My Dad the U.S. China Marine

My Dad the U.S. China Marine

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New York Times: Manchuria Gains are Won by Chiang, November 20, 1945

Manchuria Gains are Won by Chiang: Chungking Says Government Troops Have Gone 40 Miles Beyond Shanhaikwan
New York Times: Tuesday, November 20, 1945, page 2.
By Tillman Durdin. By Wireless to the New York Times.

[Map Caption: In the region of Shanhaikwan (1) Nationalist soldiers swept to Suichung and Shihmenchai (A on inset). Suichung is half way to the port of Hulutao and a third of the way to the Communist base at Chinhsien. In the interior Chinese Reds were attacking Tatung (2), were still besieging Kweisui (3) and were reported to have captured the railroad town of Paotow (4). The Communists denied they were landing men at Dairen and Port Arthur (5), but government sources insisted such forces were crossing from the Shantung Peninsula and were landing in that area.]

CHUNGKING, China, Nov. 19 – Government troops, pouring into Manchuria through Shanhaikwan, have reached Suichung, forty miles beyond the Great Wall, Government sources revealed here today.

At the same time it was reliably reported that virtually the entire Government mission of 500 persons, sent to Changchun a month ago to take over civil and military affairs in Manchuria, was being withdrawn, and that only a small group was being left behind to maintain liaison with the Russians.

These major developments on the Manchurian scene coincided with a continued lack of improvement in Communist-Kuomintang relations, marked by comment from Communist sources here that “conditions have worsened.” Communist-Kuomintang hostilities at Kweisui, Paotow and Tatung in China’s far north and at points in southern Shansi and Honan persisted.

The report that Government troops have reached Suichung does not make clear whether the place has been captured, but indicates a good pace in the advance. The town is half way to the port of Hulutao from Shanhaikwan and a third of the way to the important Communist base at Chinhsien.

If Government troops can take Hulutao, the port would be open for American ships to shuttle more Chungking forces to Manchuria. The Government troops are operating from Chinwangtao, the base to which they were taken by United States vessels after it had been taken by American marines.

The official Central News Agency still is making no report of the Government’s Manchuria advance, but the Communist office here said the Government troops were branching out west and north of Shanhaikwan for fifteen to twenty miles.

[Government forces have fanned out to Funing, thirty miles west of Shanhaikwan, and Shihmenchai, ten miles northwest, according to Communist sources, The United Press said.]

A good part of the Chungking mission to Manchuria has already been withdrawn and the members are now in Peiping and Chungking. Following the arrival here of Gen. Hsiung Shih-hui, head of the Generalissimo’s Headquarters for the Northeast, last week the Generalissimo’s son, Chiang Ching-kuo, special diplomatic representative with the mission, returned here yesterday. Chiang Kai-ngau, head of the economic commission to Manchuria and chairman of the Changchun Railway is understood to be in Peiping on his way here.

Officials here are reticent about the withdrawal from Changchun, but it is understood to be the result of the inability of the mission to accomplish the assignment of taking over the administration of Manchuria. The reason seems to be primarily the activities of the Communists. The Russians are understood to be taking the position that they are neutral and cannot suppress Communist activity and keep Manchuria secure pending the arrival of Government forces in strength.

The presence of strong Communist forces around Changchun is understood to be a deterrent to flying in Government forces there. It is feared the Government troops would not have time to consolidate before the Russian forces pulled out, leaving the Government units facing the Communists at a disadvantage. Presumably negotiations with the Russians regarding this problem are still going on.

The schedule for the Russian withdrawal from Manchuria calls for their evacuating the Changchun area soon and all of Manchuria by the first week of December. In effect the Russians in Manchuria are declining to do for the Government what the Americans have done in north China, to garrison and hold areas against the Communists until Government troops have arrived and consolidated their control.

The Communist spokesman here charged today that the Government was trying to impose its rule on Manchuria and that the will of the people there was not being taken into consideration. He said the proper procedure would be to form a popular government in Manchuria representing all interests. He said he knew little about Communist activities in Manchuria because the Chungking Communist office was cut off from communication with Manchuria.

The Yenan Communist radio denied reports that Communist troops had landed at Dairen and Port Arthur from Shantung.

The Communist attacks on Paotow, Kweisui and Tatung are understood to be going on amid heavy snows and bitter cold. The Yenan radio denied a Chungking report that the Communist troops in Suiyuan were equipped with heavy guns “from some other source” than the Japanese. The radio said the Communists had “never received arms from any foreign country.”

Although small Communist-Kuomintang clashes continue in Shansi, Honan and northern Kiangau, a lull seems settling over these areas on conflict. In a recent clash with puppet troops at Chiehho Station on the Tientsin-Pukow railway the Communists claim they wiped out a good part of an army.

The American policy in China was criticized today by a number of speakers at a public meeting here that was attended by several hundred representatives of business and educational and Democratic party leaders. The meeting was called to protest against the civil war and there were denunciations for both the Kuomintang and Communist party.

