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The Diary of Edwin Bock

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Pvt Bock, c. 1933

Edwin Bock was born in Philadelphia, PA, 3 May 1914. Early in his childhood he moved with his parents to an industrial town in lower Bucks County, PA.  He appears to have dropped out of high school after his freshman year in 1928 to work in the hosiery industry.  Several years later,  and with the consent of his father he enlisted in the Marine Corps on 21 September 1932, for a four year cruise. Following training at Parris Island and a short assignment at Norfolk Navy Base, Bock was sent to the Marine Detachment, American Legation, Peiping. Little over a year later he transferred to the 4th Marines in Shanghai.  In 1936 at the end of his cruise, Bock went into the Marine Reserves. He returned to active duty on 14 December 1942 and after several stateside assignments shipped overseas where he joined the 1st Marine Division in 1944. As an acting platoon Sgt during the Battle for Peleliu Island, Bock sustained a gunshot wound to the chest. He was evacuated stateside and finished the remainder of the war in the United States.   Corporal Bock was discharged March 8, 1946 from the United States Marines Corps.

At some point early during his first cruise, Bock began recording significant events in a diary.  Maintaining a diary was not uncommon for Marines during this era, but unlike civilian diaries, Marine dairies tended to just concentrate on recording locations and single sentence events.  So Bock’s terse entries are not uncommon. Although Bock appears to have gotten bored with China duty after about a year, we can see in his entries a good breakdown of just the type of duty, training and ‘fun” a Marine might participate in while China-side.  Because of the way the diary was structured I am of the opinion the entries shown here we gathered shortly after the fact rather than right as they occurred.

 1932

Sep 21 Enlisted in United States Marine Corps

Sep 22 Left Philadelphia, PA for training camp at Paris Island South Carolina
Arrived the 23 of Sep

Sep 24 The first day of training. For the following Three Weeks was drill, drill, drill,
and drill.

Oct 16 Beginning of the three weeks on the rifle range. Record Day I qualified as a
high marksman.

Nov 7 Starting of two weeks on the bayonet course. Qualified as an expert.

Nov 22 Finished training and was declared a Marine.

Nov 30 Left Paris Island for my new duty station at the Marine Barracks, Norfolk Navy
Yard. Portsmouth, Virginia. Guard duty on day off.

1933

Feb 8 Leaving Norfolk with detail relieving the American Legation in Peiping China.

Feb 9 Sailing well out to sea. Water very rough.

Feb 10 Brother Marines that could not take it are feeding the fish. Poor fish are well feed.

Feb 10 Marine committed suicide by jumping over the side was not found again.

Jan 11 Dropped anchor in Guantanamo Bay Cuba. Remained long enough for Cuba Detail to get off. Among them was Wheelan, Radci and Clordy.

Feb 12 Anchored in Port-au-Prince Haiti. Left detail off after firing a 21 gun
salute for the Admiral of Haiti. Put out to sea for Panama.

Feb 16 Stopped at Cocobolo, Panama.

Feb 17 Docked in Balboa, Panama for two days then put to sea again for Diego.

Mar 1 Anchored in San Diego California for two days. Set sail for Pedro, Cal.

Mar 4 Docked in Pedro, CA, had duty and couldn’t go ashore.

Mar 5 Anchored in San Francisco, Cal. Went ashore in liberty boats.

Mar 6 In Mare Island ship yard for next ten days.

Mar 7 Went on liberty in little mountain town called Valleyo, Calif.

 

Outward Bound, Mare Island 

 

Mar 8 Went to see the medical film picture called “Sins of Love.”

Mar 9 Wrote letters home.

Mar 10 Was on work detail.

Mar 11 Took pictures of the town and so on until we sail again for Frisco.

Mar 17 Docked in San Francisco and went to a show in town.

Mar 18 On working detail in the ice box. Received letters from Florence.
Was very glad to hear from my sister.

Mar 19 Wrote letter home and laid on deck in sun.

Mar 20 Left San Francisco for Hawaiian Island. Run into a typhoon. lasted all day and nite [sic]. Breadsmore became sick so I took his guard on deck.

Mar 21 Weather and sea getting calmer. Had nothing to do but read.

Mar 22 Working detail holy stoning the deck. Took vaccination for Cow Pox.

Mar 23 Ocean calm and beautiful.

Mar 25 Weather warm with calm seas.

Mar 26 Wrote letter to Glady. Sighted Lepord [?] Island at 1130 am.

Mar 27 Passing through Pearl Harbor. In sight of Honolulu.

Mar 28 Docked in Pearl harbor till the 30th of March.

Mar 29 Travelled all around Honolulu and see Diamond Peak. Broke could see Clark.

 

In Hawaii

 

Mar 30 Left Hawaii for Guam. Navy band send off. I was certainly sorry to leave
The island of writhem[?]

Mar 31 Three hundred miles with the weather nice and calm sea.

Apr 10 Still sailing on and on like Columbus did before me only in a
different direction.

Apr 10 Another shot for colenia [cholera]

Apr 12 Anchored in Guam at 5pm. Left Guam on our way to the Philippines

Apr 13 Well on way. Worked out on the boat deck.

