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Immediately Engaged in Battle

Heroes Remember

Immediately Engaged in Battle

We immediately were engaged and the Canadians fought extremely well in a hopeless situation. There wasn't anybody there that knew, that did not know that we were in a terrible spot, that there was no possibility of doing much. First of all, we could not be supplied. The Japanese controlled the air and the sea. We couldn't be reinforced, additional troops couldn't be sent to us. Again, the Japanese controlled the environment completely. We couldn't be withdrawn, there was no way that any of us could escape. The British Navy was absent, the American Navy had been sunk in Pearl Harbour so the island was completely isolated and it meant that it was very difficult from the point of view that we didn't have all of the ammunition that we needed for a prolonged battle. For example, we only had very limited amounts of mortar ammunition which in infantry fighting is very important so it was a very difficult position. The Canadians were given places to defend and they did so. The Japanese Army was not what everybody thought it was. It was a superb army, experienced, trained in it's two or three years fighting in China. Beautifully equipped, it had mules for transport which in the mountain were essential. And we were, we were at a great disadvantage because of the difficulty of running out of ammunition and water. But one of the great problems facing the Canadians was the Japanese were extremely experienced soldiers and with their large numbers they could easily outflank our positions. So constantly, even though we were holding the front in some position or some peak given to us, the Japanese infiltrated behind us and suddenly the fire started to come from the rear and we were trapped. So it was very difficult to hold any position with our limited manpower.

Having no reinforcements and insufficient supplies, Mr. MacDonell explains the difficult situation he and his fellow soldiers encountered.

George MacDonell

Mr. MacDonell was born in Edmonton, Alberta on August 15, 1922. He lost his parents at an early age and was raised by his uncle and family. In 1939, he ran away from home and made the decision to join the army. Mr. MacDonell served as Company Sergeant Major during the Battle of Hong Kong and in 1941 was captured and was a POW for four years. Post-military, Mr. MacDonell earned his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Toronto and went on to have a successful business career. Mr. MacDonell is very active in his city and very proud of having served. Mr. MacDonell is retired and resides in Toronto, Ontario.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
George MacDonell
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Royal Rifles of Canada
Vehicle Technician

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