THE SHANGHAI DEFENCE FORCE CMP 1927-1938
DAPM LT D S HARVEY, SCOTS GUARDS
LONDON GAZETTE 33363, PAGE 1580, 6/3/28
Commands and Staff.
The undermentioned temporary appointment is made:-
DEP ASST PRO MARSHAL (Cl FF) - Lt D. S. HARVEY. S G’DS. 28th FEB 1928 .
LONDON GAZETTE 33599, PAGE 2560, 22/4/30.
Commands & Staff.
Lt. D. S. HARVEY, S. G’DS DEP. ASST. PROV. MARSHAL (Cl FF), CHINA (TEMP). 25th FEB 1930.
The information below was obtained by Major R A J Tyler MBE RMP.
Letter to Major Tyler from T/Capt Douglas S Harvey, Scots Guards. Date not known.
In February 1927 we left Mytchett to board the SS Assaye (Ex P & O) at Southampton. Also on board were the 1st Battalion the Green Howards and a Field Ambulance of the RAMC, including 7 Nurses.
Due to very bad weather we were the only ship to sail from England on that day. We were hove to in the Bay of Biscay for two days. Much sea sickness on board.
My command consisted of one Provost Company consisting of one troop MMP and two sections of MFP. My senior nco’s were RSM Burroughs, MMP., Sgt Harrison, MFP and Sgt Lewis MFP. In addition I had two clerks, MFP and one driver from the RASC.
During coaling at PORT SAID and COLOMBO we had “Show the flag” marches through the two cities. Seven weeks after we left England we disembarked at SHANGHAI. On arrival we were billeted in an old hotel but shortly afterwards we set up three “stations” at strategic parts of the city. We were provided with Triumph motorcycles for myself and members of the MMP. Our General demanded that we wear spurs at all times. (This was a little awkward when the spurs hit cycles!). Shortly after arrival I obtained permission to attach men from other regiments stationed in the city. This brought my strength up to nearly 200 men. Owing to various nasty incidents between our forces and the US Navy, mainly due to much higher pay for US personnel frequent fights took place in bars and dance halls. Plus the fact that the frequent use of the word “Limey” by USN was a further cause of trouble. Things got so bad that I applied to the US Marine Regiment for permission to make all our patrols consist of two MP’s and 2 US Marine Police. This really worked out well as the US Marine Corps were without canteens (my three were open 24 hours a day); there was a rush of volunteers from the USMC to be attached to our own units. Our bar profits rose at tremendous pace and we never had a case of drunkenness at all.
CASUALTIES: Two nco’s (MFP) stabbed to death in nightclubs by foreign (European sailors).
DISCIPLINE: One L/Cpl MFP found drunk in a brothel (out of bounds), revolver and belt lying on the floor - transferred as a Pte. to a line regiment the next day. We, with the help of the Shanghai Municipal Police started a series of brothels which would be in bounds to our troops. These were identified by a broad WD arrow painted over the entrances. They were inspected daily by an officer of the RAMC. This plan was highly successful in reducing the number of VD cases in the Defence Force. I had to attach two men of the Provost Company to the foreign prison, the service section being under my jurisdiction.
In 1928 I had the pre- war blue and red caps made for my nco’s and men successfully as two guards battalions wore their blue forage caps and it was, I think a good identification plus matter of pride. A detachment of MP’s attended several funeral processions of men who had been killed in the line of duty.
I fear this is about the most I can tell you of my tour of duty with the now Royal Corps. I shall always be proud to have had the honour to have been able to command a great body of fine soldiers and as well, very fine men. In about two weeks I will send you two copies of the only photographs I can lay my hands on. I have the originals so do not trouble to return them.
Douglas S Harvey
Formerly T/Capt Scots Guards.
THE BEST TURNOUT COMPETITION HELD IN SHANGHAI IN 1928.
THE JUDGES WERE CAPT G GLOVER, ROYAL MARINES AND RQMS A BARRIE, SCOTS GUARDS. THE WINNER ON THE RIGHT OF THE PHOTOGRAPH WAS
CPL TYRELL, MMP.
Letter to Maj R A J Tyler, MBE, RMP from In- Pensioner William Leslie, No.239 Royal Hospital Chelsea, London dated 3rd September 1973. (thought to be P/15330 L/Cpl W Leslie, MFP).
I am writing to thank you for your letter to me dated 24th August and must answer your letter by informing you that I passed your previous letter to In- Pensioner Cannings to read and for a decision to write to you or not to write; sorry I received no definite answer. Sorry I have to mention that In Pensioner L Guy died on the 24th August aged 88 years.
