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The Journey of The Volunteers
May 1854 - 3 September 1995

1854 - Hong Kong Volunteers

The Hong Kong Regiment also known as The Volunteers was formed in May 1854 when the Crimean War led to a reduction of the British military presence in Hong Kong. To help bolster the defenses at a time when marauding pirates were still a hazard on the China coast local volunteers were called for. A total of 99 Europeans were recruited-mostly British, but with some Portuguese, Scandinavians and Germans.

3 September 1995 - The Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) disbanded.

The Sino-British Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong was signed in Beijing on December 19, 1984. On May 27, 1985, instruments of ratification were exchanged and the agreement entered into force. It was registered at the United Nations by the British and Chinese Governments on June 12, 1985.

In April 1992 the decision was finally taken by Security Branch of Hong Kong Government to formally announce that the Regiment would disband in September 1995.


1854 - disbanded
The volunteers disbanded when Stability in Europe.

1862 - Hong Kong Volunteers
In this year the Volunteers regrouped, In 1864, they were called out to help subdue a serious outbreak of rioting between British and Indian soldiers.

1866 - disbanded
The second period in arms lasted only another four years; enthusiasm again diminished with the return to more settled times.

1878 - Hong Kong Artillery and Rifle Volunteer Corps
In 1878, they were raised again as the Artillery Volunteers and since that time a volunteer force has been permanently in existence in Hong Kong.

1917 - Hong Kong Defence Corps
The volunteers were actively engaged in guard and patrol duties during World War I when, owing to the recall of the British forces, they were the only military unit left in Hong Kong.

1920 - Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps
In 1933, the volunteers acquired their first armoured car-Ford chassis, costing $1,500. It was equipped with an armour-plated body and mountings for two machine-guns. Later, four other chassis were bought by the government the bodywork being constructed by the Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock Company.
The original armoured car was scrapped before the outbreak of World War II, but the remaining four all played an important role in the Battle for Hong Kong in December 1941 .

1941 - Hong Kong captured by the Japanese
The volunteers, renamed the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps, met their severest test in the bitter fighting that took place in the crucial weeks before the fall of Hong Kong on Christmas Day. Out of the mobilised strength of 2 200 of all ranks, 289 were listed either as missing or killed, and many others became prisoners of war. Some, however, made their way into China where the British Army Aid Group was formed to assist the Chinese Government in the struggle against the Japanese. A further group made its way to Burma where it joined the famed Chindits under General Orde Wingate. The services of the defence corps were later recognised by the award of 19 decorations and 18 mentions in despatches for gallantry and good service.

In 1949, the Hong Kong Regiment were reorganized and became part of the Hong Kong Defence Force, which also included separate air and naval units.

New regiment's headquarters are located at Happy Valley on Hong Kong Island.

The new combined defence force was granted the title 'Royal', and replacement colours were entrusted to the care of the regiment as successor to the defunct Defence Corps.

The services of the defence corps during WWI were recognised by the award of the battle honour 'Hong Kong'.

1961 - The Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers)
The role of The Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) changed from that of an infantry battalion to a reconnaissance regiment six British Ferret armour cars (equipped with .30-inch machine-guns) were acquired. The regiment was reorganize to form a headquarters, headquarters squadron, three reconnaissance squadrons, an infantry company and a home guard company.

The Volunteers were called out during the six-month disturbances in Hong Kong.

1970 - The Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers)
The naval unit was phased out and in 1970 the Royal Hong Kong Defence Force was itself disbanded-the two remaining member units, the Hong Kong Regiment and the Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force, officially becoming separate entities. At the same time, both were granted the 'Royal' title by Queen Elizabeth, and the words The Volunteers' were incorporated into the Hong Kong Regiment's title.

Partly because the modern-day regiment had, since 1961, been organized and trained as a light reconnaissance unit and partly because the original Hong Kong Defence Force no longer existed in its old form, it was decided that the regiment should have new colours. So, with the approval of the Queen, the single guidon of a reconnaissance unit was presented in 1971.

The regiment was called out on June 16, 1979, to assist the civil powers over the problem of illegal immigration from China. At times as many as 130 men were deployed in the border area for periods of not less than three days.

In mid-October 1980, the regiment was deployed on the border for a week in lieu of the autumn camp and achieved considerable success in apprehending 555 illegal immigrants; more than one per volunteers on duty. On 24 October, a few days after the border tour, the Governor ordered a full call out of the regiment in the wake of his announcement of the end of the 'reached base' policy, to bolster the security forces in the event of a massive influx of illegal immigrants during the following three-day grace period.
Since 1980, the regiment has returned to the border annually to relieve the Regular Army, and will continue with this deployment by relieving the police twice a year as from 1 992 onwards.

The Regiment has played an important role in manning temporary accommodation for Vietnamese migrants. The most recent Operation Midwife, on Shek Kwu Chau, lasted for 5 months from June to November1991.

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Last updated on Feb 2002