Battle for Hong Kong, December 1941

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Amberley Publishing Limited, Jul 15, 2019 - History - 320 pages
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On the same day as the Pearl Harbor attack, forces of the Japanese Empire attacked the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong without warning. Philip Cracknell provides a research-driven narrative about the Battle for Hong Kong in 1941, which commenced on 8 December and lasted for three weeks until the surrender on Christmas Day 1941. Hong Kong had become a strategic liability; an isolated outpost. It would be sacrificed - but not without a fight. The main priorities for the British in Asia were Malaya and Singapore. The Crown Colony was gallantly defended but it was a battle against overwhelming odds. Crucially, as a resident of Hong Kong for thirty years, the author knows every inch of the ground. He challenges some assumptions, for example the whereabouts of ‘A’ Coy, Winnipeg Grenadiers, on 19 December, when the company was destroyed during a fighting retreat. What exactly happened during the battle, and where were the actions fought? One can still see so much evidence, in the form of pillboxes, gun batteries and weapons pits. The defending troops were mainly British, Canadian, Indian and Hong Kong Chinese. The Japanese had superiority in numbers of men, guns, and equipment, and complete air supremacy. The defenders suffered a casualty rate of over 30 per cent and many more died during the brutal incarceration that followed the surrender - a grim pointer to the hell of the Asia-Pacific War that followed. Churchill always knew that Hong Kong would fall, but wanted to cause the invaders maximum delay and maximum cost. As he acknowledged after the war, the defenders had won ‘lasting honour’. The battle for Hong Kong is a story that deserves to be better known.

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Historical Prelude
Hong Kong before the
Battle on the Mainland
Evacuation from the Mainland
The Royal Navy
The Island under Siege
Invasion of the Island
The Army Counterattacks
East Brigade Strikes Back
Escape from The Ridge
The Siege of Repulse Bay Hotel
The Japanese Advance
The Battle for Stanley
The Massacre at St Stephens College

The Battle for Wong Nai Chung
The Navy Counterattacks
Chaos and Confusion
Plates Notes
Selected Bibliography

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About the author (2019)

Philip Cracknell was posted to Hong Kong in 1985 whilst working for the UK subsidiary of a major New York bank. He developed an interest in Hong Kong’s military history. His archival research was conducted in London and Hong Kong. Living in Hong Kong, he was able to spend a considerable amount of time on the battlefields. He conducts battlefield tours for the Hong Kong Club, Royal Asiatic Society, veterans, schools and charities. He has a blog,, on military history with a special focus on the events in Hong Kong during December 1941. He is the author of 'Battle for Hong Kong 1941'.

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