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{{for|the movie|The Battle of Hong Kong (film)}}
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{{Infobox Military Conflict
 
|conflict=Battle of Hong Kong
 
|image=
 
|caption=Japanese troops enter Hong Kong and march on [[Queen's Road]] led by [[Lieutenant General]] [[Takashi Sakai]] and [[Vice Admiral]] [[Masaichi Niimi]] in December 1941, after the British surrender. (Photo courtesy of [[Imperial War Museum]], [[United Kingdom|UK]])
 
|partof=the [[Pacific War|Pacific Theatre]] of [[World War II]]
 
|date=8–25 December 1941
 
|place=Hong Kong and proximity
 
|result=[[Empire of Japan|Japanese]] victory<br />[[Japanese occupation of Hong Kong]]
 
|combatant1={{flagicon|UK}} [[British Army]]<br />{{flagicon|Canada|1921}} [[Canadian Army]]<br />{{flagicon|India|British}} [[British Indian Army]] <br /> {{flagicon|Hong Kong|1910}} [[Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers)|Royal Hong Kong Regiment]] <br /> {{air force|United Kingdom}}
 
|combatant2={{flagicon|Japan|Imperial Japanese Army}} [[Imperial Japanese Army]]
 
|commander1={{flagicon|UK}} [[Mark Aitchison Young]]<br />{{flagicon|India|British}} [[Christopher Michael Maltby]]
 
|commander2={{flagicon|Japan|alt}} [[Takashi Sakai|Sakai Takashi]]
 
|strength1=15,000 troops
 
|strength2=50,000 troops
 
|casualties1=4,500 killed and wounded<br />8,500 POWs
 
|casualties2=706 killed<br />1,534 wounded
 
|}}
 
{{FixBunching|mid}}
 
{{Campaignbox Pacific 1941}}
 
{{FixBunching|end}}
 
 
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 [[Christmas Day]] with [[Hong Kong]], then a [[Crown colony]], surrendering to the [[Empire of Japan]].
 
 
==Background==
 
[[File:Hong Kong, pillar box near Jardine's lookout.JPG|left|thumb|200px|British [[Bunker#Pillbox|pillbox]] near [[Jardine's Lookout]]]]
 
[[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 [[Canton (Guangzhou)|Canton]] (present day's Guangzhou) and Hong Kong was effectively surrounded.<ref>{{Citation
 
|author=Chi Ming Fung
 
|title=Reluctant heroes: rickshaw pullers in Hong Kong and Canton, 1874-1954
 
|edition=illustrated
 
|publisher=Hong Kong University Press
 
|year=2005
 
|isbn=9789622097346
 
|page=[http://books.google.com/books?id=ZTk5HbdCiQ8C&pg=PA129 129]
 
|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=ZTk5HbdCiQ8C
 
}}</ref> 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. [[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.<ref>{{Citation
 
|last=Harris
 
|first=John R.
 
|title=The Battle for Hong Kong 1941-1945 (HB)
 
|publisher=Hong Kong University Press
 
|isbn=9789622097797
 
|page=[http://books.google.com/books?id=8suV69gMia8C&pg=PA55 55]
 
|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=8suV69gMia8C
 
}}</ref> [[File:Canadian Contingent in Hong Kong - 1941.jpg|thumb|left|Six weeks before the battle, this Canadian contingent arrives to bolster British presence.]]
 
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 (ship)|Awatea]]'' and the [[armed merchant cruiser]] ''Prince Robert''.<ref>{{cite web | url = http://www.hkvca.ca/historical/accounts/christie.htm | title = Kay Christie's Story | publisher = Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association}}</ref> 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.
 
 
==Battle==
 
[[File:Cdn Forces in Hong Kong.jpg|thumb|Canadian gunners in Hong Kong]]
 
The Japanese attack began shortly after 8 am 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 Michael 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|Sakai Takashi]], but were outnumbered three to one (Japanese, 52,000; Allied, 14,000) and lacked their opponents' recent combat experience.
 
