In 1940 the British regarded their crown colony of Hong Kong and its 20 000-man garrison as expendable in the event of war with Japan and decided against reinforcing it. But in September 1941 the Canadian government agreed to send the Royal Rifles of Canada (a Québec unit) and the Winnipeg Grenadiers, although they were not considered fit for action. They arrived on 16 November 1941 and 22 days later the Japanese attacked the colony's New Territories on the mainland. On December 18 the Japanese crossed to the island of Hong Kong and on Christmas Day the governor surrendered. Of 1975 Canadians, 557 were killed or died in prison camps. Political pressure at home forced the Canadian government to appoint a royal commission to investigate the circumstances of Canada's involvement. The sole commissioner, Chief Justice Sir Lyman Duff, misinterpreted or ignored evidence and exonerated the Cabinet, the Department of National Defence and senior members of the General Staff. In 1948 a confidential analysis by General Charles Foulkes, chief of the general staff, found many errors in Duff's assessment, but concluded that proper training and equipment would have made little difference.

See also World War II.