History

Wars & Campaigns

Boer War
First World War

►►Western Front

►►►Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

►►Allied Offensive: 1916

►►►Allied Offensives: 1917

►►►German Offensive: 1918

►►►Advance to Victory: 1918

►►Siberia
Second World War
►►War Against Japan

►►Italian Campaign

►►►Sicily

►►►Southern Italy

►►►The Sangro and Moro

►►►Battles of the FSSF

►►►Cassino

►►►Liri Valley

►►►Advance to Florence

►►►Gothic Line

►►►Winter Lines
►►North-West Europe

►►►Normandy
►►►Southern France
►►►Channel Ports

►►►Scheldt
►►►Nijmegen Salient

►►►Rhineland

►►►Final Phase
Korean War
Cold War
Gulf War

Operations 

GAUNTLET Aug 1941

(Spitsbergen)

HUSKY Jul 1943

 (Sicily)

COTTAGE Aug 1943

 (Kiska)

TIMBERWOLF Oct 1943

(Italy)

OVERLORD Jun 1944

(Normandy)

MARKET-GARDEN Sep 44

(Arnhem)

BERLIN Nov 1944

(Nijmegen)

VERITABLE Feb 1945

(Rhineland)

Battle Honours

Boer War

►Paardeberg

18 Feb 00

First World War
Western Front
Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

Ypres, 1915

22 Apr-25 May 15

Gravenstafel

22-23 Apr 15

St. Julien

24 Apr-4 May 15

Frezenberg

8-13 May 15

Bellewaarde

24-25 May 15

Festubert, 1915

15-25 May 15

Mount Sorrel

2-13 Jun 16

Allied Offensive: 1916

►Somme, 1916

1 Jul-18 Nov 16

►Albert

.1-13 Jul 16

►Bazentin

.14-17 Jul 16

►Pozieres

.23 Jul-3 Sep 16

►Guillemont

.3-6 Sep 16

►Ginchy

.9 Sep 16

Flers-Courcelette

15-22 Sep 16

Thiepval

26-29 Sep 16

►Le Transloy

. 1-18 Oct 16

Ancre Heights

1 Oct-11 Nov 16

Ancre, 1916

13-18 Nov 16

Allied Offensives: 1917

►Arras 1917

8 Apr-4 May 17

Vimy, 1917

.9-14 Apr 17

Arleux

28-29 Apr 17

►Scarpe, 1917

.3-4 May17

►Hill 70

.15-25 Aug 17

►Messines, 1917

.7-14 Jun 17

►Ypres, 1917

..31 Jul-10 Nov 17

►Pilckem

31 Jul-2 Aug 17

►Langemarck, 1917

.16-18 Aug 17

►Menin Road

.20-25 Sep 17

►Polygon Wood

26 Sep-3 Oct 17

►Broodseinde

.4 Oct 17

►Poelcapelle

.9 Oct 17

►Passchendaele

.12 Oct 17

►Cambrai, 1917

20 Nov-3 Dec 17

German Offensive: 1918

►Somme, 1918

.21 Mar-5 Apr 18

►St. Quentin

.21-23 Mar 18

►Bapaume, 1918

.24-25 Mar 18

►Rosieres

.26-27 Mar 18

►Avre

.4 Apr 18

►Lys

.9-29 Apr 18

►Estaires

.9-11 Apr 18

►Messines, 1918

.10-11 Apr 18

►Bailleul

.13-15 Apr 18

►Kemmel

.17-19 Apr 18

Advance to Victory: 1918

Amiens

8-11 Aug 18

►Arras, 1918

.26 Aug-3 Sep 18

►Scarpe, 1918

26-30 Aug 18.

