Finds and Discoveries in HK | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
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Finds and Discoveries in HK

I thought I’d start up a new forum dedicated to “Finds & Discovery’s in HK”. For anything people have found laying around. 

I’ll start with the story of my mother, who still lives here in HK.

Last summer she was out shopping, surprisingly enough, and looked down to find a ladies watch on the street. She picked it up threw it into her back and reported it to the Police the following day. When my Mum returned from her summer holiday back in the UK there was a message waiting for her from the Old Bill saying nobody has claimed for the watch and so it is rightfully hers. A few days later she goes to collect it and then enquires into its authenticity. She goes into the brands showroom hands the watch over, 5mins later the bloke comes out and says:

“It an original, White Gold with Diamonds, One year old worth……..$118,000!!”

After my mum regained consciousness, she went back to the Coppers to get a letter to say it is legally hers. Not a bad find. Only in HK would someone loose a watch of that value and not even bother to report it. 

Anyway to my finds. I had a quick sweep along the Wong Nai Chung trail with my metal detector and found a few goodies.

I believe they are Japanese bullets, I have tried to identify them as best I can but I’m no expert. I found the rifle heads right outside JL01 and the pistol bullet about 300m from the petrol station. I also found plenty of bits of metal that could well be shrapnel but I just can’t tell.

W.N.C. trail finds

Forum: 

You found my watch!!! Well.... worth a try.

I can't think I've found anything very exciting, but after reading this I'll keep my eyes glued to the floor.

Thanks for the photo of the bullets too. Please keep us updated as you find more.

I went for a quick sweep with the metal detector around where Osborn is thought to have died near Parkview. When you start stage 5 of the HK trail, about 200m up the stairs there is a memorial with the story of how Osborn died. I jumped over the small fence and headed over to where there is a small mound of stones marking the spot where he died about 150m away.

Along the way I found plenty of goodies: 5 x Enfield .303 Rifle cases, 2 Full .45 pistol bullets (one broken) and 24 x 7.62mm Blank cases for an M60 (Post war).

They are my first British relic finds, so I am quite happy. I love the Pistol Bullets and to find a full un-fired one was pleasing. I gave them a clean for a couple of hours in an acid bath (probably not the professionally recommended method) and they came out looking quite nice. You can tell my experimental ones on the far left of the blanks.

I’m not sure why the blanks where there? I did a quick research on the them and it seems that they date no later than 1958, I wasn’t aware that the military carried out exercises near Parkview in the 60’s?

The .303 shells have the markings “Z67 RG” underneath. The .45 have “REM-UMC 45 ACP” which stands for Automatic Colt Pistol.

Enfield .303 Shells
Colt .45
Colt .45 Bullet Markings
Blank Cases

Hi Craig,

I remember the Gurkars used to exercise in the countryside on weekdays back in the mid 1980's so I would not be surprised if some army units conducted their exercise in the Wong Nei Chung/Tai Tam area back then.

Best Regards,

T

Craig, I'm surprised how much stuff you're finding. I would have thought others would have given the areas a good search already. It is interesting to see them.

T, do you think there would be army exercises in the middle of Hong Kong island? It's certainly an explanation for the blanks, but it seems an unlikely place to hold exercises, if the public might be in the area. Or was this area previously closed off to the public?

The only other idea I could think of was whether there was ever any reenactment of the attack on the area?

Dear Mr B,

Back in the 1950's I think the Wong Nei Chung Gap/Tai Tam area was just barren land with few vegetation.  I am uncertain whether there had been army exercise there. Those .303 are British alright.

But I have defeinitely read about and seen Gurkars working out in Lantau backin the 1980's.  I saw some spent shells and traces of colour powders stains along the Lantau Trail near the Shek Pik Reservoir back then while hiking.

Best Regards,

T

T, Thanks, you're right again - I asked Tony Banham, who replied:

Assuming the 'Osborn Memorial' is the cairn, yes there's tons of 7.62 up there and all over Tai Tam from post-war training. You can find both the SLR and Carbine rounds.

I’m glad to see everyone is hard at work. I only posted this after lunch, I suppose the rain quells ambitions.

I do remember bumping into a Gurkha regiment on training in Sai Kung country park, midweek, when I was on school camp in about ’92.

