In Hong Kong, three Commemoration Ceremonies are held annually to commemorate the soldiers and citizens who were killed during the two World Wars. Representatives of the Scout Association of Hong Kong attend all three ceremonies to pay tribute to the Scouts and Scout Leaders who lost their lives in carrying out the defence duties for Hong Kong in the last war.
The first two Commemoration Ceremonies are organised by the Hong Kong SAR Government on 3 September, and Chung Yeung Festival. September 3 is the “Victory Day of the Chinese People’s war of resistance against aggression”. Chung Yeung is traditionally the day when we pay respect to our ancestors and elders who have passed away.
The third Ceremony, known as Remembrance Day Ceremony, is organised by the Hong Kong Ex-servicemen’s Association on Remembrance Day (the second Sunday of November) in memory of those who were killed in the two World Wars and all conflicts since. In particular, we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of Hong Kong during the Japanese invasion and occupation from 1941 to 1945.
This year’s Remembrance Day Ceremony was held on 14 November. In addition to the representatives of the Scout Association, and for the first time, the heads of 13 local Schools laid wreaths at the ceremony in commemoration of their students and staff (in their capacity as Scouts and Scout Leaders) who sacrificed their lives defending Hong Kong during the last world war. The Organisers invited the Scouts from one of these Schools to undertake ceremonial duties for the occasion.
Although no official documents give the exact number of Scout members killed, records do show that over 1,125 Scouts and Scout Leaders joined the Air Raid Precautions Despatch Corps set up by the government in 1938 at the dawn of the Second World War. They carried out civil defence duties such as dispatch riders for delivering messages, first aiders, caring for the wounded, manning of air raid shelters, and guarding places of importance etc. A large number of these Scout members later joined the Volunteers and fought in the brief battle of Hong Kong in December 1941. Unfortunately, many of them were killed in the fighting and during the Japanese occupation.
Their glorious deeds are consistent with the Promise they made upon becoming a Scout: to do their duty to the community they belong to, to help other people at all times and to obey the Scout Law, all of which are the core values of Scouting.
And those values have never changed despite all the difficulties and challenges we faced in the past century. We continually encourage our members to contribute to our country and society by participating in community services, which have always been a part of Scout activities. To promote the value of “helping others”, the “Scout Theme of the Year” has been our perennial signature event. In 2020-2022, “Do you Best, Serve the Community” is our annual theme. Scout members and Scout units are encouraged to organise community services for our society. However, the spread of COVID-19 forced the suspension of face-to-face activities. Fortunately, with the integration of information technology, we can continue our services without physical barriers. For example, despite the suspension of regular visits to the elderly, videos with a variety of entertainments including Erhu and traditional Scout songs performances were produced and uploaded to social media to convey our love and care to the elderly. Younger members joined online activities to share health tips with others. They also completed and sent wish cards to doctors, nurses and healthcare workers to show their appreciation.
This year (2021), we are celebrating our 110th anniversary. Scouting began in 1907 in England and spread out quickly globally. In 1911, the first Scout Group was set up in Hong Kong with 28 Scouts. Since then, Scouting has grown steadily in Hong Kong. We are proud to say that we are the largest uniformed youth organisation in Hong Kong. It is estimated that one out of every 80 people in Hong Kong are active members of the Scout Movement; and about 45% of the uniformed youth members in Hong Kong are Scouts. We will continue to try our best to make Scouting the movement for young people, and to prepare them to be active and contributing members of Hong Kong, the nation, and the world.