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The History of Hong Kong's World War 2 Battlefields

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The History of Hong Kong's 
World War 2 Battlefields - Guided Walking Tours 
 
 
 
 
 

Many people in Hong Kong, visitors and residents alike, are surprised to learn that the territory was the scene of a short but very bloody battle at the end of 1941. It often seems that the larger - and more famous - actions such as the attack on Pearl Harbour and the Singapore campaign overshadow the events of December 1941 in Hong Kong.
 
But the fact remains that the then Colony saw a very hard struggle between the British and their allied defenders, and their Japanese aggressors, of 18 days duration before the British surrender on Christmas Day. There then followed 3 years and 8 months of Japanese occupation before they in turn surrendered.

It also comes as a surprise to some people to learn that many of Hong Kong's wartime relics and defence works survived the 1941 battle, the subsequent Japanese occupation and post-war reconstruction and development of Hong Kong. These traces can still be seen in many areas of the territory. We have designed a number of walks which cover in detail aspects of this fascinating period of Hong Kong's history. Please see the detailed descriptions which accompany each of these walks.

 

Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail 
Hong Kong Island

On 8 December 1941, the Imperial Japanese Army launched their long-anticipated invasion of Hong Kong. Crossing the Shum Chun River, the British Colony's land border with China, they quickly advanced through the New Territories and captured the main allied defensive position there, the Gin Drinker's Line. This was a line of pill boxes and artillery observation posts - sadly undermanned by the defending forces.

By the evening of 12 December, the attackers were in possession of the whole of the mainland, including the Kowloon peninsula.

The British defenders, together with their Indian; Canadian and Chinese allies, then withdrew to Hong Kong island where they reorganized their defences. On the night of 18 December, after a sustained bombing and shelling campaign of 6 days duration, the Japanese crossed the harbour to attack the island. The battle for the strategically important Wong Nai Chong Gap then began, and it proved to be an integral part of the entire 18 day campaign. 

On this guided tour, your expert guide will describe in detail the course of the fighting during this all-important phase of the battle, concluding with the British surrender of the Colony on Christmas Day, 1941. During the walk you will see World War 2 pillboxes; underground bunkers and an anti-aircraft position - all of which record key chapters of the battle and which figured prominently in the fighting.

You will also view the location where Warrant Officer John Osborn of the Canadian Army's Winnipeg Grenadiers won the Victoria Cross - the British Commonwealth's highest gallantry award and the only one awarded during the battle for Hong Kong.

Join this walk for a tour filled with wartime heroics and memories.

Cost: HK$500 per person, includes transport.
Total tour time: 4 hours, walking time approx. 3 hours
Facilities: Toilets en route

 
 
 
WW2 sites hong kong
 

Pinewood Battery, Victoria Peak
Hong Kong Island


Standing high on the 300 metre contour of a western spur of Hong Kong island's Victoria Peak, in what is now the Lung Fu Shan country park, lies the Pinewood Battery. Constructed by the  British military at the very end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th to counter perceived threats to British colonial interests from other European powers, the Battery originally consisted of 2 naval guns to protect the western approaches to Victoria harbour.

The battery was, unbelievably, considered surplus to requirements shortly after its' completion in 1905 and by 1913 had been decommissioned. However, during the 1930's, with conflict in the Far East with the Japanese Empire looming, it was quickly brought back into service - this time in an anti-aircraft role.

Badly damaged during bitter fighting with the attacking Japanese forces on 15 December 1941, the battery was evacuated and the defending Indian soldiers fought on as infantry until the British surrender on Christmas Day 1941. Following the Japanese surrender in 1945 the battery was never re-used by the returning British military, and now stands virtually unchanged since those dark days of the World War 2 battle. As such the site is practically unique in Hong Kong.  
 
During this walk your expert guide will recount the history of the Pinewood Battery from its' very beginnings. You will also visit the site, and learn the history, of the Tyndareus Stone, which commemorates an extraordinary act of gallantry by British soldiers in 1917 with close Hong Kong connections.

We reach the start of the walk by taking the spectacular Peak tram to the Peak terminus, then walk along the scenic Lugard Road with breathtaking views of Victoria harbour. The walk down to Mid-levels is through scenic woodland and we return to Central district via the stairway next to the Mid-levels escalator; at over 800 metres in length the largest outdoor covered escalator system in the world.
 


Cost: HK$500 per person, includes transport.
Total tour time: 4 hours, walking time approx. 3 hours
Facilities: Toilets en route

Shing Mun Redoubt
Kowloon

The battle for Hong Kong, of 18 days duration from 8 to 25 December 1941, was not of course confined to Hong Kong island. In fact, the first static line of defence constructed by the British military authorities was the Gin Drinkers Line; a 13 mile Maginot-type line of pillboxes, look-out positions and artillery observation posts which snaked through very difficult countryside north of Kowloon.

 
The lynch-pin of this position was the Shing Mun Redoubt, which comprised a number of pillboxes linked by an intricate tunnel network, together with the Command Post and the principal artillery observation post for the whole position. Woefully undermanned by far too few defenders for which it was established, the Redoubt fell to the invading Japanese army on the night of 9/10 December 1941, following which the defending British and Indian forces evacuated the mainland of Kowloon and the New Territories and retreated to Hong Kong island.
 
Although heavily overgrown, many of the military features of the Shing Mun Redoubt, overlooking the reservoir of the same name and located in what is now the scenic Shing Mun Country Park, can still be visited. Our expert military guide will take you on a tour of the area and describe in detail the events leading to the battle which occurred at that location, as well as the actual fighting which occurred on the night of 9 December 1941.

 
Cost: HK$500 per person, includes transport.
Total tour time:  4 hours, walking time approx. 2 hours
Facilities: Toilets en route
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