►Drocourt-Queant

.2-3 Sep 18

►Hindenburg Line

.12 Sep-9 Oct 18

►Canal du Nord

.27 Sep-2 Oct 18

►St. Quentin Canal .29 Sep-2 Oct 18
►Epehy

3-5 Oct 18

►Cambrai, 1918

.8-9 Oct 18

►Valenciennes

.1-2 Nov 18

►Sambre

.4 Nov 18

►Pursuit to Mons .28 Sep-11Nov

Second World War

War Against Japan

South-East Asia

Hong Kong

 8-25 Dec 41

Italian Campaign

Battle of Sicily

Landing in Sicily 

   9-12 Jul 43

Grammichele 

15 Jul 43

Piazza Armerina

16-17 Jul 43

Valguarnera

17-19 Jul 43

Assoro 

  20-22 Jul 43

Leonforte

 21-22 Jul 43

Agira

24-28 Jul 43

Adrano 

29 Jul-7 Aug 43

Catenanuova

29-30 Jul 43

Regalbuto

29 Jul-3 Aug 43

Centuripe

  31 Jul-3 Aug 43

Troina Valley

 2-6 Aug 43

Pursuit to Messina

 2-17 Aug 43

 Southern Italy

Landing at Reggio

 3 Sep 43

Potenza 19-20 Sep 43
Motta Montecorvino 1-3 Oct 43
Termoli 3-6 Oct 43
Monte San Marco 6-7 Oct 43
Gambatesa 7-8 Oct 43
Campobasso 11-14 Oct 43
Baranello 17-18 Oct 43
Colle d'Anchise 22-24 Oct 43
Torella 24-27 Oct 43

The Sangro and Moro

The Sangro

19 Nov-3 Dec 43

Castel di Sangro

.23-24 Nov 43

The Moro

5-7 Dec 43

San Leonardo

8-9 Dec 43

The Gully

..10-19 Dec 43

Casa Berardi

 ..14-15 Dec 43

Ortona

20-28 Dec 43

San Nicola-San

.31 Dec 43

Tommaso

.
Point 59/ 29 Dec 43-

Torre Mucchia

4 Jan 44

Battles of the FSSF
Monte Camino

.5 Nov-9 Dec 43

Monte la Difensa-

2-8 Dec 43

 Monte la Remetanea

.
Hill 720

25 Dec 43

Monte Majo

3-8 Jan 44.

Radicosa

4 Jan 44

Monte Vischiataro

8 Jan 44

Anzio

22 Jan-22 May 44

Rome

.22 May-4 Jun 44

Advance

.22 May-22 Jun 44

to the Tiber

.
►Monte Arrestino

25 May 44

►Rocca Massima

27 May 44

►Colle Ferro

2 Jun 44

Cassino
►Cassino II

11-18 May 44

►Gustav Line

11-18 May 44

►Sant' Angelo in

13 May 44

Teodice

.
►Pignataro

14-15 May 44

Liri Valley
Liri Valley

18-30 May 44

►Hitler Line

18-24 May 44

►Aquino

18-24 May 44

►Melfa Crossing

24-25 May 44

►Ceprano

26-27 May 44

►Torrice Crossroads

30 May 44

Advance to Florence
Advance

17 Jul-10 Aug 44

to Florence

.
Trasimene Line

20-30 Jun 44

Sanfatucchio

20-21 Jun 44

Arezzo

4-17 Jul 44

Cerrone

25 - 31 Aug 44

Gothic Line
►Gothic Line

25 Aug-22 Sep 44

►Monteciccardo

27-28 Aug 44

►Montecchio

30-31 Aug 44

►Point 204 (Pozzo Alto)

31 Aug 44

►Monte Luro

1 Sep 44

►Borgo Santa Maria

1 Sep 44

►Tomba di Pesaro

1-2 Sep 44

►Coriano

3-15 Sep 44

►Lamone Crossing

2-13 Sep 44

Winter Lines
►Rimini Line

14-21 Sep 44

►San Martino-

14-18 Sep 44

San Lorenzo

.
►San Fortunato

18-20 Sep 44

►Casale

23-25 Sep 44

►Sant' Angelo

11-15 Sep 44

 in Salute

.
►Bulgaria Village

13-14 Sep 44

►Cesena

15-20 Sep 44

►Pisciatello

16-19 Sep 44

►Savio Bridgehead

20-23 Sep 44

►Monte La Pieve

13-19 Oct 44

►Monte Spaduro

19-24 Oct 44

►Monte San Bartolo

11-14 Nov 44

►Capture of Ravenna

3-4 Dec 44

►Naviglio Canal

12-15 Dec 44

►Fosso Vecchio

16-18 Dec 44

►Fosso Munio

19-21 Dec 44

►Conventello-

2-6 Jan 45

Comacchio

.
►Granarolo

3-5 Jan 44

Northwest Europe
Dieppe

19 Aug 42

Battle of Normandy
Normandy Landing

6 Jun 44

Authie

7 Jun 44

Putot-en-Bessin

8 Jun 44

Bretteville

8-9 Jun 44

       -l'Orgueilleuse .
Le Mesnil-Patry

11 Jun 44

Carpiquet

4-5 Jul 44

Caen

4-18 Jul 44

The Orne (Buron)

