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Yangtze River Patrol and Other US Navy Asiatic Fleet Activities in China, 1920-1942, as Described in the Annual Reports of the Navy Department
Annual Reports of the Navy Department
Asiatic Fleet Comprises 26 Vessels
The Asiatic Fleet, under command of Admiral Albert Gleaves, who, after his notable service as chief of the Cruiser and Transport Force, was assigned to this important duty, now comprises 26 vessels, including 8 destroyers, as follows:
Division 1, Huron (flagship), New Orleans, Albany; Division 2 (south China patrol), Helena, Pampanga; Division 3 (Yangtze Kiang patrol), Wilmington (flagship), Elcano, Villalobos, Quiros, Palos, Monocacy.
Destroyer Division 13: Tarbell, Yarnall, Upshur [Avel. P.], Greer, Elliot, Lea.
Auxiliaries: Ajax, Piscataqua, Abarenda, Pompey, General Alava, Sara Thompson, Genesee, and station ships.
Mine detachment (destroyers): Hart, Rizal.
Visited Various Islands and Ports
Admiral Gleaves, who has fully measured up to the naval and diplomatic duties imposed upon him, on his way to the Asiatic Station last year in his flagship the South Dakota (renamed the Huron), visited the Gallapagos and Marquesas Islands, Tahiti and Samoa, and later made a trip to the southern Philippines to familiarize himself with the conditions there. Last December he visited Japan and China, and in both countries was cordially received by the naval authorities.
Protecting Americans in the Orient
The Asiatic fleet has pursued its duties of protecting American lives and property in the Orient. When Vladivostok was thrown into disorder by the overthrow of the local government last January, the South Dakota and the Albany assisted in preserving order, and these vessels were stationed there during the evacuation of American troops from Siberia, where they had been engaged in protecting a portion of the Trans-Siberian Railway. In March Admiral Gleaves again visited Japan, his flagship returning in April to relieve the Albany, which engaged in target practice and established a summer base at Chefoo.
Vessels Engaged in Target Practice
The Yangtze Patrol, plus the Helena, was assembled off Woosung, and held practice during May, with the exception of the Palos, required for patrol duty on the upper Yangtze. The South Dakota, Albany, New Orleans, destroyer division 13, and the Rizal assembled at Cheefoo during the latter part of May and early June. All vessels completed short-range battle practice, and also director practice, except the Upshur and Elliot, required for patrol duty on the Yangtze.
Yangtze Patrol Active Against River Pirates
The Yangtze Patrol was reorganized last December, Capt. T.A. Kearney being placed in command. The Palos and Monocacy were active last spring in defending vessels from river pirates and lawless elements, who were holding up and looting steamers and junks, firing on passing craft. Our vessels aided materially in putting an end to this interference with traffic.
The Elcano and the Samar assisted in restoring order during the riots at Kiukiang last March. Two of our gunboats were stationed near Chungking during the disturbance in that province.
The destroyers Upshur, Rizal, and Elliot assisted in the Yangtze Patrol, being especially serviceable in establishing radio communication along the river. Admiral Gleaves made an inspection trip up the Yangtze in June, going as far as Yochow.
Duty Performed by the Divisions
Division 2, the Helena and Pampanga, operated in connection with the South China patrol, and were employed in typhoon protection in the vicinity of their station. Division 3 was engaged in patrolling the Yangtze.
Destroyer Division 13 joined the Asiatic Fleet in May, 1920, and since that date has operated in the Yangtze-kiang. The mine detachment, consisting of two light mine layers, the destroyers Hart and Rizal, joined the Asiatic Fleet in May. The Rizal operated on torpedo range and kite-flying duties in the vicinity of Chefoo, China, and the Kentucky Islands. The auxiliary detachment, in addition to performing its duties in attendance of the fleet, also furnished vessels for ferry duty between Cavite, Olongapo, and Manila.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations and Recommendations to December 1, 1920) (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1920): 33-35.
Peace Time Activities
In Asiatic waters, Admiral Joseph Strauss, with a considerable fleet, is called upon to make momentous decisions and to act frequently, as the Nation's representative, in a manner not purely naval. Under him are the South China Patrol and the Yangtze patrol, the latter commanded by Rear Admiral William H.G. Bullard. These forces act for the protection of Americans and foreigners generally in the disturbed regions of South China and the valley of the Yangtze River.
It is not possible to detail in particular the activities of these patrol detachments. It is enough to say that they are constantly involved in preventing strife and protecting persons and interests in case strife begins. They operate in areas where there is no peace. No doubt there are pages of honorable history reserved for recording the disinterested services of these little-known forces, not alone to our pioneers in the distant markets and missionary fields of the world, but also to the stricken populace in territories devastated by war.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1921) 1921. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1921): 6-7.
On August 5, 1921, the Yangtze patrol force was organized under Rear Admiral W.H.G. Bullard, United States Navy, as part of the Asiatic Fleet. The mission of the Navy on the Yangtze River is to protect United States interests, lives and property, and to maintain and improve friendly relations with the Chinese people.
This has been done very effectively during the past year by a United States naval patrol consisting of the USS Isabel (flagship) and five gunboats, basing on Hankow, 700 miles from the mouth of the river. The force is now under the direct command of Rear Admiral W.W. Phelps, United States Navy.
The Yangtze River, the main artery of China, is navigable for 1,750 miles, floats about 59 per cent of China's commerce, and reaches over 50 per cent of its population of 159,000,000.