Apr 14 In sight of land. The first in eleven days. Passed through many
Islands of the Philippines. Went on guard. I saw the very pretty
Southern Cross.

Apr 18 Anchored in bay outside of port P.I.

Apr 19 Tied up in dock at 8 o’clock. Sent letters home.

Apr 20 Met Charles Fremming in Café. Drank plenty of beer and a great time.

Apr 22 Went to US Army camp and Frenning took us around island. We
Went cabereting and then went to Camp Nickels [Nichols]. Flyers treated us
like folks from home.

Apr 24 Left Philippines on way to Shanghai, China. Sailor cracked up.

Apr 25 Found two stowaways acting like sailors. Put them ashore on Luzon.

Apr 26 Weather growing colder with calm and beautiful water.

Apr 27 On sight of land at p.m.

Apr 28 Past the ruins of Fort Wusong [Woosung]. The remains of the Chinese
and Japanese battles.

Apr 29 Tied up on buoy in the Wangpoo River. Shanghai reached at last.

30 Apr Bought pictures (80 Mex).

May Walked around Shanghai and drank a few beers never thinking that
less than two years I’d be back there again.

May 3 Spent my birthday aboard S.C.

May 4 Enda’s birthday. Working detail.

May 6 Went ashore to see the two Hollywood stars Wheeler and Woosley.

May 7 On guard dipping colors.

May 8 Watched the Chinese alongside the boat.

May 9 Left Shanghai for Taku Bar.

May 10 Caught a barge to take us ashore where we caught a train to
Peiping. Train was full of Chinese soldiers. Expected trouble but
There was none. Made stops at Takin, Tientsin and a few other
Stations.

May 12 Arrived in Peiping was put in 39th Company Marine Artillery.

May 14 Mothers day. Couldn’t send anything because I didn’t have the
Price of a stamp. Ordered four pants and 2 blouses of khaki.

Paid cash. $35.00. We were detained at the range a few days
because of our baggage being late.

May 15 We drew beds and lockers. Walked around the Legation.

May 16 School on the 3 inch gun.

May 17 Talk about the Legation by Major Arthur.

May 18 Went to the rifle range.

May 19 Planes with rising sun insignia flew over range.

May 20 More Jap planes visit Peking. No harm done.

May 21 Stood guard with full arms at range.

May 22 the Japs moving in on Peking. We could see thousands
of Chinese refugees fleeing into Peking from the captured towns.

May 23 Ordered to stand ready for trouble.

May 24 Legation all barricaded ready for trouble “action”.

May 25 Fired for record. Was two points down from Sharpshooter.

May 26 Moved in from rifle range.

May 27 Bought suit of whites off a fellow for $9.00 case (Mex).

May 28 On first guard Peking Wall Street Gate.

May 30 Baseball game between the Army Marines. Smoker tonight. Won
by the Marines 6-4.

May 31 Second game. Won by the Marines 8-0.

June 1 On guard.

June 2 Drilled and wrote letters.

June 3 Wrote and read books.

June 4 Went to Hutung and visited Nelly. Deposited ten bucks on
trunk.

 

With Daisy and her mother

 

June 5 On guard at Cruesell Gate.

June 6 Off guard. Drilled.

June 7 Everyday routine.

June 8 Brig guard. Chased prisoners.

June 9 Jap plane flew over Legation.

June 10 Weather bad. Stayed in Barracks.

June 11 Received my uniforms $35.00 wrote letters to [?] .

June 12 Signed payroll.

June 13 Parade=Drill.

June 14 Post #4.

June 15 Payday. Drew $30.00 Mex.

June 16 Went on liberty.

June 17 Bought towels, robe and handkerchiefs.

June 18 Peking Bazaar.

June 19 Payed [sic] ten dollars on trunk.

June 20 Car hit a tree at Post 1.

June 21 Formal guard mount.

June 22 Wrote letters to Clark and Fremming.

June 23 Money exchange low.

June 24 Guard Post #3.

June 25 Parade.

June 26 First movies in Legation.

June 27 Hot pepper.

June 28 Signed payroll $36.00 Mex.

June 29 On guard=Wall.

June 30 Drew pay $36.00 Mex.

June 30 Payed[sic] tailor, club, trunk. Went on Liberty=Sadie.

July 1 Laundry 3.00. Parade. Wrote letter home.

July 2 On guard.

July 3 Liberty=Chin Min.

July 4 Smoker.

July 5 Wall street gate. Smacked chink.

July 6 Drill.

July 7 Parade.

 

A Blue Parade on the American Glacis

 

July 8 Room orderly.

July 9 Drill.

July 10 Four jap planes flew over Peiping China.

July 11 Planes dropped leaflets warning Chinese.

July 31 The rest of the month quite with everyday routine.

Aug The month of August very quiet.

Sep 1 Working out for the intercompany field and track meet.

Sep 2 On guard.

Sep 3 Went to the range to practice musketry.

Sep 4 Problems of attacking and defense.

Sep 5 Advancing with company on different problems.

Sep 6 Musketry with live ammunition.

