Albeit with the benefit of hindsight, this was an overly ambitious set of objectives. The second objective could not possibly be achieved. The British command seriously underestimated the number of Japanese troops on the Island. The Japanese had by this time landed thousands of troops and many of these were positioned around Wong Nai Chung (WNC) Gap. They had dug in and were resisting a series of British counterattacks aimed at trying to recapture the all important gap. For the British there were insufficient troops, insufficient mortar and insufficient artillery support. Attacks were put in bravely by different units, but they were rushed and as a result sometimes poorly coordinated, and most of these counterattacks were made against numerically superior Japanese forces who were well supported by artillery and mortar.
The counterattack by Brigadier Wallis along Island Road failed. They did however succeed in capturing the high ground on the left flank and even today the summits of Bridge Hill and Notting Hill are littered with ammunition and other relics left over from the fighting that occurred that day. The attacking force reached the X-Roads but they were not able to hold the position partly because they never managed to clear the Japanese from Red Hill on their right flank or from area around the Tai Tam X-Roads including a mound to the north-west and the lower slopes of Bridge Hill. After sustaining heavy casualties and failing to secure the X-Roads, the attacking force was withdrawn and the troops fell back to Stanley - although some including the Bren Carriers were despatched to Repulse Bay with the intention of driving up Repulse Bay Road to attack Wong Nai Chung Gap from the south.
|1938 Map showing the Tai Tam X-Roads, the ridge Notting Hill-Bridge Hill and Red Hill|
|Map showing location of Erinville and Cash's Bungalow|
|Post war photograph of Erinville (Courtesy: Alan Proulx)|
|Erinville in 1960s (Courtesy: Allan Proulx)|
|Pre-war photo of Erinville at Turtle Cove (Courtesy: Alan Proulx)|
|Bill Anderson relaxing on the verandah at Erinville in March 1959|
(Courtesy: Janice Anderson)
|Albert Iveson Cash (National Archives Files)|
|1949 Aerial photo showing Tai Tam X-Roads lower centre and the location for Cash's Bungalow (Courtesy: Rob Weir)|
On Tuesday 21st I went with fellow history enthusiast Stuart Woods to take a look at the site, which is quite overgrown. The photo below shows the same photo orientated north-south, zoomed in and I have added annotations.
|Some of the Japanese machine gun rounds fired on 21st Dec.|
|Stuart on the narrow drive leading to Cash's Bungalow (wide enough for 1941 vehicles)|
|Mystery item. The writer beside the rusted steel casing.|
|Unknown structure in the grounds of the former bungalow|
We spent an afternoon exploring the ruins of a home and discovering a bit more of its history, and we chanced on the position of the Japanese machine gun, found the remains of the garden wall and could ascertain the direction of fire which fitted with the archival research. We picked up machine gun rounds that were last touched in December 1941 and brought history alive for a moment in time.
- Alan Proulx for photos of Erinville.
- Nicola Davies for research relating to Albert and Stella Cash.
- National Archives for info on Albert Cash (including photos).
- Bill & Janice Anderson for information relating to Erinville.
- Rob Weir for grid reference of Cash's bungalow and aerial photo.
- Stuart Woods photos and field work.