Now I will try to get going on the Shanghai Defence Force. It all started at the Depot at Mychett sometime in January 1927. There were about 30 of us in the draft with two officers, a Major Jervis, Essex Regiment as DPM and Capt Harvey, Scots Guards as DAPM. We left Mychett headed by pipers of the Scots Guards to the railway station to entrain for Southampton where we embarked on the SS Assaye (troop ship). All went well until we entered the open sea where the weather became very rough. The next day saw us trying to make headway between the Atlantic rollers; each time the bow struck a roller the ship boomed like a giant drum then occasionally there would be a tremble through the ship as the propellor came out of the water and the ship was in sorry state as so many men were sick. This situation remained until we arrived in the Mediterranean Sea when our seamanship got back to normal and the ship’s rounds of inspection became the norm. Good progress was made from here to Aden via Suez and the Red Sea, then on into the Indian Ocean.
On the first night here some of the senior nco’s stayed up a little late gambling and drinking in the saloon on the upper deck. A Farrier Quartermaster Sergeant was said to have lost his all in the game and was seen to climb through a port hole. Whoever saw him thought that the man had gone overboard and ran to the ship’s bridge to warn the officer on duty of the incident. The officer threw two lifebuoys into the sea, the calcium flares immediately lit up the sea, the ship’s engines were put into reverse to slow down the ship. This action brought everyone on deck and most of them gathered on one side of the ship, causing the ship to lean over somewhat. The ship’s crew got to shouting “even yourselves out, go over to the other side”. Whilst this was going on the ship was making a circle around the buoys looking for the man overboard. Presently order was restored when it was learned that the Quartermaster Sergeant was in fact lying on the deck. I have forgotten his name but I believe he was disembarked at Hong Kong. What happened to him I am not sure. Some said he was mad and sent to hospital, others said he was Court Martialled. After this we sailed merrily on to Colombo where we disembarked for exercise and had a good march along the beach. Afterwards we were allowed to visit a canteen of the Royal Garrison Artillery, here we learned that the day before a gunner had been killed by lightning striking a gun. Later in the day we continued our journey and eventually passed down the Straits of Malay and so on to Singapore where the ship docked for a few days. Here we were allowed ashore in a party for the purpose of exercise. Next day we got on our uneventful journey to our next port of call Hong Kong where we stayed two days. All I remember of that two days was a frequent trip to the Navy’s canteen on the waterfront and a couple of trips to Kowloon by the Dollar Steamer Ferry. From here we sailed away to our final destination Shanghai where we docked at the Wayside Wharf where we disembarked and marched to the Palace Hotel annex which was to be our Headquarters. During my stay at the Hotel I had to perform duty at the gate. At about 10am one morning I saw a rickshaw being drawn by a Chinaman and in it was another man and a large sack full of something. I stopped the rickshaw and examined the contents of the bag and discovered that it contained stolen bacon etc. from our own cookhouse. I arrested the man in the rickshaw and handed him over the Shanghai Municipal Police. He came up for trial a few days later. When I went to court for the case I was giving my evidence through an interpreter when one of our small planes passed overhead, the proceedings stopped and the interpreter told me “We must wait until the plane went away, for the Magistrate could not hear the evidence. Presently the plane flew off and the prisoner was sentenced to four days in Ward Road Jail. Shortly afterwards I was posted to the Border Regiment who had opened a control post on the perimeter of the settlement at a point at one end of Edward VII Avenue and facing the front of Nanyang University, here I was to work with the sentry. My work was to frisk all Chinese coming into the Settlement from this direction. I held this job for 10 days without being relieved even for a walk anywhere. One day two students came to the post and of course I wanted to frisk them. They refused to have anybody handling them and so I denied them free passage and they returned from whence they came. The next day I frisked a well dressed Chinaman and found an automatic pistol. I retained the weapon and allowed him to go on his way. During the afternoon a Major Sandeman of the Border Regiment came to me asking questions about two Chinese gentlemen being refused free passage and was I on duty that day and when I said that I was he said, “These are gentlemen of China.” I replied that I was a gentleman of England. The following day Captain Harvey came to visit me and told me about Major Sandeman’s talk with me, I gave him my version of the incident and after this he said, “Don’t let it trouble you Leslie, you will finish with this post at the weekend and the other gent you took the pistol off is in fact a detective of the Shanghai Police and all is well and understood.” Well I returned at the weekend where I went into a newly constructed camp which was our headquarters for the whole of our stay in the city. Now comes the problem of opening detachments at different points in the city, so to make us up to strength we had a number of men from other units, then some of our Lance Corporals were promoted and detachments opened at points in the city. Myself and others were sent to be billeted at a civil police station between Woosung Road Broadway and Garden Bridge area under Squadron Sergeant Major Telfer, MMP. There were no horses in Shanghai so the mounted did duty with the MFP or the attached men. Our duties were purely military. In this area there was a brothel in every house on one side of the street, the name of the street was Talloue Leiu (Tallow Street) and the signs over the doors carried a broad WD arrow and YES. The first aid centre was controlled by a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps.
