|Second World War - Hong Kong|
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The Japanese attacked the British colony of Hong Kong, an island off the southern mainland of China, on 8 December 1941 - the same day that they launched, without any warning, a wave of devastating strikes against the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, the Malayan peninsula, and American bases on island chains all across the Pacific.
Ten days of aerial bombardment were followed by an infantry assault on Hong Kong island on 18 December. The defending garrison, composed of four British and Indian battalions and other small forces, held out for a week as best they could, with tremendous bravery and suffering a very high percentage of casualties. The 5th Battalion of the 7th Rajputs, holding the strategic point of Devil’s Peak, incurred the greatest proportional losses of all the defending forces – around 65% of the men and almost all of the British and Indian officers. The Allied garrison finally surrendered on Christmas Day, 25 December. Many prisoners were then murdered in cold blood, in one of the most infamous episodes of the war. The Japanese found 10,000 prisoners-of-war on their hands. More than 7,000 were incarcerated in Shampshui Po barracks near Kowloon on the Chinese mainland, a place that became notorious for overcrowding, neglect, brutality and deaths from untreated disease.
Liberation for the prisoners came in August 1945: the Japanese surrendered Hong Kong on the 16th of that month, ten days after the Allies dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima.