U.S. Marine Corps in China – part III

American officers of the 6th Marine Division inspect Japanese soldiers at Tsingtao airfield. As Japanese soldiers were repatriated from China after World War II ended, some remained to guard rail lines against sabotage or disruption caused by the reemergence of civil war in China.

Clashes between the Marines and communist Chinese insurgents started to occur and eventually became almost routine. The communists tried to sabotage the railroad tracks, and sometimes they would snipe at passing trains. In the clash later known as the Kuyeh Incident, the communists ambushed a train that was traveling from Tangshan to Chinwangtao. This was a special train carrying General Dewitt Peck, commander of the Marine 1st Division, and a Marine inspection team. The communists opened fire from the village of Kuyeh, only 500 yards from the railroad track.

A firefight erupted that lasted the better part of three hours. Air support was called in, but Marine pilots could not clearly distinguish where communist forces were lurking. There was a fear of hitting civilians too, so permission to open fire was denied. A relief force was dispatched from the 7th Marines, but when they arrived the communists had melted away into the countryside.

American troops and Chinese laborers who have been repairing a rail line take cover as they come under fire during an attack by communist soldiers between Tientsin and Chinwangtao in November 1945.

The train stayed overnight at Kuyeh, but when it started again the next day it was found the communists had torn up about 400 yards of railroad track. When Chinese railroad crews tried to repair the line, they were ambushed by waiting communist troops. General Peck gave up trying to reach Chinwangtao by rail. He turned back to Tangku and took a flight on an observation plane instead.

The incident showed how firm a grip the Chinese communists had on the province. General Peck felt a Nationalist offensive was needed to clear the vital rail links from communist interference. Peck contacted General Tu Li-Ming, who was in control of the Northeast China Command, to arrange such a sweep. Tu readily agreed but requested that Marines guard all large rail bridges between Tangku and Chinwangtao, a distance of about 135 miles. That way, more Chinese Nationalist troops would be freed up for the offensive.

Gradually the Marines began to realize their mission was morphing into something quite different than the original assignment. Private Stevens almost got into a fight when he mentioned that their main mission was to repatriate the Japanese. Hearing this, a fellow Marine exploded in anger. “Don’t give me that bullshit!” he said forcefully, “Marines are in North China to support Chiang’s regime.”

Many Marines also started to realize that Chiang’s government was so corrupt it was beyond saving. American servicemen were appalled by the extreme poverty they saw all around them, the careless indifference to human life, and practices like selling young Chinese girls into sexual slavery in brothels.  Almost anything seemed better than the current government.

In 1946, the Marine forces in China were substantially reduced. The 6th Marine Division was disbanded, and the forces in Tsingtao were whittled down to a reinforced brigade. The Japanese repatriation was going well, ironically “helped” by the growing communist presence. Japanese nationals, both military and civilian, had no wish to be subject to the tender mercies of any Chinese, but they particularly feared the communists. As communist forces like the 8th Route Army advanced, the Japanese packed up and headed for Tsingtao, the main embarkation port. 

During a meeting in China in 1945, Communist leader Mao Tse-tung climbs aboard a Jeep that is carrying U.S. Ambassador Patrick Hurley and American Colonel I.V. Yeaton.

The clashes between Marines and communist Chinese insurgents seemed to grow in number and seriousness. On July 13, 1946, communist raiders surprised and captured seven Marines who were guarding a railroad bridge. After some negotiations the leathernecks were released on July 24, but the communists adamantly demanded an “apology” from the U.S. government for “invading” a “liberated” area. The U.S. government ignored this posturing and issued its own strong protest in return.

Just a few days later, on July 29, 1946, a Marine convoy heading from Tientsin to Peiping was ambushed at Anping. The column consisted of cargo trucks, jeeps, and some U.S. Army staff cars carrying personnel bound for the Chinese capital. Second Lieutenant Douglas A. Corwin led the escort, which consisted of 31 men from the 1st Battalion and a 10-man 60mm mortar section from the 1st Marines. There were also some Marine replacements with the column.

The Marine convoy encountered a roadblock of oxcarts, so Corwin and an advance party went forward to investigate. Suddenly, a dozen hand grenades were thrown from some nearby bushes. Given no time to react or take cover, Corwin and the men immediately around him were all killed or wounded.

U.S. Marines in China 1946

The convoy truckers and other personnel immediately jumped out of their vehicles and took cover. The convoy seemed to be trapped and was taking heavy fire from the right, left, and rear. Platoon Sergeant Cecil Flanagan now took command and ably directed return fire. The communists were apparently surprised that the column had mortars, and their attack plans were thrown off balance by well-directed rounds.

