Battle of Hong Kong

Battle of Hong Kong

Overview
{{For|the film|The Battle of Hong Kong (film)}} {{Use British English|date=January 2011}} The '''Battle of Hong Kong''' took place during the [[Pacific War|Pacific campaign]] of [[World War II]]. It began on 8 December 1941 and ended on 25 December 1941 with [[British Hong Kong|Hong Kong]], then a [[Crown colony]], surrendering to the [[Empire of Japan]]. ==Background== [[United Kingdom|Britain]] had first thought of Japan as a threat with the ending of the [[Anglo-Japanese Alliance]] in the early 1920s, a threat which increased with the expansion of the [[Second Sino-Japanese War|Sino-Japanese War]].
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Battle of Hong Kong'
Start a new discussion about 'Battle of Hong Kong'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
{{For|the film|The Battle of Hong Kong (film)}} {{Use British English|date=January 2011}} The '''Battle of Hong Kong''' took place during the [[Pacific War|Pacific campaign]] of [[World War II]]. It began on 8 December 1941 and ended on 25 December 1941 with [[British Hong Kong|Hong Kong]], then a [[Crown colony]], surrendering to the [[Empire of Japan]]. ==Background== [[United Kingdom|Britain]] had first thought of Japan as a threat with the ending of the [[Anglo-Japanese Alliance]] in the early 1920s, a threat which increased with the expansion of the [[Second Sino-Japanese War|Sino-Japanese War]]. On 21 October 1938 the Japanese occupied [[Guangzhou|Canton]] (Guangzhou) and Hong Kong was effectively surrounded. Various British Defence studies had already concluded that Hong Kong would be extremely hard to defend in the event of a Japanese attack, but in the mid-1930s, work had begun on new defences, including the [[Gin Drinkers' Line]]. By 1940, the British had determined to reduce the [[Hong Kong Garrison]] to only a symbolic size. Air Chief Marshal Sir [[Henry Robert Moore Brooke-Popham|Robert Brooke-Popham]], the [[Commander-in-Chief]] of the [[British Far East Command]] argued that limited reinforcements could allow the garrison to delay a Japanese attack, gaining time elsewhere. [[File:Canadian Contingent in Hong Kong - 1941.jpg|thumb|left|Six weeks before the battle, this Canadian contingent arrives to bolster British presence.]] [[Winston Churchill]] and his army chiefs designated Hong Kong an outpost, and initially decided against sending more troops to the colony. In September 1941, however, they reversed their decision and argued that additional reinforcements would provide a military deterrent against the Japanese, and reassure Chinese leader [[Chiang Kai Shek]] that Britain was genuinely interested in defending the colony. [[File:Hong Kong, pillar box near Jardine's lookout.JPG|thumb|200px|British [[Bunker#Pillbox|pillbox]] near [[Jardine's Lookout]]]] In Autumn 1941, the British government accepted an offer by the Canadian Government to send two infantry battalions and a brigade headquarters (1,975 personnel) to reinforce the Hong Kong garrison. [[C Force]], as it was known, arrived on 16 November on board the [[troopship]] ''Awatea'' and the [[armed merchant cruiser]] ''Prince Robert''. It did not have all of its equipment as a ship carrying its vehicles was diverted to Manila at the outbreak of war. The Canadian battalions were the [[Royal Rifles of Canada]] from Quebec and [[Winnipeg Grenadiers]] from Manitoba. The Royal Rifles had only served in [[Dominion of Newfoundland|Newfoundland]] and [[Saint John, New Brunswick]] prior to their duty in Hong Kong, and the Winnipeg Grenadiers had been posted to [[Jamaica]]. As a result, many of the Canadian soldiers did not have much field experience before arriving in Hong Kong. ====British Commonwealth==== {{See also|British Forces Overseas Hong Kong}} '''Infantry''' ** 2nd Battalion, [[The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment)]] {{flagicon|UK}} ** 1st Battalion, [[The Middlesex Regiment]] (Machine gun battalion) {{flagicon|UK}} ** 5th Battalion, [[7th Rajput Regiment]] {{flagicon|British India}} ** 2nd Battalion, [[14th Punjab Regiment]] {{flagicon|British India}} ** [[The Winnipeg Grenadiers]] {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} ** [[Royal Rifles of Canada|The Royal Rifles of Canada]] {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} ** [[Hong Kong Chinese Regiment]] {{flagicon|British Hong Kong|1910}} ** Infantry Companies, [[Royal Hong Kong