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15th Infantry Tientsin China 1930's photo album & more

Started by Bob Hudson , May 12 2014 05:14 PM

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#1 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:14 PM

We don't see much on the forum of the US Army's 15th Infantry China service which ran for 26 years, ending in 1938. Today I had a chance to evaluate a photo album from a soldier who served with the 15th in Tientsin from 1930-38.

 

Besides the very thick photo album, there are also three Chinese-published magazine-style pictorials on the Chinese-Japanese war of that period. Two of the pictorials are called "SHANGHAI WAR PICTORIALS." One still has its front cover and is No. 3.  I can't find any dates on them but one has a memorial tribute to Robert Short, the first American pilot killed in aerial combat with the Japanese. That was in 1932 and you can read about it at http://www.airforcem...0699before.aspx

 

A soft-cover pictorial is "The North China Upheaval, 1937" which attempts to alert the world to the Japanese atrocities in China. There is also a 1936 map of Tientsin.

 

The books and the photo album all have many graphic images of those atrocities - a few of the less graphic images are shown below.  Some of the images are huge, and hand-tinted. The photo album, with its carved covers, is quite large, perhaps 14-18 inches wide and some of the images are the same size as the album.

 

I did not count the photos in the album but there certainly are hundreds of them. It begins with images from Hawaii and the Philippines, including thre bare-breasted island girls common in GI photo albums of that era. There are Chinese village shots, members of the 15th at the Great Wall, Chinese and Japanese troops, what appears to be a parade of the international forces that occupied small parts of Tientsin at the time and some nice shots of this soldier's unit. 

 

I did some quick snapshots of just a small portion of them.

 

The album covers are carved with representations of place this solider had been, perhaps just the places he saw enroute to China.

 

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#2 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:15 PM

The map:

 

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#3 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:17 PM

The covers from the pictorial books (I'll show some images from them at the end of this thread):

 

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#4 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:18 PM

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#5 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:20 PM

All of the photos in the album are original photos from negatives, but I'm pretty sure he did not take them all himself.

 

There are a lot of  photos of documents, most of this type:

 

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#6 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:21 PM

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#7 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:23 PM

The soldier's grandson said this is him (one of many photos of him with girls).

 

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He put a few of these foot-binding photos in the album:

 

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#8 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:26 PM

This wall-scaing reminds me of something from 55 Days at Peking with Charleton Heston.

 

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#9 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:27 PM

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#10 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:28 PM

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#11 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:30 PM

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#12 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:31 PM

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#13 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:32 PM

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#14 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:34 PM

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#15 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:35 PM

Some images from the pictorial books:

 

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#16 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:39 PM

Here's the tribute to American pilot Robert Short, called "Col Short" here even though he was a civilian. Here's part of what Air Force Magazine said about him:

 

"The first American aviator to die in combat against the Japanese, Robert Short, was killed Feb. 22, 1932. Short, a native of Tacoma, Wash., had been hired by the L.E. Gale Co. to fly and sell Boeing fighters in China. Relatively little is known about Short beyond the fact that he was an ex-Air Corps pilot seeking work. Described variously as a stunt and endurance pilot and as a soldier of fortune, he once said in a newspaper interview that he would be happy to die in his fighter.

Short had no official Chinese mandate to engage in air combat. However, he flew his Boeing Model 218 with loaded guns. Then, in mid-February 1932, he actually used them on a formation of Japanese Nakajima A1N2s flying off the carrier Hosho. Short damaged one of the Japanese aircraft and then disengaged. On the day of his death, Short was ferrying his Boeing from Shanghai to Nanking when, in the vicinity of Soochow, he encountered a group of Mitsubishi B1M two-seaters from the Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga (later to be part of the Pearl Harbor attack force). He attacked one of the Japanese aircraft, killing its gunner, but was trapped by the escorting A1N2s and shot down by Japanese pilot Yoshiro Sakemago. After his death, Short was so venerated by the Chinese people that the government erected a monument to him at the entrance to the Hungjao aerodrome in Shanghai."

 

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#17 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:40 PM

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#18 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:41 PM

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#19 Dirk

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:43 PM

Bob the majority of the photos shown are indeed stock...but you have some great images in that album....the Map is collectible in its own right....the ladder scaling was a common "allied" exercise in China..,,bug I have not seen that particular image which is rather nice

#20 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:43 PM

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This was tucked in the pages of one of the pictorial books. It reminds me of a blood chit:

 

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#21 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:44 PM

That's it what I photographed.  

 

The album is a work of art, not only very large and heavy but even has it's own custom made case.



#22 Bob Hudson

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 07:16 AM

I am amazed at the large amount of atrocity photos in this album. Many are quite gruesome, and made even more so by being printed very large and then hand-tinted. They are all prints from negatives, not half-tones run off on a printing press. It raises the question of who was taking and distributing these photos? Apparently the Japanese killers did not mind having their photos taken during the act and that made me wonder if Japanese troops took and distributed them? I could understand how distributing such photos could be an act of terrorism that would make the Chinese think twice about resisting when the Japanese came to their neighborhoods. 

 

Above, I showed  a few paragraphs of text of what seems to be a message to the world about what was happening in China, a message the world certainly didn't answer, even though they had diplomats and troops in the midst of the atrocities. Certainly the ability to conduct such an unfettered brutal campaign in front of Western governments must have emboldened the Japanese for expansion of their offense throughout the Pacific.



#23 Bob Hudson

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 07:45 AM

As I wrote at the beginning of this thread, there isn't much on the forum about the 15th Infantry in China. I did some google searches and found that overall this is indeed considered a little known part of Army history.

 

chinamarine.org has an under-construction page about the 15th. The grandson of the album creator told me his grandfather was in the "cavalry," which didn't make sense to me until I visited http://chinamarine.o...USInfantry.aspx and learned that the 15th had a mounted platoon. It was created by future General, then Lt. Col.George C. Marshall when he was with the 15th in China. It was only unit of its kind in a US Army infantry regiment.  The grandson has his grandfather's long leather riding crop which has a handle that can be removed to reveal a long triangular shaped blade: sort of a cane sword in a riding crop.



#24 normaninvasion

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 08:15 AM

Bob, A truly amazing find and agree that the 15th in China is overshadowed by Marine involvement. Maybe should be re titled to " The Real Old China Hands", in regards to the book written by Charles Finney. A parallel to the "Real Sand Pebbles" threads on the forum.

 

Regarding the execution photos, seems to be common practice to include these in China albums dating back to the Boxers. Lots of decapitation pics. jeff



#25 Bob Hudson

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 08:32 AM

 Lots of decapitation pics. 

 

And worse....




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