British soldiers in Shanghai, c. 1927-1928

Discussion in 'Prewar' started by China Hand, Dec 31, 2008.

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  1. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    Dear all, especially Verrieres

    I received today a packet of photos of China I'd ordered from ebay. It includes a few of British soldiers in Shanghai, c. 1927-1928, i.e. at the time the city's garrison was reinforced by what was called the Shanghai Defence Force (will add more details on this later, see also Verrieres earlier post) because of concerns arising from fighting nearby between various Chinese forces.

    I do not know the unit here, although it might be the Bedfordshire Regiment, who were there at the time, I believe, see one of the captions for more speculation. I believe most of the shots of the guys were taken at Jessfield Road Barracks. Not many names, unfortunately, but all very "atmospheric"...

    Captions/comments are drawn from some comments on back of the snapshots and my own knowledge. Click for bigger versions (hope I have done this right !).

    99008535.jpg Simply marked "self", so I assume this is the lad who took the photos.

    99008529.jpg Again, "self". Shooting cups ? This and the next one, and another, show the lads wearing a sports shirt marked XVI...I speculate, but might this be because they are Bedfordshire Regiment, formerly 16th Foot ???

    View attachment 15198 Similar

    99008530.jpg Again, "self"

    View attachment 15200 "Self keeping warm"...again, that winter kit similar to DLI in Verrieres previous thread, see http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/prewar/15820-1st-dli-pre-war-1931-39-a.html#post165548

    99008533.jpg Same again

    99008536.jpg One of the few with a name..."Herbert". Again, the XVI on his shirt.

    99008534.jpg Another name..."Jock"...at a wild guess, someone from north of the border ! ;)

    View attachment 15204 NOT Shanghai, it says "a section of D Coy, Malta", but included for faces...and maybe hint that our photographer might have been D Company...the Beds were, I think, in Malta in 1926, there are a few pics of Malta in the package too

    99008526.jpg Not sure if this in Shanghai, but suspect it is given style of parasols...again posted for faces

    View attachment 15206 Again, sadly no names

    View attachment 15207 Love this one, labelled "Pte Wun Long, Regimental Mascot"...:)

    99008514.jpg Some Shanghai scenes, this is the famous Garden Bridge, at North End of the Bund, over Suzhou Creek to Hongkou District...often featured in pics of the 1932-1937 period as it was the boundary between the International Settlement and the Japanese controlled area...compare with the photo in Verrieres thread http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/prewar/15820-1st-dli-pre-war-1931-39-a.html#post165608...the building in far right corner was (and still is) the Russian Consulate

    99008500.jpg Labelled "view from roof of New World South"...looking west I think....New World was a Shanghai entertainment centre in the International Settlement, with a bit of a reputation ;) say no more...

    View attachment 15210 Labelled "Thibet Road", i.e. Tibet Road, still same name...I think I recognise the building, can't recall what it was in 1927
    but it is still used by the, ah, local forces... ;)

    Welcome comments, I may add more info later...

    The other 50 or so snapshots in the packet are mostly scenes of China, rural and urban, including some from beyond Shanghai,...quite interesting in themselves to a China buff, not of military interest as such but happy to post the better ones if folks are interested.
     
    Drew5233 likes this.
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Just found this.
    BRITISH MILITARY OPERATIONS 1919-1939

    SHANGHAI 1927
    In 1927, the outbreak of conflict between nationalists and communists in China created international concern about the safety of the large European population in Shanghai. Together with Japan, the United States, France and Italy, Britain dispatched a substantial force from both Britain, Malta and India. After 1928 this force was reduced gradually but British troops did not finally leave Shanghai until 1939.
    Division HQ[Major General Duncan]
    HQ 13 Infantry Brigade–from Catterick
    HQ 14 Infantry Brigade –from Lichfield
    HQ 9 Indian Infantry Brigade –from India
    5 Armoured Car Company, Royal Tank Corps
    HQ 1 Brigade RHA
    16 Medium Battery RA
    11, 80 Field Batteries RA
    12, 15, 20, 21 Pack Batteries RA
    10 Company, Madras Sappers & Miners
    Divisional Signals
    2 Bn Coldstream Guards
    1 Bn Devonshire Regiment
    2 Bn Suffolk Regiment -ex Gibraltar
    1 Bn Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment -ex Malta
    2 Bn Gloucestershire Regiment –ex India
    1 Bn Border Regiment
    2 Bn Border Regiment -ex Malta
    2 Bn Durham Light Infantry –ex India
    1 Bn Green Howards
    1 Bn Middlesex Regiment
    12 Royal Marine Battalion
    4 Bn 1st Punjab Regiment
    3 Bn 14th Punjab Regiment
    later reinforcements during 1927-
    2 Bn Scots Guards
    1 Bn Queens Regiment
    2 Bn Northamptonshire Regiment
    2 Bn Welch Regiment
    Royal Air Force-
    1 Squadron
    later- 2 Squadron
     
