A tendency when talking about battles and wars is to stress the names of the units involved, the great sweeping moves, the actions, and inevitably the losses suffered. What we sometimes gloss over though is that these aren't numbers; these are people. Often young people, pushed into playing a part in the great events that they little control over.
As a keen amateur student of the Battle of Hong Kong, and someone who references Tony Banham's excellent book "Not the Slightest Chance, The Defence of Hong Kong 1941" (2003) like it's a bible, I wanted to see the final resting place of the troops involved in the 18 day battle for Hong Kong. Some of the troops were very green, the Canadians only having arrived in Hong Kong a matter of weeks before war started. Many were young and thrust into combat against a battle hardened enemy.
How many actually realised that they were fighting to delay the Japanese and not fighting to win? Official communiques from the time put a very positive spin on events even as a quarter of Hong Kong island is overrun in as a little as a day and only 10 days after pouring across the Hong Kong border as Japan launched its Pacific conquest.
I wandered the cemetery not looking for any particular grave, but just to see the names and agaes of people who for whom anonymous families were left devastated all those years ago and for a great number of years after. I'm always struck by the young age of many of the soldiers and wonder how they felt and what I was doing at that age. What probably started off as feeling like a great adventure just a few weeks earlier, certainly for the Canadians, soon turned into a mortal struggle.
Read the headstones and the personal story I've written for each where possible.
After you've experienced my delights or horrors of Hong Kong, see what the destinations below may have in store for you.