In 1900, a decision was taken to establish a battery of five 9.2-inch coastal defence guns on Mount Davis so as to command the western approaches to the harbour. The battery was completed in 1912. In 1935, two of the five guns were moved to Fort Stanley. During the Battle for Hong Kong the battery at Fort Davis consisted of three 9.2-inch Mark V coastal defence guns and two 3-inch AA guns. The battery, known as 24 Coast Battery, was part of Western Fire Command which was responsible for the coastal defence batteries in the western sector of Hong Kong Island. There were no coastal defence batteries situated on the Mainland during the battle.
Jubilee Battery, below Mount Davis and situated close to the shoreline, was equipped with three 6-inch guns. The guns on Mount Davis, especially F3, the highest gun, were able to traverse and fire landward which they did with great effect during the battle, although it was not what they were designed for. The batteries had limited amounts of high-explosive shells and were mainly equipped with amour-piercing shells which were more effective in engaging enemy warships. The guns at Jubilee were blocked by terrain and could only fire seawards. When the coastal defence batteries were constructed, it was not contemplated that they would be used for landward firing at infantry positions. The artillery support for the infantry was expected to be provided by the howitzers of the mobile artillery. In fact the coastal defence guns and beach defence guns (18-pdrs) played a major role in engaging enemy infantry and for destructive shoots on for example infrastructure targets.
The AA section at Fort Davis was part of 17th AA Battery, 5th Ant Aircraft Regiment. The section commander was Lt Jock Wedderburn who later escaped from prisoner of war camp.
It is Saturday 13 March, 2021. The taxi drops me and my son, Chris, at the junction of Mount Davis Road and Victoria Road. We start walking up the military road that leads to the summit. I am armed with a wartime sketch map which indicates that the first military building is the Guard Room and beside it the main gate or barrier. Hidden in the trees we find a ruined building that may be the Guard Room although I find no evidence of the gate.
Walking up the gun road we come to a latrine or toilet block and then to the first gun emplacement F1.
Major Anderson and Captain Hammett have gone to earth and cannot be located. So has Joe Gould [RSM Henry ('Joe') Gould]. Shelling continues throughout the day and troops are ordered to remain under cover if not on duty.
I left the fort during an air raid to go to Cathay Hotel to pick up some kit. Miss Ellis, the proprietress, just out of hospital, very defeatist and thinks more of her money than the outcome of the war. Have a meal, tell her to keep cheerful and depart with such kit as I can carry.
Miss Leontine Ellis died of cancer, aged forty-nine, in Stanley Internment Camp in August 1942.
I continue up the road from the F1 Gun emplacement and to my left I come across the ruins of the Royal Navy's two-storey Port War Signal Station.
The magazine for each position was basically underneath the gun pit. They are probably still there, but inaccessible. I make that comment as the British Army apparently had a set plan for 9.2” Batteries which was applied throughout the Empire. The shells and cartridges come up by a lift or belt to the lower gun floor and are then transferred to the gun using the crane supplied. (Stanley, being a bit more up to date, had powered lifters to the gun). (Rob Weir)
The original site for the 3” guns was a walled compound composed of stone or concrete blocks. A Japanese photo of 1942 showed one mangled gun and part of the compound destroyed. Where it was is unknown, but I suspect in the area which is now the picnic area near the top gun pit (F3). The AA position you showed was built in 1940/1 in anticipation of the supply of 4.5” HAA guns. West Bay, Waterfall Bay and Brick Hill were built at the same time, and Sai Wan and Pinewood reconditioned to take the new guns. Only Waterfall Bay received the 4.5", the others had to make do with what was available. By the time new equipment was received in 1949 there had been a change in policy apparently, and the protected pit with ready use ammo lockers had mainly made way for the gun to be mounted on flat pads at ground level. Three, out of four, remain today just near the top gun position. All HAA was withdrawn from HK in 1957. The walled area on top of the buildings you photographed was protection for the Predictor and Height-finder which fed the information through the control room below, to the guns. (Rob Weir)
BSM Barlow and myself established order in BPR amid smoke and fumes and picric acid. Our lights are out and blower plant disabled and daylight visible through the roof. This roof was once a thickness of 15 ft of earth and concrete. A shell penetrated right through this, through a steel door, ripped all the bricks from one wall ploughed through another wall and finished up in the telephone exchange without exploding.
Major Anderson gives his officers and warrant officers the most defeatist talk I've ever heard. He conveys the impression to all that at first sight of the enemy he is prepared to surrender. Captain Hammett continues to disorganise the food by not allowing people to have a hot meal.
I decide in a moment of generosity to take my escort and driver to a meal at the Hong Kong Hotel. As soon as the meal was over we get roped in to arrest armed deserters from the Rajputs who were sheltering in air-raid shelters.
I volunteer for the next party but am indignantly informed by Captain Hammett that I shall be of more value in counter-battery work than as an infantry leader. The Davis guns have been in action again today.