Machine Gun Posts around Hong Kong's coastline
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.
Across on the west side of Tai Tam Bay, the site near the old pumping station has positions for two guns:
While at Chung Hom Kok, the platform has disappeared under the sand and only the low wall at the front is still visible.
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".
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.
- Information about the pillboxes that replaced these machine gun posts around Hong Kong island.
- More military sites in Hong Kong.
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