The Fall & The Rise
Hong Kong Surrender
It was one of the first military actions among the Pacific campaign of World War II.
On the same morning as the attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, forces of the Empire of Japan attacked the British colony.
During the Japanese invasion, the Racecourse filled the all purposes role for which its terrain and accommodation fitted it.
The stands were used as an ambulance station and a relief hospital, to share other hospitals for war casualties.
After the invaders landed at North Point, however, the Valley was close to the “front line” and a natural “No Man’s Land”.
For the last week of the fighting the area had no services and no police.
They shelled the houses on Leighton Hill, along Stubbs Road and at Morrison Hill.
1941-12-24, Japanese charged shouting across the Valley from Broadwood Ridge, their tracer bullets making pretty fireworks on the night.
The invaders entered the Club stands and raped some of the nurses.
Ponies, escaped or released from the stables, clattered down the roads.
1941-12-25, the war moved into Wanchai that morning, and by 3.20 p.m. it was all over.
After the surrender, the Japanese used the Racecourse:
as a camp for a supply unit and its horses
as a drill and parade ground and
as a dump for hundreds of “captured” wrecked motor-cars towed in from the streets.
Hong Kong’s place names as well as its street names were all changed by the Japanese, to destroy all European influences.
Happy Valley became “Aobadani” (Green Leaves Gorge).
Some purist having quarrelled with “Pow Ma Ti” (Racing Ground) as a proper Chinese rendering of “Racecourse”
That familiar sign on the Valley tram-cars was changed to “King Ma Cheung” (Race Horse Track).
960 meters = 1/2 mile 170 yards; 1207 meters = 6 Furlong; 1609 meters = 1 mile; 1766 meters = 1 mile 171 yards; 2012 meters = 1-1/4miles; 2816 meters = 1-3/4 miles.
Acknowledgment to Mr Lacuda Mengnah; HKJC Archives; Hong Kong Racing Museum for relevant content.