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A Message to Youth

Heroes Remember

I went to the sister high school in Winnipeg about 1986. I was asked to go the day before Remembrance Day and give them a talk about Hong Kong and the battle. One part of it was visiting that cemetery at Sai Wan and I told them that I'm an old man now but when I was over on that pilgrimage (this was ‘86) when I was over on that pilgrimage in 1985, and walked down those steps to the Canadian section, and saw the names of my buddies on those tombstones, and as I told the kids some of them as young or younger than you that died, killed in action and died in prison camp, I said that's just the way it comes back to me. I said it's hard for you people to understand how I feel now or whatever but I said those young men were just like you were here today. I wouldn't want to see another conflict, no way, shape or form, but we do need an armed forces for different safe guards and I would expect as my sons grew up I always told them that, they said, “How would I feel if another war came along?” I said, “Well I would expect you to do the same thing I did, join and defend your country.” And that's what I can only tell young people today that if a war did come, the only way our country is going to be continued, to be able to continue on the way it is now is by individuals like you and you and you joining up and defending it, it's the only way you can do it.

Mr. Atkinson discusses the message he conveys to youth, in which he compares the ages of his audience with those who died in Hong Kong and the Japanese labor camps.

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
Winnipeg Grenadiers
Machine Gunner

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