A service was held at the Saiwan Bay War Cemetery in Hong Kong on Sunday in memory of the Canadian defenders of Hong Kong during World War II.
The annual memorial service, which started in 1947, honors the 1,975 soldiers who fought to defend Hong Kong during the war and pays tribute to the 550 who died there, in battle or captivity.
The Royal Rifles of Canada and the Winnipeg Grenadiers arrived in Hong Kong on November 16, 1941, and the Japanese 38th Division began the attack on December 8. Although the Canadian troops grimly held their positions, even counterattacking when possible, they were vastly outnumbered by the well-prepared Japanese forces, which landed on the island on December 18.
Veterans and representatives from the Chinese central government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government joined Canada's Consul General Gerry Campbell and leading members of the Canadian community in Hong Kong to pay their respects and lay wreaths. The Canadian and Chinese national anthems were also played during the ceremony.
During the service, Campbell stated, "Canada's participation in the defense of Hong Kong marked our profound commitment to the people of Hong Kong, a commitment that has grown stronger over the last 60 years."
More than 500,000 Canadians trace their origin to Hong Kong, according to Campbell, and well over 250,000 Canadians currently reside there. They, and the 100,000 Hong Kong natives who have studied in Canadian schools and universities, work together to bring Canada and Hong Kong closer together.
The annual memorial service takes place on the first Sunday of December.
(Xinhua News Agency, China.org.cn December 6, 2004)