Dr. Lo Lung-chi, one of the Democratic League leaders, who is a graduate of Columbia University, charged that American aid in support of one party against another was contributing to civil war in China.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Honolulu Advertiser: Grave World Crisis Brews in North China Nov. 18, 1945

Honolulu Advertiser: Grave World Crisis Brews in North China
Sunday Morning, November 18, 1945. Page 1 and Page 10, Col. 8.

NEW YORK, Nov. 17 (UP) –Two developments tonight emphasize the international importance of the civil strife in China.

One is the decision of Lt. Gen. Albert C. Wedermeyer, commanding general of the U.S. forces there, to take armed action against a Communist-held village in northeastern China to prevent further attacks on American marines.

The other is the resentment, so far entirely unofficial, in Chungking against the Russian course in Manchuria.

Not Local Affair

Any tendency to regard the China trouble as a local affair which can be solved by the Chinese themselves without disturbing the world picture seems to be a grave mistake.

Russia and the United States already are directly involved. Both have troops in Chinese territory, although the Russians are now pulling out fast. The United States is openly supporting Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek by every means short of actual fighting. The Russians, by negative action, are aiding the Communists in the north.

Gen. Wedermeyer’s announcement implies that United States forces soon may be drawn into the shooting.

That would be unfortunate, since it is not easy to isolate such an “incident” in a country torn by war.

Attitude Held Correct

Wedermeyer’s attitude is, of course. Technically correct.

American forces in North China have the sole avowed purpose of aiding in the disarmament and disbandment of the Japanese. If they are attacked, in the process, they must defend themselves.

Unfortunately, the Communists regard the American policy as out and out intervention and are bitter about it.

The Russian policy of non-intervention, if it can be called that, is much more subtle. The Russians like the United States have recognized and committed their support to the Chungking government. Yet the Russians are not giving their support to Chiang.

The Russians are withdrawing their troops from Manchuria in literal compliance with treaty terms, but in doing so are permitting the Chinese Communists to take vast stores of Japanese arms, munitions and supplies.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Minister of War Chen Cheng Enters Forbidden City: Nov. 18, 1945

On November 18, 1945 my father was in the Forbidden City. The photos featured here are from that day. All photos were taken by him.

One photo shows KMT troops entering the Forbidden City. Another shows Chiang Kai-shek’s Minister of War and his staff. His name, I believe, was Chen Cheng.

So far I have found very little information about him with the exception of this English-language profile on Wikipedia. I am not the fondest fan of Wikipedia, though in this case it provides a starting off place for further research. Go to this link for Chen Cheng’s biographical profile.

Chen Cheng was appointed by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-sek to serve as the Chief of the General Staff, a rank and title that sounds similar to a Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the American military. According to this source Chen implemented Chiang’s orders to attack areas controlled by the Communist Red Army. This apparently instigated the Chinese Civil War.

I have no idea yet why he was in the Forbidden City on November 18, 1945. His presence there occurred just after an incident in Chineangtao in which gunfire was exchanged between members of the 1st Marine Division and Red Army forces. No one was hurt or killed. The New York Times reported that a Communist spokesman justified the incident as necessary so long as American troops transported “Government troops” (KMT forces). The incident was reported in the November 18 edition of the New York Times. Again, I’d be interested in knowing where Chen Cheng was at the time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Antique Shanghai Pop Music 1930-1949

While surfing the Internet and iTunes I came across this interesting web site. It features popular music centered in Shanghai from 1930 to 1949. Go to this link.

The site's owner and developer say this: "However, antique Shanghai pop music has the appeal to a certain sentimentality that is not only understood through the context of history; it can be thought as a discontinued school of aesthetics, a lost craft. Thus, I truly hope that something new will be introduced when I expose the potential joy of the music."

Among a number of things I desire to learn more about what U.S. Marines like my father and the Chinese listened to in terms of music. I would imagine that American pop music of that time was available, or was it? Did it all originate in Shanghai for distribution across China? My research continues. In the meantime enjoy the music and historical commentary.

YouTube Channel and Gmail Account Created

This morning I set up a YouTube channel. The address is

In addition, I've created a special gmail address for inquiries and messages. You can still contact me at my personal account, but here is the one I set up for my research:


Jeffrey Bingham Mead

Chiang Kai-shek's Portrait on the Meridian Gate: November 18, 1945

"Peacetime Minutemen"

Excerpted from this link:

"There did remain some hostile fire for the Marines in Asia-but not in Japan. The Marines soon had to go back to China, where they had been intermittently active for decades. Whether they arrived in ships at the mouth of the Hai River or in the railway station, throngs of boisterous Chinese greeted the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines with cheers and wide grins. Children waved, laughed, and scurried about amid the novelty of seeing such large, tough-looking American troops. The 3/7 was in the vanguard of General Keller Rockey's III Amphibious Corps force of fifty thousand Marines en route to duty in war-wracked northern China.

"The first landing of Marines in China had taken place in Canton in 1844 to protect an American trading post. In 1856, Marines had led a combined navy-Marine assault on several barrier forts manned by Chinese who sought to prevent the U.S. Navy from resupplying the U.S. legation in Canton. More famously, the Marines engaged in heavy combat in Peking and Tientsin in defense of American and other foreign nationals during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. They stayed from 1900 to 1941, giving rise to the term China Marines.