Every time the communists tried to mount an attack on the convoy, their troop concentrations were spotted before they could get far. Once spotted, the 60-mm mortars went to work, lobbing round after round into enemy positions. The communists became so disoriented by this mortar fire that a Marine jeep from the rear managed to break through and go for help. The column did have radios, but unfortunately they had limited range.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

NEWSPAPER FOR U. S. ARMED FORCES IN THE CHINA THEATER OF OPERATIONS OF WORLD WAR II

Issue published: 11 Sept. 1945

 

Issue published 18 Sept. 1945

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Roy Andrews – South Bend, IN; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt., Medical Tech

Bill Burdette Sr. – Tuppers Creek, WV; US Army,

William Errington – Edwn, NY; US Navy, WWII

Norman Honie – Second Mesa, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Robert Morgenthau – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII / Manhattan District Attorney

Bill Parham – Kingfisher, OK; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt., Corps of Engineers

James G. Sartor – Teaque, TX; US Army, Afghanistan (7 deployments), Sgt. Major, 2/10th Special Forces, KIA

John Paul Stevens – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, Naval Intelligence / Supreme Court Justice

Joseph Toth – CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 tail gunner

William Henry Webster Sr. – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Major, 8 SQ/3 AG/ 5th Air Force, Silver Star, 2 Purple Hearts

Cecil Williams – Baton Rouge, LA; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on July 29, 2019, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 92 Comments.

  1. Eugene Sledge, author of “With the Old Breed,” wrote an account of his tour in post-war China. I can’t recall the title right now (A Marine in Post-War China?, or something like that). Interesting, first-hand account.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, GP. Always an education here.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I guess they were determined to win, and eventually they did. The US troops must have been weary and fed up by the end, that sort of warfare would be debilitating.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Reading the account of the ambush at Anping, I couldn’t help thinking about the war in Vietnam, and similarities in the tactics used by Vietnamese and Chinese insurgents.
    It seems as though it always takes some time to figure out the enemy’s rules of engagement — if rules there are.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. There’s War, then there’s the horrific mess and politics after. You think it’s over but it just carries on – it never ends – and you learn this was another chapter of something that’s been going on for a long time – and now you’re caught up in it – and can’t readily get out.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. GP, I’d heard of those company commander ass chewings, but I’d never actually seen evidence of them until the funny in this post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A story I have certainly never heard!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so ignorant. I thought China stayed completely out of the World Wars.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m sure my educators would have touched on it at some point, GP… but I don’t remember being taught much about interactions with China during this period. So, I find these posts interesting on a different, added level. Have a great rest of the week. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I agree with your reader Mike Sinnott, what a perplexing political and military quandary to try to have some sort of military infrastructure over.
    Great reading gp.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Your articles are not only well-written, but they are concise. You are doing a fabulous job and a great service!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Had no clue about this part of history of the WW2, as l ot of other parts really. Very interesting as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. As if the men hadn’t already had enough

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Reading about the clashes with Chinese Communist troops reminds me of this incident, as late as 1949.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yangtse_Incident:_The_Story_of_H.M.S._Amethyst
    The foreign troops in China after the war were right to realise that they were being used to support the Nationalists against Mao. The main reason why they were never really trusted.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. You are always sharing history I don’t know about…teaching me things I never heard in a history class! Thank you, GP!

    An honor to read the Farewell Salutes names out loud. I am so grateful to each one of them!

    And love the comics as always! A good place to be lost in! 😉 😀
    HUGS!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks for sharing this

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The book “Mao: The Unknown Story” by Jon Halliday and Jung Chang is a real eye opener about this period of history. Those marines could not have known that they were meeting for the first time, the soldiers of one of history’s greatest monsters, a man who was easily in the same class as Hitler and Stalin.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Excellent article, excellent information on material that I did not know, thank you very much for posting it. I am going to reblog this great peace for you Sir.

    Like

  19. This is something that needs to be told and retold

    Like

  20. …and it continues day after day. No one wants to give up their power. The world is still the same today.

    Like

  21. You fight your way through the Pacific island and just when you thought peace had finally arrived you get this. Those poor guys just seem to go from one battle zone to the next didn’t they!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. It doesn’t surprise me there were growing dissention between the two countries and it remains today.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I read Tsingtao and immediately wanted a beer, G. It was good to increase my knowledge of the area beyond the brew! –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  24. It’s totally amazing that we were involved there a year after the war “ended” – This is an education – thank you!

    Liked by 4 people

  25. The communist army was also very disciplined, no stealing or rampaging, so that helped win support from the peasants. The Nationalists focused a lot of their energies on the cities, but most people lived in the countryside.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. I read through this and all I could think was, “Man, talk about the shape of things to come.” The shape of future wars was certainly being case in concrete here. Of course a lot of that was straight out of Mao’s book on Guerilla warfare. Personally, I think Che Guevara’s book is better, but there you are. to this day I wodner if anyone outside the Special Forces communities have bothered to read either one of them.

    As I’ve said before, I can’t thank you enough for posting these. It’s an education.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. More amazing information, GP. Thanks

    Liked by 2 people

  28. So WWII morphed seamlessly into the Cold War?

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Fascinating, GP. I continue to learn so much from your blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Sounds like a right clart on!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Did not know any of this, thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. What a weird and confusing post-war situation. Armed Japanese troops on guard duty, Chinese Communist insurgents, corrupt Chinese authority in place and in the middle of it all U.S. troops. I think you called this situation FUBAR.

    Liked by 2 people

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