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The information on this page is the work of Fred Greguras, Marine, collector and historian.  As a 2nd LT, Greguras served in Vietnam as a rifle platoon commander with Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment. Since the war Fred has made repeated visits to China to identify locations associated with the China Marines. This section deals with his visits to Shanghai.  Fred continues to return to China and will periodically submit updates as he revises his work.  We are fortunate to have the results of his efforts on this web site.

 

THE FOURTH MARINES

IN

SHANGHAI, CHINA

 

I.    Introduction. 1

II.  Barracks, Headquarters and Support Facilities. 2

III. Fourth Marines Church. 20

IV.  Fourth Marines Band. 22

V.    Regimental Clubs. 23

VI.  Officers Clubs. 28

VII. YMCAs. 29

VIII Along Bubbling Well Road. 30

IX.  Soochow (Suzhou) Creek Defense Perimeter. 34

X.    Conclusion. 35

 

Sources......................................................................................... 36

Map Sources.................................................................................. 38

Street Names Chart....................................................................... 41

                                     

* Many persons have provided help on this paper which is much appreciated.  Tess Johnston of Shanghai, author of many books on Shanghai history and architecture, was a major contributor in identifying locations, surviving buildings and the future of surviving buildings, as were Shanghai historians Christian Henriot, Peter Hibbard and Eric Niderost.  Marine Bill Parker provided copies of many early Walla Walla magazines.  Ellen Guillemette, Archivist at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Command Museum provided much assistance in finding old photographs, maps and other materials.  Marine Don Versaw, a member of the Fourth Marines Band who arrived in Shanghai in August 1939 and departed with the regiment in November, 1941, has a great memory of places and events in Shanghai.  Similarly, Marine Wayne Madden, who went to China with the Sixth Marines in October, 1937 and stayed with the Fourth Marines until May, 1940, was a wealth of information.  Other contributions are mentioned in the paper or source list at the end.


 

I.                   Introduction

While Shanghai is rapidly changing with old buildings giving way to new buildings, there are still many places remaining related to the Fourth Marine regiment’s long presence in the city from 1927 to 1941.  The 1st and 3rd Battalions of the regiment were deployed to Shanghai in 1927 to protect American citizens and property in Shanghai’s International Settlement (the “Settlement”) on the Puxi or west side of the Huangpu River (then called the Whampoo River).[1] The 2nd Battalion was deployed to Tientsin, China at the same time and redesignated into another regiment.[2]  The 2nd Battalion of the Fourth Marines was reactivated in Shanghai on September 18, 1932 in order for the regiment to be at full strength to effectively defend the U.S. defense sector of the Settlement.[3]  The 3rd Battalion was deactivated in Shanghai on December 19, 1934.[4]

The purpose of this paper is to identify places in Shanghai associated with the Fourth Marines and the current status of those locations.  I hope this paper will encourage others to provide additional information, comments and corrections so this part of the regiment’s history can be recorded.  This version of the paper is footnoted and there is a list of maps and other sources at the end of the paper.  I was able to walk through the areas where the Marines lived, worked and played during my visits in 2007 and 2008.

The initial threat in Shanghai in the late 1920s was from China’s warring factions but the danger became the fighting between Chinese and Japanese forces and then from the Japanese.  The Japanese wanted control over the Settlement after the Japanese took Shanghai from the Chinese.  The Fourth Marines became a permanent garrison in the Settlement even though it was assigned as an expeditionary force.  The regiment left Shanghai on November 27 and 28, 1941.[5]

The Fourth Marines’ duty in Shanghai was summarized in an eloquent way by W. Robert Taylor, a Baptist missionary in Shanghai who made these observations on November 23, 1941:[6]

“This morning I went to the Marine [church] Service – the last one Shanghai may ever have as it is doubtful they will ever be here in a body again. ….  It was a solemn 2000 people who walked out of the Grand Theatre this morning.  It felt as though we had attended a funeral service.  The Marines are leaving Shanghai with a fine record and carrying with them the affection of all nationals.  Uncle Sam can be proud of his representatives.  They served and did not dominate.  They gave and did not take.  As individuals and as a group they played the gentleman.”

Headquarters and other locations changed over the 14 years the regiment was in Shanghai.  The pre-World War II (“pre-War”) street names are generally used throughout this paper in describing locations with the current street names identified in parentheses the first time a street name is mentioned, if known.  There is also a street name comparison chart following the list of sources.  In some cases I have used the current street name to identify the location of a building or other landmark that did not exist during the regiment’s time in Shanghai.  The major east-west road in Puxi from 1927-1941 was Nanking Road which started at the Bund and became Bubbling Well Road, and then Great Western Road as it went west across Shanghai.  This road went across about the middle of the Settlement.  This road is now East Nanjing, West Nanjing and West Yanan Road and is a good reference point for describing locations.  Another reference point is the former Shanghai race course and public recreation grounds (the “Race Course”) on West Nanjing Road.  This is now People’s Square and People’s Park.  A number of buildings mentioned below were near the north end of the Race Course.

II.                Barracks, Headquarters and Support Facilities

There was never a single Marine compound or barracks in Shanghai as in other cities in China.  Since the Marines were on expeditionary duty, the regiment was not in a central barracks.[7]  Barracks, headquarters, hospitals and other facilities were in converted schools (including the former St. Jeanne d’Arc College buildings), factories, office buildings or private mansions rented from their owners or the Shanghai Municipal Council.  Each location was assigned a billet number or name.  The term billets was used more broadly than merely designating a place for lodging.  It was used to designate a regimental location such as a headquarters even if it did not include lodging.  There was usually a compound of buildings at a battalion level designated as a billet although sometimes a billet was a building used as a barracks large enough only for a single company of Marines.  Some buildings were reused by the regiment for different purposes over the years, sometimes with time gaps in use.  This was based on the friendliness of the landlord, force size requirements and the usefulness of the facility.

The Shanghai address number scheme changed in early April 1933.  The before and after addresses sometimes varied widely, for example, 118 Sinza became 1226 Sinza, even though they were the same location.  The general approach in this paper is to use the actual address as of the date when locations are identified.  For example, under 1927-1928 Billets below, 118 Sinza is used because the date is before April, 1933.

1927-1928 Billets:  The regiment was initially billeted in eight different buildings in five scattered parts of the city.[8]  Many of these temporary billets were in bamboo houses, power plants or camps in public parks.[9]  These temporary billets changed often during the 1927-28 period with the 3rd Battalion having the earliest permanent billet.  The billet numbers often moved with the unit rather than being location specific.

·         The Marine muster rolls available on Ancestry.com identify many of the early locations.  Regimental billets were at 96-116-118 Sinza (Xinzha) Road.

The 1st Battalion billets included these locations during 1927-1928:

·         Children’s playground at 33 Nanyang Road[10]

·         Nieh Chih-Kuei School[11]

·         30 Ferry (Xikang)Road[12]

·         13-16 Yates (Shimen) Road

·         68-88 Avenue (West Beijing) Road

·         61 Gordon (Jiangning) Road

·         116-118 Weihaiwei (still named Weihaiwei) Road

·         184-186 Bubbling Well (Nanjing) Road

·         116 Sinza Road

·         22-24 Jessfield (Wanhangdu) Road

As indicated, the regiment did not initially have a 2nd Battalion.

The 3rd Battalion was at the corner of Moulmein (North Maoming) Road and Avenue Foch (Central Yanan/West Jinling Road) in two compounds on the boundary line of the French Concession and the Settlement.[13]  One of the compounds was on the east side and the other on the west side of Moulmein.[14]  The 3rd Battalion first occupied these compounds in May, 1927.[15] Companies L and M and headquarters were located in the General Lu Compound on the west side of Moulmein, at one time the home of a Chinese General:[16]

“Although a few alterations have been made in order to make it a bit more convenient for the every day life of a Marine, the exterior of the buildings and grounds have not been altered in the least.  The fish pond and winding rock paths still remain as they were when the General was living.”

Companies I and K, the mess hall, and recreation room were located in the St. Jeanne d’Arc compound, a former college on the east side of the street.[17]

A November, 1933 Leatherneck provided more history on these compounds:[18]

“The General Lu Compound, which houses “M,” and “L” Companies, has quite a history attached to it.  At some time in the far distant past it was the residence of a General Lu, Governor of the five central Chinese provinces, and a typical Chinese War Lord of the old school.  At the time of its construction it was one of the show places of Shanghai, with its gardens, lakes, and unusual architecture, but due to the decision of several of the War Lord’s friends that he would be more appreciated under ground than above, the estate fell to wrack and ruin.  For several years it was unoccupied, and then the 4th Regiment hit town!  By the dint of much sweeping, washing, building, cursing, and sweating, the 3rd Battalion managed to make this undoubtedly the best billet in the entire Regiment.  Across the street is the St. Jeanne d’Arc Compound, housing “I” and “K” Companies.  This used to be a Convent School for young women, and after suffering the fate of the General Lu Compound it is now a sight for sore eyes.”