"The new deployment marked a departure, for postwar North China duty was the first of many inspired by the Cold War. For the next four years ever-smaller numbers of Marines found themselves embroiled in the bizarre, highly unpredictable, and often violent landscape of China's civil strife. Sino-American diplomacy of this era was attended by more than a little naivete on the part of American policy makers, and the costs of America's well-intentioned but wrongheaded policies were paid in large measure by Rockey's force of Marines. The China deployment would come to an abrupt conclusion in May 1949 with the Marines' evacuation of American dependents in Tsingtao, just as Mao Tse-tung's troops were about to crush the remnants of Nationalist resistance and give birth to the People's Republic of China."

Friday, June 25, 2010

New York Times Nov. 19, 1945: Chinese Reds Justify Sniping at Americans

Chinese Reds Justify Sniping at Americans
New York Times: Monday, November 19, 1945
By the United Press

TIENTSIN, China, Monday, Nov. 19 –A Communist spokesman said today that Red troops would continue to disrupt military communications lines in North China and that clashes with American patrols were “regrettable and unavoidable.”

In an “unofficial interview,” the spokesman said that the attacks would continue against vital lines in the undeclared war zone as long as they were used to transport troops and supplies of the Chinese government.

He termed the “firing incident” involving Maj. Gen. Dewitt Peck, commander of the First United States Marine Division, regrettable, but said that as long as American troops continued to transport Government troops, such incidents could not be avoided.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nov. 1945: U.S. Marines Forced To Fire On Chinese As Reds Cut Rail Line

U.S. Marines Forced To Fire On Chinese As Reds Cut Rail Line
New York Times: Sunday Morning, November 18, 1945
By Richard W. Johnston

CHINWANGTAO, North China, Nov. 17 (UP) –Maj. Gen. DeWitt Peck, commander of the American 1st Marine Division, arrived here today in a reconnaissance plane after a reinforced company of his U.S. Marines had quieted harassing fire against a Leatherneck troop train stalled 25 miles southwest of here by Chinese Communists.

Gen. Peck said that the Communists and Marines exchanged scattered shots for 15 hours during the trip from Tientsin.

Twice the railroad, which is still guarded by Japanese troops, was blown up in front of the Marines train.

Peck said he had to give up the trip and accept a lift from the air sea rescue reconnaissance craft to keep a conference date in Chinwangtao.

Peck said the train got as far as Tangshan, halfway point between Tientsin and Chinwangtao, without difficulty or interruption. Six miles east of Kuyeh the train was halted by the blowing up of the roadbed.

The general said the train had hardly stopped when rifle bullets and some automatic fire began to spatter around the area.

The firing, he said, continued from shortly after daylight through “all the rest of the day.”

Marine guards returned the fire every time they saw a target.

The Communists did not score a hit, possibly because of poor marksmanship or, as peck suspected, they did not wish to wound the marines. He said he believed they only wanted to harass repair crews.

The roadbed was fixed the following day and the train got 20 miles farther before it was stalled at Lwanhsien by a blown up bridge.

The rest of the marines are still there and it looks as if the roadbed will be out one or two days more, Peck said.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Visits to Coal Hill or Jing Shan Park

One of the places in Beijing Dad enjoyed visiting was Coal Hill (Mei Shan), also called Jing Shan Park or Prospect Hill today. The photos featured here were taken on January 5, 1946.

Featured here are photos he took on one of those visits. The first is from an unknown location looking towards it. The second photo is apparently from one of the five pavilions, the ‘White Pagoda,’ the highest point on Coal Hill and, in turn, the highest point in Beijing.

The park itself that includes Coal Hill is approximately 57 acres and sits on the central point of the south-north axis.

It was opened to the public some time in 1928. The hill was created in the year 1420. Sources describe various purposes for the hill and for its location that includes guarding the Forbidden City against “evil northern spirits” according to feng shui principles.

Note the barbed wire, and to the left is a Chinese national apparently in uniform. Though it is difficult to see, off in the distance is the Forbidden City.

Coal Hill is an artificial mound located north of the Forbidden City, today known as the Palace Museum. At one time the private garden of the imperial family, my father said it was the highest hill in Beijing, and as the photos attest it offers visitors then as it does now superb views of the city.

Supposedly a coal supply was buried under the earth excavated from the moat and Behai lakes from which the hill was created. Other sources point out that coal was at one time stored at the foot of the hill.

Five pavilions were built on Coal Hill. They are each known today as Guanmiaoting (Wonderful View Pavilion); Zhoushangting (Surrounding View Pavilion); Wanchunting (Ten Thousand Spring Pavilion); Fulanting (Panoramic View Pavilion); and Jifangting (Harmonious Fragrance Pavilion). For more interesting facts and color pictures go to this link.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

October 10, 1945 Rally in New York Hails Chinese Republic

Chiang and Truman Messages Are Read-Generalissimo Pleads for Allied Unity
New York Times: Thursday, October 11, 1945.

President Chiang Kai-shek urged that the unity in war among the allied nations be continued in peace and President Truman pledged American support of China’s efforts to build a democratic nation in messages read last night at the China Friendship Day rally held at Carnegie Hall on the thirty-fourth anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China.

