ARP Network 29, Hong Kong, August 2018

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HughieD

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1. The History
The Hong Kong Air Raid Precaution (ARP) tunnels were built in a hurry with the construction at breakneck speed from September 1940. Such was their haste of construction, records show that several tunnels were incomplete at the time of the Japanese invasion. The decision to provide air-raid shelters for everyone meant work had to be done instantaneously so a new organisation at the time was created almost immediately. Controversially, the speed of construction and the large sums were involved led to corruption (or, as it is known out in Asia, graft), especially in the architectural branch of the ARP department. It involved the HSBC being accused of over-claiming funds, an ARP department architect called to give evidence taking his own life, a British official being hospitalised due to poisoning and an investigation by the commission between August and November 1941 whose report was never published. The presiding judge, P. Cressal was interned in Stanley camp in December 1941, the draft report disappeared and after the was the inquiry dropped.

Air raid wardens take up position at the entrances to public shelters in Hong Kong, during an exercise in the last days before the Japanese invasion, December 1941.

44403303634_42256b0803_b.jpgAIR RAID PRECAUTIONS IN HONG KONG, 1941 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The civil police in HK had their hands more than full in maintaining order in the city after the war had started. The situation was generally under control except in the ARP tunnels, where I was reported that armed gangs of robbers were operating. Despite this, the Chinese population soon came to appreciate the protection afforded by the network of air raid shelters in the Colony and hundreds made these their temporary homes, many remaining in them even during the daytime. Thus, in the evenings, whole families crowded into the tunnels to spend the night together in safety, even if not in great comfort. Some recall the stench in the tunnels as there were no toilet facilities there or running water in the tunnels. Each tunnel did have air circulation systems however. One tunnel user recalled “While walking along the labyrinthine passages, I could feel the air currents blowing against my face. The air conditioning is good”. At least one of the tunnel networks showed evidence that the Japanese strengthened the tunnels during their occupation of Hong Kong. There were repeated Allied air-raids on Hong Kong during this time, hence the Japanese forces found the ARP tunnels to be very useful.

30185639917_7b08c26f8d_z.jpgbatgung-hk-news-19420114-tunnels by HughieDW, on Flickr

Many of the tunnels had timber supports, but in the late 1940s it was reported that much of that wood had been looted immediately after the war, most likely for firewood.

2. The Explore
Explored with Dr Howser. He’s been to a number of these ARP tunnels so was very grateful of his kind offer to show me another one after our previous visit to Leighton Hill tunnels. While the previous network was finished and have smooth walls, this one was clearly not finished. The tunnel walls here are bare stone but have been faced off and smoothed in places, with quite a few brick structures with period signs painted own to the walls. Additionally, there are concrete floors and drains are visible in places too.

According to the Civil Engineering and Development Department records, the vast majority of this network is still accessible: 405m of tunnels from the original 420m to be precise. They are between 2-and 3.5m wide and 2 and 2.5m high. The portals look to have been brought back into the hillside with modern concrete reinforcing close to each one.

Here is a copy of the tunnel network:

43310058350_82ba6369ff_z.jpgARP network 29 by HughieDW, on Flickr

3. The Pictures

One of the entrances from the outside:

45083460061_d7954578b5_b.jpgAir raid shelter 15 by HughieDW, on Flickr

…and another:

30146725257_aee5be882d_b.jpgAir raid shelter 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

One of the entrance points

43270409040_fd03bebb9d_b.jpgAir raid shelter 11 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Note water channel to the left of this picture:

44363207554_df682a3f57_b.jpgAir raid shelter 14 by HughieDW, on Flickr

One of the several brick walls:

44363216724_8783207560_b.jpgAir raid shelter 13 by HughieDW, on Flickr

One of the wider sections of the tunnel complex:

43270478610_f274e8aab5_b.jpgAir raid shelter 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr

44363349134_e2f01c169b_b.jpgAir raid shelter 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

30146674937_62c1a1379d_b.jpgAir raid shelter 03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

30146703617_fdc28c3838_b.jpgAir raid shelter 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This one is Entrance B:

30146630537_e883d4352f_b.jpgAir raid shelter 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And another entrance:

45082537301_cfd1da60d3_b.jpgimg9474 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Not too sure that AMB stands for:

44172277445_7bbe0e086d_b.jpgAir raid shelter 12 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Some old bottles:

44172332815_9d398861f1_b.jpgAir raid shelter 09 by HughieDW, on Flickr

45035545322_89a2f350ae_b.jpgAir raid shelter 08 by HughieDW, on Flickr


This could be a charge hole drilled into the rock that was never used, possibly with a drill left stuck into the rock too.

44172378675_fc66c7e608_b.jpgAir raid shelter 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

45034070632_451b642a0e_b.jpgimg9496 by HughieDW, on Flickr

43269153760_d82236b805_b.jpgimg9483 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Not too sure what the FA Party is:

45082477371_47e9663724_b.jpgimg9479 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This section has suffered a collapse:

31209402578_2a3ae4f401_b.jpgimg9470 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 

Mikeymutt

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Lovely stuff hughie.love underground stuff.there ain't much in Hong Kong is there ha ha
 

BikinGlynn

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That's another interesting place u made it to there, nice work!
 

Hugh Jorgan

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Interesting write-up and good photos. F.A. Party could mean First Aid Party. AMB is an easy one because someone on that other urban explorers website about days in a month someone has posted pictures of the Hong Kong air raid shelters and it could be Ambulance.
 

HughieD

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Interesting write-up and good photos. F.A. Party could mean First Aid Party. AMB is an easy one because someone on that other urban explorers website about days in a month someone has posted pictures of the Hong Kong air raid shelters and it could be Ambulance.

Actually that rings a bell mate. Think you are right.
 

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