These two compounds were designated Billet 10 (the “College Compounds”).[19]  The address of the College Compounds was 6 Moulmein Road in 1929[20] and 3-6 Moulmein Road in 1934.[21]

1929 Billets:[22]  Billets were along Ferry, Sinza and Seymour (Shanxi) Roads and at the College Compounds in 1929.  Headquarters was at 118 Sinza Road, which was 1216-1226 Sinza after the address change in April, 1933.  The 1st Battalion, 27th Company was at 30 Ferry Road (under the old address scheme) from July 1929 – June 1932.[23]  Locations along Sinza were 96 and 116-118-120.[24]  In 1929[25], under the old address scheme, the “American Defense Force” was also located at 148-154 and 160 Seymour.  The hospital was at 202 Seymour.  The 154 and 160 Seymour billets were the 1st Battalion billets since the 3rd Battalion was in the College Compounds.  The 148 Seymour billet was for hospital corpsmen.[26]  The 148-154 and 160 Seymour addresses were south of the Ohel Rachel Synagogue at 200 Seymour (currently 500 Seymour) at Sinza Road and north of the Soong house at 139 Seymour (currently 369 Seymour) at Nanyang Road and probably south of Avenue Road since 175 Seymour was at the southwest corner of Seymour and Avenue Road.  They were probably on the east side of Seymour as the west side was occupied by the buildings at 169 and 175.  After the address change, even number addresses were on the east side of a street and odd number addresses on the west side, but this approach may not have been consistently used in 1929.

1930 Billets:  256 Ferry Road was being used by the 1st Battalion as early as June 21, 1930.[27]  Marine Ben Potter who occupied this building while with Company B of the 1st Battalion from late 1935 to late 1936 believed it and the Company D barracks at 196 Ferry must have originally been apartment buildings because of the size and many rooms they had.  The buildings were each three stories high, were separated by a fence but shared the same mess hall which was between the buildings on the east side of the compound.  Neither building had inside plumbing and were served daily by “honey carts”.  Mr. Potter remembered:  “Each room had a small coal burning stove and on the 1st floor was a small barrel of drinking water where you could fill your bottle.  The drinking water was so loaded with chlorine you hardly tasted the water.  With 8 men to a room, the room boy had a job cleaning up the room-everything but the rifle.”

The building at 489 Ferry Road was first used for quartermaster purposes in November, 1930.[28]  The Third Battalion continued to occupy the College Compounds.

January 24, 1931 Billets:  Marine Bob Gill provided a map of Fourth Marine billets from the January 24, 1931 Walla Walla.  Street addresses are based on billet locations on the map.

·         527 Haiphong Road:

 

Regimental headquarters.  Motor transportation is part of this compound just west of headquarters.  North across Haiphong Road was a new band quarters under construction with the carpenter shop just west of these quarters (Billet 3).

 

Band quarters which are to be vacated are on the west side of Carter Road between Bubbling Well and Avenue Roads (Billet 13).

 

·         489 Ferry Road:

Quartermaster.  Quartermaster and maintenance personnel also live here (Billet 5)

 

·         196 Ferry Road:

Hospital (Billet 16)

·         East side of Seymour Road near corner of Wuting Road:

Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion (Billet 1)

·         1226 Sinza Road:

Company A, 1st Battalion (Billet 12)

·         256 Ferry Road:

Company B, 1st Battalion (Billet 15)

 

·         400 Ferry Road:

Company C, 1st Battalion (Billet 18)

·         West side of Seymour South of Bubbling Well and north of Weihaiwei:

Company D, 1st Battalion (Billet 14)

·         College Compounds:

3rd Battalion Headquarters Company and Companys L and M are in the General Lu compound on the west side of Moulmein and Companys I and K are in the Joanne d’Arc compound on the east side (Billet 10).

 

Pre-September 1932 Billets:  On September 18, 1932 the 2nd Battalion was reactivated using Marines from the other battalions and from state side drafts as a nucleus.[29]  The 2nd Battalion was quartered at the northeast corner of Chengtu (Chengdu) and Bubbling Well Roads (the “Chengtu Compound”) until April, 1938.  The Chengtu Compound was designated as Billet 2.[30]  The Chengtu Compound was in the shape of a rectangle with the long sides being east-west and the south side bordering Bubbling Well Road.  The parade ground/assembly area was on the Bubbling Well Road side of the compound with handball courts at the east end of the parade ground.[31]  The 3rd Battalion remained at the College Compounds.

The following locations are from the 1932 Marines Map of Shanghai.[32]  This map was prepared prior to September, 1932 as billets for only the 1st and 3rd Battalions are shown.

·         527 Haiphong Road:

 

Regimental headquarters, Service Company, band quarters.[33]

·         489 Ferry Road:

Quartermaster

·         375 Seymour:

Hospital

·         Southeast corner, Seymour and Wuting:

1st Battalion headquarters

·         1226 Sinza:

Company A, 1st Battalion[34]

·         256 Ferry:

B and D Companies, 1st Battalion

·         Southeast corner, Ferry and Wuting[35]:

C Company, 1st Battalion

·         College Compounds:

3rd Battalion

·         Seymour, east side between Avenue and Sinza (closer to Avenue than Sinza):

Officers Club

·         41 Nanyang Road, south side between Ferry and Hardoon

NCO Club

·         41-43 Gordon Road, west side between Avenue and Sinza:

Privates Club

September, 1932 - December, 1934 (the “Three Battalion Period”):  The Fourth Marines was at its full strength of three battalions in Shanghai during September 18, 1932 to December 19, 1934.  Robert Denig, son of a China Marine, provided a map of the Three Battalion Period showing the location of the billets for all three battalions.[1]  The 1st Battalion is shown as being located near the southeast corner of Gordon and Markham Roads, but 256 Ferry was being used by the 1st Battalion.  Company A was at 1226 Sinza.[2]  The 2nd Battalion is in the Chengtu Compound and the 3rd Battalion was in the College Compounds.  The former St. Jeanne d’Arc College was on the northeast corner and the Chinese general’s home on the northwest corner.[3]  The map has an “old officers club” located on the east side of Seymour just north of Avenue Road.

1933-1934 Billets:  As of late 1933, there were twelve billets where the Marines lived and worked, some of them more than a mile from headquarters.[4]  The 1st Battalion was billeted at 196 and 256 Ferry Road as of July, 1934.[5]  The 2nd Battalion continued to be quartered at the Chengtu Compound.  The 3rd Battalion continued to be located in the College Compounds until it was deactivated on December 19, 1934.

1936 Billets:[6]  By 1936, the regimental headquarters and most other facilities were along Ferry, Seymour, Sinza and Haiphong (Haifang) Roads.  Most of the regiment’s facilities in the later years in Shanghai were in a rectangle with Hart (Changde), Ferry and Gordon being the east and west borders, respectively, and Haiphong and Bubbling Well being the north and south borders, respectively.

·         527 Haiphong Road:

Regimental headquarters, Service Company (Billet 3)

·         375 Seymour Road:

Hospital (Billet 4)

·         1226 Sinza Road:

Post exchange, motor transportation compound, and Company A, 1st Battalion (Billet 12)

·         196 Ferry Road:

Company D, 1st Battalion (Billet 16)

·         256 Ferry Road:

1st Battalion headquarters and Company B (Billet 15)

·         Southeast corner, Ferry and Wuting[7]

1st Battalion headquarters company (Billet 18)

·         489 Ferry Road:

Commissary and quartermaster department (Billet 5).

·         551 Ferry Road:

“US Marines Barracks”[8] (Billet 17)

·         460 Chengtu Road:

2nd Battalion headquarters, headquarters company, Companys E, F, and H (Billet 2).  This was the Chengtu Compound. 

 

1937 Billets:  The locations identified below are from 1937 prior to the arrival of the Sixth Marines in September, 1937.[9]  The locations were the same as 1936 but more detail is provided on the use of each facility:

·         527 Haiphong Road:

Regimental headquarters, motor transport company, service company, headquarters company (regimental), post office and chaplains office (Billet 3)

·         375 Seymour Road:

Hospital (Billet 4)[10]

·         1226 Sinza Road:

Regimental brig, provost marshal’s office, post exchange office, motor transportation compound and Company A, 1st Battalion (Billet 12).

