As part of preparations for the defence of Hong Kong, during the late 1930s and early 1940s, some seventy-two beach defence pillboxes were constructed around the shoreline of Hong Kong Island. PB No. 1 was located at Sandy Bay and the PBs were numbered in ascending order in an anticlockwise direction from Sandy Bay to the shoreline below Mount Davis (PB No. 72). These first and last of these PBs can be seen in the pre-war map extract below.
|The map shows PB 1 (First) and PB 72 (Last) of the littoral |
The red numbered squares on the map represent a beach defence PB. The unnumbered PBs (like those shown at the top of Mount Davis Road) are line-of-gap or other PBs but not beach defence units. Those that have not been coloured-in on the map (see the north shore) were uncompleted when the map was drawn up circa December 1939.
In December 1941, most of the beach defence PBs were manned by 1st Battalion Middlesex (1/Mx). The
PBs on the northeast shore were manned by the Royal Scots (2/RS) and then after the evacuation of Kowloon, they were manned by 5/7 Rajputs. The PB shown below is No. 22 at Chung Hom Kok.
|PB 22 from the beach|
|LL 22 (Lyon Light) 50 metres from PB 22|
|PB 22 relative to Lyon Light 22|
The majority of the known beach defence PBs were 2-loophole type (27), the second in number were 3-loophole (11), and there were also 4 loophole (3). I specify known because most of those along the northern edge of the Island, in the built-up area, are unknown, and there are no survivors. PB 59 on the Royal Navy Yard north arm was 4 loophole, but it was different in shape to all other known ones, and also had two Lyon Lights on the roof. PB 63 at the Vehicular Ferry appeared to be a 3-loophole type.The 1939 map extract with military annotations shows PB 22 situated on the west side of Chung Hom Kok (then referred to as Chung Am Kok) facing Stanley Bay.
|Map showing the location of PB 22|
In December 1941, PB 22 was manned by 'B' Coy 1/Mx under the command of Captain Weedon. The PB had a crew of 8 men under Sgt Robins. In addition to their two Vickers guns, they had one 0.45 Thompson sub-machine gun (TSMG), six .303 Lee Enfield rifles, two .455 Webley revolvers. They had 10,000 rounds of 303 ammunition and 750 tracer rounds. They had 1,000 rounds for the TSMG and 54 rounds for the two revolvers. They also had twelve hand grenades. (See weapons inventory for 'B' Coy in Addendum below). 'B' Coy was responsible for PBs 21 (West Bay on Chung Am Kok Beach) to PB 30 (Turtle Bay Beach at Red Hill).
Each PB had a telephone with which it could contact other PBs and their Coy HQ. Most of the PBs had a single separate Lyon Light (searchlight) in a reinforced concrete structure normally within 50 metres of the PB. In some cases, the Lyon Light was on the roof of the PB, as below (PB 33a on Cape D'Aguilar).
|PB 33a with ruined Lyon Light structure on the roof|
The Lyon Light structure normally had a crew of two men. They were in contact with the PB by voice pipe. The searchlight was powered by a petrol engine. Cans of petrol and paraffin were stored in the PB. The paraffin was used for the hurricane lamps. These oil lamps would have provided a faint light, no doubt producing some fumes but the PBs were well ventilated. The searchlight structure also had a hurricane lamp. In the PB the men slept on canvas collapsible bunks with a metal tubular frame. Mosquito nets were available and mosquito veils and gloves were available for those on sentry duty. One single army blanket was issued for each bunk. Latrine buckets were provided as well as washing buckets. Drinking water was held in large 2-gallon and 4-gallon containers. Washing was done using seawater and saltwater soap was made available. Rations were delivered by truck from Coy HQ. The
PBs had stores of kettles, spades, maps, prismatic compasses, binoculars, sandbags and other equipment.
A beach defence unit (BDU) was defined as the PB and its Lyon Light structure. Each BDU would post two sentries at night, one outside the PB and one inside. The outside sentry was mainly expected to act as a shore watcher but also to keep watch on the landward side. At PB 17 on Repulse Bay Beach sentries were killed by infiltrating Japanese. The sentries were equipped with red and white Verey gun cartridges. A red flare was fired if a suspected landing was taking place. The inside sentry would watch from the loopholes and would man the telephone. Lyon lights were not to be exposed - other than briefly except when landing craft
were within the arc of the Medium Machine Guns (Vickers Guns).
|Entry to Lyon Light structure at PB 14 at Brick Hill|
|Vickers mounting at PB 3 at WNC Gap|
|PB 17 buried at the back of Repulse Bay Beach|
|In PB 21 you can see the metal frame of the collapsible bunks - they would have had a canvas base between the poles|
|PB 6 at Waterfall Bay the Lyon Light was in the tower to the left of the PB|
|'B' Coy PBs - weapons inventory|
Pte William Beningield was stationed at PB 22 as per his son David Beningfield on FB 18 July 2020.