In 1927 2DLI were stationed at Sialkot in India when in January 1927 they were moved to Shanghai as part of the Shanghai Defence Force to deal with The Shanghai Crisis which had developed when Russian inspired armies of the Kuomingtang (The Nationalist Party of China) led by the warlord Chiang Kai Shek moved from Hankow towards Shanghai in pursuit of Nationalist forces
The Shanghai Defence Force had , I believe, the approximate strength of a Division, three infantry brigades, two from England and one the 20th from India of which 2DLI was a member.
(2nd Gloucestershire 2nd Durhams 4/1st Punjab Regiment 3/14th Punjab Regiment)
The 2nd were originally stationed at Jhansi but was brought down to Calcutta by train where on the 27th January 1927 they embarked from The Garden Reach Sidings onto The Takliwa sailing on the 29th minus the band and colour party who would follow later. After a half day stop in Singapore on the 2nd February to take on fuel oil the Battalion departed at 1700hrs to Hong Kong which they reached on the 7th February 1927 a further one and a half days stay ensued where the men were given time ashore and gave the Battalion an opportunity to evacuate five other ranks to the British Military Hospital in Hong Kong. The 2nd Durham Light Infantry headed Northwards again and on the 12th February they arrived in the Whang Pu River where kharki drill was discarded for serge and greatcoats! The battalion had arrived just ahead of Glosters ,the DLI having the honour of first British regiment to arrive.
The 2nd Durham Light Infantry on board the `Takliwa`arrive on the Whang Pu River Photograph Courtesy of Mr Ian Goddard whose father Archie served with the battalion at this time.
The view the men of 2nd DLI had of `Garden Bend` from the Takliwa`s berth at Shanghai 1927 Photograph Courtesy of Mr Ian Goddard
Any thoughts of a quick disembarkation were quickly dispelled as it became clear that no arrangements had been made for the battalions arrival and no billets had been secured.The Brigade Hq were the only personell alowed ashore at this time with the Co and Company commanders following on the 13th February.Two uncomfortable nights were spent onboard the Takawli for the rest of the Battalion On the 14th February 1927 2DLI under the command at this time of Col J W Jeffreys 2nd DLI left their transport and marched through the streets of Shanghai with crowds of happy foreigners waving and cheering them as they passed.
Here the men of DLI form up on the Wharf prior to their march to their billets at the racecourseThe view the men of 2nd DLI had of `Garden Bund` from the Takliwa`s berth at Shanghai 1927 Photograph Courtesy of Mr Ian Goddard
The Glosters led the parade and carried on to their billets at the Waterworks whilst the Durhams quickened their pace to 140 to the minute and turned into their billets at the Racecourse enclosure.Four companies were billeted on the floors above the occupied stables with the constant smell of ammonia from the ponies below and the cold wind which rushed through the cracks of the wooden walls these billets were far from ideal.A shortage of beds was not addressed for over a month but if there was a good side to their plight it was , at least ,they were dry...unless you were on the top floor where the roof leaked incessantly!! Hq Wing found further billets in five private dwelling houses.The officers were much better cared for with their mess rooms in the Racecourse dining rooms,tiffin rooms in which they were to sleep and constant hot water and excellent bathing facilities this drew a very stark comparrison to the conditions forced upon the other ranks.
At this time a General order was in operation where troops were confined to barracks or in the DLI`s case `The Racecourse` the enclosure was used for Drill and PT whilst Route marches were carried out around the perimiter.The reason for that order had arisen from Chinese General,Marshall Sun`s defeat at the hands of Cantonese Forces at HANGCHOW which had directly led to a strike by over 56,000 Chinese labourers,despite the Tramways and Postal Services being suspended the strike passed without incident and at 1630hrs on the 19th February the confinement order on the Troops was lifted.
The various sectors which 2DLI were to operate as part of The Defence Force were reconnoitred over the coming days but normal battalion routine was once again interupted on the 22nd February by the accidental Shelling of the French settlement by a Chinese Gunboat which resulted in all ranks been confined to barracks once again ,this order was recinded soon after and by 2300hrs the area had returned to normal .
With news that Marshall Suns troops were falling back as the Cantonese once again advanced around the area of KASHING `A` Company were dispatched at 1600hrs on the 27th February in lorries to take over the Japanese sector,at this time a small amount of Chinese troops were reported at North Railway Station.Shortly before this order was given the battalion had distinguished visitors with both General Duncan (GOC Shanghai Defence Force) and Colonel Viscount Gort in the area of HONGKEW PARK visiting `A` Company positions (2DLI).
On the 28th February a platoon of `B` Company moved in to the Hongkew Fire Station as more of Marshall Suns troops were reported at the North Railway Station once disarmed they were allowed to proceed inside of the settlement as the month of February passed without further incident.
March saw the arrival of The Bands instruments along with Sgts Grice and Parslow who together with three band boys on the SS RASULA.Major Hudsan Kinahan fractured his collar bone in a riding incident on the 6th March at this time 4435102 RSM W Johnson of the HQ Wing was also admitted to Hospital.The RSM would later be invalided home on the 13th March.A further draft of Two officers.one Sgt and fifty six other ranks arrived on the SS Kamala on the 8th March and their settling in period over the next couple of days passed without incident
After a stay of two months 2nd DLI handed their Racecourse billets to the men of The Green Howards and moved to other accommodation.Hong Kew School and Hong Kew Fire station were much better billets with the playing fields on Hong Kew Park readily available the battalion had time to organise a couple of football games against local opposition .Unfortunately not all the companies could be accommodated in these two locations and some found themselves at Ewo Produce Godown (Warehouse) set in the very heart of the slum area near Range Road because of its dirty appearance it was christened `The Cement Works`by the Durham soldiers.