 
The Japanese achieved [[air superiority]] on the first day of battle as two of the three [[Vickers Vildebeest]] torpedo-reconnaissance aircraft and the two [[Supermarine Walrus]] [[amphibious plane]]s of the RAF Station, which were the only military planes at Hong Kong's [[Kai Tak Airport]], 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 fought on as ground troops. Two of the Royal Navy's three remaining destroyers were ordered to leave Hong Kong for [[Singapore]].
 
 
[[File:HKbattle.png|300px|thumb|Map showing the Japanese lines of attack.]]
 
The Commonwealth forces decided against holding the [[Sham Chun River]], which was quickly forded by the Japanese using temporary bridges, and instead established three battalions in the [[Gin Drinkers' Line]] across the hills. These defences were rapidly breached at the [[Shing Mun Redoubt]] early on 10 December 1941. The evacuation from [[Kowloon]] 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 [[Rajputs]] of the British Indian Army, 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 and could not be forced from the [[Wong Nai Chung Gap|Wong Ne Chong 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.<ref>{{cite web | url = http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0022-0094(199701)32%3A1%3C43%3AMARIHK%3E2.0.CO%3B2-A | title = Massacre and Rape in Hong Kong: Two Case Studies Involving Medical Personnel and Patients | author = Charles G. Roland}}</ref>
 
 
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.{{Fact|date=February 2007}} The garrison had held out for 17 days.
 
 
==Aftermath==
 
[[File:Dongjianggu.jpg|thumb|200px|Dongjiang Guerillas fighting in [[trench warfare|trenches]].]]
 
{{main|Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong}}
 
Eighteen days after the battle began, British colonial officials headed by the Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Mark Aitchison Young, surrendered in person on 25 December 1941 at the Japanese headquarters. This day is known in Hong Kong as "Black Christmas".
 
 
[[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,<ref>Estimate from {{Harvnb|Snow|2003}} via {{Citation
 
|url=http://www.economist.com/cities/displaystory.cfm?story_id=1825845
 
|title=The history of Hong Kong
 
|date=5 June 2003
 
|publisher=Economist.com}}</ref> and looting.
 
 
[[Prisoners of war]] were sent to:
 
*[[Sham Shui Po Barracks|Sham Shui Po POW Camp]] (later a Vietnamese detention centre)
 
*[[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
 
 
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.
 
[[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]]]]
 
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 United States 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]] on the northeastern corner of Hong Kong Island. 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, and 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]].
 
 
==Order of battle==
 
===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|India|British}}
 
**2nd Battalion, [[14th Punjab Regiment]] {{flagicon|India|British}}
 
**[[The Winnipeg Grenadiers]] {{flagicon|Canada|1921}}
 
**[[Royal Rifles of Canada|The Royal Rifles of Canada]] {{flagicon|Canada|1921}}
 
**[[Hong Kong Chinese Regiment]] {{flagicon|Hong Kong|1910}}
 
**[[Royal_Hong_Kong_Regiment|Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps]] (HKVDC) {{flagicon|Hong Kong|1910}}
 
 
*'''Artillery'''
 
**8th Coast Regiment, [[Royal Artillery]] {{flagicon|UK}}
 
**12th Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery {{flagicon|UK}}
 
**5th Anti-Air Regiment {{flagicon|UK}}
 
**1st Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery {{flagicon|Hong Kong|1910}} / [[File:Flag of the British Straits Settlements (1874-1942).svg|25px]]
 
**956th Defence Battery, Royal Artillery {{flagicon|UK}}
 
 
* '''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}}
 
** [[Hong Kong Mule Corps]] {{flagicon|India|British}}
 
 
===Empire of Japan===
 
{{Sectstub|date=May 2008}}
 
 
* [[Imperial Japanese Army]]
 