·         196 Ferry Road:

Company D, 1st Battalion (Billet 16).

·         256 Ferry Road:

1st Battalion headquarters and Company B (Billet 15).

·         489 Ferry Road:

Commissary and quartermaster department (Billet 5). 

·         551 Ferry Road:

1st Battalion headquarters company, band office, athletic office and Walla Walla office (Billet 17).

·         Lane 370, Ferry Road:

22 caliber indoor rifle range (Billet 18).[11]

·         460 Chengtu Road:

2nd Battalion headquarters, Headquarters Company, Companys E, F, and H (Billet 2).  This was the Chengtu Compound. 

 

1937-1938 Second Brigade Period (the “Second Brigade Period”):[12]  The Fourth Marines together with the Sixth Marines were designated the Second Brigade during September, 1937 to February, 1938.[13]  The Fourth Marines billets were the same as under 1937 Billets above except as follows:

·         243 Gordon Road:

Hospital (Billet 29)

·         256 Ferry:

Headquarters, 1st Battalion

·         375 Seymour, (the old hospital):

Headquarters Company and Company A, 1st Battalion (Billet 4)

·         196 and 256 Ferry:

Companies B and D, 1st Battalion (Billets 15 and 16)

·         293 Ferry (southwest corner, Sinza and Ferry Roads)

Company C, 1st Battalion

·         526 Bubbling Well:

Company G, 2nd Battalion, beginning in late 1937[14] (Billet 22).  This was west of the Chengtu Compound at the northwest corner of Chengtu and Bubbling Well.

·         1051 Bubbling Well:

Fourth Marines Band[15]

 

1938 Billets:  The 2nd Battalion moved from the Chengtu Compound to a compound at 372 Haiphong Road in April, 1938 (“Haiphong Compound”).[16]  Marine David Johnson prepared a map for me of the Haiphong Compound.  The compound was comprised of four buildings; a barracks housing Companys F and H, a second barracks housing Company E and battalion offices, a mess hall and a guard/gate house.  There was also a pistol firing range on the east side of the compound, which was named Price Field[17] after Colonel Charles F.B. Price, regimental commander from May 7, 1936 to October 23, 1938.  By September 17, 1938,[18] billets were the same as during the Second Brigade Period except 526 and 1051 Bubbling Well were no longer being used.

July, 1939 Billets:[19]  The billets were the same as 1938 except that 375 Seymour, 526 Bubbling Well and 1051 Bubbling Well were not being used, the regimental headquarters was now at 1607-9 Sinza Road (at the southeast corner of Sinza and Hart ) and 1st Battalion companies were located as follows: Headquarters Company at 225 Ferry; A Company at 293 Ferry; B Company at Camp Holcomb at Chinwangtao and D Company at 196 Ferry.  Marine Wayne Madden went to Shanghai with the Sixth Marines in October, 1937 and stayed in Shanghai with the Fourth Marines until May, 1940.  He remembers a large open area between 293 and 225 Ferry Road that was used as a drill and parade field.  This would have been on the west side of Ferry south of 293 Ferry.

May 1940 Billets:[20]  The billets now had the names of former regimental commanding officers and the first regimental surgeon rather than numbers:

·         1607-9 Sinza Road:

Regimental headquarters, headquarters company (regimental), post office and chaplain’s office (Billet Pendleton[21])

·         225 Ferry Road:

1st Battalion headquarters (Billet Lyman[22]).  This billet included 196 Ferry and 293 Ferry, and possibly 256 Ferry, although it may not have been needed because of strength levels.[23]

·         489 Ferry Road:

Commissary and quartmaster department (Billet Russell[24])

·         551 Ferry Road:

Post exchange, Service Company, regimental band (Billet Williams[25])

·         Sinza and Seymour Roads (northeast corner at 1226 Sinza:)

Motor transportation compound, maintenance, provost marshal’s office (Billet Marix[26])

·         243 Gordon Road:

Hospital (Billet Jones[27])

·         372 Haiphong Road:

2nd Battalion headquarters (Billet Miller[28]).  This was the Haiphong Compound.[29]

 

Marine Don Versaw has these memories of Billet Marix:  “The late Wm.  Bill Finken was a motor transport NCO there.  In his last years when we met at monthly AMEX-POW meetings, he often just called our billet there as “Sinza-Seymour”.  It was a big one.  The MP company and Brig were there along with MT Co. and all the service company shops.  Another important one was the carpenter shop.  One of its more active jobs was crating up chests, furniture, books and household effects for Officers and SNCO’s to ship home after their tours on the Asiatic Station – busy place.”  The Seymour and Sinza location was used by the Fourth Marines for almost the entire period of its presence in Shanghai and after World War II by other Marines.[30]

July, 1941 Billets:[31]

The billets were the same as May, 1940 except 551 Ferry was no longer being used.[32]

November 1941 Billets:  In late November, 1941, the regiment’s two battalions, the 1st and 2nd, were very small, a total of approximately 800 Marines and attached naval personnel.[33]  Each had only two companies according to Mr. Versaw.  As indicated above, the 3rd Battalion had been deactivated in December, 1934.  The battalions were small because of the anticipated withdrawal from Shanghai. 

The 1st Battalion’s billets were near the intersection of Ferry and Avenue Roads (probably still 196, 225 and 293 Ferry) as the battalion formed up at that location to march to the waterfront at the Bund to leave China.[34]  Avenue Road was the west extension of Peking (Beijing) Road, and was the first major road north of Bubbling Well Road.  At that time, the 2nd Battalion was still billeted in the Haiphong Compound.[35]  Mr. White recalled that the 1st Battalion headquarters was still along Ferry Road and Mr. Versaw remembered that the 1st Battalion billets were still along Ferry and the 2nd Battalion billet was still the Haiphong Compound just prior to the regiment’s departure.  Mr. Versaw indicated that the 551 Ferry billet was no longer being used as of April, 1941.[36]  Band quarters had been moved to Billet Marix at 1226 Sinza.

Regimental Headquarters:  There were temporary headquarters locations when the regiment first landed in Shanghai in March, 1927.  The headquarters was at 96 Sinza Road as of late June, 1927[37] and possibly as early as March, 1927.[38]  The first permanent regimental headquarters appears to have been at 118 Sinza Road and moved to Haiphong Road in late July, 1930.[39]  Today, the address 118 is at the east end of Sinza but 118 Sinza in 1929 was actually the compound at 1216-1226 Sinza after the address change in April, 1933.[40]

The next Marine headquarters was at 527 Haiphong Road beginning in late July, 1930.[41]  The headquarters was on the south side of the road just west of Ferry Road.  This was a compound of buildings rather than a single building and the band quarters and carpenter shop were north across the road.[42] Leatherneck reported on the move as follows:[43]

“July 24. – Headquarters of the Fourth Marines moved from the old headquarters at 118 Sinza Road, to No. 50 Haiphong Road.  The new billet is adjacent to the billets of the Green Howards [a British regiment].  Building was formerly a Chinese school-house and is well appointed throughout, making an ideal billet and office building.”

The regimental headquarters was at this location through at least August, 1938.[44]  The final headquarters was at 1607-9 Sinza Road (Billet Pendleton) beginning by mid-September, 1938 and was designated Billet 1.[45]  This was also a compound of buildings.

Regimental Hospital:[46]  The first hospital was established on April 26, 1927 at 202 Seymour Road in a three story brick building.[47]  The location of the hospital in the 1929 Hong List was 202 Seymour which was north across the street from the Ohel Rachel Synagogue at 200 Seymour (currently 500 Seymour).  That places it in the Seymour and Sinza billet at 1226 Sinza.  The hospital had moved to 196 Ferry Road by January 24, 1931.[48]  The hospital moved to 375 Seymour Road in October, 1931.[49]

A new and much improved hospital compound at 243 Gordon Road was first occupied on September 10, 1937.[1]  “All buildings were located in a large and spacious compound within easy walking distance of all billets.” There were four buildings in the compound:

·         Administration building in a former Chinese residence

·         Mess hall in the former servant quarters

·         Hospital ward in a newly constructed building

·         Quarters for the hospital corps in a newly constructed building

The hospital remained at this location until the regiment left Shanghai.  Marine Don Versaw remembered, with great appreciation, the important role of the U.S. Navy doctors, corpsmen and other personnel at the hospital who supported the Marines “at drills, on marches and at ceremonies.”