  3. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    Ah ha :) there's the Beds...could be them, it seems..although it is pure speculation based on the XVI !
     
  4. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Any pics on the RN´s Yangtze gunboats?
     
  5. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    Funny you should ask :)...I have an interest in this topic...although focused on pre-WW1 as I have some letters from a gunboat skipper from 1911 that I might try and write up and publish sometime...

    I asked about HMS Widgeon (the vessel in question) a few days ago and several kind souls posted replies here http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/war-sea/16640-warship-pictures-6.html#post165631

    Best single place for gunboat stuff, with ton of pics, is H.M.S. Falcon - Royal Navy Gunboats in China and the Far East
     
  6. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Thanks for the link, mate. Interesting stuff.
     
  7. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Missed this thread, nice shots CH.
     
  8. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    If you got a posting to a place like Shanghai or Singapore pre-war was it seen as a good place to go or a backwater as a posting? Often wondered what soldiers thought of a posting to india as opposed to say Egypt or at home even. Great thread CH!
     
  9. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    If you got a posting to a place like Shanghai or Singapore pre-war was it seen as a good place to go or a backwater as a posting? Often wondered what soldiers thought of a posting to india as opposed to say Egypt or at home even. Great thread CH!

    I would say that with the aura of glamour, sofistication and mystery that turn of the century international settlements had, in far away places like Tangiers, Peking or Shanghai, being posted there would have been considered, if not a privilege, at least a shot at adventure. The 4th Marines website, chinamarines.com, does mention a posting in Shanghai as good stuff.

    What do yo think, CH? You´re "Our Man in the Far East" (Sorry for the lack of originality, Smudger :D)
     
  10. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    Ah well.. one needs a book to answer that one...and luckily...there is one...'Sin City', by Ralph Shaw, published c1973, ISBN of my 1986 edition is 0708830811..sadly none currently on Abebooks...semi-fictional/factual account of pre-WW2 Shanghai by British lad who went out in 1937 as a RASC soldier, and left a little later to join a newspaper in the city as a journalist (he had been such in UK)...

    I quote from Chapter 2..."Shanghai was a cushy berth, dead easy compared to Aldershot and Bulford. For the first time in my life I had a manservant, or rather, I shared his services with others who lived with me in a barrack room at the British Military Hospital in downtown Shanghai, only a few hundred yards from the Bund waterfront...

    "The 'room boy' took over the chores that we did ourselves back in Blighty - making the beds, 'bumping' the floor, polishing our buttons, cap badges, blancoing our belts, cleaning our boots and so on. So we lived like little tin gods..."

    ...and, if the book is to be believed, spent a fair amount of time, er, fraternising with the locals...;)

    So, apart from the minor irritation that the Japanese were engaged in a certain amount of rather violent urban regeneration a few blocks north, it was a dawdle...

    I must mention this one to Verrieres, lotsa mentions of 1 DLI...funny, he travelled out to Shanghai in the 'Dilwara' with the same batch of Durhams that he mentions here http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/prewar/15820-1st-dli-pre-war-1931-39-a-2.html#post165888
     
  11. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

  12. waxfordski

    waxfordski Junior Member

    if you want some more I have pictures of my grandfather there in 1927 he was with the royal marines, I also have some postcard type pictures and I also was there in 2007 and took shots of what it looks like today against what it looked like then
     
  13. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Hello Waxfordski and welcome. Feel free to post away!
     
  14. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    Hi, Waxfordski, thanks for this, would be great to see them - and well done on the "then and nows" ! That is often very doable in Shanghai.
     
