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Battle of Hong Kong veterans honoured with plaza

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From left to right: Retired soldier George Peterson, Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) and MLA for Riel Christine Melnick at the recent plaza unveiling announcement.

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From left to right: Retired soldier George Peterson, Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) and MLA for Riel Christine Melnick at the recent plaza unveiling announcement. Photo Store

Seven Second World War heroes from St. Vital will be honoured with a new commemorative plaza.

The men, who hailed from Arden Avenue in the Pulberry area of St. Vital, volunteered, fought, and were captured during the Battle of Hong Kong during the Second World War in 1941.
The soldiers served in the Winnipeg Grenadiers and included Fred Abrahams (also known as Fred Harting), Bill Lancaster, twin brothers George and Morris Peterson and brothers Alfred, Edward and Harry Shayler, officials say.

All seven men survived the famous battle, which raged for 17 days. Records show that 290 Canadians were killed and another 493 were wounded during the battle. Survivors endured nearly four years of captivity in Japanese prisoner-of-war and work camps.

Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) recently told The Lance "Christine Melnick, MLA for Riel, first proposed the idea for a memorial to the Arden Seven some months ago, and we are both very pleased that we have been able to work together to bring the idea to reality. It is especially rewarding to announce this project with George Peterson, the last surviving member of the Arden Seven."

"We are proud to honour the seven young men who as friends, neighbours and comrades joined our armed forces to battle, under the most horrific conditions, for the freedom that we now enjoy," said Premier Greg Selinger in a news release.

"The peace and tranquility of this new interpretive plaza will be an appropriate place to reflect and remind all those who visit of the courage and dedication of these men. We will remember them."

Funding for the interpretive plaza, which will be located in Jules Mager Park at the corner of St. Michael Road and River Road, will come from the province and the city through the Building Communities Initiative II to the tune of $75,000.

The plaza will feature seven chairs symbolizing the seven soldiers who served together, landscaped berms and retaining walls, pathways and commemorative plaques in both official languages.

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