In 1920 the United States exports to China were valued at $119,000,000 and imports from there at $227,000,000. At least half of this, and probably more, were handled via the Yangtze River. Considering the perpetual banditry, piracy, and revolutionary conditions obtaining in this area, without the protection of our Navy this commerce would be practically nonexistent.
United States naval forces on the river are distributed over its entire length. In summer they are usually at Hankow and above. In winter some are locked up to the upper river with the deeper-draft craft in the lower river. Our forces cooperate with the British, taking turns at guarding certain points, each protecting the interest of the other.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1922) 1922. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1922): 5-6.
Yangtse River Patrol.
Due to the chaotic condition now existing in China, and especially on account of the difficulty experienced by the central Government in suppressing banditry and piracy, American gunboats have been unusually active in caring for American interests. Through the tactful and forceful stand taken by the American Navy in these waters, the passenger steamer Alice Dollar was saved from destruction or capture on the occasion of an attack being made by several hundred bandits firing on the steamer. Many junks of oil have been secured and returned to the American owners after being captured by pirates.
Recently, through the tact of one of the commanders of a United States Navy gunboat on the Yangtse River, representatives of the generals of two opposing armies were brought together in a truce, which prevented the bombardment of a large and populous Chinese city. The forces of the general surrounding the city held such strategic points that the bombardment of the city to dislodge the opposing troops would have cost great loss of life. The naval commander received the warm thanks of the city officials for arranging this truce and effecting the withdrawal of troops from the city without a bombardment.
The department has received letters from the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai protesting the inadequacy of the protection we are able to give in the upper reaches of the river, due to the lack of shallow-draft gunboats. In a country with few railroads, commerce and population is centered chiefly on the rivers. In recent years American business has increased its commerce greatly in these rivers.
The three gunboats now in the lower river, the Isabel, Elcano, and Villalobos, are of too great draft to get into the section of the river between Ichang and Chungking, a distance of about 350 miles, where a great deal of banditry has taken place. The only two gunboats of shallow draft able to get into this section of the river are the Monocacy and Palos, both of which are of insufficient power to operate in the river at all seasons of the year, the current in the rapids at times running at 14 knots, whereas the speed of these two vessels is 13 ¼ knots. Since 1914, when these two gunboats were built, a great number of light-draft merchant vessels have been built at Shanghai for operating on the upper river. The increase in river commerce since that time has been great and is demanding more protection.
Although the Navy Department is sending two mine sweepers to the Yangtse, they are of use in the lower river only, as must any boat be that is not especially built for the upper river work. The necessity for a boat of not over 4-½ feet draft, yet of sufficient power to go up the rapids and of a short length that will permit making the turns, requires new, specially built boats.
All of the gunboats now on the river are so old as to be maintained at great expense. Two of them, the Elcano and Villalobos, were former Spanish gunboats.
It appears that the use of worn out, improperly equipped, and inefficient vessels on the river, in addition to failing to render the actual protection required by American interests, does not reflect credit on our flag nor add to our prestige. The Navy Department has included in its budget for next year estimates for the construction of six small river gunboats for use on China rivers. The needs of commerce, our national prestige, and the protection of the lives of our citizens, all demand immediate solution of this problem by the construction of adequate and suitable gunboats.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1923) 1923. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1923): 14-16.
Asiatic Fleet Activities.
The Asiatic Fleet carried out the usual drills and exercises in addition to participating in several incidents of international importance. Admiral Thomas Washington relieved Admiral E.A. Anderson as commander in chief, Asiatic Fleet, on October 11, 1923.
China.-The political turmoil in China was such as to frequently require the presence of United States naval vessels in order to protect American lives and property where outbreaks occurred.
The Navy Department received urgent appeals from the American Chambers of Commerce in China and from the United States Chamber of Commerce for protection of American trade in China. Appeals came also from American shipping for protection of Americans traveling on American vessels in China and from the church in China for more adequate police protection for American missionaries who were in the most troubled and dangerous sections.
The United States Asiatic Fleet has been cooperating recently with the other naval powers at Shanghai, China, and is now acting in concert with them in the vicinity of Pekin, in protecting the lives and property of foreigners who may be endangered because of the civil war now raging there.
To meet these demands and to replace the old gunboats on Chinese rivers with a type suitable for navigating the shallow rivers and swift currents, the Navy Department asked the Sixty-eighth Congress for funds for the construction of six river gunboats. In the meantime, to augment the old gunboats doing duty on Chinese rivers, the mine sweepers Penguin and Pigeon were placed in commission on October 13, 1923, at Pearl Harbor and proceeded to the Asiatic Station for duty in the lower parts of the rivers, their draft being too great for duty in the upper reaches of the rivers. The Quiros, an old gunboat no longer serviceable on the rivers, was placed out of commission.
In December, 1923, Sun Yat Sen, President of the Republic of South China, threatened to seize the customs in Canton, hitherto under international control. In concert with other forces, the United States sent six destroyers to Canton. The firm stand and cooperation shown by the various naval forces compelled Sun Yat Sen to recede from his threat to use force and the customs continued to be administered as formerly.
Expressions of thanks and gratitude were received from American commercial interests and from the resident bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in China for the work done by the vessels of the Yangtze River patrol in protecting American lives, property, and business.
Philippines.-In January, 1924, a Philippine fanatical organization known as the "Colorum" rebelled against the authority of the Governor General of the Philippines. The Governor General accepted the offer of assistance of the commander in chief, Asiatic Fleet. The Sacramento landed a force of marines and constabulary with machine guns at Socorro, their stronghold, drove the insurrectionists from the town, and order was restored.
The merchant ship Canopus was obtained from the Shipping Board and converted into a submarine tender during the year.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1924) 1924. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1924): 6-7.