8-9 Jul 44

Bourguébus Ridge

18-23 Jul 44

Faubourg-de-

18-19 Jul 44

       Vaucelles .
St. André-sur-Orne

19-23 Jul 44

Maltôt

22-23 Jul 44

Verrières Ridge-Tilly--

25 Jul 44

         la-Campagne .
Falaise

7-22 Aug 44

►Falaise Road

7-9 Aug 44

►Quesnay Road

10-11 Aug 44

Clair Tizon

11-13 Aug 44

►The Laison

14-17 Aug 44

►Chambois

18-22 Aug 44

►St. Lambert-sur-

19-22 Aug 44

       Dives

.

Dives Crossing

17-20 Aug 44

Forêt de la Londe

27-29 Aug 44

The Seine, 1944

25-28 Aug 44

Southern France
Southern France

15-28 Aug 44

Channel Ports
Dunkirk, 1944

8-15 Sep 44

Le Havre

1-12 Sep 44

Moerbrugge

8-10 Sep 44

Moerkerke

13-14 Sep 44

Boulogne, 1944

17-22 Sep 44

Calais, 1944

25 Sep-1 Oct 44

Wyneghem

21-22 Sep 44

Antwerp-Turnhout

   24-29 Sep 44

Canal

.

The Scheldt

The Scheldt

1 Oct-8 Nov 44

Leopold Canal

6-16 Oct-44

►Savojaards Platt

9-10 Oct 44

Breskens Pocket

11 Oct -3 Nov 44

►Woensdrecht

1-27 Oct 44

►The Lower Maas

20 Oct -7 Nov 44

►South Beveland

 24-31 Oct 44

Walcheren

31 Oct -4 Nov 44

Causeway

.

Nijmegen Salient
Ardennes

Dec 44-Jan 45

Kapelsche Veer

31 Dec 44-

.

21Jan 45

The Roer

16-31 Jan 45

Rhineland
The Rhineland

8 Feb-10 Mar 45

►The Reichswald

8-13 Feb 45

►Waal Flats

8-15 Feb 45

►Moyland Wood

14-21 Feb 45

►Goch-Calcar Road

19-21 Feb 45

►The Hochwald

26 Feb-

.

4 Mar 45

►Veen

6-10 Mar 45

►Xanten

8-9 Mar 45

Final Phase
The Rhine

23 Mar-1 Apr 45

►Emmerich-Hoch

28 Mar-1 Apr 45

Elten

.
►Twente Canal

2-4 Apr 45

Zutphen

6-8 Apr 45

Deventer

8-11 Apr 45

Arnhem, 1945

12-14 Apr 45

Apeldoorn

11-17 Apr 45

Groningen

13-16 Apr 45

Friesoythe

14 Apr 45

►Ijselmeer

15-18 Apr 45

Küsten Canal

17-24 Apr 45

Wagenborgen

21-23 Apr 45

Delfzijl Pocket

23 Apr-2 May 45

Leer

28-29 Apr 45

Bad Zwischenahn

23 Apr-4 May 45

Oldenburg

27 Apr-5 May 45

Korean War
Kapyong

21-25 Apr 51

Domestic Missions

FLQ Crisis

International Missions

ICCS            Vietnam 1973

MFO                 Sinai 1986-

Peacekeeping

UNMOGIP

India 1948-1979

UNTSO

 Israel 1948-    ....

UNEF

Egypt 1956-1967

UNOGIL

Lebanon 1958    ....

ONUC

 Congo 1960-1964

UNYOM

Yemen 1963-1964

UNTEA

W. N. Guinea 1963-1964

UNIFCYP

 Cyprus 1964-    ....

