"Kamikaze" tunnels, Lamma island [1945- ]
These are surely the best-known Japanese tunnels in Hong kong. The "Outlying Islands" sheet of the Countryside map series shows the location of one of them, titled 'Cave Kamikaze". That trips off the tongue, but of course it is really a man-made tunnel, not a natural cave.
Then the 'kamikaze' label is widely used, but I'm not sure what the original evidence is [UPDATE: We've since found lots of evidence, see the comments below]. The government's website gives the description: Situated in between Lo So Shing and So Kwu Wan is Kamikaze Cave which is constructed by the Japanese to house a flotilla of suicide motorboats.
The only references I can find that come from near the time they were built are these two:
- H.M.S. VENERABLE (COLOSSUS Class Light Fleet aircraft carrier), 30th Aug 1945: 'Launched air attacks on Japanese craft in Lammas Bay.'
- H.M.S. INDOMITABLE (Modified ILLUSTRIOUS-Class Fleet Aircraft Carrier), 30th Aug 1945: 'Carried out air attacks with HMS VENERABLE on Japanese explosive boats in Lamma Bay'.
These two aircraft carriers were part of the fleet that sailed to Hong Kong to accept the Japanese surrender, and re-establish British control. It's not clear how they knew of the Japanese explosive boats, and whether those boats were stored in these tunnels or not. Does anyone have any more information about these?
Back to the tunnels today. If you're walking from Sok Kwu Wan, here's the first one you'll see:
I think there used to be a village-style rubbish incinerator here, and elsewhere I've read that the tunnel was used by the villagers as a rubbish dump. It's sealed up now.
Here's #2, which is open and accessible. There's water in the tunnels for much of the year, but at the end of the dry season it's just a bit damp.
On to #3. This has a couple of noticeboards. One describes how Romer's tree frog has been found in the caves, and the other repeats the Kamikaze story. It calls them the "kamikaze grottoes", an odd choice of words, conjuring images of grim-faced soldiers surrounded by fairy lights.
You can see the tunnels are roughly finished, quite different from the smoothly arched tunnels that were dug up in the hills. Here's a photo of the back wall:
At about 7 o' clock on the photo you can see a round dark circle. There are these drill holes in the back wall of each of the tunnels. Likely the tunnels were formed by boring holes, inserting explosives, then blowing away the rock.
Tunnel #4 is quite overgrown with a prickly vine. Later in the year when it's all growing, the tunnel is hidden.
Here's the view looking out from the back, to give a sense of scale.
And here's the view looking up. This was the only one of the tunnels that we saw bats in.