“We are deeply grateful for help from the American government, which has been a decisive factor in the pacific war,” President Chiang said.

“Now the days of war have ceased and days of rehabilitation and reconstruction have come. During the war the Allied armies fought as one, Allied governments planned as one, Allied peoples bore their burdens as one. In unity was strength and in strength victory. Therefore, let us now be resolved that this cooperation and brotherhood may not be things of the moment only but, in deeper measure, may characterize the days ahead so that peace as in war unity will prevail.”

President Truman’s message said the American people joined all free nations in saluting the people of China on the anniversary of the national revolution, which they could celebrate without fear of aggression for the first time in fourteen years. Declaring that the tremendous sacrifices of the Chinese had been rewarded with complete victory, he added:

“China now faces the urgent problems of reconstruction of her devastated nation, a task which will require all the inspired leadership and full cooperation of the Chinese people which have been so evident during these years of desperate struggle for survival and without which Japan’s savage aims of aggression might have succeeded.

“On behalf of the American people I take pleasure in reaffirming our abiding faith in the ability of the Chinese nation to accomplish the democratic objectives established for it by Dr. Sun Yat-sen and in pledging our assistance and support to the attainment of this end.”

Chennault Praises Chinese
Maj. Gen. Claire L. Chennault, leader of the Flying Tigers and commander of the United States Fourteenth Air Force in China until his recent retirement, reviewed the eight-year war in China, saying Japan in her attempt to conquer China had not given enough weight to the Chinese love for freedom and to her ability to endure suffering. Praising the strategy adopted in 1938 by Generalissimo Chiang of giving way in front while attacking thinly held lines of communication, he said:

“Military men of western powers have criticized this policy on many occasions, but none has suggested a better plan.”

Dr. Hu Shih, former Chinese Ambassador to the United States, author and president of the National Peking University, declared in an address that all the intellectual, social and political progress made by China since the revolution would have been lost if China had not fought the eight year war and ultimately won it.

James A. Farley was chairman of the meeting, which was sponsored by United China Relief, the China Society of America, the East and West Association and many other groups. W.R. Herold, president of the International General Electric Company, was chairman of the China Friendship Day Committee.

New York Times: Truman Hails China on National Day 1945

Special to The New York Times
October 11, 1945; page 2, column 7

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10- President Truman pledged our assistance and support to China in accomplishing the democratic objectives of Dr. Sun Yat-sen in a statement today on the thirty-fourth anniversary of the Chinese Republic.

“The American people today,” Mr. Truman said, “join the people of all free nations in saluting the people of China upon this thirty-fourth anniversary of China’s national revolution. For the first time in fourteen years China is able to celebrate the Double Tenth without fear of aggression. The tremendous sacrifices which the Chinese people have made for so long in their stirring and effective resistance to the Japanese invader have finally been rewarded in complete victory over the enemy, and the American people take pride in the decisive role played by our gallant ally in this titantic struggle for world freedom.

“With final victory in the war achieved, China now faces the urgent problems of reconstruction of her devastated nation –a task which will require all of the inspired leadership and full cooperation of the Chinese people which have been so evident during these years of desperate struggle for survival and without which Japan’s savage aims of aggression might have succeeded.

“On behalf of the American people I take pleasure in reaffirming our abiding faith in the ability of the Chinese nation to accomplish the democratic objectives established for it by Dr. Sun Yat-sen and in pledging our assistance and support to the attainment of this end.”

Monday, June 21, 2010

New York Times Oct. 7, 1945: Tianjin Surrender Signed, Japanese Officers Booed by Chinese

TIENTSIN SURRENDER SIGNED: Japanese Officers Are Booed by Chinese Crowd at Ceremony
By Wireless to the New York Times
October 7, 1945. Page 26, Col. 4.

Maj. Gen. Keller E. Rockey, commander of the United States Marines in China, formally accepted the surrender of Japanese forces in this area yesterday in behalf of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.

In the first surrender of Japanese troops in China to an American commander, Lieut. Gen. Uchida, chief of a reported 50,588 Japanese in the area, signed the documents for the foe.

The ceremony was held on the street in front of the former French Concession municipal buildings, which now serve as marine headquarters, and tends of thousands of Chinese crowded around the roped-off area and swarmed over nearby buildings to watch. The Chinese clapped as General Uchida and his staff of six walked past a marine Color Guard to the surrender table. After the signing, as the Japanese officers walked to their waiting automobiles the crowd broke into a roar of boos and hisses.

Lieut. Gen. Liu Wen-chin, deputy commander of the Eleventh North China War Area, was ranking Chinese officer present. General Sung Lien-chung, area commander, will take the surrender of the remainder of Japanese forces in North China later at Peiping.

The Japanese advised General Rockey that Captain Tajiri, ranking Japanese naval officer in the Tientsin area, had committed hara-kiri.

The disarming of the Japanese forces in the Tientsin area by the marines will start now and the Japanese will progressively be relieved of guard and patrol duties they have been performing for the last six weeks.

New York Times Picture: 1st Marines Enter Tianjin for Japanese Surrender

This is a section of a larger printed photo celebrating the 170th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Marine Corps. The clipping is in one of my father’s albums. This morning I found this same picture in the Wednesday, October 17, 1945 (page 6) edition of the New York Times.

