George MacDonell, of Stratford, Ont., was following in his parents’ footsteps when he enlisted in the Second World War. He was the only son of an army major and nursing sister who met while serving overseas and married after the First World War.
He joined the doomed Royal Rifles of Canada which fought alongside the Winnipeg Grenadiers when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong in December 1941. Two hundred and ninety Canadians were killed and 493 wounded in three weeks of fierce fighting.
“The most vital war effort of the Japanese, destroyed by young Canadians.”
MacDonell was among the nearly 1,200 captured. He spent close to four years in brutal Japanese prisoner of war camps, first in Hong Kong, then in Japan, where prisoners were forced to work in atrocious conditions.
Hong Kong prison...