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WWII: An Overview in Moving PicturesWWII: An Overview in Moving PicturesMany Voices, Many StoriesMany Voices, Many StoriesThe Home FrontThe Home FrontCritical PerspectivesCritical PerspectivesSee Everything, Hear Everything
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See Everything, Hear Everything
Watch films, excerpts and view archival artefacts—all chosen by
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Excerpt (5:32)
Savage Christmas: Hong Kong 1941
1991, director: Brian McKenna
Around 2000 Canadians were sent to the UK colony of Hong...
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Excerpt (3:20)
Savage Christmas: Hong Kong 1941
1991, director: Brian McKenna
Two army units in Hong Kong were the first Canadians to...
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Excerpt (5:31)
Savage Christmas: Hong Kong 1941
1991, director: Brian McKenna
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1
Savage Christmas: Hong Kong 1941
Excerpt  (5:32) 1991, director: Brian McKenna
Description The film
Around 2000 Canadians were sent to the UK colony of Hong Kong in 1941 to support the reduced British garrison. Japan had occupied northeast China in 1931, invading the south in 1937 and overrunning Hong Kong in December 1941. Canadians fought their first WWII land combat here. Approximately 290 died in action and almost 300 died later in captivity.

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In the autumn of 1941, nearly 2,000 Canadian soldiers were sent to Hong Kong at the request of the British government. Most of the soldiers were inexperienced and poorly trained, but Britain's military leaders thought a symbolic show of strength would deter a Japanese attack on the colony. Canada's soldiers found themselves in the midst of a desperate battle they could not hope to win. On Christmas Day, 1941, the British colony of Hong Kong officially surrendered to Japan. The surviving defenders became prisoners of war. Over the next three and a half years, many of them would come to envy the dead.