On December 8, 1941, Japanese fighter planes launched a surprise attack on Kai Tak Airport while Japanese troops invaded Hong Kong. The then Governor, Sir Mark Young, surrendered on December 25, and Hong Kong entered a dark period lasting three years and eight months. However, both before and during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, a local guerrilla force, namely the Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang Column, actively and persistently undertook anti-Japanese campaigns and made a great contribution to the war effort.
To commemorate the 71st anniversary of the founding of the Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang Column this year, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and Guangdong Museum of Revolutionary History are jointly presenting an exhibition titled "Anti-Japanese War Heroes - An Exhibition on the Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang Column". On display at the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence from tomorrow (April 26) to October 23, the exhibition will feature some 60 historic artefacts and pictures, enabling visitors to learn about the history of this local battalion and its contribution to defending homeland.
The exhibition was officially opened today (April 25) by the Under Secretary for Home Affairs, Ms Florence Hui; Director of Guangdong Museum of Revolutionary History, Dr Yang Qi; Acting Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of History, Ms Rosa Yau; and President of the Society of Veterans of the Original Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang Column, Mr Tsang Chis-chiang.
When faced with the Japanese attack, many volunteers came forth to participate in anti-Japanese activities. The 3rd and 5th Companies of the Guangdong People's Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Force, the precursor to the Dongjiang Column, were sent to Hong Kong and launched guerrilla attacks against the Japanese in the New Territories and Kowloon. At the same time, the guerrilla forces called for local volunteers to help defend the country.
On February 3, 1942, the Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Guangdong People's Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Force, which included many volunteers and young intellectuals, declared its establishment in the chapel at Wong Mo Ying Sai Kung (now Rosary Mission Church). Tsoi Kwok-leung became captain of the Battalion, leading the near 1 000-strong force. On December 2, 1943, the Central Committee of the Communist Party formally proclaimed the founding of the Dongjiang Column of the Guangdong People's Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Force. Tsang Sang was made Commander and Lin Ping (Yin Linping) became Political Commissar. The Hong Kong Independent Battalion thus became an official sub-unit of the Dongjiang Column - an armed force that doggedly resisted the Japanese army in Hong Kong.
In addition to fighting the Japanese, the battalion also shouldered responsibility for rescuing important persons trapped in Hong Kong and protected them from being captured by the Japanese. Twelve rescue routes were involved in such operations, which eventually delivered more than 800 people to safety outside Hong Kong. These included He Xiangning, Liao Chengzhi, Liu Yazi, Zou Taofen, Mao Dun, Situ Huimin, Tang Man-chiu and many more.
Allied soldiers were also rescued, such as the American pilot Lieutenant Donald W Kerr. Additionally, the guerrillas helped the British Army Aid Group (BAAG) and supported each other by providing intelligence information.
In commemoration, local people erected the Monuments for Martyrs Against Japanese Militarism in Wu Kau Tang, Tai Po and Sai Kung, paying homage to the great contribution made by the battalion, as well as organising remembrance ceremonies and related events. In 1998, the former Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa placed a Dongjiang Column Roll of Honour in the memorial shrine at Hong Kong City Hall for the public to pay their respects, and to recognise the battalion's important place in Hong Kong history. The shrine also enables the younger generations to learn more about these soldiers, who sacrificed their lives in defence of Hong Kong.
The exhibition depicts the history of the battalion and includes many touching stories about the guerrillas. Many artefacts on display are closely related to the battalion, including weapons and daily items used by the guerrillas during the war.
The Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence is located at 175 Tung Hei Road, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong. It is open from 10am to 6pm and is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays and closes at 5pm in October). Admission is $10 and half-price concessions are applicable to full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. Group admission fee is $7, applicable to every purchase of 20 tickets or more. Admission is free on Wednesdays.
For more details of the exhibition, please visit the museum's website at www.hk.coastaldefence.museum or call 2569 1500.
Ends/Thursday, April 25, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:43
Binoculars used by the Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang Column.
A silk banner bearing the Chinese words "Loyalty, Courage, Honesty and Love" presented to Sai Kung residents by the British Army representative General Ritchie in April 1947, in recognition of assistance given by local villagers to Allied forces during the war.
A leaflet (replica) celebrating the anniversary of the establishment of the Dongjiang Column. To commemorate the first anniversary of its establishment, celebrations were held in various Dongjiang Liberated Zones on December 2, 1944, and the Second Detachment of the Dongjiang Column produced this leaflet.
The Emergency Order issued by the Dongjiang Column to its detachments in August 1945. On August 11, 1945, the Dongjiang Column sent out an emergency order to mobilise all members to disarm the "puppet troops", protect the lives and property of the public and safeguard social order. The "puppet troops" comprised Chinese who assisted the Japanese army during the Anti-Japanese War.
The Certificate of Commendation issued on January 30, 2007 by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in honour of the Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang Column.
The opening ceremony of the "Anti-Japanese War Heroes - An Exhibition on the Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang Column" was held today (April 25) at the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence. Photo shows officiating guests and veterans of the Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang Column.