Wartime bunker and shelters near Tai Tam Gap [????- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
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Wartime bunker and shelters near Tai Tam Gap [????- ]

Current condition: 
Ruin

It's been two years since we were asked "Does anybody know how to get to the underground East Brigade HQ in Tai Tam?". So, a bit late, but here's the answer at last.

I'd always assumed it was just one of the shelters you see along the road around the Tai Tam gap area. But, Rob Weir to the rescue again, when he said that there really was an underground bunker, and that he'd take me along for a look.

Here's a video of our visit on Monday. You'll hear me guessing about what I'm looking at, but if you can tell us any more about the place, please leave a comment below.

On to the video, which starts at the furthest point away from the entrance, then shows what we see as we walk back out again.

Comments

These bunkers we bombed during the assault on HK, but never actually attacked as the Allies withdrew to Stanley where the Japanese finally bottled them up. The big room was a map room used to direct the artillary batteries and was designed to be bombproof. This spot was evacuated as the news came through that West Brigade HQ at Wong Nai Chung Gap had fallen. My WWIIHK name is from www.geocaching.com. I have a cache hidden at the Easte Brigade HQ. Visit geocaching.com and see all the caches.

Thanks to WWIIHK for the introduction. Here are the references I've found so far - please add anything else you know about it's history in the comments below.

Construction

I don't have a firm date, but I'm guessing (from that corrugated, reinforced ceiling) that it was built in the 1930s.

The earliest mention of it that I can find is in the Hong Kong Defence Scheme 1936 [1 - pg110]. It lists three 'Fortress Plotting Rooms' on Hong Kong Island: Mount Davis, Tytam Gap (note alternate spelling of Tai Tam), and Stanley. Each was equipped with 1 plotting table, 1 encoder, and 8 personnel.

During the battle of Hong Kong

The following are listed as stationed at Tai Tam Gap:

  • Royal Artillery East Group [1 - pg172]
  • East Infantry Brigade HQ
  • Royal Rifles' Battalion HQ
  • 5/7 Rajput Regiment (temporarily, after leaving Kowloon and returning to HK island)
  • Advanced Dressing Station

Timeline

13 Dec 1941.

  • [2 - 36.] It was not until 0920 hours that the last contingent of 5/7 Rajput Regt. from the mainland reached Aberdeen. The whole battalion was collected in the Tytam Gap area by noon and given twenty-four hours to rest and requip before taking over the North East sector from 2 Royal Scots.

17 Dec.

  • [3 - pg95] East Brigade under Brigadier Wallis is made up of the Rajputs and the Royal Rifles. Brigade HQ is alongside the Royal Rifles' Battalion HQ at tai Tam Gap. The Rajputs hold the all-important north shore defences between North Point and Shau Kei Wan.

18 Dec.

  • [2 - 63.a] At 1900 hours 18th December three armoured cars of the HKVDC were sent to Tytam Gap to be a mobile reserve in the hands of the Commander East Infantry Brigade at his HQ there, and two other cars remained in hand at Leighton Hill close to 1 Middlesex HQ.
  • [3 - pg106] 21:30 - The 229th [Japanese infantry regiment] then advance to Lye Mun Gap, threatening the East Brigade HQ at Tai Tam Gap.

19 Dec.

  • [3 - pg121] The garrison also suffers badly, and 149 casualties from the evacuated Windy Gap collecting post and Tai Tam Gapadvanced dressing station are admitted to the BMH [British Military Hospital on Bowen Road] alone on this day.
  • [2 - 68] At this juncture I conferred with Brigadier Wallis about the stabilisation of the position. [..deleted..]

    These defensive positions round the Mount Parker 6-in. Howitzer position were obvious not adequate to act as a serious " stop " to the enemy. They had been hastily improvise. Mount Parker not being held by us, they were overlooked by high ground on two sides, and were only six hundred yards in front of the Combined Headquarters of East Infant. Brigade, the infantry battalion in the South East Sector, and R.A East Group. Infantry available for reinforcing in this area had been employed towards Mount Parker and were not out of touch. There was thus the grave danger if the enemy staged a serious attack here, of the loss of all these Headquarters and the cutting off of all the troops in the area Collins [Collinson ?] Battery—d'Aguilar Peninsula—Obelisk, included in which were the wireless personnel of the Civil Government at d'Aguilar Wireless Station. Accordingly I authorised Brigadier Wallis to withdraw his HQ to the Stonel [Stone Hill ?] Company HQ and to time his withdrawal so that the last troops left the Tytam Gap area at 1300 hours.

  • [3 - pg136] 10:20 - C Company Royal Rifles falls back to Tai Tam Gap
  • [3 - pg137] 11:45 - East Brigade HQ at Tai Tam gap is closed down on Maltby's instruction and moves back to Stone Hill
  • [3 - pg137] 13:00 - The last British troops of East Brigade leave the Tai Tam Gap area as they withdraw to Stone Hill.
  • [3 - pg141] 16:00 The Royal Rifles complete their withdrawal from Mount Parker and Tai Tam Gap to Stanley.

20 Dec.

  • [3 - pg177] 12:30 Lieutenant Colonol Wilcox at Stanley reports that some 300 Japanese with artillery ae moving south from Tai Tam gap. Wallis orders 1 Company HKVDC to occupy the Palm Villa and Stone Hill areas to block the advance to Stanley.

Where did they all fit?

Apart from the underground rooms shown in the video, there are also three groups of splinterproof shelters close by. Rob says he's counted 17 in all.

In the video, the large room with the concrete blocks was one of the Royal Artillery's plotting rooms, so it seems likely the Royal Artillery East Group headquarters staff were there. I don't know about the others though - who was underground, and who was in the shelters?

References

  1. The Guns & Gunners of Hong Kong, by Denis Rollo
  2. Major-General C. M. Maltby's report as published in the London Gazette.
  3. Not the Slightest Chance, by Tony Banham

Great Post! I've been searching for this underground bunker for a few times but I just couldn't find it. Can someone give me a hint or show me how to get there? I started walking up from the No.9 bus stop and there is a road going down hill that splits into two paths: the left path goes to Chai Wan and there is another path on the right that leads to the a few bunkers on the side. I took the right path and then it become a dead end. I looked around and I couldn't find the undergrond bunker entrance that you described in your video. Am I missing something here? Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Andy, sounds like you were very close - I'd never have found it if I wasn't following Rob.

The starting point is the bus stop near this shelter, which is just before the roundabout if you're coming from Shau Kei Wan:

Shelter near Tai Tam Gap

As you walk towards the shelter there's a road leads down on the left. Walk down there. As the road makes a sharp bend to the left, there's a track off to the right that leads to more shelters. It sounds like you made it this far.

You should see steps in front of you leading downhill to the bunker. Here's a video taken from that point, following the steps downhill to the bunker's entrance:

I passed by the place yesterday and saw a backhoe and piles of bricks in the vicinity. I wonder what the authorities is planning to do. Hope no damage will be done to the war relics.