Athletic Fields:  Sports of all types from boxing to bowling to baseball were very important to the Marines in Shanghai.  There was even a rugby team at one time.  There was fierce competition for the regimental level teams and it was a big honor to make the team.  Track meets and other athletic events were held at the Race Course and Pioneer Field.  Pioneer Field was in the southeast part of French Concession and was mentioned often in the Walla Walla in the early years of the regiment’s stay in Shanghai.  By 1940 the Pioneer Field area had become tract-type residences.[2]  Over the years baseball and softball games were played at the northeast side of the Race Course, the College Compounds, the American School, Columbia Country Club and Kiaochow Park.[3]  Boxing matches were also held at the College Compounds.

Parade Grounds:  Regimental size parades and inspections were held at the Race Course along Bubbling Well Road.[4]  Each week the Settlement turns out for their [the Fourth Marines] parade on the Racecourse and thousands of Chinese crowd the movie theater where they hold their Sunday services.[5]

Bubbling Well ran along the north side of the Race Course.  The Marines also played baseball games and rugby on the Race Course.  The Race Course area is now Peoples Square and Park.  The club house building that shows in the inspection photos still stands at the northwest corner of Peoples Park (325 West Nanjing Road) but not much else remains of the Race Course.

The former Sun Department Store building north of the Race Course that appears in many Marines parade photos still stands at 830 East Nanjing Road at the west end of the Nanjing Road pedestrian mall.  It is still being used as a department store known as “Shanghai No. 1 Department Store.”  The inside of this building retains the look and feel of an old fashioned department store.  The department store advertised on a regular basis in the Walla Walla in the late 1930s.

Another pre-War building that shows in many Marines parade and athletic event photos on the Race Course is Moore Memorial Church on the east side of the Race Course.  This large church building also still stands at 316 Central Xizang Road.  The Sun Department Store and Moore Memorial Church photos indicate that many parade and athletic activities were primarily on the east side of the Race Course.  This open area is gone.

There were also smaller parade ground areas near the billets.  Marine George Coleman remembers having battalion size parades at a park.  Marine Don Versaw indicated that battalion size parades were held at Kiaochow Park and regimental parades at the Race Course.[6]  He also indicated that the Fourth Marines Band practiced its marching music at Kiaochow Park because the 551 Ferry billet was not large enough for this purpose.  This park was north of Connaught (Kangding) Road at the northwest corner of Changping and Kiaochow Roads near the west boundary of the Settlement.  An athletic complex currently occupies the site of the park.

Current Status:  I had the use of several maps and addresses of many locations to explore in my 2007 and 2008 visits.  The address numbers today are essentially the same as after April, 1933.  For example, the Fourth Marines Club building address is still numbered 722 on West Nanjing Road.

The large population of Shanghai has caused almost every available space to be used for housing of some type.  This is evident as you look down any alley or lane between buildings as well as on the main streets.  The pre-War gardens and estates of the Settlement are now almost all used for housing of some type.  Most of the large older buildings set back from major streets are either gone or hidden behind newer buildings at street side.  Examples of such surviving buildings include the large pre-War buildings behind 1529 Sinza and 1081 Bubbling Well.

A landmark for orientation is the Portman Ritz-Carlton Hotel at 1376 West Nanjing Road.  The street on the east side of the hotel is Ferry; the next street to the east is Seymour and east of Seymour is Gordon Road, the streets where many Marine facilities were located.  Ferry, Seymour and Gordon are all north-south streets.  Nanyang, Sinza and Haiphong, also streets where Marine facilities were located, are east-west streets.  Ferry and Gordon addresses start at zero at Nanjing Road as do the roads.  Seymour starts south of Nanjing and address numbering starts at about 200 on the north side of Nanjing.  High rises on the north side of Nanjing Road have destroyed most old buildings in the first block north on Ferry, Seymour and Gordon.  There are still many “gems” of pre-War buildings along and north of Nanyang Road.

1927-1928 Era Billets:  I looked for any buildings remaining from this era in my July, 2008 trip.  The Marine muster rolls had provided the addresses identified above but these were all pre addressing scheme change.  Tess Johnston was once again a gracious host and let me use her Hong List and city directory collection to figure out the current addresses of these billets.  Not surprisingly, except for the billets in the north part of the city across Suzhou Creek and the Jessfield Road billet, these billet sites were all within easy walking distance of the Ferry-Seymour-Gordon Roads area.  I believe all of these early buildings and sites are gone.  I was not able to visit the sites north of the creek or the Jessfield Road site.

The Marines camped at 33 Nanyang Road, a Children’s Public Playground.  The current address would be 169 Nanyang Road based on the 1940 Street Directory.  This is directly behind the Portman Ritz-Carlton Hotel at 1376 West Nanjing Road.  The park area is covered by buildings.

The 61 Gordon Road billet may have been 65 Gordon, the Second Brigade headquarters in 1937-38 and the Asia Club in the 1940 Street Directory.[7]  There was ample room for a camp on this property.  This area has been obliterated by a shopping center.

The billets at 96 and 116 Sinza Road were at 1226 Sinza, the venerable Sinza and Seymour billet.

The 13-16 Yates Road billet was likely a school building and was in the block north of Weihaiwei Road rather than in the block just north of Avenue Foch.  All old buildings in this block on the east side of Yates Road were gone or being demolished.  The west side of this block is all modern buildings.

The 116-118 Weihaiwei billet was in the block just west of Yates Road and was likely a school building.  The south side of this block is all modern buildings.  On the north side, there were modern buildings at the east end and the west end of the block was cleared and waiting for construction.

The 68-88 Avenue Road[8] billet was probably in a school building at 914 in the block just east of Medhurst Road which is east of Gordon Road.  This site is covered by new buildings.

The billet at 184-186 Bubbling Well Road would have been at about Gordon Road.[9]  The billet could have been the 1051 Bubbling Well building later used by the Marines or the park (or open space) which was then across Bubbling Well from 1051.[10]  It may have been a camp in the park since there was no entry for 184-186 Bubbling Well in the 1929 Hong List.

The 30 Ferry Road billet was the American Players Canteen/Kelley & Walsh Printing Company office that, as indicated below, also served as an early regimental club and a 1st Battalion billet.  The current address would likely be 400 but the building is gone.

Ferry Road Buildings:  The American Players Canteen at 30 Ferry Road, site of the first regimental club and a 1st Battalion billet, is gone.  This address usage was pre-1933 under the old addressing scheme so the building was likely several blocks north on Ferry, at 400 Ferry after the address change.  Under the post April 1933 address scheme, this address was just north of Bubbling Well on the east side, a site obliterated by a high rise building.


The status of other Marine billets on Ferry Road is as follows:

Number

Place

Status

196

Billet 16

Gone.  There is a school building on the site.

225

Billet Lyman

Still there.[11]  There is still a small garden area north and west of this building.

256

Billet 15

Gone

293

Billet Lyman

Gone

400

Billet 18

Southeast corner, Ferry and Wuting (probably 30 Ferry prior to the address change).  Building is gone. 

489

Billet Russell

Gone

551

Billet Williams

Gone

762

Privates Club annex

May still be there

 

The Shanghai Guobin Medical Center at 252 Xikang is one of many medical facilities in the vicinity of the sites of the Marine billets at 196, 225, 256 and 293 Ferry Road.  The lane at 1220 Beijing Road goes north just to the east of 196 and 256 Ferry.  This lane, with its old houses and open space, is a microcosm of pre-War Shanghai.  There is a building at the north end of this lane that is visible from the north side of the current building at 252 Ferry.

Nanyang Road Sites:  The first street north of Nanjing is Nanyang.  West on Nanyang about half a block west from Ferry at 205 Nanyang on the south side of the block is the building that housed the NCO Club in 1934.  The early camp ground on the playground at 169 Nanyang is gone.

Haiphong Road Buildings:  Ferry Road intersects with Haiphong Road at 800 north from Nanking Road.  To the west of the intersection is the site of 527 Haiphong, the location of the second regimental headquarters.  I believe this is the building with the current address of 537 based on photographs in the 1933-34 Fourth Marines Annual and in the MCRD Archives.  This headquarters compound area has been converted into a restaurant, club and coffee shop destination called the “New Factories”, which is being described as “from 1928 old Shanghai factories.”[12]

To the east of Ferry Road, on the north side of Haiphong, near the intersection with Seymour is the site of the Haiphong Compound.  The site is now the Jing-An Education College Affiliated School.  The entry gate into the Haiphong Compound survives with an address of 374 Haiphong.[13]  The compound is still open space just inside the gate and is occupied by basketball courts, etc.  One of the pre-War buildings used by the Marines has survived.  It can be seen on the west side of Seymour Road, just north of Haiphong Road.

