Pillbox 004, Kong Sin Wan / Telegraph Bay / Cyberport [1939-????] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Pillbox 004, Kong Sin Wan / Telegraph Bay / Cyberport [1939-????]

Current condition: 
Demolished / No longer exists
Date Place completed: 
1939-01-01

The wartime map shows this pillbox was on the shoreline, before Telegraph Bay was reclaimed and became the Cyberport development.

I don't know if there are any traces of the pillbox remaining? I thought I had seen a photo on the internet recently, with a comment that it was soon to disappear. But this report before the cyberport development started suggests it may have been left untouched:

The importance of the pillbox at Telegraph Bay, the bunker at Waterfall Bay, the waterfall and its natural landscape and the archaeological potential of Kong Sin Wan Village and the historical structures at Telegraph Bay have been identified during the study. These key cultural and heritage sites are outside both the Housing Development and the Cyber Port development.

If you have any memories or photos of this pillbox, please leave a comment below.

MrB

PS Other snippets of information about Telegraph Bay:

1871 - Submarine telegraph cables were landed in Hong Kong at Telegraph Bay in Pokfulam.

Late 1800's - Hong Kong’s city flower, the Bauhinia, discovered in Telegraph Bay:

"Bauhinia was chosen as the territory's representative flower in 1965 and was
selected to be the regional emblem of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region after the territory returned to Chinese sovereignty on 1 July 1997. This beautiful native has been made a representative of Hong Kong because of its unique and unusual history.

It is told that the tree was first discovered near Telegraph Bay, Pok Fu Lam on Hong Kong Island by Fathers from the French Mission in late 19th century."

1941 - The 2nd MTB Flotilla escapes from Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941:

We returned from patrol about dawn on Christmas Day, and were told to find a secluded spot West of Ap Lei Chau Island. My boat MTB 07 along with 09 went into Telegraph bay between Mt Davies and Aberdeen and lay alongside a rather short stone pier. We were to hide and await orders for the pre-arranged escape later in the day from Aberdeen just prior to surrender. We covered our boats with straw and branches of trees as the Japanese bombers were targeting the Flotilla. There was a cease fire from 09.00 till noon, when the bombardment of Hong Kong Island resumed in earnest. At 15.30 we heard that Governor Sir Mark Young had formerly surrendered to General Sakai of the Japanese Army at Queens Pier in Hong Kong at 15.15 after 18 days of some of the fiercest close combat of WWII.

 We were standing by in Telegraph Bay with MTB 09 most of the day. MTB 10 & 11 were South of Ap Lei Chau where Lt Cdr J H Yorath and Mr Halliday rowed out to them by skiff with orders from the XDO to go. Yorath and Halliday elected to join the escape and the Flotilla C/O Lt-Commander Gandy agreed.  The radio on MTB 10 was damaged beyond repair so MTB 11 was ordered to find 07 & 09 but the engines would not start so 10 lashed alongside and towed them in coming under fire in the process. 11 found us at 17.30 and we proceeded immediately to the South West side of Aberdeen Island.

Photos that show this place

1948
1962

Comments

It seems there is a good chance this one still exists. The 'Final EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) Report for Agreement No CE 92/97' for the Cyberport development says:

10.5.5.1 A Wartime Pillbox, No. 4, is located at the north-eastern edge of the Telegraph Bay Reclamation, adjacent to Kong Sin Wan Village. The boundary of the adjacent housing development site No. 1 has been adjusted locally to ensure that the Pillbox remains outside the housing development and, therefore, it will not be directly affected by the scheme. The Pillbox will remain clearly visible from Kong Sin Wan Village and the overlooking higher ground with the backdrop of the adjacent slopes remaining undisturbed.

I went looking for this pillbox last week, and happily it is still standing, though hidden away. [Correction, 5 May 2012: It's the lyon light shelter that remains, not the pillbox - see Rob's notes below]

From the map it should be just about here, to the left of the ISF campus.

Pillbox 004

If you cross the road and peer through the fence, you can just make it out in the background.

Pillbox 004

Walk a short distance to your left, and the fence changes from a high chain-link fence to a low fence that is easy to cross. Once you're behind the trees, the pillbox is clear to see.

Pillbox 004

Pillbox 004

Walk around to the other side to see the entrance.

Pillbox 004

The inside is full of junk, but the metal shutters over the window are intact.

