Hong Kong Cemetery, formerly Hong Kong (Happy Valley) Cemetery and before that Hong Kong Colonial Cemetery, is one of the early Christian cemeteries in Hong Kong dating to its colonial era beginning in 1845. It is located beside the racecourse at Happy Valley, along with the Jewish Cemetery, Hindu Cemetery, Parsee Cemetery, St. Michael's Catholic Cemetery and the Muslim Cemetery.

Hong Kong Cemetery
Hong Kong Cemetery in Happy Valley
Established1845; 179 years ago (1845)
Country Hong Kong
Coordinates22°16′13″N 114°10′54″E / 22.2702°N 114.1816°E / 22.2702; 114.1816
Find a GraveHong Kong Cemetery
Hong Kong Cemetery
Traditional Chinese香港墳場

Hong Kong Cemetery is a public cemetery managed by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.[1] Hong Kong Cemetery contains 79 scattered Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 62 from the Second World War, which are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The Protestant Cemetery is built as a series of terraces ascending a hillside. The older graves tend to be at the bottom of the hill; those from the 1930s and 1940s are generally at the top.

On a number of occasions, remains in the Protestant Cemetery have been disinterred to make way for road developments, and have been placed in niches in an ossuary, which continues to be used for contemporary cremations. The niches provide basic information on each individual.

Types of graves


Some sections of the Protestant Cemetery tended to be reserved for particular groups of deceased, e.g., army, navy, Hong Kong Police. There are two main categories of graves that can be found in Hong Kong Cemetery:

Military graves

A Royal Navy grave of WWI at Hong Kong (Happy Valley) cemetery.

As the name states, this category of graves for British military dead, spanned from the late 19th century until the early 1960s (when the Government of Hong Kong established another cemetery near Sai Wan for military dead in 1965). At the beginning of the colonial era, the British garrison force had the same problem as those in India: weather. Some of the members of the force could not adapt to the tropical weather of Hong Kong and died owing to tropical disease, while others fell during the Boxer Rebellion – mainly in 1900. At the time being, it is the major cemetery for military dead along with Stanley Military Cemetery.

There are about 100 military graves of World War I – 79 of them are in Hong Kong Cemetery, mainly the soldiers who died in Hong Kong and Kowloon Military Hospital, which received the sick and wounded from the German-leased territory of Qingdao, on the Shandong peninsula in north-east China.[2] Evidence shows that most of them are naval personnel.

Grave of SJT. R.S. Bell of Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps, an example of WWII military grave in Hong Kong (Happy Valley) Cemetery.

Before the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong in 1941, Britain had sent two battalions from the Royal Scots and Middlesex Regiments to Hong Kong for garrison duty. This cemetery provides evidence of the presence of these two battalions. There are in all 62 military graves of World War II Commonwealth service personnel – mainly from the year 1941 – maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.[2]

The British force in Hong Kong used the cemetery as their burial ground until 1965. One notable military burial is Driver Joseph Hughes, a recipient of the George Cross.

There are also two monuments erected by the Royal Artillery in memory of their fallen comrades, which were later moved to the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence.

Civilian graves


The civilian burials in the cemetery are diverse and exemplify the social structure at the early stage of the colonial era. It is widely understood that the cemetery is for the burial of the privileged group of the society[who?], mostly British. Notable people of that era buried in the cemetery include Sir Robert Ho Tung and his first wife, Sir Paul Chater and Sir Kai Ho. Most Christian missionaries to Hong Kong are also buried here, a notable example being Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff, a German missionary who helped to establish Lutheran churches in Hong Kong, who is considered the first Lutheran missionary to China.[citation needed] Another notable missionary interred here is Henrietta Hall Shuck, the first American female missionary to China.[citation needed]

There are also a number of Chinese burials, all of them Christians, some of them were involved in the late Qing revolution and uprisings led by Sun Yat-sen, including Yeung Ku-wan, who was assassinated by the Qing Government in Hong Kong.

A number of Japanese were buried in the cemetery, mostly those who resided in Hong Kong during the early colonial era. Some of them were Christian, but most were followers of Shinto. The Japanese custom of burning incense during memorial rites led to complaints from some Westerners. As a result, a special Japanese section of the graveyard was designated.



Notable burials at Hong Kong Cemetery include:


A scene in John le Carré's novel The Honourable Schoolboy takes place in the nearby racetrack as well as the cemetery.

The cemetery is a popular place for filming movies and TV shows. The UK folk artist Johnny Flynn released a song in 2008 about the cemetery, found on the album A Larum.


See also



  1. ^ "Cemeteries and Crematoria". Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.
  2. ^ a b [1] CWGC Cemetery Report.
  3. ^ Lim, Patricia (5 May 2011). "List of Burials ordered by Name". gwulo.com. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  4. ^ Ng, James. "Benjamin Wong Tape". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  5. ^ Peter Simpson, "Hell and High Water," South China Morning Post Magazine, October 2, 2011, pp. 24–30.

Further reading