Former envoy sees new role for wartime structures in Lei Yue Mun Five forgotten wartime bunkers hidden at Lei Yue Mun on Hong Kong Island have been identified, with some having the potential to become wine cellars. Gregory De'eb, a former South African consul general to Hong Kong who now runs the Unesco Asia- Pacific Heritage Award-winning Crown Wine Cellars in Shouson Hill, identified the bunkers by investigating a series of old photographs. The pictures were taken when Hong Kong was fighting the Japanese during the second world war. Mr De'eb said that about eight years ago he received a series of photographs showing construction of the bunkers from a historian he worked with when converting the Central Ordinance Munitions Depot, known as Little Hong Kong during the war, into a wine cellar and clubhouse that became the site of the Crown Wine Cellars. At that time, Mr De'eb was certain the sites featured in the photographs were not of Little Hong Kong. 'Fast-forward six years to 2007, and I suddenly had a renewed interest in where these bunkers were located because they were definitely Hong Kong. So I started asking around again,' he said. By comparing various historical photographs with those from the present day, Mr De'eb identified some common features between the pictures, including structures believed to be barracks. But he finally confirmed the location during a pleasure boat trip to Sai Kung. 'I stared at Lei Yue Mun and looked for the barracks site. I got to a point passing through Lei Yue Mun and the Coastal Defence Museum ... you just catch a glimpse of that. And then I realised [the barracks in the photographs were] the Lei Yue Mun barracks,' he said. Lei Yue Mun barracks, built more than 100 years ago, are now part of Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village. Mr De'eb contacted government departments, including the Development Bureau, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which manages Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village. He said the latter department told him such bunkers did not exist. But the department, in answer to a question from the South China Morning Post, said the bunkers were not under the areas it managed, as they were outside the Lei Yue Mun country park and the Museum of Coastal Defence. In March, Mr De'eb received a letter from the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau acknowledging the existence of the bunkers. The Development Bureau said that up to now the government had discovered the five bunkers in Lei Yue Mun and 12 similar ones at Shouson Hill, where four have been leased to Crown Wine Cellars. The Post located three of the five bunkers near the Island Eastern Corridor, whose entrances were numbered 34, 35 and 36, and were protected by newly installed steel gates and fences. While the two other bunkers at Lei Yue Mun had their entrances buried, numbers 34 to 36 could be transformed into wine cellars, Mr De'eb said. He has proposed turning the bunkers into wine cellars. He said he had been in close contact with the government in the hope that the site could be turned into a sustainable heritage site available to the public but at no cost to taxpayers. Mr De'eb estimated the cost of building the initial infrastructure would be at least HK$20 million. The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said the government had studied the bunkers' suitability for general storage, but the results did not appear promising. 'Several constraints have been identified, including access problems, limited useable space and geotechnical issues. As such, the proposed use of the bunkers may not be commercially viable and cost- effective,' a bureau spokesman said. The Development Bureau said the government would consider using bunkers that were found suitable in all relevant aspects.