STATE OF READINESS1For FMFWesPac, autumn of 1947 brought the harvest of a summer's hard training. On 30 September, BLT 2/1 made a full-scale landing near Tsingtao with simulated naval gunfire support and the overhead cover and dry-run bombing and strafing of VMF-211. In October, a battalion landing team built around 3/4 (newly redesignated the 3d Marines) completed a month-long course of ashore and afloat amphibious exercises with a similar landing. After this final phase of training for 1947 was completed, the Marine garrison settled down to a winter routine of guard duty and a renewal of the familiar pattern of training by progressive stages to maintain the amphibious competence of veterans and replacements.
The new 3d Marines, and its companion, the 1st Marines formed from 2/1, reflected the reorganization of FMFWesPac under new Marine Corps-wide ground tables of organization which eliminated the infantry regimental level in brigade and division and assigned the regimental titles to battalion-sized units. At the same time, the battalion level was done away with in division artillery regiments and batteries were grouped under regiment. The intent of the new setup was to provide the larger FMF commands with a flexible number of hard-hitting units patterned on the battalion landing teams of World War II. The new organizational theory found its principal impetus in the attempts of the Marine Corps to field the most fighting men it could garner despite severe budgetary pruning of its strength.2
Within FMFWesPac the number of changes made were relatively few. The artillery augmentation of both the 1st and 3d Marines was withdrawn to pare those organizations to the T/Os common to all FMF infantry battalions. A skeleton artillery headquarters was retained within the force headquarters and service battalion primarily for training purposes. In emergencies, the gunners needed to man the 105mm howitzers which were kept in Tsingtao would have to be flown or shipped in. Most reinforcing units of General Thomas' command were redesignated as elements of parent organizations in the 1st Marine Division, although administrative and operational control remained with FMFWesPac. The 12th Service Battalion was reorganized according
to a new logistical concept that gave units of Service Command, FMFPac, with headquarters in Hawaii, the direct support role once assigned organic service battalions which were dropped from division and brigade organizations.3
Emplaced behind a cordon of Nationalist defenses, the Marines in Tsingtao had few contacts with the Communists who held the Shantung countryside. Those that did occur were uniformly unpleasant. Continuing the practice begun in 1945 of holding the men who unwittingly fell into the their hands, the Communists seized five Marines of a hunting party which had blundered through Nationalist lines on Christmas Day in 1947. One Marine died of wounds received in the unprovoked outburst of fire which preceded the capture. For three months the Communists kept moving and interrogating the men, feeding them English language propaganda, and trying unsuccessfully to convince them of American responsibility for the civil war. The Communists finally released the Marines on 1 April, having failed also in their purpose of getting the men to mouth the lie that "high ranking officers sent them into 'liberated areas' to make an incident."4
Only four days after these Marines were returned, the four-man crew of an R5D of VMR-153 was taken. The plane's engines failed as it was circling to land at Tsangkou, and it crashed on the mud flats lining the western shore of Kiaochow Bay. Communist troops immediately hustled the crew out of sight, and the first Marine search plane which scouted the wreck was fired upon. For a month the Communists denied knowledge of the whereabouts of the Marines while planes of AirFMFWesPac dropped clothing, food, and medical supplies in Communist territory intended for the captives. When the Communists finally admitted that they held the flyers, they stalled negotiations for their release interminably, and the men were not returned to Tsingtao until 1 July.
The seizure of the hunting party resulted in a firm check on Marine excursions beyond the limits of Tsingtao and the American installations at Tsangkou Field. There was no way, however, of lessening the exposure of Marine flyers to capture so long as there were missions to be flown over Communist territory with the chance of operational failures. The need for such missions continued in 1948, and the land over which the Marine pilots flew increasingly showed the red banners of Mao Tse-tung's armies. In early February, as a result of the imminent capture of Changchun in Manchuria by Communist forces, VMR-153 transports evacuated American and British consular officials, missionaries, and foreign nationals from the city. Later in the month, the Marine planes flew in supplies for the U.S. Consulate in besieged Mukden. This supply lift was repeated in April as a skeleton U.S. consular staff kept a death watch within the Nationalist stronghold.
