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
"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
"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
"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