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Poorly Armed for War

Heroes Remember

Poorly Armed for War

The morning it happened, it would be December 8th over there and December 7th over here because of the date line. Young, I think his first name was Earl, Earl Till, he was from Minitonas, Manitoba. He and I were on guard duty at the pillbox we had and the phone rang and I was up on the top and the hole we had dug with the Bren gun and he was down at the door and the phone rang and he went in and the call was for Lieutenant Mitchell and the message was that we were at war with Japan and this would be 6:30, 7:00 o'clock in the morning. And we had no Vickers guns with us. We got Vickers guns from the British, those Vickers guns were in the pillboxes. Each platoon had at least one Bren gun and the NCO's in most cases in D-Company, each of our NCO's, the sergeant, the corporal and the lance corporal and maybe another lance corporal would have Tommy guns, Thompson sub machine guns. The rest of us had our .303's Lee Enfields. In our case, our platoon had no mortars, no two-inch mortars. We had mortar sections that had three-inch mortars but they had no mortar bombs until after, they never got no more mortar bombs until after the battle started and then they got very few for each mortar.

Mr. Atkinson discusses the start of the battle for Hong Kong, and then describes the weapons the Canadians had.

Harold Atkinson

Harold Atkinson was born on February 14, 1922 in Selkirk, Manitoba. He had three siblings. His father, a First World War Veteran, died when he was nine. His family lived on relief, seven dollars a week, and he helped by delivering papers. He finished grade nine, and then in 1940 enlisted. Mr. Atkinson was eighteen when he joined the Winnipeg Grenadiers. He served in Jamaica, guarding German and Italian nationals at an internment camp. He returned to Canada and then went to Hong Kong with his unit. Mr. Atkinson fought against and was taken prisoner by the Japanese. As a prisoner, he heard several comrades bayoneted to death. Mr. Atkinson worked at Kai Tak airport and in North Point Camp's diphtheria ward. In Omini, Japan he worked as a stevedore at the shipyard. When the war ended, Mr. Atkinson was fortunate enough to be flown home.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Harold Atkinson
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Winnipeg Grenadiers
Machine Gunner

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