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Display to showcase fight against Japanese

The exhibition, "The East River Column and the Hong Kong-Kowloon Independent Brigade", will run at the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence from tomorrow (June 25) to October 6.

The exhibition is jointly presented by the Guangzhou Municipal Bureau of Culture and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, and is co-organised by the Museum of Peasant Movement Institute and the Museum of Coastal Defence.

Through some 60 exhibits including photographs and text panels, the exhibition introduces the establishment of two anti-Japanese guerrilla forces - the East River Column and the Hong Kong-Kowloon Independent Brigade - and the achievements they made in combating the Japanese who invaded South China in 1931.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the exhibition today (June 24), the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Ms Anissa Wong Sean-yee, expressed her admiration for the members of the two forces who attended the ceremony.

"The guerrilla forces remained brave and unaffected by the situation - lacking resources and military support. They kept attacking the Japanese and at the same time rescued intellectuals and allied forces and furnished them with intelligence on Japanese activity.

"Thanks to the contribution made by the guerrilla forces, China was eventually able to defeat the invaders," Ms Wong said.

The Japanese Army started the aggression in China by invading provinces in Northeastern China in 1931. They then advanced along the coastal provinces in 1937 and major cities fell one after another. On October 12, 1938, the Japanese Army landed at Bias Bay (Daya Bay) and began its attack on Guangdong.

When the Japanese invaded South China in 1938, anti-Japanese guerrilla forces sprang up in Guangdong province. In December 1938, the Huizhou-Baoan People's Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Force and the Dongguan-Baoan-Huizhou People's Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Force were both formed. The two forces then developed into the 3rd Brigade and the 5th Brigade of the Guangdong People's Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Force. On December 2, 1943, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China declared the establishment of the East River Column.

The Japanese attacked Hong Kong in December, 1941, and the defenders were repeatedly defeated. Hong Kong fell the same month. After the fall of Hong Kong, the Guangdong People's Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Force sent squads into the New Territories to rescue the patriotic intellectuals and extend the anti-Japanese front across the territory. On February 3, 1942, the Hong Kong-Kowloon Brigade of the Guangdong People's Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Force was established in a church at Wong Mo Ying Village, Sai Kung. It was later renamed the Hong Kong-Kowloon Independent Brigade under the command of the East River Column. Recruiting the local people in the New Territories, the brigade had more than 1,000 members by that time.

After the establishment of the Column, the forces expanded their guerrilla activities and gathered strength. The Column later shifted its sphere of activities into the coastal areas along Dongjiang, the Hong Kong territories, the mountainous regions in North Guangdong, as well as the Hanjiang (Han River) district, so as to tie in with the military strategies of the Nationalist Government. They also attacked the Japanese in Mirs Bay (Tai Pang Bay) and Bias Bay, and assumed control over the coastline of some 100 miles and the communication network to and from Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the guerrilla forces helped rescue patriotic intellectuals and international friends, and collaborated with the Allied troops in staging counter offensives against the Japanese.

The Hong Kong-Kowloon Independent Brigade actively attacked the Japanese aggressors. It sent handgun units to attack the Japanese bases, cut off the Japanese supplies and ambush traitors. Also, it started a propaganda war by dispatching anti-Japanese leaflets. In the waters, the Marine Detachment worked with the Escort Brigade of the East River Column. Apart from protecting the fishing folks and ensuring the clear passage of the navigation route, they destroyed the marine supplies of the Japanese troops and used gunpowder packs, shells, grenades and handguns to fight the Japanese.

The brigade worked closely with the Allied forces and the British Army Aid Group. Not only did they rescue international friends and Allied troops, they also set up an international work group to furnish the Allied forces with intelligence on Japanese activities in Hong Kong, in preparation for a full-scale Allied counter offensive.

On August 15, 1945, the Japanese Emperor announced unconditional surrender. The Central Committee of the Communist Party ordered that the Japanese armies in the liberated areas surrendered to the anti-Japanese forces. The East River Column immediately mobilised its detachments and brigades to proceed into the areas along Dongjiang, summoning the Japanese to surrender and annihilating the uncompromising enemies.

The British resumed their rule over Hong Kong on September 1, 1945. As instructed by the East River Column, the Hong Kong-Kowloon Independent Brigade retreated from Hong Kong. Upon the request for assistance from the British Government, the brigade then returned to Hong Kong and joined the self-defence units to help restore order in the New Territories. It was not until September, 1946, when the Hong Kong Government set up police stations in these districts that the self-defence units gradually disbanded.

The Museum of Coastal Defence is located at 175 Tung Hei Road, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong. It opens from 10am to 5pm and is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays). Admission is $10 and half-price concessions are applicable to full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

For further information, visit the Museum of Coastal Defence's website at , or call 2569 1500.

Ends/Thursday, June 24, 2004
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