In view of the worsening civil war situation, the new Commander, Naval
Forces, Western Pacific, Vice Admiral Oscar C. Badger (who had relieved Admiral Cooke in February) ordered General Thomas to have his command ready to mount out on 30 days' notice. Initially, in a plan published on 3 April, FMFWesPac contemplated leaving a small service contingent to secure and maintain the supplies not loaded in the allotted time. By June, an Inspector General's review of this decision noted that the economic situation of Tsingtao's beleaguered populace was so desperate that "hungry Chinese hordes would sweep over any such remaining force as this. Supplies and installations would melt away instantly."5 FMFPac added a comment that if redeployment orders were given, the evacuation of men and materiel would be complete, and General Thomas noted that with 30 days' warning, adequate shipping, and Chinese labor, he could clear all Marine supplies and equipment from Tsingtao.6
While the alert for possible evacuation existed and plans were made for that eventuality, the Marine garrison life in Tsingtao went on much as usual. To complete the winter's training, all companies of the 1st and 3d Marines were air lifted in practice deployment problems, and in June the battalions each made two landings in conjunction with Admiral Badger's amphibious forces. As Communist troops moved in strength into northern and central provinces in the summer of 1948 the danger to Americans in China increased gravely. The Marines embarked on a new cycle of combat training in July and stood by ready to move as the situation required.
STATE DEPARTMENT WARNINGS7Admiral Badger assigned General Thomas the responsibility for evacuation of Americans from North China. The FMFWesPac staff prepared plans to cover the withdrawal of their fellow countrymen from Tientsin and Peiping as well as Tsingtao. In the latter city, Thomas was given military command and coordination control of all Navy and Marine shore activities. When the expected official warning to American civilians to get out was issued, the Marines, working closely with local U.S. consulates, were prepared to move swiftly to facilitate the withdrawal. The amount of water lift and naval support necessary to accomplish the evacuation was determined by FMFWesPac and the plans were kept current to match the shifting political and military situation.8
In the Yangtze Valley, the only other area of China where large numbers of Americans were present, the overall responsibility for evacuation rested with Rear Admiral Frederick 1.
Entwistle, Commander, Amphibious Forces, Western Pacific. Under Entwistle, the Director, Ground Division, Army Advisory Group, Nanking, and the Commander, Naval Port Facilities, Shanghai, were charged with planning and directing evacuation procedures in their respective regions. Missionaries, teachers, and businessmen in outlying sectors who wished to leave would be collected by air or whatever means possible and funnelled through the two cities toward ships bound for safe ports. Principal reliance for security forces under this plan was placed on Marine combat units detailed from Tsingtao or Guam with reinforcements provided by ships' landing parties, many of them trained by FMFWesPac.9
Naval authorities realized that the ground forces available to them were not strong enough to protect the widespread properties of Americans during the rioting and disorder that might accompany Communist attacks on major cities. The decision was made early in the summer, and was implicit in all plans prepared after July, that security forces would concentrate on safeguarding the lives of U.S. nationals during evacuation. The possible demands on FMFWesPac to provide troops to assist simultaneous operations in North China and the Yangtze Valley made the reinforcement of General Thomas' command a wise and necessary move.
In order to meet FMFWesPac's most pressing need for combat support, the personnel to man an artillery battery were requested from the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade on Guam. Initially, the artillerymen were held ready for airlift,10 but in October, Battery D of the 11th Marines shipped out from the island, landed at Tsingtao on the 17th, and moved directly to positions at Tsangkou Field to bolster Marine defenses. The arrival of the battery marked the first increase in the strength of FMFWesPac above the ceiling imposed at its formation by the State Department. Further minor increases in troop strength were authorized but never effected, for the swift march of events caught up with and passed this decision.11
Preparations were made to dispatch a battalion landing team to Tsingtao from Guam in mid-October, either by air if an emergency warranted such a move, or by sea if it did not. Actually, the time in transit of the BLT would be less by sea than by air, since with the land transport planes then available the total airlift time would be 151/2 days to move the 1,350 Marines and their half million pounds of equipment.12 A similar
estimate of lift time made by Fleet Air Wing One on 15 November indicated that use of 24 large seaplanes stationed in the Marianas would only cut the span of time needed by two days.13 Unless the need for men was imperative enough to warrant piecemeal reinforcement, the best method of moving the BLT to China would be by ship.
The reason for the rush of preparations to bolster FMFWesPac was found in the successes of the Chinese Communists. On 24 September Mao's forces captured Tsinan, Shantung's capitol, and on 15 October the Red armies took Chinchow, the supply center for all CNA forces in Manchuria. In both instances, Nationalist relief columns made feeble attempts to rescue the besieged garrisons and were easily turned back by the triumphant Communists. Under the circumstances, the chance of the Nationalists holding their positions in Manchuria or in North China seemed slim, and Americans in China were advised to "consider the desirability of evacuation while normal transportation facilities were available."14
Between the 1st and 15th of November, the American Consulates and the Embassy issued this precautionary warning in all areas of China, and on the 11th, the Consul Generals at Peiping and Tientsin followed up with a statement:
In as much as later evacuation on an emergency basis may be impossible, American citizens who do not desire to remain in North China should plan to leave at once by United States Naval vessel from Tientsin.15
By this time, all Marines had been transferred from Tientsin and Peiping, but a few returned to help process evacuees. A Marine officer with a rifle squad and five communications men flew to Tientsin from Tsingtao on the 14th; another officer and a communication detail reported to Peiping. These Marines assisted consulate personnel in loading out a landing ship and stayed until the 18th when the ship sailed. A similar detachment was sent to Tientsin for two days on the 25th to help evacuate other Americans who availed themselves of the naval lift.
