Sunday, 1 October 2017

Boa Vista

The Japanese landed on Hong Kong Island during the night of 18/19 December 1941. A Canadian platoon (No. 5 Platoon HQ Coy Royal Rifles of Canada) commanded by Lt Gerard Williams was deployed on Boa Vista. I assume this was their pre-arranged war-station. Boa Vista is a hill 846 feet above sea-level and commanding the strategic Tai Tam Gap with its military HQ. The military complex at Tai Tam Gap included East Infantry Brigade and East Group Royal Artillery HQ. The Royal Rifles of Canada had their  Battalion HQ at the same location. A path from Boa Vista led to Sanatorium Gap (aka Quarry Gap). This is the gap between Mount Parker and Mount Butler. On the night of the landings, the Japanese battalion that landed at Aldrich Bay proceeded up the north face of Mount Parker, and  then moved in a northwesterly direction, counter clockwise, around the upper levels of Mount Parker to arrive at Mount Parker Road close to PB 45. After overrunning the section at PB 45 they proceeded up to Sanatorium Gap. After a fierce fight, they captured the gap which had been defended by No. 1 Platoon of No. 1 Coy HKVDC.  They then continued uphill to occupy Mount Parker, which was their principal objective. Lt William's Platoon  was ordered up to Mount Parker  from their position on Boa Vista. They followed the path to Sanatorium Gap where they met up with guides sent from the HKVDC positions at Sanatorium Gap. However, when they arrived at the gap there was no sign of the HKVDC, who by that time had been overrun. The Canadian platoon proceeded up Mount Parker only to find the Japanese had occupied the summit and were in much greater strength. The Canadian platoon was destroyed. A second platoon (No. 9 Platoon) from 'A' Coy Royal Rifles of Canada under the command of Lt Collison Blaver was ordered up to Boa Vista to replace Lt William's platoon. Blaver's platoon was later ordered up Mt Parker, where they ran into entrenched Japanese positions and withdrew after suffering a number of casualties.

Map extract showing Boa Vista, Mt Parker and Tai Tam Gap
Boa Vista was a strategic position, and I had always assumed that there would be some evidence of splinter proof military accommodation shelters for a platoon size force of 25 to 30 men. However I had never found any sign of military structures. I then had a call from my friend Sergio Marcal who had found a military splinter-proof shelter at Boa Vista. He had also found a Royal Rifles of Canada cap badge near the wartime military structure.

Cap badge of the Royal Rifles of Canada 
Stuart Woods and I arranged to meet with Sergio Marcal on top of Boa Vista. We climbed up from Tai Tam Gap and Sergio showed us the military structure that must have been used by Lt Williams and later Lt Blaver.

My friend Sergio at the military structure.

The splinter proof shelter on Boa Vista
A structure like this could usually sleep a section of nine men  (three retractable bunks on three walls). The building is hidden in the undergrowth and not visible from the nearby trail. It seemed to be facing the direction of Mount Parker (northwest). Within 20 metres or so there was another structure which was brick-built and did not look like a typical WW2 military structure, this remains a mystery.

The brick-built structure






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