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Canadian Decision Regarding Hong Kong. Duty and Patriotism

Heroes Remember

Canadian Decision Regarding Hong Kong. Duty and Patriotism

Interviewer: When you think back on the decision to send you men Seaforce to Hong Kong and you think of the chaotic battle at Hong Kong and the captivity that you endured for almost 4 years, when you think back on that Mr. Cyr what's your attitude toward the Canadian government? Well, I don't think, I don't think that the authorities of the day played fair. It's now, it's now been proven, because we have documentation to that effect, that Canada knew on the day that we left that there were two possible solutions. One we would die there or the other we would become prisoners of war because Britain had made the commitment that Hong Kong was not going to be defended period. So the authorities knew this. So they knowingly sent, you know 17, 1900 men to, sent them to peril knowingly so. For this, for this I blame them and I accuse them of being totally unfair. I grant you in wartime you join the military to do what you're told to do and to go where you're told to go, but from a human a human rights standpoint is it fair to do it knowingly. Maybe you should tell these people. Give them a chance to volunteer to go. Say "listen there are not too many chances that you will come back alive, however" and I'll bet you, had they put it that way, they might have, they might have received the voluntarism in 90% proportions, but nobody said anything. Interviewer: Is it important to you that Canadians understand and appreciate what you men went through? Yes it is, it is important in the sense that, mind you if you're a soldier and you're a part of the defeated, defeated army defeated group you go on the rest of your life and you say well I wonder if I'd have done things differently if the outcome would have been different. Also you carry the baggage of your comrades who didn't come back, who died since because of. So the only true rehabilitation that you have is your perception that the world around you understands and says so in terms that you understand. Interviewer: One last question Mr. Cyr. If you had the opportunity of speaking to young Canadians of this generation or future generations about pride, country, patriotism, duty, what would you say to them? Well as a matter of fact I do speak to young people often. I'm one of the charter... charter speakers at the Terry Fox Youth Organization here and my message is, is consistently the same. Number one, no more war because nobody wins. Secondly, we have to teach our younger folk to develop ways and means of communicating efficiently so that problems can be solved before somebody has to run in the house and pick up the gun, okay. Thirdly, the metal of a country is tested when that country is in difficulty and the end result of the test is translated in terms of the unity of the people of the country towards the given goal and objective that the country set for itself. That's a long winded answer. Interviewer: Mr. Cyr are you proud of the service that you and the men of the Royal Rifles of Canada and the Winnipeg Grenadiers gave? Absolutely, I mean I have never...I've never thought for a moment that it was a mistake on my part to come to the fore when I heard the call of the country. And I would do it again tomorrow if I were able.

Mr. Cyr reflects on the Canadian decision to send 1900 men to Hong Kong, knowing it was not possible to defend it. He also expresses his feelings about how Canadians view their contribution to the Second World War effort and what he would say to young Canadians about duty and patriotism.

Roger Cyr

Roger Cyr was born on March 6, 1922 at New Richmond in the Gaspé region of Québec. He was the oldest of nine children. His siblings were four brothers and four sisters. His father was a lineman for an electrical company in the United States. He eventually returned to Canada and worked as a chef with Canadian National Railways. Roger enlisted in late 1941 with the Royal Rifles of Canada. In late October 1941, he and hundreds of other members of the Canadian Army left Vancouver, arriving in the British colony of Hong Kong on November 14, 1941.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Roger Cyr
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Royal Rifles of Canada

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