadians died in the camps from disease and malnutrition. Those who survived suffered lasting disabilities. For years, the Hong Kong Veterans, in an effort spearheaded by The War Amps, fought for compensation and an apology from Japan for the maltreatment and forced labour they endured. In 1998, Canada granted each veteran or their widow an ex gratia payment in recognition of the just basis of their claim. Seventy years after the battle, Japan delivered an apology to Canada’s Hong Kong Veterans for the gross violation of their human rights.
Fewer than 60 veterans remained to receive it, but for the greater majority of them – and for their families – it represented a measure of closure. The Hong Kong Veterans Memorial Wall fulfills the promise they made to their fallen comrades – that their sacrifice would never be forgotten. Phil Doddridge: May we all, from our place in the hereafter, be able to look down upon this marble monument and say my name is written there… I am remembered. .