Anti-Japanese War Heroes: An Exhibition on the Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang Column
26.4.2013 – 23.10.2013
Jointly presented by
Leisure and Cultural Services Department
Guangdong Museum of Revolutionary History
Organised by Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence
Thematic Exhibition Gallery and Upper Gallery, Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence
On 8 December 1941, the Japanese launched their full-scale invasion of Hong Kong. The then Governor Sir Mark Young surrendered on 25 December, and Hong Kong entered the three years and eight months of its dark period. Before and during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, however, a local guerrilla force, namely the Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang (East River) Column, actively and persistently undertook anti-Japanese campaigns.
When Hong Kong was under the Japanese attack, the 3rd and 5th Companies of the Guangdong People's Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Force (the precursor of the Dongjiang Column) launched guerrilla attacks against them in the New Territories and Kowloon, calling local youths into action to defend for their home. On 3 February 1942, the Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Guangdong People's Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Force declared its establishment in the chapel at Wong Mo Ying, Sai Kung. Tsoi Kwok-leung became captain of the Battalion, leading the close-to-1,000-strong force. On 2 December 1943, the Dongjiang Column of the Guangdong People's Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Force was formally established. Tsang Sang was made Commander and Lin Ping (Yin Linping) became Political Commissar. The Hong Kong Independent Battalion then turned to be an official sub-unit of the Dongjiang Column – an armed force that doggedly resisted the Japanese army in Hong Kong.
One of the major missions of the Battalion was to rescue cultural figures secretly, who were in Hong Kong and being searched by the Japanese. They, amounting to more than 800, included He Xiangning, Liao Chengzhi, Liu Yazi, Zou Taofen, Mao Dun, Situ Huimin and Tang Man-chiu, etc. About 12 rescue routes were involved in this operation; the Battalion eventually brought all of them to safety and out of Hong Kong in a successful completion of this arduous secret mission. Besides, the Battalion not only rescued the allied soldiers under attack, like American flyer Lieutenant Donald W. Kerr, but also provided the British Army Aid Group with military intelligence.
In 1998, the then Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa placed a roll of honour of the Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang Column in the memorial shrine at City Hall, where the public can pay their respects to the martyrs, recognising the contribution of the Battalion in the history of Hong Kong. To commemorate the 71st anniversary of the founding of the Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang Column in 2013, this exhibition displays about 60 artefacts for visitors to learn more about the history and achievements of this local battalion.