The Daily Mail Correspondent wrote?No Strangers have ever stirred this cynical cosmopolitan city so deeply and so diversely as did the lads from two English Counties ?.1500 of them in their familiar Khaki as they marched this morning, with shining bayonets, through the heart of the International Settlement a living pledge for the protection of British life and property
As the majority of men marched through the streets others were left to unload the battalions kit! Photograph Courtesy of Mr Ian Goddard
The Cement Works location meant the Settlement was only accessable from unoccupied land down a narrow lane lined with tumbled down chinese houses which seemed to totter over without actually falling into the street.At the end of the lane was a barbed wire gate which was guarded by soldiers of the battalion,once through the gate the Durhams line progressed to the Gas Works which for a while held one of the Company Headquarters beside this was the Thibet Road Bridge over the Soochow Creek .The creek itself was patroled by a motor boat with men of the 2nd DLI machine gun platoon manning a vickers gun mounted amidships these men were known affectionately as `The Durham Marines`.Following the creek the Durhams area extended to Ginza Road Water Works where a Company Commander made his HQ for a time.Just past this location was the Markham Road Bridge where for two days the men of `B` Company 2DLI played cat and mouse with a full Chinese battalion complete with Chinese Generals in a staff car! The Chinese set up a number of machine gun posts on the Markham Bridge.The Durhams responded by poking the muzzles of Lewis guns from every conceivable place .Windows,walls, and sand bagged defence posts were all manned by the confident and totally unperturbed Durham Light Infantryman whose actions convinced the Chinese that it would be better to retire on this occasion!
The construction of barracades was an important part of the battalions role in this picture men of 2DLI busy themselves in the construction of one such structure supervised by CQMS Archie Goddard Photograph Courtesy of Mr Ian Goddard
Defences and emplacements were built all along the Durhams line, sandbagged defence posts large fences topped with barbed wire were supplemented by concrete sentry posts to protect the Durhams not only from the bullets that were expected to fly but also the inclement weather conditions.Telephone lines and lines of communication were established between the DLI companies and the Battalion headquarters.Along the line from the French Town to Yangtzepoo preparations were made against the expected assault. In the area of Chaei which both `A` and `C` Companies were protecting there was significant sniper activity and although no casualties were suffered by the DLI at this time it became increasingly unwise to stay in one place for to long
The 2nd DLI were on a constant duty at the barbed wire cordon from 25th February 1927 through until 17th April 1927 called into action on numerous occasions. Most notably on the 22nd March 1927 when fleeing Nationalist Forces attempted unsuccessfully to storm the Durham?s sector Two men of `C` Company 2DLI were wounded in the exchange of fire at the Elgin Road barricades.Other fighting at the Barricades on Cunningham Road,North Hohan Road and Szechuan Road result in retalitory fire from battalion sentries and local Police resulting in some 30 casualties amongst the armed Chinese ranks..Some who managed to enter the settlement were disarmed and by 1800hrs the settlements had returned to near normal but rifle fire could still be heard outside .
2DLI and Japanese officers 1927.
The main problem was trying to stop fleeing Northern troops from entering the Settlement. But hundreds broke through the line as the fighting came upto the Settlement perimeter. 2 men of the DLI were wounded and their position was in danger of being overrun due to the pressure of Northern troops trying to get in. The order was given to open fire. 'A' Company, Glosters, rushed in to support the DLI positions.
The Chinese were warned but the warning went un headed a single round was fired with no effect, the officer gave the order to open fire but even he was alarmed by the ferocious fire laid down by the DLI and Glosters.When the firing died the officer heard one of his men remark that this was the first time he had known a lewis gun to fire a whole drum without jamming?was this minimum force thought the young officer ?so many bodies?they still hung people for murder?there would be an enquiry?these were things which ran through the mind of the young DLI officer.. one of the men said quietly ?at least the press were`nt here Sir!? Just then a smartly dressed man presented a card to the Officer and announced ?I`m fromThe TIMES Sir!?
About 60 Chinese soldiers were killed, but this halted the onrush. About 600 more threw down their weapons and were herded into a temporary cage. Many more surrendered to the forces further to the east. The situation calmed down, though their was sniping and bursts of gunfire through the night.There was of course an enquiry and the gentleman from the Times had stated ?I witnessed the whole incident and in my opinion the officer acted entirely properly? the officer was awarded an MBE in other circumstances he would have been awarded a Military Cross.
Following this incident no further attempt was made to overun the City of Shanghai.The City was still under a strict curfew the only persons out after 2200hrs were the patrols and armoured cars who roamed the streets until the morning and when the morning came armed soldiers could be seen everywhere.On March 23rd The 2DLI took up a left hand position with the Glosters on the right ,Two Companies forward Two Companies in reserve as support.On the 26th March information was received of a possible Cantonese attack however no attack materialized. The Companies rotated on the 27th March with A Company relieving C Company on the battalion right and the Royal engineers fit `Bomb` roofs to the already well fortified positions
The fortified posts had been extended to the junction of Avenue Edward VII and the Bund,but by the middle of April it was apparent to all that the war had passed them by.Although the situation in Shanghai remained officially as dangerous the crisis was over as the triumphant Chiang,having rided himself of his Communist extremists ruled supreme from Nangking.
On the 6th April The 2nd Durham Light Infantry found themselves transferred to 13th Brigade which suited the Durhams fine for 13th Bgde were in a rest area.`C` and `D` Companies moved to rest billets at 36 Medhurst Road whilst `B` Company moved to 116 Wei Hai Wei Road.The battalions stay was short on the 15th April they were on the move again this time Battalion HQ,`HQ` Wing,`C` and `D` Companies would be placed at the Public School for Boys at Hongkew Park with both `A` and `B` Companies at Yangtzepoo by 14;15hrs on the 15th April the move had been completed.
The rest of April and the beginning of May passed without further incident indeed some form of normality returned with 2nd DLI football team winning the Dell Shield.In the Inter-Company Cup `HQ` Wing beat `C` Company and in the final and in the Army & Navy Cup the DLI beat HMS HAWKINS by eight goals to one.
