Lest we forget

Private, The Winnipeg Grenadiers (M.G.) C.A.S.F., 4th Canadian Division

Lest we forget | | | Service Personnel Information | Essay | Military Service Record | Grave Reference | Additional information/links | Citations | Work Cited | Archival Reference | Internet Sites | =

Service Personnel Information

  • Name: Bernard Benedict Whalen

  • Service Regimental Number: H-6140

  • Rank: Private

  • Height/weight: 5'8ft / 124 pounds

  • Colour of eyes: Blue

  • Marital status: Married

  • Religion: Christian

  • Address: 23 Hargrave Street

  • Next of Kin (and relationship): Mrs. Florence Adele Whalen (Wife)

  • Date of enlistment: September 7, 1939

  • City and province of enlistment: Winnipeg, Manitoba


Before Serving

Bernard Benedict Whalen was born on March 1st, 1915 in Winnipeg, Manitoba to Peter Whalen and Cecelia Whalen who had three other sons. His brothers, Cecil and Patrick also served in the army, Patrick in the Forestry Corp and Cecil with the Winnipeg Grenadiers alongside Bernard. His father, Peter, died in August 1936, three years before Bernard enlisted in the army. His parents lived at 23 Hargrave Street. Before Bernard began to serve in the army he worked as a mechanic. Bernard married Florence Adele Whalen on April 17, 1933 at St. Mary’s Rectory, and they lived together on 430 Edmonton Street. They had one child together whose name was Warren Edward Whalen.


Bernard enlisted in the army on September 7, 1939, with the Winnipeg Grenadiers. Bernard had a near perfect medical examination prior to being enlisted. He had no medical problems other than dental caries. He had an average height of five feet and eight inches and weighed 124 pounds which meant he was pretty slim. Bernard had an appendix scar which means he might’ve had an operation done on him sometime previously. A little more than a year after Bernard enlisted his mother Cecilia Whalen died.

The Winnipeg Grenadiers

The Winnipeg Grenadiers was an infantry division which was active between the years of 1908 to 1965. Their badge was a grenade Sable enflamed Gules and Argent. The use of grenades gave way to a type of infantryman called a Grenadier. A grenadier was specially trained and equipped for throwing grenades. The red and white in the badge’s flame are the regiment’s colors as well as the official colors of the country. Their motto was ADSUM (present), which was Latin for ‘I am present.’ This Reserve Force regiment had first originated on April 1, 1908. During the Second World War the regiment mobilized ‘The Winnipeg Grenadiers (Machine Gun), CASF’ for active service on the 1st of September, 1939. They served on garrison duty in Jamaica and Bermuda from May 1940 to October 1941. They also fought in the Battle of Hong Kong.

The Battle of Hong Kong

During World War II, the British hoped to deter hostile action by Japan and decided to reinforce their outpost in Hong Kong. To aid in defending the Crown Colony, Canada sent a force of 1 975, which consisted of two battalions, the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada. On October 27, 1941, they sailed to Hong Kong from Vancouver, and arrived on November 16. The battle of Hong Kong was unique in that it was no large scale battle. 14 000 allied troops from Canada, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, China and India men defended the Colony. They had men that represented the navy, air force, army, and every supporting unit. The Colony consisted of the island of Hong Kong as well as the adjacent mainland areas of Kowloon and the “New Territories”. The Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles along with Britain’s Middlesex Regiment formed the island brigade. The two Canadian battalions had no previous battle experience. The Winnipeg Grenadiers had only served garrison duty in Jamaica, and the Royal Rifles in Newfoundland. They had not received all the training that was required for front-line troops. They felt that they would have the time to complete the training, but instead thery became the first Canadian soldiers to fight as a unit in World War II when Japan attacked almost simultaneously in Pearl Harbor, Northern Malaya, the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, and Hong Kong. The Japanese forced all mainland troops to withdraw to the island, and on December 18, Japan invaded Hong Kong Island. Their invasion was overwhelming and was backed with a heavy arsenal of artillery and air support. The Allied troops had no significant air or naval defence. They also had no hope of being relieved or resupplied. The Canadian soldiers fought on however, and stood their ground for as long as they could and it was not until Christmas Day that the Colony surrendered.

Early prisoners who were captured at the start of all the fighting were brought to Fan Ling. These prisoners would not see their comrades until mid January. The next group to be captured were taken during and after the fighting in Wong Nai Chung Gap on December 19th. They were then marched off to North Point refugee camp and from there to the Argyle Street Camp and other locations. The camps were rationalised in January. The North Point camp became the Canadian and Royal Navy Camp and would be where the Winnipeg Grenadiers would have been held. Shamshuipo kept the British Army and HKVDC, Ma Tau Chong became the British Indian Army Camp, and enemy civilians were sent to the Stanley Internment Camp.