One night in the middle of June 1927 I paraded twelve men for duty in our area. A L/Cpl Richardson and Guardsman Driver of the Coldstream Guards were to patrol N Segahan Road Bange Road and part of Woosung Road. Here they had occasion to visit the Black Cat Cafe where a quarrel had broken out between the Durham Light Infantry and the men of the Gloucestershire Regiment and somehow some sailors of the Portuguese man of war, Adarman, got mixed up with the trouble so L/Cpl Richardson and Guardsman Driver were called to the cafe. L/Cpl Richardson went up the stairs first followed by Guardsman Driver. When they were halfway up one or more of the Portuguese sailors followed behind and with a utility razor blade type weapon slashed Driver’s back from the right shoulder across and down to the left kidney. Who took him to hospital I never knew. Now when I was on my way to visit Richardson and Driver I came across a Private in the Durham Light Infantry who was drunk so I arrested him and on the way to Headquarter Guard Room he told me of the trouble at the cafe. I hurried back to see the patrol and for a while I could find no one. Upon walking into Runge Road I met L/Cpl Richardson, he seemed dazed and a little frightened. When I asked what he was doing by himself he then told me about the trouble. I sent him back to our billet and enlisted the services of the Civil Police and used their telephone to phone the Country Club where I knew I could find Major Jarvis. He got on the phone to all the hospitals and at last he found Guardsman Driver. He was on the operating table when he died. He was buried at Hung Johow Cemetery and the men who did the slashing were never found and nothing of importance came out of the enquiry. Driver was a Yorkshire lad and at the time it was said that he was the sole support of his widowed mother.
After this nothing of importance came our way other than plenty of the usual troubles of soldiers until about October 1928 when Captain Harvey made himself busy in forming an amateur dramatic club among the Military Police and some of the attached men, we all set into training to produce a pantomime, the title of which was Peter Pan. We practised for over two months and the play took place in a very large theatre and ran for 7 days. We played to full houses. The local press were very loud in its praise for our acting. The North China Daily Press News wrote of our performance as being the real thing, yet unknown to most people the bottles the Pirates kept lifting did contain drops of the real stuff. Peter Pan was a real beauty, sweet 17 and the daughter of a VIP. Her name was Desire Wolf. The Saturday night at the last performance the audience made the theatre ring with applause. We were all given a very special dinner after close down, who gave it I do not know but I think the Women’s Voluntary Service was one branch. The show was given in aid of charity but which charity I do not know. One Sunday in January 1929 we embarked at Wayside Wharf on the SS Balahomphan (troop ship) for home. After the Black Cat incident another piece of equipment was added to our armoury for general use, the baton. It was twice the length of an ordinary policeman’s baton and regulations said it would be carried in the left hand so as not to interfere with the saluting of the right arm.
When we were all aboard we cast off and got on our way for England. We had fine weather most of the way to Hong Kong and passed the area of the infamous Bias Bay and its population of Chinese Pirates. At one time British Troops used to travel on the coastal going ships as guards against these pirates coming aboard as passengers and then when out at sea would take over the ship and rob the passengers and cargo. In some instances our Navy used to take a hand by landing ashore and burning their villages.
On arriving at Hong Kong we disembarked for our usual march round for exercise, then on we go to Singapore where we do the same again. Then on to Ceylon to take on water etc and walk around. Up to now nothing but fine weather, good going all the way across the Indian Ocean to Aden and on through the Suez Canal to Port Said with another walk. Finally we set off for Gibraltar and then head for Southampton. About one day’s travel past the Rock we sailed into calm seas with plenty of fog. The sea was like glass, except that it was heaving up and down without breaking into waves. On looking forward into the fog from the bow of the ship I saw to my horror another ship pass directly across our bow. The officer on the bridge saw it too, the engines of our ship were put into reverse to slow us down and for the whole day the siren was sounded at very close intervals.
However nothing happened to impede our progress to Southampton where we arrived in the month of March during the coldest of winters. There was so much frost that most of the plumbing in Aldershot was out of action and open ground toilets was the order of the day.
So after a month’s leave at home in Stoke on Trent I was reposted to Woolwich and from there to Devonport and then to Shoeburyness. On the 5th January 1934 I finished my time in the army and was retired on pension.
During my service in Shanghai no member of the Military Police was awarded medals.
