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Far East 1930 - 1947:

British Troops in China

China Command was a pre-war independent command, responsible for the British possessions of Hong Kong and Kowloon, and the British concessions in the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Tientsin. Command of the British Troops in China was a Major General’s appointment.

The usual garrison in Hong Kong was two British and one Indian infantry battalions. Reinforcement was limited prior to the outbreak of hostilities with Japan. One additional Indian infantry battalion and two recently raised Canadian infantry battalions were sent in 1941, allowing the creation of a second infantry brigade. Japanese forces attacked on 8 December 1941, and despite gallant resistance, the colony was forced to surrender on 25 December 1941. Few personnel escaped, with the majority facing four years in captivity.


A chronology of key events during the invasion of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island is available below:
» Chronology of Events – China & Hong Kong

Following his release from captivity, the General Officer Commanding, Major General C. M. MALTBY, wrote the Official Despatch about the events within China Command. This was published in the London Gazette in 1947.  A copy of this despatch is available by clicking on this link: » 1947 Despatch London Gazette

Shanghai was opened up to international trade in 1842 with the Treaty of Nanking. The United Kingdom was one of the countries that took up concessions within the city. To protect British interests, British troops were deployed to Shanghai, usually there being two Regular Army infantry battalions stationed in the city with supporting sevrices. With the increased threat from Japanese forces, the British troops were withdrawn from Shanghai in August 1940.

The Tientsin Area was responsible for the British concession in the Chinese city of Teinstin (now called Tianjin). During the war between Japan and China, the city of Teintsin was captured by Japanese troops on 30 July 1937. Japan, however, respected the foreign concessions in the city and the British troops remained in situ. There was usually one British Regular Army infantry battalion stationed in the city, but this was withdrawn in December 1939.

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