Museum of Coastal Defence [????- ]

Submitted by gw on Thu, 01/08/2015 - 15:13
Current condition
In use

The Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence contains a number of military structures, including;

Photos that show this Place


The University of Wisconsin's website has a very interesting photo of the south coastline of the Lei Yue Mun Channel showing a number of its fortifications.…

From left to right the following structures are visible;

1. Pak Sha Wan Battery is on the headland furthest from the camera.

2. The searchlight shelters mentioned at;

can be seen vaguely, They're directly above the sail of the biggest boat in the photo.

3. Two single storey buildings on the shoreline behind a white structure, perhaps a maritime marker light. I don't know what the buildings were. They're not there today. I think this is the location of the entrance to the underground Brennan Torpedo Station.

4. Above and to the right of 3, up on the headland, are some huts. According to the Visitors' Guide to the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence these were "originally the quarters for soldiers of the Royal Artillery manning the Central and West Batteries." Their ruins are still there today, the damage having occurred on 18-12-1941 during the Japanese invasion. 

5. Below 4, a fence runs downhill to another hut. To its left, and just below, is a long, thin, straight, object pointing out across the channel. According to the map at…

this is approximatelly the site of the West Battery. I was tempted to think the long thin object could be the barrel of an artillery piece, but this seems unlikely as neither the Visitors' Guide nor "The Guns & Gunners of Hong Kong", suggest that West Battery was armed beyond the early 1900's, whilst the host website quotes 1934 as the earliest date that the photo could have been taken.

6. Back to the shoreline, and further to the right is the Lei Yue Mun Pass Battery with its twin portals clearly seen. It also appears in another photo from the same series at;…

7. On the extreme right of the photo is Aldrich Bay with Shau Kei Wan behind.

The host website dates the photo to "between 1934 and 1969", but it's possible to narrow the time frame by reference to the buildings mentioned in 4 above. As they seem to be intact in the photo, but were badly damaged on 18-12-1941, the photo can be dated to between 1934 and 18-12-1941.



A couple of comments that may help with the photo. The long pointed object facing out into the pass is probably one of the two 4.7" QF guns of West Battery. The remains of their gun pits can be seen, and visited, in front of the old 9" RML pits. These 4.7" QF were proposed in 1914, were in place in 1917, and remained there until moved to new positions at Lower Belchers Battery in 1939.

The straight line just above the waterline on the right of the picture is the railway track which allowed the Brennan Torpedo to be transported from a pier at the right to the main launch building/engine room. The track, which does not exist now, except for a small representative section, passes a small building slightly above which was a detonator store room, and then two buildings, the second being the wire store.

Slightly to the left from there, on the waterline, is the searchlight position, which can only be seen as a base today.

Further to the left, protruding above the hill line, is (possibly) the Battery Commander Post and Electric Light Director Station above and behind the No. 1 gun position of Pak Sha Wan Battery. It was a square two level building, with a semaphore mast on the roof of the upper level. With a lot of magnification, and imagination, this becomes apparent.

Thanks, as always, to Rob for the additional information as a result of which the old photo can now be dated to between 1932 and 1939. 

If Rob thinks the old photo shows a 4.7 inch QF gun, that's good enough for me! Further corroboration comes from the following sources.

1. The Visitors' Guide to the HK Museum of Coastal Defence mentions that the two 4.7 inch QF guns mounted at West Battery in 1916 each had an "armoured shield of 7.6 cm steel plate" to protect their crews. Zooming in on the old photo shows a light coloured blob at the right end of the suspected gun barrel. Perhaps this is the "armoured shield"?

2. Page 20 of the "HK Defence Scheme" (Public Records Office ref 343.01 HON) lists armaments "existing as at 1st April 1936" and credits "Lyemun West" with 2 x 4.7 inch QF guns.

The "G&G of HK" is a little confusing on the installation and removal of guns at Lyemun Pass and Lyemun West Batteries, possibly because their names changed over time and they may have been considered together as one battery on occasions.

Lyemun West Battery is covered at Page 192 with no mention of 4.7 inch QF's ever being mounted thereat.

Lyemun Pass Battery is covered on Page 194. The author notes it was referred to as "Lyemun West QF" in the 1890's, "Lyemun West" in 1922, and "Lyemun Pass" later. Additionally it's mentioned that a document dated 1912 talked of "Lyemun Pass, North Side" having 4 x 12 pounders. However, as the Lyemun Pass Battery building (which still exists today) possesses only two gun portals, it could presumably only house two guns. The other two 12 pounders must have been installled elsewhere, the obvious place being what we today call Lyemun West Battery. If so, the 1912 document uses the name "Lyemun Pass, North Side" to include both Lyemun Pass and Lyemun West Batteries.

This would also explain the authors claim (Page 194) that Lyemun Pass Battery contained two 4.7 inch QF and two 12 pounder QF's in February 1916. If the two 4.7 inch QF's were in fact installed at West Battery, with the two 12 pounders at Lyemun Pass Battery, it would corroborate the dates given for the 4.7 inch QF's installation and presence at West Battery given by Rob and the Museum of Coastal Defence.

An aspect in which "G&G of HK" and Rob don't seem to agree concerns the fate of Lyemun Wests two 4.7 inch QF guns. Whereas Rob says they were sent to Lower Belchers Battery in 1939, "G&G of HK" (Pages 181 & 204) claims that Lower Belchers received two 4.7 inch QF guns from Centurion Battery to replace guns removed in 1938. Would you care to comment Rob?  

I don't have the resources available to "G&G of HK", so they may well be correct about the 4.7's from Centurion Bty. The information I based my comment on is NA document WO 106/2394, HK Coastal and Mobile Artillery, which states "Two 4.7" from Lye Mun West are now mounted at Belchers with a Beach Defence Role".

Just to add to the confusion about names and weapons: Pak Sha Wan Bty construction commenced in Apr 1901, and was completed in 1903, armament four 12 pdr QF guns. They didn't survive long as in 1909 the battery was rebuilt to take three 6" BL guns, remaining this way until the late 1930's, when one 6" was removed to arm one of the new batteries being built around the Island. The same proposal that put the 4.7"QF guns at Lye Mun West also included a new battery called Lye Mun Reverse, for two 12 pdr QF guns. This ultimately did not occupy the same position as the first Reverse Bty, being slightly west and closer the water. Both this, and West 4.7" QF, were built to block Torpedo Boats attempting a high speed run through the passage. It appears in the 1917 Armament List as Nr. (near?) Reverse Battery with two 12 pdr QF, and the notation 'Guns on loan to Navy'. I have also seen the term Lye Mun Pass Bty's used in the context of rapid fire guns close to the water, but can't find a suitable reference. The 4.7" QF, 6 and 12 pdr QF guns all qualified as rapid fire in those days. 

 I found this complex on the opposite side of the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence.  This is located on the downhill slope from the off ramp of the highway from Chai wan side coming out to Shau ki wan.  

This is my first post here, judging from the other pictures found on this site, it seems the complex in these pictures have the same style roofs as pillboxes.  I would really like to know what these structures are and if they were part of the Brennan Torpedo buildings.  Many thanks.

2.jpg, by avantguardian
011.jpg, by avantguardian


This appears to be the Lye Yue Mun magazines. Built about 1940, they originally occupied both sides of a road leading down from the Lye Mun Barracks to a nearby jetty. In March 1946, during the dumping of dangerous ammunition left after the war, a massive explosion removed a number of the magazines on the Redoubt side of the road, and damaged several others. The construction of the Island East Corridor removed those left below the Redoubt.