Bernard was captured along with hundreds of other troops from the Winnipeg Grenadiers. The captured prisoners were taken by the Japanese at the Wong Nai Chong Gap. His brother Cecil was also among those who were captured. While Bernard was being marched along in a line with other fellow soldiers who were all blindfolded, he and a fellow comrade were taken out of the line and were forced to strip. They were both then stabbed with a bayonet and were executed with a gun by a Japanese officer. He died on December 19th, 1941.


Bernard Benedict Whalen is honored at Sai Wan Memorial in Victoria, Hong Kong along with over 2000 men of the land forces of the British Commonwealth and Empire who died in the defence of Hong Kong during World War II. The men who died between 1939 and 1945 died during the defence of Hong Kong in 1941 and the years following while in captivity have no known grave. Bernard is honored in a dedicatory inscription of the Sai Wan Memorial in column 28. He is also commemorated on page 48 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance.

Military Service Record

  • Age (at death):26

  • Force: Army

  • Unit: Winnipeg Grenadiers

  • Service Number: H - 6140

  • Honours and Awards:Pacific Star, War Medal, Canadian Service Volunteer Medal

  • Next of Kin (and relationship): Mrs. Florence Adele Whalen (Wife)

  • Date of Death: December 19, 1941

  • Country of Burial: China

  • Cemetery: Sai Wan Memorial

  • Grave Reference: Column 28

  • Location: Victoria, Hong Kong

  • Book of Remembrance: Commemorated on Page 48 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance

Grave Reference

  • Name of Cemetery: Sai Wan Memorial
  • Grave Reference: Column 28

The Winnipeg Grenadiers Memorial in Sai Wai Memorial

Additional information/links

The Winnipeg Grenadiers Badge

The North Point refugee camp

Winnipeg Grenadiers in Camp Shamshwipo

Bernard's brother, Sgt. Cecil Whalen

Bernard's house at 23 Hargrave Street has been replaced with an apartment


Work Cited

Beddoe, Allan. Second Wolrd War Book of Rememberance. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 48. Veterans Affairs Canada. Web. 14 May 2012. <‌images/‌collections/‌books/‌bww2/‌ww2048.jpg>. Bernard Whalen’s page in the Second World War Book of Rememberance.

“Canada and the Defence of Hong Kong.” Veterans Affairs Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2012. <‌eng/‌collections/‌virtualmem/‌photoview/‌2129848/‌66185>. An article on Canada’s role in the defense of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong War Diary. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <‌book3thepows.html>. A website containing information on the Hong Kong Prisoners of war such as when and where they were captured as well as what they were put through during their time there.

“Honh Kong Prisoners Are Listed.” The Winnipeg Evening Tribune 16 Oct. 1942: n. pag. Manitobia. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <‌content/‌en/‌newspapers/‌WPT/‌1942/‌10/‌16/‌articles/‌6.xml
/‌iarchives?query=margaret%2BAND%2Bcecilia%2BAND%2Bwhalen%2BAND%2Bdoctype%3Anewspapers>. Newspaper listing of 276 names from the Winnpeg Grenadiers that were captured in Hong Kong sent by Tokyo.

“Names of 507 Hong Kong Prisoners In New List Issued By Ottawa.” The Winnipeg Evening Tribune 2 Sept. 1942: n. pag. Manitobia. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <‌content/‌en/‌newspapers/‌WPT/‌1942/‌09/‌02/‌articles/‌20.xml/‌iarchives?query=Warren%2BAND%2BEdward%2BAND%2BWhalen%2BAND%2Bdoctype%3Anewspapers>. Updated list of 507 of the Winnipeg Grenadiers taken prisoner in Hong Kong.

“Nomial Roll Of Canadian Forces At Hong Kong.” The Winnipeg Evening Tribune 26 Dec. 1941: n. pag. Manitobia. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <‌content/‌en/‌newspapers/‌WPT/‌1941/‌12/‌26/‌articles/‌166.xml/‌iarchives?query=Warren%2BAND%2BEdward%2BAND%2BWhalen%2BAND%2Bdoctype%3Anewspapers>. A list issued by Ottawa of the names of the Winnipeg Grenadiers and Royal Rifles serving in Hong Kong.

“Obituary.” The Winnipeg Evening Tribune 27 Dec. 1940: n. pag. Manitobia. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <‌content/‌en/‌newspapers/‌WPT/‌1940/‌12/‌27/‌articles/‌243.xml/‌iarchives?query=margaret%2BAND%2Bcecilia%2BAND%2Bwhalen%2BAND%2Bdoctype%3Anewspapers>. An obituary with Bernard Whalen’s mother in it.

“The Winnipeg Grenadiers.” National Defence and the Canadian Forces. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2012. <‌dhh-dhp/‌his/‌ol-lo/‌vol-tom-3/‌par2/‌wg-eng.asp>. A government page on the Winnipeg Grenadiers.

Archival Reference

Military service files of Private Officer Bernard Benedict Whalen (RG 24, Volume 27314) obtained from Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario.

Internet Sites


example from LAC