Canadian soldiers remembered in silver 75 years on from Battle of Hong Kong

The commemorations for the First and Second World Wars continues apace with more coins from the major mints over the last week or so. The newest coin to be launched is a silver one from the markets most prolific producer, the Royal Canadian Mint. In a break from the flood of Great War commemoratives, this one features a battle little known to many, the 1941 Battle of Hong Kong, one in which Canadian forces played a large role.


Just a few hours after Japanese forces launched their sneak attack on the Hawaiian base of the US Navy at Pearl Harbor, they also launched an assault on the British Crown colony of Hong Kong (sensing a pattern forming here…). Taking place from 08 December 1941 through to the 25th of the same month, the attack was a breach of international law as Japan had failed to declare war on the British Empire. There was strong resistance from the local troops, British, Canadian and Indian units that made up the Hong Kong garrison.

Despite the valiant defense against superior numbers, the Empire forces abandoned the mainland within a fortnight, surrendering soon after as the position became more and more untenable. Some 1,975 Canadian troops were amongst the defenders, 290 falling in the battle with a further 493 wounded. A further 267 died in the inevitable brutality that marked the Japanese treatment of pow’s through the war.

The commander of the Japanese forces, Takashi Sakai remained governor of Hong Kong until 1942, after which he was recalled to Japan where he retired a year later. Despite that, he was tried for war crimes in China and executed by firing squad for the many atrocities, including the outright murder of medical staff and patients, that took place in Hong Kong under his tenure.


The coin is struck in four-nines silver to a proof standard and remains thankfully devoid of colour or gilding, neither of which we think would suit the artwork here. It’s a great looking coin, full of action. There are some nice touches like the Zero fighter going down in flames in the background. The concrete pillbox looks a little misplaced and mis-scaled, a minor point, but overall the scene of Canadian troops, bayonets fixed, charging over the landscape is a good one.

The obverse depicts the effigy of King George VI instead of the usual QEII. That’s a pleasant change, especially as we’re not particular fans of the current effigy used by the RCM of the Queen compared to earlier ones. Packed in the usual maroon clamshell case inside a themed shipper box, the 10,000 mintage coin sells for $89.95 CAD, towards the low end for a silver ounce from the RCM. A serialised certificate of authenticity is enclosed. Available to buy now, it ships from 4 October.


$20 RCM Battle of Hong Kong reverse


Canada’s first land combat of the Second World War began on December 8, 1941, when, mere hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese launched an invasion on the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong. Outnumbered and less well equipped than the enemy, the odds were not in the Canadians’ favour as they defended the peninsula, then the island itself. Over 550 of the 1,975 Canadians sent to Hong Kong never made it home; but during the 17 days of fierce fighting, they fought valiantly, even engaging in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy, as they defended Hong Kong to the very end. This fine silver coin pays tribute to the bravery and resolve of these Canadian soldiers throughout the Battle of Hong Kong.

DESIGN: Designed by Canadian artist Joel Kimmel, your coin captures the intensity of the fight and the sheer bravery of Canadian soldiers during the Battle of Hong Kong (December 8-25, 1941). Amidst the jungle conditions and rugged terrain of Hong Kong Island, two Canadian soldiers are among the Allied forces that formed a line of defence to counter the enemy’s advance toward the Wong Nai Chung Gap. The soldier in the foreground is dressed in the shorts and short sleeves of the Pacific uniform; rushing forward with resolve and courage, he makes his way past a concrete pillbox that bears the markings of heavy artillery fire. Behind him, a soldier moves up the sloped edge of a cliff overlooking the bay, and aims his Lee Enfield rifle with bayonet.

The all-out enemy assault was backed by a strong air presence, as represented by the Mitsubishi Zero falling from the clouds towards the ground, with heavy smoke rising up from its propeller. The overwhelming nature of the Japanese attack is also conveyed through the ships that fill the bay between the island and the mountainous mainland in the background.





$20 CANADIAN 0.9999 SILVER 31.39 g 38.0 mm PROOF  10,000 YES / YES