The DAPM Capt D S Harvey, Scots Guards attending the funeral of Guardsman Driver, Coldstream Guards at Hung Johow Cemetery June 1927
CMP NCO’s at the graveside of Guardsman Driver, Coldstream Guards,attached to CMP.
FOUR LETTERS OBTAINED BY MAJ R A J TYLER MBE FROM MR J C KINDER, 50 VINE ROAD, STOKE POGES, NR SLOUGH, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE. all originals sent to Mr A M Paul, 9 Jade House, 47-C Stubbs Road, Hong Kong.
Letter One dated 3rd July 1974.
I left Hong Kong on 29th July 1936, to join my detachment of Military Foot Police in Shanghai, North China.
The ship I travelled on, carried an armed patrol behind a locked iron grill to protect the ship from Piracy on the high seas. Piracy was prevalent in the China Sea. We called at Swatow and Amoy, I was dressed in civilian clothes and carried a passport, but I did not go ashore at either of these Ports.
The trip was uneventful, but the stowage part of the ship was packed to capacity with every kind of poverty and misery which could be imposed on mankind. The ship docked at Hunters Wharf, Hongkew, Japanese concession. We were taken by lorry to our barracks at Mohawk Road, Shanghai. Our billets were immediately over the racing stables and faced Shanghai Race Course. The walls were very thick and it was said to have been built against typhoon weather. As we looked from the verandah of our barrack room, we could see Nanking Bubbling Well Road. It was a modern very busy road and carried three or four streams of traffic, which included an Electric Tramway of the Shanghai Municipal Tramways. Rickshaws and bicycles helped to multiply the road and it was packed to capacity. The traffic was controlled by an overhead traffic box, controlled by lights. This traffic box was destroyed by a bomb in 1937 and the body of the Controller was never found.
I had to go through the usual procedure of a medical inspection. I had injections against Cholera and Smallpox.
I went to our HQ in Tiffeng Road. Our tiny garrison was commanded by Brigadier Telford-Smollet his ADC was Captain Ritchie of the Black Watch. Our Commanding officer was Captain Leamy, Lancashire Fusiliers, he was the Garrison Adjutant and was soon to be replaced by Captain Cole, who was seconded from the West African Rifles to be Garrison Adjutant, Shanghai.
Captain Cole was a true soldier, one whom you could look up to as a Commanding Officer. He was a keen sportsman, and an international rugby player.
Our Garrison comprised one battalion the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment “Odds and Sods” of departmental units ie. RAMC, RASC, Royal Corps of Signals, MP Staff Corps and our detachment of nine Military Foot Police which was made up of one Sergeant, one Corporal and seven Lance Corporals. Incidentally our Sergeant was my son John’s Godfather.
The French had a unit in the French Concession, but the French Gendarmes policed the French Concession, putting special emphasis on their “Riot Squad”, who considered that nothing was too ruthless in suppressing trouble and in keeping Law and Order.
There was also the 4th Battalion of the American Marine Corps, who were stationed in Shanghai as part of the Shanghai Defence Force of the International Settlement. The men who made up this unit were of exceptional physique, smartly dressed - a very well trained unit who enforced discipline to the utmost degree. The men were fearless and dedicated, and often came to our assistance in “ Blood Alley” - “Rue Chu Poa San”, known to us as Cabaret Street in the French Concession.From then on China and Japan were at war without any declaration.
We also had four flat bottom gunboats of the “Bee Class” they were on the Anti-Piracy patrol up the Yangtse Gorges. They were HMS Gnat - Bee - Cockchafer and the Ladybird. Members of these gunboat crews used our Sergeants Mess whenever they were ashore.
One of the last of the armed ships in Shanghai in early 1936, was the Japanese four funnel Ironclad Battleship “The Idzuma”. She was originally a Russian Battleship, captured from the Russians in the war between Russia and Japan in 1905. This ship was tied up to the quay wall at Hongkew - Japanese Concession and they did provide a Japanese Naval Landing Party, which took up a position at the Garden City Bridge which was the only entrance to the Yangtsepoo Valley. The Naval Landing Party was a Selection Force. They were a smart body of men, and very well turned out, but beneath the pretended politeness and charm lay a deep rooted hate for all foreigners. Their high cheek bones and slant eyes often betrayed their treachery and sadism, which later on this story will prove over and over again.
Our Garrison Adjutant Captain Cole, married a lady connected with the British American Tobacco Company (known to us as BAT).
Our duties in the International Settlement were very varied. We provided Police Patrols for the Bubbling Well and Nanking Road, to the Bund. The Bund ran parallel to the riverfront into the French Concession. Another patrol was provided for Joffre Avenue, the Rue Du Moulin, and the famous Rue Chu Poa San (known to us as Cabaret Street and Blood Alley).
