On 8 December 1941 began the battle of Hong Kong, now 77 years ago. Here is an extract from Dad’s diary of 10 December, recounting the first days of the Japanese invasion:
About 6:00am on Monday 8th I was woken up, called to the telephone and told that war was imminent with Japan. By the time I got to H.Q. we were at war. About 8:00am the first Japanese bombers came over. They did a lot of damage at the Aerodrome, destroying 7 C.N.A.C. (Chinese National Aviation Corp) planes, The Clipper, most of the RAF planes and the two Walruses. They were unopposed. The volunteer A.A. (anti-aircraft) platoon had drawn no ammunition, I suppose because the day before was a Sunday. The gunboat supposed to be in the seaplane anchorage was being used for something else. The Japs made rapid progress down the Taipo Road, and by the evening we were back in Shatin. H.Q. were gravely disappointed with the Stanley guns. They have shot too big a line, boasted that they could get almost to Taipo, in actual fact they can only reach about 1500 yards beyond Shatin Station. We were unable to answer several calls for fire as the targets have been out of range.
On Tuesday general skirmishing took place on the main approaches to the inner (Gin Drinkers) line, to which by nightfall all our forces had retired. During the night Tuesday/Wednesday the Japs surprised and captured the Shing Mun Redoubt. This is a severe loss. Today there has been heavy fighting all along Smugglers Ridge and up towards Golden Hill.
The Allied forces had been on high alert for some time but, as each alarm turned out to be false, they became complacent and so weren’t fully prepared for the attack. When war did come, it was fierce and relentless, raging until Christmas Day when the Allies finally surrendered. For the people of Hong Kong, this year would always be known as Black Christmas.
It is hard for us to imagine what that must have been like, as we do our online shopping for Christmas presents, put on a load of laundry or take the dog for a walk. We must always remember what we owe this generation. Blessings for a peaceful Christmas 2018.