Machine Gun Posts around Hong Kong's coastline

Submitted by Rob on Sat, 10/07/2017 - 14:01

This week's guest post from Rob Weir introduces a collection of military sites around the Hong Kong coastline from the 1930s. They're small enough to be easily overlooked, but they have an interesting history.

The Machine Gun Posts are first found in the 1935 Hong Kong Defence Plan, where they are listed at various beaches assessed as potential landing sites for an invader, both on HK Island and the Mainland. Here are their locations shown on a map. (e-mail subscribers, please click here to view the web version of this page and see the map.)


Whether they were built before then is unknown, however within a couple of years their usefulness was in question, firstly on the Mainland with the construction of Pillboxes on the Inner Line, and then on the Island when the New Policy determined that, effectively, only the Island was to be defended. All beaches were then considered as landing places, and were to be defended with Pillboxes. These were subsequently built, often within a few metres of the Machine Gun Post position.


What remains today?

The markers on the map are colour-coded to show if any remains of a site still exist (yellow), or if the site has been cleared (red). With the exception of a few built in still-isolated areas, most have succumbed to development, their original positions now hundreds of metres from the nearest water amid buildings and streets.

This photo shows one of the sites that has escaped re-development, on the east side of Tai Tam Bay. This is the typical layout for a gun position, consisting of a small concrete platform with a low wall in front.

MG Post at East Tytam Bay


Across on the west side of Tai Tam Bay, the site near the old pumping station has positions for two guns:

MG Posts, Tytam Harbour Pumping Station


While at Chung Hom Kok, the platform has disappeared under the sand and only the low wall at the front is still visible.

MG Post, West Bay


How effective would they have been?

Their effectiveness against landing troops and bombardment must be questioned. Unquestioned must be the bravery of those sent to man the positions, on open beaches with the minimum of protection. An extract from a document in the National Archives at Kew (WO 106/2380 dated Nov 1937) makes the point:

“As you know, our beach defences at the moment consist only of Volunteer Machine Guns holding scattered points along the coastline with no cover at all bar small segments of cement about a foot high”.

This photo shows a Machine Gun Post in use. It is captioned "The No. 2 Scottish Company Vickers machine-gunners on Stanley Beach".

MG Position at Stanley Beach


Thanks to Rob for sharing his research with us. He notes this is a work in progress, so any corrections or additional photos and information will be gratefully received. Rob isn't sure of the status of the sites marked by blue markers above, so please let us know if you find any signs of those machine gun posts.

Further reading:


Gwulo lunch this Tuesday, 10th Oct (click for details). We're currently four people for lunch, so please join us if you're free.

New on Gwulo this week...

If you can leave a comment with any more information about these, it will be gratefully received.


Some of the new photos added this week:

Can anyone confirm if this photo was taken at 
Watson's factory on Mok Chong St., Hung Hom?

Family photo, by Raymond Tse


1961 RAF Sek Kong
1961 RAF Sek Kong, by Eternal1966


Dairy Farm
Dairy Farm, by Wallydog


Click to see all recently added photos.


My father John (Sconnie) Sloan, born 1913, told me many years ago that when was in the Volunteers he was in what he said was the motorcycle machine group. He said that the plan was to race out on side car bikes to prepared mg emplacements in Kowloon and then to fall back to the next ones till they crossed over to HK. Luckily for me the idea was scrapped, he said by Maltby. He was then assigned to the defense of North Point power station where he was an engineer.

If this had happened I am sure I would not be writing this now!

Hope this helps. Not fact but hearsay.

Alan Sloan

Not hearsay, fact.

The HKVDC had, in 1937, 12 BSA motorcycle combinations with Vickers Medium Machine Guns (rider, and assistant who sat in the sidecar to use the gun) and 12 ordinary motorcycles. It was referred to as the Mobile Column, and appears in the 1941 Defence Plan with 4 of the combinations to operate on the Taipo Road in the vicinity of Tai Wai, and 2 operating on the Castle Peak Road in the vicinity of Ha Kwai Chung. On the planned withdrawal, all 6 were to operate in the Sham Shui Po area. As the plan was subsequently modified with the later arrival of the Canadians, and the use of a second Battalion on the Mainland, I don't know whether the combinations still participated.