SGT GANDER and The Battle of Hong Kong

My name is JP Bear and I have written a Screenplay about the story of a Canadian WWII War Hero and I Need Your Help!   This film is based on the true story of the Battle of Hong Kong which took place from December 8 – 25, 1941.

Since learning of this story, I sat down and began writing the screenplay for a full length feature film.  After I spoke with professionals in the film industry, I was advised to change the genre.  I was told it would be more financially successful with the film as a Documentary.  

My passion for this story is due to a couple factors. First, I have owned Newfoundland dogs throughout my life.  

Secondly, being a US Army Vietnam Veteran and learning the facts of the Canadian Unit which was assigned to the Hong Kong I can understand their feelings of joy to come home after the war.  Their disappointment of their Veteran’s Affairs not fully welcoming them, upon their return, after having to endure over 44 months being interred in Japanese POW Work Camps under horrendous conditions.  

My Research and Development goal to get this film introduced to production companies is $10,000.  I need financial assistance for:





TRAVEL -              30%        $3,000

                                            RESEARCH -          25%        $2,500

                                            MARKETING -      15%        $1,500

PRINTING -          20%        $2,000

                                             EDITING -             10%       $1,000


This Courageous Newfoundland Dog Fearlessly helped defend Hong Kong and his Fellow Canadian Soldiers from the invading Japanese Army during WWII.

His name was SGT GANDER and before becoming a beloved Army mascot, this Newfoundland dog was a beloved family pet named Pal. 


PAL was born April 15, 1935 in Botwood Newfoundland and in July 1938 he became the Hayden family pet and best friend of their 2-year old son, Jack.  The Hayden’s lived on the grounds of the Gander Airport, where Rod Hayden was the Refueling Manager for the Shell Oil Company. 

PAL enjoyed playing with the neighborhood children of Gander. He also worked helping Jack’s Father, by pulling a 4-wheeled sled carrying 2-50 gallon drums of airplane fuel, to refuel the Army Airplanes while on their way to England for WWII.

One winter day, while PAL was playing with the children, an unfortunate accident occurred when he severely scratched the face of one of the children.  Because of PAL’s large size, it was decided to give him to the Royal Rifles of Canada to be their mascot.

The men of the unit decided to change PAL’s name to GANDER in honor of the village he was from.


Over the last 3 years I have been researching the story of GANDER and wanting to tell his and his fellow Canadian Soldier’s story at the Battle of Hong Kong. Being the owner of 4 Newfoundland dogs I have learned how this breed of dog is not only highly intelligent but also displays Unconditional Love.

GANDER was not trained to be a military dog, he was a pet and lived by the motto, “Always Loving – Always Loved”.  While researching the story about this amazing dog, I have gained the utmost respect for him.  


After becoming the mascot of the Royal Rifles of Canada, GANDER because of his exceptional physical attributes he was assigned to the Military Police Division of the unit and promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

Rifleman Fred Kelly was put in charge of GANDER’s care, he bathed him, exercised him and even had an occasional beer with him.  GANDER was quite the character and yes… was a Newfoundland Dog with all the typical traits that he exhibited.

When the men would go to Gander Lake to swim in the summertime, GANDER and Kelly would tag along.  When the men jumped into the water, to cool off and have some fun, GANDER would perform his typical Newfoundland dog duties and began to “RESCUE” the men, by pulling them out of the water.


I not only want to tell GANDER’s tale, but I wanted to tell the story about the men he was attached to.  The Royal Rifles of Canada and the Winnipeg Grenadiers were formed as 1 unit, renamed “C-Force” and the devotion of these men and this Courageous Dog, for each other, showed all who knew of their bond as soldiers, that they had each other’s backs.   



The Royal Rifles of Canada now received their orders to join the war and departing from Valcartier Quebec, on trains, travelled to Vancouver to board ships and head to Hong Kong to give support to the British military facing the Japanese Army.

They arrived in Hong Kong on November 16, 1941 and for 3 weeks they became acclimated to the defensive positions on the Island, to prepare for the invasion by the Japanese. 

On December 8th the Battle of Hong Kong began 5 hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and continued till the British Governor of Hong Kong told the Canadians to lay down their weapons on Christmas Day.

For 10 days the Japanese continued to bombard the Canadians and on the night of December 18th the invasion began. As the Japanese attempted to land on the beaches near the Royal Rifles location, SGT GANDER attacked them invaders by growling, barking, jumping and biting them as they approached.  The Japanese didn’t want anything to do with this “BLACK DEVIL” so they quickly retreated back to the water and landed on the beaches elsewhere.

The question often asked is, “Why didn’t they just shoot him?”  Conjecture is that because this was at night around 10:00, it being so dark from the rain and the smoke from the burning Oil Tanks, that they really couldn’t see a big black dog come up out of the darkness and attack them. 


As the battle rages the wounded are being taken to their Aide Station for medical treatment. Eventually there are so many men needing transport that 7 are placed on litters and placed in a ditch, to be taken back later.

The 7 wounded lie in the ditch on one side of the road and on the other side of the road is a ravine where the Japanese are.  The Japanese begin to throw grenades in the direction of the wounded Canadians in the ditch.  As the grenades roll near the men, the wounded men grab the grenades and throw them back.

Eventually one grenade comes to rest near the men, but out of their reach. Suddenly a black blur runs into the scene, picks up the grenade and runs it back toward the Japanese.


In the morning SGT GANDER did not report for rollcall and it was reported his actions “HE GAVE SO MUCH FOR SO MANY”.


On October 27, 2000, exactly 59 years of the date that “C-FORCE” with               SGT GANDER, departed for Hong Kong, that SGT GANDER was awarded the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dickin Medal. 

The Dickin Medal is considered the Animals Victoria Cross which is the equivalent of the US Congressional Medal of Honor and that SGT GANDER was the ONLY Canadian Animal to receive the medal for his actions during WWII.

I humbly take great pride in telling this story to you.  For the actions of All the Canadian Soldiers involved in the Battle of Hong Kong and those brave actions of a Courageous Newfoundland dog, SGT GANDER at the battle, that I have the strong desire to make sure that This Dog, These Men and All involved at the Battle of Hong Kong,  NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!

Throughout the time I have spent learning this story I have committed myself to be sure that two things stay constant.  The first is that this is a Canadian Story and this is about a Newfoundland Dog.  The second is:




I am trying my best to get this film made so the remaining Battle of Hong Kong Veterans have the opportunity to see their story being told.  Since these men are in their late 90’s I don’t have a lot of time to get this film produced before they move on to join their fellow soldiers in Heaven.

I want to thank you for reading my story and if you, not only can financially help me, I would appreciate if you could pass on this link to your Facebook Timeline!




  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 3 mos
  • Michael Walker 
    • $100 
    • 3 mos
  • Medelice Wirtz 
    • $100 
    • 3 mos


JP Bear 
Phoenix, AZ
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