Asiatic Fleet Activities.
Admiral C.S. Williams relieved Admiral Thomas Washington as commander in chief Asiatic Fleet, on October 14, 1925.
The Asiatic Fleet carried out the prescribed forms of gunnery exercises and engineering performances. The vessels of this fleet were employed frequently for the protection of American lives and property in China during the year.
Following the urgent appeals for protection of American shipping and trade in China, and for more adequate police protection for American missionaries in the disturbed sections, the Sixty-eighth Congress authorized the construction of six river gunboats. These gunboats will be capable of operating in the upper reaches of the rivers and will be of much greater value than the old gunboats and mine sweepers they will replace.
In September and October, 1924, the operations of contending Chinese armies threatened the safety of American lives and property in the vicinity of Shanghai and the lower Yangtze River. Vessels of the Asiatic Fleet available, reinforced by marines from Guam, were employed for their protection. Acting with other powers, navigation to Shanghai was kept open and fighting in the city was prevented.
Due to political disturbances, practically the entire Asiatic Fleet has been employed for the protection of American lives and property in the coast cities of China and on the Yangtze and West Rivers.
The Heron was commissioned and on December 18 assigned as an additional aircraft tender to the Asiatic Fleet.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1925) 1925. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1925): 6.
Asiatic Fleet Activities.
Political turmoil in China was such as frequently to require the presence of United States vessels in order to protect American lives and property where outbreaks occurred. Recently increased activities of Chinese belligerents has caused the Yangtze Patrol to become quite active, and this patrol has been strengthened by a force from the Asiatic destroyer squadron.
Urgent appeals were received from the American Chamber of Commerce in China and from the United States Chamber of Commerce for protection of trade in China. Appeals came from American shipping for protection of Americans traveling on American vessels in China, and appeals also came for more adequate police protection for American missionaries who were in the most troubled and dangerous sections.
The Asiatic Fleet carried out the prescribed forms of gunnery exercises and engineering performances.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1926) 1926. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1926): 6-7.
Asiatic Fleet Activities.
The past year in China has been one of intense naval activity. Not only have the regular forces of the Asiatic Fleet been almost constantly employed in guarding American interests, but these forces have had to be increased by the addition of 3 cruisers, 2 transports, and a brigade of marines consisting of some 4,400 officers and men.
The protection of American citizens in China has been most difficult and has required the greatest amount of tact, patience, and calm judgment in the face of tremendous provocation and insult by the various local authorities, as well as actual assault and attack by mobs of frenzied zealots. That the loss of American life has not been greater can be ascribed in large measure to the efficient and devoted manner in which the naval personnel have performed their arduous duty.
The principle role of protection has been the actual transporting in many cases, and always the guarding and convoying of refugees from the interior during the period of evacuation, their concentration in certain centers, and protection therein until the storm of lawlessness had swept on, or on their final evacuation from the war-torn country. Although the protection of American lives was the paramount duty, such measures of protection as were practicable were afforded American property, but due to the isolation of much of this property and the necessity of avoiding actual war, the same success in protecting property was not attained as in the case of American lives.
While occasions for the employment of actual force have fortunately been few, yet when used force has been prompt and effective, and sufficient only to accomplish the object of protecting American lives. The principal clash occurred at Nanking on March 24, 1927. There can be no doubt that this attack on foreigners, including Americans, was premeditated, carefully planned, well organized, and efficiently executed by organized troops. Nor can there be any doubt that the energetic and prompt action of the naval forces of America and Great Britain in laying down a barrage around Socony Hill, where our consul general and other Americans were congregated, and later in the firm stand demanding the safe evacuation of other foreigners in the city, prevented a possible wholesale massacre.
Practically the entire Asiatic Fleet was assembled in Chinese waters toward the end of the fiscal year 1927. The regularly assigned forces of the Asiatic Fleet were augmented by the temporary assignment of Light Cruiser Division 3 to the Asiatic Fleet. Marines were transported to Shanghai by the USS Chaumont and USS Henderson, these vessels remaining in Chinese waters under orders of the commander in chef, Asiatic Fleet. The USS Gold Star was used to transport marines and equipment from Guam to Manila.
In order to transport additional marines to the Asiatic Station it became necessary to use the steamship President Grant, of the Dollar Line.
The following aircraft were made available for service with the United States Marine Corps expeditionary force sent to China: 9 fighting planes, 6 observation planes, 5 amphibian planes. This aircraft force has been held at Olongapo.
VT Squadron 20 was established as a cruising unit attached to the USS Jason and is now operating independently of the shore establishment.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1927) 1927. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1927): 5-6.
Conditions in China.
The protection of American citizens in China has required of the commanders of our naval forces the greatest amount of tact, patience, and calm judgment.
Conditions in China have improved considerably during the past year. There has been little fighting between the Chinese along the Yangtze Valley. A number of business men and missionaries who had previously evacuated this section of the country have returned to their posts. Our gunboats have proceeded from Hankow as far up the river as Chunking and intermittent traffic by merchant vessels flying the American flag has again become possible.
During the period covered by this report there have been maintained in China approximately the following forces: 3,000 marines in Tientsin and 1,000 in Shanghai.
The situation at Shanghai has become stabilized, partially due to the fact that we still maintain a force of about 1,000 marines there. During the recent months the drive of the Nationalist forces on Peking involved great danger to Americans living in the path of the advancing armies. The capture of Peking and Tientsin by the Nationalist forces was effected without serious disorder, due to the evacuation of these cities by the forces of Chang Tso Lin, without heavy fighting. This period, however, was one of considerable anxiety, and vessels of the Asiatic Fleet were stationed at northern Chinese ports, particularly in the vicinity of Taku Bar, to support the force of approximately 3,000 marines then in Peking and Tientsin, who are there to protect our nationals.
