December 8th 1941: Battle of Hong Kong begins
On this day in 1941, during the Second World War, the Battle of Hong Kong began. The attack on the then British colony of Hong Kong began just hours after the Japanese attacked the American base of Pearl Harbor, marking the beginning of Japan’s quest for domination in Asia. The British government was sceptical of their chances of defending the outpost, but in September 1941 drafted Canadian troops to Hong Kong. The Battle of Hong Kong lasted 17 days, seeing heavy bombardment and fierce fighting, including a massacre at an Allied hostpital. The 12,000 Allied troops - comprising Canadians, Britons, Indians, and locals - were vastly outnumbered by the 50,000 Japanese. Ultimately, over 2,000 Allied troops died trying to defend Hong Kong, and the British governor surrendered on December 25th. The Japanese occupied Hong Kong until August 1945; after the war, the Japanese governor was executed for war crimes. The battle of Hong Kong remains an important moment in Canadian and Commonwealth history, for, despite overwhelming odds and little military training, the Allied forces refused to surrender, and many subsequently endured brutal conditions as prisoners of war.
75 years ago today