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Graves of Canadian soldiers (Pvt. J. Maltese, Winnipeg Grenadiers and Rifleman A.M. Moir, Royal Rifles of Canada)

The graves of Pvt J. Maltese of the Winnipeg Grenadiers and Rifleman A. M. Moir of the Royal Rifles of Canada. A battalion from each regiment was sent to Hong Kong in November, 1941, just three weeks before the Japanese invasion. The Canadian contingent was commonly known as "C" Force.

"C" Force was the Canadian military contingent involved in the Battle of Hong Kong, in December 1941. Members of the force were the first Canadian soldiers to see action in World War II.

In Autumn 1941, the British government accepted the Canadian Government's offer, mediated by a former General Officer Commanding in Hong Kong and Canadian, Major-General A. E. Grasett to send two infantry battalions (1,975 personnel) to reinforce the Hong Kong garrison. The force departed North America on 27 October and arrived 16 November. They did not have their full equipment: a ship carrying all their vehicles was diverted to Manila when war began. The soldiers were still undergoing training and acclimatisation. The major Canadian units involved in the defence of Hong Kong were:

In addition to this the Canadians provided a Brigade HQ. The Canadians were initially positioned on south side of the Island to counter any amphibious landing. Ironically this would mean that when the Japanese invaded the island they were the units called upon to counter attack. On 8 December, Japanese aircraft destroyed a nearly-empty camp at Sham Shui Po where two men of the Royal Canadian Signals were wounded, the first Canadian casualties in the Pacific theatre, and the first Canadian army casualties in combat. On 11 December, the Winnipeg Grenadiers became the first Canadian Army subunit to fight in battle in the Second World War, with D Company acting as a rearguard during the retreat from Kowloon. Private John Grey was killed during the evacuation. It is unknown how he died but guesses have included mobs, fifth columnists, and being executed by the Japanese.

In the subsequent fight for Hong Kong island, the Canadians lost 290 personnel of which 130 were from the Grenadiers. The commander of West Brigade HQ, Brigadier John K. Lawson, was killed. The remaining Canadian soldiers surrendered to the Japanese on Christmas Day.

Soldiers of ‘C’ Force were awarded a total of 100 decorations. The following table shows the unit, the decoration and the number awarded.

Regiment Decoration/Award Number awarded
Canadian Auxiliary Service MBE 1
Canadian Auxilairy Service MiD 1
Canadian Chaplains Service MC 1
Canadian Chaplains Service MiD 1
Royal Canadian Dental Corps MiD 1
Royal Canadian Postal Corps DCM 1
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps MBE 3
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps ARRC 2
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps MiD 1
Royal Canadian Corps of Signals DCM 1
Royal Canadian Corps of Signals MM 1
Royal Canadian Corps of Signals BEM 1
Royal Canadian Corps of Signals MiD 2
Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps MM 1
The Royal Rifles of Canada DSO 1
The Royal Rifles of Canada OBE 1
The Royal Rifles of Canada MBE 2
The Royal Rifles of Canada MC 1
The Royal Rifles of Canada DCM 1
The Royal Rifles of Canada MM 6
The Royal Rifles of Canada DM 1
The Royal Rifles of Canada MiD 28
The Winnipeg Grenadiers VC 1
The Winnipeg Grenadiers DSO 1
The Winnipeg Grenadiers MC 3
The Winnipeg Grenadiers DCM 1
The Winnipeg Grenadiers MM 5
The Winnipeg Grenadiers BEM 2
The Winnipeg Grenadiers MiD 26

Decoration/award descriptions
In order of precedence descriptions are as follows:
VC - Victoria Cross
DSO - Distinguished Service Order
OBE - Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire status
MBE - Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire status
MC - Military Cross
ARRC - Associate of the Royal Red Cross
DCM - Distinguished Conduct Medal
MM - Military Medal
BEM - British Empire Medal
DM - Dickin Medal
MiD - Mentioned in Despatches

References for the above awards
Canada Gazette, 44 10 January, No. 10, Vol. 78, p2404
Canada Gazette, 46 8 April, No. 14, Vol. 80, p2066
Canada Gazette, 46 15 June, No. 24, Vol. 80, p2404
London Gazette, 48 20 February, No. 38212, p1175

Surviving Canadian servicemen from this battle formed the Hong Kong Veterans Association. In December 1991 they planted two maple trees in Sham Shui Po Park in memory of their comrades.

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