The following United States naval vessels were stationed in northern China during the tense period: 1 cruiser (flagship), 2 light cruisers (part of the time), 17 destroyers, 11 submarines, 4 tenders, 4 mine sweepers, 1 transport, and 1 oil tanker.
On July 22 the commander in chief Asiatic Fleet recommended the withdrawal of some of the marines in Tientsin, and orders were issued on July 24 to withdraw about 900 marines from China for return to the United States. They reached the Pacific coast, United States, on November 1. In addition, 13 planes were withdrawn from China for duty in Guam on September 1, 1928.
Landing of Bluejackets in China
Owing to unsettled conditions in China there is always present the possibility of having to afford security to our citizens and evacuate them from the shore.
During the period covered by this report two landings have been effected for the evacuation of American nationals. On December 12, 1927, during the period of the red uprising at Canton, a detachment from the USS Sacramento with one 3-inch field piece landed and took position at the American consulate, Canton. The situation eased on the following day and the detachment returned to the ship. On the same date the USS Pampanga, accompanied by a motor launch, carrying a detachment from the USS Sacramento, evacuated 24 Americans and 22 other foreign nationals from the native city to Shameen. This evacuation was the only one made under armed escort throughout the year and was more of a safety precaution than actual necessity.
On November 17, 1927, a section of Infantry composed of bluejackets from the USS Asheville proceeded up the Makyoung River to Yueng Kong for the protection of American missions located at that place. Information had been received by the consulate at Canton that these missions were threatened. Upon arrival at Yueng Kong it was found that the disturbance was brought about by a parade of Chinese, that the missionaries did not consider themselves in any particular danger, and that the local authorities had the situation in hand. The detachment after being well received by the local authorities returned to the ship.
Since September 1, 1927, the fleet landing force has been twice assembled on shore and inspected by the commander in chief. Landings were well executed and the inspection disclosed a satisfactory condition.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1928) 1928. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1928): 4-5.
Conditions in China.
Fighting has continued among the various factions in China until recently with the general result that the Nationalist forces of he Nanking government have strengthened their position. The strengthening of the National Government permitted the withdrawal of marines from Tientsin. On July 1, 1928, there were 4,003 marines on shore in China. In the latter part of January, 1929, all marine forces were withdrawn from Tientsin and forces were left on shore after that date as follows: In the legation guard at Peking, 500; at Shanghai, 2 battalions of 1,200 men; a total of about 1,700 men.
In February and March there was considerable activity in the Shangtung Peninsula in the vicinity of Chefoo. The American consul had issued notices to Americans advising them to concentrate in Chefoo and American naval vessels were sent there for protection of American lives.
Unstable conditions along the Yangtze have occupied the vessels of the Yangtze patrol. There was trouble in January, 1929, over the attempted detention and search of American merchant vessels at the Woosung forts by military authorities; and there was at Nanking a very unstable condition in March when other military leaders were opposing the Nationalist leaders.
Our ships have been engaged throughout the year protecting Americans on the Yangtze and at the coast ports. In May three cruisers that had been detailed temporarily to the Asiatic Fleet to meet situations arising in China were withdrawn.
The fact that the present National Government is not in complete control China and that there are a great number of American lives and considerable American property at stake where the local government can not protect them requires the continuance of the forces on shore at Shanghai and at the legation.
On June 1, 1929, the commander in chief Asiatic Fleet, with the American minister, attended at Nanking the formal ceremonies of the burial of Sun Yat Sen, the founder of the Chinese Republic.
Recent developments in the controversy between the Chinese and Soviet Republics have not created a situation which has demanded the action of our naval forces in China.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1929) 1929. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1929): 4-5.
Asiatic Fleet and Conditions in China.
The Asiatic Fleet maintained patrols on the Yangtze River and in South China, and various units visited ports in China, Japan, and the Philippines Islands.
The Chinese military situation during the past fiscal year has been characterized by a series of critical revolts and extensive bandit and so-called communistic activities that have postponed the desired stability of the country for an indeterminate period. These uprisings have been due to the efforts of the Nationalist Party to gain complete political mastery and to bring the various Provinces and military leaders under its direct control. The military activities, requiring the employment and concentration of all available Government troops, left many areas unprotected and open to predatory bands.
The above situation has left the bandits and so-called communistic bands more or less free to make raids upon not only cities in the interior but also the larger ports along the coast and on the Yangtze River, requiring the dispatch of our men-of-war to the affected areas. These bands mainly were responsible for the repeated firings upon United States men-of-war and merchant vessels along the Yangtze River, and their activities made necessary the reestablishment of the convoy system and armed guards aboard American vessels. Notwithstanding these precautions, attacks upon convoys, escorts, and individual ships have been frequent, resulting in casualties to both naval personnel and the passengers and crews of merchant vessels.
As a result of the above situation, American lives and interests have been under continual hazard in widely separated areas, making it necessary to maintain in Chinese waters a division of destroyers for emergency distribution to affected ports along the coast and the Yangtze River in addition to the regular South China and Yangtze patrols.
Forces were maintained on shore at Shanghai and at the legation in Peiping where marine contingents in officers and men number about 1,400 and 550, respectively.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1930) 1930. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1930): 4-5.
Asiatic Fleet and Conditions in China.