`A` and `B` companies came back to the battalion area on the 19th May and took up billets on the Dixwell Road.The battalion gave a Boxing demonstration to the Japanese on the 28th May in return the Japanese gave a display of Ju-Jitsu.The 30th May was a day of massed meetings by the Chinese to commemorate The Nanking Road Incident of 1925 all leave was cancelled and troops confined to barracks but once again the day passed without incident..The SS Karmala brought a further fifty other ranks from the 1st DLI along with 2/Lieut Murphy who were a much welcomed addition to the battalion at this time.
On June 3rd The Kings Birthday was celebrated at the Racecourse by the Trooping of the colour by the Coldstream Guards and a march past of the Units which comprised the Defence Force.The salute was taken by Sir Miles Lampson His Britanic Majesties Minister to China.
On the nights of 3rd and 4th June a magnificent Torchlight Tattoo was held at the Racecourse with a crowd of over 15-20,000 people each night nothing of its like had ever been seen in the far east.The pageant began in total darkness a searchlight was illuminated and fell upon the Durhams buglers under Sgt Bugler Peters,a cannon was fired which signalled the lighting of the torches from all around the arena the buglers of the 2nd Durham Light Infantry sounded as one,reported The North China Daily News,as they played `The First Post followed by a rousing bugle march `Egypt`.Then followed the massed drums of ten battalions and the massed bands of over three full brigades The centre point of the Tattoo was the playing of Tschaikowsky`s 1812 overture by the massed bands of all the battalions present.
Native dances were performed by the two Punjabi battalions present,whilst an excellent drill display was performed by The Beds and Herts Regiment,topped only by The Green Howards `Lantern March`.As the Tattoo drew to a close there were fine renditions of Land of Hope and Glory and Abide with me before the buglers of the 2nd Durham Light Infantry closed the performance with the sounding of the `Last Post` and as the Durhams played `Lights Out` every tourch in the arena was extinguished.A quite magnificent sight.
On the 7th June the commanding officer announced the death of 4439093 Pte G W Maddison of `B` Company followed on the 27th June by the announcement of the death of 4435692 Pte N Failes of `HQ` Wing both deaths occured in 7th British General Hospital in Shanghai Pte N Failes of the Machine Gun Platoon had been injured in a collision with a tramcar he was married with three children There are no mentions of cause or related incident in the War Diaries of that period for Pte Maddison.
On July 1st the 2nd DLI exchanged billets with the Glocestershire Regt something which did not go down well with the men.The DLI were moved to a hutted camp with leaky roofs in the Yangsepoo area .The unfortunate `D` Company found themselves billeted in a coal yard where the constant breeze blew the coal dust straight into their huts a most noticable and unpleasant contrast to their previous billet within the Hongkew School.Mercifully the battalions stay here would not be a long one and rumours of the move back to India quickly spread. Their Shanghai Defence Force duties had been fulfilled and in the summer of 1927 it was time for 2DLI with its reputation for painting the town red only surpassed by its fine fighting record to leave Shanghai. On the 17th July 1927 the British Community provided an afternoon of entertainment as a farewell gesture and a thank you to the men of the 2nd DLI over four thousand people flocked to the Racecourse where entertainment in the form of side shows,free canteens and a splendid tea, provided by the British Womens Association,were just part of the spectacle which ended with the most magnificent fire work display.
DLI Soldiers `Hutted` Camp at Yangsepoo Waterworks in 1927 Photograph courtesy of Mr Ian Goddard
On the 22nd July the 2nd DLI formed up for a farewell address by Colonel (Commandant) Sangster who thanked the battalion and praised their effort and commitment in protecting the city from outside aggression especially in the way the incident at Chapei on the 22nd March had been handled.Following a call for three cheers for the Brigade Commander the battalion marched past in groups of four.At 0915hrs on the 23rd July 1927 the Battalion assembled for the last time outside of their Yangsepoo Camp before marching down to the Old Ningpo Wharf where five and a half months earlier the 2nd DLI had landed they re- embarked on the troop transport `Karmala` the destination was India.However before they left there were scenes at the Docks which anyone present that day will remember for ever,from all over Shanghai people of all Nationalities flocked to the Quayside by 15;45hrs it was estimated that over three thousand people were present to say their farewells to the Durhams and Glosters.Two aeroplanes flew overhead and dropped messages of farewell,Union Jack flags fluttered in every direction until at 1600hrs to the tune of `Auld Lang Syne` the rope was cast off and the `Karmala` pulled slowly out into the Hangout River the crowd cheered itself hoarse as the Durhams set sail .It was reported as a most moving and somewhat astonishing farewell from people who had stood in the tropical Sun for hours in order to say farewell to the Durhams.
1927 Roll of Honour 2nd Durham Light Infantry China 1927
Three soldiers of the 2nd Durham Light Infantry were recorded to be at Hungjao Cemetery section `H` Military Section in 1948 these were;-
4442451 Pte J Doyle 2nd Durham Light Infantry Date of death 23rd April 1927
4435692 Pte N Failes 2nd Durham Light Infantry Date of Death 27th June 1927
4439093 Pte G W Maddison 2nd Durham Light Infantry Date of Death 6th June 1927
Civilians caught up in the Conflict
A soldier of the 2nd Durham Light Infantry helps Chinese civilians cross the barricades into the International settlement;-1927
The Official Chronicles of 2nd Durham Light Infantry China 1927
The following is a transcript from the official `Regimental Bugle` and although some of the text has already been posted above the `Chronicle` is reproduced here in its entirety.
It was in early December 1926 at the Cavalry Station in Silakot that the first warning came. A letter marked `Secret` contained the news that the 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry had been selected for service in China but deprecated the immediate selling of property. or the making of final arrangements, because ample time would be allowed after the issue of the ultimate orders to move.
