WW2 History Trail in Hong Kong
by Graham G. Matthews In Hong Kong
This walk traces the battle for Wong Nai Chung Gap on 19th December 1941, perhaps the bloodiest day of fighting in the short but brutal struggle for Hong Kong during World War II. I have followed the signs for a journey filled with wartime memories and heroics, marked by ruins that record key chapters of the battle – including ammunition magazines, an anti-aircraft gun platform, underground bunkers and Pillboxes!
Join me as I make the 2 hour trek through the jungle in the hills above the Wong Nai Chung Gap in Hong Kong.
How to Get There
Take Bus 6 or 66 from Exchange Square, Central up to Wong Nai Chung Gap or from the Causeway Bay MTR Exit A take a taxi to the HK Parkview hotel. From the petrol station on Wong Nai Chung Gap Road, walk uphill along Tai Tam Reservoir Road for about 10 minutes until you reach a car park and nearby is Station 1 (Starting point).
Follow the trail to a small hilltop where you will find the ruins of an Anti-Aircraft Gun position that shot down a Japanese aircraft. The trail runs along a narrow concrete catchwater offering fantastic views across northeast Hong Kong Island and southwest through the gap to Aberdeen. Here you can learn the strategic importance of Wong Nai Chung Gap. At a junction there are two pillboxes close by the trail and information boards telling all about the fierce fighting. Follow the catchwater until you come to more information boards telling of battles fought and lives lost. As the trail drops down the hillside you again reach the highway. Go down to the pedestrian crossing across from the petrol station and you will find the remains of three bunkers that were the headquarters of a Canadian Brigade. The nearby final station tells of over 1000 men being killed at Wong Nai Chung Gap on 19th December 1941. Hong Kong fell to the Japanese just seven days later.
Station 1: Starting Point
Note the ‘crenelations’ on the roof of the bunker. Follow the first sign towards Station 2
Station 2: Anti-Aircraft Gun Platform
Just a short distance from the start point is the ammunition store located below the anti-aircraft battery.
On the notice board there are copies of the original photos of the invading Japanese forces inspecting the British AA guns. Walk through the remains of the concrete positions at the AA position.
Station 3: Catchwater Lookout
From the AA Gun position walk down the steps to the rainwater catchment path. Follow this along towards Station 3.
The views from the concrete walkway give an excellent idea of the terrain and just how difficult it was to defend the gap.
Station 5: Jardine’s Lookout Pillbox JL01
Walk up the steps to Pillbox JLO1. What makes this British Pillbox unusual is the Periscope (left) and the Ventilation Duct (right)
Additional Periscope Information
By Rob Weir PSG Member
Neither the Pillboxes at Wong Nai Chung, nor any other of the approximately 190 PB’s in HK, had periscopic vision, despite what the boards may state. The object in question on the roof was the Commander’s Turret. For vision, he perched on a metal ladder and viewed the world through the slots near the top, These were protected by metal shutters which slid in a continuous metal channel on the inside. They were in two sections, so that when not open, the ends were positioned behind the small uprights thereby closing off the slot. There were handles on the inside of the shutters to assist moving them, and a metal rod cutting across the inside of the turret was to give him something to hang on to for support. If you look at the picture labelled Periscope after Station 5, the remains of the shutter track can still be seen.
Station 4: Jardine’s Lookout Pillbox JL02
From station 5 go back down the steps until you come to station 4 and Pillbox JL02
The entrance trench still remains after sixty plus years
Looking at the interior of the pillbox through one of the loopholes
Note the use of local stone to camouflage the loopholes
Stations 6 & 7: The Reservoir & Valley
Continue down the hill and through the jungle. Why not stop and have a rest at one of the seats provided by the Hong Kong Government?
What a view!
Station8: Sir Cecil’s Ride
Station’s 9 & 10: West Brigade Headquarters
Copyright Graham G Matthews@PSG2008