The pistol range to the east is gone.  Seymour Road has been extended north from Wuting (Wuding) Road and passes through the area of the pistol range.  Seymour went north only as far as Wuting during the pre-War period.

Seymour Road Buildings:  Both sides of the street in the 300 block of Seymour retain the flavor of pre-War Shanghai.  Grace Church is at the southwest corner of Seymour and Avenue Roads at 375 Seymour.  A Christian worship service was being held in this church during my July, 2007 visit.  This was the site of the regimental hospital beginning in October, 1931 and the barracks for two companies of the 1st Battalion in 1937-1938.  The stone and brick wall surrounding the current church buildings are the same as in the photo of the hospital buildings in the 1933-34 Fourth Marines Annual.  There are only two buildings currently in the compound and they are in the same location as in the photo but I can’t tell whether the hospital buildings were remodeled to become the church buildings or the church buildings were constructed after the hospital buildings were demolished.  According to the historical plaque, the church was completed in 1942 which may not be correct since World War II was ongoing and Shanghai was then occupied by the Japanese.  Next door to the south at 369 Seymour Road is another historical building, the residence of the Soong family.  Three Fourth Marine 1st lieutenants had rooms in this residence as of May 1940.[14]

The regiment had billets on the east side of Seymour Road between Nanyang and Avenue Roads in the 1929-1930 period.  Currently, on the east side of this block at 380 Seymour is an old building which still shows its pre-War character despite modern changes.  The former Seymour Apartments where Marines and their families lived still stands at 354.[1]  It is not clear if either of these buildings were part of the 1929-30 era billets.

The current buildings in the 400 block on the east side of Seymour north of Avenue Road were all there in 1940 according to the Street Directory.  There are no architecture heritage signs that indicate when the buildings were constructed.  There is a row of flats in the middle of the block which was unlikely to have been used by the Marines but the houses at 414 and 430 at the south end of the block could have been used by the Marines.

While not a regimental site, the Ohel Rachel Synagogue and Jewish School at 500 Seymour survive from pre-War Shanghai.  The buildings are now used by the Shanghai Education Bureau.  The 1929 NCO club was in the first building immediately south of the synagogue.  The club building has survived.

There are shop houses at the northeast corner of Seymour and Sinza on the site of the long used facility at 1226 Sinza.  Based on a review of aerial photos and walking around the area, there do not appear to be any remaining buildings from the Marines long use of this site.  I have not been able to get through security at the gate to get behind the shop houses.

The building which housed the Seymour branch of the Club no longer exists.  Lane 660 is still there but is occupied by small and densely packed houses with no sign of any pre-War buildings.

Gordon Road:  The building which housed the Privates Club at 41-43 (283 after the address change) Gordon Road is gone; it has been replaced by a high rise building.

The second regimental hospital at 243 Gordon is likely gone except for a small portion of the gardens at the entrance on Gordon Road.  The site is now occupied primarily by high rise apartment buildings.  In my July, 2008 visit, I found two pre-War buildings behind the modern building at the northwest corner of Gordon and Avenue Roads which is immediately south of the high rise apartment buildings.  One of the buildings is the Henley House which is identified on the map in the 1940 Street Directory (1090 Avenue Road) and next door to the east of the Henley House is a beautiful building which at first glance I thought was the administration building for the last hospital which was a former Chinese residence.  A comparison of 1938 photos of the building and current photos shows differences.  Still, the same three story height and similar lines of the two buildings cause me to continue to speculate whether there is some connection.

The 1st Battalion billet at Gordon and Markham may have been at 688 Gordon in the old buildings currently used as the Jingan Education College Affiliated School compound.

Sinza Road:  Sinza Road address numbering changed the first week of April, 1933.  In 1929, 118 Sinza was actually much further west at what is today 1216-1226 Sinza,[2] at the northeast corner of Seymour and Sinza.  The 96, 116-118-120 Sinza locations of 1929 were all likely at 1216-1226 Sinza in what was later known as Billet Marix and Seymour and Sinza.

Most of the buildings of the final regimental headquarters compound at 1607-1609 Sinza, including the headquarters building, are still there.  I was able to walk through this compound in July and October 2007.  The compound was being used by the University at North Carolina – Greensboro in July, 2007 and is now used as an elementary school.  The compound appears to occupy the same area as when the Marines used it.  There are fewer buildings and the south side of the compound is a playground.  Marines would also still be able to recognize a number of the buildings on Sinza to the east of the compound on the south side of the street.  A huge pre-War building sits behind the shop buildings at street side at 1529 Sinza.[3]  The north side of the street is “new Shanghai,” being One Park Avenue at 1550 Xinzha, an expensive looking high rise apartment complex.

College Compounds:  I determined that both the former Jeanne d’Arc college building and the General Lu home have survived based on my October, 2007 trip.  The Lu house has current addresses of 718 Yanan Central Road and 39 South Maoming Road.  The college compound address is currently 40 South Maoming Road.  The former college building is being used as the Weihai Road No. 3 Primary School and the Lu home is being used for multiple businesses including an art gallery.  The 1933-34 Fourth Marines Annual has photos of each building.  The college building is set back from Central Yanan Road with a large open play area that extends south to the road.  The General Lu house is a very large building; it extends north a long distance along Maoming.  Building 1 is the main Lu house and Building 2 is along the west side of Building 1 and was likely the servant quarters.  The gardens are long gone.  I was able to go into the General Lu main house and also walk through the Jeanne d’Arc college compound on a Sunday in October, 2007.[4]

III.                   Fourth Marines Church

Church services were held in at least five theaters in Shanghai.[5]  The location of the church service was known as the “Fourth Marines Church.”  This was also the church of the U.S. Navy ships of the Asiatic Fleet in port and the shore based personnel supporting the ships.  The chaplains were Navy officers who attended to and welcomed personnel from ships in port, according to Marine Don Versaw.

A band concert by the Marine band usually followed the service.  Four of the theaters (Carlton, Embassy, Grand and Metropol) were close to each other in the area just north of the Race Course.  Two of the theater buildings survive, the Cathay and Grand.  Summer services were held at outdoor locations because of the heat until the air conditioned Cathay Theater was first used in July, 1932.  While I have designated the theaters as churches one through five below, a review of the Walla Walla indicates theater usage was not totally sequential.  There was some switching back and forth among theaters in the late 1930s.

A history of the Fourth Marines Church through late 1933 states:[6]

“The Fourth Marines Church was organized in 1928 . . . to provide one central Sunday morning service for the Marines on duty in Shanghai.  Prior to this time services were held in mess halls and barracks and it was necessary to go from place to place because of the distance between billets.  The Marines in Shanghai, being on expeditionary duty are not in a central barracks or station.  Residences, schools, even factories have to be utilized, and at the present time there are twelve billets, some of them more than a mile distant from Head-quarters.  The same situation existed in 1928 and after months of trying to hold several services every Sunday morning in the billets with a small attendance at each, it was found that the Embassy Theater on Bubbling Well Road could be secured.  The Colonel arranged for the Fourth Marines Band to give a concert of classical music in connection with the service....  The first service was held on the second of September, 1928, with an attendance of more than six hundred marines and civilians....In the spring of 1930 it was found that . . . the use of the Italian Gardens could be secured [for church services] during the summer months. . . .   In the autumn of 1930 the use of the Carlton Theater during the winter months was offered . . .  by . . .  Mr. Butler, manager of the United Theatres.  For two winters the Church continued its weekly messages of goodwill and friendship in this location. . . .  In April 1932 I [Chaplain Brooks] relieved Chaplain Truitt as Regimental Chaplain of the Fourth Marines.  The services in the Carlton Theater continued as usual through June.  It was then found necessary to find a new meeting place for the summer.  The Italian Gardens were being demolished, and no other open air assembly room could be found.  Mr. Butler again proved a valuable friend by offering the use of the new Cathay Theatre at Rue Cardinal Mercier and Avenue Joffre near the Third Battalion billets.  Air conditioning was being installed which would make the auditorium comfortable in the hottest weather, and the interior arrangement of the Cathay was ideal for a church service. . . .  On July 3rd [1932] the first service in the Cathay Theatre was
held. . . .”

Carlton Theater:  This theater was located at 21 Park (Huanghe) Road just north of the Race Course.  Park Road was the first road west of the Park Hotel.  The theater building was torn down in late 2004.[7]  A high rise is being built on the site.  This was the second Fourth Marines Church beginning in the Fall, 1930.