A fortnight perhaps was then allowed to elapse before a second letter brought the information that no battalion would now be sent to the Far East, and, thereupon. interest in the war, which was now being waged in China, flagged and attention was again turned towards the Cavalry Brigade Manoeuvres. planned for the second week in February. which the Faithful Durham were to attend in order to provide a suitable target for the galloping "arme blanche"; to the Christmas festivities and to the Battalion Sports due to take place early in February. The bomb therefore falling in the early morning of January 21' which in the form of a telegram ordering mobilization, caused the Adjutant to ride off on his bicycle. in the middle of the night, down the road under the eucalyptus trees, past the Church and Brigade Parade Ground, to arouse the Colonel, was more unexpected than that of August 4th 1914. But good soldiers are ever ready for the unexpected. and all went according to plan, so that troop trains left Sialkot Station at 9 o'clock and 10.30 on the morning of January 24th bearing all ranks of the Battalion in the highest spirits to active service. and leaving on the platform the ladies who, whatever their real state of mind, presented smiling face, as they kissed one, and waved farewell to all the one officer and ten other ranks of the Battalion who were left to form the Depot, and the envious officers of the Staff and of the Regiments remaining behind in the Cantonment.
The three days and nights in the train to Calcutta brought no great hardships. nor any casualties, other than the loss, through the exigencies of the Service. of three officers. Disappointment was also felt at the non arrival at Calcutta of a senior officer by whom too much time had been spent in traveling backwards and forwards between Belgium and Lahore.
Early in the morning of January 29"' the good ship "Takliwa" left the Calcutta quay with the Colonel Commandant and the Headquarters of the 20th Indian Infantry Brigade from Jhansi. the 2nd battalion Durham Light Infinity. and some supply and transport and pay personnel: but before she left the news came on the wires that the Band, the Colours and officer's swords should accompany the Regiment. This was interesting, but could hardly be considered to immediately effect either men or officers, for the Band. the Colours and the swords, were three or fours days journey away in Silakot Good quarters were provided for Officers, Warrant Officers and Sergeants. but most indifferent ones for corporals and men, who however, throughout the journey showed no signs of allowing their good spirits to be in any way affected thereby. but of whom a very large majority. by night, forsook their hammocks and slept on the hard boards of the deck. On the whole the journey was smooth and the heat did not last many days. though for a week the mosquitoes, which had come aboard at Calcutta exacted a distressing toll, and the guard room was sufficient to try the hardest veteran, for being below decks and very far forward, the heat was great and the pitching and tossing reduced even the most refractory to an unhappy silence Half a day at Singapore, when oil fuel was taken in, and a day and a half at Hong Kong, where the GOC in the shape of General Ward. an old and valued friend of many on board, came to wish good luck to all ranks, and where a football match was played against the Gunners, whose defeat could not be slaved off even by lack of football boots amongst the Durham lad`s.
And then northwards again, on the last stage of the journey Two days out of Hong Kong the air began to have a cold fresh feeling and on February 12th when "Takliwa- dropped anchor in the Whang Pu River, khaki drill had been discarded for serge and great coats.
Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, standing on the deck of S.S. Takliwa, taken at Shanghai, China, February 1927 (Photo courtesy of Graham Thompson)
The first British regiment to arrive in Shanghai, the Battalion was received with acclamation, crowds of sightseers were on the quay as the ship was made fast, and all ranks were in the highest spirits at arriving in the theatre of war. The Gloucester Regiment was very close behind, for the "'Takliwa" had slowed up to await their approach, but the Durham light Infantry were first upon the scene, and it must be a very long time since a British regiment was in Shanghai. The Boxer Rising was twenty seven years ago, and there were only Indian regiments there in those days.
All ranks felt they had been long enough in the "Takliwa and looked forward to a quick disembarkation, but this was not to be No arrangements had been made for the accommodation of troops, and had it not been for the presence in the city of those who had fought as senior officers throughout the Great War, and gained experience there in of the requirements of the British soldier, weeks might have elapsed before accommodation could be arranged, for in this town, thickly populated by all nationalities, and governed by the Municipal Council, no Billeting Act was in force, nor could it be so long as only British troops were landed; and it was only by the erecting of mat sheds and converting the racecourse buildings into barracks, that quarter could be provided
Insufficient notice of the coming of the regiments had been given to allow for their quarters being made ready in lime; in spite of the fact that those citizens of influence who had had experience of war, plainly envisaged the situation; and the troopers therefore had to continue to accommodate the new arrivals whilst the work of preparation was being completed. By midday on the 12th February the two transports were tied up in the Yangtzepoo and the men of both battalions were being exercised on the quay at PT and saluting drill, but police were posted at the dock gates to prevent them leaving the vicinity of the ships, and for two more nights they slept in the cold and damp on hard decks rather than he in the comparative comfort in hammocks on the airless troop decks
2nd Durham Light Infantry soldiers tend to the Mules Shanghai 1927 ( Photographs courtesy of Graham Thompson )
Then came the parade march through the streets led by the Gloucestershire Regiment with fixed bayonets, colours flying and their bands playing; which the light Infantry, whose band and colours were still in Sialkot followed marching at the trail, preceded by a Royal Marine Band, between the crowds of wondering apathetic Chinese and past groups of cheering hand waving foreigners. The Commander in Chief, Admiral Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt, whose strong representations had brought this force and thereby saved Shanghai from a worse fate than that of Hankow or Nanking, took the salute, and soon after, leaving the men from Gloucestershire to continue their march to the waterworks..
The Durham Light Infantry quickened their pace to 140 to the minute as they turned into the racecourse enclosure.
