News of Hong Kong in England (6) December 19, 1941

Hong Kong’s on the Mirror’s back page on December 19, and the news is ominous:

Daily Mirror page 8 (back page)

Japs claim Hong Kong landing

JAPANESE Army headquarters last night claimed that a Japanese force had landed on Hong Kong Island in face of fierce resistance.

 The Japanese Navy supported the troops in overnight operations. The troops were “now rapidly carrying out further operations.”

 The latest Hong Kong communiqué received in Chungking did not confirm the Japanese claims.

 “Another Japanese peace offer was flatly rejected this morning, to their evident surprise,” it stated.

 ” During the day the defending guns destroyed one section of the enemy’s artillery, located on Devil’s Peak, and another gun firing from Cub Hill.

 “Japanese mortars situated on the Kowloon waterfront maintained a heavy fire, which was returned. A number of enemy guns were silenced.

Over at the Express Edgerton Gray stays on the front page.

Daily Express, page 1

HONGKONG BATTERIES WRECK JAP GUNS

HONGKONG, T h u r s d a y.

WHILE a heavy shelling duel went on today between British guns in besieged Hongkong and Japanese batteries on the mainland, Sir Mark Young, Governor and

Commander-in-Chief, sent off this message to London:

 “All concerned in the defence of Hongkong have received with gratitude the message from H .M. Government. We are going to HOLD ON!”

Gray too reports the artillery successes: two enemy guns destroyed at no British cost. So far it’s the same mix as the Mirror, but he goes on to add two comments on the Chinese civilians who formed the vast majority of those inHong Kong:

 

Morale runs high not only among the British and Canadian defenders but among the Chinese population.

Most of the Chinese, he claims, were staying at home to play mah-jong as shells whistled through the skies above them.  Then Gray mentions, for the first time unless I’ve missed something, an important aspect of the fighting:

An attempt by a small clique to cause public uneasiness failed, and the offenders have been rounded up.

One of the things that made the defence of Hong Kong so difficult was the presence of a substantial ‘fifth column’ of Chinese supporters of the Wang Jing-Wei government. This was based in Nanjing and acted as a tool of the Japanese in the areas they controlled. The population of Hong Kong had been swollen by about a million people in December 1941 as refugees poured in to escape the fighting in southern China, and this gave the Japanese ample opportunity to infiltrate their Chinese supporters and increase the number of those willing to help sabotage the British war effort. They were far more than a small clique, and the fifth columnists remained active until the surrender.

On page 2 the Express ‘Opinion’ column has a brief comment on Hong Kong:

 U.S. Strength

OUR Chinese’ Allies are fighting gallantly to relieve the pressure on Hongkong. But the main relieving force throughout the Pacific must be the sea and air strength of America.

 It cannot strike at every threatened spot at once. Yet in any one direction in the South Pacific it has the power to strike decisively.

 For that reason Japan has scattered her attacks.

That’s sensible enough, although wildly optimistic as it turned out. Yet lest anyone think that Express opinion writers were sane, we’re given these interesting musings on the overall war situation:

 Certain victory

 TODAY Great Britain, with her independent but associated Dominions, and her wealthy Colonies, is forming, with the almighty United States of America and the conquering Russians, the greatest alliance that the world has ever seen against the enemy.

There are now solid roots and foundations for the belief of the certain destruction of our enemies.

You will see in this new alliance such a rapid mass-production of forces and equipment as never was before.

And when the powers of decency are ordered God help the devil.

God help the devil indeed; but first a little assistance to the writer would have been in order.

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