Canadians POWs and the Battle of Hong Kong

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General Steps:

For many Canadians the Battle of Hong Kong and its impact on the 1,975 Canadian soldiers who fought in it has either been forgotten, or is unknown. This December marks the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Battle for Hong Kong and with only thirty Veterans from this battle still alive (as of 2/07/2015) these Canadian heroes will soon be lost to us. I created this project for students to make personal connections as I am continually moved and inspired by Canadian HKVs.

First, after providing the historic background to the story of Hong Kong Veterans, there is an initial introductory classroom activity utilizing the aforementioned "History Doc". This activity is aimed at improving students' ability to think historically by focusing on the concepts of historical evidence and historical perspective. Students go through fourteen primary and secondary sources, examine them in a critical and thoughtful way, and then use them to address the question: What were conditions like for Canadian POW's in Japanese Prisoner of War Camps? Using evidence from the documents provided in the Treatment of Canadian POWs in Japanese Prison Camps, students engage the lenses of inference and observation to draw conclusions about aspects of daily life and conditions in POW camps.

After completing the previous activity students are given the option of choosing one of two summative products:

  • (1) Hong Kong Veterans Photo Narrative Activity: This is a group project where students research twenty images related to the experience of Canadian Hong Kong Veterans in the Pacific Theatre of War. Each image needs to include a caption, sourcing information about the photo, and must portray HKV from the time they left Canada to their return to Canada and what post-POW life was like. Groups need to then narrow down twenty images to five to create a photo narrative of the HKV experience from their perspective. Once groups have narrowed down their images, they create a visual display with a title that captures the story they are trying to tell about HKV's experiences. For the last step students defend their photo selections to their peers and the teacher.


  • (2) Participation in the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association Writing Contest: The HKVCA Writing Contest is designed to provide students with an opportunity to show creativity while demonstrating an understanding of the effect the WWII years had on our veterans. Entries from across Canada are judged using the following criteria: authenticity of research and organization of material; demonstration of empathy; demonstration of knowledge; and creativity.

Suggested Resources:

In 2012, for example, I created the Treatment of Canadian POWs in Japanese Prison Camps 

"History Doc" for the Critical Thinking Consortium's (TC2).

  • It is a primary and secondary source collection that includes photographs, interviews, books, and websites that invites students to assess whether the living conditions experienced by Canadians held in Japanese Prison of War camps during World War II adhered to the 1929 Geneva Conventions.

Suggested Resources:

Canada Remembers the Defence of Hong Kong. Charlottetown, P.E.I.: Veterans Affairs Canada, 2005. Print.

Colyer, Jill. Creating Canada: A History - 1914 to the Present. Toronto, ON.: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 2010. Print.

Greenfield, Nathan M. The Damned. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2010. Print.

Greenfield, Nathan M. "War Crimes." Canada's History Dec.-Jan. 2011: 36-45. Web. 

Human Rights in Asia Pacific, 1931-1945: Social Responsibility and Global Citizenship. Victoria, B.C.: Ministry of Education, Curriculum Branch, 2001. Print.

McIntosh, Dave. Hell on Earth: Aging Faster, Dying Sooner: Canadian Prisoners of the Japanese during World War II. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1997. Print.


LESSON RESOURCES (Click on the link)


Canadians POWs and the Battle of Hong Kong

Graeme Stacey


Kelowna, British Columbia

I created this project for students to make personal connections as I am continually moved and inspired by Canadian Hong Kong Veterans.

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