The South China and Yangtze River patrols of the Asiatic Fleet have been actively employed and have been supplemented at times by destroyers. Other vessels of the Asiatic Fleet have maintained their training schedules in Chinese and Philippine waters.
During the fall of 1930 the Central Government of China under Chiang-Kai-Shek consolidated its power over the greater part of China and effected an understanding with Chang-Hsueh-Liang, who then assumed control of all the territory north of the Yellow River.
Banditry has assumed large propositions. The bandit activities were responsible for the repeated firings on United States men-of-war and merchant vessels along the Yangtze and Siang Rivers. The continuance of the convoy system and of armed guards aboard American merchant vessels was necessary.
In May, 1931, a new National Government of China was set up in Canton under the leadership of Wang Ching-wei and Eugene Chen. The strength of this faction has not yet been demonstrated; however, it appears that China is due of a considerable period of unrest.
There are being maintained at Shanghai a detachment of 1,200 marines and at Peiping a legation guard of about 500 marines.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1931) 1931. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1931): 5-6.
Admiral C.B. McVay remained in command of the Asiatic Fleet until September 1, 1931, when he was relieved by Admiral M.M. Taylor. The Houston was flagship of this fleet.
The Asiatic Fleet has had one of the busiest years on record and has constantly been faced with serious situations which required constant alertness and careful handling.
The destroyers and submarines based on Chefoo and Tsingtao, respectively, held gunnery exercises during the first part of the fiscal year and then proceeded to the Manila area. One destroyer division remained in Chinese waters, while the other destroyers were in the Manila area. The aircraft and aircraft tender Jason operated in the Chefoo and Tsingtao areas during the first part of the fiscal year and then proceeded to the Manila area.
On December 7, 1931, the destroyers of Squadron 5 were reorganized. The original 6-ship divisions were changed to 4-ship divisions and a new Division 17 was organized, consisting of the MacLeish, McCormick, Tracy, Truxton, Borie, and Simpson. This division was ordered to the United States and assigned to Rotating-Reserve Squadron 20 at navy yard, Mare Island.
Conditions in Shanghai and Chinese waters necessitated the presence of most of the ships, except the submarines and aircraft, in that area during the third quarter. Ships were withdrawn as conditions permitted. The ships of the fleet proceeded to their operating areas in Chinese waters in accordance with the schedule during the last quarter during the year.
On April 2, 1932, the Jason proceeded to the navy yard, Puget Sound, to be decommissioned with a view to recommissioning.
The gunboats Asheville and Sacramento, formerly in the Special Squadron, were assigned to the Asiatic Fleet. They arrived in their assigned areas on March 18 and April 1, 1932, respectively, and will continue as vessels of that fleet. The Rochester, formerly with the Special Service Squadron, was assigned to the Asiatic Fleet and arrived at Shanghai April 29, 1932.
On May 2, 1932 the six submarines of Submarine Division 9 and the tender Beaver departed the Asiatic Station for Pearl Harbor.
The gunboat Helena was withdrawn from service and ordered to Manila for decommissioning and sale. It was decommissioned on May 27, 1932.
During 1931-32 the following changes were made in the Asiatic Fleet:
Assigned: Rochester, Asheville, Sacramento.
Withdrawn to United States waters: Tracy; MacLeish; Simpson; McCormick; Borie;
Truxton, S-30, 31, 32, 33, 34, and 35; Beaver; Jason.
Conditions in China
China, at the close of the year, was more completely disorganized than at any time since the Revolution of 1911. The Nanking Government now controls only the area adjacent to the lower Yangtze Valley; Manchuria is uncertain; Canton is again estranged; and the country, in the face of the havoc wrought by floods and warfare, is called upon to support the largest number of troops that has ever been under arms in China.
During the past fiscal year events in China involving the activities of the United States Asiatic Fleet fall under the following four general categories: (1) Flood disaster, (2) political situation, (3) Sino-Japanese developments, and (4) bandit-communist situation.
The Yangtze Patrol, augmented by destroyers of the Asiatic Fleet, and the Houston, flagship of the commander in chief, cooperated with United States consular officials at Hankow and Nanking, rendering assistance in those areas, and standing by to evacuate United States nationals.
The summer of 1931 saw the worst flood disaster on record in China. A vast area of central China along the Yangtze River, estimated at 34,000 square miles, was completely inundated. Final estimates stated at least 150,000 lost their lives by drowning, and the property losses reached $500,000,000.
Political unrest in China during the past fiscal year called for constant vigilance on the part of the Asiatic Fleet in protecting American lives and property.
Disturbed conditions in north China necessitated the maintenance of the gunboat Tulsa, later relieved by the Asheville, in the Tientsin-Taku-Chefoo area throughout the year. The legation guard of about 457 marines remained at Peiping during the year. Unsettled conditions along the entire length of the Yangtze made it necessary to assign destroyers, usually three at a time, to assist the Yangtze Patrol in its duties.
When conditions demanded their presence, destroyers and the Tulsa and Sacramento were assigned to the south China seaports of Foochow, Amoy, and Swatow. During April, May, and June, 1932, political unrest and the menace from communist attacks in the Amoy area became so alarming and the necessity for the protection of the International Settlement of Kulangsu became so apparent that the Tulsa, Sacramento, Canopus, and other vessels were ordered to Amoy to protect Americans or evacuate them if necessary. The Sacramento remained there until the end of the year.
The South China Patrol continued to operate in the Canton-West River area. Recent reports indicate an apparent rift developing between the Canton and Nanking factions which may reach serious proportions in the near future, endangering thereby United States nationals and other interests in that area. The Helena was withdrawn from the South China Patrol and decommissioned, leaving only the gunboat Mindanao in the Canton area.