DOMREP

D. Republic 1965-1966

UNIPOM

Kashmir 1965-1966

UNEFME

Egypt 1973-1979

UNDOF

Golan 1974-    ....

UNIFIL

 Lebanon 1978    ....

UNGOMAP

Afghanistan 1988-90

UNIIMOG

Iran-Iraq 1988-1991

UNTAG

Namibia 1989-1990

ONUCA

C. America 1989-1992

UNIKOM

Kuwait 1991    ....

MINURSO

W. Sahara 1991    ....

ONUSAL

El Salvador 1991    ....

UNAMIC

Cambodia 1991-1992

UNAVEM II

Angola 1991-1997

UNPROFOR

Yugosla. 1992-1995

UNTAC

Cambodia 1992-1993

UNOSOM

Somalia 1992-1993

ONUMOZ

Mozambiq. 1993-1994

UNOMUR

 Rwanda 1993    ....

UNAMIR

Rwanda 1993-1996

UNMIH

Haiti 1993-1996

UNMIBH

Bosnia/Herz.1993-1996

UNMOP

Prevlaka 1996-2001

UNSMIH

Haiti 1996-1997

MINUGUA

Guatemala 1994-1997

UNTMIH

Haiti 1997    ....

MIPONUH

 Haiti 1997    ....

MINURCA

C.Afr.Rep. 1998-1999

INTERFET

E. Timor 1999-2000

UNAMSIL

Sie. Leone 1999-2005

UNTAET

E. Timor 1999-2000

Exercises

 

Hong Kong
 
 

Hong Kong was a Battle Honour awarded to units that fought on that island during The War Against Japan in the Second World War. Only two regiments of the Canadian Army were so employed, at Hong Kong in December 1941.

Background

While Japan had been an ally of Britain in the First World War, their alliance ended in 1922. Increasing Japanese militarism in the 1930s, particularly in China, began to pose a threat to British overseas possessions. On 21 October 1938, Japanese occupation of Canton meant that Hong Kong was effectively surrounded by a potential adversary.

While some studies of the problem of defending Hong Kong from attack had concluded that a defence of the island was impossible, a defensive position on the mainland had been begun in the 1930s. By 1940, a decision had been made to keep a limited garrison on the island, with four battalions considered sufficient for what was considered an "outpost".

 

Canadian Involvement

The employment of Canadian soldiers at Hong Kong has been a long standing matter of controversy; in fact a Royal Commission was launched to investigate the matter as early as 1942.

The British Government called on Canada to assist in the defence of Hong Kong in September 1941. Canada at that time had three divisions and a tank brigade in the United Kingdom, with another division preparing to move to the UK in short order.

The British felt that a reinforcement of the garrison at Hong Kong was justified, in order to reassure the Chinese that the Allies had a genuine intention to hold the colony, and as a boost to morale throughout the Far East. Canada agreed to send two battalions. Upon request for a brigade headquarters and other specialists such as signallers, Canada agreed to this as well.

It will be noted that neither in Ottawa nor in London (from which Ottawa derived most of its intelligence on such matters) was there at this time any apprehension of immediate war in the Pacific.1 Japan's diplomatic position was seen as "weakening", in fact, and it was felt an aggressive stance in the Pacific might actually deter hostile action by the Japanese. A change in government in October 1941, however, saw the militarist General Tojo become Prime Minister of Japan. The effect his assumption of power would have on Japanese foreign policy was not known to the Allies.

 



"C" Company of The Royal Rifles of Canada disembarks at Hong Kong on 16 Nov 1941. LAC Photo.


The two battalions selected were The Winnipeg Grenadiers, recently returned from garrison duty in Jamaica, and The Royal Rifles of Canada, recently returned from garrison duty in Newfoundland. The former had mobilized on 1 Sep 1939 and the latter on 8 Jul 1940. Colonel J.K. Lawson, a Permanent Force officer serving as Director of Military Training at Ottawa was promoted to Brigadier and given command of the Canadian force, which eventually included 1,973 officers and men. Two members of the Auxiliary Services also accompanied the force to Hong Kong. That approximately 120 men who had considerably less than 16 weeks of training (the prerequisite at that time for being sent overseas) were attached to the force is an indication of how small the prospect of hostilities was felt to be.

