Signal Hill, 18-pounder battery

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 22:37

I haven't read of any battery on Signal Hill in the 1930s before, so this photo and its title are interesting to see.

Date picture taken


I was more interested in the Signal Hill Lighthouse. Apparently, an Aga Flash Light was installed on Signal Hill in 1916.

This photo on Flickr may show the Lighthouse on Signal Hill in 1960:

Having said, I don't recall seeing photos of a Lighthouse next to the Time Ball Tower before.

I had read that gun salutes were fired from Signal Hill and Murray Parade Ground on ceremonial occasions.

I'd wondered if it was for ceremonial purposes too. But today's photo shows they had a range-finder with them at the top of the tower:

Jim's range finder at top of Signal Hill tower looking east to harbour entrance

So maybe they were there for an exercise, or maybe it was a short-term defensive measure in response to Japanese attacks in southern China?

Regards, David

from a 1999 KCR assessment of the site:

On top of  Signal Hill and sloping to the west there are also several structures, sites and objects of cultural interest including:

i.         two pre-World War II brick structures west and downhill of the Tower;

ii.       four concrete gun emplacements within the arc of the former battery;

iii.      an historic iron winch, uncovered and located behind a modern steel fence to the east of the Tower;

iv.     several other significant remnants (e.g., bolts, anchors and concrete slabs) associated with the masts, guide wires and hoisting operations that historically occurred at the site;

v.       two stone cubes inscribed with “W.D.L. 64”, indicating evidence of the site’s historic status as “War Department Lands”; and

vi.     several remains of foundations, as well as brick and concrete rubble from demolished, historic outbuildings. 

Jim's notes state their job was to record the movement of all shipping entering the harbour,bearings and ranges to all foreign and british men of war plus height and markings of all aircraft.

Not sure if I have also sent the photo of him using the external range finder on its stand at signal hill certainly have the Gun Detachment of the HK Singapore Bde RA Mohamudhans stood in front of it on the ramparts, a more usual range finder that has one fixed prism and the other moves and when the two images top and bottom are aligned a scale shows the range.

Thanks for the extra information about what they were doing up here. Can you recognise whether the guns in the top photo are just for ceremonial use, or were regular artillery for that time?

Here's the view of the range finder on its stand:

Range finder on Signal Hill. Havildhar Major in the center.

The concrete platforms arranged in a star shape look the same as the ones in Phil's 2009 photograph above.

Regards, David

It was also known as the Saluting Battery as the Royal Salute was fired on ceremonial occasions. Signal Hill was also known as Blackhead Hill and Blackhead Fort.

Death of King George V and Accession of New King - Hong Kong Telegraph 22 January 1936

1936 Signal Hill Royal Salute

Interestingly 2 guns are MkIIs and the far right a MkI.  The Mk I sufferred from recupertor springs breaking due to poor design (recuperator returns the ordnance to the firing position, the buffer absorbs the recoil)and loss of oil. The gun was safe but then had to be manually pushed home to the forward run out position, heavy work which obviously slowed the rate of fire.  The mk II had a lighter sleeved barrel, easier to replace, and the distinctive armoured recouperator extra oil reservoir at the end.

Don't think so. If one delves through the HKO archives, three explosive bombs were fired at ten second intervals at the Water Police Station (TST) and repeated at the Harbour Office (Central) when winds of typhoon force were expected. The Black Cross would also had been hoisted at Signal Stations at the same time.

Thanks Moddsey. We know that the three explosive bombs replaced the typhoon gun after being considered having confusion with the mail gun. The typhoon gun was discontinued in 1907.

BTW - has anybody seen a photo of the typhoon gun?