Posted 7 years ago
I thought I would show one of my favorite Canadian WW II helmets in my first post here .
The Winnipeg Grenadiers were first raised on April,1 ,1908 and were disbanded on February, 28 ,1965 during WW II they saw active service abroad were the Regiment was stationed in Jamaica and Bermuda were they were assigned to garrison duty from May 1940 to October 1941.
On 27 October 1941 the Regiment embarked for Hong Kong, war with Japan at this time was not considered imminent and it was expected that the Regiment would again only see garrison (non-combat) duty.
Instead in December the Japanese military launched a series of attacks on Pearl Harbor, Northern Malaya, the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island and Hong Kong the Royal Rifles and the Winnipeg Grenadiers would find themselves engulfed in hand-to-hand combat against the Japanese 38th Division they had virtually no chance of victory, but refused to surrender until they were overrun by the enemy.
Those who survived the battle became prisoners of war POW's and many endured torture and starvation by their Japanese captors.
The defense of Hong Kong came with great human cost approximately 290 Canadian soldiers were killed in battle and while in captivity approximately 264 more died as POW's for a total death toll of 554.
In addition, almost 500 Canadians were wounded of the 1,975 Canadians who went to Hong Kong more than 1,050 were either killed or wounded. This was a casualty rate of more than 50% arguably one of the highest casualty rates of any Canadian theater of action in the Second World War.
I was quite pleased to be able to add this 1941 dated C.L./C. to my top shelf gents as Canadian helmets like these very rarely come up for sale in the market place it is sporting a VMC liner in a size 6 3/4 and has a heavy textured finish and has an excellent patina and has that been there done that look I like so much in my helmets it is of course sporting the Winnipeg Grenadiers Regimental flash on the left side of the helmet and has the owners name scratched on the underside of the rim ( CPL,G,PETERSON ).
I have been honored to have had the rare opportunity to talk to the actual Veteran that used this particular Mk II .
I was fortunate enough to get in contact with the original owner of the helmet Cpl G Peterson through the Hong Kong Veterans of Canada Association whom I might add is 92 years old and sharp as a whip I talked to him on the telephone and had a very interesting conversation with him about his involvement during the battle of Hong Kong but I guess I should start at the beginning .
When I started to research this particular Mk II that I have in my collection flashed to the Winnipeg Grenadiers I found a mountain of information on the man on line including his war diaries as published on the Hong Kong Veterans of Canada Associations website .
So in continuing with my research I contacted the HKVCA secretary Jim Trick who then forwarded an Email with images to Juliet Lafortune the Prairie Regional Directer whom is a personal friend of Mr Peterson as her father and him served together and were good friends she then forwarded my questions regarding the provinance and history of the helmet to Mr Peterson as he has no internet .
He has confirmed that this Mk II belonged to him and that the writing on the inside was carved there near the rim for him by one of his two friends and very likely a man named Kelso .
Mr Peterson had a few questions for me in return though the first question being how I acquired this helmet as he laid it down on the ground in Hong Kong on December 25 1941 after the order was given to lay down all arms and surrender to the Japanese.
How on Earth did this helmet ever make it home to Canada from Hong Kong as none of the lads returned from the battle all the men involved with the capitulation of the Regiment were made guests of the Empire of Japan and served out the next four years as POW's.
With Mr Petersons permission I include a few excerpts of his service records,war diaries,
Regt No /Rank / Last Name / First Name /Second Names /Company Platoon /Military Dst /Original Town / Prov
6082 /Cpl / Peterson /George /Nelson / E /MD 10 /St, Vital / MB
The text as seen below was in Cpl, Petersons actual words before editing I thought it more appropriate to leave it in this format.
My story Begins October 25 th , 1941 When l'autre along with 914 officers & men of the Winnipeg Grenadiers we boarded the train was in Winnipeg That Would carry us to the west cost to Vancouver, BC. There We Were joined by 100 officers (Including two nursing sisters) and men attached to Brigade Headquarters, plus Infantry Regiment Reviews another from Quebec, the Royal Rifles of Canada With Their 962 officers and men for a total of 1977 Canadian volontaires Who Then est devenu Known As "C" Force. Commanded by a Man ??Who Recently HAD beens Promoted up from the rank of Lt / Col To That of a Brigadier to lead our small brigade. Was this man Brigadier JK Lawson, he Was a career officer and a veteran of WW One, and Was stationed in Ottawa.
One of the jobs Brigadier Lawson HAD Performed in Ottawa hand Was the grading of all army units stationed in Canada Then, class "A" Were battle ready, "B" could be made battle ready with a little more training and "C" Should be used for Garrison duty only. Both the WG's and RR's Were Placed in the category lathing, Was this the reason We Were designated as "C" Force?
On our arrival at the west coast of the majorité the members of "C" Force numbering about 1,857 troops Were ordered to board a ship moored That Was to the dock in Vancouver, the HMNZS Awatea. The Awatea Was a form New Zealand luxury liner plying her trade entre her home harbor in New Zealand & Canada HAD room for 377 and 1 st class 150 tourist class and 38 3 rd class passengers and her crew. Were our officers put up in state rooms but for l'autre ranks it Was a different story, we were very cramped and slept in hammocks slung That Were just about every where and Even Above our mess tables. The balance of "C" Force of Approximately 120 officers & men's RR of the Were put on board the HMCS Prince Robert, our escort vessel.
