By Bob Gordon @ Military History Magazine
Just after dawn on Christmas Day 1941 wounded Canadian Pvt. Sid Vale lay in his bed in Hong Kong’s St. Stephen’s College, then in use as an Allied military field hospital. Immobilized by his injuries, he could only shudder at the screams of a nurse being raped by Japanese soldiers in the next room. Minutes earlier the invading soldiers had marched off two British medical officers—hospital commander Lt. Col. George Black and adjutant Captain Peter Witney—who had rushed to head off the Japanese beneath a Red Cross flag at the building entrance. The men’s bayoneted, mutilated corpses turned up the next day on the ground floor of the hospital. A third officer, Sgt. William Parkin, was shot as he sought to flee.
Surging into the first-floor ward, the intruders had summarily executed nearly two-dozen patients in their beds before gang raping four Chinese nurses, three of whom they later killed. Japanese soldiers then serially raped the remaining three nurses in another room. By the time the atrocities ended at St. Stephen’s that horrific Christmas morning, upward of 70 patients and staff members had been killed, several tortured beforehand. Many of the victims were Canadians, members of a 1,975-strong force hurriedly dispatched to bolster the Crown colony’s defenses. They had arrived less than a month before war broke out in the Pacific, and those who were not killed in the defense of Hong Kong were condemned to the living hell of Japanese prison camps.