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The Battle for Hong Kong and the Lisbon Maru Massacre - Royal Marines Roll of Honour

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

The Battle for Hong Kong

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines

Location: Hong Kong

Period/ Conflict: World War II

Year: 1941

Date/s: 8–25 December 1941

The Japanese declared war on 8 December 1941 by attacking simultaneously at Hawaii (USN Base of Pearl Harbour), Malaya and Hong Kong.

Map showing troops movement during Battle of Hong Kong, December 8th - 26th, 1941 [Wikipedia]

Although Churchill himself had declared that Hong Kong was virtually indefensible in face of direct assault from across the land border in China, he had been persuaded by his military advisers to reinforce the Colony at the last moment, in a belief that a longer defence was possible, perhaps until British forces would be on the offensive again in Europe.

The Hong Kong garrison consisted of British, Indian and Canadian units, also the Auxiliary Defence Units and Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps (HKVDC).

Within a week the defenders were pushed back and forced to abandon 2 of the 3 territories of Hong Kong (Kowloon and New Territories) on the mainland, and less than two weeks later, with their last territory Hong Kong Island untenable and after hard fighting and many atrocities, the colony surrendered.

Japanese artillery firing at Hong Kong

During the battle of Hong Kong, there were 40 Royal Marines attached to HMS Tamar the Royal Naval base.

When the battle began, the Royal Marines fought against Japanese force in Wan Chai Gap and Magazine Gap, alongside with HKVDC (Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps) and Royal Engineers.

Royal Marines fought at Queen’s Road East where they tried to stop the Japanese penetrating the defences via ARP tunnels that they had entered on Stubbs Road.

Commanding officer, Major Giles RM instructed his men to defend the island "…to the last man and last round"

On Christmas morning, the Governor of Hong Kong Mark Aitchison Young informed Andrew Chan Chak of his intent to surrender. Chan intended to break out and was given command of the five remaining MTBs; 68 men, including Chan, were successfully evacuated to Mirs Bay where they contacted Nationalist guerrillas and were escorted to Huizhou. For this feat, Chan was made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

By the afternoon of 25 December 1941, it was clear that further resistance would be futile and at 15:30 Governor Young and General Maltby surrendered in person to General Sakai at the Japanese headquarters on the third floor of the Peninsula Hotel. At Stanley, Wallis refused to surrender without a written order and this was received by him at 02:30 on the 26th.

Isolated pockets held out even longer, and the Central Ordnance Munitions Depot (known as "Little Hong Kong") surrendered on 27 December. This was the first occasion on which a British Crown Colony had surrendered to an invading force. The garrison had held out for 17 days. This day is known in Hong Kong as "Black Christmas".

Initially those Royal Marines that didn't escape were interned at Argyle Street Camp then later transported to Japanese POW camps, some would die on the Hell Ships that took them there, others would die in various POW camps, the survivors being repatriated after the fall of Japan.

The Lisbon Maru

On October 1st 1942, the American submarine Grouper fired six torpedoes at a Japanese troop transport, the Lisbon Maru, off Shanghai (29°57'N, 122°56'N).

Five of the unreliable Mk 14 fish either passed under the target or failed to detonate, but one exploded against the stern, bringing the ship to a standstill. Grouper immediately came under attack from patrol boats and aircraft, and departed the scene, taking one last look at 700 Japanese soldiers being taken off the stricken vessel.

What they didn't see, however, was that the soldiers had battened down the hatches over the holds as they left. In those holds, trapped and waiting to drown in appalling conditions of filth, disease, and malnutrition were over 1,800 British and Commonwealth Prisoners of War including Royal Marines who had been captured at the fall of Hong Kong nine months earlier.

None need have died, but only 748 returned to Britain alive.

For more information visit The Hong Kong War Diaries

Royal Marines of HMS Tamar

Farrington, George B. Major

Giles, Robert Clement Major

Allen, William Richard Marine PLY/X 2196 UP 2.10.42 LM

Ambrose, Fred Corporal PLY/22402 UP 2.10.42 LM

Ball, Denis Ronald Corporal PL Y/22054 (LM)

Breese, George Edwin Sergeant PL Y/X 539 (LM)

Chamberlain, Frank W. Marine (argyle)

Clayton, William Charles Marine (XD6)

Cole, Frank Sergeant PL Y/X 946 (LM)

Cox, Norman Marine (XD3)

Croft, ‘Jake’ Sydney Marine PL Y/X 753 (93) (LM)S

Dark, Sidney Gordon Sergeant

Duffy, Charles Marine (XD3)

Feather, James William Marine PLY/X 1819 K 29.9.42

Glover, Basil Marine (argyle) (XD5)

Green, William Henry Corporal PO/22388 UPO 2.10.42 LM

Griffith, Robert A.S. Sergeant PL Y/X 689 (LM)

Guppy, Reginald Albert Corporal RM PLY/22197 K 8.8.42

Hamer, William Marine (argyle)

Hancock, Frank William Marine (argyle) (XD5)

Handsely, Henry Sidney Marine (argyle) (XD5)

Hewett, Edward Tucker Marine CH/X 458 (LM) K 11.10.42 Y

Horsley, Eric Marine PO/X 2159 UP 2.10.42 LM

Hulze, Samuel Marine (argyle)

Jack, Robert Reid Marine

Jeffrey, Richard Marine PLY/X.2411 W RNH K 9.9.42

Jones, Herbert Cyril Marine PLY/X 48 UP 2.10.42 LM

Kenworthy, Lawrence Marine (argyle)

Kilroy, John Marine (argyle)

Laver, Ronald Marine PL Y/X990 (LM)

Menhinick, Digby Collins Sergeant K Dec 23

Metcalfe, Ernest Marine PO/215951 UPO 2.10.42 LM

Mile Royal Marines

Moxham, Fred Marine (XD3)

Northover, Ronald C. Marine W RNH (LM)

Pearce, Jack Marine (argyle)

Pearman, John Edward Marine PL Y/X2061 (LM)

Quinn, John Marine PL Y/X 3296 (LM)

Richardson, Joseph H. Marine PO/X 89 UPO 2.10.42

Rogers, Henry Albert Marine

Rogers, S.R. Marine (argyle)

Ropers, George Henry Marine Formosa

Ropers, M. Bugler (argyle)

Rogerson, George Marine (argyle) (XD5)

Rushman, Mervyn FrancisSergeant PLY/X 488 UP 2.10.42 LM

Sanderson, Ronald Marine (argyle) (XD5)

Sutherland, Francis Marine (argyle) (XD5)

Trim, Albert Cyril Corporal PL Y/22192 (LM)

Wall, Thomas Mervyn Sergeant RM PLY/X22054 (LM) K 14.10.42 Y

Williams, Henry L. Marine PL Y/X 1037 (LM)

Woodings, Percy Marine PL Y/X 1586 (LM)

Wynn, John William Marine (XD1)

The original list of Royal Marines can be found here


Burial Records

K - Known grave. (At Stanley or Sai Wan military cemeteries unless otherwise stated). U - Unknown grave. (Commemorated in Hong Kong unless otherwise stated). UP - Unknown grave. Commemorated in Plymouth UPO - Unknown grave. Commemorated in Portsmouth

WMH - War Memorial Hospital

Hospital Records

S - Hospitalised, Sick

Initial Place of Internment

Argyle - Argyle Street Camp

Transportations to Japanese POW Camps

(XD1) First transportation LM - Lisbon Maru – died (LM) - Lisbon Maru (survived) (XD3) Third transportation (XD4) Fourth transportation (XD5) Fifth transportation (XD6) Sixth transportation


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