The picture is of the 1st Marine Division marching into Tianjin (Tientsin) on September 30, 1945. On October 6 Japanese forces surrendered in that city.

The following is a New York Times story that was published on Sunday, September 30, 1945 on page 32, column 2:

U.S. Marines Land at Tientsin
TIENTSIN, China, Sunday, Sept. 30 (AP)

The veteran American First Marine Division landed today near this teeming political hotbed of North China where Chinese Nationalists and Communists have been at loggerheads.

Officially the Americans went ashore at Tientsin's harbor of Taku to help Chiang Kai-shek's troops dsarm and repatriate thousands of Japanese soldiers and civilians.

Marine and naval officers of the Seventh Amphibious Force, which brought the marines here, carefully refrained from terming the landing an occupation, pointing out that the troops were here to assist the Nationalist forces.

The Americans may get out of North China as soon as Generalissimo Chiang can get enough troops from the south to take full contgrol. But it is likely the burden of disarming the Japanese may fall on the Americans the first few months.

The Americans will take under protective custody United States nationals, property and records; liberate and care for an estimated 2,900 Allied prisoners of war and civilian internees in the Peiping-Tientsin area; keep close watch on an estimated 232,000 Chinese puppet troops north of the Yangtze and south of the Great Wall; arrest all war criminals, and feed, house and guard 200,000 or more Japanese civilians either in North China or pouring in from Russian areas and Inner and Outer Mongolia.

The marines are under the tactical command of Maj. Gen. DeWitt Peck, hero of the 1937 Shanghai Incident when he was a colonel in command of the Fourth Marine Regiment. With the division is marine Air Wing 1 under Maj. Gen. Claude A. Larkin. The overall command rests with Maj. Gen. Keller E. Rockey, commander of the Third Amphibious Corps.

Extended Stay for North China Marines

"The continued requirement for Marines in North China stemmed from two complementary causes. One was the U.S. commitment to assist the National Government in eliminating all Japanese influence from China, and the other was the overriding determination of Chiang Kai-shek to recover control of Manchuria. As a direct result of the obstructionist tactics of Soviet occupation forces, the Nationalist Army was unable to move into Manchuria with either the speed or the limited forces that had once been planned. Instead, the first-line troops which had been scheduled to relieve the Marines of repatriation and guard duties were committed to an overland advance through Shanhaikuan.

"In his capacity of chief of staff to Generalissimo Chiang, a wartime role that was dropped before the year's end, General Wedemeyer was sharply aware of the low military potential of the Nationalists. He recommended against the move in strength into Manchuria after Communist opposition developed. Instead, the American commander told Chiang that he should first consolidate his political and military hold on North China as a base of operations. Although the Central Government's armies possessed a three to one superiority in manpower over the Communists, and a considerable edge in weapons and equipment as well, Wedemeyer believed that the Nationalist forces would become overextended and increasingly vulnerable if they attempted to occupy and hold Manchuria.

"Despite General Wedemeyer's advice, the recovery of Manchuria became the focus of Chungking's military effort. The Japanese-created industrial complex and the rich agricultural resources of the area made its position seem essential to the economic well-being of postwar China. This argument lost much of its force, however, as a result of the action of the Soviet occupation army."

Read the entire article at this link.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The United States Marines in North China 1945-1949,’ by Henry I. Shaw, Jr.

While web searching I found this very interesting article posted on Air University’s web site. Air University is headquartered at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The university is “a key component of Air Education and Training Command, and is the Air Force's center for professional military education.”

The article is entitled ‘The United States Marines in North China 1945-1949,’ and Henry I. Shaw, Jr., authored it. This work was originally printed in 1960, revised two years later and reprinted in 1968.

‘The United States Marines in North China, 1945-1949’ is a concise narrative of the major events which took place when Marine ground and air units were deployed to the Asian mainland at the close of World War II. The text and appendices are based on official records, interviews with participants in the operations described, and reliable secondary sources. The pamphlet is published for the information of Marines and others interested in this significant period of Marine Corps history.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dad's Samurai Sword and the 1st Marine Division Arrives in Tianjin

When my father gave me his Japanese World War II samurai sword on my thirteenth birthday he described a ceremony. It was at a train station in China, I believe in Beijing. When the formal surrender took place, he said, the Japanese soldiers strode one at a time and deposited their swords on the ground. When this was completed Dad and other soldiers went and picked them up.

The image featured above is from a newspaper clipping in one of his albums. The picture above was in Malaysia, yet I think it helps capture the scene held throughout eastern Asia where such surrender ceremonies took place.

As I delve further into my research the situation in postwar China becomes more complicated. Yesterday I found this excerpt of an article in which the situation in North China in September 1945 is revealed. On October 6, 1945 Japanese forces -who still maintained order in Tianjin, even after the official Japanese surrender- transferred authority to the American Marines. The Marines landed in Tianjin on September 30. On October 7 the Marines returned to Beijing, and three days later on October 10, 1945 Japanese forces around Beijing surrendered, with the 5th Marine Division moving in to occupy the Legation Quarter.

