c.1930 Bayonet practice | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

c.1930 Bayonet practice

c.1930 Bayonet practice

I'm just back after a few weeks holiday in Wales, and the heat here is a shock to the system!

The group in this photo look as though they're feeling the heat too, stripped down to shorts and vests.

Who: Soldiers, practicing fighting with bayonets.

One group of five has already started, while the next group stand waiting. There's also one man without a rifle, who is probably the instructor.

Were they soldiers from the regular army, or the local volunteers?

What: The practice probably went something like:

  • Run up and stab the bayonet into a sack on the ground (see closest two soldiers)
  • Pull out, then run on to stab a standing sack (see next two soldiers)
  • Pull out and run on to the next task (see the soldier at the top of the sandy area)

When: The soldiers' pith helmets date it to pre-WW2, but I can't see any other clues in the photo.

There's some help on the back though. These photos were printed for sale to soldiers, either to keep as a memento (like this was), or mail to friends & family:

Back of card

The stamp box shows it is printed on "K Ltd." photographic paper, which was available between 1918 and 1936 [1]. So that narrows it down some more.

Here's the front of the paper folder that holds the photo:

Folder for card

We can see it came from Kwong Lam Studio, Tel 32100, 12 Hennessy Road, Hong Kong. Fingers crossed someone recognises the studio, and can narrow the dates even further.

For now I'll guess it was taken around 1930.

Where: The studio's address puts the photo's location in Hong Kong. There aren't any obvious Hong Kong landmarks showing, but the building and mound behind the low fence look like something connected with waterworks.

It's a large, flat area which would rule out anywhere around Victoria Barracks, as they were built on a hillside.

Finally the photographer is a lot higher than the soldiers, maybe in a building?

If you can fill in any of the missing details, I'd love to hear from you. Please leave a note in the comments below.

Regards, David

[1] Real Photo Postcard Stamp Boxes listed on the Playle's website.

Reference: EA001

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Wednesday, January 1, 1930


Message from Guy:

Could this be up at Mt Butler radio station? The background behind the palm tree seams familiar. HK Defense Corps volunteers I should think.

Does anyone else recognise it as that location? I've never gone in near the buildings, but there's certainly a large flat area of land up there.

Regards, David

Moddsey suggested it could be Stonecutters Island - the volunteers certainly went there for training exercises. I also remember they'd have camps out towards Fanling, so that's another possible location.

Regards, David

I agree that it might be Mt Butler Radio Station. I used to run through there regularly and the fence posts are very familiar.