"A" Company, Royal Rifles of Canada

In the Brigade restructuring, "A" Company of the Royal Rifles, under Major Charles A. Young, had been ordered to Repulse Bay from their original position at Windy Gap on the far eastern side of the island. They were just North of Stanley Mound. On December 20th, their position was considered "serious and vulnerable". Their backs were to the sea in a literal sense. Elements of the Japanese 230th had split their spearhead in two. The northern point continued due West, driving straight into the West Brigade. A section had broken to the South to confront "A" Coy of the Royal Rifles.

At the same time, the Japanese 228th broke into a four-point thrust. Their northern point continued westward into the West Brigade, while three smaller points struck South in advance of the Japanese 230th. "A" Coy of the Royal Rifles was indeed in a serious and vulnerable position. This Japanese tactic was the move that eventually cut off the East Brigade and West Brigade from each other.

The Japanese pushed right between the two brigades, splitting them apart like a fault line splitting during an earthquake. The Royal Rifles were on the East side of the fault line, and the Winnipeg Grenadiers were on the West side.

"A" Coy of the Royal Rifles was in dire straits. Three senior officers of the East Brigade, Brigadier Wallis, Lt. Col. Home and Major Parker, dodging and weaving their way, went to evaluate "A" Company's situation themselves. Major Maurice Parker made it as far as the steps of the Repulse Bay Hotel himself when the group came under heavy fire. The officers became separated and, with difficulty, they each made their own way back to Headquarters safely. "A" Company of the Royal Rifles had to continue the fight at Repulse Bay on its own when it was decided that to reestablish contact with "D" Company of the Winnipeg Grenadiers in the West Brigade area was of vital importance. "D" Company of the Royal Rifles were sent to try to link up with the Grenadiers before the Japanese could consolidate their positions.

It was a long way from Stanley Mound to the Wei Nei Chong, where Brigadier Lawson had established his Headquarters, and where the Grenadiers found themselves in such dire straits. "D" Company of the Royal Rifles, set off on the mission and had travelled a good distance, but still had some way to go, when word came through that "D" Company of the Grenadiers were totally surrounded by the Japanese and their situation hopeless.

Major Parker wrote; "The Winnipeg Company was cut off, as informed, and we were not strong enough to help it. The enemy far outnumbered us." "D" Company of the Royal Rifles were recalled. The East and West Brigade were finally separated and each was on its own."

Major Parker continued; "It was getting dark, and the terrain unknown. We were without food and low on ammunition, so we decided to return by the same route by which we had come. On the way back we spotted a Japanese Post Train. Number 17 and number 18 Platoons took on this target of opportunity with devastating Japanese losses in horses, mules and men, not to mention the supplies. Our morale was lifted a bit by this action.

We had a long way to go but, taking some casualties in the process, we made it back. We were lucky to be recognized by Major Bishop, of "C" Company of the Royal Rifles, and allowed to pass through his defenses."

On December 20th, a B.U.P. Dispatch From London Read:

"Sir Mark Young, Governor of Hong Kong, telegraphed the Government today that the Empire Garrison, making a gallant stand against overwhelming odds and under furious Japanese attack, still held fast. Japanese reports that he had left the island were totally untrue. How long the garrison could hold out was a question. Military experts expected the last stand to be made on the Victoria and other peaks, entirely surrounded and without hope of rescue. It was feared that the Japanese now held positions entirely around the shores of the island, in possession of good roads for mechanized equipment which they had transported from the mainland.".

December 21st, the Japanese, in a night broadcast (Saturday, Dec. 21 HK time) that was strangely candid for war-time admitted.

"The expected imminent fall of the Colony has been staved off by their stubborn defense. We have the City of Victoria, many prisoners have been taken, the cannon on Mount Davis, dominating a chain of forts eastward, have been silenced, and remnants of the garrison are encircled on the peak of the island, Mount Victoria, although its guns still replay at intervals."

The Winnipeg Grenadiers of the West Brigade, badly hurt by the loss of "A" Coy, the Brigade Commander and his Chief of Staff, was still a force to be reckoned with. Though badly mauled, it still had claws. The remaining companies of the Grenadiers, the Royal Scots, the Middlesex Regiment and the Punjabs continued to fight, punishing the Japanese for every inch of ground they took.

"D" Company of the Grenadiers, though unable to be assisted, held onto its position at Wong Nei Chong Gap with fierce determination. They were blocking the one road that ran from North to South, through the Gap, and thus badly needed by the Japanese. "D" Company kept the road closed to the Japanese for three long days.

The struggle was brutal and grizzly. With less than one hundred Grenadiers fighting with their lives to keep the road closed. Sergeant Bob Manchester of the Winnipeg Grenadiers mentioned, "The guys who've never thrown a grenade before are acquiring some experience. We were outnumbered 50 to 1, at least."

The Japanese were ordered to make a series of suicide attacks against the Grenadiers. They rushed forward in waves and were cut down by the prairie boys like a field of wheat. Still, the Japanese kept coming. Their bodies were strewn in heaps across the ground. Hundred of them lay wounded, unattended. The stench of blood was sickening.

Still, the Japanese kept coming ...




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