In August 1945, the communist-led 
guerrilla forces, who had spearheaded 
resistance against the Japanese in North 
China and Manchuria for nearly a decade, 
controlled vast areas of the countryside. 
A million and a quarter Japanese troops, 
and another 1.7 million Japanese civi
lians controlled most of the major cities 
and the communications lines in North, 
Central and East China. Kuomintang 
armies were confined largely to South 
and Southwest China. If the Japanese 
surrendered to local forces, the vast 
majority of Japanese troops would surrender to the communists, turning over both 
weapons and effective control of North 
China to them.

In order to avoid having 
to recognize the communists' control 
over North China, and to prevent them 
from acquiring Japanese weapons, Pres
ident Truman announced that the United 
States would transport KMT troops from 
South China into Japanese-held areas 
in Central and North China. Truman 
ordered the same Japanese troops, which 
had conducted brutal "three-all" paci- 
fication campaigns throughout North 
China in the preceding years, to "main- 
tain order" until KMT or American 
troops could arrive in North China to 
accept their surrender. 1 To discourage 
the Japanese from surrendering to the 
communists, the U.S. notified the Japanese government that soldiers would be guaranteed return to their homeland only
if they surrendered to the U.S. or to
Chiang Kai-shek or his subordinates.

In September the first two divisions
 of U.S. Marines were ordered to proceed
to China to accept the Japanese surrender
on behalf of the KMT, to assist with the
repatriation of the Japanese army and
civilians in North China, and to guard 
railroads and other communications lines
in the area. The First Division of U.S.
Marines left Okinawa on September 26, 
and arrived in Tangku on September 30.
 They moved straight into Tientsin, and 
on October 6, surrender ceremonies were 
held in that city.

The Japanese, who
 had continued to hold Tientsin since 
their official surrender in August,
turned it over to the Marines, who began 
patrolling the city to maintain order.

A few days after the Marines landed 
in Tientsin, Chou En-lai told General
 W.A. Worton that the Red Army would 
fight to prevent the Marines from moving 
to Peking. Worton, however, was extreme­
ly eager to take Peking. Acting on 
orders which gave him permission to 
"occupy such . . . areas as he deemed ne­
cessary . . . for the security of his own 
forces," Worton had already prepared for 
the Marines' advance. He therefore 
told Chou "that the Marines most cer­
tainly would move in, that they would
come by rail and road..."

The arrival of the 1st Marine Division in Tangku from Okinawa seems significant.

Tangku (known as Tanggu today) is a district in Tianjin and was the setting in 1933 for truce negotiations between the Chinese Republic and the Empire of Japan formally ending the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. The truce led to the defacto recognition by the Kuomingtang government of Manchukuo, and it was humiliating to the Chinese people. My father told me that the Americans were warmly welcomed by local residents. I am interested in learning more about this, especially from those from China, Japan, surviving Marines or their records.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Assault on Shanhaikwan Fort: November, 1945

On the same day the Honolulu Star Bulletin featured the November 12, 1945 article featuring the visit of Ogden Mills Reid and his assistant Wilbur S. Forrest the newspaper also reported an assault on Shanhaikwan Fort, today known as Shanhaiguan, a section of the city of Qinhuangdao in Hebei Province. It features some of the best-preserved sections of the Great Wall of China. My father mentioned visiting the Great Wall, but I am not sure if it was at this location.

For some up-to-date color photos of Shanhaiguan Pass, including the fort and sections of the Great Wall, go to this link.
and this link.

Chiang Drive Reported On Shanhaikwan Fort
Chungking, Nov. 12 (AP)

A Communist spokesman charged today nationalist troops had launched an assault on the fortress city of Shanhaikwan which stands at the southern threshold of Manchuria.

Without confirmation elsewhere, he declared more nationalist troops were streaming toward the front in an effort to deal a “serious blow” to Communist troops entrenched there. He said commando troops trained by the United States office of strategic services were employed against the Communists.

Lt. Gen. Tu Li Ming, newly named Nationalist commander for Manchuria, said yesterday his troops would move soon, but said so far they had engaged only in “defensive fighting pending the outcome of peace talks here.” The Communist spokesman reported the fighting was serious, but that Shanhaikwan at the coastal end of China’s Great Wall was still in the hands of Chinese regulars.

Chungking, Nov. 12 (AP)

The Central government and Chinese Communists agreed today to submit their political and military differences to a political consultative council meeting here November 20. Their decisions to place their differences before the council came at the suggestion of the Chinese democratic League, which has been seeking to mediate between the two groups for some time.

Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek today appealed to Russia for permission to fly his armies into Manchuria to avert a civil war with Chinese Communists massed at northern ports and along the Great Wall. Dispatches said Generalissimo Chiang’s field commanders had abandoned all thought of entering Manchuria by sea, and were staking their peace hopes on a conference with Russian army commanders at Changchun. Upwards of 1,000,000 Communists and an even greater number of Nationalists were poised along the Great Wall for battle. There is no word on the Russian attitude.

It was emphasized that the air movement, if made, would be in American planes, but not under Chinese ownership, and piloted by Chinese. American Vice-Admiral Daniel E. Barbey stepped into the crisis again with a new appeal for peaceful settlement. He admitted the danger of a full scale civil war was great.

