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15 October 2014
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The Defending Forces

by ateamwar

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Major Maurice Albert Parker
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01 August 2005

The following story appears courtesy of and with thanks to Ronald Parker and Father
Major Maurice Albert Parker:

Before the Canadians' arrival, the area the British had 12,000 troops to defend the entire area and they were truly a mixed assortment. There were at least 16 units from every branch of the military. Of those about 10,000 were professional soldiers. The rest were were recently activated militia units such as the Royal Rifles, The Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Hong Kong Volunteer Defense Force. The famous 2nd Battalion of the Royal Scots, Britains Senior Regiment of the Line, and the highly regarded 5/7 Punjabis and the 2/14 Rajputs, had a long and proud history of service, but even they had lost top officers and NCO's who had been sent back to England as instructors. They, along with the 1st. Battalion of the Middlesex (Machine Gun) Regiment, they were meant to be the backbone of the defense.

The Royal Navy was represented by the destroyer Thracian, several gunboats, a flotilla of motor torpedo boats, and two minesweepers. These vessels were all that was left in Hong Kong of the mighty China Squadron. The Royal Air Force contingent had at its disposal three ancient Wildebeest torpedo bombers, and two Walrus amphibians with which to defend the entire airspace. The aircraft were flown by 7 officers and serviced by 108 airmen. Keeping the planes in the air was difficult as the nearest RAF base was 2200 kilometers away in Malaya, a long way to go for spare parts.
The Hong Kong Volunteer Defense Force under the command of Colonel Henry Rose were, according to some, "an old boys club, better suited to playing bridge or cricket than to fighting a war". They were, for the most part, machine gun companies, anti-aircraft, and costal defense artillery batteries. They aged from 19 to 60 years When the time came for these "bridge and cricket players" to show their stuff their courage and determination was remarkable. The defenders were, according to Carl Vincent in his book, No Reason Why, " .... hardly a combination likely to make an efficient fighting force

'This story was submitted to the People’s War site by BBC Radio Merseyside’s People’s War team on behalf of the author and has been added to the site with his / her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.'

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