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Timeline (1919-1941)

Date Event


End of the First World War


Lord Jellicoe’s study on the naval defence of the British possessions in Asia


The Royal Navy drafted the earliest version of the War Memorandum Eastern


Washington Treaty

End of Anglo-Japanese Alliance


Governor Stubbs submitted the Hong Kong Defence Report, pointing out the difficulty of defending Hong Kong with the support of the British main fleet

Canton-Hong Kong Strike


Overseas and Local defence Committee submitted the Defence of Ports at Home and Aboard report

Hong Kong Government bought the strip of land at Kai Tak to be used by the Royal Air Force

First Hong Kong Defence report submitted by the Joint Planning Committee

Vice Admiral Reginald Tyrwhitt drew plans to use small vessels to help the ground forces to defend Hong Kong


Joint Planning Committee suggested building a landward defensive line in the New Territories

RAF Kai Tak was established as an air station


Joint Planning Committee again proposed to build a landward defensive line

GOC Hong Kong Major General Arthur Bartholomew designed the landward defensive line

Work on the landward defensive line started

RAF Kai Tak became an airbase


Major General John Barrow, the Inspector of Fortifications, visited Hong Kong to confirm the design of the landward defence line

The War Office planned to build additional coastal defence batteries at Junk Bay and Hong Kong Island


The British government provided additional funding to strengthen the defence of Hong Kong

General Bartholomew devised the Hong Kong Defence Scheme of 1936

Hong Kong Chinese sappers received combat training


The Joint Planning Committee submitted the Far East Appreciation

Recruitment of local gunners started

Marco Polo Bridge Incident


The Chiefs of Staff Committee decided to limit the objective of the garrison to holding Hong Kong Island and preventing the Japanese forces from using the harbour

Japanese forces occupied Guangzhou (Canton)

Japanese General Staff finished Honkon heiyō chishi

Hong Kong Government introduced a revision of the 1922 Emergency Regulations Ordinance


Japanese forces occupied Hainan Island

Tianjin Incident

Outbreak of the war in Europe

Drafting of Interim defence Scheme – the garrison’s object was to hold the Island and use the Gin Drinker’s Line to delay the Japanese advance

Japanese Army finished a map of the defence of Hong Kong (the 1939 Map in the web map)


Honkon Kikan (the Japanese intelligence agency against Hong Kong) sent Second Lieutenant Masamori Sakata to Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Government introduced defence Regulations of 1939

Formation of Hughesiliers

Air Raid Precaution School opened

Withdrawal of European women and children from Hong Kong

The Joint Planning Committee updated the Far East Appreciation

Governor Northcote requested to turn Hong Kong into an Open City

Departure of Governor Northcote, succeeded by Lieutenant General Edward Norton.

Norton ordered the construction of air raid shelters in Hong Kong

Sir Robert Brooke-Popham became the Commander-in-Chief, Far East


Establishment of Fire Department


Return of Governor Northcote to Hong Kong


The Hong Kong Government introduced the Civil defence Ordnance


Paul Cressall was appointed to investigate the corruption allegations concerning the Air Raid Precaution in Hong Kong

Establishment of the Special Constables

Arrival of Major General Christopher Maltby, in replacement of Major General Arthur Grasett


Mark Young replaced Northcote

Hong Kong Auxiliary Supply Corps Instructions introduced


Mark Young established the Anti-Corruption Bureau within the government

The Japanese 38th Division drafted the operational plan against Hong Kong

Hong Kong adopted the new winter time (GMT +8.5hours)


Mark Young established the Commission on Corruption in the Public Service

Formation of Hong Kong Chinese Regiment

Arrival of the C Force

The garrison launched the Manning exercise


The Japanese government decided to declare war on the United States and the Netherlands


Plaek Phibunsongkhram, the Prime Minister of Thailand, told the British that the Japanese forces were invading Malaya via Thailand


The Japanese invasion fleet against Malaya set off from Taiwan


The British consul at Haiphong reported the assemble of Japanese transports at Cam Ranh Bay

The Hong Kong Volunteer defence Force was mobilized


The Hong Kong Police received reports about the presence of “three” Japanese divisions at Shenzhen

British scout plane spotted Japanese invasion force off Malaya and Thailand

RAF Kai Tak received alert

Anti-aircraft guns in Hong Kong were manned


The garrison was in war station

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