英軍迅速潰敗，兵力不足固然是原因之一，士氣低落亦不無關係。對於淪陷前夕英軍的心情，項美麗後來的丈夫，當年駐港英軍的情報主管 Charles Boxer 如是說：
Hong Kong is the dumping ground for the duds ...including me...I went to my office and took a clean sheet of paper and wrote the word “Secret” at the top. After lunch I shall probably go back and add the word “Very”... the day of the white man is done out there ... we're finished and we know it. All this is exactly like the merriment of Rome before the great fall.
Hong Kong was full of government servants who behaved like kings, sitting as they did on that heap of coolie of labor. Remember that. And then, all of a sudden, this! This indignity, this swoop back through the generations to a level of existence which none of them could image. Why, for most of those people just going home to England called for a terrific readjustment. Yet now within the space of a few hours they had been shoved into the life of an oriental jail. They were being treated like coolie malefactors.
Sir Atholl MacGregor, Chief Justice, as spokesman for the British, had bagged without avail for the Peak as a camp. The Japs hemmed and hawed long enough to give him hope. It has been uncharitably suggested that Sir Atholl's real reason for his request was that his own house was on the Peak, and if the Japs had given in he would be able to see the war through in comfort, at home.
The first air raid from our own planes! Somewhere inside of me a flower burst open. It was amazing, the happiness of it... We saw a few puffs of smoke, we heard more explosions, and that was all...The raiders actually accomplished noting, except to light up our lives again and to blow the cinders of hope to roaring flames.
...The first one to come to our attention was the boastful reports that came through immediately from Allied broadcasting stations. Chinese and American pilots claimed to have destroyed the Hong Kong power station and to have left the military parts of the city in flames. This wasn't true. Whatever the planes did accomplish, we didn't see any signs of it...We heard the Japanese laugh at the Allies for their lies, and we knew the laughter was justified, and we were ashamed. Until then we had thought only Axis people lied and boasted.
“How did it look from the ground, Mickey?” he asked. “I was in one of those bombers, you know. I waved to you; did you see me?”
“It looked lousy,” I said emphatically. “You didn't hit a damn thing except some civilians. I can't tell you how awful it was, listening to those crazy reports afterward.”
...“But honest, Mickey,” Teddy pleaded, “it looked as if we hit everything in the world. It looked fine, it looked swell!”