Royal Hong Kong Regiment

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Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers)
CountryFlag of Hong Kong 1959.svg  British Hong Kong
BranchFlag of the British Army.svg  British Army
Typelocal auxiliary militia
Garrison/HQ Hong Kong Garrison
Motto(s)Nulli Secundus in Oriente (Second to None in the East)
Colours    red,     yellow,     blue
Anniversaries1854, 1971, 1995
Engagements Battle of Hong Kong
Royal Hong Kong Regiment
Traditional Chinese 皇家香港軍團(義勇軍)

The Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) (RHKR(V)) (Chinese :皇家香港軍團(義勇軍)), formed in May 1854, was a local auxiliary militia force funded and administered by the colonial Government of Hong Kong.

Traditional Chinese characters Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han dynasty and have been more or less stable since the 5th century.

Militia generally refers to an army or other fighting force that is composed of non-professional fighters

A militia is generally an army or some other fighting organization of non-professional soldiers, citizens of a nation, or subjects of a state, who can be called upon for military service during a time of need, as opposed to a professional force of regular, full-time military personnel, or historically, members of a warrior nobility class. Generally unable to hold ground against regular forces, it is common for militias to be used for aiding regular troops by skirmishing, holding fortifications, or irregular warfare, instead of being used in offensive campaigns by themselves. Militia are often limited by local civilian laws to serve only in their home region, and to serve only for a limited time; this further reduces their use in long military campaigns.

Government of Hong Kong principal executive body of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, commonly known as the Hong Kong Government or HKSAR Government, refers to the executive authorities of Hong Kong SAR. It was formed in July 1997 in accordance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1983, an international treaty lodged at the United Nations. This government replaced the former British Hong Kong Government (1842–1997). The Chief Executive also nominates principal officials for appointment by the State Council of the People's Republic of China. The Government Secretariat is headed by the Chief Secretary of Hong Kong, who is the most senior principal official of the Government. The Chief Secretary and the other secretaries jointly oversee the administration of the SAR, give advice to the Chief Executive as members of the Executive Council, and are accountable for their actions and policies to the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council.


During the imperial age, home defence units were raised in various British colonies with the intention of allowing regular army units tied up on garrison duty to be deployed elsewhere. These units were generally organised along British Army lines. The first locally raised militia in Hong Kong was the Hong Kong Volunteers, a fore runner of what was to become the Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers).

British Army land warfare branch of the British Armed Forces of the United Kingdom

The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.

Although the British government, as national government, was responsible for the defence of the territories and colonies, and held direct control of military units raised within them, the local forces were raised and funded by the local governments or the territories and as such the RHKR(V) was always a branch of the Hong Kong government. It was not a part of the reserve force of the British Army. The RHKR(V) did however form part of the order of battle of 48 Gurkha Infantry Brigade and were under command of the commander of the British forces in Hong Kong.

The 48th Brigade was a brigade of the British Army.

British Forces Overseas Hong Kong United Kingdom military forces in the colony of Hong Kong

British Forces Overseas Hong Kong comprised the elements of the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. The Governor of Hong Kong also assumed the position of the Commander-in-chief of the forces and the Commander British Forces in Hong Kong took charge of the daily deployment of the troops. Much of the British military left Hong Kong prior to the handover in 1997. The present article focuses mainly on the British garrison in Hong Kong in the post Second World War era. For more information concerning the British garrison during the Second World War see the Battle of Hong Kong.

These locally raised defence units met British military standards in organisation and efficiency. Many of the officers and NCOs attended training in the UK. Although colonial/overseas British territories' auxiliary units could have no tasking under the British Ministry of Defence, and members could not be compelled to serve outside their territory, many served voluntarily on attachment to British Regular and Territorial Army units.

The regiment should not be confused with the separate Hong Kong Regiment formed in 1892, which was a regular infantry regiment of the British Army, recruited in India.

Hong Kong Regiment

The Hong Kong Regiment was a British Indian Army regiment seconded to the British Army intended to form part of the garrison of British Hong Kong between 1891 and 1902. It was disbanded in 1902 following a request from the India Office owing to the cost of the regiment.


The beginning

The Hong Kong Volunteers was formed in 1854 when the Crimean War led to a reduction of the British military presence in Hong Kong. To help bolster the defences at a time when marauding pirates were still a hazard on the China coast a call for local volunteers was made. A total of 99 Europeans were recruited, mostly British but with some Portuguese, Scandinavians and Germans also answering the call. However almost as soon as it was founded, it was disbanded when the threat of war in Europe receded, and Regular units of the British Army were once again able to resume responsibility for the security of Hong Kong.

Crimean War 1850s military conflict

The Crimean War was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which the Russian Empire lost to an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia. The immediate cause involved the rights of Christian minorities in the Holy Land, which was a part of the Ottoman Empire. The French promoted the rights of Roman Catholics, while Russia promoted those of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The longer-term causes involved the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the unwillingness of Britain and France to allow Russia to gain territory and power at Ottoman expense. It has widely been noted that the causes, in one case involving an argument over a key, have never revealed a "greater confusion of purpose", yet they led to a war noted for its "notoriously incompetent international butchery".

