The earliest graves in Stanley Military Cemetery date to 1843, when disease took a high toll of European settlers. A large number of graves, however, date to the early 1940s. These are testimony to the large number of personnel who died in the fight for Hong Kong and during subsequent internment at the hands of the occupying Japanese forces. Stanley was the last line of defence in the fight for Hong Kong, in December 1941. The cemetery contains 691 burials: 37 Navy, 467 Army, 3 Air Force, 23 Merchant Navy, 98 civilian internees and 41 other civilians (including 39 of the British Army Aid Group, captured and executed, owing to their operations in Japanese held territory in China to collect military intelligence, help the escape of American airmen shot down over Japanese held territory, facilitate escapes from and get medical supplies to prisoner of war camps).