  15. ivanpayne

    ivanpayne Junior Member

    just registered with WW2talk trying to trace family history.
    The Beds and Herts guy in Shanghai 1927 on the left stood holding/polishing his shoes is my grandfather - Herbert Payne from Luton.
    I possess the same photo in his war diaries.
    Seeing service in India. Egypt. Malta then later captured whilst defending Singapore and enduring over 3 years on the Burma-Siam railway, any info gratefully recieved.
     
  16. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Ivan,

    Are these your grandfather's details from his POW days. He almost certainly will have an index card for that time, held at the National Archives.

    Record Details

    China, I like the way this thread is opening up for you. Generally, as you will know, a posting in this region was a great number to get as a service man or woman.

    I was talking to a researcher into Hong Kong for the WW2 period and he says that even the lowest ranks in the British Army had servants and a high quality of life whilst out in the Far East. This, he said made their time as either POW's or civilian evacuees even harder to take and come to terms with.

    Steve.
     
  17. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    Hi Ivan...interesting :) I am afraid all I have are these photos, which I got because of my interest in the British Army etc in China.

    I assume your grandfather was in the 5th Beds & Herts in Singapore ? If so, here are a couple of links about them :

    5th Bn. Beds & Herts - Burma Railway - World War II Forums

    COFEPOW - The Armed Forces - The 5th Battalion - Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment

    COFEPOW (the second link) might be worth contacting, if you have not already, as they are experts on Far East POWs.

    As Bamboo has just said - beat me to it by minutes ! - their database has what looks like your grandfather's details.

    On the Hong Kong researcher's point about "a high quality of life", while that was true, to some extent, in peacetime garrisons, I am not sure it would apply to quite the same extent during the war. Even in peacetime, too, the climate, while sometimes pleasant, could at other times be downright unpleasant (having lived in both Shanghai and Hong Kong myself) - especially in summer months and if you had to do anything energetic, which sadly would have been quite often in the forces !!!

    Cheers

    Graham
     
  18. ivanpayne

    ivanpayne Junior Member

    Hi Ivan...interesting :) I am afraid all I have are these photos, which I got because of my interest in the British Army etc in China.

    I assume your grandfather was in the 5th Beds & Herts in Singapore ? If so, here are a couple of links about them :

    5th Bn. Beds & Herts - Burma Railway - World War II Forums

    COFEPOW - The Armed Forces - The 5th Battalion - Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment

    COFEPOW (the second link) might be worth contacting, if you have not already, as they are experts on Far East POWs.

    As Bamboo has just said - beat me to it by minutes ! - their database has what looks like your grandfather's details.

    On the Hong Kong researcher's point about "a high quality of life", while that was true, to some extent, in peacetime garrisons, I am not sure it would apply to quite the same extent during the war. Even in peacetime, too, the climate, while sometimes pleasant, could at other times be downright unpleasant (having lived in both Shanghai and Hong Kong myself) - especially in summer months and if you had to do anything energetic, which sadly would have been quite often in the forces !!!

    Cheers

    Graham
    His diary mentions him as battman to the CO or someother Officer - he recalls them inspecting forward positions on bicycle racing through the streets - and being sniped at, so perhaps not such a dream job for him! I'll post more when I can dig out his diary - a hundred or more photos and a similar number of pages covering his enlistment (with his brothers aged 15) and service with 1st and 5th Bn B+H through Malta, India, Egypt etc... perhaps a good resource for somebody out there?!

    Thanks everybody !
     
  19. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    His diary mentions him as battman to the CO or someother Officer - he recalls them inspecting forward positions on bicycle racing through the streets - and being sniped at, so perhaps not such a dream job for him! I'll post more when I can dig out his diary - a hundred or more photos and a similar number of pages covering his enlistment (with his brothers aged 15) and service with 1st and 5th Bn B+H through Malta, India, Egypt etc... perhaps a good resource for somebody out there?!

    Thanks everybody !

    Interesting stuff, look forward to more ! :) I'd be especially interested in anything from China in 1927 when the 1st Beds and Herts were out as part of the Shanghai Defence Force (in Shanghai and Wei-hai-wei), but I am sure others will like to hear about the WW2 period, too.
     
  20. harper360

    harper360 New Member

    In sorting out some v old family photographs I came across some photos of who I believe to be my maternal grandfather Joe potter. On the back of each photo is Shanghi 1928. Is it worth me posting the photos to see whether it gives any clues ?
     

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