Surveying Targets in China
Another task assigned to X Troop were extensive survey schemes to lay base lines and establish bases and survey points to locate targets in China. The survey for this was hard work as we climbed all the hills and mountains used for observations in the frontier area and further back in the heat, and on foot, while encumbered with all the survey gear including the heavy beacons.
We then calculated the coordinates for these potential targets. Knowing the positions of our own guns, and the positions of the targets, if Hong Kong was attacked, our guns could have immediately laid down accurate and effective fire. We had a great deal of trouble with this survey initially, but then found that the survey data we had originally been given on which to base our work was wrong. So that had to be corrected.
The most enjoyable work we had was that of calibration. Only small parties of surveyors were involved and we got away from the Troop and Battery with its duties and fatigues. The firing range was out to sea in the remote, attractive and scenic Clearwater Bay, set below High Junk Peak on the south easterly coast with Tung Lung Island to the south. We set the base up on several excursions to the hills surrounding the Bay. And like all the other hills in the New Territories and Hong Kong their tops were only accessible on foot, which meant hard scrambling whilst loaded up in the heat.
Once up there though I was often reminded of the cliffs and sea views I knew so well of Portland and of the Channel Isles where I had just previously had a holiday, for on the calibration shoots the shot falls into the sea. The first guns we calibrated were 5.5’s of the 58th Medium Regiment, and we then did, I think, 25 pounders of the 25th Field Regiment, and later the 4.2” mortars of 120 Mortar Battery.
Having established the observing posts and base, the actual calibration shoots were for us a relaxing duty, the firing being intermittent as each gun was laid and fired independently with great care as the laying was corrected after each firing. We then establishing by observation and calculation in our HQ where the shot had fallen. This was then checked against how the gun had been laid and the next shot and charge adjusted accordingly. Being in radio contact with the guns we knew when they were to fire and thus were ready to observe the fall of the shot. Occasionally a salvo was fired and the fall of this into the sea from the 5.5’s was a grand sight.