February 26, 1948 (20th Parliament, 4th Session)


Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)



I cannot speak for my colleagues, because I have not asked them, but I feel reasonably certain that none of them was; and I certainly had not been. That would not be usual. When General Crerar made his report on the operations of the first Canadian army I am quite certain that he did not consult the representatives of the governments of Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, the United Kingdom or the United States just because members of the forces of all those countries at one time or another served in the first Canadian army. I feel reasonably certain that the same would be true of Field Marshal Alexander and of the other reports. In this war the allies were fighting combined operations under unified commands, with the representatives of various nations associated under different commands. As far as I know the practice was not followed of consulting with the representatives of all the countries concerned when it came to the preparation of a report by the general officer commanding, although no doubt there would be exchanges at the official level to verify details.
I was just about to conclude with two short observations, Mr. Speaker. The first is this. We should remember the stage of the war at which Hong Kong took place. These troops left Canada on October 27 and arrived at Hong Kong on November 16. On December 7, 1941, without warning the Japanese forces savagely attacked the United States forces at Pearl Harbor and the British forces at Hong Kong. We all know of the tragic series of disasters that took their course around the whole area of the Pacific, all resulting from those first attacks. It is no secret that the plan envisaged in garrisoning Hong Kong was that it might be held for a number of months, at the end of which it would be relieved by the superior strength of United: States and British naval forces. But the disaster at Pearl Harbor and the loss of
The Address-Mr. Argue

the Repulse and the Prince oj Wales ended any such hope. Not long after, Singapore had to capitulate after active fighting in defence had lasted for eight days. Somewhere between 70,000 and1 100,000 British forces had to surrender there. At Hong Kong the troops went on fighting for seventeen days in most difficult country, on two sides of the narrow strip of water separating the island from the mainland, against overwhelming forces. It is a great feat in the history of our arms that our forces were able to do so well. And, Mr. Speaker, I make this observation in closing. It would be hard to find any better reflection of the war effort of Canada and on the wartime administration of this government than to appreciate the fact that now, after the war is over, and six years after Hong Kong, the members o'f the opposition revive this question as the only serious blot charged against the record of a fine country and a great people doing everything they could to play their part in defeating the enemy.

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