I have found blanks in the hills around Luk Keng and Lantau, near DB. They must have “played” everywhere. 

MrB, If you are in contact with Tony Banham, have you enquired into PB45? I won’t rest easy until I know of it’s fate      

Craig, no I haven't asked him yet - I'm still hopeful we can find it somehow!

Craig,  I just wanted to give you a bit of a “heads up” with respect to using a metal detector around these various sites. The Japanese hand grenades, mortar rounds, and light anti-tank and artillery shells utilize Picric Acid as their primary explosive charge. Picric Acid has the nasty tendency to become a “contact explosive” with age. So if you prod around and hit something, you can end up with a nasty surprise. What I mean by this is a jostle causes them to explode. I have found many such items not so far from where you are exploring and when the UXO folks from the police have blown them with det cord and if you see the explosions, it sobers you up ( and I am not exaggerating, I have found numerous items that would blow your face off with ease). I am not trying to scare you off, but I caution you to be very, very careful and I also am worried that by posting things such as this you may catalyze young folks to go out and search without being careful enough. To do this safely you need to have a good detector that can tell you the size and composition of what you have found, and then you need to be measured and careful as you uncover it. On top of this you need to know what to look for and when to stop and call the UXO folks. Again, the Japanese munitions are far, far more unstable than most when it comes to spontaneous explosions than what are found in European theatres.  Best, Tom

Tom,

When reading the accounts of WWII fighting in HK, there are often mentions of 'dud' Japanese shells landing.  From your description of the effects of age on their explosives, they are more likely to explode now than when they were first fired.

Thanks for this sobering piece of information, I hope anyone thinking of digging around the old battlefields will pay careful attention to it.

MrB

Tony wrote back:

I had a look at your site today, at Craig's finds. The top lot (7.7, 6.5 etc.) are clearly WWII. But the others found around the Osborn cairn all look post-war to me. There was a lot of .303 still used for training in the early post-war years. If he could post a photo of the .303 RG headstamps then I could check it out.

I wasn't sure what a headstamp was, so he explained:

A 'headstamp' is the base of a cartridge or shell case, on which is stamped basic information. For small arms ammo, it is generally the calibre, the date of manufacture, the manufacturer, and sometimes a sub-type. 'RG' is Radway Green (the Royal Ordnance Factory),which indicates that the cases found near the Osborn cairn were British built. Had they been anything to do with Osborn and the Winnipeg Grenadiers, you would have expected a DAC headstamp (Dominion Arsenal, Quebec, Canada).

Hi Tom (Not Tom D.V. by any chance is it?). Thanks for the advice, I shall certainly take heath to your words of warning. I have had that thought in the back of my mind, so I tended not strayed off the path, where I hope will be a little safer than out in the exposed hillside. Anyhow, I really don’t fancy seeing out the rest of my days maimed or instantly turned into “Pink Mist”, so I will be extremely careful where I snoop around in future. I don’t wish to start a craze of kids digging up the hillside looking for dangerous explosive items and so I implore, DON’T!

PS. I'll take a snap of the .303 Case Markings tomorrow, when I"m hard at work. 

Dear Craig,  Again, I am not trying in anyway to scare you for the pleasure of it.  I just want you to factor this into your thinking and also to make it clear that this is not something for young people to do without proper supervision. Even the police UXO team in HK will sometimes call upon us to help sweep because it is a question of the correct equipment and how to use it.  Most of what you would find that is Japanese and dangerous would blow your hand off, or take out an eye with ease and not of the “pink mist” variety.  Most large bombs in HK are American from 1943 and 1945. The largest concentration of Japanese aerial bombs of  the “pink mist variety” I have found are up in the valley between the two peaks of Mt. Cameron where the Japanese dive-bombed dug-in British/Canadian positions. BTW, If you are interested, take a look at www.boldventureb25.com which is an interesting project we just completed excavating the crash-site of an American B-25 in HK. One of the most satisfying things was to track down the surviving next-of-kin in the US. We were able to return the harness clips of the pilot and a piece of the pilot’s windshield to his son ( who knew little of his natural father ). Read the section on the pilot Jensen and an article written by his son (I challenge you not to shed a tear when you read it). We would welcome people with a serious interest to help with the final phases of the excavation when the weather clears a bit. We are also working on a few other sites, including the large Japanese execution grounds in Big Wave Bay. This is where numerous Chinese resistance fighters, various British and Indian military figures, foreign civilians, and American pilots were executed and buried. Although every execution was horrific, the imagery of Major David Henry Houck, an American P-51 pilot, being hooded, forced to kneel and being tied to a cross with his hands stretched out in a position of crucifixion and then shot once, then twice, in the forehead at 30 yards by a Japanese sergeant ( the Private given the first assignment couldn’t pull the trigger) is chilling imagery. We have found the location of his grave and execution site. The burial site for all the other victims is largely forgotten and unmarked. Older inhabitants of the village I have spoken to witnessed the various executions but are pretty reluctant to discuss it. My guess is there is a general hope to let this chapter of village history slip into the past. This being said, several of the oldest inhabitants I spoke to also did seem keen that their stories were remembered.   Best, Tom