Four Companies were here accommodated on the floors above the stables in which the sturdy little China racing ponies were kept. These floors were unheated, smelled strongly of ammonia from the stables below, and the cold wind blew through the crevices of the wooden walls. At first also there were insufficient beds and the cry for more palliasses continued for a month, but the roofs, except on the newly erected top floor, kept out the rain and the floors were dry. The plight of the Gloucester Battalion at the Water Works was in those first days of cold wet weather many degrees worse. But in both cases conditions rapidly improved, though when the time came, after two months, to hand over the Racecourse to the Green Howards, the quarters for the men still had many drawbacks. The officers had been more fortunate in having an excellent mess room in one of the race course dining rooms, tiffin rooms in which to sleep, and excellent baths with hot water always available.
Although Headquarters remained in the racecourse for two months, there were seldom more than two other companies in these billets at any one time .Sections of the defence line of the settlement were allotted to the Companies and whilst on duty they did not return to their billets but were retained in their defensive positions for their entire tour.
Hong Kew School and Hong Kew Fire Station were regarded as good billets. Hong Kew Park was close at hand and its playing fields always available. The football there is memorable for a match played in the Company League one March afternoon when the Durham lads, whose sports gear had been left in Sialkot on mobilization, and for whom the supplies provided by the generosity of the Shanghai residents were not yet available. played without boots. With their feet clad only in perfectly good army socks they administered a sound and fairly easy defeat to their opponents who were properly equipped with studded football boots. Then came that dirty billet at Ewo Produce Godown, named by the Regiment "The Cement Works" which was in the heart of the slum area and close to the front line and the schools at Range Road. In this part it was that the only means of entry into the Settlement from unoccupied land was a narrow lane with little tumble-down Chinese houses tottering on its edge, blocked at the end by barbed wire gates which were opened at certain hours and most efficiently policed by Light Infantry private soldiers, whose directions the crowding chattering Chinese followed without question. A little further on stand the Gas Works, which formed for a time a Company Headquarters, and beside them Thibet Road bridge over the Soochow Creek, which was here policed by a motor boat, on the deck of which smiling soldiers faces might always be seen around the grim threatening Vickers Gun mounted amidships. For here the machine Gun Platoon, known as the "Durham Marines", were always on guard. The line then followed the Creek past the Ginza Road Water Works, past the Markham Road Bridge where on two successive days "B" Company called the bluff of a Chinese Battalion, and a motor car load of Chinese generals, who mounted their machine guns on the bridge and assumed a threatening attitude until the muzzles of the Lewis guns from the windows and over the walls of sandbag defence posts manned by confident and unperturbed Durham soldiers, persuaded them to pack up and retire. Then the line went to Gordon Road Police Station where recruits were for ever being drilled and, where the benign seven foot high Chinese constable, who was always taken to quell an incipient riot might any day be seen. From this point the Gloucester Regiment took over the line until the arrival of "Shaforce" from England, when the Coldstream Guards came into their place.
But before their arrival came the alarm of the shelling of the French Settlement. A Northern Army gunboat had, on the approach of the Southerners, changed sides, and to celebrate the occasion fired a number of dud shells, which, though reported to be aimed at the arsenal, fell two miles beyond it into the French Town. It was on this occasion that an officer of the Regiment who was visiting, according to orders, late at night a French police station, to ask if any attack was being made on their posts, was greeted by a sergeant, who replied politely with a surprised negative, and a shrug of the shoulders, as he turned back muttering "Another of those mad Englishmen."
And every day barbed wire fences were being erected and sandbag defence posts built, support lines were being completed and lines of fire for Vickers guns laid down, cement sentry boxes were being arranged to protect sentries against both bullets and weather, and telephone wires laid over the roofs of China houses from Companies to Battalion Headquarters. From French Town to Yangtzepoo then preparations were made, but it was Chapei, the slum area held by "A" and "C" Companies, that the trouble quickly arose. Quickly it came and quickly it was finished. For some days much indiscriminate firing had been going on in Chapei beyond the boundary and bullets were frequently hitting houses within the settlement. There had been no casualties, though the days of real war were recalled when a voice said " I wouldn't stand there there`s a sniper on that gate" and then the smack of a bullet on the stone gatepost was heard. But one day towards the end of March, about sunset, mobs of armed Chinese who fired their rifles in the air, or to the front, or side, it mattered not which appeared in the streets of the unoccupied area opposite the barbed wire defence posts, and, increasing in volume every second, soon surged up to the barriers. Because orders had been issued that fire was only to be opened m the last extremity, it was not until the wild rabble had begun to break down and break open the gates, and two private soldiers of "C" Company had been wounded, that fire orders were issued by section commanders holding the line. Fire was opened on four separate occasions, twice at the attacking rabble outside the wire fence, and twice at crowds that had already forced their way into the settlement, and in each case the result was the same. The street was cleared as if by magic, for the mob immediately laid down their arms and tore off their uniforms, those within the settlement giving themselves up and those without disappearing down the side alleys. Where a few minutes earlier, a roaring threatening crowd had raged there were empty streets; on the barbed wire hung pieces of clothing, on the pavements or cobbles of the roads lay a few stark motionless bodies, while within the wire were groups of resigned prisoners, piles of surrendered rifles, ammunition, machine guns and bombs, and stretcher bearers busying themselves with the two wounded men of `C` Company or the Chinese.
Reserves of the Gloucester Regiment were rushed up in lorries from the Race Course as soon as firing commenced, but by the time they arrived the attempt to enter the settlement had been frustrated.
The two companies withstood this rush with the minimum of firepower, and by their alertness, discipline and self-confidence restored order in the whole area within an hour.
After this affair Shanghai assumed the appearance of a city in a war area. 'The Shanghai Volunteer Corps were mobilized, American and Japanese Marines were landed, and the barbed wire fences and sandbag posts extended even to the Junction of Avenue Edward VII and the Bund The curfew order, whereby every citizen must be in his house before 10pm, was introduced, and no man left his billet unarmed or without a steel helmet, By night therefore, the city was deserted except for an occasional patrol or armoured car. and by day armed soldiers were everywhere in evidence.