The emergency condition activating plans to evacuate all U.S. nationals who wanted to leave China was set by Admiral Badger on 16 November as Ambassador John Leighton Stuart warned them to "plan at once to move to places of safety."16 Concurrently, the 1st Brigade on Guam ordered the 9th Marines, suitably reinforced as a BLT, to embark on the APA Bayfield for movement to Tsingtao and temporary duty with FMFWesPac. The battalion was directed to be prepared to remain on board ship for an indefinite period in readiness for combat operations ashore.17 On 28 November, BLT-9 sailed from Guam and reported by dispatch to Admiral Badger and General Thomas for orders.
While the Guam reinforcements were en route, the Marines at Tsingtao
moved swiftly to prepare for their own eventual withdrawal. The 2d Provisional Combat Service Group (Light), as 12th Service Battalion had been redesignated in July, began loading out supplies to reduce all force stocks to a 90-day level. Large working parties from the infantry battalion not on guard duty were furnished to expedite this process. Most Navy and Marine dependents left Tsingtao in November in advance of their bulky household effects which were crated for shipment on following cargo vessels. The remaining dependents left in the first days of December. While other American civilians in China could choose to remain or go despite their government's warning, military families had no option; they were ordered to places of safety. In like manner, American women employees of the Embassy and the dependents of diplomatic personnel were directed to leave.
The evacuation plans long in preparation worked smoothly. Some few foreign nationals, mainly dependents of diplomatic officials, were evacuated along with the Americans who were leaving. Between 1 November and 5 December, 1,316 persons left China, 751 by plan% mainly from Shanghai, and 560 by Navy and Army transports. By 20 December the figure had risen to 3,944, of which more than 1,500 were military dependents. In the process, North China had been virtually cleared of American civilians, with only a few businessmen and missionaries remaining as the responsibility of skeleton consulate staffs. Nanking was emptied of its many American military and economic advisory groups by early December, and Shanghai, where approximately 2,500 American civilians remained, became the focal point of evacuation efforts.
Once the exodus from Nanking got underway, with most people leaving by air while a shuttle of Navy landing craft carried away military supplies and household goods, the city was nearly clear of potential evacuees by 17 November.18 On that date, at the request of Ambassador Stuart, a rifle platoon of the 3d Marines was sent from Tsingtao to the Nationalist capital to provide security for the American Embassy. The platoon travelled by APD, and the high-speed transport stayed at anchor in the Yangtze off Nanking as added insurance for the possible emergency evacuation of the Embassy staff. Stuart believed that the presence of the Marines would prevent lawless mobs from attempting to pillage the Embassy in the interim between Nationalist collapse and Communist takeover. The latter act seemed inevitable by November's end, and the ambassador felt that Chinese police could not be relied upon for adequate protection.
On the arrival of the 9th Marines at Tsingtao, one rifle company (A) and some of the landing team's reinforcing elements went ashore as a reserve while the remainder of the unit stayed on board the Bayfield ready for immediate use. On 5 December, Admiral Badger reported to the Chief of Naval Operations that the 9th was ready to move to Shanghai on order. After a discussion
of the situation with the American Consul General, and with Ambassador Stuart's approval, Badger reported:
Considerable conjecture and talk has already taken place regarding Marines in Shanghai. Their appearance now would cause little additional excitement inasmuch as they are needed to augment naval forces already there. Am ordering Bayfield with BLT-9 embarked, minus reserve units, proceed Shanghai ETA 16 Dec. . . .19
SHANGHAI STAND BY20The last few weeks of 1948 witnessed the end of effective Nationalist resistance in Hopeh, and in January both Tientsin and Peiping fell easily into Communist hands. The precipitating factor in this defeat was attributed in later years to the arrival of a badly needed but defective shipment of weapons and equipment at Tangku on 29 November. The military gear, American surplus from depots in Japan, had been shipped in unopened crates just as it had been packed at the war's end; at its destination much of the matériel was found to be in poor condition or useless for lack of vital parts. Although immediate steps to correct deficiencies were taken, some American officials felt that the event did lethal damage to the fighting spirit of the already reeling CNA troops.21
Regardless of the truth of this supposition, the end result of the civil war was already evident when the shipment arrived. On 15 December, the Director of the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group, Major General David Barr, USA, reported to Washington:
Only a policy of unlimited United States aid including the immediate employment of United States armed forces to block the southern advance of the Communists, which I emphatically do not recommend, would enable the Nationalist Government to maintain a foothold in southern China against a determined Communist advance. . . . The complete defeat of the Nationalist Army . . . is inevitable.22
