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A wave washing up on a rocky outcrop of a lush island

The Secret Caves of Lamma Island

 

The islands of Hong Kong have much to offer, from bustling harbourside shopfronts full of snacks and souvenirs, to accessible walking trails looping through beautiful scenery. But, as Chatteris Tutor William Hatcher reveals, there is history to be discovered beneath the charming surface…

 

 

 

A visit to Lamma Island is unquestionably one of Hong Kong’s most popular and renowned day trips, and it’s easy to see why. Just a short 30-40 minute ferry ride from the central ferry pier, Lamma Island offers a remarkably relaxed atmosphere, with small villages, delicious seafood restaurants, and picturesque beaches. It’s a refreshing escape from the hustle and chaos of Central.

 

 

A small cave opening on Lamma Island

 

Once on the island, many visitors opt to embark on the laid-back Lamma Island Family Trail. This leisurely five kilometre walk connects the island’s two main villages, Sok Kwu Wan and Yung Shue Wan, as well as the ferry piers. However, nestled amidst the island’s natural beauty, just off the family trail, lie the Kamikaze Caves—a poignant reminder of Hong Kong’s history during the Second World War. On Christmas Day 1941, following eighteen days of fighting, the Japanese Empire began their occupation of Hong Kong. For the next three years and eight months, Hong Kong was occupied by Imperial Japan and governed under martial law.

 

 

 

 

The Kamikaze Caves were dug by locals under the orders of the Japanese forces. Measuring at ten metres wide and thirty metres deep, these caves were intended to house motorboats filled with explosives, which would then be deployed on kamikaze missions against Allied ships.  According to Allied intelligence reports, these speedboats had the capacity to carry approximately half a ton of TNT while still travelling at high speeds, posing a significant threat to larger vessels; although, there are varying reports on the effectiveness of these speedboats. While it is plausible that a kamikaze speedboat from one of the caves could have targeted the British ship HMS Vengeance when on its way to Hong Kong to act as the venue for Japanese surrender, it is likely that the caves were simply used for munitions storage.

 

 

A metal engraving describing the "Kamikaze Grottos"

 

 

Nowadays, TNT, speed boats, and munitions have given way for bats and ocean debris. Nonetheless, these caves are one of many reminders across Hong Kong of life during the war, and of those who lived through an extremely challenging time. Therefore, whether you are a history enthusiast or simply seeking to explore a slightly different view of Hong Kong, the Kamikaze Caves are definitely worth checking out when you next find yourself on Lamma Island.

 

 

 

Explore Hong Kong’s secrets yourself – apply to be a Chatteris Tutor  for a life-changing opportunity, to change others’ lives for the better! You can apply on our website here

 

 

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