OTTAWA - In 1943, when he was a PoW in a Japanese prison camp, Arthur Kenneth Pifher of Paris, Ont., received a Christmas card from Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.
The card became a treasured keepsake, which Pifher held on to for 69 years.
Last month, at a Remembrance Day ceremony in Hong Kong, Pifher, aged 91, presented the card to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It has been donated to the Canadian War Museum where it is on display until Jan. 6.
Pifher, a rifleman in the Royal Canadian Rifles, was captured in December 1941 after Japanese forces invaded Hong Kong. Nearly 300 of his Canadian comrades died in captivity from malnutrition, disease, overwork and brutality, says the museum.
"All Canada joins in warmest Christmas greetings and good wishes to you," reads the card signed by King, who sent Christmas greetings to PoWs on behalf of all Canadians.
"This simple Christmas greeting recalls a nation at war, a young soldier's suffering far from home, and the forms of personal and national remembrance," said James Whitham, the museum's director general.
In a note to Harper, Pifher wrote: "Sixty-nine years ago, while a captive PoW in Sham Shui Po prison camp, I received this card for Christmas. Please accept this as a memento of today's remembrance ceremony."