With a puzzling disregard for the facts of past performance, the officials of a number of major U.S. firms in Shanghai felt that they could do business with the Communists. They feared a probable period of lawlessness at the time of changeover of governments, however, and wanted the Marines to guard their properties, such as the city's power company, from mob damage.23 The official American policy of using Marines to protect lives only was reiterated, but a consulate spokesman pointed out that the concept was broad enough "so that emergency or temporary
protection might be given to property if necessary to guard Americans living here."24
On the arrival of the Bayfield in the Whangpoo River off Shanghai, the announcement was made that the 9th Marines would land only if American lives and property were threatened. If the need for emergency evacuation procedures arose, the evacuees would assemble at four major collecting points convenient to the American community where the Marines would furnish necessary protection and cover withdrawal to the U.S. Navy's dock and warehouse area. From the docks, Navy amphibious craft would transfer the evacuees to ships located downriver in the Whangpoo anchorage.25
The departure of the 9th Marines for Shanghai lent impetus to the withdrawal preparations at Tsingtao. Communist successes had the effect of completely isolating the city, making it the only Nationalist stronghold left north of the Yangtze. The Central Government, with a target date of 1 February, began withdrawing the men and materiel that made up the thriving naval training center which had grown up at the port following the arrival of the Americans. The fold-up of U.S. naval shore-based facilities kept pace. On 21 January, the Chief of Naval Operations directed Admiral Badger to embark all shore-based units, except for a minimum staff needed to operate recreational facilities for fleet liberty parties and a Marine shore patrol detachment. The ground elements of FMFWesPac, less a reduced 3d Marines BLT and the 9th Marines on stand-by at Shanghai, were to load out for Camp Pendleton and the 1st Marine Division. AirFMFWesPac, less MGCIS-7 which would report to MAG-24 on Guam to continue air control duties, was ordered to move to Cherry Point. The escort carrier Rendova would join VMF-211,26 whose pilots had qualified to operate from its decks in August practice flights.27
Part of the movements and transfers directed from Washington were already underway or accomplished by the time the formal directive arrived. The platoon of the 3d Marines on duty at Nanking was relieved in late December by a similar unit of the 9th. On 6 January, Admiral Badger returned the reserve units of the 9th Marines to Guam, and on the 10th, Battery D of the 11th Marines also left Tsingtao for the 1st Brigade. Loading operations to complete the withdrawal of all U.S. supplies and equipment were continued by 2d Combat Service Group and the units concerned.
By 21 January, all VMF-211 pilots had requalified as carrier pilots and the squadron moved on board its new home. The R5Ds of VMR-153 flew out in several echelons before the 29th when the ground personnel and heavy equipment left for the States. Two days later,
Tsangkou Field was closed to all American planes and flight operations ceased as AirFMFWesPac Headquarters Squadron secured and mounted out. On the departure of the last shore-based Marine planes, air transport and liaison for ComNavWesPac was furnished by a seaplane detachment of Fleet Air Wing 1 based on a tender anchored in Tsingtao's harbor. Combat air support, if needed, would be the responsibility of the Rendova's air group.
By 3 February, all elements of FMFWesPac were on board ship except Company C, 3d Marines, which was assigned duties as shore patrol to police the limited liberty area kept open for fleet recreation. Another 3d Marines company (B) was transferred to the 1st Marines in keeping with Badger's orders to reduce the strength of the battalion remaining at Tsingtao. The sole reinforcing elements added to the 3d Marines were an engineer platoon and a small detachment, mostly motor transport of 2d Combat Service Group, left to support the final wind up of logistic activities.
On 8 February, when General Thomas and the major portion of his command sailed from Tsingtao, the end of FMFWesPac waited only the disbandment of its Headquarters and Service Battalion in Camp Pendleton and the rejoining of its task force elements to the 1st Marine Division during the following month. For Lieutenant Colonel Thomas J. Coney and the officers and men of the 3d Marines that he commanded, the remainder of their time at Tsingtao was to be a period of watchful waiting, comparatively uneventful and yet potentially trouble-filled. A trickle of evacuees continued to flow through the beleaguered port, but most Americans who wanted to leave North China had gotten out by February and those few people who left later were generally foreigners or stateless persons certified for evacuation by the consulate.
Tsingtao was kept alive mainly by infusions of American economic aid which provided raw cotton for the city's textile mills and coal, flour, and rice for the refugee population. The role was hardly enough to keep Tsingtao in robust or even passable health, and the days of the port under Nationalist control were obviously numbered. Its capture was easily within the capabilities of Mao Tse-tung's armies, but the drive to cross the Yangtze and destroy the main Nationalist forces had priority in Communist military efforts. The people of Tsingtao no longer considered U.S. naval forces to be an effective shield against the Communists and, according to the American Consul General, were convinced that the Marines and Navy combat ships would take no steps to prevent a Communist entry into the city.
