FORTY-THREE Hongkong-based soldiers are to lose their jobs as part of the latest round of British defence cuts announced yesterday. But the news was greeted with a mixture of sadness and relief within the garrison. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said 43 officers and men stationed in the territory will be ending their military service early after the British Government decided to axe 37,000 armed forces jobs over three years. Sources say that some of the top brass among the casualties, including lieutenant-colonels and colonels, are based in the territory. A garrison spokesman said 21 officers and 22 enlisted men currently stationed in Hongkong were victims of the cuts. A total of 6,450 armed forces personnel worldwide have either been sacked or taken voluntary redundancy in the second of the three-part annual reductions under the Options For Change plan. ''All the enlisted men who are going have volunteered for redundancy and a good percentage of the officers have also said they wished to leave,'' he said. When Options For Change was first announced in 1991, 40,000 from a total of 156,000 armed forces personnel were expected to go, but Defence Secretary Mr Malcolm Rifkind announced a reprieve for 3,000 servicemen earlier this month. Critics of the plan say Britain's increasing United Nations duties and commitments in Northern Ireland require more than the 119,000 projected total of personnel. Those who were earmarked by Military Secretary Lieutenant-General Sir William Rous to be made redundant yesterday received a letter at their homes. The spokesman added that the officers included in the latest batch would be captains, majors, lieutenant-colonels and colonels, but refused to confirm if men from all those ranks stationed in Hongkong were affected. The Deputy Commander of British Forces, Gulf War veteran Brigadier Christopher Hammerbeck, escaped the cuts as did all other officers of his rank. One source said about half the Hongkong-based officers were given compulsory redundancy notices. ''It was the worst news for a few people but there are many others who feared for their jobs and have escaped. Men in the infantry and armoured corps were expected to be the worst hit and it seems that it has happened that way.'' He added that Hongkong's new resident battalion, the Black Watch, had not escaped the cutbacks. ''They were generally looking for redundancies of officers who would not have to be directly replaced or could be replaced reasonably easily,'' he said. Redundancy payments will vary from about $1 million for a colonel, $800,000 for a major and an estimated $400,000 for a sergeant. Soldiers serving in Bosnia and The Falklands were also informed of their fate yesterday, said MoD spokesman Mr Hamish Lumsden. ''The cuts are broadly proportionate right across the army wherever we have soldiers working, from Belize to the Falklands to Cyprus to Africa. ''The redundancies affected 20 officers and around 120 soldiers in Bosnia-Herzegovina and around 50 officers and 300 soldiers in Northern Ireland.'' Eight officers serving in Bosnia-Herzegovina were among those given compulsory notices without volunteering to leave, and in Northern Ireland 20 were being forced out, Mr Lumsden said.