I tried to photo the bottom of the .303 cases but they did come out. I did manage to get the markings off the bottom though and it looks as though Tony Banham was correct in thinking they where post-war. Two of the cases have an RG stamp and after continual cleaning I found a date stamp of ‘58 and ’59. Two of the cases are illegible and I can’t see anything. The last cases I found the following stamp markings.

R / L,   V,    C.

 After a bit of research, the marking appear to show they where made by the Royal Laboratory in Kent, Model V (5) and used Cordite (C). Not from the battle of HK, Boo. I just assumed that being a live round would have only come from the war, but it look as though they used live ammunition during training out in hills too. I didn’t think they would have used bullets in the country parks on training when you have millions of people a sneeze away. 

Tom, thank you for your concern, I know you only have my wellbeing in mind. I had a quick look at your “Bold Venture” website and it looks very interesting, I had no idea about your projects. I would certainly love to help you guys out some time. I wouldn’t be able to commit myself regularly, as I would only have weekends available, but would get involved at any opportunity I could. I am intrigued with your stories about Big Wave Bay and the atrocities that took place their. While I can completely empathise with those whom have painful memories, to recall these incidents, I strongly believe that they need to be documented. Society needs to know of these types of horrendous acts so that they can be prevented in the future. By remaining ignorant on these matters (which appear to be the current Japanese government stance) we will never assess our own morals. We look back at the deplorable acts of genocide committed in Rwanda and by the Nazi’s, but would the holocaust have taken place in the first place had the world known what happened to the Armenians? We need to learn from our mistakes and those of others. I being British know of our own colourful history. A lot of which is despicable by today’s standards. The Opium wars being a prime example. However we have hopefully learnt lessons and we are a better society today for it (we certainly let everyone walk all over us now!).

Craig, sorry to hear they are post-war, but it's interesting to read the research you've done. I never realised you could learn so much from the spent cartridges! (A suggestion too - if you come across any helpful websites during your research, include their urls to help others looking for the same type of info later)

Cheers, MrB

Tom, that's an interesting site, well done to you and your colleagues for pulling it all together.

The tales about Big Wave Bay (is it the one by Ham Tin, or on HK Island?) are very interesting too. Is there any more information about that project on the web?

Mr. B,  It is the Big Wave Bay on HK Island. There are two places where parties were regularly executed during the occupation of HK during WW II, the beach in front of Stanley Prison and Big Wave Bay. The Big Wave Bay execution and burial site had/has about 200 bodies. The site where the prisoners who were executed on the Stanley Beach were buried is on the knoll to the right of the unmarked HK Bureau of Prisons graveyard ( to the right as you face the BPG graveyard ). The HKBP Graveyard was where executed prisoners were buried in unmarked graves prior to the end of capital punishment in HK. Those executed during the war were buried on the knoll ( out of the boundary of the prisoner’s graveyard ) and disinterred after the war. The disinterred graves and some of the original markers can still be seen. Somewhere in HK in government possession, but currently misplaced, is a wooden signboard in Japanese that was at the front of the Stanley Beach site which had the name of each executed individual in Katakana. Some of the graves in Big Wave Bay had proper Japanese grave stones with Katakana inscriptions of the names of those beheaded/shot.  Best Tom

Thanks Tom, that's a piece of Hong Kong's wartime history I hadn't heard of before. If there are ever other snippets of history you'd like to share, you are very welcome to post them up on here as comments / or new forum posts.

