Pillbox-like structure [????- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Pillbox-like structure [????- ]

Current condition: 
Ruin

Photos that show this place

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This structure sits behind the stoney beach at the western side of Deep Water Bay. It's about 150-200 meters nearer to Island Road than the site of Pillbox (PB) and Lyon Light No.14.

View from the beach
View from the beach, by gw

The left side caught my attention. It's a concrete surface, pebble-dashed with small rocks, containing a central, rectangular, aperture - all of which give it the appearance of a pillbox, i.e. a military structure used as a firing position, normally for machine guns. "Strange", I thought as I'd never heard of a PB at this location.

View from the left side
View from the left side, by gw

 On the far side the structure is of breeze blocks and bricks, which isn't normal for a PB. However, as the collapsed tree totally obscures the middle, it's unclear whether the breeze block/brick structure is part of the PB-like building, or an adjacent but seperate construction.

After clearing some of the earth, here's what the aperture looks like.

Aperture close-up
Aperture close-up, by gw

And inside the aperture.

Inside the aperture
Inside the aperture, by gw

 The left side, rear and roof are all of concrete. The right side and floor are uncleared earth. On the left side of the excavated part it's about 1.5 meters from front to back. From its junction with the left wall, the rear wall initially runs at a right angle, but then turns and runs towards the front (towards what would be the middle of the aperture if it wasn't full of earth) with a space of about 10 cm's above. This arrangement is totally different to any PB I've seen before. I've no idea what, if anything, is behind the rear wall.

As excavating the hard-packed earth is hard work, I decided to leave it there, but to ask Gwulo readers if they can tell me what this building is?

A few thoughts. Hong Kong Island was ringed by coastal PB's prior to WWII. Old maps show PB's No.14 & 15 in Deep Water Bay. PB No.14 still exists further along the same beach - so this isn't PB No.14. There's strong evidence that PB No.15 stood on the site now occupied by the Victoria Recreation Club (VRC) at the end of the sandy, swimming beach in Deep Water Bay - so PB No.15 is also out. If it is a PB, then why is the inside of the aperture constructed in this strange way? Could it be another type of military structure? If so, then what type and why isn't it marked on the old maps? And if it's a non-military building, then why design it to look so like a PB?

One possibility I've considered is that it's a "dummy" PB - empty, but intended to draw enemy fire onto itself by its mere appearance. Problem is, I've never heard of such a thing in Hong Kong.

I'd be most grateful to anyone who can tell me what this structure is. Whilst digging out the whole structure should reveal more details by which it may be identified, I don't have the equipment or time. A word of warning to anyone who wants to try. These old structures are unsafe. 

Hi There,

That really looked like war time concrete.  But if it's on the beach, I guess we could not rule out the possibilities that the block was washed ashore during high tide during a very big storm\typhoon.

T

Hi Tom,

Thanks for your feedback. Regarding the possibility that the structure may have been washed up by the sea, here's a photo giving a better view of its side.

View of left side

View of left side , by gw

The front wall, made of bricks and stones, is seen in profile. Perhaps it's easier to see at the site than in the photo, but it looks very much like the structure was built onto and into the cliff face rather than washed up against it. 

The front wall is vertical whilst the bottom and top sides of the aperture are parallel to the ground. Thus the structure sits exactly as would be expected if it was built in situ. If it had been thrown up in a typhoon the chances are that it would have ended up resting at an angle. Furthermore, if it was washed up, where could it have come from?

 Apologies for not including this pic in the original post. 

Hi,

Have you checked the bricked up section on the right closely, the angle of the aperture makes it seem like it could be an entrance to it? Or maybe what was once a section of the bunkers corridor?

*edit

Maybe it's a Japanese bunker based in a tunnel of sorts? It could explain the strange look of the concrete.

Hi Lucas,

Thanks for your suggestions, none of which I can either confirm or rebut without another visit and probably some more excavation. Thanks anyway.

It's been exposed more than before, this picture only shows a closer look at the window, not quite looks like a loophole. Seems that an extra brick has been fixed to its side, or it's the only one that hasn't been removed after the window had been blocked some years ago.

IMG_20201222_pillbox.jpg
IMG_20201222_pillbox.jpg, by H.Lo

Thanks for the update H. Lo. Although it looks military in style, I still can't fathom what it is as it's different to the pillboxes, searchlight and other types of military shelters still standing in Hong Kong. 

Your photo shows that the window is blocked internally by bricks and rocks. What is inside the door please?

Most of the inside is still filled up with soil, there's only space for several people squeezing in through the door ... Only litters are found there in that space.

This building looks surprising like the mysterious military building near the Shek O Country Club, albeit in a ruined state. This looks to be one of the rare large caliber pillboxes on the southern coast.   I think I found a photo of this pillbox in the Gwulo collection. 

 

1940s Coastal Pillbox

Hi H. Lo,

Thanks for your further info.

Hi Lewis,

You mentioned a mysterious military building near Shek O Country Club. Are you referring to the one at

https://gwulo.com/node/27935 ? If not, which one?

I agree that the photo you posted above shows strong similarities to the Deep Water Bay structure. However, they are not the same. The building in your photo has a flat front wall. Although not obvious to see in the photo of the DWB structure, its front wall has an angle or corner between the "window" and door. Perhaps if we knew the exact type of building that is in your photo, we'd be closer to knowing what the DWB building is. I note that in your photo the soldiers appear to be carrying a machine gun into the building, implying that it may be a Pillbox, but its loophole cover doesn't look like any I've seen in HK.     

Hi gw

I think that the Deep Water Bay structure is maybe a British casemate for a searchlight that dates from the 1920's. I am sure that this is not a Japanese bunker, since the Japanese never used stones as camouflage. Also, they usually built their pillboxes in a pentagonal shape, rather than a rectangular shape.