Both vessel left Vancouver on the evening of October 27 th and our travel HAD Begun. We made ??one stop in Hawaii to take on fresh food supplies as the refrigeration system on the Awatea HAD broken down and After These supplies Were we loaded on board the carried on with our journey, Reviews arriving in the British Colony of Hong Kong the morning of November 16 th . The Colony Was in the two parts of Hong Kong Island Itself & What Was Known As the New Colony Was in two parts of the Island Hog Kong Itself & What Was Known As the New Territories on the mainland called Expired Kowloon. We docking at the mainland side We Were OnD to our barracks named Sham Shui Po & Took up residence. We were greeted very heartily by the people of the colony & Any one talking about being white imminent war with the Japanese Empire Were Responded to with it Will Never Happen They Would not dare attack the British Empire. How They Were wrong.
I Was a Cpl in charging section of a platoon of 13 in "D" company in the Grenadiers When We landed in Hong Kong & around the end of November received orders to report to the Command Gymnasium on the Island,to take share in a physical training course, to re-Qualify as a PT instructor. THUS, this Is Where I Was on the morning of December 8 th When The Japanese attacked This Hong Kong by bombing various targets on the mainland Kai Tak airport Such As Where our small antique Air Force obsolete Was time immediately destroyed while still on the ground. Some aussi They bombed oil storage tanks & A Few dropped bombs on our barracks of Sham Shui Po & About did Some damage to the naval docks on the island.
DURING this air raid all staff Taking the PT racing Were ordered to pack our gear & carry back to our respective units for further Top orders. My company Was on the island at a site called Expired Wong Nei Chong Gap, This Was aussi Where our Brigadier Lawson HAD set up Canadian Brigade Head Quarters qui Was Known As West Brigade now with Him in load. The Canadian units HAD-been separated with the Royal Rifles being white Placed in East Brigade under the command of a British Brigadier. I have just Often Wondered how much we follow Could Have Fought The Japanese fighting with all Canadians under Canadian command. The reason this issue is my answer asking After our capitulation, We Were Told by more than one Japanese officer That They Would Rather Fight against unites Any Other than to go up Against the Canadians.
On reporting in order to my company Nei Chong Gap Has Won again I Took over command of my section and got-settled in, only to be ordered A Few days later to turn over command of my section to Cpl Charlie Smith and pack up again to report to an area of ??what I think Was Wan Chai Gap to Become a member of a newly FORMED reinforcement company. Was Charlie Wong Nei Chong killed at When The Japanese landed on the island attacked This & the Gap, THUS splitting our defense lines in two. At Wan Chai could I Was in load of a group of men and our job guarding Was the supply of a big dump of mostly fuel & ammunition. The Gap Was quite Often shelled by the enemy fire from the mainland & We Could hear the shells coming in, luckily for us the only round landed in the dump That Proved to Be a dud.
At times We Were aussi taken to different parts of the island to try to stem the advance of the enemy. One of These Times We Were I remember in an area Wong Nei Chong Gap Above in an Attempt to try to retake the Gap goal Were Repulsed & more ounce Were forced to fall back. It Was DURING this time I received an order from a British officer to take a group of men up to a police station Overlooked That a cross roads (Wan Flesh?) & To guard the area at all costs, while the others fell back. I remember I Was scared as men Were My goal year order is an order. Just before We Were Shift to proceed. Hook "D" company ordered arrived on the Abebooks web sites szene & We Were doing what & when Informed of my orders, His first words to me Were "Bullshit if one falls back we all fall back" We Did not Need Any further Top encouragement & retreated with the rest. We ended up in one of the mansions on What Was Known As We Were the Peak & reliable obtenir to a later meal & a good nights sleep, the first in what HAD Seemed to Be a very long time.
One of These Reviews another Forays That Proved To Be This Time We Were false taken to a Pill Box on the waterfront That Was armed with a Vickers Machine Gun & the crew HAD fired at What They Believed Was an enemy ship Attempting to land on the island, with the result being white the destruction of one of our own ammunition boats manned by the members of the Royal Navy. This Was Reviews another mistake Caused by the Lack of proper communication qui all too Occurred Frequently in the battle for Hong Kong.
The last skirmish I Was Involved in Occurred Christmas Eve we Bennet's Hill qui Was more of a ridge than a hill in front of Aberdeen water tank, We Were dug in pretty well & HAD beens saving Some food for a good Christmas dinner qui We Were all looking forward to When The Japanese Decided to attack. After much bloodshed, yelling & screaming We Were forced to Withdraw again, if our plane forced to retreat Was to open up on the area We Were vacating with three Vickers Machine guns Placed in position on the other side of the tank.
Our Christmas Dinner was lost to the enemy goal He Was made to pay a very high cost for same. The next day orders to lay down our arms & surrender to the Japanese arrived & the war for us Was over, and our fight for survival over the next 4 years Almost HAD Begun.
Other of the my experiences in the battle for Hong Kong and the aftermath of Being in enemy hands I have tried my best to forget, Some memories to no avail. I have never related thesis --other to-any person, nor will i ever, Every once in awhile I experience a nightmare & all the memories return.
Regards Mark K