E) Air Defences | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

E) Air Defences

Air Defences

It has also to be mentioned that the Colony’s air defences were practically nil. In the now-remote pre-war years effective air defence appeared to be impracticable, because the limited land area of Hong Kong affords little space for airfields. The lessons of the war, however, may suggest methods of overcoming that difficulty. Neighbouring small islands could be flattened and converted into “airstrips.”

In addition to military insufficiency, another grave weakness quickly manifested itself. From the beginning it proved impracticable for the handful of Europeans reserved from active service to make effective the civil organization for feeding the hundreds of thousands of indigent Chinese, deprived by war of their hand-to-mouth means of subsistence. It had been urged before hostilities began that a sufficient number of Europeans must be withheld from the Defence Force to drive the food trucks. The Military declared that the length of line they had to guard made it impossible to spare a single man for this purpose. When roads were shelled, the Chinese drivers simply disappeared and transport broke down completely. Confusion raged; food queues a mile long were the rule, and the food could not be got to the people. At an early stage, also, the Japanese obtained control of the water supply.