The Battle of Hong Kong 8-25 Dec 1941 part 1


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The Battle of Hong Kong

Took place during the Pacific campaign of World War II. It began on 8 December 1941 and ended on 25 December 1941 with Hong Kong, then a Crown colony, surrendering to the Empire of Japan.

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 Sino-Japanese War. On 21 October 1938 the Japanese occupied Canton (Guangzhou) and Hong Kong was effectively surrounded.
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 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.

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 and the armed merchant cruiser Prince Robert. 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 served only in 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.

Order of battle

British Commonwealth Infantry

2nd Battalion, The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment)
1st Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment (Machine gun battalion)
5th Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment
2nd Battalion, 14th Punjab Regiment
1st Battalion, The Winnipeg Grenadiers
The Royal Rifles of Canada (Rifle battalion)
Hong Kong Chinese Regiment (Infantry battalion)
Infantry Companies, Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps (HKVDC)


8th Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery
12th Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery
5th Anti-Air Regiment, Royal Artillery
956th Defence Battery, Royal Artillery
1st Hong Kong Regiment, Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery /
Artillery Batteries, Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps (HKVDC)

Supporting Units

Royal Engineers, RE
Royal Army Service Corps, RASC
Royal Army Medical Corps, RAMC
Royal Signals, RS
Royal Army Ordnance Corps, RAOC
Royal Army Dental Corps, RADC
Royal Army Pay Corps, RAPC
Military Provost Staff Corps
Indian Hospital Corps, IHC
Indian Medical Service, IMS
Royal Indian Army Service Corps, RIASC
Hong Kong Mule Corps
Corps of Military Staff Clerks
Canadian Provost Corps
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, RCAMC
Canadian Army Dental Corps
Canadian Service
Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, RCCS
Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, RCASC
Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps, RCAPC
Canadian Postal Corps
Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, RCOC
Canadian Chaplains Service
Canadian Auxiliary Services
Supporting Units, Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps (HKVDC)

Empire of Japan

Imperial Japanese Army

Twenty-Third Army (Japan)
38th Division: 228th, 229th and 230th Infantry Regiments
2nd Independent Antitank Gun Battalion
5th Independent Antitank Gun Battalion
10th Independent Mountain Artillery Regiment
20th Independent Mountain Artillery Battalion
21st Mortar Battalion
20th Independent Engineer Regiment
One radio signal platoon
One third of medical unit, 51st Division
1st&2nd River Crossing Material Company, 9th Division
Three companies of 3rd Independent Transportation Regiment
19th Independent Transport Company
20th Independent Transport Company
21st Independent Transport Company
17th Field Water Purification and Supply Unit
Twenty-Third Army Air Unit
45th Air Regiment
Element of 44th Independent Air Unit
Two formations of 10th Independent Air Squad
47th Air Field Battalion
Elements of 67th Air Field Battalion
67th Air Field
2nd China Expeditionary Fleet

Defensive positions

Key sites of the defence of Hong Kong included:

Wong Nai Chung Gap
Lye Moon Passage
Shing Mun Redoubt
Gin Drinkers' Line
Devil's Peak
Stanley Fort


The Japanese attack began shortly after 08:00 on 8 December 1941 (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, Canadian and Indian forces, commanded by Major-General Christopher 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, but were outnumbered nearly four to one (Japanese, 52,000; Allied, 14,000) and lacked their opponents' recent combat experience.