Sep 7 Same as first day. The following days the same.

Sep 10 Pulled off exhibition for officers at post.

Sep 21 Fathers birthday and my farewell. Left home today one year ago.

Sep 30 The following days with drill, guard and payday.

Oct 1 Intercompany meet just a few days off.

Oct 2-4 Spent most of my time working out.

Oct 5 Day of intercompany field meet [lists events and winners].

(Chinese proverb) The road to heaven is easy to find but myriads of people refuse
To follow it.

Oct 7 Work out for the International Track and Field meet.

Oct 8 Results of the track and field meet [lists events and winners].

Oct 20 party given to the men of our Legation for winning the International
Track and Field Meet.

Oct 21 Holiday for the Command.

Oct 23 Received letter from Enda. Bad and pleasant news.

Oct 24 On guard. Forced to throw a doped up Chinaman out of the Legation.
Post #3.

Oct 25 Off guard. Nothing new.

Oct 26 Received lessons from Washington. Letter from Florence.

Oct 27 Room orderly.

Nov 26 USS Chaumont leaving for Shanghai and then to the west coast of
the United States. Among the men leaving were Privates
Clarence Piece ,Washington DC, Cox and Fox.

Nov 27 Preparing for Thanksgiving.

Nov 29 Thanksgiving very pleasant. Big feed.

Dec 1 The following days have no unusual happenings.

 

 

Dec 25 Christmas day. Everyone having a pretty good time. Received
a $3.00 chit from the Canteen and bag from the Red Cross.

1934

Jan 1 On guard at post two of the A. Legation.

Jan 2 Off guard. Slept.

Jan 3 Room orderly.

Jan 4 Everyday routine.

Jan 6 Ready for all arms inspection.

Jan 27 Received letters from Harriett, Edna, Florence.

Jan 28 Wrote letters to Edna and Florence.

Feb Wish it was warmer.

Mar 1 On liberty.

Mar 2 On guard.

Mar 3 Inspection on the field.

Apr 15 Nothing to do but go on liberty.

 

A British Girlfriend

 

Mar 16 School on bayonet.

Mar 17 Close order drill. School on the three inch field gun.

Mar 18 On duty on the wall. Nothing very exciting happened. I had
a very enjoyable time.

Mar 19 Baseball game with HQ and B Co. Won by HQ. Score 5-2.

Mar 20 Everyday routine.

Mar 21 Went to the Peking Brewery.

Mar 22 Seen a picture called King Kong.

Mar 23 School on elevation and windage of rifles.

May 1 Training for the Intercompany track meet.

May 2 Went on sixteen mile hike. Maneuvers.

May 3 Intercompany track meet took place on the French Glacis.
Couldn’t jump so well because of the hike the day before. Legs
tired and tied up. My birthday. I had a pretty good time but
wished I was back in the good old U.S.A.

May 4 Enda’s birthday. I was wishing her an enjoyable one. Also
thinking of birthday cake she used to make.

May 5 Training to go to Tientsin, China with the post track team. Will
complete with the Army team and other nations guards.

May 6 Intensive training till the 15 of May.

May 15 Left for Tientsin on the 8.30 train. Arrived 1230. Stayed in the
Army barracks.

May 16 Wasn’t allowed in the French Arsenal meet.

May 17 Placed in the preliminaries for the North China Finals.

May 18 Marines win about everything they entered.

May 19 Today is the starting of hard luck for the Marines. Brockhert falls
after finishing first in the one hundred meter race. Hurts
knee pretty bad. Out of the finals. Substitutes McGrath for
Brockhert.

May 20 Beginning of the North China Finals. Old man luck still on
Our trail. Kayler couldn’t get started.

May 21 Finals for the North China High Jump. I placed second for
a silver medal. Russian civilian first. Very friendly fellow.
Meet ended with English first with 40 and Marines second 371/3.

May 28 Starting for Peiping on the morning train. We take two shields
and the rely cup. Also thirty medals. We did pretty good but feel
a little down hearted on the outcome of the meet.

May 29 Arrived back in Peiping with the band to welcome us. Marched into
the Legation Quarters.

May 30 I was sent to the rifle range with my company.

May 31 Qualified with the rifle. Expert at throwing grenades.

June 1 Come in from range. Sent money order home.

June 8 Put in for transfer to Shanghai, China. Transfer approved of.

Nov 10 Boarded train for Chinwangtao on route to Shanghai. Arrived
in Chinawangtao 9.30 pm. Went aboard USS Chaumont sailing
for Shanghai.

Nov 11 Well along coast with weather cool and foggy.

Nov 12 Anchored in Wangpoo River along the Bund. Left ship to go
ashore. Boarded trucks for the 2nd Battalion.

Nov 13 Now residing in F Co Second battalion 4th Marines Shanghai China.

1935

Jan Weather very disagreeable.

Jan 16 Finished guard at billet three. Had a good laugh with a sailors wife
off the Sacramento. Wanted to send message to her husband through
the Marine Corps Radio station. She knew her stuff and succeeded.
 

 

Home! Standing in front of the USS Chaumont, San Francisco (1936)