"C" Force to Hong Kong: A Canadian Catastrophe, 1941-1945


160 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55002-276-9
DDC 940.54'25





Reviewed by J.L. Granatstein

J.L. Granatstein, distinguished research professor emeritus of history
at York University, is the author of Who Killed Canadian History? and
co-author of The Canadian 100: The 100 Most Influential Canadians of the
20th Century and the Dictionary of Canadi


In December 1941, the understrength brigade that Canada had despatched
to the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong was lost in less than three
weeks of fighting against Japanese forces. Why they were sent by Ottawa
and how they performed in action have been controversial subjects ever
since. A royal commission examined the first question in 1942; the
brigade’s British commander offered his views on the second after the
war. Historians are still trying to make sense of the episode. Brereton
Greenhous, a retired Department of National Defence historian, is the
latest author to try his hand, and he demonstrates beyond doubt that he
is a man of strong opinions, some of which may even be right.

Greenhous freely tosses his adjectives around, slandering this man,
slurring that. He is no ad-mirer of the Cabinet and general staff who
sent the troops, nor of the British leadership under whom they served.
He has substantial regard for the Canadians’ fighting skill (though
the bat-talions there were far from ready for action), and he is fair to
Japanese military prowess and suitably harsh on their maltreatment and
murder of prisoners. The book is good enough on the tactics of the
battle, but it suffers from the author’s failure to use Japanese
sources, all of which are readily available. Published in co-operation
with the Canadian War Museum, “C” Force to Hong Kong might have been
expected to be complete and balanced; regrettably, it is neither.


Greenhous, Brereton., “"C" Force to Hong Kong: A Canadian Catastrophe, 1941-1945,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 15, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/4336.