Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Canada Day in Hong Kong

Today is Canada Day in Canada and "Special Administrative Region Establishment Day" in Hong Kong.
Canada Day ( formerly Dominion Day) is Canada's birthday.
I call the HK day "Handover Day" as the official title is too much of a mouthful to think let alone say. It commemorates the end of 150 years of British rule and the return of the honkies to the bosom of the motherland.
It also brought an end to the drip feed migration of the entitled, well spoken and well meaning (but dim) herd of FILTH.
Failed In London Try Hong Kong.
Back to today.
I had the day off as for the first time that I can remember I'm in a country on a public holiday.
Its pretty cool as it coincides with a day in Canada which holds fond memories.
I went to the Sai Wan military Cemetery.
This felt apt as its full of 18 year old Canadians who were sacrificed by the British when the Japanese ended the Crown's control of the territory.
The day in HK signifies the departure of the British from power but under different circumstances and at far less cost.
A bit of serendipity.
A little history:
The Winnipeg Grenadiers were the first lambs to be selected.
They'd been assigned to garrison duty in Jamaica when the British decided a token gesture of resistance was required for Hong Kong
It had already been decided that the colony was expendable and impossible to defend given the strength and speed of the Japanese advance through China.
Rather than lose British troops it was decided that Canadians would be sacrificed. The Canadian government relied on British intelligence and were assured that the Japanese would only commit a force of 5,000.
The Japanese attacked Hong Kong with over 10 times that number.
The Winnipeg Grenadiers were so under trained and inexperienced (some of the men hadn't even fired a gun) that their official classification by the Defence Department was " unfit for combat"
At their mustering in Canada they were linked up with another unit designated "unfit", the Royal Rifles.
Looking back it seems criminal to commit these untested "expendable" kids to stand against an invincible battle hardened Japanese war machine.
As the 1,975 Canadians sailed into Victoria Harbour on a suicide mission, the British sailed out.
Hong Kong fell in three weeks and surrendered on December 25th.
The Canadians, despite their inexperience fought hard, and so vastly outnumbered, its amazing they managed to keep the Imperial army at bay for so long.
The city did not fare well in the days after the fall.
The remaining Canadians ( roughly 500) were paraded through Kowloon on their way to imprisonment in Taiwan and Japan. Many would not live to see the end of the war. The new masters of the colony set their men free to rape and pillage after declaring all Chinese women prostitutes and spoils of war.
The cemetery is maintained by the Commonwealth Graves Commission and was established in 1946.Its a worthy monument to sacrifice and is a dignified and peaceful place. I was a bit saddened to note that besides myself the only other visitor was a 50 something British woman "doing a cemetery tour".
The taxi driver had no idea where it was and I had to search online with my B-berry to find its Chinese name.
To get there you take the Island line to the last station " Chai Wan". Though I had seen advice online that you could walk to the site, I can't imagine how.
There are no signs and the trek is about 3 klicks uphill.
In the 30 something temperatures today, I think I would have given up in sweaty frustration.
The cab cost me about 70 $HK including waiting time. There are no cabs/buses/people at the gates so get the cab to wait.
Canada Day is celebrated in a big way in Lan Kwai Fong (an expat drinking area), but the festivities happen on the night of June 30th.
Everywhere I've been Canadians make a point of celebrating July 1st in a big way. They wrap themselves in flags, sing the National anthem and indulge in all the trappings of patriotism they're so fond of sneering at when practiced by their American cousins.
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa estimates that 250,000 Canadians call Hong Kong home.
Over 10,000 of them went to Lan Kwai Fong last night.
I saw none at Sai Wan today except for the ones who have been there since 1946.
Happy Canada Day
Stay well


Anonymous said...

And Happy Belated Canada Day to you Terry! Thanks for the history lesson and for remembering. As you know, Canada is a small country that has and continues to sacrifice lives in too many wars and there are other memorials to these - Vimy, Passchendaele, Normandy.

I will see you in a week - I hope.


Anonymous said...

Canada and Hong Kong love-in:


Why not email Dot the Consul and suggest a tie in of July 1 celebrations with some lest we forget the fallen?


P.S. Whatever were "the ever popular Canadian giveaways"??

Anonymous said...

At least people visit the French memorials. Sad that with such an apparently large expat population, swollen with Canada day pride, only one Canadian went to visit the HK memorial. Perhaps all the others had Moosehead hangovers?


Jenny said...

Party Day of Communist Party of China is July 1;
China National Day is Oct.1;
There are memorials in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
(sorry, know little about Canada history. Post China history for culture exchange.)

Anonymous said...


That is so heart-breaking & beautiful. L