The Sino-Japanese hostilities which broke out in the Shanghai area in January constantly menaced the integrity of the International Settlement, particularly in the beginning. A "state of emergency" was declared on January 27 by municipal council of the International Settlement, and all foreign troops, which were quartered there, took their stations for the defense of the settlement.
At that time the Fourth Regiment of United States Marines, totaling 1,247 officers and men, was stationed in Shanghai. Reinforcements from Manila during the first week in February increased this force to 1,694. The Thirty-first United States Infantry, with a strength of 1,056, was also sent from the Philippines to Shanghai. Many ships of the Asiatic Fleet were ordered immediately from Manila to Chinese waters, where they stood by during the trouble.
The conduct of the United States naval forces in the Shanghai area during this trying period was highly creditable. In their handling of a delicate situation, by the display of the utmost tact and ability the commander in chief, Asiatic Fleet, Admiral M.M. Taylor, and the commander Fourth Regiment, Col. R.S. Hooker, averted what might have been serious consequences and are deserving of the highest praise.
Communism and banditry continued its alarming spread over the central and south-central Provinces of China during the 1931-32 and now constitute the most serious internal problems of China. In addition to the organized communists in these areas, there are large bands of former soldiers terrorizing the country. Their operations were particularly demoralizing to foreign interests along the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze, where, during the low-water period of the past year, navigation by commercial vessels became definitely unsafe, necessitating the continued maintenance of the convoy system and of armed guards in American merchant vessels operating in the middle and upper Yangtze River. The spread of communism and banditry became so acute that on January 23, 1932, the consul general at Hankow recommended that the Yangtze Patrol be increased in order to be able to give necessary protection to United States citizens and their interests.
On January 16, Charles Baker, American master of one of the steamers of the Yangtze Rapid Steamship Co., was captured at Low-point (above Hankow) by bandits and held until June 1, when his release was finally effected by ransom. J.W. Vinson, an American missionary, was captured by bandits at Yangchiachi, Kiangsu, on November 1, 1931, and killed by them two days later. Another American, the Rev. Burton Nelson, kidnap[p]ed in 1930 in Hupeh Province, still is in the hands of bandits. Miss Marie Halverstadt, an American missionary, was captured near Foochow on December 27 and held for almost a month before her release was effected. The presence of the USS Stewart at Foochow at that time was an important factor in the negotiations for her release.
In May, 1932, the safety of Americans and other foreign nationals residing in and near Amoy was threatened by the approach of a communist army. As noted above, the Tulsa, Canopus, Sacramento, and other vessels were immediately ordered to that area to take necessary steps to safeguard our interests. The end of June saw little improvement in the bandit-communist situation in this section of China.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1932) 1932. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1932): 9-12.
Asiatic Fleet and Conditions in China.
The South China and Yangtze River patrols of the Asiatic Fleet have been actively employed. All vessels of this fleet have maintained their training schedules in Chinese and Philippine waters.
Sino-Japanese hostilities were confined largely to north China and recently terminated as the result of the truce signed at Tangku.
Anti-Japanese demonstrations and boycott activities in the larger Chinese cities and ports frequently endangered American lives and interests, and throughout the year demanded the presence of our naval vessels in unsettled areas.
Large roving bands of former soldiers and bandits have been responsible for occasional firings on United States men-of-war and merchant vessels along the Yangtze River. The continued maintenance of the convoy system and of armed guards aboard American merchant vessels was necessary.
The legation guard of about 540 marines remained at Peiping during the year.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1933) 1933. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1933): 3-4.
Admiral M.M. Taylor was in command of the Asiatic Fleet until 18 August 1933, when he was relieved by Admiral F.B. Upham.
The flagship of the Asiatic Fleet was the Houston until 14 November 1933 when she was relieved by the Augusta. The Houston returned to the United States and, after suitable overhaul, joined the Cruisers, Scouting Force, US Fleet.
The ships of the Asiatic Fleet performed their normal functions, being employed on the Yangtze River, in northern and southern Chinese seaports, and making training cruises to Japan, French Indo-China, the southern Philippines, and other adjacent lands and countries.
The Commander-in-Chief represented the Navy at the funeral obsequies of the late Admiral Togo, I.J.N., in Japan on 5 June 1934.
The gunboat Fulton was nearly destroyed by fire at sea off Hongkong on 14 March 1934, fortunately without loss of life. The prompt aid rendered by HMS Wishart and Whitshed prevented serious casualties, and enabled the personnel to be conveyed at once to Hongkong, where they were quartered and taken care of in the Royal Dock Yard. The Department expressed its thanks for this timely and efficient assistance to the appropriate British naval authorities. The Fulton was first towed to Hongkong and later to Manila Bay where she was placed out of commission on 12 May 1934. The estimate of cost for repairing the Fulton is $380,000 and decision as to disposition is now pending.
Conditions in China
China continues in a state of disruption with internecine strife and communist-bandit activities now engaging the wholesale attention of the Government forces.
Banditry and communism continue rife along the Yangtze Valley where our Yangtze Patrol and armed guards of Marines afford protection to American citizens and their interests. The spread of communism along South China littoral has frequently necessitated, upon consular request, the presence of gunboats or destroyers at South China ports for varying periods. Their timely presence has had a very steadying effect in these and other seaports.
Piracy, with attacks on foreign coastwise vessels, remains widespread in the Canton area where our South China Patrol operates. On 18 June a destroyer and a minesweeper were ordered to assist British naval vessels in aiding a pirated British ship off the mouth of the Yellow River and assist in rescuing captured foreign passengers.