Source: Honolulu Star Bulletin, November 12, 1945. Page 1.

Ogden Mills Reid and the "Ticklish China Situation" November 1945

The Honolulu Star Bulletin featured an article in its November 12, 1945 edition. Besides the reference to the “ticklish China situation” in the headline, the name Ogden Mills Reid caught my eye.

I graduated with a Masters degree from Manhattanville College in August, 1990. To anyone who has been to the campus the most imposing structure is Reid Castle. The Reid Family, a wealthy high-society family in New York, owned this. Ogden Mills Reid was the son of Whitelaw Reid, who had purchased the New York Tribune from Andrew Greeley, son of Horace Greeley, its founder.

Go to this link for a biography on Ogden Mills Reid.

This link lists the Reid Family Papers held by the Library of Congress.

I also found this link to a profile of a limestone New York City townhouse once owned by the family. Presently it is the headquarters of New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.

“The situation in China was described today as “most ticklish” by Ogden M. Reid, editor of the New York Herald Tribune."

“Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek is optimistic, but he knows he has a tough job on his hand,” Reid is quoted as saying. He also observed that the “revolutionaries are causing a certain amount of trouble,” and, “Our own officers know the situation is ticklish and are being mighty careful.

Reid was in China as well as Japan, Korea and the Philippines with his assistant Wilbur Forest. The entire tour lasted six weeks.

The article quotes Ogden Mills Reid stating that the American Marines were at Tsientsin (Tianjin) for two purposes:

1) To protect American lives and property.
2) To assist the Chinese in “putting the Japanese our of China.

The article references Reid’s praise for the work of General Douglas MacArthur in Japan.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Here is a link to an article just published in Hawaii It is my thoughts and reflections about this first Father's Day without my Dad being here.

In the closing moments of my father’s 86th birthday he died. It was a cold February evening in New York’s Hudson Valley when he was called away. My sisters surrounded dad at the time of his passing. My younger sister had flown from her home in Paris, and at the moment he expired she called to convey the sad news. Snow flurries started to drift slowly from the darkness after a window was opened. For me in Hawaii the sunset behind Oahu’s Waianae Mountain’s seemed particularly bright. Dad was gone.

“His toils are past, his work is done,” an epitaph in my ancestral hometown reads. “And he is fully blessed. He fought the fight, the victory won. And entered into rest.”

A night of celebration became a night of mourning and reflection. One season ended for him, and for us. But we certainly were not alone. And it was not the end of the seasons between my late father and myself.

My friend Malia Zimmerman and publisher of this online news source reported that her own father passed away not long ago in a hospice here in Hawaii. As I write these words a dear friend in Connecticut reported that his own father died suddenly, and that his mother may not be far behind.

As this 100th anniversary of Father’s Day approaches I am reminded that for others we greet this annual holiday with mixed emotions this year –but I am reminded that there is substantial cause for celebration. I only learned recently that Father’s Day started a century ago by the daughter of an Arkansas veteran of the Civil War who raised his six children on his own after his wife died due to complications in childbirth. Who knew then that William Jackson Smart’s example and devotion would lead to a holiday now celebrated internationally into the 21st century?

J.W. Howe is quoted in Eric Sloane’s ‘The Season’s of America’s Past’ as saying, “Blessed is he who takes comfort in seed time and harvest, setting the warfare of life to the Hymn of the Seasons.” A favorite quote from Ecclesiastes mentions “…a time for every purpose.” One of my sisters pointed out to me that our father was in fact a man of the seasons. We come from a region where seasonal changes are sharp and heightened at various times of the year. Dad seemed to prefer telling time by the position of the stars in the evening sky and the direction of the weathervane. He taught me the same in the wide expanse behind our home in Round Hill, and after I received as a gift my first telescope one Christmas morning I learned to appreciate the wonders of the infinity of the heavens.

Sure, my father went to the office five days each week, as did so many of his generation. Our family seems to gravitate between business and farming, and though Dad supported his family through business means I reflect now that he wished for a life more tied to our land and the seasons around us. “Seasons were timed to the vagaries of weather,” writes Sloane, “the appearances of the moon, the peculiarities of growing things, or the rise of an occasion. They were the slow heartbeat of the American countryside. They were the countryman’s calendar.” My father was a true albeit an unpretentious countryman.

This morning I was reading a New York Times report dated November 18, 1945 about the “Grave World Crisis” that was brewing in postwar North China. The region was a hotbed of civil strife. American forces were present to aid in the disarmament and disbanding of Japanese forces. A reinforced company of the U.S.1st Marine Division on a “Leatherneck troop train” had come under attack by Chinese Communist forces. For 15 hours scattered shots were exchanged between the Marines and Communist forces during the trip from Tianjin (spelled Tientsin in those days). On two occasions the railroad –which was still being guarded by Japanese troops- was blown up in front of the Marine train. The train had hardly stopped when automatic fire erupted. None of the Marines were killed or wounded. Lt. General Albert C. Wedermeyer suspected that the reasons were either poor marksmanship, or as he said, they did not wish to wound the Marines and instead harass railroad repair crews.

