of Bullets ...
Sgt. Manchester wrote: "We
were struggling to keep the high ground. On December 22 we were
hard pressed. A Japanese machine-gun was over on top of a
hill... He opened up again and just at that time I got smacked
in the arm, the marks on my forearm are still here. There are
four holes that went through at that point."
December 21...Churchill's Message to the
Troops in Hong Kong:
"There must be no thought of surrender. Every part of the island
must be fought for and the enemy resisted with the greatest
stubbornness. The enemy should be compelled to expend the utmost
life and equipment. There must be vigorous fighting in the inner
defenses and, if need be, from house to house. Every day you
maintain your resistance you help the allied cause all over the
world, and by prolonged resistance, you and your men can win the
lasting honour which we are sure will be your due."
By nightfall of December 21st, the garrison troops were
exhausted, having fought non-stop for four days with little food
and less rest. All attempts to push the Japanese back to the
North were withering in the face of almost maniacal attacks
pressed by the Japanese.
A group of volunteers from "C" Coy of the Grenadiers mounted a
counter-attack on Sugar Loaf and Stanley Mound. By nightfall of
the 22nd, they had retaken the hills. However, they were quickly
running out of food and ammunition. No more than one hundred
Grenadiers held out against two Japanese regiments and
controlled Sugar Loaf Hill and Stanley Mount until the next day.
They had kept the North/South road out of the Japanese hands for
three days. They were totally exhausted and on the night of
December 22/23, "D" Coy of the Grenadiers were out of
ammunition, out of food, out of water, and almost out of time.
The remaining survivors were still fighting from a bunker when
the Japanese blew the steel doors off the shelter and charged to
find 37 wounded Grenadiers. The Grenadiers had fought until they
had nothing left to fight with. They lay down their weapons and
"D" Company's valiant struggle came to an end. They joined "A"
Company of the Grenadiers as prisoners of war.
The Japanese were incredulous to find just 37 men. They had
thrown hundreds of troops into the fight. They had lost
hundreds. They could not believe that so few had held off so
many for so long. The Grenadiers were able to take some
satisfaction from the fact that the commander of the Japanese
troops was forced to make a public apology to his superiors
after the Battle.
December 23...The End Draws ever Closer:
On December 23, the Royal Rifles of Canada found the situation
pretty much unchanged. That is to say that the fighting was
continuous, furious and bloody. Things were so fluid that Maltby
was unable to set up a coherent counter-attack or, to that
point, a single strong defensive position.
He was forced to stamp out brush fires wherever they sprang up
and they sprang up everywhere. Troops were sent climbing all
over the rugged terrain, as orders were issued then cancelled
before they could be carried out.
This accomplished little and bewildered and exhausted the
troops. The Japanese had managed to push farther onto the island
and were approaching its centre, close to West Brigade
Headquarters at Wong Nei Gap. The situation was going to go from
grim to gruesome. During the night, the Japanese had landed even
more troops and they launched a new murderous attack. Since
early that morning, the Royal Rifles and the Grenadiers had
managed to stave off further advances. Confusion reigned. The
Grenadiers, thinking that Stanley Mound had been taken by the
Japanese, machine-gunned the position. They unfortunately fired
on "D" Company of the Royal Rifles who were dug in on the Mound.
The defenders' casualties were mounting. So many officers had
been killed that NCO's were in charge of many of the survivors.
Maltby's situation was grim. They were surrounded by water on
three sides. Both the enemy and the defenders were able to
concentrate all their fire power on the narrow battle line.
Though it was clear that any fighting would be fierce, and the
end was near for the defenders, backs to the sea they fought on.
A Communiqué Issued from Hong Kong at 3:00
PM December 24:
"Minor patrol encounters ended in our favour. Our position on
Mount Cameron is being maintained. Naval oil fuel tanks in enemy
hands at Kowloon have been set ablaze and are still burning."
The Grenadiers' Last Stand:
The remaining troops in the West Brigade consisted of the Royal
Scots, The Middlesex Regiment, the Indian Punjab troops and the
remainder of the Winnipeg Grenadiers. For the Grenadiers there
was one more battle to fight. The Grenadiers did indeed hold
Mount Cameron, but only by their fingernails. They had been
dive-bombed and under mortar attack all night long on December
22/23. That night the Grenadiers were pushed off Mount Cameron
as the Japanese attacked in force.
The Royal Scots were on Mount Comeron's western slopes, and the
Grenadiers on the East side of the mount. They were vastly
outnumbered. Down to just a few rounds of ammunition per man,
they still managed to maintain their positions. After an attack
on Bennet's Hill which gained back some ground, a truce was
called. After three and a half hours, the truce ended and the
Japanese attacked for the last time, overran the West Brigade
and the war was over for them. The Winnipeg Grenadiers had lost
130 brave men in the battle.