We also provided an armed escort for the officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps, who drew money from the bank to pay the hospital personnel. Our Police Patrol also included duties at the Clandidrome in the French Concession, where International Boxing Matches and Hai Ali (a basket handball game) was played. Our patrols also helped to police races at Shanghai Race Course, and once at the British Searchlight Tattoo I almost ran into trouble at a turnstile. At this Tattoo a Japanese business man presented an admission ticket on a Thursday night, but it was dated for the performance on the previous Tuesday. I would not allow him in on this out-dated ticket and it resulted in a very excited argument and coupled with the language barrier could have resulted in an ugly scene, but I still would not let him in on his old ticket. An Inspector of the Shanghai Municipal Police came to my assistance, this Jap paid for his admission, but as he walked away he said “I will remember you”, (When hostilities broke out in 1937 I always bore his words in mind).
Our duties were mainly by night, three patrols consisting of one NCO of the Military Foot Police, and a Regimental Policeman of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Nearly all the NCO’s attached to us belonged to the Regimental Boxing Team and they were able to protect themselves under ordinary conditions. We were armed with a loaded .38 pistol and carried a riot baton. There was one NCO who was Night Orderly Sergeant, who paraded and inspected the night duties. He was responsible for all entries in the “Daily Occurrence Book”. This book was taken to our HQ daily. There was also an army lorry and four NCO’s in reserve, who answered all calls for help from any patrol.
One other NCO role was that of Mess Caterer for which we all took turns for the duration of one month. Stocks were checked daily against the money in the till by our Sergeant in charge. The other NCO was employed as a Clerk for rations and pay at our HQ office. Our duties were hard and hazardous, and together with helping control our unofficial brothel at No. 5F in Bubbling Well Road near the Union Jack Club, the strength of the detachment was stretched to capacity.
There was never a dull moment, but still we did find time to relax occasionally.
I made friends with a family from Yorkshire, who were employed by the Paton and Baldwin’s Wool Mills, located in the Yangtsepoo Valley. They had a skittle alley where I spent many happy hours with this family. The trade mark for the Wool Mills was the “Beehive”.
I did a year’s hard work under very trying conditions, and when it appeared in orders, for any NCO of our detachment who wished to go on a health cruise to our Naval Base for North China Fleet at Wei Hai Wei I applied for it and was accepted and embarked on HMS Adventure, a minelaying warship which carried many mines and a naval 6” gun forward. This was about the last day in July.
You have the gist of my visit to Wei Hai Wei, but I shall repeat it in my next letter so will keep the story as it happened.
Your items 1 to 7 will be sent to you, as they only happened after 13th August 1937. There will be an account of an Italian Warship called the “Monticuculo” who steamed into Warship Row. They brought with this ship a Battalion of “Italian Savoy Grenadiers” from Abyssinia.
Letter Two dated 17th July 1974.
Early in August 1937 I embarked on HMS Adventure a minelayer on a health cruise to Wei hai Wei, North China This was the HQ of our Naval HQ for the North China Fleet.
We were joined by several Cruisers, one aircraft carrier, and the parent ship for our Submarines. I went on a torpedo exercise on H M Submarine “Odin” and I was alright while she was tied to the parent ship. As we sailed away from her the “Alarm Bells” rang and the order came for “Diving Stations” and “Close all watertight doors”. I had butterflies in my stomach as this submarine dived to the depth of 120 feet - Torpedoes were fired, and when the order was given to “Blow all tanks and prepare to surface”, I was very relieved. I saw this submarine fire its gunnery practice.
We used to go to the rifle range, for rifle practice and could see our planes bomb imaginary targets at sea.
There was a Naval Canteen on the island of Wei Hai Wei, capable of seating at least 1,200 Naval Ratings. I have never seen so many pints of beer consumed at one session before! We were able to buy chickens and fresh fruit very cheaply.
I was taken ill with Beri-Beri and lay sweating under a mosquito net for three days. The Commanding Officer of the Naval Sick Quarters, Commander Shaw, told me that bombs had been dropped on the International Settlement in Shanghai, on 13th August, 1937 by the Japanese.
I left hospital and was ashore when we could see the recall flag flying from the ship. As we returned to HMS Adventure I got closed up with the crew of a 6” gun - I was scared stiff! A Japanese cruiser named “ The Kumo” was anchored close by, and Japanese planes buzzed our ship.
It was known that supplies from this Japanese Warship had been sent to the mainland. The Chinese Guerrillas met this column and they blew up the front and rear of it. There were no survivors. The Japanese cruisers sailed away during the night.
