Japanese Extension of Kai Tak aerodrome, BAAG reports, 1942-1944
Elizabeth Ride has sent the following BAAG reports and sketches about Japanese plans to expand Kai Tak airport during their occupation of Hong Kong, World War Two.
As you can see by the first report the Japanese were apparently ambitious. At one point around 10,000 workers were involved including POWs. Residential buildings were demolished, agricultural land cleared and a nearby hill removed.
Kukong Intelligence Summary #3, 24.6.1942:
The Japanese are apparently extending the air field and reports quoted in the local press say that it is intended to make it four times its present size. Buildings in the vicinity of the aerodrome are being knocked down and tractors are being used to level the ground.
Kukong Intelligence Summary #6, 10.7.1942:
Work has started on the extension of the airfield a Kai Tak. Houses in the vicinity must be demolished by occupants forthwith, compensation HK$1,000. The following data has come to hand:
Stage 1 – Has been started. Clearance of all village in paddy north of present landing ground.
Stage 2 – Orders issued. Clearing of all buildings in S.W. corner making all land at present enclosed by main road available.
Stage 3 – To be started in August. Clearing of all ground east of bearing 315 degrees from Police Station.
The whole area is now a prohibited area. An unconfirmed report states that British working parties have been seen working there.
Waichow Intelligence Summary # 6, 14.9.1942:
Even on the 5th September, working parties were still seen at Kai Tak. They are doing some grass cutting on the airfield. These working parties usually consist of about a hundred [POWs]coming by a few lorries escorted by 3 or 4 Japanese in each truck. …
All the houses in the Po Kong Village have been pulled down. Most of the evacuated houses have not yet been demolished, except that the staircases were destroyed.
Waichow Intelligence Summary #7, 27.9.1942:
The Official Digging ceremony for the enlargement of Kai Tak Aerodrome has taken place on 10.9.42. Over 10,000 workmen have already been recruited. A greater part of the POWs will also be mobilised for the work. (Source: Hongkong newspapers)
Waichow Intelligence Summary #10, 25.10.1942:
Plans of proposed extension of Kai Tak aerodrome reported as brought out by BAAG agent No 48 [Tsang Tak Hing].
Waichow Intelligence summary #15, 30.12.1942:
About 10,000 coolies are working on the extension scheme plus 600/2000 POWs. To date the area within Po Kong Village, Ta Koo Ling Road, Kak Hung Village, Shing Nam and Sung Wong Tai roads has been levelled.
Waichow Intelligence Summary #17, 28.1.1943:
The Hongkong News dated 8 Jan 43, page 3, carried the news that, in connection with the Kai Tak extension scheme, work was started on 9 Jan 43 to demolish the Sung Wong terrace and remove the Sung Wong stone from there.
Waichow Intelligence Summary #18 , 12.2.1943:
The Japanese are trying to speed up the completion of the Kai Tak extension scheme and have 10,000 workmen on it. The extension is one third completed. …
It is reported that a considerable tension arose at Kai Tak Aerodrome in early January as it was discovered that a Map of the Aerodrome had been stolen. Martial Law was enforced in the area. …
Waichow Intelligence Summary #23, 14.3.1943:
Extension work goes ahead steadily with no apparent desperate rush. Agent 68 however says the original 6-year plan has been cut down to 4 years. Source goes on to report blasting at Sung Wong Toi, that few houses have so far been demolished in Tan Kung Rd and that Kowloon City Police Station still stands. Under former RAF Officers Mess a tunnel is being built, Japanese only being employed on the work.
Waichow Intelligence Summary #24, 23.3.1943:
Area to be demolished: from Sai Kung Road to Tam Kung Road. At the moment they are collecting all the iron scrap taken from the demolished buildings, and removing them to ships.
Waichow Intelligence Summary #27, 14.4.1943:
Earth diggings. Firstly, a greater portion of the hill at Po Kong has been removed. It is estimated that the whole thing will be completed by June.
Secondly, the hill at Sung Wong Toi has been levelled.
In the aerodrome area, two big nullahs are being constructed, one is an open nullah, and the other is covered. [See WIS #34 below for diagrams.]
The open nullah stretches from Sha Ti Un straight out to sea. The entire length is 3000 feet and is divided in three sections:
1st section: from Sha Ti Un to Po Kong Hill; width 25 ft. Work on this section is proceeding.
2nd section: from Po Kong Hill to Sung Wong Toi; width 50 ft.
3rd section: from Sung Wong Toi to sea; width 50 ft. Work on this section is proceeding.
The covered nullah is divided into two sections:
1st section: It connects with the former nullah at the aerodrome. Length 400 ft, width 26 ft.
2nd section: It connects up the former mullah which runs along Sam Tack Road to the sea. Length 433 ft, width 20 ft. Work is proceeding.
The work on the aerodrome is going on very rapidly. Demolition of houses leaves little to be done. With regard to reclamation, the strip from Po Kong Hill to Kowloon City Market is 6-7 feet above the ground level.
From a letter from Col Ride to Military Attaché of 12.5.43:
With regard to the secrecy of thefts of maps etc from the enemy, it was reported in WAICHOW that the Japanese did not know that the KAI TAK plan had gone til a report went back to HONG KONG via KWANG CHOW WAN.
We now know it was known many months ago in MACAO, because one was offered to our agent there and the offer was refused because the Consul told our agent one had already been procured!
Waichow Intelligence Summary #28, 25.4.1943:
2500 Chinese under supervision of 15 Japanese now working on the Aerodrome. Demolition of old houses and levelling of Sung Wong Toi continues. …
Sketches supplied by agent 19 of shelters [the sketch, was supplied by Agent 19, Joseph Tsang Yiu Sang, who was later shot by the Red Guerillas in October of that year.]
Work is ordered to be finished by end April. The three shelters 90 ft wide and 100 metres long are said to be capable of holding 5 large aircraft each; the five shelters 75 ft wide and 100 metres long are said to be capable of holding 5 medium sized aircraft each – total 15 large and 25 medium.
J Group report a runway made of cement mixed with stones and sand, 100 ft wide, runs from the hangar at Western end of aerodrome to barracks at N.E. side
Waichow Intelligence Summary #34, 15. 6 1943
Kweilin Weekly Intelligence Summary #3, 20.6.1943:
Evacuation of the populace from Kai Tak district to make room for aerodrome extension has now been completed. It is stated that more than 1,000,000 Yen has been paid by the Government in compensation to the residents involved.
Kweilin Weekly Intelligence Summary #69, 6.10.44:
The Governor of Hongkong has issued an order that all constructional activity of Kai Tak airfield shall cease immediately.
Kweilin Weekly Intelligence Summary #78, 22.12.1944:
- For general information about the Elizabeth Ride collection, her father Sir Lindsay Ride, and the British Army Aid group during WW2 a very useful introduction is through http://gwulo.com/node/13968
- The BAAG papers are kept at the Hong Kong Heritage Project
This article was first posted on 15th September 2015.
The Index contains many articles using BAAG reports from WW2. And about industry in HK during that time.