- A.N. Other and NHSA Webmaster
- History - WW2
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- December 2001 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Many naval personnel fought and died alongside their Army comrades in adversity. One party of 30 sailors from HMS Thracian was sent to reinforce the strenuous defence of Wong Nei Chong Gap, but were ambushed. The survivors escaped to a nearby house but decided to surrender a few hours later. Tragically the first few to do so were promptly bayoneted by Japanese troops, but one had a miraculous escape by diving headlong over a cliff and tumbling down the hillside to the beach, where he found sanctuary in a cave for the next month. By the 19th the Japanese were right across the island and the Dockyard was again under crossfire from both Kowloon and North Point, but it was not seriously attacked and so held out until Christmas Day. After the fall of the defence of Wong Nei Chong Gap the island was effectively cut in half and gradually all resistance was crushed, with Repulse Bay succumbing on 22nd, leaving the last pocket of defence around Stanley. Some survivors escaped by boat to Round Island, hiding in the wreck of the Thracian until forced to surrender two days later. Finally on Christmas Day, after 17 days hard fighting, the Governor of Hong Kong (Sir Mark Young) and his General Officer Commanding (General Maltby) offered an unconditional surrender to the Japanese forces. Of the total Hong Kong forces casualties (4,414 killed, wounded or missing) the Naval component suffered 148, of whom 119 were either killed or missing.
Finally on the 26th December the Japanese Army marched into the Dockyard to take possession and making the survivors prisoners, but then could not decide what to do with them. After being marched about Central district they were herded back into the Yard and left to fend for themselves, without food or water. Eventually they were herded across to Kowloon and aimlessly marched through the crowded streets, perhaps to impress the local Chinese, though these remained stunned and dazed by events. Thus began a long and miserable life as prisoners of war for all inhabitants of Hong Kong, as no attempt was made by the Japanese to repair the damage left by the British defence or subsequent damage by American aircraft, until eventual liberation by the British Pacific Fleet (Rear Admiral Harcourt) steaming into Victoria Harbour on 30th August 1945.
White Ensign – Red Dragon (History of the Royal Navy in Hong Kong 1841-1997) by Cdre P.J. Melson CBE, RN (1997).
Janes Fighting Ships of World War II – Anthony Preston (1989)
Ruins of War – A Guide to Hong Kong’s Battlefields and Maritime Sites by Ko Tim Keung and Jason Wardie (1996).