Another reason why Hong Kong fell so quickly was because the British had positioned their troops badly at the time of the attack. After the Japanese had crossed the border, the British placed all of their troops at the Shing Mun redoubt, The Royal Scots Battalion held defences extending from the Texaco Peninsula to the Shing mun Redoubt. The British believed that the redoubt would provide a military advantage.They had predicted that it would take the Japanese at least a week before they could get there, if not more. It only took the Japanese half a day to get to the Shing Mun redoubt. The Japanese managed to bomb Stone Cutters Island and Mount Davis from Kam Tin. Castle Peak Road was defended by a gun boat called the H.M.S. Cicala. The Japanese aircrafts began their assault. Later, the H.M.S. Cicala was damaged and had to go for repairs in Aberdeen, leaving the road undefended. The attack was unexpected, hence the British were unprepared and could not counter-attack because they did not have enough troops. They lost the redoubt in an hour and were forced to withdraw to Hong Kong Island.
The British always expected an attack from the sea, and so had place most of their defences at the south of Hong Kong Island. They didn’t change this, even though the Japanese had already pushed through the Shing Mun redoubt and had full control over Kowloon. All the Japanese had to do to get to Hong Kong Island was cross the harbour. The Royal Rifles of Canada, who were stationed at Lye Moon Passage, a crossing point for the harbour were getting nervous. The British, who still underestimated the Japanese forces told the Canadians that the Japanese would never attack at night, because the British believed that the Japanese were optically impaired, due to their smaller eye size. This caused the Canadians to reduce the Japanese down to nothing but a racial caricature, therefore also reducing their expectations. But of course, the Japanese decided to launch the assault at night. It turns out, they really weren’t optically impaired and they could see just fine while crossing the harbour at night. The Royal Rifles were not expecting the attack, and were taken by surprise. The Canadians were under fire in the pitch black, and the Japanese seemed to aim fine, despite of their abnormally-sized eyes. The Canadians telephoned the British (who were at the south part of the island) and informed them of the attack. The British kept insisting that the Japanese couldn’t have attacked, and by the time they accepted it, the Japanese had already landed 7,500 troops onto the island. This is a very good example of the Canadians being unprepared for battle, because they were not alert enough to realise that the Japanese were coming. This is also a good example for the British’s bad positioning, because the Japanese didn’t attack from the south sea, but just pushed down from the Shing Mun redoubt.
The Japanese were able to invade Hong Kong so quickly was due to the 5th Columnists, a group of Chinese spies connected with the triads who worked for the Japanese. These spies spread false rumors and sent plans of the gin drinkers line to the Japanese. One of the main locations the Japanese targeted was Sha Tin. They wreaked havoc, such as breaking into shops and shooting up cars. The Hong Kong forces had a hard time trying to keep order in Sha Tin.
The spies also helped the Japanese spot the Gin Drinker’s Line. However, it was not difficult to find at all. Apparently, the British had hung their washed underwear to dry at the top of the trenches because they weren’t expecting the Japanese for another week.
The 5th Columnists played a big part in the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong by telling the Japanese of their plans.
On 25th December, 1941, General Maltby and Sir Mark Young surrendered Hong Kong to the Japanese. I believe that if the British had thought their plan through and positioned their troops at the right places, were prepared for an attack at any time and didn’t underestimate the Japanese, I think that they may have been able to fend off the Japanese. Also, the British were busy fighting their own wars in Europe, so they could not send many troops over to Hong Kong.