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Company Sergeant-Major (Warrant Officer Class II) John Robert Osborn, VC, died on December 19, 1941, defending British garrison of Hong Kong against Japanese attack. While fighting with small numbers of his unit, The Winnipeg Grenadiers, Osborn repeatedly showed great acts of heroism, including attacking the enemy single-handedly. On several occasions he picked up and threw back Japanese grenades that had landed in Canadian positions. When he was unable to return one of these grenades, he threw himself on it and was killed instantly. Company Sergeant-Major Osborn was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions that day.


The following is a letter written by John Robert Osborn to his son Gerald dated 1941-04-09, ©Canadian War Museum.

Hello Old Man,

Very pleased to hear from you again, and sorry I couldnít answer before. No I donít like those kisses from the cat, but a smell of that rabbit cooking would be very nice. So you are quite swell with your Air Force suit [one of his boys must have joined the Air Cadets]. Whats the matter with you all have you gone air force crazy. Say listen Son, your mother tells me you have been a bad boy. Whatís the matter with you. You know you promised me that you would be good, and look after mother for me but it doesnít look as if you are. You had better buck up or Iíll be coming home and use my stick again. Gee you and John sure have grown a lot.

Fancy weighing all that much. John sure will be a big man now he has so many ties wonít he. Well old fellow I guess this is about all for this time. So will close hoping to hear that you are a good boy again.

From your old Dad
And Pal



Both selected Battalions, The Royal Rifles of Canada and The Winnipeg Grenadiers, were placed under the unified command of recently promoted Canadian Brigadier J.K. Lawson from Ottawa, Ontario, who, by odd coincidence, had been assigned the task of writing the combat fitness reports on various units in the Canadian Army. He had judged both the Royal Rifles and the Grenadiers as unfit. Now ... he was their Commanding Officer.




Major-General Maltby (left) GOC HK talking to Brigadier Lawson,
Commanding Officer of the Canadian Forces



Brigadier Cedric Wallis

There is no doubt that Brigadier Wallis was a brave man, a fine man who dedicated his life to the service of his country for decades with honour. It is, therefore, difficult to understand his behavior during the final hours of the battle. He became, in the minds of senior Canadian officers, "rattled".

While in a Japanese POW camp Wallis would accuse the Canadians in his war diary of what was tantamount to dereliction of duty and cowardice in the face of the enemy, or that he decided against having their Canadian commander, Lieutenant-Colonel William Home, shot for staging "a bloodless mutiny" because doing so would require the shooting of other Canadian officers, all because Home had implored Wallis to pull the badly depleted and exhausted Rifles back to defensive positions. Sadly, he was referring to the last charge made against the Japanese made by D Company, The Royal Rifles of Canada, and my Dad. Ironically Lt.R.H. Challoner of The Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery described the attack as, "the last glorious charge as the Canadians .." A book by Nathan Greenfield, The Damned, refutes Wallis' claims. To purchase the book, click here.


Brigadier Cedric Wallis
1896 - 1996
These photos were provided by The Wallis Family via Philip Cracknell. My gratitude to them.


Major Maurice A. Parker
Company Commander "D" Company,
The Royal Rifles of Canada.

Byron Willet, Maj. Parker's
Batman. The two men held each
other in high regard.

Philip Doddridge, Company Clerk of
"D" Company who after the war became
a teacher and school principal.



Dr. Ken Cambon died on February 23, 2007. He left behind his wife Dr. Eileen Nason Cambon, his daughters Noreen and Marie, his grandson Harrison, grand daughter, Sybrand, and brother Austen. He was a remarkable man. Who else but a remarkable man could accomplish so much in life after enduring the unendurable. He went on to become a doctor and to write an inspiring book, Guest of Hirohito. Given the circumstance the book was written with humour, and showed a man of great courage. I wish I had met him. More.


Major Wells Arnold Bishop, DSO ED

Lieut. C. A. Blaver

Dr. Stanley Martin Banfill



Col. Harry Atkinson

was born in Selkirk, Manitoba. He leaves to mourn his passing his two sons Dennis (Rene) of Edmonton, AB, and Bill (Angie) of Winnipeg; his two daughters Lori (Doug) Smith of London, ON, and Pat Atkinson (Garry) of Winnipeg, MB, and daughter-in-law Linda; his grandchildren Christopher (Michael), Jennifer (Paul), Kelly, Michael, Amy and Kyle; his special companion Marge Dwyer and her family; numerous nieces, nephews, other family and a host of friends. Harry was predeceased by his two sisters and one brother.

Sgt. Lance Ross, RRoC

In battle he was Fearless He sized up every situation quickly and reacted with speed and accuracy. He was a crack shot. He connected at 800 yards, a distance at which the figure of a man is totally obscured by the front sight of a Lee Enfield. He probably accounted for as many Japanese causalities as the whole platoon put together I shared some space briefly with Lance in North Point Camp. He was still analyzing the campaign and figuring out what went wrong with the defence. (Written by Phil Doddridge)

Medical Corpsman Alfred Babin

Alfred Babin has the elegant bearing of a career soldier. His perfect posture and trim physique make him look taller than he really is and much younger than his years. In manner and grooming he is the epitome of a gentleman, and every inch a soldier. Mr. Babin was born in Moncton, New Brunswick on October 15, 1921. On September 2, 1939, Babin had joined the Canadian Army. He joined a Moncton based Infantry Regiment called the New Brunswick Rangers, and became Infantryman Alfred Babin, serial number G27036.


Taken in Gander, Newfoundland, winter of 1941.
Left to right, J.D. Irvine, Phil Doddridge, Barney Haley

Back row. Left to right: Sgt. Gordon Kerr, Artie Perreault, Unknown, Maj. Maurice Parker, George MacDonell, Percy Willett, CSM Bert Holt. Front row, kneeling: Crandal Irvine (Killed in Action), Gordon Irvine (Killed in Action)



Gander, a Soldier's Best Friend ...

We must not forget the magnificent Newfoundland dog, Sgt. Gander, who outgrew his family in Newfoundland and became our mascot. Like others of his breed he was a huge, gentle, lovable animal, a favourite of all the men in the Regiment. He was looked after by his handler Fred Kelly but I think he had love enough to go around as he showed great affection for all of us. As Regimental Mascot he went everywhere with us, including Hong Kong.

Gander died in Hong Kong defending the men he loved. He was a very brave dog. Three of his acts of courage are recorded. As the Japanese were landing on the beach at Lye Mun, Gander rushed at them barking and biting at their legs. Another time some injured Canadians were lying under cover by the road as a group of Japanese advanced towards them. Gander charged at them causing them to change direction, thus saving the Canadians. His last act of gallantry cost him his life. During heavy fighting a Japanese grenade landed close to some troops. Gander picked up the grenade on the run and continued away from the soldiers. The grenade exploded ending Gander's life. He was awarded the Dickin Medal for "acts of conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in wartime." Fred Kelly was the happiest man alive when he was chosen to receive the medal honouring Gander.




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Books on the Battle of Hong Kong