But no further effort was made. either by bluff as at Markham Road Bridge, or by force as at Chapei, to overrun the City: and after the middle of April the signs of war began to disappear.
During these two months of the tour of duty in China the Regiment gained much experience, added it may be to its reputation, and all ranks proved once more that they were able and willing to adapt themselves to any of the varied conditions that fall to the lot of soldiers of the British Empire. They will not forget the hospitality with which they were received in Shanghai: nor the efforts that were made by the dwellers therein to improve the conditions under which they had to at first live.
The following extracts are from "The Bugle" the chronicle of the "2nd Battalion. D.L.I
THE KING'S BIRTHDAY PARADE. The King's birthday in Shanghai was celebrated on June 3rd by the Trooping of the Colours by the Coldstream Guards and a march past of all units of the Defence Force. comprising twenty different units. This parade took place on the Racecourse and, in the absence of General Duncan, the salute was taken by Sir Miles Lampson, HBM Minister to China
On the nights of the 3rd and 4th June, a Torchlight Tattoo took place on the Racecourse. This proved a most successful and spectacular display. On each night fully fifteen to twenty thousand people were present, for nothing of its kind had ever before been staged in the Far East. It began with the arena in total darkness, and the glare of the first searchlight revealed our Bugle's, under Sergt Bugler Peters, and to quote the North China Daily News:
".A gun boomed over the ground, lights broke out from all quarters and the Buglers of the Battalion Durham tight infantry. sounding as though on one giant bugle blew the First post was followed by the stirring bugle march Egypt and those who did not know it beforehand their first experience of what British regular soldiers can do, for the dressing they kept was wonderful.
Then followed the entry of the massed drums of ten battalions and the massed bands of three brigades.The centre piece of the evening was Tchaikovsky 1812 overture. which was played by the massed bands of all battalions and accompanied by spectacular scenic effects. Then followed native dances by the two Punjabi battalions, and a magnificent drill display by the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, while the Green Howards gave an exhibition of lantern marching . At the end the massed bands and drums played Land of Hope and Glory and Abide with me . The Tattoo closed with our Buglers sounding Last Post and Lights Out on which every light in the arena were extinguished .So ended a most satisfactory programme which has probably never bents equalled East of Suez.
On July 1st the whole Battalion changed over with the Gloucestershire Regiment and went into hutted camps in the Yangtsepoo area. This came as an unpleasant contrast to the Hongkew School. "D" Company view the most unfortunate as they were accommodated in mat-shed huts with roofs of doubtful water resisting capacity. Not the least unpleasant circumstance was the fact that the Company Camp iwas situated in a coal yard and the continual breeze blew into the huts from the direction of the huge stacks of coal dust, the result can be best imagined than described.
Soon after our arrival at Yangtsepoo came the rumours of our approaching return to India. and as it became generally known that we were soon to leave Shangai, a movement among the British community was begun to give a farewell entertainment to the Gloucesters and ourselves.
On July 17th the Farewell Entertainment took place on the Race Course A large tea was provided by The British Women`s Association. while there were also sideshows flee canteens and a vaudeville entertainment. and to finish up with, a marvellous display of fireworks and crackers Some four thousand of the general public were in evidence. and General Duncan and Colonel Commandant Sangster were also present. The bands of the Green Howards and the Suffolk Regiment also very kindly played during the afternoon. Our deepest thanks are due to those who not only provided an excellent afternoon's entertainment but who also gave us something we prized far more a tangible expression of their, good wishes towards the Battalion. and a practical evidence of their regret at our coming departure.
. "As a community we thank these lads for what they have done for us and we hope they will bear in mind a memory that this conglomerate settlement is not such a bad spot after all. The Shanghai Times, July 18th 1927
On July 22nd the Battalion paraded for a farewell Address by Colonel Commandant Sangster. The Battalion formed up in a square. and after the general salute had been given he addressed the parade. He said that on the departure of the 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry from Shanghai he desired to express to Colonel Lee and to all ranks of the Durham Light Infantry his regret at our leaving. We came at a most critical time and had the difficult duty of protecting the city from outside aggression. Only four Battalions were available to hold a front some sixteen miles in length. Towards the end of February last we held the most difficult and most dangerous sector of the defences, opposite the native city of Chapei. The way in which we repulsed the attack on March 22nd was beyond all praise and we had thereby established a reputation for military efficiency second to none. Our sporting activities also were equally good. He desired to express the personal pleasure he had experienced at having us in his Brigade, and it was with regret that he bade us good-bye, bon voyage, and the best of luck wherever we might be.
Colonel Lee then called for three cheers for the Brigade Commander, atter which the Battalion marched past in fours.
No one who was present will ever forget the obvious sincerity, which underlay the Brigade Commanders words, and the privilege they had at being so addressed on parade will be indelibly impressed upon all ranks of the Battalion. At 9.15 am on Saturday. July 23°, the Battalion assembled on the road outside Yangtsepoo Camp and marched straight to the Old Ningpo Wharf where five and a half months earlier we had landed. Here H.M.T. "Karmala" was berthed, and by mid-day the embarkation of the Gloucesters and ourselves was completed. Near the entrance to the docks General Duncan took the salute as the Battalion marched past
When all the troops were on board the scene on the docks became one which will live in the memory of all, who witnessed it for many a long day. From all over Shanghai people of all nationalities flocked to the dockside. During the actual process of embarkation visitors had not been allowed on the quay, but two aeroplanes flew low over the ship and dropped messages of farewell.