Regards, MrB

 

I went out for a little peek around with my metal detector yesterday with a fellow enthusiast. We headed up to the Jardine’s Lookout F.O.P. (Forward Observation Post) located under the Trig Point. With Tom’s words of warning still fresh in my ears, and the thought of me being vaporized, I made sure I stayed close to the path where I know the ground has already been disturbed. We found a couple of .303 Bullets right on the summit and a couple of Blank cartridges.

I can’t believe the bullets would have come from Military exercises, as suggested with the earlier .303 shells I found, Surely even Squaddies aren’t daft enough shoot live ammo at the top of Jardines Lookout, right over the top of the city.

The other items we found are a couple of Blanks cartridges that date to ’71.

303 Bullets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom, Exactly which beach in front of the prison were people executed? Pak Sha Wan or Tung Tau Wan or further North towards Stanly Main beach ? I would like to go and have a look around, I’ll keep an eye out for the unmarked HK Bureau of prisons graveyard. Cheers Mate.

P.S. I used the following Websites to help identify Headstamp Markings on the cartridges I found.

http://cartridgecollectors.org/headstampcodes.htm

http://www.enfield-rifles.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=2005

 

Craig,

 

You won’t find it on your own. If you are keen to help sweep part of the burial ground that formally held the graves of the pilots, and also a cross firing machine gun nest covering the beach. I would be happy to take you there. I can also give you a bit of a lesson on how not to turn yourself into pink mist.

 

How does one contact you ?

 

Best Tom

 

 

Dear Tom, thank you very much for your kind offer, you’re a gentleman.

I was just interested in knowing where exactly you are talking about? I don’t have any interest in unearthing personal belongings of executed POW’s. I feel that maybe insensitive (when I have no idea what I'm doing, I'd hate to ruin something of value). I really don't mind helped out, if there is need to discover and record specific historical information, and take guidance, but I am not just going to start digging up the beach willy-nilly looking for artifacts for my own gratification. 

I would be most grateful for any advice you could offer me and I would like to reciprocate your generosity and help contribute to your Bold Venture project (or others) in anyway I can, even if you need me to lug gear around all day. I’ll do as I’m told.

You can drop me a line at HK_Splash@yahoo.com I look forward to hearing from you.

Many kind regards, Craig

 

 

I went out in the hills for a couple of hours yesterday for a snoop around. I went to Jardine’s Lookout, to the big Japanese “Bat” tunnel near the quarry. I was looking for other tunnels along the hillside. I found a small “Observation Hole” which I think was once connected to the rest of the big “Bat” Tunnel, but it was pretty small and mostly blocked up, so it doesn’t look accessible.

However, as I was scrambling around the side of the hill, I looked down to find a chunk a metal on the floor. As I picked it up, I fist noticed that it was quite heavy, and I initially thought it was a piece of piping. But upon closer inspection I could see that it was mostly steel and heavily machined, with some sort of copper inside. After I gave it a wee clean I noticed some marking around the inside which reminded me of the head stamps on the shell casings I found. The inscription around the rim reads:

No 8I ****  RZRL 1/31   166 ^

Detonator
Detonator

 I think it may have come from a mortar because of it’s size (2’’ Inches). I also think it maybe British because the RL may mean Royal Laboratory (Ordinance makers during the war). I spent hours last night trying to identify it, to no avail, but I’ll keep looking.

 

And funny to see the biggest find to date was without the aid of a metal detector!!

I wonder if the 8I is really 8T, as the line under the T looks like the line under the o in No, ie a way to orient the letters. Also the symbol between the two R's may not be a Z, as it seems at a different height from the other letters.

Let us know if you manage to decipher what they mean, and what it was part of originally.

I am still investigating what exactly it is.

Well noticed about the inscription, it does look like a T with a slightly smaller line underneath, but I still think it looks more like an I than a T but I could well be wrong. The “Z” is slightly raised above the other letter around it and when I first saw it I thought it was a  / symbol. Again it does look like a Z but looks unusual because it is not quite flush with the other letters around it.  The two 6’s are also in a superscript so it looks like 166 .

