Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Review: Not the Slightest Chance: The Defence of Hong Kong 1941 (By Tony Banham)

This is a factual and blood-curdling slideshow of the eighteen days of horrifying fighting against the Japanese in Hong Kong in the not-too-distant past.

I belong to the post-50s group who were lucky enough to be born just after the war. While I was growing up, my mother and relatives belonging to her generation seldom talked about their war-time experiences. It was only recently that I heard about some traumatic personal stories told by a primary school teacher of mine, which ignited my interest in reading books about war-time Hong Kong. Reading "Not the Slightest Chance" had a bone-chilling effect on me, and it makes me want to read more on the subject.

In sum, it was a 60,000 (Japanese) against 14,000 (HK Garrison) combat, with the latter comprising soldiers of all nationality: the British Middlesex Regiment, the Royal Scots, the Punjabis (India), the Rajputs (India), the Royal Rifles of Canada (Quebec), the Winnipeg Grenadiers (Manitoba) and the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps. consisting of British, Chinese locals, Free French, Russians, Scandinavians and Americans.

The valiant men and women who sacrificed their lives (some suffering atrocious tortures in enemies' hands) either in action during the war or later in concentration camps in the defense of the Hong Kong population deserve our and our past generation's utmost and lasting respect and commemoration. The fact that the Hong Kong garrison (or at least the high-ranking officers) were well aware that Hong Kong was in an untenable position, but nonetheless resisted the Japanese invasion with dauntless courage, makes this part of Hong Kong's history especially poignant.

The book just makes me ponder as to why the Chinese Communists and Nationalists were conspicuously absent from the scene of the battleground. Hopefully other books about the 1941 battle that I’m going to read will shine a light.

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