The Fourth Marines, a regiment with strength of 94 officers and 1,668 enlisted men on 30 June 1934, has been stationed at Shanghai as in previous years.
The Legation Guard of marines at Peiping was maintained during the fiscal year as in former years, with strength of 29 officers and 522 enlisted men on 30 June 1934.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1934) 1934. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1934): 9-10.
During the fiscal year the vessels of the Asiatic Fleet were engaged in normal operations, being employed on the Yangtze River, in northern and southern Chinese ports, and making training cruises to Japan, French Indochina, the southern Philippines, and other adjacent countries.
On October 11, after having made a military inspection of Guam, the Commander-in-Chief of the Asiatic Fleet sailed for visits of courtesy to ports in Australia, the Dutch East Indies, and British Borneo. This cruise was primarily in connection with the celebration of the centenary of the founding of Melbourne, Australia.
The Fourth Marines, a regiment with strength of 1,087 officers and enlisted men, has remained stationed at Shanghai. There were no military operations. This force has maintained friendly relations with the Chinese people.
The legation guard of marines stationed at Peiping, with strength of 19 officers and 467 enlisted men on June 30, 1935, was maintained as in former years.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1935) 1935. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1935): 8.
The ships of the Asiatic Fleet performed their normal functions, being employed on the Yangtze River, in northern and southern Chinese ports, carrying out regular gunnery exercises and making training cruises to the southern Philippines.
They also made courtesy visits to the following countries: Siam, Singapore, Dutch East Indies, British North Borneo, French Indochina, Hong Kong, and Japan.
The Fourth Marines, a regiment with strength of 1,088 officers and enlisted men, has remained stationed at Shanghai. There were no military operations. This force has maintained friendly relations with the Chinese people.
The embassy guard of marines stationed at Peiping, with strength of 19 officers and 479 enlisted men on June 30, 1936, was maintained as in former years.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1936) 1936. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1936): 8.
The ships of the Asiatic Fleet performed their normal functions, being employed on the Yangtze River, in northern and southern Chinese ports, carrying out regular gunnery exercises, and making cruises to the southern Philippines. They also made courtesy visits to the following: Java, Singapore, Dutch East Indies, British North Borneo, French Indo China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
Source: Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Fiscal Year (Including Operations to November 15, 1937) 1937. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1937): 9.
The ships of the Asiatic Fleet performed their normal function and in addition have been occupied on the coast and rivers of China in protecting American life and property during the Sino-Japanese conflict. The Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Harry H.E. Yarnell, has settled amicably and to the best interests of the United States many vexatious military-naval questions that have arisen as a result of the Far East conflict. On December 12, 1937, the U.S.S. Panay was bombed and sunk by Japanese aircraft while anchored in the vicinity of Hoshien on the Yangtze River. The officers and men of the Panay while under heavy attack, and afterwards, discharged their duties with a coolness and deliberation that was in accord with the highest traditions of the Naval service.
The Fourth Regiment of Marines at Shanghai were engaged during the Shanghai siege in protecting the lives and interests of Americans in the International Settlement. Their defense sector at Shanghai was effectively held under most trying conditions.
Source: Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy for the Fiscal Year 1938. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1938): 9, 17.
The Asiatic Fleet
Admiral H.E. Yarnell has, for the period of this report, served with marked distinction as Command in Chief of the United States Asiatic Fleet. In the protection of American nationals, policies, and possessions, Admiral Yarnell has been confronted with many vexatious issues and some situations of considerable consequence to the prestige of this country. In every case his duties have been performed to the eminent satisfaction of this office and in keeping with the highest traditions of the naval service.
The ships of the Asiatic Fleet performed their normal functions with the exception of incidents resulting from the situation in China, being employed on the Yangtze River, in northern and southern Chinese ports, carrying out regular gunnery exercises and making cruises to the southern Philippines, French Indochina, and East Indies ports.
During the year two gunboats, Monocacy and the Sacramento, were detached from the Asiatic Fleet without relief. Monocacy was dismantled and disposed of by sinking. Sacramento returned to the United States.
Source: Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy - Fiscal Year 1939. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1939): 10-11.
The Asiatic Fleet
The Asiatic Fleet was under the command of Admiral Harry E. Yarnell, United States Navy, until July 24, 1939, when he was relieved by Admiral Thomas C. Hart, United States Navy.
The ships of the Asiatic Fleet performed their normal functions, visiting northern and southern Chinese ports, carrying out regular training exercises prescribed for naval vessels, and making cruises in the Philippine Islands.
Source: Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy for the Fiscal Year 1940. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1940): 10.
The Asiatic Fleet
The ships of the Asiatic Fleet performed their normal functions with the exception of incidents resulting from the undeclared war in China.
On February 1, 1941, due to the reorganization of the major naval forces, the designation of the Asiatic Fleet was changed to the United States Asiatic Fleet.
Source: Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy for the Fiscal Year 1941. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1941): 8.
The damage inflicted on our forces at Pearl Harbor was serious both in material and personnel, and other setbacks followed, including the loss of Guam, Wake Island, and our main naval base in the Far East at Cavite, and friendly bases in the Dutch East Indies. Our small forces in the Far East were overwhelmed by the enemy in the Java Sea and other regions in the Southwest Pacific, in these early months of the war.
Source: Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy - Fiscal Year 1942. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1942): 47.
Bibliography: The Yangtze River Patrol and Other US Navy Asiatic Fleet Activities in China
Albion, Robert Greenhalgh. "Distant Stations," US Naval Institute Proceedings 80, no.3 (March 1954): 265-273.
