Ho Hok Shan: Trenches & Tunnels [????- ]
Thomas wrote in a couple of weeks ago to tell us he'd found several trenches as he hiked over this hill, which is near Yuen Long. Rob added that he'd seen old aerial photos of the hill showing more trenches and also what looked like the shadow of barbed wire around the hilltop.
Last weekend we went back for another look. We started at the south of the hill, walked up to the summit, then followed the ridge down to the north. Soon after we started up the hill we found this, confirming Rob's sight of barbed wire on the aerial photo:
Then we saw lots of trenches. Over at Kei Lun Shan we'd seen many dug-out areas, but only a few few trenches. Here at Ho Hok Shan there is a long network of interconnected trenches.
Some very substantial:
But many were surprisingly narrow and shallow:
These narrow trenches looked like they'd have been difficult to move through quickly, if you wanted to keep out of sight.
Phil spotted several underground structures. A bit of a stretch to call them tunnels, more like small shelters. Each one was a different design from the others.
I'd have thought it would have been easier to just copy the same design. or maybe they were built at different times?
Here's the first one we saw.
It was off a side trench we took a detour along as we were climbing up the hill. Not a big space - maybe 5 x 6ft area, and say 4ft high. You couldn't stand up in it, but could rest there, or use it as a store.
Up at the top of the hill the path passes over one trench.
Only a small section of the trench is covered - I'm not sure if the cover dates back to when the trenches were dug, or it's been added later to stop hikers falling in!
Walking down the north slope we saw the biggest one:
Unfortunately it was home to a bees nest, and as they were starting to get agitated, we didn't go inside.
And a bit further down was the last one we saw:
A simple shelter with a curved, corrugated-iron support. It looks like the photos of old WW2 Anderson Air-raid shelters from the UK.
We didn't check all the trenches, so there are likely more of these shelters to be found.
Here's the view from the summit:
You can see it's a great position if you're defending against an attack from the north. We guess the trenches were dug in the 1950s, when the British army was preparing for a possible invasion from China.
I'd be very interested to hear from anyone who was stationed here and recognises these trenches. Please can you tell us any more about when they were dug, how the trenches and shelters were used, and when they were abandoned?
Thanks to Thomas for finding this and taking us back there, and to Rob for the extra information about this site.