When however. all restrictions were removed and visitors allowed to approach. the dockside presented a kaleidescope of fluttering colours and gay feminine dresses. Cars began to arrive in ever increasing numbers disgorging their occupants to swell the already large throng. until by 3.45 well over three thousand people must have been present to bid us goodbye. A sea of upturned faces stretched illimitably, and even the balconies of neighbouring houses held their full complement of sightseers. Union Jacks and other flags fluttered in every direction and just before 4 o'clock the last rope was cast off. and we drew slowly out into the Hangout River, while the band played' Auld Lang Syne" and the waving crowd, which had by this time approached the very brink of the water, cheered itself hoarse
It was a most astonishing and moving farewell, for when some thousands of people will stand for two hours in a tropical July sun to watch a ship sail it is practical evidence of the fact that we had carved for ourselves no small niche in Shanghai.
We reached Hong Kong early on the 27th July, where we remained for about thirty hours and it was possible to exercise all the troops on shore Dunng the afternoon the pipers and drums of the Scots Guards, who were billeted not far from the dockside. played to us for more than an hour on the wharf a courtesy that was very greatly appreciated. General Luard with his usual hospitality entertained all the officers of the regiment to lunch or dinner at Headquarters House.
The voyage so far had been remarkably cool for the time of year and we docked in Singapore on the morning of August 1st and left again the same afternoon The "Kumala" arrived off the Hoogly River on the evening of the 7th and here we anchored for the night, proceeding up stream early on the 8th, and docked at the Wharf at Calcutta in the afternoon.
The Battalion left Calcutta in three trains on the 9thh and. after a comparatively cool journey, we reached Sialkot early on the morning of the 12th We marched to barracks in two parties. the first led by the band of the 4/7th Dragoon Guards. and the second by that of the Sikh Pioneers.
Marching back it seemed as though the period of the last six months might have been an illusion. for the companies marched straight to the same bungalows they had occupied last cold weather and dismissed upon their old parade ground.
Sequence of photographs from Shanghai 2nd DLI and Shanghai Police
DLI soldiers together with Shanghai Municipal Police hold back crowds and man the barracades in Shanghai 1927 during the troubles there. These are the remaining images of the set which illustrates the `Chronicle` above;-
News from Shanghai.
This was how the news of the Durham`s encounter was reported. Nothing has been changed and although political and personal attitudes may have changed greatly since 1927 this newspaper report is reproduced here exactly as it was .To change or omit the cutting or any part of it would be wrong and in some ways could be deemed at an attempt to re-write history
A Report by H .C .Smart March 22nd 1927
Transcript of news report `SPLENDID CONDUCT OF THE DURHAMS`
FIRST SHOT FIRED
BRITISH IN SHANGHAI
SPLENDID CONDUCT OF THE DURHAMS
HELD THOUSANDS AT BAY
By H C SMART
SHANGHAI March 22nd
I landed at Shanghai from Siberia at daylight this morning .Terrified Chinese were pouring into the settlement. the Southern Armies were fighting their way into Shanghai. The Northern Army were on the run, led by their officers. But about 10,000 had remained behind to loot and murder. In addition to these two forces another 10,000 deserters from both sides and `roughs` the scum of many cities had joined in the orgy of looting and murder. Shells were exploding and rifle fire was lively.
For many miles around Shanghai the population was flying in thousands to seek protection of the British. Two days ago, these same people would have murdered any Britisher who had appeared among them. Such are the Chinese.
Women and Children were allowed to pass; men were turned back-they could not be trusted. Then came the order to close the barriers. Barbed wire and other obstacles were placed across the streets on the boundary lines and Shanghai was sealed.
I made for South Honan Road . As I rounded a corner stray bullets sang overhead. I did a sprint, and was soon in a sandbag redoubt with a detachment of eight Durham Light Infantrymen; the redoubt commanded two streets and a broad square Chapei, Chinese territory. At the windows were stationed snipers. northerners, southerners and riff-raff, who sniped at one another, and at everything living that appeared in the streets below.
Twenty yards away were two headless bodies of Chinese civilians who a few hours before had been summarily executed; further down the street were other dead bodies, and here and there wounded civilians (Chinese) crawling away for shelter.
For three hours I saw the snipers at their deadly work. whenever a shell fell in a house,those who had not been killed or wounded came out and ran for shelter. Many of the poor wretches ran our way but they could not get through the barbed wire, and we directed them down a side lane. The snipers fired at men, women and children-no matter how young they were I saw one youngster- a boy of about eight-standing at a corner waiting for his mother, who had gone back to help another child. shots seemed to hit the wall all around him; fortunately the shooting was bad, and he got away.
An old man, loaded up with tinware came out of a shop; he was trying to get away with as much of his goods as possible. Before he walked 20 yards he was shot-and crumpled up.
The Durhams cursed itching to shoot at the snipers, who could plainly be seen from the windows. Now and then a stray bullet came our way. The Tommies tried to construe this into a direct attack; they were anxious for an excuse to shoot down the assasins. But the young Durham officer wouldn`t have it. "Just a stray one only,lad`s" he remarked.
At the end of the street, in Chinese territory, stood the Holy Family Institute, in which there were 250 children. It was in the direct line of fire. Presently, we saw a shell carry away part of the clock tower. A woman in European dress came along the street holding her hands above her head; she seemed to come from the school.she was fired on and disappeared down a side street.
A French priest came up to the redoubt from inside the Settlement. He wanted to get throgh to find out the fate of the children-his flock- in the Holy Family Institute. We told him that this was impossible; he would have been shot long before he reached the school. Over the sandbags he shouted in Chinese that he would richly reward anyone who would go up to the school for him. There was no reply. He shouted again and again. The only reply was more firing He appealed to the Durhams; they could not move. Then he went down on his knees and prayed. for a few minutes he stood wringing his hands in anguish; then he went away to try to get through the lines somewhere else.
At the end of the road the armoured train armed by white russians passed to and fro. its wanderings were evidently restricted to a few hundred yards. at intervals it sent forth shot and shell in all directions. these white russians had been deserted by their generals to fight their own way out; mostof them are now in the hands of the cantonese awaiting trial by the peoples common court. seventeen escaped into the british settlement.
another shell burst in a shop about 80 yards away- it looked like a restaurant. three civilians and a soldier were hurled into the street. The shop caught fire; ten or more civilians rushed out, and dashed down the street for shelter.
