Hong Kong Map3

Major Robert Templer

Major Robert Templer

In December 1941, Major Robert Templer commanded the 8th Coast Regiment RA, constisting of 12, 30 and 36 Coast Battoros, was stationed in Hong Kong, the families having been evacuated to Manila and Australia in June 1940.

12 Bty at Stanley Fort and 30 Bty at Bokhara Fort were armed with 9.2 in guns firing 380lb shells, their primary tasks being to prevent major enemy ships from approaching and shelling the Colony, their secondary task being the support of the land forces in Hong Kong.

36 Bty at Collinson and Chung Hum Kok Fort was armed with 6 in guns, firing 100lb shells to prevent the entrance of smaller enemy vessels through the Lvemun and Lamma Channels 12 bty engaged a Japanese Destroyer on 8th December and on the night of 8th/9th December shelled Japanese forces advancing down the Taipo Shatin road. Further shelling of the enemy colomns continued until 20th December when a Japanese HO was engaged over open sights. In all 850 rounds were fired, armour piercing shells being used when all high explosive shells had been expended.

On 13th December, 30 Bty engaged a Japanese cruiser at extreme range inflicting considerable damage on it. It also fired on many land targets, one shell landing in the middle of a Japanese battalion on the mainland. On 18th December, after the landing of enemy forces on the island, 30 Bty and 36 Bty blew up their guns, one Warrant Officer at Chung Hum Kok being unfortunately killed in the process and retired to Stanley Fort. Detachments from the Regiment took part in the fighting at Maryknoll Convent and in Stanley Village. 30 bty and 36 bty then established a defence line from the pumping station, half way up Stanley, across the peninsula, from which they engaged Japanese forces with small arms fire in the final stand on 25th December.

 

Dispositions on Stanley Peninsula on the Night of the 24-25th Dec 1941

Stanely -1abtn

Map supplied by Reg Shore

Pill Boxes (PB):

21

Sgt Johns

22

Sgt Robbins

23

Cpl. Goodman

24

Sgt. Stone

25

Cpl. Brown

26

Sgt. Hobson

27

Cpl. Wookey

28

Sgt. Sheehan

29

Cpl. Dandridge

30

L/Cpl. Payne

They then retired to the outskirts of Stanley until ordered to surrender late on Christmas night.

 

room 2

Room at Stanley Barracks

Stanley Fort was constantly bombed during the battle, the enemy having total air supremacy and after the Japanese landing in the island, it was shelled by pack artillery, one man being killed inside Stanley Church. The regiments casualties in the battle were 11 killed and 26 wounded.

 

Most of the losses suffered by the regiment occurred 10 months later when a draft of 1,816 POW´s was being transported to Japan in the freighter `Lisbon Maru´. The ship was sunk by an American submarine off the China Coast on 2nd October 1942. The prisoners were battened down in the sinking ship for 24hrs. Some succeeded in breaking out just before the ship went down, and the Japanese fired at swimmers in the water. Sururvivers were taken off the island to which they swum, but 122 men from the 8th Coast Regiment were drowned or killed in the sea.

Lt Col W N J Pitt, who in the battle commanded 36 Bty, survived and gives his report of the sinking:-

The `Lisbon Maru´ left Hong Kong for Japan in late September 1942 carrying a large draft of POW´s. The lower part of the centre hold was occupied by British personnel of the 8th and and 12th Coast Regiments RA, men of the Royal Scots, the Middlesex Regiment and RAMC. The Royal Navy were in the forward holds, the deck above the gunners being occupied by Japanese troops returning to Japan.

The ship was torpedoed by an American submarine at first light on 1st December, 1942. All Japanese troops were taken off leaving only a skeleton crew and guards. The ship was taken in tow, covers being lashed over the hatches to prevent men leaving the holds.

A small and totally inadequate pump was provided . All ranks worked all night with this but unable to keep the water level down. The only light came from a single candle, the air being so foul that it could burn only with a feeble glow.

At 7 am on 2nd October the ship suddenly sank stern first, the stern resting on the sea bed and the centre immediately flooding , trapping and drowning those inside. Only a few men escaped and in a few moments nearly the entire strength of the two Royal Artillery Regiments perished.

The few survivors scrambled on deck and started to swim to some islands about a mile away, not all succeeding in reaching land. The Japanese ships standing by made no attempt to rescue survivors and even shot at men in the water.

Those who reached the islands were well treated by the local Chinese fishermen and next day the survivors were taken off by the japs. Conditions during the rest of the voyage to Japan were appalling, survivors suffering from dysentery, beri and diphtheria. On arrival in Japan all were in a very low state of health due to shock, exposure, disease and malnutrition.

Of the 1,800 prisoners of all ranks who left Hong Kong only some 700 survived to be repatriated to the UK in August 1945.

In 1973 Brigadier C R Templer, who in 1941 commanded 30 Bty, decided to have made and erected in Stanley Barracks, a memorial to the fallen of 8th Coast Regiment.

Coast Reg Plaque-1tn

8th Coast Regiment Plaque

Picture taken by Tony Banham and supplied by Geoff Coxon

This took the form of a handsome plaque, 42 by 27 inches, made of anodised aluminium resembling silver, with lettering in dark blue, which was taken out by an NCO of the Wessex Depot, Exeter to 1 KINGS now stationed in Stanley Barracks.

The Co, Lt Col A W Davis, very kindly arranged for its erection in the Church and for the ceremony of dedication and unveiling by the Deputy Commander, Land Forces, Maj Gen E J S Burnett. This took place on 28th July 1974.

team2

30th Heavy Bty - 1938/9

Back row left to right

Ref (unknown) Banham Hole Woodfin Guille Dixon

Middle row L/R

Marsden Yearling Guy Roberts Downes

Front row L/R

Tuckley Casey Woods Elliot Major Prisman Cook Flanders CO

A full congregation of officers and men with their wives from the Garrison attended, as well as many civilians from the colony. There was a short and moving ceremony; wreaths were laid at the foot of the memorial by the CO of 1KING´S and by the CO of 3 RHA, Lt Col J B Bettridge RHA on behalf of the Master Gunner and the Royal Regiment of Artillery. Buglars of 1 KING´S in full dress, sounded the Last Post and Reveille.

A member of the congregation who attended writes:

`In the silence which followed one could sense the poignancy of the feeling shared by all present, not least by the young soldiers who were probably not born when those whose names are on the memorial died fighting or as POW´s. It all Happened over 30 years ago in a hopeless battle against odds and is good to know that those who died over 8,000 miles fron England are not forgotten.´

Coast Reg Plaque-2tn

8th Coast Regiment Plaque

Picture taken by Tony Banham and supplied by Geoff Coxon

When Hong Kong was handed over to the Chinese in 1999, the plaque was taken down and was placed on a school church wall in Chapel at St Stephen.

 

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