Ireland's Magnificent Six rally round to defend the territory

WITH Whitehall shredding the Hongkong Garrison to its bare bones - what with the early departure of the Black Watch and the merger of two Gurkha Battalions - it looks as if the defence of the territory has been left in the hands of six Irish Hussars.

Working in various capacities in the territory, the undercover mercenaries have gallantly re-grouped to meet the daunting challenges that face us as 1997 approaches and security issues dominate the news.

Our snapper was on their trail during a covert operation earlier in the week and captured them during a cigarette break in gunnery practice.

They are (from left): Paddy Hartigan, better known as Lord Haw-Haw, who as the man in charge of the Joint Services PR is an expert on disinformation. Can be relied upon to be misquoted at times of crisis.

Olly Comyn, an undercover agent who poses as an employee of The Economist. When an emergency presents itself one can be sure that he will repair to the Captain's Bar at the Mandarin and gather information of a classified nature by eavesdropping, especially on tired and emotional journalists.

Charlie Comyn, training major for the Royal Hongkong Regiment, is the life and soul of the mess. Harbours driving ambition to be able to dance with Lavender Patten at a regimental bash.

Algy Wolstenholme, passes himself off as an engineer from Ove Arup involved in the new airport. Has apparently worked out diversionary strategy to invite the entire Red Army to dinner while giving his wife 10 minutes to prepare.

Nick Morant, a highly paid banker for J. P. Morgan, is responsible, says a colleague, ''for ensuring that if the balloon goes up there's plenty of brandy in it''.

Nick Sibley, holding the rank of honorary colonel, the former head of Jardine Fleming and BZW is known to thwart any attack by taking to his secret weapon, which is lunch. This has the effect of creating a food shortage and thereby disrupting the enemy'sline of supply.

So let the war games begin . . .