|Cover of Bill Wiseman's book (Veterans Publications, 2001)|
|Captain Bill Wiseman (from the book)|
|HMS Cicala in dry dock (Writer's Collection)|
|A fine looking launch - WDV French (From Bill Wiseman's Book)|
Joyce Bassett had been a secretary working for the Colonial Secretariat. She had been based at Government House during hostilities. Her widowed mother Florence Eva Thornhill was also in Stanley Camp. Her bother Sub-Lt John Thornhill was serving with HKRNVR and was incarcerated in POW camp.
War Walk with HK Club
|Battlefield tour (courtesy Mark Peaker)|
|Inside PB 3 at Blacks Link|
Bungalow 'C' at St Stephen's College, Stanley
During the Battle for Stanley the area was held by members of the HKVDC and the Mx Regt. As the fighting grew close some of the troops took up positions inside the bungalow. The Japanese used a flame thrower killing many of the defenders. One or two survived although suffering from burns and were not spotted by the Japanese who took possession of the the three bungalows (A, B and C). By this time the Main School building (used as a temporary military hospital) had been occupied by the Japanese. A large number of patients, orderlies and nurses were killed when the Japanese broke in. Many patients were bayoneted in their beds. Three of the European nurses were raped, mutilated and killed. All this on Christmas Day. Later that morning 'D' Coy Royal Rifles of Canada attacked the ridge where the three bungalows were located. They attacked across the nearby military cemetery and briefly reoccupied the bungalows before being driven out by Japanese reinforcements.
After the British surrender the grounds of St Stephen's College were used to accommodate civilian internees. As many as fifty men, women and children were crowded into each of the the bungalows. On 16th January 1945 Bungalow 'C' was accidentally bombed by an American aircraft and fourteen internees were killed and a large number wounded. Today it is beautiful and peaceful spot, the bungalow has shrugged off its tragic past, and has a pleasant ambience with beautiful views across the bay and the surrounding hills.
On 15th February I joined Peter Weedon, a Facebook friend and military history enthusiast, for a 'war walk' around the battlefields and military ruins at WNC Gap, and thereafter we followed part of the route taken by CSM Frederick Hamlen, RASC, from the Deep Water Bay RASC depot to the RAOC depot at the Ridge, his escape to a house called Overbays following an ambush, and his capture at Eucliffe. Many of the troops captured around Repulse Bay, who had attempted to reach Repulse Bay Hotel during the night of 22nd/23rd December, were put to death in the grounds of Eucliffe.
CSM Fred Hamlen was tied up and made to kneel on the grass slopes facing Repulse Bay together with three other Canadian soldiers with whom he had been captured. A firing party came out from the house and shot them. However Hamlen turned as he was shot and the bullet entered his neck and exited through his face and he survived. He rolled down the hill and the bodies of the other soldiers landed around and on top of him. He recalled that one died instantly and the other two must have bled to death. After the fighting ended more than fifty bodies of British and Canadian troops were found at the bottom of the slope, all having been shot or bayoneted. Hamlen escaped along the foreshore in the direction of Deep Water Bay, where he joined Major Young and a group from 'A' Coy Royal Rifles who escaped by boat and made their way to the beached destroyer HMS Thracian on nearby Round Island. They used the destroyer's Carley Floats to reach Lamma Island and were captured after the British capitulation after having landed in Telegraph Bay on Hong Kong Island. Hamlen survived the war, and later gave evidence at war crimes trials held in Hong Kong after the war. He remained in the Army and retired as a Major in 1962. He passed away aged 81 in 1991 fifty years after his close brush with death.
|Peter Weedon entering PB 1 through the machine gun aperture|
|The bunker at Stanley Gap which served as QM Stores for HKVDC No. 3 Coy|
|Inside the QM Stores at Stanley Gap|
|Light AA position on top of the Command Centre (Battery HQ) Stanley Gap AA Battery|
|At West Brigade HQ Shelters|
I did some research on Major Edward de Vere Hunt. I knew of him and his role as commanding officer of 1st Mountain Battery and I knew that he had been killed in action at WNC Gap on 19/20th December 1941. The research into his family, his schooling, his military career, his sporting success and his marriage to Nancy made it all the more personal.
|Major Edward de Were Hunt, HKSRA|
Major Edward William Francis de Vere Hunt - Killed in action 20th December 1941battleforhongkong.blogspot.hk
On the Battlefields - Stanley Mound
On Saturday 18th February, I met history enthusiast Stuart Woods on Chung Hom Kok Road near the site of West Bay AA Battery. The battery splinter proof shelters still remain, but have been lived in for many years by a family who run a garden nursery. There are a string of four or five of these war shelters as seen in the photograph below. They are on the south side of a mound and on the north side are a ring of several more war shelters that were destroyed long ago to prevent illegal squatting.
|West Bay AA Battery war shelters now being used as a garden centre|
|Japanese mess cans (Courtesy Stuart Woods)|
On the Battlefields - Tai Tam X-Roads
On Tuesday 21st February I went with Stuart Woods to check out the ruins of a house known as Cash's Bungalow located on a mound immediately north-west of the Tai Tam X-Roads. Japanese troops occupied this house around 21st December 1941 and at least one machine gun located at this bungalow was firing at Canadian troops (Royal Rifles of Canada) and detachments from HKVDC as they seized the high ground of Notting Hill and Bridge Hill, and as East Infantry Brigade advanced towards the Tai Tam X-Roads. Fighting also took place around Red Hill and close to another villa called Erinville. In the ruins of Cash's Bungalow we found the machine gun position as evidenced by dozens of Japanese spent 7.7mm machine gun spent rounds. We found the position close to the remains of a garden wall which would have provided some protection for the machine gun crew.
|Spent 7.7mm machine gun rounds found at Cash's Bungalow|
|Stuart on what was the drive running up to Cash's Bungalow|
Stanley Gap 3.7" AA Battery
Peter Weedon posted on the Facebook Battle of Hong Kong site a copy of a Japanese artist's rendition of the capture of the two 3.7-inch AA Guns at Stanley Gap (near Wong Nai Chung Gap). I labelled it to show the crest of Jardines Lookout, the battery accommodation shelters and the Command Post (also referred to as Battery HQ).
|Labelled version to show orientation|
|Post-war Aerial photo showing location of AA Battery relative to WNC Gap|