The Second Mission: Canadian Survival in Hong Kong Prisoner-of-War Camps, 1941-1945

Description
Title: The Second Mission: Canadian Survival in Hong Kong Prisoner-of-War Camps, 1941-1945
Authors: Schwarzkopf, Matthew
Date: 2019-03-13
Abstract: In November of 1941, 1,973 Canadian soldiers and two nurses sailed from Vancouver for Hong Kong to garrison the British colony and help defend it in the event of a Japanese attack. The ensuing battle was a decisive defeat for the defenders. 555 Canadians never returned home, over half of those dying in captivity, either in Hong Kong or later once transferred to Japan. The prisoners would become Canada’s longest serving prisoners-of-war of the Second World War and arguably suffered worse than any others. Yet, despite the high casualties, 84 per cent of the 1,684 initial captives survived the ordeal as prisoners in Hong Kong. Once one begins to understand what these men went through, it seems remarkable that so many of them managed to survive at all. This thesis explores Canadian survival in Hong Kong prison camps and the various methods these captives used to overcome boredom, violence, disease, hunger, loneliness, and hopelessness. Using as a research basis clandestine diaries, journals, memoirs, and letters to and from family members, this thesis argues that the Canadians survived due to strong leadership, commitment to duty, creative ingenuity, and a firm determination to return to their families. Uncertainty was an unyielding enemy from day to day and the Hong Kong POWs had to rely on themselves and their compatriots to keep mentally sharp and physically fit. Canadian prisoners in Hong Kong were abused by their captors, fed meager rations, suffered a myriad of tropical diseases, and lived in appalling conditions. The fact that so many survived is a testament to their courage and resilience. This thesis will show how they did it.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/38898
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-23148
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
Files
Schwarzkopf_Matthew_2019_thesis.pdfThe Second Mission: Canadian Survival in Hong Kong Prisoner-of-War Camps, 1941-19451.47 MBAdobe PDFOpen