Cathay Theater:  This theater is on the corner of Avenue Joffre and Rue Cardinal Mercier (South Maoming Road) at 868 Avenue Joffre (870 Central Huaihai Road).  The theater still exists and has been refurbished.  This was the third Fourth Marines Church beginning in July, 1932.  The Cathay was also used during the summer and early fall of 1937 as reported in the Walla Walla, probably because it was air conditioned.  I walked into the lobby in October, 2007 to see how it compared to the Grand.  The Grand lobby is much larger and more ornate.

Embassy Theater:  This theater was located at 742 Bubbling Well which is west of the Race Course.  This building was next door to the west from the Fourth Marines Club at 722 Bubbling Well.  This was the first Fourth Marines Church beginning in September, 1928.  The building has not survived.  A high rise building is on the site.

Grand Theater:[8]  This is the first Grand Theater located north of the Race Course at 216 Bubbling Well Road near the corner of Bubbling Well and Park Roads.  The theater still exists under the same name.  This was the fifth and final Fourth Marines Church which was used from late August or early September, 1939 until November 1941 when the Marines left Shanghai.  A review of the Walla Walla indicates the theater was used beginning as early as January 1937 with a temporary move to the air conditioned Cathay Theater in the summer of 1937.  The last service at the Grand was held on November 23, 1941[9] just before the regiment left Shanghai on November 27-28.  Marine Don Versaw, a member of the Fourth Marines Band in 1940-41, remembers that the band was dropped off at the rear entrance of the Grand Theater for rehearsal on Sunday morning before the service and that some band members would have a drink in the bar off the first floor theater lobby after rehearsal and before church service.

I walked through the lobby area of the theater in July, 2007.  There is still a large second floor lobby and the building has been well maintained.  The old rear entrance structure can still be seen from the street behind the theater but is no longer open.

Metropol Theater:  This theater was at 500 Thibet (Xizang) Road on the east border of the Race Course just north of Nanking Road on the east side of the road.  This location is just behind the Sun Department Store building.  This was the fourth Fourth Marines Church used beginning sometime after June, 1938 until August, 1939 when it closed for renovations.  The building was torn down in 1997.

Catholic Churches:  The September 25, 1937 Walla Walla urged Catholic Marines to attend mass at St. Aloysius Church at 734 Kiaochow Road or The Church of Christ the King at 235 Rue Bourgeat (Changle Road).  These churches were also the recommended Catholic churches in other issues of the Walla Walla.  The Fourth Marines Church program for March 31, 1940 mentions only St. Aloysius Church.  Neither church building has survived.  A number of high rise apartments are on the site of St. Aloysius Church and Gonzaga college.[10]

Chaplains Office:  The chaplain’s office (called “Chaplain Hall” in 1929) was located at 118 Sinza along with the offices of the Walla Walla.[11]  In 1937, according to source (12), the Chaplains Office was at 527 Haiphong in the regimental headquarters building.  In May, 1940, it was in the regimental headquarters building at 1607 Sinza Road.

Shanghai Club:  The Shanghai Club was located at No. 3 the Bund (now No. 2 the Bund) and opened in 1911.  It was primarily a British club but other nationals were admitted to membership.  The building still stands and is awaiting renovation.[1]

VII                   YMCAs

Navy YMCA:  The Marines held many athletic events at the Navy YMCA located at 630 Szechuen (Sichuan) Road, the southeast corner of Hong Kong (still named Hong Kong) and Szechuen Roads.  This building was built for and first occupied by the Navy YMCA in June, 1923.[2]  Basketball, bowling, volleyball, gymnastics, swimming and boxing were available there.  The YMCA also provided other activities for the Marines such as tours of cultural attractions, lessons in eating with chopsticks and language lessons.  It had a restaurant that advertised “good, homelike food.”  The Navy YMCA rates a two page spread in the 1933-34 Fourth Marines Annual which illustrates its importance to the Marines.  Marine Don Versaw recalls:  “In pre-war days it was the center of much social and recreational activity....  The YMCA was an important ‘Billet’ too.”[3]

The Navy YMCA building still stands.  There is no heritage architecture plaque on this building.  The first level is used as a retail store.  In October 2006, I tried to go in what was the main entrance to the YMCA on Szechuen Road but the doors were locked.  The doors were open in March 2007 onto the lobby for what appeared to be current use as an apartment building.  Old photos show the large YMCA sign above this door.  The first level likely has always been used as retail space as the August 17, 1929 Walla Walla indicates the Phonola Music Store was located in the building.

In 1932, Jimmy’s Restaurant, a Marine favorite, was just south of the Navy YMCA.[4] The building housing the restaurant is still there.

Foreign YMCA:  The Foreign YMCA headquarters built in 1928 and located at 150 Bubbling Well still stands and is being used as the city’s sports administration building.  The Marines participated in swimming meets, basketball games and bowling at this YMCA according to the Walla Walla.  Marine Don Sargent remembers playing basketball for the Fourth Marine’s team at the Foreign YMCA.  Mr. Sargent’s 1939 championship team is pictured on the cover of a 1939 edition of the Walla Walla.  Two Marine officers lived at the Foreign YMCA as of May 1940.[5]

A number of other YMCA/YWCA buildings remain standing in Shanghai including the building at 55 Yuen Ming Yuen (Yuanmingyuan) Road which was built in 1933.

VIII.                   Along Bubbling Well Road

Bubbling Well Road was a center of activity for the Fourth Marines.  There are still stretches of this road that Marines of the regiment would recognize.  The address numbering used in the late 1930s is still the same.  Starting on the north side of the Race Course, the Shanghai Pacific Hotel (the China United Assurance Apartments when the regiment was in Shanghai) at 104, Foreign YMCA at 150, Park Hotel at 170 and Grand Theater at 216 were all part of the pre-War landscape.  Marines used the top floor of the Park Hotel (then the tallest building in Shanghai) as an observation post during the 1937 hostilities.[1]  Two Marine officers from the regiment lived at the Park Hotel as of May, 1940.[2]

Landmarks going west along Bubbling Well from the Park Hotel are the Chengdu Viaduct (the “Viaduct”) and then the Club at 722.  The north-south Viaduct above Chengtu Road is a relatively new addition to the Shanghai landscape.  Addresses to the west of Chengtu Road are 500 numbers and 400 numbers are to the east.  The Chengtu Compound was at the east side of the Viaduct on the north side of the street.  Nothing remains of the compound.  The north part of the compound is occupied by a high rise and the south side is a construction site where another new building will be constructed.  The Company G billet from the 1938 period at 526 Bubbling Well Road is also gone.

I compiled a list of advertisers from the Walla Walla from the late 1930’s that had addresses on Bubbling Well and then checked to determine if the buildings (not the businesses) still existed.  I assumed the Marines frequented the advertisers businesses or the businesses wouldn’t have placed advertising.  I also added several businesses I found in directories of the period.  The bold entries below are “landmarks” to help place the other buildings.  Even numbers are on the north side and odd numbers on the south side of the street.  Following is what I learned walking along Bubbling Well:

Number

Place

Period

Building Status

 

 

 

 

104

CUA Café on the ground floor of the China United Assurance Building.  Advertised in the Walla Walla as “The Cosiest Bar in Shangai (sic).”[3]

1934

Still there as the Shanghai Pacific Hotel.

 

 

 

 

170

Park Hotel

 

Still there as the Park Hotel

 

 

 

 

216

Grand Theater

 

Still there as the Grand Theater

 

 

 

 

254

Majestic Café (“next door to the Grand Theater”).  This was a café and dance hall west of the theater.  A “taxi dance hall” according to Marine Don Versaw.

1939

The building may still be there.  There are addresses for 242 and 248.  The buildings to the west of 248 is an old 4 or 5 story building with a new front being put on it.  The Majestic was in a two story building according to Marine Don Versaw and early photos.

 

 

 

 

278

Little Bar (“opposite the Race Course”).  This was also known as the Little Club.

1938

This building is probably gone.

 

 

 

 

294

Ceylon Gems (“few doors west of Grand Theater”)

1938

Gone

 

 

 

 

325

Race Course Clubhouse

 

Still there as the Shanghai Art Museum.

 

 

 

 

399

J.W. Marriott Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

441-445

Building with 1922 date on it

 

 

 

 

 

 

475

Jen Li Co. Rug Store

1934-38

Still there.  Across the street from Chengtu Compound.  Addresses 475 to 491 are all in one old building

 

 

 

 

481

Joe’s Café (Italian dishes) (“mouth watering Italian style”)

1937-1938

Still there.  Across the street from the Chengtu Compound.

