A plaque honouring men and women who had served in the Battle of Hong Kong during the Second World War in December 1941 was unveiled in a ceremony inside the upper level of the arena at the Veterans Memorial Sports Complex in Stonewall on April 14.
The plaque was donated to the community by the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association as soldiers from the community, most of them serving with the Winnipeg Grenadiers, had taken part in the battle, the first time Canadian soldiers were engaged in combat during the war.
Out of 1,975 Canadians who served in Hong Kong, 290 were killed in the battle and 493 were wounded. Another 264 Canadians died while in prisoner-of-war camps.
“There are many other reasons this group of Canadian militaries should not be forgotten, but deserve special recognition and this is our mission,” Carol Hadley, Prairie director of the HKVCA said in the ceremony.
Also in attendance were the families of those who had served in Hong Kong, as well as Stonewall mayor Clive Hinds, Lakeside MLA Ralph Eichler and Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman MP James Bezan. Members of Branch No. 52 of the Royal Canadian Legion from Stonewall, led by honorary branch president and former MP Howard Hilstrom, carried the colours.
One of the local soldiers who had served in Hong Kong was Lance Cpl. Charles R. Trick, who had suffered two fractured vertebrae and was in four POW camps for over three years. He returned to Stonewall where he lived until his death in 1996. His widow Helen, at 100 years of age, and son Jim were in attendance for the ceremony.
“What better place to (commemorate these veterans) than having our plaque in our sports complex where so many youth will come through for hockey and curling,” Jim Trick said to The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times.
He also added that his mother is “conflicted” by the ceremony.
“My dad was wounded in spirit when he came home. It was left to her to hold the family together in some cases,” Trick said. “She’s not quite sure how to handle these types of ceremonies.”
Another plaque donated by the HKVCA was also unveiled in Fisher Branch on April 17.