Regiment|Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps]] (HKVDC) {{flagicon|British Hong Kong|1910}} '''Artillery''' ** 8th Coast Regiment, [[Royal Artillery]] {{flagicon|UK}} ** 12th Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery {{flagicon|UK}} ** 5th Anti-Air Regiment, Royal Artillery {{flagicon|UK}} ** 956th Defence Battery, Royal Artillery {{flagicon|UK}} ** 1st Hong Kong Regiment, Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery {{flagicon|British Hong Kong|1910}} / {{flagicon|Straits Settlements}} ** Artillery Batteries, Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps (HKVDC) {{flagicon|British Hong Kong|1910}} '''Supporting Units''' ** [[Royal Engineers]], RE {{flagicon|UK}} ** [[Royal Army Service Corps]], RASC {{flagicon|UK}} ** [[Royal Army Medical Corps]], RAMC {{flagicon|UK}} ** [[Royal Signals]], RS {{flagicon|UK}} ** [[Royal Army Ordnance Corps]], RAOC {{flagicon|UK}} ** [[Royal Army Dental Corps]], RADC {{flagicon|UK}} ** [[Royal Army Pay Corps]], RAPC {{flagicon|UK}} ** [[Military Provost Staff Corps]] {{flagicon|UK}} ** [[Indian Army Medical Corps#Indian Hospital Corps|Indian Hospital Corps]], IHC {{flagicon|British India}} ** [[Indian Medical Service]], IMS {{flagicon|British India}} ** [[25th Infantry Division (India)#Support Units|Royal Indian Army Service Corps]], RIASC {{flagicon|British India}} ** [[Hong Kong Mule Corps]] {{flagicon|British India}} ** [[Corps of Military Staff Clerks]] {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} ** [[Canadian Provost Corps]] {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} ** [[Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps]], RCAMC {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} ** [[Royal Canadian Dental Corps|Canadian Army Dental Corps]] {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} ** [[Canadian Service]] {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} ** [[Royal Canadian Corps of Signals]], RCCS {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} ** [[Royal Canadian Army Service Corps]], RCASC {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} ** [[Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps]], RCAPC {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} ** [[Royal Canadian Postal Corps|Canadian Postal Corps]] {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} ** [[Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps]], RCOC {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} ** [[Canadian Chaplains Service]] {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} ** [[Canadian Auxiliary Services]] {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} ** Supporting Units, Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps (HKVDC) {{flagicon|British Hong Kong|1910}} ====Empire of Japan==== {{Expand section|date=May 2008}} * '''{{army|Empire of Japan}}''' ** [[Twenty-Third Army (Japan)]] *** [[38th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)|38th Division]]: 228th, 229th and 230th Infantry Regiments *** 2nd Independent Antitank Gun Battalion *** 5th Independent Antitank Gun Battalion *** 10th Independent Mountain Artillery Regiment *** 20th Independent Mountain Artillery Battalion *** 21st Mortar Battalion *** 20th Independent Engineer Regiment *** One radio signal platoon *** One third of medical unit, 51st Division *** 1st&2nd River Crossing Material Company, 9th Division *** Three companies of 3rd Independent Transportation Regiment *** 19th Independent Transport Company *** 20th Independent Transport Company *** 21st Independent Transport Company *** 17th Field Water Purification and Supply Unit ** [[Twenty-Third Army Air Unit]] *** 45th Air Regiment *** Element of 44th Independent Air Unit *** Two formations of 10th Independent Air Squad *** 47th Air Field Battalion *** Elements of 67th Air Field Battalion *** 67th Air Field Company * '''{{navy|Empire of Japan}}''' ** [[2nd China Expeditionary Fleet]] ===Defensive positions=== Key sites of the defence of Hong Kong included: * [[Wong Nai Chung Gap]] * [[Lei Yue Mun|Lye Moon Passage]] * [[Shing Mun Redoubt]] * [[Gin Drinkers' Line]] * [[Devil's Peak, Hong Kong|Devil's Peak]] * [[Stanley Fort]] ==Battle== [[File:Cdn Forces in Hong Kong.jpg|thumb|Canadian infantrymen in Hong Kong]] [[File:HKbattle.png|300px|thumb|Map of the Japanese lines of attack]] The Japanese attack began shortly after 08:00 on 8 December 1941 ([[Hong Kong Time|Hong Kong local time]]), less than eight hours