I’ll try and post a better photo of it over the weekend. Keep eating your carrots. 

Kung Hei Fat Choi

Over CNY I took a friend up to have a look around near Parkview with the metal detectors for a sweep around. 

We found a small cache of 5 x 75mm Japanese Artillery Shells. By far the best find so far (I have to admit my friend actually found the spot).

Japanese 75mm Shells
75mm Shells
Japanese Artillery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I suspect that they came from a Type 41-75mm Mountain Gun. See this site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_41_75_mm_Mountain_Gun

I have managed to do a bit of research and the dates of manufacturing range from August 1938  - October 1940 which would fit in nicely with the actual battle for HK.

The other piece of information I can tell is that they were made at the Nagoya Arsenal. There are other markings that I’m not sure about yet, but I think they will tell us what sort of round it used to be. I’ll keep looking.  

I'll also post a photo when I have managed to give them a good clean and polish.

What a find! It's quite something to think what was happening when these were last touched by someone, and how they've managed to stay hidden all this time since.

Did you get the feeling they'd been buried at all, or just left to lie on the surface?

David: I think that the Japanese must a have buried them just underneath the surface. We found all five 75mm in the same little patch about 5cm down.

We were so happy about the find that we went back up last Saturday for another quick look around. This time we found a whole lot of other shells. This time we found 37mm, again Japanese. All of the legible headstamp markings are dated up to 1940 and I haven't seen any that date later than that.

After doing a bit of research, I suspect that they are type '94, either Anti-Tank rounds or High-Explosive. As the dimensions match up exactly. What was unusual is that everyone of the shells had their headstamp facing upwards, as if someone had stood on them after they were fired.

We found so many we actually turn off the detectors or we would have been up there all day. We were nearly finished and we were wipng away the leaves and twigs on the floor when we uncover a small Bamboo Pit-Viper just inches away from our hands. We nearly cacked ourselves at first, but the little thing looked to have been in deep hibernation, as when we flicked it away with a stick it took about 45 mins to slowly move away. Quite a pretty looking snake.

Japanese 37mm Shells
Japanese 37mm Shells
Japanese 37mm Shells
Snake
Snake

 

Dear Craig

 

I have been reading your thread with great interest. I have been living in HK now for 26 years and being British have always been interested in the history. I am in the process of looking in to purchasing a metal detector to search some of the old war sites with my 10 year old son. I was wondering if you have any tips on good areas to search and what to watch out for, the unexploded seaction and bamboo snakes are already on my radar. You seamed to have found  a lot of shells up at Parkview did you recover them all or gave up as there were too many?

Regards

 

Stuart

Hi Stuart, There is a small group of us that head out into the hills most Saturday mornings. We are keen enthusiasts and keep records of everything we find along with details. Normally our season is from late October - April. Anything from now onwards is a bonus as it usually gets too hot and sticky about this time of year and we do also start to see a few snakes, but we should be out a couple more times in the coming weeks (at easy sites to visit) I would cation you to be extremely carful if you're in the hills, as we do come across a lot of unexploded ordnance, which has to be dealt with by the police. You and your son are welcome to join us if you like. We can take you to one of our projects and show you how to use your detector, identify items, remove items safely and carefully, log what you find ect. Drop me an email and we can tee something up: Hk_splash@yahoo.com (I will reply from a different address) Regards, Craig

I'm a bit late as the video came out last December but I've just seen it. Worth a watch:

https://www.scmp.com/video/asia/2125320/digging-hong-kongs-wartime-past

Anyone grabbing an equinox? Can't decide which minelab would be best suited for the rocky surface of Hong Kong.

Went up to Shing Mun Redoubt with a bunch of friends yesterday for a little sweep. Definitely worth it.

Around various trenches and exits, we found lots of shell casings. 10 of them were 7.62 NATO blanks from British training in the 80s. We did find one live 7.62 blank, one 5.56 NATO blank also from the 80s, one 9mm parabellum blank from the 60s and two WWII 303 casings next to each other, my first WWII finds after countless times of fruitless searching.