At a window close by two youngsters (probably Cantonese students ) had been particularly busy with their revolvers. It was these students who seemed to pick out the children. the Durham Lewis gunner trained his gun on the window.
"give `em one,sir" he asked the officer.
"No!" came the sharp reply.
"Gawd he`s `ard `earted" said the Corporal " I`d blow the ------------ to hell!"
Another house caught fire. Out of it came a party of eight,evidently a family-grandfather, mother and children.They came our way without hurry or apparent fear. When about thirty yards from us the snipers spotted the family and fired at them. Two of the youngsters were hit and fell. The old man picked them up while the family looked on, still without any hurry and walked towards our barbed wire and took shelter in the lane of safety round the corner.
At one o`clock two Chinese soldiers in uniform took cover behind telegraph poles and fired deliberately at the durham post. the bullets went into the sandbags and over. 2that`s good enough anyhow" said one of the Tommies. "Let them have a couple" came the order from the officer.
A couple were promptly fired at the soldiers and also a couple of sly ones at the snipers in the windows. The Chinese soldiers bolted.
At three o`clock apart from intermittent shooting, things quietened down at South Honan Road. A Shanghai detective came up to the Redoubt and told us that there was likely to be trouble later on at the Boundary road, nearer the North railway station . He offered to show me the way. on the road he stopped at the police station, and showed me over a score of chinese prisoners awaiting trial for murder and robbery under arms. they were obviously excited and expected to be liberated at any moment by the cantonese.
The detective left me in the Redoudt at Boundary Road where I joined another detachment of ten Durham`s. As things seemed quiet,I tried to get a better view of what was happening in Chinese territory. I went through a shop and into a back lane, along which I walked some distance. Then I entereda tea shop to have a look at operations, through a window. The shop was crowded with women and children. One of the women pointed upstairs She came over to me and whispered ; "Plenty bad man topside Takee much dollar"
I knew what that meant; looters were at work, so I beat it, and was soon back with the Durham`s.
Then the trouble began again. For some hours about two thousand Shangtung soldiers (Northerners had been trying to get into the settlement . They had tried every lane along the neighbouring boundary. but the barbed wire held them up. Then, as the Southerners pressed they got desperate and came out in the road in front of the Durham post. They came down the road and were ordered back. In reply the Chinese fired at the Durhams who promptly gave them a volley dropping several of them. The position did not look too good there was only a handful of Durham; I had a car under cover round the corner so I jumped into it with one of the Durham`s who was ordered to bring up reinforcements,which were promptly brought up.
Later on I went up to the Redoubt and learnt that after about fifteen minutes shooting the Northerners finding they could hit nothing but walls and sandbags threw down their rifles. The Durham`s ceased fire. and the men of Shantung,numbering about 1200, were allowed to come in and surrender.
These were the two main incidents so far as British troops were concerned at Shanghai on the critical day of March 22nd. a handful of British troops had held back two armies and a mob of many thousands. Everyone in china, soldiers, civilians, missionaries and pacifists, are agreed that if the british force had not been in Shanghai, hundreds of Europeans would have been massacred. to-day there are no european pacifists in China. once again they have learned the old lesson-if you want to be kind to the Chinese you must rule them. Since the year dot. the Hun. the Turk and the Tarter learned the same lesson. History plainly shows that any progress made in China was always due to the conquerors.
Shanghai Sunday Times July 24th 1927
"Throngs Gather at Wharf to Cheer Departing Troops"
"Shanghai sees last of two crack Regiments"
“Amidst volley after volley of rousing British cheers, between which the familiar strains of `Auld Lang Syne` floated in a spirit of good fellowship over the intervening waters to the crowds on the pier, the British transport SS `Karmala carrying the Durham’s and The Gloucester’s to India backed into the stream at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon then moved slowly down the river to pass out of sight of the hundreds of Shanghai residents who had gathered to bid farewell to the first of the Shanghai Defence Force to take their departure from the city.
Shanghai yesterday had its first opportunity to witness the departure of a troopship and to experience the sadness of parting with soldier friends, the ending of acquaintances short but happy, the feelings of regret or of happiness, and to make the usual promises to meet again, to write and to cherish friendships which have sprung up within the past few months.
Shanghai opened its hearts to these two regiments the first to reach the City when trouble was anticipated early this year and during the whole of their stay here they have been treated with the most generous hospitality by residents of all nationalities. In turn the troops, by the magnificent manner in which they have conducted themselves at all times endeared themselves to their hosts and hostesses and become part of the home and community life of the districts in which they were quartered……..As the final whistle sounded the band struck up the ever popular parting song `Auld Lang Syne¬ in which the whole of the departing contingent joined with a heartiness that spoke volumes for their feelings. Cheer after Cheer broke from hundreds of throats, hats and flags were waved, the men shouted and called to friends on the pier and amidst it all the transport carried from
During their stay in the City the men comprising the two Battalions have endeared themselves to the great majority of those with whom they came into contact. Their orderly behaviour, protecting presence and cool restraint in times of danger and the greatest provocation have stamped them as efficient units of the British Army and their departure is generally regretted. In moments when a foolish or inconsidered action might have precipitated a grave misunderstanding and possibly a crisis these men were always dependable and performed their duties in the traditional manner of the British Army. Even the Chinese who first looked on their arrival with suspicion and anger, later came to realize that these men were in Shanghai not for the purpose of aggression or provocation but solely for the purpose of protecting the lives and property of British residents and incidentally the lives and property of Chinese residents living under the Jurisdiction of the International settlement. Their duty has been done. they have performed that for which they came and having done so proceeded without any ostentation back to their old posts in