Pillbox 004

Pillbox 004

Pillbox 004

Outside again, and we can take a closer look at the window and the shutters.

Pillbox 004

Pillbox 004

Pillbox 004

Pillbox 004

So what was this one used for? It is described as a pillbox, but it is very different from the pillbox we saw near Black's Link.

At Black's Link the pillbox is:

  • much larger, with room for several people and several folding beds
  • small, rectangular loopholes
  • internal mountings for machine guns

By contrast this pillbox is:

  • smaller, probably just holding 1-3 people
  • has a large, curved opening
  • no obvious mountings inside pillbox

The shutters are unusual too. The shutter at each end is hinged vertically, opening as we'd expect a door or shutter to open. But the rest of the shutters are hinged at their base, so they would open out like the petals of a flower.

We also know that when it was built it was right on the shoreline.

Pillbox 004

That is a zoomed in view of the Hedda Morrison photo titled 'Lone tree on the hillside overlooking Waterfall Bay, southern side of Hong Kong Island' [1]. It is actually a photo overlooking Telegraph Bay, and zooming right in allows us to see Pillbox 4, standing almost on the sandy beach. (In this photo you're looking at the doorway on the side of the pillbox).

At some of the coastal batteries (eg Jubilee Battery), there are searchlight positions which have similar, semi-circular openings. Pillbox 5 was nearby, just across the bay. The wartime map shows there was also a '2-lber beach defence gun (A/T)' next to pillbox 5. Would they have had a searchlight to support them?

That seems unlikley, so maybe it was an observation post?

Any other suggestions?

MrB

[1] The Hedda Morrison photo can be seen at the VIA website - type olvwork348606 in the 'Search for:' field, then click the 'search' button.

The local 'Hong Kong War Memories' website has an 'Others...' page with photos of this pillbox. (Scroll down to the section titled 'Kong Sin Wan', the local name for Telegraph Bay.)

It identifies this site as a searchlight position, but also says there was a machine gun position next to it. I'm not so sure about the machine gun position - it isn't shown on the wartime map, and there is no sign of it in the Hedda Morrison photo above. If it was in the position described, it would have been on the sand, which seems unlikely.

The text mentions three 'positions' in the area:

  • "There are 2 positions on the left and right side in Kong Sin Wan". The left one should be this pillbox, number 4, and the one on the right would be pillbox 5.
  • "Accoring to villagers, the position is higher than the village." I guess that refers to pillbox 2, which was located in front of Queen Mary Hospital, above the village.

If you visit that website's homepage you'll see there are photos and descriptions of many of the wartime sites in Hong Kong. Well worth a visit.

MrB

We now know that the structure in the recent photos above is a Lyon Light Shelter. Rob Weir writes:

I have no knowledge of LL's existing without a corresponding PB. Their purpose was to illuminate an approaching landing force, at fairly short range, so the PB's could engage. eg There was a PB 4 at Telegraph Bay. I visited it in 1996, but it was within the fence of a village house, and covered in vegetation and rubbish, so I didn't get into it. It was demolished sometime in 2003 during earthworks for the Cyberport - which also wiped out PB 5 and its LL Shelter. It was to the NE of the LL i.e. more into the original bay towards the channel for the undersea cables. There is a small photo taken by Hedda Morrison of Telegraph Bay, where the PB is visible (just). The LL Shelter was still standing, although covered by vegetation, last year.

Rob Weir again, with a clarification on the Hedda Morrison photo:

If you look at the blow up of the Hedda Morrison photo [shown above], the block object just below and to the right of the Lyon Light entrance, is PB 4 itself.

telegraph bay
This is the building down on the beach that used to be in Telegraph bay, taken in 1979.

We used to dare each other to enter this building when we were kids.

(area in the bottom right of photo slightly altered to protect privacy of some people that were in the photo)

That's a good surprise -  I didn't think we were ever going to see a photo of this one.

There were a couple of Pillboxes on that bay, the other one was a little further east. Do you remember that one too?

Regards, David

here's another view by Life magazine, Stone Manor is prominent. The pillbox is possibly the building at the end on the beach

http://www.gstatic.com/hostedimg/2f5976903aebca93_large

Year completed is: Approximate
Condition at last visit: Demolished
Date of last visit: Nov-1996
Ref: ROB-00603
Other:

See Cable Compound nearby for details
http://gwulo.com/node/20810