We only followed the main paths, I expect there to be much more in the bush since the hills were pretty bare during the war and so the soldiers could have walked in areas currently inaccessible due to vegetation, so next time I'm bringing up a machete and bushwhacking my way around the place.

Also, I was unable to locate any markings or headstamps on the two 303s. Granted, I didn't clean them up very well because I didn't want to damage the metal, but it was enough to see that the headstamps were probably missing unless they were too small to notice. I know that the Japanese cartidges didn't always have headstamps, but this is the first time I heard of British cartridges without headstamps.

Also, a little tip: you can tell whether a 303 was fired by an Enfield rifle or a Bren gun. The Enfield makes a circular hole in the primer, while the Bren makes an oval. I don't know about the Vickers though.

(Btw- a few Mondays ago, I bumped into two other detectorists around Wong Nai Chung gap. George and Keith I believe. I think Keith found a live 303. If you're reading this, I'm Ho. Wanna go detecting together again someday?)

5.56 NATO blank
5.56 NATO blank, by hongkonger
7.62 NATO live blank
7.62 NATO live blank, by hongkonger
9mm blank
9mm blank, by hongkonger
303 blank
WWII 303, by hongkonger
Finds at Shing Mun Redoubt
Finds at Shing Mun Redoubt, by hongkonger

I am sorry to report that, after some research, I found that the 303s weren't WWII. 

They are likely Blank L Mk. 9z rounds. These blanks were made with the same casings as the live 303s except crimped at the neck, so they have the same dimensions when opened up. These casings sometimes had no headstamp. Also, the cordite version of these blanks, Blank Cordite Mk. 5, were made over a wide date range (1894-1950) and were sometimes made out of reject casings and so they may have headstamps intended for live rounds.

The necks on my casings have notches in them at periodic intervals, which are likely the remmants of the rosette crimping after being blown out when fired. 

https://sites.google.com/site/britmilammo/-303-inch/-303-inch-blanks-mar...
https://sites.google.com/site/britmilammo/-303-inch/-303-inch-cordite-bl...

Lesson learned: even if a British shell casing has the correct headstamp, it still may not be WWII. The surefire (pun not intended) way to tell is to check if the necks have remmants of crimping.

Yes - they look like Blank L Mk. 9z rounds that I fired very many of from Lee-Enfield No.4s as a CCF Army cadet in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Quite some time ago, whilst leading some tourists up the hill from the trail to the pylon next to PB 402, I found a live Schermuly flare not far from the entrance to the pillbox. Left it in situ, but over the course of time it has been removed.

Most definitely not WW2 vintage! I recall whilst serving as a regular British Army soldier in the 1970's firing Schermuly flares. Don't know if they are still British Army issue.

I went back up to Shing Mun Redoubt yesterday. I tried clearing some brush near a small slope where we found a lot of goodies, but we only found two more 7.62 NATO blanks there. Not much there, I guess we've probably cleared most of that area.

We moved over to another location near the HQ of the redoubt, and we found a live .38 S&W revolver round from WWII just lying on the surface. I initially thought it was a cigarette butt judging by the colour of the corroded round, but it set off the metal detector so I took a closer look and realised it was a round of some sort. I didn't recognise the round at first until me and my buddy did some research. These rounds were used in the Enfield No. 2 revolvers, which were only issued to tank crews and high-ranking officers, so they're not particularly common. 

https://sites.google.com/site/britmilammo/-380-inch-revolver/-380-inch-ball 

The headstamp says:
R↑L 34
380 I

Which means:
Royal Laboratory 1934
.380 inch Mk. I

I ended up leaving it in a secret location within the redoubt, for fear that the police would probably just destroy the rare round if we handed it over to them (plus, being a young man showing up at a police station with a machete and cartridge in hand isn't the smartest thing to do considering the political environment), and the danger that the explosive propellant and the toxic, flaky white lead poses if I had kept it at home.

(Also, I ended up bumping into Gordon and Kevin again while on an unrelated trip out to Wong Nai Chung gap again last week. Apparently, I suck at remembering names.)

.38 S&W 1
.38 S&W 1, by hongkonger
.38 S&W 2
.38 S&W 2, by hongkonger
.38 S&W 3
.38 S&W 3, by hongkonger