More than 70 years on, seven Second World War veterans are set to be honoured by a permanent memorial in St. Vital.
The monument, in commemoration of the Arden Seven, will be unveiled at Jules Mager Park (River Road and St. Michael Road) at 10 a.m. on Sat., July 12.
The park is located one block south of Arden Avenue, the area where the soldiers — Fred Abrahams (also known as Fred Harting); Bill Lancaster; twin brothers George and Morris Peterson; and brothers Alfred, Edward and Harry Shayler — hailed from.
Bob Holliday, president of the St. Vital Historical Society, said the idea for the monument came from MLA for Riel Christine Melnick.
"Melnick, then the provincial minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism, approached city councillor Brian Mayes, who approached the St. Vital Historical Society for information and a meeting was arranged with the sole Arden Seven survivor, George Peterson," Holliday said.
"Following two meetings in the SVHS board room, the plans for the monument were officially unveiled during an August 2013 convention of Hong Kong veterans in Winnipeg," he added.
"The Arden Seven joined the Winnipeg Grenadiers, who were sent to defend Hong Kong. Greatly outnumbered, the garrison surrendered on Christmas Day 1941. After 17 days of fierce fighting, 290 Canadians were dead and another 500 wounded — the highest casualty rate of any Canadian battle during the Second World War. The survivors spent the remainder of the war — 44 months — as prisoners living in torturous conditions that caused the deaths of 264 soldiers."
George Peterson, 93, is the only surviving member of the Arden Seven.
"He’s a paid-up member SVHS member through 2027 because he says he’s going to live until he’s 106 years old," Holliday said.
For more information, visit www.svhs.ca