WINDUP ACTIVITIES28By March the Communist armies had reached the Yangtze River on a broad
front and were poised to invade South China. While his forces regrouped for the attack, Mao Tse-tung put pressure on the Nationalist government to cease fighting or else be annihilated. Several weeks of negotiations proved futile for there was no ground for compromise; both sides knew that despite the surface appearance of an agreement, its practical effect was absolute Communist victory.
Under the circumstances, Tsingtao was more than ever a doomed city and held its status as an American naval base on a day-to-day basis. By mid- March, Admiral Badger had decided to move his flagship from the port and to cut further the number of service ships remaining. What was left of the onetime thriving base was either operating from shipboard or was ready to mount out on short notice. There was no longer any need for the 3d Marines to stay at Tsingtao, and Badger ordered the battalion south to relieve the 9th Marines. On 17 March, BLT-3 (less its shore patrol company) sailed for Shanghai in its transport, the APA Chilton, and dropped anchor in the Whangpoo the following day.
After a period of familiarization with the evacuation plan and with the city itself, the 3d Marines was ready to take over the watch. In order to reach the strength required for the evacuation procedures which had been worked out, the battalion needed to gain back the rifle company it had lost when FMFWesPac left Tsingtao. Before its departure on 30 March, the 9th Marines transferred its Company C to the 3d which redesignated the unit Company B. The selection was a natural one since most of the new Company B was already ashore in Shanghai guarding American naval facilities in the dock area and the remaining platoon furnished the embassy guard at Nanking. In addition to these units, the 3d Marines set up a small shore patrol detachment which was quartered on the Shanghai Bund and provided a ship's guard to Admiral Badger's flagship, the AGC Eldorado.
The stay of the 3d Marines at Shanghai was a short one. Less than a month after the battalion arrived at the city, an outrageous Communist attack on British naval forces gravely increased the risk of the deep involvement of American ships and men in a similar incident. Admiral Badger made the decision to withdraw on strong evidence that the Communists would no longer recognize the neutrality of American ships in Chinese waters.
So confident were the Communists of their success that they openly announced the date when their ultimatum to the Nationalists would expire and the advance across the Yangtze would begin. In an effort to beat this deadline, the British attempted to relieve the station ship which had been maintained at Nanking for emergency evacuation of Commonwealth nationals. On 20 April, in the narrow reaches of the Yangtze below the capital city, the relief ship, HMS Amethyst, was shelled by Communist artillery, forced aground on an island, and raked unmercifully by rifle and machine gun fire.
The Communists' immediate and demonstrably false claim was that the British frigate was operating in conjunction with Nationalist warships.
The Red artillerymen also delivered their fire against HMS Consort, the erstwhile station ship which attempted unsuccessfully to rescue the Amethyst and she was barely able to limp downriver with heavy structural damage and a long casualty list. A relief force headed by the cruiser London, steaming up from Shanghai, was unable to break through the deadly barrier of artillery fire and sustained in its turn considerable casualties and materiel damage. The Communist gunners firing at pointblank range at large targets in restricted waters could hardly miss in this unequal engagement and were able to keep up their attack despite murderous return fire by the British. After these rescue attempts were beaten off, the Amethyst stayed stranded in the river for more than three months while the Communists tried to gain maximum propaganda value for their "capture." Finally, in an incredible feat of seamanship and courage, the frigate's crew brought their ship out to safety in a night-long dash through the gantlet of artillery.
Admiral Badger was quick to offer assistance to the British ships damaged in the first few days of the Amethyst incident and to provide the means for more effective care of their casualties. The grim lesson of the destructive effect of field artillery fire on naval vessels unable to maneuver freely or reply effectively was a costly one. More than 40 men were killed and 78 wounded aboard three ships. With the help of 3d Marines' corpsmen and stretcher bearers, the wounded men were transferred to the American hospital ship Repose which sailed for Hong Kong on 25 April.
The Communist action against the British was followed by threats that similar punitive measures would be taken against any foreign warship which attempted to sail on the river. Since all plans for the evacuation of American civilians had been predicated on free use of the Whangpoo River, Shanghai's access route to the broad mouth of the Yangtze, the altered situation called for a reappraisal of American objectives. If Badger ordered his ships to remain where they could be attacked, he would undoubtedly be forced to use all means at his command, including carrier air and naval gunfire, to retaliate. The Admiral considered that such action would have an adverse effect on the safety of the Americans who desired to stay in China and would certainly involve the U.S. more deeply in the morass of civil war. Consequently, he recommended and had approved a decision to make one last call for Americans to leave and then to withdraw his forces.29
The State Department was convinced that most Americans who still remained in China were prepared to stay regardless of the risk. Under the circumstances, the platoon of Marines at Nanking was no longer needed to assist in evacuation, and on 21 April the men flew back to Shanghai leaving behind five NCOs who were transferred to State Department guard duty as a regular detachment. The arrival of the Nanking Marines was followed very
CHINESE NATIONALIST SENTRIES relive Marine bridge guards at Chinwangtao in October 1946.
