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About Us

GET TO KNOW US…

How much do we know about the ruins of war and the numerous stories that are hidden in the forests and buried beneath the ground in our Hong Kong countryside? In our two-year Innovation Technology Fund project1 (2023-2024), we promote innovative geospatial and geophysical technologies to unfold the long-lost heritages in the Battle of Hong Kong during WWII for the purpose of archaeological and historical studies.

1 https://www.itf.gov.hk/en/project-search/project-profile/index.html?ReferenceNo=GSP/043/22

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

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https://www.mdpi.com/2571-9408/6/9/325

tarting from the 1840s, Hong Kong had become one of the British strategic outposts and a pivotal port city in Asia. Before the Second World War (1939-1945), the British had built coastal defenses on the Kowloon and Hong Kong Island sides of Victoria Harbour in preparation of a potential Japanese invasion.

During the Pacific War (1941-1945), Hong Kong was one of the first places attacked by the Japanese forces. The Battle of Hong Kong, which lasted seventeen-and-a-half days between 8 and 25 December 1945, witnessed heavy fighting and widespread destruction. The city’s multi-ethnic garrison fiercely fought against the larger and better-equipped Japanese forces. The garrison relied on fixed defences to compensate their weaknesses in number and firepower, such as the Gin Drinkers Line that stretched along the Kowloon Ridge. However, despite the tenacious defence of the garrison, the city fell to the Japanese forces on 25 December 1941, thereafter known as the “Black Christmas”. The battle was brutal, with both sides suffering significant losses. At least 4,000 civilians were killed or wounded during the battle; the actual toll could be even higher due to the post-battle chaos and Japanese atrocities.

The fall of Hong Kong marked the beginning of a brutal Japanese occupation known as “the three years and eight months”, that lasted until the end of the war. The occupation brought widespread suffering, atrocities, forced labor, and deprivation to the people of Hong Kong.

The experience of Hong Kong during the Second World War is a significant part of the history of city and the world, representing the common sacrifice and suffering of people around the world who once called Hong Kong a home, even temporarily.

TECHNOLOGICAL BACKGROUND

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e have developed a three-tier geo-spatial and tech-based approach to facilitate archaeological investigation and historical interpretation of WWII in Hong Kong, to help expanding and deepening our understanding of the British and Japanese military works on the hills.

Tier 1 (desktop searching the past) starts with the project ‘The Battle of Hong Kong 1941: a Spatial History Project’ by Hong Kong Baptist University, where historical texts, old maps, aerial photos, plans of attack and defence, and Google Earth were studied to define regions/points of interest. 

Tier 2 (airborne LiDAR) involves the adoption of 3D point clouds extracted from the government’s airborne LiDAR ground laser return to develop a digital terrain model (DTM) for geo-registration in a geographic information system (GIS). We then explore the use of the linear and non-linear (RRIM) imaging algorithms for the best built DTM to search for the lost and unknown WWII heritage features (‘heritages’) in the Gin Drinkers Line. Then, together with the results from tier 1, we design a hybrid DTM/history-based framework to prioritise and evaluate field-validation priority in the Gin Drinkers Line of defence in the Battle of Hong Kong. The output allows us to characterise and extract the DTM features of the heritages (pillboxes, trenches, tunnels, and WWII features) via field validation. 

Tier 3 (field survey and validation for hybrid air–ground 3D modelling of WWII heritages) is the field work, which means a team expedition based on the setting out survey using GNSS-RTK and subsequent ground-based terrestrial/handheld LiDAR scanning after the WWII heritage features were identified in the field. All scans were tied to coded paper targets geo-referenced using GNSS-RTK. After the field work, and in the office, the built 3D point cloud and RGB models were overlaid on the DTM to generate a real 3D augmented reality of the battlefield in 1941.

Lest We Forget

OBJECTIVES

Goal 1

Demonstrate the airborne and terrestrial geo-spatial and geophysical technologies for imaging
buried war heritage site in rugged natural terrain in Hong Kong

Goal 2

Engage the secondary schools and general public on the use of technologies for unfolding buried war heritage

Goal 3

Promote an integrated Art-Tech approach and maximize the publicity on (a) historical interpretation, (b) heritage conservation,
(c) STEAM education & public engagement and (d) exhibitions for remembrance in 80th anniversary of WWII in 2025.

Cross-discipline Team

Associate Head (Teaching) & Associate Professor
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Associate Professor
Hong Kong Baptist University

Archaeologist
The University of Hong Kong

Amateur Historian

Amateur Historian

Amateur Historian

Forensic Anthropologist
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Associate Professor
The University of Hong Kong

Associate Lecturer
University of St Andrews

PolyU Team

Wallace Lai Wai-lok

Associate Head (Teaching) & Associate Professor
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Dexter Chung Kin Wang

Research Assistant
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Pun Chun Ho

Research Assistant
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Kathleen Sit Fei Ching

Research Assistant
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Alex Cheng Yu Ching

Research Student
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Sandhu Sahib Singh

Research Assistant
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Serein Han Yao

Scientific Officer
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Rene Kwan Lee Yee

Research Assistant
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Yan Wai Yeung

Adjunct Assistant Professor
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Jeanne Lam Yuet Ching

Senior Research Fellow
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

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