A Hail 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.




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