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The Soochow Creek Medal - 1932 & 1937

Started by bobgee , Apr 26 2009 09:32 AM

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#1 bobgee

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 09:32 AM

After posting the thread on the "Hang Chow Houseboat Medal" group, I had some questions about the Soochow Creek Medal which I mentioned.

In 1980 a 60 page monograph entitled “The 4th Marines and Soochow Creek, The Legend and the Medal” was written by collectors, F.C. brown, John E. Lelle and Roger J. Sullivan. It’s a most comprehensive tale of the Marines in Shanghai in the 1930s and the story of the Soochow Creek Medal and how it came to be and the various types that were made. Most of what follows is excerpted from that publication. The medals illustrated are in my collection.

The first Soochow Creek Medal was originated in early 1932 during the hostilities in Shanghai between the Japanese and Chinese. The Municipal Council of the International Settlement proclaimed an emergency in January. The 4th Marines were stationed along Soochow Creek, which was the boundary line between the International Settlement and Chapai, to proect the International Settlement. Troops of the other nations within the International Settlement also participated. The Marines occupied these positions until June, 1932 when things settled down. In spite of being very close to action and fire between the rival forces, the Marines suffered no casualties.

In the weekly publication of the 4th Marines, “Walla Walla” dated Feb 13, 1932 issue , it states,

“ Now that the war is on when do we get our medals”” is one of the natural questions which is being asked nowadays - particularly around Headquarters where other men have time to think about such things now and then. Well, men, here it is. The latest suggestion for a medal as struck by G. Whiz Wolfe and approved unofficially by all who have seen it. The ribbon is to be appropriately made in brilliant yellow silk - and the disc itself - well, is it appropriate?”

Here is a bronze 1932 strike suspended fro a replacement "type" ribbon. It came to me as a planchet only with no suspension pin or bar.

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The obverse of the “approved” medal depicts the ubiquitous “Honey Bucket” and the legend “Soochow Creek 32” and the words “For Valor”.

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In the following week’s issue, February 20, 1932, is found, “Report of our Awards Committee” - The Soochow Creek medal has not been struck yet, and may never be struck...." Apparently there was some unexplained doubt about the medal being made.

Initially, according to “Walla Walla”, certain men were singled out for the “award“. When the actual medals finally did become available it was noted in the April 30, 1932 issue of “Walla Walla” , “You too can join this band of heroes by putting in your name to the First Sergeant. Perhaps you are wary, having put in for a an all night pass several days ago that never materialized. Have no fear; the delivery of these medals is guaranteed. Of course you will find that you owe two dollars for it payday; but pay day is still a long way off and that will be just two dollars that Jensen or others of his ilk won’t get.”

“The famous Soochow Creek Medal comes in two finishes; gilt and bronze each suspended by a ribbon in the true Soochow colors. There will be only one batch of medals struck, so if you want one, put in your name before the of the month.

The rallying cry is “get them while they are hot”. Not only are they hot now, but they will remain that way for several years to come.

Think of the lies you can tell your grandchildren about this famous award.

No palpitating breast is complete without one.”

The monograph mentions, : "The man responsible for the design of the Soochow Creek Medal, as recorded in the 13 February 1932 edition of the 4th Marines regimental newspaper, "The Walla Walla" was D.R. ("G. Whizz") Wolfe. The 12 March 1932 edition of "The Walla Walla" lists Wolfe as being awarded his own creation, as well as the appelation "Soochow Creek Medal of Honor Man."

Regarding the manufacture, it is stated "although the actual manufacturer of the Soochow Creek Medal is unknown, it was undoubtedly a local Chinese entrepreneur. One strong possibility is that it was made by Tuck Chang, whose establishment was at 67 Broadway, Shanghai. A regular advertiser in the regimental newspaper, Tuck Chang's ad ran, "Marine, get your jewelry and medals where they are made right".

"The initial manufacture of the Soochow Creek Medal was made early in 1932. Such was the medal's popularity among the troops however, that a second batch was ordered in April 1933. As far as can be determined, no further Soochow Creek Medals were manuafactured again until 1937".

In July 1937, Chinese and Japanese forces clashed at the Marco Polo Bridge outside Pekin. Fighting spread south to Shanghai and then throughout China. The Sino-Japanese war commenced on August 13, 1937 when a force of more than 10,000 Japanese troops invaded the Chinese Peace Preservation Corps area.

