Roy Chapman was the most renown turn of the century adventurer, explorer and naturalist. Its been said he was the inspiration for he was the model for the fictional adventurer/archaeologist Indiana Jones. In in 1977 George Lucus did tell Steven Spielberg, when they first discussed the concept for the movie trilogy, that he had been inspired by movie serials he had seen in the 1940's and the 1950's of Chapman's expeditions.
what was the expedition for?
In the early 1900's Chapman took a job at the American Museum of Natural History as a janitor in and began collecting specimens for the museum, eventually, years later he became the museum Director. Soon after he was exploring the East Indies, Yunnan and some provinces of China. In 1920 he started an intense series of expeditions into Mongolia - Gobi - China. On July 13, 1923, the party was the first in the world to discover dinosaur eggs. Politically the area was unstable. China, which controlled inner Mongolia, was engaged in a series of civil wars. Russia, which controlled Outer Mongolia, was just recovering from its revolution. Neither exerted much control over the region and there was anarchy. Outer Mongolia was notorious for armed bandits that roamed the land.
Civil wars raged in the area, but troops generally respected the expedition (which flew an American flag) and let it pass through the battlelines. This changed in 1926. While traveling outside Peking, they suddenly ran into a contingent of soldiers who could clearly see their flag but to whom it didn't seem to make one bit of difference. "...Bullets began spattering around us like hailstones," Andrews wrote, "They had opened fire with a machine gun but it was aimed too low and the bullets were kicking up the dust just in front of us." Andrews turned the car around and fled. "The bullets now were buzzing like a swarm of bees just above our heads." Houses they had passed earlier that had seemed to be deserted were actually filled with soldiers that were now firing at them. "For three miles we ran the gauntlet of firing from both sides of the road."
Andrews emerged from that incident safely, but as time went by it became increasingly more difficult for the expedition to operate in Mongolia. The Russians accused him of spying. The Chinese were become suspicious that the Museum was stealing priceless Chinese treasures. Ironically, Andrews caused some of this misunderstanding himself by auctioning off an extra dinosaur egg as a publicity stunt to raise money for the expedition. It had brought $5,000, confirming to the Chinese and Mongolians that foreigners were profiting at their expense.
Andrews was forced to cancel the 1926 and 1927 expeditions. He tried in 1928, but managed only to get into Inner Mongolia. After the expedition returned, their collection was seized by the "Society for the Preservation of Cultural Objects." Andrews had to spend six weeks negotiating with them to get the fossils back. This is the expedition which General Hill participated. The expedition of 1929 was canceled due to more unrest and 1930 would be the final.
For year rumors have swirled that General Hill's work on creating maps were done covertly for the US Government that believed confrontation with China and Japan would come. And similarly his sudden disappearance in the summer of 1936 when he flew about on the Yankee Clippers to many of the islands of the southern Pacific, to study and report on the activities of the Japanese fortifications underway. Perhaps one day we will find out, it will make for an interesting story!