after the [[Attack on Pearl Harbor]] (because of the day shift that occurs on the international date line between Hawaii and Asia, the Pearl Harbor event is recorded to have occurred on 7 December). [[British Army|British]], [[Canadian Army|Canadian]] and [[British Indian Army|Indian]] forces, commanded by Major-General [[Christopher Maltby]] supported by the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps resisted the Japanese invasion by the Japanese 21st, 23rd and the 38th Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant General [[Takashi Sakai]], but were outnumbered nearly four to one (Japanese, 52,000; Allied, 14,000) and lacked their opponents' recent combat experience. The colony had no significant air defence. The RAF Station at Hong Kong's [[Kai Tak Airport]] had only five aeroplanes: two [[Supermarine Walrus]] [[amphibious aircraft|amphibians]] and three [[Vickers Vildebeest]] torpedo-reconnaissance bombers, flown and serviced by seven officers and 108 airmen. An earlier request for a fighter squadron had been rejected, and the nearest fully operational RAF base was in [[Kota Bharu]], [[British Malaya|Malaya]], nearly 2,250 kilometres away. Hong Kong also lacked adequate naval defence. Three [[destroyer]]s were to withdraw to [[Singapore]]. The Japanese bombed Kai Tak Airport on 8 December. Two of the three Vildebeest and the two Walrus were destroyed by 12 Japanese bombers. The attack also destroyed several civil aircraft including all but two of the aircraft used by the Air Unit of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corp. The RAF and Air Unit personnel from then on fought as ground troops. Two of the Royal Navy's three remaining destroyers were ordered to leave Hong Kong for [[Singapore]]. Only one destroyer, HMS Thracian, several gunboats and a flotilla of motor torpedo boats remained. On 8, 9 and 10 December, eight American pilots of the China National Aviation Corporation CNAC and their crews made a total of 16 trips between Kai Tak Airport and airports in Namyung and Chongqing (Chungking) in China, the war time capital of the [[Republic of China]]. According to articles in the New York Times and the Chicago Daily of 15 December 1941, the pilot's names were Charles L. Sharp , Hugh L. Woods , Harold A. Sweet , William McDonald , Frank L. Higgs , Robert S. Angle , P.W. Kessler and S.E. Scott . Together they made 16 sorties and evacuated 275 persons including [[Sun Yat-Sen|Mme Sun Yat-Sen]], the widow of the "[[Father of the Nation]]" and the Chinese Finance Minister [[H.H. Kung]] The Commonwealth forces decided against holding the [[Sham Chun River]] and instead established three battalions in the [[Gin Drinkers' Line]] across the hills. The Japanese 38th Infantry under the command of Major General Takaishi Sakai quickly forded the Sham Chun River by using temporary bridges. Early on 10 December 1941 the 228th Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Teihichi, of the 38th Division attacked the Commonwealth defences at the [[Shing Mun Redoubt]] defended by 2nd Battalion Royal Scots, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel S. White. The line was breached in five hours and later that day the Royal Scots also withdrew from Golden Hill. D company of the Royal Scots counter-attacked and captured Golden Hill. By 10:00am the hill was again taken by the Japanese. This made the situation on the New Territories and [[Kowloon]] untenable and the evacuation from started on 11 December 1941 under aerial bombardment and artillery barrage. As much as possible, military and harbour facilities were demolished before the withdrawal. By 13 December, the 5/7 [[Rajputs]] of the British Indian Army commanded by Lieutenant Colonel R. Cadosan-Rowlinson, the last Commonwealth troops on the mainland, had retreated to [[Hong Kong Island]]. Maltby organised the defence of the island, splitting it between an East Brigade and a West Brigade. On 15 December, the Japanese began systematic bombardment of the island's North Shore. Two demands for surrender were made on 13 December and 17 December. When these were rejected, Japanese forces crossed the harbour on the evening of 18 December and landed on the island's North-East. They suffered only light casualties, although no effective command could be maintained until the dawn came. That night, approximately 20 gunners were massacred at the [[Sai Wan]] Battery after they had surrendered. There was a further massacre