The force sailed from Vancouver on 27 Oct, without the 212 vehicles the force would use as transport, and landed at Hong Kong on 16 Nov 1941.

 

 

The Battle

 

A Japanese attack on Hong Kong began shortly after 0800 on 8 Dec 1941 (local time), less than eight hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Allied forces commanded by Major-General Maltby, supported by the local Militia (Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Forces), were hard pressed by the Japanese 38th Division as they were outnumbered two to one and lacked the recent combat experience that the Japanese had.

The Japanese achieved air superiority on 8 Dec, as four of the only five military aircraft at Hong Kong were destroyed on the ground by Japanese bombers. Resistance on the mainland was quickly overcome; the Sham Chun River was forded by the Japanese using temporary bridges. Three battalions emplaced in a defensive position known as the Gin Drinkers' Line were breached early on 10 Dec 1941. The mainland force withdrew to the island on the 11th under aerial and artillery bombardment. The last British soldiers had left the mainland on 13 Dec.

Defending the Island

The forces on the mainland were organized into a West Brigade and an East Brigade, and Canadian battalions were split between the two. Bombardment of the north shore of the island by the Japanese began on 15 Dec. Two demands for surrender of the island were rejected, and landings on the north-east shore were effected by the Japanese on the evening of 18 Dec. The Allied troops could only inflict light casualties on them. The first of several atrocities on the island occurred that night when 20 soldiers of the Sai Wan Battery were murdered after surrendering.

The first Canadians to see action were "C" Company of the Royal Rifles, in reserve near the landing areas. They delivered an unsuccessful counter-attack, suffering heavy loss but also inflicting casualties on the Japanese. Other companies attempted to drive the enemy from Mount Parker but were similarly unsuccessful. The East Brigade, to whom the Rifles belonged, were ordered to withdraw the next morning, towards Stanley Peninsula. It was recognized that scattered actions, such as the Rifles were engaging in, were accomplishing little and it was hoped to concentrate the force in preparation for an effective counter-attack. By the time the brigade had reached positions at Stanley Mound, the Royal Rifles and some companies of the Volunteer Defence Corps were all that was left; an Indian battalion (5/7 Rajput) had been virtually destroyed in the earlier fighting at the landing zones. The brigade was without artillery (having destroyed their own mobile guns through a misunderstanding of orders) and cut off from the other Allied forces on the island.

In the west, three platoons of the Winnipeg Grenadiers had been organized as "flying columns" designed to swiftly counter-attack where needed. All three platoons went into action on the night of 18-19 Dec. Two saw combat at Jardine's Lookout and Mount Butler where they were repulsed by the enemy, with both platoon commanders being killed. Early on the morning of the 19th, "A" Company of the Grenadiers were sent forward to Jardine's Lookout, ordered to engage the enemy there and keep going to Mount Butler. The company was surrounded and outnumbered, and only a handful escaped death, injury or capture. Every officer was killed or severely wounded. The Company Sergeant Major, John Osborne, was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for actions in the fighting on Mount Butler, including the act of covering a Japanese grenade with his body, giving his life to save those of several other soldiers nearby.

By 10:00, the Japanese overran the West Brigade headquarters at Wong Nei Chong Gap, and Brigadier Lawson reported by radio to his superiors that he was "going outside to fight it out." He was killed shortly afterwards. "D" Company of the Grenadiers held their position in the gap for nearly three more days, denying the Japanese the use of a main north-south road and killing approximately 200 Japanese soldiers. A series of unco-ordinated attacks by the other companies of the Grenadiers and a battalion of the Royal Scots of the British Army failed to relieve "D" Company.

Final Battles

The Royal Rifles of Canada had little sleep and no hot food in the days leading to the Japanese attack. Nonetheless, attempts were made to counter-attack to the north and link up with forces of the West Brigade. An attempt on 20 Dec to skirt Repulse Bay and contact the other brigade at Wong Nei Chong Gap was stopped after the Repulse Bay Hotel was taken. One company of the Rifles was left in place to hold the hotel and thereby isolated. Another attack was made the next day, also running into heavy Japanese opposition. Attacks on Japanese forces on high ground around the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir managed to defeat some Japanese forces and drive them from their positions, but a Japanese counter-attack by tanks stalled any further advance.