What struck me as I read this was that my father was there. I stopped what I was doing and just paused.

He rarely conversed about events in that season of life. He preferred instead to talk about how good the French were at throwing parties (but never providing details), how parts of Beijing were so dangerous that some who ventured to certain corners were not heard from again, Chinese New Year celebrations, visits to the Great Wall, and so on. He told me on various occasions how he loved China and its people, and how hard it was to leave.

As Dad reminisced about that early season in his life I could also sense the indebtedness he felt for the U.S. Marine Corps and for what the Marines and this country had done for him. He never expected anything in return.

That “don’t ask too much of life” trait is so distinguishing of the men and women of that season of our history. Dad like our family were descendants of resilient and robust New Englanders where self-reliance, virtue and gratitude are cornerstones of temperament and disposition. Gunfire and life’s ceaseless hurdles never seemed to defeat him, though no doubt such things provided their own brand of stimulation. Whatever pains were suffered was rarely if ever dwelled upon. Small gains were causes for celebration.

There were small joys, and plenty of them. Each Christmas season a large blue-spruce tree in front of our home was decorated with outdoor Christmas lights, and Dad and I would be out there on ladders in wind or cold –often both- to carry forth this annual tradition. There was lawn-cutting, sheep shearings, walking ponies and horses, learning to ice-skate on the front pond, harvesting vegetables from the garden, and -as my father was a volunteer fireman- being awakened at all hours of the day and night in the form of fire calls to save life and property, near and far. The list goes endlessly onward.

We have much to be grateful for from our fathers. By their sacrifices and examples we have the continued freedom to accrue great prosperity, freedom from outside tyranny and enjoy the self-determination we as Americans so often take for granted. We have the benefit of their examples. My father’s fondness for our town’s fire services extended to the mission of securing roles for those who had been traditionally excluded from the full participation. It was one of the purposes of his life and a cornerstone of his legacy.

Each Memorial Day the graves of fallen soldiers are decorated with flags and flowers. Here in Hawaii Boy Scouts and others made their way through the cemeteries with flags and leis. This was to commemorate fallen fathers as well as those who died in the service of country and freedom’s cause who would not live to the celebrate the ups and downs of fatherhood. One such soul was my father’s best friend who rests eternally in the National Cemetery of the Pacific.

On a continent six time zones east the same scene was played out, as I remember well. Men from towns large and small, of all backgrounds imaginable were called to depart the safety of home for battles they did not ask for –but who, out of a sense of duty were called to sacrifice and endure, and then return home. Their lives and sacrifices are the spirit of the American character.

A father just walked by -hand in hand with his young daughter and son- on their way to the public library to return books, and perhaps to choose some new ones. At the end of the day a father near my home in Upper Pearlridge was out in the parking lot of the condo community teaching his son how to ride a bicycle. At a shopping mall I bore witness to a daughter who asked her father, “Could I have my graduation money early so that I could buy this?” Dad simply smiled. A younger father with his child in one arms and a folded stroller in another performed a balancing act as they hustled to board the city bus for some unknown destination. One of my fellow deacons at Central Union Church just became a Dad two years ago, and being greeted by his young son is always a cause for celebration.

Those moments in the seasons of fatherhood are reminders that each moment and each purpose holds significance beyond our immediate comprehension. In all these fathers -and in my own- I realize that in these snapshots in time the true meaning of Father’s Day is found. In their own quiet and assuming way our fathers comprehend what has been consummated. Their ledgers are recorded in the hearts of those they touch with gestures large and small. Father’s Day gives us pause to annually rediscover the magic and integrity the roles Dad’s have in our lives. It’s not about sales at the shopping malls. It is about the gift of love, caring and giving. “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society,” once said Christian Evangelist Billy Graham. How true!

Happy Father’s Day.

Jeffrey Bingham Mead is an author, college professor and historian. He is a native of Greenwich, Connecticut residing in Honolulu. He is the Chair of the Deacons at Central Union Church and founder of the History Education Council of Hawaii. Mr. Mead is writing a history of his late father’s service in the U.S. 1st Marine Division in China 1945-1947. His blog is at

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Echo Wall at the Imperial Temple of Heaven

One of my father’s fondest memories revolved around the Echo Wall at the Imperial Temple of Heaven. It is located at the center of the north-south axis of the Temple of Heaven, and near the Imperial Vault of Heaven.

Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties came here to offer sacrifices and pray for good harvests.

The first picture is of Dad standing in a gateway with the Imperial Vault of Heaven in the background. The building is small relative to the others near it. Go to this link for a modern, color photo of the Echo Wall along with a descriptive explanation of its special properties.

Dad and some of his fellow Marines visited this site, and I recall him telling me about how they would stand are certain places far away from each other, whisper –and hear each other clearly as if they were standing in close proximity.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One of my favorite photos from my Dad's Chinese albums is this one. The photo is of a horse-drawn Chinese wedding coach.

To imagine that after fighting and occupation there were those who were willing to look into the future and see brighter days ahead! There is a lesson in that for all of us. Life does go on -as it must.

I know very little about Chinese wedding traditions, although I've read that those rituals and customs are elaborate. I've been reading from this site sponsored by the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project.