The emergency deployment was authorised in order to provide the resident Gurkha battalion with some much-needed respite, and 1 PARA arrived at Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong on 3 February 1980 in bitter cold.
The Battalion soon established high-visibility daylight patrols and numerous Observation Posts(OPs) to survey the border regions, ranging from rugged, mountainous terrain rising over 1600 feet in the East, to low-lying paddy fields and farmland in Central and Western areas, along with natural border provided by the banks of the Sham Chun River in the Western border region.
The border area was divided up into designated patrol areas from East to West, with A Coy operating from Sha Tau Kok, B Coy from Pak Fu Shan, C Coy from Man Kam To and Support Coy from Ma Cho Lung, with platoons from A and B Coys detached on the Tolo peninsula. The Battalion HQ was based at Lo Wu, the Echelon a mile away at Dills Corner, while Tac HQ was set up at Lo Ling.
The Battalion utilised tried and tested 'Cordon and Search' patrolling techniques of suspected hiding places by day, whilst manning smaller night patrols to intercept the immigrants attempting to cross the border under the cover of darkness. Patrols were mostly conducted on foot, though horses and mountain goats were also utilised on occasion for patrols and supply provisions.
The determination of the illegal immigrants, usually travelling in small groups which would include women and children, combined with a rather basic artificial boundary in the mountainous terrain (usually consisting of mesh fence and barbed wire) complicated the task significantly. Their numerous escape attempts ranged from ingenious to the cavalier, though once captured immigrants often acquiesced without much difficulty and calmly awaited handover to the Hong Kong police.
By all accounts, the Battalion enjoyed their three-month experience of Hong Kong and made particularly good use of their rest and recuperation leave from Osborn Barracks, Kowloon.
With their duties finally completed, 1 PARA returned home in early May 1980, after apprehending over 2,600 illegal immigrants during their tour.