A PORTION of the Marines remaining in Tsingtao debark from USS Chilton, on which they are billeted, to relive guard posts throughout the city in March 1949.
shortly by the assembly on board the Chilton of the whole BLT-3. Company A remained temporarily on Shanghai's docks to shepherd out the last 119 American civilians who heeded the consul general's final warning to leave. On 28 April, their task finished, the rear echelon of the battalion rode an LSM downstream to their transport, and on the 29th the 3d Marines sailed for Tsingtao.
The purpose of the trip north to the Shantung port was to readjust some of the cargo hastily loaded out at Shanghai and to redistribute naval personnel evacuated from the port facilities there to various fleet units.30 The Chilton sailed for the States on 6 May, leaving behind Company C of the 3d as the sole remnant of an FMF task force that had once topped 50,000 men. The company, which had long had most of its gear loaded on board a cruiser for ready employment as an emergency landing force, shifted its station to shipboard on 3 May, but continued to furnish shore patrol detachments.
Relief for Company C was enroute to Tsingtao when the rest of the 3d Marines sailed for home. Early in April, the 7th Marines at Camp Pendleton had been alerted for movement to join Admiral Badger's command and replace the 3d, and on the 21st the battalion embarked on two cruisers at San Pedro. By the time the ships arrived at Pearl Harbor, the swift march of events in China had caught up with original replacement plans and Badger no longer wanted a battalion. Instead he asked for a rifle platoon to reinforce the regular Marine ships' detachment on two cruisers, plus a headquarters and a third platoon to be stationed on the Eldorado.31 Company C of the 7th Marines was detached for this task at Pearl Harbor on 1 May, and the remainder of the battalion returned to California within a week, completing what was certainly the shortest tour of overseas duty in its history.
The replacement Company C on board the Manchester and St. Paul arrived at Tsingtao on 14 May; two days later the cruisers which had been relieved on station departed with Company C of the 3d Marines. The stay of new arrivals at Tsingtao was fleeting; almost as soon as the Marines he had asked for had transshipped to the Eldorado, Admiral Badger left for Hong Kong and the two cruisers followed in a few days time. The St. Paul visited Shanghai just ahead of the Communist forces which captured the city on 25 May, and the Manchester left Tsingtao on the 26th when it was clear that the Communists were at last ready to take the city. These two events, the fall of Shanghai and the imminent loss of Tsingtao, had the effect of canceling the requirement for Marine ship-based reinforcements. There was no longer any opportunity to land in the portions of China held by the Communists without incurring casualties, and the Americans who had unwisely remained to do business as usual could expect no succor from the Navy.
The cruisers with the platoons of Company C on board rendezvoused at Okinawa with the Eldorado after leaving China. There the company reassembled on the command ship and left with it for the U.S., arriving and disembarking at San Diego on 16 May. The return home of the last element of the FMF to be assigned to Naval Forces, Western Pacific, brought an end to a long and colorful era of Marine History. The swarming Red tide which engulfed mainland China wrought a change that erased forever the way of life which had once made China duty a coveted goal and the China Marine an envied person in the Corps.
CONCLUSIONIn the considerable volume of literature that has been written in castigation, explanation, or defense of United States policy in China during the postwar years, there is only passing mention of the part played by the Marines in carrying out this policy. Virtually all memoirs and records concede the enormous difficulty of being at one time an active ally of Nationalist China and at the same time neutral in the civil war it was fighting. Too little recognition is given to the controlled reaction of Americans who were exposed to Communist harassment and attack and who meted out a frustrated limited punishment in return, a retaliatory attitude at odds with all Marine training and conditioning.
The men of III Amphibious Corps and its successor commands had it in their power as individuals and small groups to go beyond the restriction of their orders--to lash back with full fury against their attackers, to hunt them down relentlessly, to shell and strafe the villages and farms that hid them--but instead they gave the disciplined response expected of Marines. The greatest tribute that can be paid these men is that they maintained whatever position their government assigned them and did so in the spirit as well as the letter of the orders under which they served.
The wisdom inspired by hindsight can provide many solutions to the problems that faced the U.S. in China. Interesting though these theories may be, they are academic arguments now. One practical lesson learned, and a costly one, was never to underestimate the strength of Communism or the determination of its adherents. Promises, agreements, and negotiations were all regarded as means to an end by the Chinese Communists, and the Marines ambushed at Anping and those who fought at Hsin Ho received the brunt of this practical education for their fellow Americans.
