Within hours of infamously attacking Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941, Japanese forces also attacked two key British interests in South East Asia: Hong Kong and Malaysia. In both cases the ferocity and suddenness of the attack took the British by surprise. In Hong Kong the initial defensive line at Shing Mun Redoubt (the ‘Gin Drinkers’ line’) was quickly abandoned. Within a week the Allied forces had been pushed back to Hong Kong Island. Wong Nei Chung Gap (centre, map below) was a key pass from the north to the south of Hong Kong Island. Defended by the Middlesex Regiment, the Winnipeg Grenadiers, and the Hong Kong Volunteer Corps, with the Royal Scots on Mount Nicholson opposite, the pass saw ferocious fighting and heavy casualties on both sides. When the gap was taken by the Japanese on December 18, it cut the Allied forces in two. It was the beginning of the end, and Hong Kong fell to the Japanese on Christmas Day 1941.
Today remnants of the British defensive positions at the Wong Nei Chung Gap still exist on the hillside, hidden in the jungle. A recent campaign has resulted in a sign posted hiking trail which takes in several pillboxes and the former anti-aircraft position. The Wong Nei Chung Gap trail is less than a 30 minute bus ride from Central. From the bus stop it takes less than 2 hours to walk the circuit at a leisurely pace. Although not as complete as the ruins at, say, Mount Davis or Pinewood Battery, it is still an interesting quarter-day excursion.
The Wong Nei Chung Gap trail starts across the road from the Park View tower block. Although it doesn’t matter which direction you complete the trail, signboard number 1 is furthest up the hill. By completing the trail in this direction you also get all of the ascent out of the way at the beginning (or avoid it totally by getting dropped off in a taxi).
The first point on the trail is the remains of an anti-aircraft position with magazines and stores below it. There are useful information boards here and throughout the trail with maps showing the progress of the Japanese invasion.
Contouring around the hill brings you to the most interesting of the ruins – two British pillboxes, numbers 4 and 5 on the map. Be sure to turn right and head slightly up to see the second box before continuing down to Jardine’s point.
At the highest point of the trail is Jardine’s lookout, an open field with great views. From this point you can clearly see the shape of the valley and how critical it was as a strategic position. On a clear day you can see over Hong Kong Island to the ocean, both the north and south. The Wong Nei Chung Gap trail is worth it just for this view.
From Jardine’s point the trail descends rapidly before hitting a T-junction. Left circles back to the starting point, while right continues on another hiking trail.
As the trail moves back towards the road (left), don’t forget about stops 9 and 10 (I did, unfortunately). According to HK Outdoors there is another bunker worth seeing at these stops. If the Wong Nei Chung Gap WW2 ruins interest you, you might also enjoy Mount Davis and Pinewood Battery.
Over 3500 Allied soldiers died during the Battle of Hong Kong or in subsequent captivity. They are commemorated in Sai Wan War Cemetery on Hong Kong island (relatively close to Wong Nei Chung Gap) – including over 2000 who have no known grave. Lest we forget.