During the Second World War, the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong was destined to be the first place the Canadian Army fought a land battle against the Axis powers.
On December 8, 1941, 2 x battalions of Canadians, The Winnipeg Grenadiers and The Royal Rifles of Canada were an important part of the British garrison defending Hong Kong against a Japanese attack.
Just hours after simultaneous Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, Malaya, Singapore and the Philippines the enemy struck. Within 5 days they had occupied all of the New Territories (bordering mainland China) and the Kowloon Peninsula. Now they were poised to invade Hong Kong Island itself!
VALOUR & SACRIFICE
There are many tales of bravery and gallantry among the beleaguered and besieged defenders of the small British Colony but one in particular is remembered in this initial release…
On 19 December, the second day of fighting after the Japanese had landed on Hong Kong Island, soldiers of “A” Company, Winnipeg Grenadiers were holding defensive positions in the centre of the Island.
Japanese troops had surrounded the ‘Winnipeggers’ and were lobbing grenades into the Canadian position. On numerous occasions, Company Sergeant Major John Osborn, a WW1 veteran, picked them up and threw them back at the enemy.
When one fell where Osborn could not reach it in time, he shouted a warning to his men and threw himself onto the grenade smothering the explosion. He was killed instantly but his sacrifice saved the lives of many of his men.
CSM Osborn was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest military award for bravery in the field.
King & Country is proud to produce a squad of 6 x fighting Canadian infantrymen in two small sets as they appeared in the dark days of December 1941.