It was not the Communists but the Japanese who were the expected source of trouble when IIIAC first landed in North China, and one of the marvels of the postwar period is the open cooperation that was received from former bitter enemies. The Marines stepped into a complicated repatriation setup and with the help of the Japanese made its solution seem easy. Where opposition might have been expected, none was received, and a few hundred Marine administrators and guards were able to do a job that could have required thousands of men. Techniques of repatriation worked out at theater level were translated into practice virtually without a
hitch. The impartial justice exercised by the Marines in North China and by all the services throughout the Pacific in seeing defeated soldiers and uprooted civilians home was an incalculable but evident asset in the later relations of the U.S. with Japan.
The mutual trust of the Japanese and the Marines extended to the point where they mounted guard over the railroads of Hopeh together. And the Marines relieved the Japanese when the Nationalists were unable to do so in order that the American pledge to facilitate repatriation could be honored. The mission of keeping open the lines of communication between Peiping and Chinwangtao and the responsibility for seeing that KMA coal reached its destination gave the IIIAC tasks that savored much of the duties which fell to the Marine expeditionary forces in the Caribbean islands in the '20s and '30s. The economic well-being of a large and important part of Nationalist China depended during the winter of 1945-46 on the security measures taken by General Rockey's command.
Important though the humanitarian aspects of Marine missions were, their political repercussions were far greater and longer lasting. The support of the Central Government involved in the act of securing ports of entry into Red-dominated territory ensured the enduring enmity of the Communists. The decision not to follow up this initial support by using all the force necessary to restore order in North China gave immeasurable but certain strength to the Communists, but it was a decision in keeping with the temper of the American people at the time. The Marines by their very presence were a force for stability in China, not because of their own strength, for that was soon whittled away, but because they stood for the power of their country. In effect, American action secured for the Nationalists a base of operations from which they launched their drive to recover Manchuria and North China. Thereafter, the American position was entangled irretrievably with the fortunes of the Central Government's armies.
During the year and a half that a large portion of the FMF was stationed in North China, the Marine Corps underwent a drastic reduction in strength. The men who served so well along the rail lines, at the coal mines, and in the headquarters cities were often fresh from boot camp. There was constant drain of experienced men from corps, division, and wing units that matched or exceeded the ravages of combat, but withal the job set out was done. A determined and continuous effort was made to maintain high standards of discipline and to continue training by whatever means possible. Again, as has been the case many times in the Marine Corps past, commanders were able to count on the fact that their veterans and inexperienced men would coalesce as units because of the tangible pride they had in themselves as Marines. To those who have not experienced this feeling or seen its results, it may seem questionable, but it exists and was in large part responsible for the cohesiveness of Marine units in China at a time when demobilization and demanding commitments might have caused a different result.
Not until the 1st Marine Division pulled out of China and the mission of the remaining units was narrowed to security of American installations at a naval advanced base was there time or opportunity to turn to amphibious training. At Tsingtao in 1947-48, the battalion landing teams of FMFWesPac were able to renew their skills in the complicated business which is the Marine Corps primary mission. When the State Department was convinced that Americans should leave China, these ready battalions were a logical on-the-scene choice to handle the job of emergency evacuation and to provide protection if need be. As it happened, emergency employment of the ship-based Marines was unnecessary, but this fact was in keeping with their selection for the task. Their readiness to land and ability to handle a difficult assignment with dispatch was sufficient insurance that more normal measures could be used.
When the whole of Marine activities in North China in the postwar years is considered, the variety of missions accomplished is considerable and the common factor that threads them all is the adaptability of Marines to the job at hand. Perhaps the most valuable legacy of this tour of China duty is one often taken for granted--the fund of command experience in a variety of situations which was garnered by young officers and NCOS. This reservoir of responsibility well earned has been drawn on repeatedly since in peace and war.
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1. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: ComNavWesPac Semiannual Summary of NavForWesPac, 1Apr- 30Sep48, dtd 22Oct48 (ComNavWesPac A-9 File, FRC, Mech) ; FMFWesPac WarDs, Sep47-Feb48; FMFWesPac G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, and Air S-3 Rpts, Mar48 (S&C Files, HQMC), hereafter FMFWesPac StfRpts and following appropriate months, Apr-Jun48; Capture comments.
2. "The New FMF," Marine Corps Gazette, v. 31, no. 5 (May47), pp. 10-15.
3. Ibid.; 12th ServBn WarD, Oct47.
4. Interrogation of four Marines, dtd Apr48, encl A to CG, FMFWesPac Itr to CNO, dtd 28May48 (S&C Files, HQMC, FRC, Alex).