 

 

 

 

577

American Women’s Club

1933

Probably still there.

 

 

 

 

583

East China Sporting Goods Co. (“athletic goods headquarters for Marines”)

1939-41

Still there.  Southwest of the Chengtu Compound on the opposite side of the street

 

 

 

 

585

Shanghai Broadcasting and Television International News Exchange Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

719-721

Dutch Village Inn restaurant (“opposite the International Recreational Club” at 722).  719 was later a Sun Ya Restaurant serving Chinese Food.

Pre April, 1938

Still there.  The entire south side of the 700 block is still there.

 

 

 

 

722

Fourth Marines Club

1938

Still there as the Chunlan Investment Holdings Co. Ltd.

 

 

 

 

741

Little Café (“& Sweet Shop” “opposite Embassy Theater”

1933-1934

Still there

 

 

 

 

742

Embassy Theater

1928

Gone

 

 

 

 

747

Golden Star Rugs

1934

Still there

 

 

 

 

749

First Dental Clinic (Felix Lawitz, M.D.)

1939-40

Still there

 

 

 

 

753

MacKenzie Sports Company

1934

Still there

 

 

 

 

778

Dr. B.P. Gringut, Dental Surgeon

1939-40

 

 

 

 

 

783

Vita Pharmacy

1934

Still there

 

 

 

 

795

British Manufacturing Co.

1939

 

 

 

 

 

870

Russian Restaurant

1938

Still there

 

 

 

 

882

Dentist S.M. Wolk (In 1939-40 he was at 868, Majestic Apartments, Apt. 101)

1938

Still there.  An architecture heritage sign on the building identifies it as the Majestic Apartments at 882.  The apartments were from 862-882 according to city directories.

 

 

 

 

883

Bakerite Chocolate Shop (“Western Branch”)

1933-39

Gone

 

 

 

 

893

Dombey & Son – Meat Store

1938

Gone

 

 

 

 

900

Clover Restaurant

1934

Still there

 

 

 

 

950

Your Chance Trunk Co.

1940

May be there

 

 

 

 

961

Bruno’s Tavern

1938

Gone

 

 

 

 

964-966

John Maynard Photo Studios

1934

 

 

 

 

 

986

Eddy’s Tavern

1938

Still there

 

 

 

 

1001

New Kiessling Café

1933

Gone

 

 

 

 

1037

C. Fong Kee Tailor Shop

1934-1939

Probably still there

 

 

 

 

1080

Jolson’s Bar (“Just Around the corner of Gordon Road on Bubbling Well”)

 

Gordon Road

1930

 

 

 

 

 

1166

Savoy Bar

1939

Gone

 

 

 

 

1168

Citic Square

 

Covers the entire block Gordon to Seymour, Nanjing to Nanyang

 

 

 

 

1199

Café Federal (Corner of Seymour and Bubbling Well)

 

 

 

 

Seymour Road

 

 

 

 

 

 

1206

Frank’s Bar (New Clipper Bar in 1940)

1938

Gone

 

 

 

 

1225

JC Mandarin Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

1257

Dollar Café

1938

Gone

 

 

 

 

1266

The Service Bar

1938

Gone

 

 

 

 

1266

Plaza 66 Shopping Mall

 

Ferry Road

 

(covers most of block Seymour to Ferry, Manjing to Nanyang).

 

 

 

 

1376

Portman Ritz-Carlton Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

1567

The Great Eastern Dispensary

1940

May be there

 

 

 

 

1628-30

Del Conte Restaurant and Bar

1937

Gone

Several other remaining buildings on Bubbling Well were part of the Fourth Marines landscape including 441-443-445 with a 1922 date on the building south across from the site of the Chengtu Compound and the 700 block of buildings on the south side of the street across from the Club.  A mansion at 1051 Bubbling Well that served as the barracks for the Fourth Marines Band and Battery F of the 2nd Anti-Aircraft Battalion in 1937-38 still exists.  It is not at street side but can be viewed through a lane at 1081 Bubbling Well.  The Fourth Marines was reinforced from September 1937-February 1938 by this battery, the Sixth Marines and other units when fighting between the Chinese and Japanese again intensified.  I had talked to Marine Walter Powers who lived in the building and wanted to determine if it was still there.  Mr. Powers remembered the Band practicing its marching music at this billet while he was there.  The building is currently a restaurant.  This building is now surrounded by newer apartment buildings on all sides and there is no room for marching practice for a band.

Love Lane (Wujiang Road), just south of the 700 block of buildings on Bubbling Well, still has its pre-War buildings with the exception of one new building.  This Lane had a house of prostitution which Marine Don Versaw reports was too expensive for the Marines.  The narrow road was like a pedestrian mall with many food and drink stands on the Sunday I visited.

IX.                   Soochow (Suzhou) Creek Defense Perimeter

There is a quiet and well-landscaped walking/bike path along part of the south side of Soochow Creek, the key part of the Marine’s defense perimeter in the 1930s.  The creek was the north border of the Settlement.  The creek and its bridges were like a frontier border crossing in 1932 and later in the 1930s as tensions increased.  Initially, the fighting was between the Japanese and Chinese in Chapei, the area of Shanghai on the north side of the creek.  Later, after Shanghai fell to the Japanese, the tensions were directly with the Japanese who wanted control over the Settlement.

There are many high rise apartment buildings on both sides of the creek but there are still some buildings on the north side of the creek that Marines on duty at the bridge barricades would recognize.  I walked across the Woochen Bridge (also spelled Wuchun or Wu Chin) (the “Bridge”) which the Marines defended and took photos of some of the old buildings on the north side.  The Bridge (currently named Wuzhen Bridge) is of recent construction and is not the pre-War bridge.  The Marines guard post on the south side of the Bridge is where the regimental mascot “Soochow” was found by the Marines (or “Soochow” found the Marines) in late August, 1937.[1]  Being a dog lover, I looked for Soochow’s descendants but found only a bull dog a few blocks south out on a walk with his owner.  Soochow was captured with the regiment in the Philippines, amazingly survived being a POW, and retired at the Marine Corps Base in San Diego where he is buried.[2]  Marine Loyd Christopher went to Shanghai with the Sixth Marines in August, 1937 and stayed in Shanghai with the Fourth Marines until April, 1941.  He remembered that Soochow would hang out in the 1st Battalion motor pool (which included a motorcycle with a side car) on the east side of Ferry Road between 256 and 196 Ferry.  Whenever the motorcycle was started, Soochow would jump in the side car and want to go along for the ride.

The Park Hotel at 170 West Nanjing Road is a good place to start to go to the Bridge.  The street on the west side of the hotel is Huanghe Road which goes north to Xinzha where you can see the creek.  The Bridge is just west along the walking path.

X           Conclusion

Shanghai is changing rapidly, particularly in the area of the Settlement.  Redevelopment is moving from the west to the east and, as indicated, has completely changed many of the areas where Marine billets were located.  Some of the most interesting places associated with the Fourth Marines that survive are the Club, the College Compound buildings, the Billet Pendleton buildings, the entry gate into the Haiphong Compound, the 1st Battalion headquarters building at 225 Ferry, 1051 Bubbling Well, the Navy YMCA building and the 300 block on Seymour.  There are many pre-War buildings on Nanyang and Avenue Roads near the sites of the Fourth Marines billets.

Redevelopment has advanced to a point about four blocks west of the Bund and, hopefully, will not keep marching east.  The land close to the Bund is very valuable which makes the old buildings vulnerable.  Some of the buildings are supposed to be renovated for adaptive use as part of the North Bund Development Project (the “Project”).[3]  A Peninsula Hotel is being built on the north end of the Bund at the southwest side of the old British Consulate grounds.  Construction was proceeding slowly as of July, 2007.  The old British Consulate and consul residence at the north end of the Bund are the oldest buildings on the Bund.  They were built in 1872 and 1884, respectively.  Union Church, at 107 Soochow Road (the corner of Soochow and Yuen Ming Yuen Roads), at the north end of the old consulate grounds, was heavily damaged by fire in January, 2006 and its restoration status is unknown.  Parts of the church date back to 1886.  The old buildings west across the street from the Peninsula Hotel construction site (including an old YMCA building) are very dilapidated but are to be included in the Project.

The Capitol Theater (no longer operating) at the south end of the Chapoo Road bridge across Suzhou Creek is abandoned and dilapidated.  This theater was seen in the 1986 movie “Empire of the Sun” in a view looking south from the Chapoo Road bridge as cars were leaving the Settlement through the barricades at the bridge.  The theater building is also to be included in the Project.