of prisoners, this time of medical staff, in the Salesian Mission on [[Chai Wan]] Road. In both cases, a few men survived to tell the story. On the morning of 19 December, a Canadian [[Company Sergeant Major]], [[John Robert Osborn]] of the Winnipeg Grenadiers, threw himself on top of a grenade, sacrificing himself to save the lives of the men around him; he was later posthumously awarded the [[Victoria Cross]]. Fierce fighting continued on Hong Kong Island but the Japanese annihilated the headquarters of West Brigade, causing the death of [[John K. Lawson|Brigadier John K. Lawson]], the commander of the West Brigade . A British counter-attack could not force them from the [[Wong Nai Chung Gap]] that secured the passage between downtown and the secluded southern parts of the island. From 20 December, the island became split in two with the British Commonwealth forces still holding out around the Stanley peninsula and in the West of the island. At the same time, water supplies started to run short as the Japanese captured the island's reservoirs. On the morning of 25 December, Japanese soldiers entered the British field hospital at [[St. Stephen's College, Stanley|St. Stephen's College]], and [[St. Stephen's college incident|tortured and killed a large number of injured soldiers]], along with the medical staff. By the afternoon of 25 December 1941, it was clear that further resistance would be futile and British colonial officials headed by the [[Governor of Hong Kong]], Sir [[Mark Aitchison Young]], surrendered in person at the Japanese headquarters on the third floor of the [[The Peninsula Hong Kong|Peninsula Hong Kong hotel]]. This was the first occasion on which a British [[Crown Colony]] has surrendered to an invading force.{{Citation needed|date=February 2007}} The garrison had held out for 17 days. This day is known in Hong Kong as "Black [[Christmas]]". ==Aftermath== [[File:Dongjianggu.jpg|thumb|Dongjiang guerillas fighting in [[trench warfare|trenches]]]] [[File:Cenotaph, Hong Kong 1.jpg|right|thumb|The [[The Cenotaph (Hong Kong)|Cenotaph]] in Hong Kong]] [[File:Sai Wan War Cemetary 1.jpg|thumb|[[Sai Wan War Cemetery]]]] {{Main|Japanese occupation of Hong Kong}} [[Isogai Rensuke]] became the first Japanese governor of Hong Kong. This ushered in the three years and eight months of Imperial Japanese administration. Japanese soldiers also terrorised the local population by murdering many, raping an estimated 10,000 women, and looting. Although Hong Kong surrendered to the Japanese, the local Chinese waged a small guerilla war in New Territories. As a result of the resistance, some villages were razed as a punishment. The guerillas fought until the end of the Japanese occupation. Western historical books on the subject have not significantly covered their actions. The resistance groups were known as the [[Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong#Gangjiudaduey Guerillas|Gangjiu]] and [[Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong#Dongjiang Guerillas|Dongjiang]] forces. Enemy civilians (meaning Allied nationals) were interned at the [[Stanley Internment Camp]]. Initially, there were 2400 internees although this number was reduced following some repatriations during the war. Internees who died, together with prisoners executed by the Japanese, are buried in [[Stanley Military Cemetery|Stanley Cemetery]]. British sovereignty was restored in 1945 following the surrender of the Japanese forces on 15 August, six days after the U.S. dropped the [[Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki|atomic bomb]] on [[Nagasaki, Nagasaki|Nagasaki]]. General [[Takashi Sakai]], who led the invasion of Hong Kong and subsequently served as governor for some time, was tried as a war criminal and executed by a firing squad in 1946. The Allied dead from the campaign, including British, Canadian and Indian soldiers, were eventually interred at the [[Sai Wan War Cemetery|Sai Wan Military Cemetery]] and [[Stanley Military Cemetery]]. A total of 1,528 soldiers, mainly [[Commonwealth of Nations|Commonwealth]], are buried there. There are also graves of other Allied combatants who died in the region during the war, including some Dutch sailors, who were re-interred in Hong Kong post war. The [[The Cenotaph (Hong Kong)|Cenotaph]] in [[Central, Hong Kong|Central]] commemorates the Defence as well as war-dead from World War I. The shield in the colonial [[Emblem of Hong Kong|coat of arms