5. IG memo to CMC, dtd 13Ju148, Subj: Ability of FMFWesPac to carry out assigned mission (S&C Files, HQMC, FRC, Alex), p. 4.
7. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: U.S. Dept of State record groups on China, Lot F79-830 U.S. Marines 1948 and Lot 55F174, Box 2--300 Evacuation, General (Dept of State RecCen); FMFWesPac StaffRpts, Jul-Dec48; U.S. Department of State Bulletin No. 496, v. 20, no. 1 (2Jan49), pp. 28-29, hereafter State Bul 496.
8. IG memo to CMC, dtd 13Ju148, op. cit., pp. 4-5.
9. ComWesPacPhibFor OPlan No. 783, dtd 6Aug48 (OAB, NHD), Anxs A and B. Prior to the commencement of the evacuation, Admiral Entwistle was relieved on 1 December 1948 by Rear Admiral George C. Crawford. Gen Gerald C. Thomas ltr to Hd, HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 23Aug61.
10. PlansOff, NavForWesPac ltr to G-3, 1st ProvMarBrig, dtd 5Ju148, Subj: FMFWesPac OPlans (ComNavWesPac S-A16 File, FRC, Mech).
11. CG, FMFPac speedltr to CG, FMFWesPac, dtd 220ct48 (S&C Files, HQMC, FRC, Alex).
12. Encls (A) and (B) to CinCPac serial 000138 to CNO and ComNavForWesPac, dtd 21Oct48, Subj: Reinforcement of FMFWesPac, Tsingtao with forces presently available to 1st ProvMarBrig, FMF (ComNavForWesPac TS File, FRC, Mech).
13. ComFAirWing One OPlan No. 4-48, dtd 15Nov48 (OAB, NHD).
14. State Bul 496, p. 28.
15. Ibid., p. 29.
17. 1st ProvMarBrig (Reinf), FMF OpO No. 8-48, dtd 16Nov48 (ComNavWesPac TS File, FRC, Mech).
18. CTF 78 Itr to ComNavWesPac, dtd 6Dec48, Subj: Movement of Evacuees in Yangtze by U.S. Forces (ComNavWesPac A16-3 File, FRC, Mech.
19. ComNavWesPac disp to CNO, dtd 20Dec48 (S&C Files, HQMC, F13C,Alex).
20. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: U.S. Dept of State record group Tsingtao ConGenIntelRpts 1949 (Dept of State RecCen); ComNavWesPac Opo No. 1-49, dtd 24Jan49 (OAB, NHD); FMFWesPac StaffRpts Dec48-Jan49; 3d Mar S-1 and S-3 PeriodicRtpts, Feb49, dtd 1Mar49 (S&C Files, HQMC), hereafter 3d Mar StaffRpts with appropriate following months; Muster Rolls of the units concerned (Unit Diary Sec, PersDept, HQMC); U.S. Relations with China.
21. Testimony of VAdm Oscar C. Badger and MajGen David Barr in Military Situation in the Far East, pp. 2694, 2745-2749.
22. Quoted in U.S. Relations with China, p. 336.
23. "American Business Request for Marines," The North China News (Shanghai), 8Dec48, p. 1.
24. United Press disp of 9Dec48 in North China Marine (Tsingtao), 11Dec48, p. 1.
25. AmerConGen Shanghai disp No. 55 to Dept, dtd 3Feb49, Subj: Protection and Evacuation of American Nationals (Lot F79, Box 45, File 300--Evacuation--Emergency Plan, Dept of State RecCen).
26. CNO disp to ComNavWesPac, dtd 21Jan49 (S&C Files, HQMC).
27. AirFMFWesPac S-3 PeriodicRpt No. 16, Aug48, dtd 7Sep48 (S&C Files, HQMC, FRC, Alex).
28. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: Tsingtao ComGen IntelRpts, op. cit.; 3d Mar StfRpts, Feb-Apr49; 3d Mar S-2 PeriodicRpt, Apr49, dtd 1May49 (ComNavWesPac A-9 File, FRC, Mech); Muster Rolls of the units concerned (Unit Diary Sec, PersDept, HQMC); Military Situation in the Far East; C.E. Lucas Philips, Escape of the Amethyst (New York: Coward-McCann, Inc., 1957).
29. ComNavWesPac disp to CNO and Comgen Shanghai, dtd 22Apr49 (S&C Files, HQMC, FRC, Alex).
30. ComNavWesPac disp to CNO, dtd 30Apr49 (S&C Files, HQMC, FRC, Alex).
31. CG, FMFPac msg to CG, 1st MarDiv, dtd 10Apr49; ComNavWesPac disp to CNO, dtd 29Apr49; CNO disp to ComNavWesPac, dtd 29Apr49 (S&C Files, HQMC, FRC, Alex).