After 76 years of lying in the ground following the Battle of Hong Kong a Canadian Soldier’s watch was found.
It was a moment no one ever expected.
“Steve, I pass this onto you, I’m thrilled that you are receiving it.”
Stephen Burgess accepted the watch of his great uncle Ray Donald Jackson who was 21 years old when he made the trek overseas to fight in Hong Kong in 1941. This watch, with Jackson’s name and military number engraved on the back, was found in Stanley, Hong Kong in March.
Jackson was part of the Royal Rifles of Canada. They were joined by the Winnipeg Grenadiers and off they went. Two thousand inexperienced soldiers, fighting against all odds to protect the British Colony of Hong Kong against the Japanese.
They had virtually no chance of victory, and soon after stepping foot in Hong Kong, the Japanese attacked in December of 1941. The Canadian soldiers who survived became Prisoners of War and endured torture and starvation by their Japanese captors for years.
Burgess’s uncle was on of many young men that never made it home. His body still lies in Hong Kong.
Burgess says this watch is the only thing his entire family has of his great uncle.
“It’s the only possession of Rays. And there are no known photographs of him either”
One man who knows the horrors of the Battle of Hong Kong all too well was also honoured on Saturday. Gerry Sunstrum, 99, survived the brutal battle, but was held captive for over 3 years. He remembers the long days of labour. “It had to be done, or I wouldn’t be here today. They have some means of getting rid of you, if you don’t obey instructions and that,” Sunstrum said.
Sunstrum is one of 3 surviving Royal Rifles in Ontario. His comrades now live in his heart, but he misses them everyday.
Sunstrum will be 100 in September.