Marines were once again deployed along Soochow Creek to prevent the conflict from spilling over into the International Settlement. The 4th Marines in Shanghai were reinforced by two companies from the Philippines. The 6th Marine regiment was quickly shipped out from San Diego, By the end of September 1937, USMC strength totaled over 2500 officers and men. Eventually the Japanese prevailed and occupied Shanghai. In February 1938, the 6th Marines departed leaving the 4th Marines to continue as protectors of American interests in Shanghai.

As things calmed down, the idea of striking another Soochow Creek medal was revived. Accordingly this was done and sold to the Marines from the company office and the through the “Walla Walla”. The price was still $2.00. The 1937 medal is virtually identical to 1932 issue except for the date on the obverse.

Here is an example of the 1937 Medal in bronze, suspended from an original ribbon. It came to me without a pin or suspension.

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This medal was struck in three different styles. 1). Bronze finish. 2). Gilt finish and 3). A completely different obverse featuring a USMC emblem; the word “Soochow Creek 37” but no “For Valor” legend. However the reverse bears the same inscription, “Presented to/-----------------/For bravery and Valor/ Battle of Soochow/ Creek/ Shanghai 1937”

More to follow:

Semper Fi......Bobgee

Edited by bobgee, 26 April 2009 - 10:30 AM.


#2 bobgee

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 09:38 AM

This a closeup of the 1937 Medal planchet in bronze and the reverse. Certain differences may be observed between the 1932 & 1937 versions indicating a different die.

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This is the 3rd type 1937 Medal which features a USMC emblem and a pin-back suspension bar with the legend "U.S. MARINES"


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More to follow:
Bobgee

#3 bobgee

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 09:52 AM

This is the reverse of the Type 3 USMC version of the 1937 Medal. It bears the name of the Marine to whom it was "awarded".

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There were also certificates available for both the 1932 and 1937 medals. They bot state,

"To Whom it May Concern - This is to Certify That---------------is hereby authorized to wear the "Soochow Creek Medal" at all times and under all conditions (except when in uniform.)

This presentation is made in view of the fact that the above mentioned man did, under any and all disadvantages, do his duty with extraordinary valor and bravery in the defense of the city along Soochow Creek, in the year 1932 (or 1937).

Presented this ----day of -----in the year of our Lord 1932 (or 1937), in the city of Shanghai and the State of Emergency."


Medals to Sailors have been seen with Red White & Blue ribbons. One has been seen to a British sailor. I also have in the recesses of mind that the Medal was again struck in 1940. But I have no example of it.

The Soochow creek Medal is likely the most famous and sought after "spoof" medal "earned' by U.S. troops. Please feel free to share your knowledge to this post. Hope you enjoy.
Semper Fi......Bobgee

Edited by bobgee, 26 April 2009 - 02:28 PM.


#4 Brig

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 12:25 PM

great medal Bob. I've been searching for one of these for about 6 months now, lost the second version on eBay awhile back

#5 Dirk

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 03:56 PM

Bob: I went back and found a nice photo of Wolfe in the 32-33 Annual but since my scanner is inop I cant post it but If you have that one you may wish to add his photo to round out this outstanding thread. Dirk

Edited by Dirk, 26 April 2009 - 03:56 PM.


#6 swabbie

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 08:35 PM

Here is an example of the “Navy Version” of the Soochow Medal. AOM3c Edward Eakins was stationed aboard the USS Augusta during ’36 – ’37 time period (I do not have the exact dates). This medal is very similar to Bob’s ’37 medal in bronze; however, the die is different (e.g., the border around the circumference). Also the suspension loop and ribbon are different. This one has a broach.

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#7 swabbie

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 08:37 PM

Here is the reverse.

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#8 swabbie

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 08:40 PM

At some point, he was an SP “assisting” the Shanghai Police. I do not know if this badge was “police” but clearly it represents the International Settlement. I’ll add it as an item of interest.