On my last visit to the mainland, I came across a troop of British Boy Scouts who were on holiday under canvas. They were in the care of a man named Silvers and their food supplies were very low. When I returned to the ship I asked to see the Captain, I explained their circumstances and they were given supplies to last them until they returned to Shanghai.
Our warships dispersed and HMS Adventure had to leave me behind. I returned to Shanghai on HMS Diana, a destroyer which called at Tsingtoa and Chefoo.
As we neared Shanghai there were many Japanese Warships and Troopships anchored in the Whangpoo River. The Warships were shelling hell out of the Yangtsepoo Valley. I could see the flag and gun positions of the Japanese Artillery. I could also see that the Wool Mills of Paton & Baldwins had been hit.
The shrapnel and stray bullets were flying and the commander of HMS Diana ordered everybody who had no duties on the upper deck to go below..
We finally arrived back in Shanghai early September 1937 We had left a peaceful city a few weeks before, which now looked a shambles, sandbags and barbed wire everywhere.
The Cathay Hotel had been hit at the end of Nanking Road near the Bund, the British Military Hospital had been damaged and a temporary hospital had been opened at the Country Club in Bubbling Well Road.
On the 3rd October 1937 I was taken ill with Amoebic Dysentery. The treatment was drastic,consisting of twelve injections of emmatine and three days on Starvusol tablets. This was only a temporary hospital and there were only three toilets for thirty patients suffering from Dysentery. We got so sore with this disease that we had to use cotton wool as toilet paper. We also had a Cholera scare. A soldier was suspected of having this disease and was isolated. A Sister passed through our ward to his, she was dressed in a white sterile gown, mask and white cap, she looked like someone who had dropped in from outer space. Anyway he was eventually found to be free of Cholera. As we lay sick in this temporary hospital the explosion of bombs and shells was getting nearer and nearer to the International Settlement. I saw the apprehensive look on our Ward Sister’s face. I am sure she was not the only one who was scared.
When I was discharged from hospital, I was sent on outpost duty at Jessfield Park, near the North Station and a Japanese Mill called the Teyada Mill, it had practically been destroyed by bombs from the Chinese planes.
There was a patrol of the 19th Chinese Route Army stationed on a bridge which stretched across the Creek near North Station. We helped to control the influx of refugees streaming into the International Settlement. These Chinese Guards were very ruthless. A man in civilian clothes had his army number on his vest, he was shot as a deserter from the Chinese Army. Another civilian had some copper wire in his basket, as it was thought to have belonged to Chinese Army Telephone Communications he too was shot without trial. A Japanese pilot had baled out.and his bloated body floated down the stream, no one however took the least bit of notice of him.
The members of this Chinese Outpost were well armed and all carried German Potato Masher hand grenades.
A high ranking Japanese Naval Officer by the name of Suetsugo came to Jessfield Park Camp for a conference with Brigadier Telfer-Smollet. He had a naval guard who had submachine guns across their crooked arms.
On my last night on this outpost I saw the entire outer rim of the International Settlement ringed with fires.
When I returned to Mohawk Road Bund I was detailed to meet our reinforcements who came from Hong Kong on our County Class Cruiser HMS Cumberland (she was an 8” Gun Cruiser). The reinforcements were the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and the Royal Ulster Rifles. We marched up the Nanking Bubbling Well Road and the parade was headed by four mounted Sikhs carrying Lances with their pennants flying..
I felt very proud as I heard the band and drums of these units, but deep down in my heart I knew if the International Settlement was attacked, we hadn’t a hope in hell of getting out. We were trapped between the 19th Chinese Route Army and the Japanese Army and the Pacific Fleet. We had no air cover or artillery.
An Italian warship named the Monticucolo sailed into Shanghai and brought with it the Italian Savoyia Grenadiers and a gun boat called the “Lepanto”. This Italian unit had come from Abyssinia. The Monticucolo anchored in the river which was called Warship Row. It comprised HMS Cumberland, and the Augustus, an American Warship. The French had a warship as well and near Hunter’s Wharf lay the Japanese Ironclad the “Idzuma”.
The Chinese sank a ship which served as a boom and all traffic to the north by water was stopped.
This battalion of Savoyia Grenadiers were a smart, well dressed unit. I saw them once on a march in the Settlement. They dismantled their machine guns and they carried the parts on their backs.
An International Football Match was played on the recreation ground within the Shanghai racecourse between the Savoyia Grenadiers and the Shanghai Municipal Police. The game seemed to be getting rough and an officer of the Italian Grenadiers went on to the pitch, blew his whistle, formed up the Italian team and marched them off. This probably saved an international incident. It was obvious that the Italian unit was well disciplined, whatever their fighting qualities.
