Mr Gerrard at a dedication ceremony in front of a defensive bunker.Horrace Gerrard
Dedication ceremony attended by Mr. Gerrard.Horace Gerrard
"There was no defense for the planes, there was no ack-ack defense in Hong Kong, so the planes could fly wherever they wanted quite easily. The bombing was quite fierce and the shelling."
I was in the reserve artillery in Red Deer [Alberta] and I joined when I was 16 in 1938. The day before the war broke out, I was called up and at noontime, I had to report to the colonel and he needed a dozen men to go to Victoria [British Columbia]. I was 17; didn’t have to go, but I went anyway, as did several others and we left that afternoon and we were signed up in Calgary that night and then left that same night for Victoria. And in Victoria, we joined the 5th Heavy Battery [Royal Canadian Artillery].
We trained on 12-pounder guns and six-inch guns, as coastal defense. After I finished my training, I was a signaller with the Red Deer Battery, so I took a course in signaling again and was sent to [Fort] Rodd Hill as a wireless operator. We worked with the navy, who examined all ships that were going through the Juan de Fuca Strait. I served in several forts there. After Rodd Hill, I was sent out, we had a gun on the end of the breakwater in Victoria, believe it or not, and we lived on the end of the wall. And from there, I went to Golf Hill, which was across the harbour. Then we were transferred to the Mary Hill branch out at Mary Hill and I came into another battery then.
Then the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals took over all communications on the coast. So we were transferred to the Signal Corps. I was only there a few months and then I was sent to [Camp] Barriefield, [Kingston] Ontario, for the formation of the signals in the 4th [Canadian Armoured] Division. And we were two months in Barriefield and then moved to Debert, Nova Scotia and we had further training there and we were waiting for a convoy to go to Europe. And a bunch of us were sent back to Ottawa and were reequipped and then out to Vancouver and got right from the train onto the boat and headed for Hong Kong.
We were 18 days at sea. We arrived in Hong Kong. We met up 14,000 defending troops of Hong Kong and there was 65,000 Japanese troops lined up on the border. So it wasn’t very pleasant and of course, the morning of Pearl Harbour, we had manned battle positions the day before and two hours after [the attack on] Pearl Harbour, we were fighting the Japanese.
The first week of the battle was the Japanese were intent on blowing us out with artillery fire and bombing. There was no defense for the planes, there was no ack-ack [anti-aircraft] defense in Hong Kong, so the planes could fly wherever they wanted quite easily. The bombing was quite fierce and the shelling.
On the 19th of December, the Japanese landed in Hong Kong. And one of the first landing places was in Wong Nei Chong Gap, where I was situated. And they landed at night in the pitch dark and advanced up through the valley.
I moved on to several places and I was at Wan Chai Gap and - where there used to be the jockey club and various places like that. I was in Wan Chai twice. I was sent out once and then came back and then sent out again on Christmas Day, which was the day of surrender.