On the evening of the 21st, the company of Rifles at the hotel managed to move north and contact a group of British soldiers only a few hundred yards from the Wong Nei Chong Gap, holding the position until 22 Dec. After dark on 22 Dec, this group withdrew to the hotel, which was ordered evacuated during the night. Approximately a platoon of soldiers managed to slip through the enemy's positions and rejoin the main force at Stanley. The 22nd and 23rd saw constant attacks by the Japanese, and consequently, no further efforts to break out to the north. Sugar Loaf Hill fell to the Japanese on the 22nd and was retaken by the Rifles on the 23rd. Another company lost Stanley Mound, and it could not be retaken. By the late afternoon of 23 Dec the entire force pulled back further onto the Stanley Peninsula. On the 24th the Royal Rifles were taken out of the line for a rest, and hurriedly thrown back in on the 25th. "D" Company made a counter-attack on the Stanley Prison in the early afternoon and were stopped with heavy losses. Evening brought news of the surrender.

In the west, the Winnpeg Grenadiers occupied Mount Cameron on the morning of 21 Dec, and followed their orders to hold it in the face of dive-bombing and mortaring until a night attack by the Japanese on the night of 22-23 Dec. The goal of the West Brigade was to hold a continuous line from Victoria Harbour to the south shore. On 23 Dec, the line was still holding; the left was held by remanant of a battalion of the Middlesex Regiment on Leighton Hill, two Indian battalions, the Royal Scots who stabilized the line on the western slopes of Mount Cameron, and the Winnipeg Grenadiers on the right holding the line from Cameron to Bennet's Hill. The 24th saw Leighton's Hill fall, and later portions of the Mount Cameron defences. The Grenadiers also lost ground at Bennet's Hill while standing firm on the south slopes of Mount Cameron, and counter-attacks on the 25th regained some of the positions lost on Bennet's Hill before word of the surrender came.

Climax

On the afternoon of 25 Dec 1941, the Governor of Hong Kong officially surrendered to the Japanese, ending 18 days of fighting and marking the first occasion on which a British Crown Colony had to surrender to an invader.

Aftermath

Canadian and British prisoners-of-war awaiting liberation by the landing party from HMCS Prince Robert, Hong Kong, ca. 30 August 1945. LAC Photo.

The island fell under Japanese occupation for three years and eight months. Looting and rape of the civil population by Japanese soldiers was common. The Canadians lost 23 officers and 267 other ranks killed, died of wounds, or murdered in the fighting. The survivors were captured to the last man, and remained in prison camps on Hong Kong until 1943.2 Four officers and 125 other ranks died in these camps in poor conditions (four of them shot without trial after escaping). In Jan 1943, 1 officer and 1,183 other ranks of the remaining survivors were sent to Japan, and lived in equally bad conditions where a further 135 men died. In total, 555 of the 1,975 man contingent had died before the end of the war.

Battle Honours

 

The following Canadian units were awarded the Battle Honour "Hong Kong" for participation in these actions:

  • The Royal Rifles of Canada

  • The Winnipeg Grenadiers

Notes

  1. Stacey, C.P. The Canadian Army 1939-1945: An Official Historical Summary (King's Printer, Ottawa, ON, 1948) p.274

  2. One soldier was held in a civilian prisoner of war camp. Rifleman James Riley absented himself from duty while his unit occupied the hotel at Repulse Bay. Passed out drunk, he was put into a room pending disciplinary action and accidentally left behind when the unit left. He was discovered by civilians, given a change of clothes, and went into custody as Mister James Riley Ryan. He was returned to Canada in the autumn of 1943 with other Canadian and US civilians in an exchange. Riley's case was raised with the Judge Advocate General after his comrades returned to Canada, but his discharge had been granted approximately two years prior, and was thus no longer subject to military justice. Greenhous, Brereton "C" Force to Hong Kong: A Canadian Catastrophe 1941-1945 (Canadian War Museum, 1997) ISBN 1550022679 pp.102-103

 


© canadiansoldiers.com 1999-present