A film of the Abyssinian war was shown in Hongkew. A fight ensued between the crew of the Italian Gunboat Lepanto and a British soldier was injured and taken to hospital. The Italians sent flowers and chocolates to this soldier but they were not accepted, nor were members of the crew allowed to see him.
The soldiers of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment were confined to barracks after this incident. I knew there would be a clash and there was. It took place in Cabaret Street (Rue Hu Poa San. “Blood Alley”). We got a telephone call from our patrol and we took all available NCO’s to the scene. The French Riot Police were quick to take action. They sealed both ends of the street with their riot vans. By the time we arrived, some of the Cabaret’s looked like a miniature battlefield, but with the help of the American Marine Police and their Naval Pickets, order was soon restored.
As the incident between the Japanese and Chinese drew to a close, we were confined to barracks. We sat on the verandah of our barrack room drinking beer and playing mahjong. Shells were fired over the settlement from North Station into Pootung. We were able to see bombs falling from Japanese planes in Pootung, followed by black clouds of smoke. The North Station had been destroyed so our last line of escape into China had been cut.
Two Chinese planes came down the river every night at about 10.30pm they were trying to bomb the Japanese troopships and warships (the “Idzuma” in particular). Every Japanese warship opened fire with guns and pom-pom, and it was just like “Hell let loose”. Star shells, incendiary bombs and tracer bullets lit up the area for miles, however no ships were hit. This incident gave me an insight of what aerial bombardment was like and a foretaste of the bombardment of London, Southampton and Portsmouth which took place between 1940-1942.
There are about three more instalments which will cover:-
1. The mine floated from Pootung to sink the “Idzuma”.
2. The doomed Battalion.
3. Release of all prisoners from Ward Road Goal, and the attempted execution of a policeman (the rope broke).
4. The Japanese victory march.
Letter three date 24th July 1974.
The Japanese planes came over our billets just over roof top height. They were in flights of nine and were heading towards Chappai where the “Doomed Battalion” were holding out from a Go-Down on the Soochow Creek.
A soldier of the Royal Ulster Rifles had been killed by a stray shell landing on a Cabaret in the Jessfield Park Area (This cabaret was called The Happyland). He was given an International funeral. The Japs were not allowed to attend, nor was their floral gift accepted. It was a very impressive scene and muffled sobs could be heard from parts of the huge crowd.
Another of our soldiers hired a Sampan and rode backwards and forwards on the Whampoo River. He eventually jumped overboard and committed suicide. He must have taken quite a time to make up his mind as we found about forty cigarette ends in the bottom of this Sampan. The river police said his body would rise to the surface in thirty hours. It did, almost to the minute.
I went to a Masonic Lodge at the beautiful temple which was said to have been donated by Sir Victor Sassoon. The Vienna Lodge of the Austrian Constitution was meeting. The Anschluss had taken place between Germany and Austria. The worshipful master of this lodge had genuine tears streaming down his face as he said “Herr Hitler” had banned “Freemasonry”.
Meetings were held later under the heading of “A musical evening”. This Masonic Temple was a large one and several lodges could be held at the same time.
There was a large cinema in the Nanking Road, it was beautifully air conditioned and had red velvet seating. A flash came on the screen one night, “ In the event of any bombs being dropped will all patrons please keep to their seats.” I was very amused by this.
That same night we patrolled Nanking Road and wore steel helmets. An Indian barber who used to ply his trade at the Military Hospital began poking fun at our headdress. The usual two planes came down the river to bomb the Japanese warship, the Japs opened up with their anti-aircraft fire. This Indian barber was hit in the forehead by a piece of shrapnel (poetic justice).
When these two plane raids were on, the Chinese forces in Pootung tried to float a high explosive mine across the river hoping to hit the Japanese Ironclad “Idzuma”, it missed and hit the quay wall.
The end of hostilities was drawing to a close and all civilian prisoners were released from Ward Road Jail. This included an Indian member of the Shanghai Municipal Police who was sentenced to death for the murder of his wife. The rope broke (it may have been engineered in prison). He was eventually returned to finish his sentence in India.
The employee overseers of Paton & Baldwins Mills were brought into the Settlement from the Yangtsepoo Valley and were in digs near Mohawk Road. It was pathetic to see them in these surrounding after their lovely living quarters at the wool mills. We patrolled the road from Yu Ya Ching Road to the British Sector which was held by the Royal Welsh Fusilier. It was here that the “Doomed Battalion” were holding out and they said they would hold out to the last man. The Japanese soldiers were seizing and towing away all San Pans, Houseboats and little boats of all descriptions. This was a prelim to the final assault. We watched all this but there was nothing we could do.
As we stood on the roof of our billet we could hear the explosions, rifle and machinegun fire from Soochow Creek. Farewell letters had been given to our soldiers to post on to relatives.
