26 DECEMBER 1941, Page 2

The Siege of Hong-kong

The position of the little garrison of Hong-kong is indeed precarious. Though the island has strong fortifications it is probable that the defending force was too small to attempt to hold the whole coast line, in view of the fact that the enemy commands the surrounding sea and the mainland at Kowloon separated by only a narrow channel from the north shore, on which lies the town of Victoria. The town and the forts have been subjected to bombardments from the land, the sea and the air, and the garrison appears to have withdrawn to strong points where it could use its guns with most effect. The enemy hold part of the island, but a steadfast resistance is being put up by the defenders, with whom remain Sir Mark Young, the Governor, who, so far from having left, as the Japanese asserted, has been sending messages to Chungking, and issuing inspiring exhortations to the troops. Singapore is more than r,400 miles away, and even the Philippines, hard pressed by the enemy, are nearly 50o miles distant, so that there is little hope of early relief from the sea. The one possibility of effective help is that the Chinese forces near Canton, who are attacking in the direction of Kowloon, may be able to break through the rear of the Japanese forces operating from the mainland north of Hong- kong. The garrison is fighting a gallant delaying action every day which is of value in engaging enemy ships, troops and aeroplanes. Hong-kong was designed as a fortress to be used by a Power commanding the sea. At present the Japanese command it locally.