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#9 bobgee

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 01:11 AM

Swabbie - Thanks for the post of the 1937 named Navy Soochow Medal AND the Shanghai Police badge. The bar on your Soochow appears to be a U.S. medal brooch. That Police Badge is VERY nifty! Here's a couple of pics of a another 1937 which sold on EBay in 2008. Just another nice example to a sailor with the R/W/B ribbon and a pinback brooch which is the one most seen on these medals. Semper Fi.....Bobgee

EBay_SooChow_Creek_Medal_OBV_06_08.jpg EBay_SooChow_Creek_Medal_REV__06_08.jpg .jpg]

#10 bobgee

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 01:16 AM

Here's another fine 1937 example that sold on EBay earlier this year. It has a plain pin back brooch on which is engraved "SHANGHAI" . The medal itself is un-named. Only one I've seen like this.
Semper Fi......Bob


EBay___SooChow_Creek_Medal___Shanghai___Bar.jpg EBay___SooChow_Creek_Medal___Shanghai___Bar.REV.jpg .jpg]

#11 teufelhunde.ret

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 03:37 AM

Another 1937 strike - located at MCRD Parris Island.

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#12 Mr-X

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 03:52 AM

Gr8 thread guys, thanks for sharing the information http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif
I was not aware this medal even existed.

Edited by Mr-X, 27 April 2009 - 03:53 AM.


#13 pfrost

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 08:04 AM

This is a Soochow Creek medal I picked up at a local flea market a few years ago. Also in the group was his nice GC medal.

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#14 pfrost

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 08:04 AM

And the back.

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#15 bobgee

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 09:10 AM

And the back.


Patrick - I remember those! Neat pair!!!!! Anytime it needs a new home.....let me know!
Bobgee

#16 Brig

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Posted 17 June 2009 - 02:12 PM

I'm going to have to go back to the PI Museum and check that one again, not 100% convinced it's original based off my memory. I know they have some repros and inaccuracies there they use to fill gaps...

#17 teufelhunde.ret

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 02:23 AM

I'm going to have to go back to the PI Museum and check that one again, not 100% convinced it's original based off my memory. I know they have some repros and inaccuracies there they use to fill gaps...


Stop by and talk with Dave at his shop - no one has been involved longer than him and he knows were all the skeletons are... ;)

#18 Varangian

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 04:27 AM

What an awesome piece of history! Thanks for posting this.

To me, the whole inter-war period has an adventurous flavor you can't really find in any other. If a guy had a little regular pocket money, I think those 20 years between 1919 and 1939 would have been an awesome time to live in.

#19 TS Allen

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 11:05 AM

Fascinating medal! Do you have any more information on the issue to the British sailor?

To Varangian: Yes, the period must have been great to live in. Dictatorship on the rise, democracy in slow collapse, communism rapidly expanding, and of course the Great Depression to screw us all over equally. Quite the adventures to be had!

~TS

#20 teufelhunde.ret

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 12:00 PM

This one sold on ebay this week for #58. Anyone? :think:

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#21 Varangian

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 12:33 PM

To Varangian: Yes, the period must have been great to live in. Dictatorship on the rise, democracy in slow collapse, communism rapidly expanding, and of course the Great Depression to screw us all over equally. Quite the adventures to be had!

~TS


Ah, but there were still unexplored places, and aviation had yet to reach adolescence. There were empires and kings, though much reduced in power, you could still do a safari right, and there were mountains no one had climbed yet. There were fewer people and less congestion. And everyone still used horse cavalry. Military expeditions abounded.

But back home you had electric lighting, telephones, and hot water to soothe travel-weary muscles. The US citizen still had all of his constitutional rights, and our money, at least in theory, was backed by gold

The world was on the cusp of massive change, and there are always negative consequences when changes that big happen, but, like I said, if a guy was set with regular pocket money I think it would have been an awesome time to live in.

Edited by Varangian, 18 June 2009 - 12:33 PM.


#22 Brig

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 05:38 PM

This one sold on ebay this week for #58. Anyone? :think:

that would be me...I'll post better pics when it arrives. maxed out my bid, too. that was the absolute highest price my bid was for. must be fate

#23 teufelhunde.ret

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 02:33 AM

that would be me...I'll post better pics when it arrives. maxed out my bid, too. that was the absolute highest price my bid was for. must be fate


... well you walked all over my bid ;) congrat's!

#24 Brig

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 01:56 PM

were you the runner up?

#25 teufelhunde.ret

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 03:28 AM

No, mine was a safety bid hoping others would pass on it.


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