Premier Stephen McNeil, who is also Military Relations Minister, paid respects to Nova Scotia soldiers who lost their lives during the Battle of Hong Kong in the Second World War.
The premier laid wreaths today, Sept.
7, at the graves of two Nova Scotians buried at Sai Wan War Cemetery and commemorated the honourable service of all Canadians who served in Hong Kong during the war.
“The Battle of Hong Kong was one of the first tests faced by our soldiers during the Second World War,” said Premier McNeil. “They met that test with all the courage and determination they could muster. Their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice in defence of freedom continues to inspire us all.”
There are 283 Canadians buried at Sai Wan War Cemetery, including 107 who are unidentified. Premier McNeil honoured the sacrifices of two Nova Scotians buried there who served in the Royal Rifles of Canada. Henry Andrew Surette of Port Bickerton, Guysborough Co., who served as a rifleman, died on Dec. 25, 1941, the day the island fell to the Japanese. Leo Abbey Cormier of Amherst, also a rifleman, perished Oct. 16, 1942, while a prisoner of war.
“It is humbling to stand among the graves of these heroes and know that they were prepared to put their lives on the line to preserve freedom,” said Premier McNeil. “They have been called the greatest generation, and there can be no doubt that our world is a safer place because of what they did here in Hong Kong.
“Their deaths, while tragic, are part of Canada’s long and distinguished tradition of military service that is carried on today by members of our military and their families.”
Premier McNeil also laid a wreath at the memorial to mark 2,000 people who died in an effort to defend the island. Among the names on the memorial are two other Nova Scotians serving with the Royal Rifles of Canada: Rifleman Percy Coleman Atwood of Barrington, Shelburne Co.; and Rifleman William Joseph McGrath of McGrath Cove, Halifax Co. Both died Dec. 23, 1941.
Nova Scotia is the only province with a Military Relations Minister, emphasizing the importance of the military to Nova Scotians.
The stop is part of a visit to Southeast Asia by Premier McNeil to promote enhanced trade links and investment opportunities in Nova Scotia.