** [[Twenty-Third Army (Japan)]]
 
** [[Southern Expeditionary Army Group]]
 
* 38th Division: 228th, 229th and 230th Infantry Regiments
 
 
* [[Imperial Japanese Navy]]
 
** [[2nd China Expeditionary Fleet]]
 
 
==British Commonwealth 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]]
 
 
==See also==
 
*[[History of Hong Kong]]
 
 
==References==
 
{{reflist}}
 
 
==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]
 
*{{PDFlink|[http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~ghayes/Copp.pdf The Defence of Hong Kong: December 1941 by Terry Copp]}}
 
*{{PDFlink|[http://web.archive.org/web/20060824135009/http://www.forces.gc.ca/dhh/downloads/cmhq/cmhq163.pdf Report No. 163 Canadian Participation in the Defence of Hong Kong, December, 1941]|299&nbsp;KB}} (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 [[Tony Banham]], Battle of Hong Kong Background And Battlefield Tour Points of Interest]
 
*{{Cite book
 
|last=Snow
 
|first=Philip
 
|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=HDX_IAAACAAJ
 
|title=The Fall of Hong Kong: Britain, China, and the Japanese Occupation
 
|publisher=Yale University Press
 
|month=July
 
|year=2003
 
|isbn=ISBN 0-300-09352-7 (Hardback); ISBN 0-300-10373-5 (Paperback)
 
}}
 
*[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.geocities.com/alfbabin "The story of Alfred Babin, stretcher bearer, HQ Company, Royal Rifles of Canada.]
 
*[http://www.geocities.com/phil_doddridge 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&nbsp;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."]
 
*{{Cite book
 
| last = Burton
 
| first = John
 
| authorlink =
 
| coauthors =
 
| year = 2006
 
| chapter =
 
| title = Fortnight of Infamy: The Collapse of Allied Airpower West of Pearl Harbor
 
| publisher = US Naval Institute Press
 
| location =
 
| id = ISBN 159114096X
 
}}
 
 
==Further reading==
 
*{{cite book|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=SJERKhAdZg4C|title=Long Night's Journey Into Day: Prisoners of War in Hong Kong and Japan, 1941-1945|author=Charles G. Roland|publisher=Wilfrid Laurier University Press|year=2001|isbn=0889203628}}
 
*{{cite book|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=2tQpjg6ym9MC&dq=Not+the+slightest+chance|title=Not the Slightest Chance: The Defence of Hong Kong, 1941|author=Tony Banham|publisher=Hong Kong University Press|year=2005|isbn=978-962-209-780-3}}
 
*{{cite book|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=YPO1HXdXYDAC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_v2_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false|title=We Shall Suffer There: Hong Kong's Defenders Imprisoned, 1942-1945|author=Tony Banham|publisher=Hong Kong University Press|year=2009|isbn=978-962-209-960-9}}
 
 
 
{{coord missing}}
 
 
{{DEFAULTSORT:Hong Kong}}
 
[[Category:Conflicts in 1941]]
 
[[Category:Battles of World War II involving Canada]]
 
[[Category:Battles involving the United Kingdom]]
 
[[Category:Battles involving Japan]]
 
[[Category:History of Hong Kong]]
 
[[Category:Japanese occupation of Hong Kong]]
 
[[Category:Military of Hong Kong under British rule]]
 
[[Category:China in World War II]]
 
[[Category:Military history of India during World War II]]
 
 
[[es:Batalla de Hong Kong]]
 
[[fr:Bataille de Hong Kong]]
 
[[id:Pertempuran Hong Kong]]
 
[[it:Battaglia di Hong Kong]]
 
[[ja:香港の戦い]]
 
[[ru:Гонконгская оборона]]
 
[[sv:Slaget om Hongkong]]
 
[[zh-yue:香港攻防戰]]
 
[[zh:香港保衛戰]]
 

Revision as of 17:26, 5 May 2010

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