Lyemun Fort

Lyemun Fort

Posted: Sep 11, 2023 | Updated: Oct 15, 2023

The fortification at Shau Kei Wan controlled the narrowest point between Hong Kong Island the mainland. It comprised two main components; the Lyemun Fort and Lyemun Barracks on the hill behind the Fort.

The fort is now the Museum of Coastal Defence and covers a period from the Ming Dynasty, through the Opium Wars, the Battle of Hong Kong, through to today and the handover of Hong Kong from Great Britain to Hong Kong with a strong Chinese Communist Party nationalistic narrative. That said, it's not completely like a Chinese museum because the ones I've visited in the Chinese mainland make no attempt to hide a hatred for the West and are more like a Hollywood telling of 'history'.

Sadly this Chinese narrative of the 'right history' puts doubt over the rest of the other exhibits. Many people will not have that great a knowledge of history and will swallow the narrative which after all is exactly what the Chinese Communist Party wants. Information is the enemy of the party which is why it controls what people can read so tightly.

Anyway, read about my actual visit to hear about what has annoyed me so much.

The fort was built in 1887 and had two gun emplacement...

Due to the construction of the Pak Sha Wan, Sai Wan, and Devil's Peak batteries, the importance of Lyemun Fort declined in the early 20th century. Devil's Peak is higher than Lyemun Fort and commanded a better position to the guard the east entrance to Victoria Harbour. After leasing the New Territories the Gough and Pottinger Batteries were soon built.

After World War 2 it was realised that Lyemun Fort is too exposed to aircraft, so the site was used for the storage of ammunition and explosives. Devil's Peak and nearby Pak Sha Wan were no longer used. Nearby Sai Wan Battery was kept as a battery until 1957.


The Highlights

  1. Walk the historic fort and see how it adapted from the Victorian era to WW2.
  2. Site of the Japanese landings see why this location bore the brunt of the invasion.
  3. Spot the propaganda as the Chinese Communist Party pushes its narrative and disinformation.

Posted: Apr 1, 2023 | Updated: Oct 15, 2023

Chinese Propaganda (some would say)

So what bothered me so much about the visit? The fort has been well renovated and has saved a very important part of the fabric of Hong Kong history. The various rooms have some very good exhibits and are somewhat informative. 

But you have to be on your guard and unfortunately you have to know more than the museum is trying to tell you in order to spot what you aren't being told, and to spot where an attempt is being made to manipulate you. Unfortunately, the average target, Chinese and Hong Kong youth, will not identify this.

Destruction of the Old Summer Palace

One of the most useful stories for controlling the people and as told by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is a about the burning of the Summer Palace in Peking during the Second Opium War, this also being another favourite subject of the CCP. The narrative states that in September 1860 a British Consul in negotiations with the Qing officials was kidnapped. In October, the allied forces made their way into Beijing, looting and setting fire to the Old Summer Palace. 

That's it. That's all the explanation that is given. It's history with shocking omissions and many people would see this as simply propaganda aimed at creating hate for those who are the 'outsiders', the non-Chinese. Considering that history can be very emotive, it should always be told with balance, and balance is something you rarely see in mainland China, and unfortunately this has spread to Hong Kong as well.

The Truth Behind the Destruction

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the Opium Wars, and the war between two empires (British and French Empires), and another Empire (Chinese), by September 1860 the Second Opium War was coming to an end and all that was left was negotiations.

As the talks concluded, Allied forces thought that the Qing troops were preparing an attack and so pre-emptively attacked, detaining the prefect of Tianjin. The Qing general Sengge Rinchen took the negotiating team prisoner. If that's all the Chinese did, one might think that would be a fair response. Torturing the delegation with the result being the deaths of nineteen British, French and Indian captives is not a fair response.

On October 18, Lord Elgin, the British High Commissioner to China, retaliated against the torture of the delegation by ordering the destruction of the Old Summer Palace. Once destroyed, the message "This is the reward for perfidy and cruelty" was conveyed to the Qing.

This is the major omission made by the museum. Yes, a British Consul was kidnapped. Yes, the palace was burned down. But so much happened between these two events, and not to mention the state committed torture and the mass murder of a diplomatic delegation which triggered the destruction is irresponsible.

1) Lyemun Fort - Plan of the Fort
2) Lyemun Fort - Bombs to Whet the Appetite
3) Lyemun Fort - Central Battery Emplacement 1
4) Lyemun Fort - Central Battery Magazine
5) Lyemun Fort - Central Battery Depression Range Finder
6) Lyemun Fort - The Ditch
7) Lyemun Fort - Down to the South Caponier
8) Lyemun Fort - The Southern Caponier
9) Lyemun Fort - The Ditch to The Main Gate Crossing
10) Lyemun Fort - Redoubt Battery
11) Lyemun Fort - Redoubt Battery Disappearing Guns
12) Lyemun Fort - WW2 Exhibits
13) Lyemun Fort - WW2 Exhibits
14) Lyemun Fort - Lies by Omission
15) Lyemun Fort - Living Quarters
16) Lyemun Fort - Living Quarters
17) Lyemun Fort - West Battery 9-inch RML Gun Emplacements
18) Lyemun Fort - West Battery 9-inch RML Gun Emplacements
19) Lyemun Fort - The View that West Battery Was Built For
20) Lyemun Fort - West Battery Quick Firing Gun
21) Lyemun Fort - The West Caponier
22) Lyemun Fort - The Proof Yard
23) Lyemun Fort - The Proof Yard Memorials

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