The building at 181 Kiangse (Jiangxi) Road which housed the U.S. consulate as of May 1940 is not in danger.

The Navy YMCA building does not appear threatened at this time and is part of the Project.  The American Club building may be in danger because it is farther west from the Bund and, standing in front of the building, you can see construction cranes and sites immediately to the west.

In conclusion, this is intended to be a working document.  Additional information, comments and corrections will be welcomed so this part of the Fourth Marines’ history in Shanghai can be recorded.

Sources (Map sources follow in a separate list.)

1.      Tess Johnston and Deke Erh, A Last Look – Western Architecture in Old Shanghai, Old China Hand Press, Hong Kong, 1991 (revised edition in 2004).  Also see website, www.earnshaw.com/shanghai-ed-india/tales/t-all.htm, in the Reading Room of the Tale of Old Shanghai.  This has a chapter on clubs and includes addresses of theaters.

2.      Flying Tigers Guide to Shanghai, December, 1945 in the Reading Room on the Tales of Old Shanghai website, www.earnshaw.com/shanghai-ed-india/tales/tales.htm.

3.      J. Michael Miller, From Shanghai to Corregidor:  Marines in the Defense of the Philippines, Marines Historical Center, Washington, D.C., 1997.  This has a detailed description of the regiment’s departure from Shanghai on November 27, 1941.

4.      The Walla Walla magazine was the weekly magazine of the Fourth Marines in Shanghai.  It was the weekly magazine of the 2nd Brigade from September, 1937 to February, 1938.  Both the stories and advertisements contain useful information.  The San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot Command Museum (the “MCRD Archives”) has many editions of the magazine which are a wealth of information.  The Walla Walla was funded by Jack Riley’s slot machines and advertising according to Marine Don Versaw.  Riley had slot machines throughout Shanghai and paid the Marine clubs to put slot machines in them.  These funds were used to support the Walla Walla.

5.      Fourth Marines Band website, www.fourthmarinesband.com.  This website includes Donald L. Versaw’s book, The Last China Band.

6.      Chaplain Joseph H. Brooks, Distinguished Service and Other Tales given in the Fourth Marines Church, Fourth U.S. Marines, Marine Corps Expeditionary Force, 1933.  The first chapter is a history of the church up until late 1933.  The other chapters are selected sermons.

7.      Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administrative Commission, Tour of Shanghai’s Historical Architecture, 2003.

8.      Richard A. Long, Shanghai, November 1941:  The Last China Marine Church Service, Leatherneck Magazine, November, 2001, at page 56.

9.      Leatherneck magazine had many stories on the Fourth Marines in Shanghai.  Issues in the late 1920s and through the 1930s often had news items from the company level.  All issues of Leatherneck as well as the Marine Corps Gazette are available in digital form and can be searched on a key word basis.  The key word search feature helped find stories that mentioned “527 Haiphong”, for example, that otherwise could not have been found.

10.    Fourth Marines Annual, Fourth Marines, Marine Corps Expeditionary Force, Shanghai, China.  This book contains photographs of the regimental and battalion headquarters as well as billets.  The 1931-1932, 1932-1933 and 1933-1934 annuals are available in the MCRD Archives.  There are no page numbers in these annuals.

11.    Virtual Shanghai website, www.virtualshanghai.ish-lyons.cnrs.fr.  Virtual Shanghai is a web-based research and resource platform on the history of Shanghai from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day.  This website has many old maps and images of theaters and other buildings in Shanghai.  The creator of Virtual Shanghai, Christian Henriot, is a historian of modem China and currently a Stanford Humanities Fellow.  He was particularly helpful in guiding me through the Shanghai Street Directory.

12.    James Shaw’s Present Arms website about the China Marines, www.wclynx.com/burntofferings/adsusmc.html.  The website contains a list of addresses of Fourth Marines locations in Shanghai that is of the same general time period as source (12).

13.    Fourth U.S. Marines, Telephone Directory, May, 1940.

14.    North-China News Shanghai Hong Lists.  These are detailed city directories published in July of most years of publication.  I have had access to the 1929, 1934, 1936, 1939 and 1941 editions.  Tess Johnston graciously allowed me to use her personal collection of these directories, which is much appreciated, as they are very hard to find.

15.    Peter Hibbard, The Bund; Shanghai China Faces West, Odyssey Books, 2007.

16.    A Guide to Catholic Shanghai, T’ou-se-we Press, 1937. 

Map Sources

17.    Map of the Fourth Marines Billets in the January 24, 1931 Walla Walla provided by Marine Bob Gill.

18.    A Marines Map to Shanghai, 1932, printed by the Mercury Press; drawn by Pfc. E. E. Williams, U.S.M.C.  Only 1st and 3rd Battalion locations are shown which dates the map as prior to September 18, 1932 when the 2nd Battalion was reactivated.  This map is in the MCRD Archives.

19.    Map of Shanghai provided by Robert Denig, son of a Shanghai Marine.  No date but shows locations for all three battalions which dates the map as from the September 18, 1932 to December 19, 1934 period when the Fourth Marines had all of its three battalions in Shanghai.

20.    A Marines Map of Shanghai dated July 25, 1937, published by the Walla Walla, from the James Shaw Collection.

21.    Map, Western District of International Settlement, Shanghai, China, no date but in the period September 1937 – February 1938 when the 6th Marine Regiment was in Shanghai.  Map was compiled by the Intelligence Office, 4th Marines and traced by Cpl. Kim Berg for the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines.  This map is in the MCRD Archives.  The map shows the billets and other locations of the Second Brigade and the September 25, 1937 Walla Walla, page 29, contains a list of “Billets of the Second Brigade” (and their addresses) which is provided below with other information I have added: 

Organization

Location

2nd Marine Brigade

Brigade Headquarters

65 Gordon Road.  Building is gone.  There is a photograph of this building, a residence, in Ferd Frpeschle, Shanghai 50 Years Ago, Leatherneck, November, 1987, page 34.  This was the Asia Club in the 1940 Street Directory. 

Brigade Headquarters Company

1051 Bubbling Well Road.  Building is still there. 

Battery “F”, 2nd Anti-Aircraft Battalion

1051 Bubbling Well Road

Fourth Marines Band

1051 Bubbling Well Road

Fourth Marines [locations are in the text]

Sixth Marines

Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Companies (Billet 600)

South side, Connaught Road between Hart and Kiaochow Roads.  The headquarters building may still be there at 759 Kangding hidden behind the buildings at street side. 

Headquarters, 1st Battalion (Billet 610)

Southeast corner, Singapore and Hart Roads in the Singapore Road Park.  This park site is covered by high rise residential buildings with only a little green area in the middle.

“A”, “B”, and “C” Companies, 1st Battalion (Billet 611)

Southwest corner, Haiphong and Singapore Roads.  This camp was also in Singapore Park on the east side of the park. 

Headquarters and “D” Companies, 1st Battalion (Billet 612)

Southeaest corner, Singapore and Kiaochow Roads.  This corner was also the location of the British Kiochow Road Camp.  This corner was the locationn of Gonzaga College and St. Aloyius Churxch in 1937-38.  There is a large abandoned industrial complex just south of the church site at 668 Kiaochow which would have provided ample space for many marines. 

Headquarters, Headquarters and “H” Companies, 2nd Battalion (Billet 620)

Southeast corner, Sinza and Hart Roads.  This was 1607-09 Sinza. 

“E” Company, 2nd Battalion (Billet 621)

Southeast corner, Ferry and Wuting Roads.  This was Billet 18, the Kelly & Walsh Printing Works building and Lane 370, Ferry Road, the .22 caliber indoor rifle range. 

“F” and “G” Companies, 2nd Battalion (Billet 622)

North side Sinza Road, between Seymour and Gordon Roads.  This was Billet 12 at 1226 Sinza. 

22.    Navy YMCA Map of Shanghai, 1938.  This 10th edition (available at the MCRD Archives) shows regimental headquarters at 1607 Sinza, the Fourth Marines Club at 722 Bubbling Well and the hospital at 243 Gordon.  This map was published sometime during or after September, 1938 as 1607 Sinza became headquarters in September, 1938.

23.    Shanghai Street Directory, The Free Trading Co., Ltd., Shanghai, 1939-41. 

24.    Map of Shanghai with hand drawn locations by “R.H. “Ole” Olson,” F “Co” provided by Marine David Johnson.  No date but mid-1940 to late 1941 when Mr. Johnson was with the Fourth Marines in Shanghai.