A huge balloon was inflated in Hongkew, Japanese concession, it showed large writing in Chinese asking them to surrender. Leaflets were dropped from Japanese planes in red and yellow on a white background showing the burning of Chinese soldiers saying that they were tired of burning Chinese Soldiers. Hundreds of these leaflets drifted into the International Settlement.
The main force of the “Doomed Battalion” escaped and a few managed to cut their way into the British Sector. They had to cross a bridge and the Japs switched on a searchlight as survivors were crossing but the light was shot out by rifle fire. The numbers who escaped from this “Doomed Battalion” were interned in the French Concession. It was found during ablutions that half of those survivors were women. When the Japs got into the Godown they found nothing. The main Chinese Route Army had escaped and the place went up in smoke.
Letter four 12th August 1974.
After the “Doomed Battalion” surrendered, it was very quiet in the International Settlement but the Japanese made it very plain that they intended to have a victory parade march in Shanghai despite very strong protests from the International Settlement powers. This march took place down the Nanking Bubbling Well Road. The column had anti-aircraft guns and machine guns mounted on lorries and motor cycle combinations ready for instant action.
To my mind the Japanese Force looked like the “Rag and Bobtail” roughs and scruffs of the universe, but what they lacked in smartness and physique they made up for in brutality and barbarity.
The Nanking road was packed with Japanese civilians waving Japanese flags and they were almost hysterical shouting Banzai and Bushido. The Chinese civilians were stunned and silent. Still they were defiant and it only wanted a tiny spark to start a “Blood Bath”.
As the column passed our billet I was horrified to see a British soldier dressed in blue patrol uniform trying to approach an armed rear guard of the Japanese column. These sentries looked trigger happy and with the help of a Pekinese member of the Shanghai Municipal Police we went and grabbed him and pushed him over the wall of the Shanghai Race Course. So after 77 days of siege between the 19th Chinese Route Army and the Japanese army and units of the Pacific Fleet, life returned to normal.
I went to the military hospital in Shanghai every Friday to escort an officer of the RAMC with cash drawn from the Bank. It was usually Captain Barclay that I met. I was armed and carried a riot baton. I felt very sad when I read that this brave and courageous officer had been shot in Hong Kong at the Military Bower Road Hospital going to help a sister of the Queen Alexandra’s Military Imperial Nursing Service. on Christmas Eve 1941.
Early in 1938 I accompanied our Garrison Adjutant to Honkew to visit a brothel keeper who was known as the “Green Linnet”. We knew our troops were visiting this house but when we arrived she had flown. An old woman with the face like the back of a tram smash sat on top of the steps of this terraced house. Her clothing was round her neck and she hadn’t a stitch of underwear on; she said “Remember me to all your naughty boys in Shanghai”. My face must have been the colour of beetroot. We paid a visit to the roof gardens of the “Sing On Hotel” the same night, as it was also a rendezvous for homosexuals and prostitutes.
I embarked on HM Troopship Dunera at Hunters Wharf, Shanghai in November 1938. I stood on this ship’s deck as we steamed down the river and as we went past the fortress guns of Woosung Flats the tears streamed down my face, for we had to stand up to bombs, bullets and disease and yet we were unable to do anything in return.
There were two white Russian Battalions in the French Concession. I never saw them but I knew of their existence. I little thought I would be in France with the BEF eleven months later.
To show just how small the British Army was, when I left Hong Kong, Colonel Crawford Jones RAMC was in charge of the VD wards. I met him in France where he was in charge of the 13th Field Ambulance in an old brewery just outside Arras, France. I had an internal haemorrhage and he sent me to Dieppe, France and low and behold the Sister of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service was in charge of the ward, I have been in her charge on several occasions in Shanghai, North China. She said whatever are you doing in France. I still have some pleasant and tender memories of these nursing sisters of “Scarlet and Grey”.
I close this “China Chat” Mr Paul, hoping my memories will help you with your research on “Old Shanghai”.
THE BRIGADE COMMANDER, SHANGHAI DEFENCE FORCE WITH HIS STAFF. THE CAPTAIN STANDING ON THE END RIGHT BACK ROW IS THE DEPUTY PROVOST MARSHAL, AND GARRISON ADJUTANT, SHANGHAI DEFENCE FORCE, CAPTAIN R S LEAMY, LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS. HE WAS REPLACED BY CAPT COLE OF THE KING’S AFRICAN RIFLES. PHOTOGRAPH DATED 1936
“Tom” CMP Corporal, Shanghai Defence Force, Shanghai 1936, dressed in khaki drill.
photograph is printed in reverse, armband on wrong arm.
note his pagri flash gold wire letters MP on a scarlet blue diagonal square.