of Hong Kong]] granted in 1959 featured the [[battlement]] design to commemorate the Defence of Hong Kong during World War II. The arms was in use until 1997 when it was replaced by the current regional emblem. Lei Yue Mun Fort has lost its defence significance in the post-war period. After the war, it became a training ground for the British Forces until 1987 when it was finally vacated. In view of its historical significance and unique architectural features, the former [[Urban Council]] decided in 1993 to conserve and develop Lei Yue Mun Fort into the [[Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence]]. The nearby Sai Wan Battery, with buildings constructed as far back as 1890, housed the Depot and Record Office of the [[Hong Kong Military Service Corps]] for nearly four decades after the War. The barracks were handed over to the government in 1985 and were subsequently converted into [[Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village]]. ===Prisoners=== [[Prisoners of war]] were sent to: * [[Sham Shui Po Barracks|Sham Shui Po POW Camp]] * [[Argyle Street Camp]] for officers * [[North Point Camp]] primarily for Canadians and Royal Navy * [[Ma Tau Chung]] Camp for Indian soldiers * [[Yokohama Camp]] in Japan * [[Fukuoka Camp]] in Japan * [[Osaka Camp]] in Japan ===Awards=== [[John Robert Osborn]] (January 2, 1899 – December 19, 1941) was rewarded the first Canadian [[Victoria Cross]] in World War II. After seeing a Japanese grenade roll in through the doorway of the building Osborn and his fellow Canadian Winnipeg Grenadiers had been garrisoning, he took off his helmet and threw himself on the grenade, saving the lives of over 10 other Canadian Soldiers.The highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was born in Norfolk, England. [[Gander (dog)|Gander]] was a Newfoundland dog posthumously awarded the [[Dickin Medal]], the "animals' Victoria Cross", in 2000 for his deeds in World War II, the first such award in over 50 years. He picked up a thrown Japanese hand grenade and rushed with it toward the enemy, dying in the ensuing explosion, but saving the lives of several wounded Canadian soldiers. ===External links=== * [http://www.hkvca.ca Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association] * [http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/categories/c54618/ BBC submissions] * [http://www.britain-at-war.org.uk/WW2/London_Gazette/hong_kong Official report by Major-General C.M Maltby, G.O.C. Hong Kong] * [http://www.remuseum.org.uk/corpshistory/rem_corps_part16.htm#far Royal Engineers Museum] Royal Engineers and the Second World War - the Far East * [http://www.wwii.ca/page42.html Canadians at Hong Kong] - Canadians and the Battle of Hong Kong. * [http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/51/a4830851.shtml MTB The 2nd MTB Flotilla escapes from Hong Kong] * [http://fourthmarinesband.com/cambon.htm GUEST OF HIROHITO by Kenneth Cambon, M.D. Story of the youngest royal rifle] (archived from [http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~ghayes/Copp.pdf the original] on 2008-05-28) (Archived version as of 24 August 2006) * [http://hksw.org/despatches_106_1_j.htm The Fall of Hong Kong] * [http://hksw.org/Shing%20Mun.htm The Hong Kong Defence] * [[Thomas David Frank Evans]], ''Roll Call at Oeyama, P.O.W. Remembers'', 1985 * [http://www.hongkongwardiary.com/ Hong Kong War Diary - Current research into the Battle] * [http://www.hkvca.ca/historical/banham.htm Battle of Hong Kong Background and Battlefield Tour Points of Interest] by [[Tony Banham]] * [http://web.archive.org/web/20091028162455/http://www.geocities.com/rcwpca "The detailed story of the actual battle and a tribute to Major Maurice A. Parker, CO "D" Coy, Royal Rifles of Canada.] * [http://www.hkvca.ca/historical/accounts/Al%20Babin/index.htm "The story of Alfred Babin, stretcher bearer, HQ Company, Royal Rifles of Canada."] * [http://www.memoriesuninvited.com/ Philip Doddridge, Memories Uninvited - "A fascinating story of a young man who finds himself caught up in the horrific battle for Hong Kong and the years of captivity he lived through after the battle was over on December 25th, 1941."] * [http://www.stanfordprojects.co.uk/index.html "Story of the Stanford family and the effect of the fall of Hong Kong in 1941."] {{Commons category|Battle of Hong Kong}} {{coord missing|Hong Kong}} {{World War II}} {{Use dmy dates|date=January 2011}} {{DEFAULTSORT:Hong Kong}}