Friday, June 22, 2012

Japanese Occupation

Ryan and I both wanted to see things related to the WWII Japanese occupation.  Neither of us really knew about what the other was interested in, but when we put it together it made for a very interesting weekend.

Ryan wanted to see the tunnels and bunkers that were the first line of defense against the Japanese
invasion from China which was to the north.  It was set up on a ridge of mountains that runs along
 the edge of the populated area north of Kowloon.

We took a taxi up "monkey road" and then hiked for about 20 min. up the mountain.  This is part
of the path that Ryan and Jill  followed when they did the 100 km walk a few years ago.

Ryan looking at his map as we found the first tunnels.  This was called the Redoubt Tunnel area.
Inside, it looked like some kind of bullet or fragment holes on the ceiling.
Typical Hong Kong health and safety guidelines.  Once you were inside the room there was a sign
that you were not to put up any posters, so I guess they didn't think anyone would actually stay out.

A little scary, when you realize there are snakes in the area.  I said to Ryan we might get in okay, but what if we get blocked from behind by snakes? That limited our adventurous side a little!

There were a number of walkways and tunnels that connected to each other.
This was an area where the roof was broken in and you could see inside.

Ryan's map said there was a pillbox up the hill so away we went.  He has hiked quite a bit in the
 wild and said he didn't like going through the brush, so you can imagine how I felt.

This is what is left.  The guns would have faced straight ahead (The trees would have been gone)as the Japanese would have come right up the hill.
This area of defense was called the Gin Drinkers Line(maybe they thought that was all the soldiers
 would have to do, as they didn't really expect an attack).  The attack did come 8 hours after Pearl Harbor, and the Japanese thought they would have some difficulty taking the area we were in,
 however it proved an easy target, as they came through right where we were.  I am still reading about
the war, but think the mountain was defended mainly by the British, as about 2000 Canadian soldiers
 had arrived only about 3 weeks earlier.  The Canadians were very raw rookies and didn't think they would be seeing any combat soon.  I believe they were still stationed on the island.  It was kind of
exciting to let your imagine run wild and go back 60 years to what was happening. The reality of war
 hit home the next day on the site I wanted to see.

A neat tree on our way down the mountain

Catching a taxi about half way down the mountain.  This starts stage '7' of the Trail Walk.
This was a sign in the park that showed the Gin line in red dots.  The red arrow at the top was
 where we were, and the Japanese came along the reservoir.  
Later in the afternoon Ryan, Sandra and l went to the History Museum and found quite a large section about the occupation.  It sounded like a pretty horrible time for 3 years, 8 months and the people
 of Hong Kong were very thankful for Canadians who tried to help them out, with many of them dying
 in their attempt
Many mainland refugees had already fled China because of the Japanese occupation there.
The Redoubt was the tunnels we visited.

The Japanese dropped leaflets urging the people to surrender, saying they would be treated okay.

The British fell back off the mountain into Kowloon and were quickly backed onto the island where
most of the fighting took place.  Even so they only held out for about a week trying to defend the
island, until they surrendered.
The next four pictures describe conditions during the occupation.  The people of Hong Kong
don't want anyone to forget even thought it was 60 years ago.

I don't know anything about this resistance, but should make for some interesting research and
 reading next winter.

The occupation ended when the Japanese surrendered after the Americans dropped the Atomic bombs.  The Americans are often vilified in our world, but without them the world over here would probably be quite different.

On Sunday afternoon , we went to the site I wanted to see.  I saw Prime Minister Harper visit this cemetery before we came to Hong Kong and had wanted to get out to see it before we go home.  It is called the Sai Wan War Cemetery.
It is located where there was a big battle and also where a number of prisoners of war were killed.
 It is on the edge of a mountain and is very quiet and beautiful.
One day after imagining the excitement of battle, the stark reality of war hits home when you visit
 a place like this.

A panorama view from the top.
The area at the bottom where it levels out, up to the cross is where Canadian soldiers are buried.
The ages on many of the tombstones makes it hard to imagine the loss of men so young.

The Canadian tombstones.  I believe there was one group from Winnipeg and one from Quebec.
When you see how many Canadians died trying to help another country, the French, English scraps
we have in Canada don't seem too significant.

Over 500 Canadians are buried here.
Pretty somber, but very peaceful.  It's good to see their memories are held in such high esteem..
The lower edge of the cemetery was for the burial of soldiers from India.  I don't know why there
 was no grass here, whether they are just planting it or that there is some other reason.
These signs explained the battle areas quite clearly.
The red line is again the Gin Drinkers line and the area we were at on Saturday is shown by the
long green arrow.  We live just at the bottom right of the picture.
This shows the battle lines on the island.  The cemetery is over  on the right of the island, just above
where it says Sai Wan.
The red lines show the final lines of defense.  Earlier in the year I had pictures of another cemetery in Stanley right beside where the final line was when the British surrendered.  The Stanley Prison was set
 up on the peninsula, and many soldiers died here as well because of mistreatment.  It was a very interesting 2 days of history and I have just purchased a detailed book about the occupation, so am looking forward to learning more.  I am much better at learning history when I can see links to the past.

No comments:

Post a Comment