A Doomed Battle for Hong Kong, With Only Medals Left 75 Years Later

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tags: Canada, WWII, Hong Kong



Brig. John K. Lawson, Mr. Lawson’s father, was the highest-ranking Canadian soldier killed in action during World War II. He was cut down by machine-gun fire in the doomed defense of Hong Kong, a largely forgotten battle that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 soldiers, 290 of them Canadian.

The debate over what went wrong raged in the aftermath of the war but has long since grown cold. These days, the sacrifice and courage of those who died are remembered more than the senselessness of their deaths. But historians have long acknowledged that it was a mistake to send untested Canadian boys to defend an indefensible island.

“This was the Canadian army’s first engagement of the second war, and it was a disaster,” Tony Banham, a historian who has written extensivelyabout the battle, said in an email exchange.




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