In 1862, the Hong Kong Volunteers was re-established, and in 1864 they were called out to help subdue a serious outbreak of rioting between British and Indian soldiers. In 1866 it was disbanded again. In 1878, the Hong Kong Volunteers was reborn as the "Hong Kong Artillery and Rifle Volunteer Corps". By 1917, it was renamed as the "Hong Kong Defence Corps" was 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.

World War I 1914–1918 global war starting in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War, the Great War, the Seminal Catastrophe, and initially in North America as the European War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

In 1933, the Hong Kong Defence Corps acquired their first armoured car, equipped with an armour-plated body and mountings for two machine-guns. Later, four others were bought by the colonial government. The bodywork was outfitted by the Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock Company. These armoured cars played an important role in the Battle of Hong Kong in December 1941.

World War II

The Hong Kong Defence Corps, renamed the "Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps" (HKVDC), met their severest test in the bitter fighting that took place in the crucial weeks before the fall of Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941. On 8 December 1941, the HKVDC, deployed a total fighting strength of 2200 all ranks in 7 infantry companies, 5 artillery batteries, 5 machine gun companies equipped with Vickers machine gun and an armoured car platoon.

While only seeing light action in the New Territories at the beginning of the Japanese attack, the Volunteers were heavily engaged on Hong Kong Island, especially during the key battles of Wong Nai Chung Gap and Stanley. Casualties among 3 Coy at the former, and 1 Bty at the latter, were extremely heavy. 1 and 2 (Scottish) companies also suffered heavy losses, as did 5 Bty.

Out of the mobilised strength of 2200, 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 number of these men later joined the Hong Kong Volunteer Company in Burma, where they were attached to the Chindits under General Orde Wingate. The services of the defence corps were later recognised by the award of 19 decorations and 18 mentioned in despatch for gallantry and good service. As a recognition of The Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps defence of Hong Kong during 1941, the Corps was awarded the battle honour "Hong Kong".


The coat of arms of the RHKR(V) with its Latin motto which means "Second to none in the orient". Royal HK Regiment CoA.JPG
The coat of arms of the RHKR(V) with its Latin motto which means "Second to none in the orient".

In 1949, The Hong Kong Regiment were reorganised and became part of the Hong Kong Defence Force, which also included separate air and naval units. In 1951 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.

In the early 1960s, the role of the Royal Hong Kong Defence Force changed from that of an infantry battalion to a reconnaissance regiment equipped with six British Ferret armoured cars (each armed with Browning .30-inch machine-gun) were acquired. The regiment was reorganise to form a headquarters, headquarters squadron, three reconnaissance squadrons, an infantry company and a home guard company. During the 1967 leftist riots, the Royal Hong Kong Defence Force were called out during the six-month disturbances in Hong Kong.

By 1970 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 II, and the words 'The Volunteers' were incorporated into the Hong Kong Regiment's title. With its new title and colours, the RHKR(V) was reorganised as a light reconnaissance unit operating under the command of the British Forces Overseas Hong Kong.

In the late 1970s the Volunteers were deployed to assist the civil powers over the problem of illegal immigration from China; as the problem grew from 1980 till 1992 the Volunteers were deployed to man the defences of the Chinese-Hong Kong border. In the late 1980s to early 1990s the Volunteers were deployed to support the colonial government in controlling the flood of Vietnamese illegal migrants, commonly known as the "Boat People". This included guarding temporary detention camps for Vietnamese migrants.


The regiment included several units:

The end

The Sino-British Joint Declaration on the question of Hong Kong as a British colony was finalised and the joint declaration was signed in Beijing on 19 December 1984. On 27 May 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 12 June 1985.

In April 1992 the Security Branch of the Hong Kong Government formally announced that the Regiment would disband in September 1995.

Successive changes of titles



List of vehicles used by regiment from 1920s to 1960s: [2]

Weapons [3]


The regiment's badge at disbandment consisted of:

Earlier badges had a Tudor crown and the Volunteer Corps had no Oriental features:

Hong Kong Adventure Corps

The J Corps was a youth organisation created by the RHKR(V) in 1971 and now renamed Hong Kong Adventure Corps.

The Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) Regimental Police

The RHKR(V)RP was an internal police force within the RHKR(V) to provide security and law and order within the regiment.

The Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) Association

Created in 1995 as a charitable organization to support former members in Hong Kong with a Club House located at the Hong Kong Jockey Club Happy Valley racecourse. [4]

See also

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  1. "History of The Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers)". Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  2. "journal 1965". Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  3. "Equipment - Weapon". Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  4. "RHKR The Volunteers Association Ltd". Retrieved 14 March 2018.