Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers)

Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers)

The Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) (RHKR(V)) (zh-t|t=皇家香港軍團(義勇軍)), formed in May 1854, was a local auxiliary militia force funded entirely by the colonial government of Hong Kong.

During the imperial age, home defence units were raised in various British colonies with the intention of allowing regular army units tied-up on garrison duty to be deployed elsewhere. These units have generally been organised similar to British army lines. The first locally raised militia in Hong Kong was the Hong Kong Volunteers, a fore runner of what was to become the Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers).

Although the British government, as national government, was responsible for the defence of the territories and colonies, and holds direct control of military units raised within them, the local forces are raised and funded by the local governments or the territories and as such that The Royal Hong Kong Regiment has always been a branch of the Hong Kong government. It is not and never has been part of the reserve force of the British Army.

These locally raised defence units must meet British military standards in organisation and efficiency. Many of the officers and NCOs attend training in the UK. Although Colonial/overseas British Territories' auxiliary units may have no tasking under the British Ministry of Defence, and members may not be compelled to serve outside their territory, many serve voluntarily on attachment to British Regular Army units.

The Beginning

The Hong Kong Volunteers was formed in 1854 when the Crimean War led to a reduction of the British military presence in Hong Kong. To help bolster the defenses at a time when marauding pirates were still a hazard on the China coast local volunteers were called for. A total of 99 Europeans were recruited-mostly British, but with some Portuguese, Scandinavians and Germans answer the call. Almost as soon as it was founded, it was disbanded when the threat of war in Europe receded, and Regular units of the British Army was again able to resume the security of Hong Kong.

In 1862 - The Hong Kong Volunteers was re-established, In 1864, they were called out to help subdue a serious outbreak of rioting between British and Indian soldiers. In 1866 it was disbanded again. However in 1878 Hong Kong Volunteers was reborn as the "Hong Kong Artillery and Rifle Volunteer Corps". By 1917 it was renamed as "Hong Kong Defence Corps" and "The volunteers" were actively engaged in guard and patrol duties during World War I when, owing to the recall of the British forces, they were the only military unit left in Hong Kong.

In 1933, "The Volunteers" acquired their first armoured car, it was equipped with an armour-plated body and mountings for two machine-guns. Later, four other were bought by the colonial government the bodywork was outfitted by the Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock Company. These armoured cars all played an important role in the Battle of Hong Kong in December 1941 .

World War II

The volunteers, renamed the "Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps" (HKVDC), met their severest test in the bitter fighting that took place in the crucial weeks before the fall of Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941. On December 8th 1941, HKVDC, deployed a total fighting strength of 2200 all ranks in 7 infantry companies, 5 artillery batteries, 5 machine gun companies equipped with Vickers machine gun and an armoured car platoon. Out of the mobilized strength of 2200, 289 were listed either as missing or killed, and many others became prisoners of war. Some, however, made their way into China where the British Army Aid Group was formed to assist the Chinese Government in the struggle against the Japanese. A further group made its way to Burma where it joined the famed Chindits under General Orde Wingate. The services of the defence corps were later recognised by the award of 19 decorations and 18 mentioned in despatch for gallantry and good service. As a recognition of The Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps defence of Hong Kong during 1941, the Corps was awarded the battle honour "Hong Kong".

Post War

In 1949, The Hong Kong Regiment were reorganized and became part of the Hong Kong Defence Force, which also included separate air and naval units. In 1951 the new combined defence force was granted the title 'Royal', and replacement colours were entrusted to the care of the regiment as successor to the defunct Defence Corps.

In the early 1960s The role of The Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) changed from that of an infantry battalion to a reconnaissance regiment equipped with six British Ferret armoured cars (each armed with Browning .30-inch machine-gun) were acquired. The regiment was reorganize to form a headquarters, headquarters squadron, three reconnaissance squadrons, an infantry company and a home guard company. During the 1967 leftist riots, "The Volunteers" were called out during the six-month disturbances in Hong Kong.

By 1970 the naval unit was phased out and in 1970 the Royal Hong Kong Defence Force was itself disbanded-the two remaining member units, the Hong Kong Regiment and the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force, officially becoming separate entities. At the same time, both were granted the 'Royal' title by Queen Elizabeth II, and the words The Volunteers' were incorporated into the Hong Kong Regiment's title. With its new title and colours, The Volunteers was reorganised as a light reconnaissance unit operating under the command of the British Forces Overseas Hong Kong.

In the late 1970s The Volunteers was deployed to assist the civil powers over the problem of illegal immigration from China but as the problem grew from 1980 till 1992 The Volunteers was deployed to manned the defences of the Sino Hong Kong border. In the late 1980s to early 1990s The Volunteers was deployed to support the colonial government in controlling the flood of Vietnamese illegal migrants, commonly known as the "Boat People". These includes manning temporary Vietnamese detention camps.

The End

The Sino-British Joint Declaration on the question of Hong Kong as a British Colony was finalised and the joint declaration was signed in Beijing on December 19, 1984. On May 27, 1985, instruments of ratification were exchanged and the agreement entered into force. It was registered at the United Nations by the British and Chinese Governments on June 12, 1985.

In April 1992 the decision was finally taken by Security Branch of Hong Kong Government to formally announce that the Regiment would disband in September 1995.

uccessive Changes of Titles

* 1854 - Hong Kong Volunteers
* 1878 - Hong Kong Artillery and Rifle Volunteer Corps
* 1917 - Hong Kong Defence Corps
* 1920 - Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps
* 1961 - The Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers)
* 1970 - The Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers)

Equipment

Vehicles

* Wheeler Thornycroft armoured car
* Motorcycles with Vickers machine guns
* Bedford armoured car
* Ferret scout cars
* Landrover

Weapons

* G.P.M.Gs & 6 X 2" Mortars
* Lee Enfield Rifle MK4
* Self Loading Rifle (SLR) L1A1
* Colt M16A2
* Colt "Commando" M177 assault carbine
* SA80 L85
* Sterling Submachine Gun (SMG) 9mm L2A
* Bren LMG
* General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG)
* Browning .3 inch Machine Gun
* Remington M870 Shotgun
* Browning 9mm semi-automatic Pistol

Hong Kong Adventure Corps

The J Corps was a youth organization created by the RHKR in 1971 and now renamed Hong Kong Adventure Corps.

The Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) Regimental Police

The RHKR(V)RP was an internal police force within the RHKR and created by the British Army to provide security and law and order within the regiment.

ee also

*Battle of Hong Kong
*Hong Kong Air Cadet Corps
*Hong Kong Sea Cadet Corps
*Hong Kong Adventure Corps

External links

* [http://www.rhkr.org/ RHKR The Volunteers Association]
* [http://hk.geocities.com/snowman_mod/rhkr_h_s.htm Brief descriptions of the RHKR]
* [http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/History/en/plist2.php Details from Hong Kong Museum of History website]
* [http://hk.geocities.com/snowman_mod/regimental_police.htm RHKR(V) Regimental Police]
* [http://johnwan.dyndns.org:8080/rhkr/index.php RHKR Forum 香港義勇軍戰友論壇]
* [http://www.rhkrontario.org/ RHKR Volunteers Association (Ontario) Canada]


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