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Logo of Hong Kong Military Service Corps

Hong Kong Military Service Corps (HKMSC) (Chinese: 香港軍事服務團) was a British army unit and part of the British garrison in Hong Kong (see British Forces Overseas Hong Kong). Throughout the history of Hong Kong, it has been the only regular British army unit raised in the territory made up almost entirely of Locally Enlisted Personnel (LEP).


The history of Hong Kong Chinese soldiers serving in the British Army can be traced back to the 1880s when Hong Kong locals were employed by the Royal Engineers in building of barracks and defence work.

Many Hong Kong Chinese fought alongside the British troops in the defence of Hong Kong. The battle group of the British Battalions consisted of 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment, 2nd Battalion Royal Scots and Hong Kong Chinese Regiment. Other battle groups were Royal Artillery, Canadian Battalions, Indian Forces and Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Force. A large number of Hong Kong Chinese were killed or became prisoners of war. Hong Kong Chinese also saw active service in Burma in 1942 against the Japanese forces, they had bravely fought alongside the 1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment.

In January 1948 the Hong Kong Chinese Training Unit (HKCTU) was formed by Hong Kong Chinese who had served in the various artillery and coastal defence units during the Battle of Hong Kong in the Second World War, with the aim of recruiting and training Hong Kong Chinese soldiers to assist and support the British Garrison in Hong Kong. British-HongKong born Chinese soldiers (British Dependent Territories Citizens)of the HKCTU pledged allegiance to the King/Queen of United Kingdom and were enlisted into the General Service Corps(GSC)of the British Regular Army and capbadged GSC. Members of the HKCTU were later frequently nicknamed locally as sui lei pao bing (water mine or coastal artillery soldiers) in memory of their predecessors.

In 1962 the HKCTU became the Hong Kong Military Service Corps (HKMSC) and consequently the GSC capbadge was replaced by a Dragon Emblem, initially the Dragon insignia which was a Division Sign(Div Sign)had been representing the Hong Kong Garrison and that all British army soldiers serving in Hong Kong wore a Dragon cloth-badge on their uniform. The Dragon logo was officially adopted by HKMSC as their Corps Badge and Corps Flag. HKMSC became a part of the General Service Corps of the Ministry Of Defence (MOD) in Britain.

HKMSC offered Hong Kong Chinese soldiers the opportunity to pursue a full career in the British Regular Army up to and including Queen's Commissioned officer rank of the General List (HKMSC). As all members of the HKMSC were British Regular Army soldiers they received a British Regular Army Service Record Book when they left the British Army. Many of them had also been awarded with British Regular Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (LSGC) after 15 years of good and loyal service. British Gallantry, Orders, Decorations and Medal Ribbins had also been awarded to some HKMSC soldiers. QGM Queen's Gallantry Medal, BEM British Empire Medal, MBE Members of the Order of the British Empire, OBE Officers of the Order of the British Empire. HKMSC soldiers paid United Kingdom Income Tax (in Hong Kong Tax-Rate) via the MOD to Her Majesty Income Tax (HMIT) Office, same as their Gurkha and British counterparts.

The unit's headquarters and training depot were located first at Lyemun Barracks in 1948 between Shaukeiwan & Chaiwan, and then moved over to Stonecutters Island in 1985. The HQ and Depot was commanded by a British Lieutenant Colonel, with a British and a Hong Kong Chinese Adjutant (Majors), a British and a Hong Kong Chinese Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) Warrant Officer Class 1(WO1) and a British Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (RQMS) Warrant Officer Class 2(WO2). Recruitment, selection and training was carried out by Training Company, commanded by a British Army Major, adopting the British Regular Army Recruit Training Syllabus. Most of the HKMSC recruit training instructors were initially trained in Hong Kong, then in UK. Training Company were also responsible for training the Ammunition Sub-Depot guard, made up of Hong Kong Sikhs (recruited as their religion barred them from smoking). The Deputy Commander British Forces (Brigadier) was the Commandant HKMSC (a largely honorary title).

The Hong Kong Military Service Corps maintained its reputation for loyalty and military skills at the highest level, often outshining British and Gurkha troops based in Hong Kong. The HKMSC Shooting Team won the Team and Individual champion pistol shot a number of times during at RASAAM (the Regular Army Skill at Arms Meeting) at Bisley, in the UK, and in 1992 a Training Company team representing the HQ and Depot HKMSC won the Dragon Cup for military skills (outperforming the Queen's Gurkha Signals in signalling and the British Military Hospital team in first aid); the competition was not held again.

The HKMSC reached a peak strength of 1,200 men, providing the British garrison in Hong Kong with supporting personnel. All HKMSC soldiers were basically trained in Hong Kong and from time to time attended upgrading and qualified-trade courses in the United Kingdom. HKMSC soldiers posted and served other non-HKMSC units with the units capbadge on. Hong Kong garrison were enlisted as drivers and officers in 29 Squadron of Royal Corps of Transport(RCT) based in Gun Club Hill Barrack, crewers in 415 Maritime Troop based in Stonecutter Island, dog handlers in Defence Animal Support Unit(DASU) of Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) based in Sek Kong, officer instructors in Royal Army Education Corps (RAEC), officers and clerks in the Royal Army Pay Corps (RAPC), technicians in Royal Signals (R Sigs) of Queen's Gurkha Signal (QGS), engineers and armourers in Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), physical training instructors (PTI) in Army Physical Training Corps (APTC), medics in Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) based in British Military Hospital(BMH), military police in Royal Military Police (RMP), helicopter support crewers in 660 Squadron Army Air Corps (AAC) based in Sek Kong Airport, cooks in Army Catering Corps(ACC), Weapons and Supplies Storekeepers in Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC)and intelligence staff in Intelligence Corps (Int Corps), as well as interpreters, clerks, Regimental Police and light-infantries in Dragon Company of General Service Corps (GSC) headquartered in Osborn Baracks, Kowloon Tong. During the Gulf War and in the early 1990s the HKMSC provided personnel, primarily drivers and ambulance crew, to United Nations Peacekeeping Force Cyprus (UNFICYP) on peacekeeping operations.

In 1996 the unit was disbanded prior to the handover of British sovereignty to China in 1997.

In July 2006, Britain granted full British citizenship to all Gurkha soldiers (Nepalese Citizen Passport holders) and their dependants (approximately 140,000) who had served in Hong Kong and entitled them to live and work in Britain if they so wished. However, the United Kingdom limited only 500 HKMSC soldiers and his families to be granted for British residency before HKMSC was disbanded.

Some ex-HKMSC soldiers who had already resided in the United Kingdom, have been re-enlisted to the British Army on a Military Local Service Engagement(MLSE), Military Provost Guard Service(MPGS), and some others joined the British Territorial Army(TA).


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