ANAVETS Shoulder to Shoulder

September 2016

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SHOULDER TO SHOULDER 23 Book review Betrayal is liken to being deemed disposable. Living the stark reality of captivity and torture is something most Canadians know nothing about, having been born to freedom, won for them by past generations. For Ken Ewing, a Prisoner of War in Hong Kong for three and a half years and resident of Burritts Rapids prior to his death in 2012, it was something he knew all too well. Terry Meagher, author of 'Betrayal: Canadian Soldiers Hong Kong 1941,' said his friendship with Ewing inspired him to uncover the truth about what really happened in Hong Kong. Canadian soldiers were betrayed twice during the war fought in Hong Kong, according to Meagher. First by their own government, who failed to do their due diligence. Second by the British, who blamed the Canadians for the failure in Hong Kong – citing a substandard performance. Excerpt from 'Betrayal:' Major General Arthur Grassett, on his way to England via Canada from Hong Kong, dropped in on his old buddy, Major General Harry Crerar, Chief of General Staff in Ottawa. The two old comrades reminisced about Upper Canada College and Royal Military College. But the conversation degenerated to a request for favors. Grassett asked for one battalion, maybe two battalions of Canadian infantry for the garrison on Hong Kong Island, which was not a colony but a possession "for profit" about which the average Canadian knew little. …General Harry Crerar understood the hopelessness of holding Hong Kong, having studied its untenable position in the 1930's at Imperial Defence College. Later on in the book (pg. 123), it states that Crerar was ordered back to Canada in 1942 to appear before the Royal Commission investigat- ing the disaster in Hong Kong, but senior commanders for both Britain and Canada refused and kept him in England. He was excused from testifying or even appearing; answering questions by memo instead and never facing cross-examination. After more than two years of research, interviewing and writing, Meagher published his book at the end of September. He said there are 28 Hong Kong veterans still alive today; three of whom were interviewed for the book. "Ken is one of the main narrators," said Meagher, who said Ewing was one of the finest people he ever knew. "The combat scenes are very realistic; not fake stuff with melodramatic words." Eleven years after Hong Kong, Meagher served as a rifleman in Korea (1952-1953). Canadian soldiers arrived in Hong Kong on Nov. 20, 1941. By Dec. 8, the soldiers were at war. By Dec. 25, every Canadian soldier deployed was either dead or in a prison camp. "The British knew all about it," said Meagher. "They understood. They sent them to a doomed garrison." Ewing was just 16 years old when he joined the army in 1941 – throwing his school books into the cedar hedges and telling his mother he wouldn't be coming home from school that day. He was sent to Hong Kong. Parts of this review was reprinted with permission from an article in the Kemptville Advance (Oct.. 7, 2015) written by Jennifer Westendorp (The book is available from "Veterans Publications, Box 223, Kemptville Ontario) Betrayal - Canadian Soldiers, Hong Kong 1941

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