Allmon, William B. "Yangtze Gunboats' Final Fight." World War II 18, no.3 (September 2003): 30-35, 84. [This article only indicates a single source (Kemp Tolley's Yangtze Patrol), but includes photographs, and tells the story of the ships and crews withdrawal to, and final stand in the Philippines in 1942.].
American forces in Shanghai: 1938-1939 Annual. Shanghai, China: n.p., 1939. [This picture book contains short histories of the Fourth Marines; the Asiatic Station; and the YMCA in Shanghai, established in 1913; as well as a list of commanders of the Asiatic Station from 1858 to 1936.].
Angwin, W.A. The China Incident: A Narrative of Events Relative to the Flag U.S. Asiatic Fleet Occurring in the First Six Months of the Sino-Japanese Conflict Including an Account of the Sinking of the U.S.S. Panay. Shanghai, China: s.n., 1938. [This volume was written using official sources, though no bibliography is included. The copy in the Navy Department Library is non-circulating and must be examined in the library.].
Bonavia, Judy. The Yangzi River. Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1997.
Braisted, William Reynolds. The United States Navy in the Pacific, 1897-1909. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1958.
____. The United States Navy in the Pacific, 1909-1922. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1971.
Brown, Walter Elliott. "Fiat Justitia, Ruat Caelum, Chinese Style," US Naval Institute Proceedings 64, no.11 (Nov. 1938): 1585-1588.
Carter, A.F. "The Upper Yangtse River." US Naval Institute Proceedings 43, no.2 (Feb. 1917): 325-364.
Cooney, David M. A Chronology of the U.S. Navy: 1775-1965. New York: Franklin Watts, Inc., 1965. [includes incidents in China].
Crawley, Martha L. "Selected Resources in the Naval Historical Center on the Asiatic Squadron and the Asiatic Fleet in East Asia, 1865-1942." Paper presented at the thirteenth annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, 11 November 1984, at Princeton University. [Useful information on personal papers, diaries, document collections, etc.].
Cressman, Robert J. The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II. Annapolis, MD and Washington, DC: Naval Institute Press and Naval Historical Center, 2000. [Unfortunately this volume, which commences with September 1939, was published without an index. Specific incidents in China are listed according to the day they happened, within the context of world-wide events. For example, on page 58, on 29 November 1941, "River gunboats Luzon (PR 7) and Oahu (PR 6)(Rear Admiral William A. Glassford, Jr, Commander Yangtze Patrol, in Luzon) depart Shanghai for Manila." On page 61, on 8 December 1941, "Japanese forces intern U.S. Marines and nationals at Shanghai, Tientsin, and Chinwangtao, China, and seize International Settlement, Shanghai. River gunboat Wake (PR 3), maintained at Shanghai as station ship and manned by skeleton crew, is seized by Japanese Naval Landing Force boarding party after attempt to scuttle fails."].
Delano, Harvey. The Upper Yangtze Between Ichang and Chungking. N.p., n.d. [1917-1920?]. [Most of the volume consists of notes on navigability and steaming directions. "This volume is written primarily for the use of officers of the United States Navy although it may be equally useful to anyone who may navigate the Yangtze…" Most of the illustrations are small pasted-in photographs. A note accompanying the volume indicates there are only two copies of this volume. The copy in the Navy Department Library is non-circulating and must be examined in the library.].
Gale, Esson M. "The Yangtze Patrol." US Naval Institute Proceedings 81, no.3 (Mar. 1955): 307-315.
Gardner, K.N. "The Beginning of the Yangtze River Campaign of 1926-27." US Naval Institute Proceedings 58, no.1 (Jan. 1932): 40-44.
Grover, David H. American Merchant Ships on the Yangtze, 1920-1941. Westport CT: Praeger, 1992. [See ch.10, "Convoys and Armed Guards: The Navy and Merchant Ships," pp.115-130.].
Gulliver, Louis J. "The Yangtze U.S. Gunboats." US Naval Institute Proceedings 68, no.9 (Sep. 1942): 1285-1287.
Hart, Thomas Charles. Narrative of Events, Asiatic Fleet Leading Up to War and From 8 December 1941 to 15 February 1942. [Scattered mention is made of the Yangtze River gunboats. For example, see page 27: "The CinC received the Department's directive to withdraw Marines and Gunboats from China. Since the N.E. monsoon was now at its height, the voyage of the river Gunboats was foreseen to be a feat of seamanship;" and page 31, "of the three Yangtze Gunboats, the smallest was laid up at Shanghai, pretty well stripped down and equipped for demolition; (when the time came, the personnel failed to destroy her). The other two then sailed for Manila." According to a note, "The source material for this narrative is largely a diary and a file of unofficial letters which were saved. The only official Asiatic Fleet documents available...were a few dispatches and the correspondence contained in the file marked 'Enclosure (A) to ComSouWesPac Secret Serial SA-24 of March 27, 1942.'...All other Asiatic Fleet files (as well as all 16th Naval District files...) were lost due to enemy action." This non-circulating report is available for examination in the Navy Department Library.].
Henson, Charles T., Jr. Commissioners and Commodores: The East Asian Squadron and American Diplomacy in China. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1982.
Howell, Glenn F. "Army-Navy Game or No Rules of the Road." US Naval Institute Proceedings 64, no.10 (Oct. 1938): 1435-1438.
____. "Ascent of the Min." US Naval Institute Proceedings 65, no.5 (May 1939): 709-713.
____. "The Battle of Wanhsien." US Naval Institute Proceedings 53, no.5 (May 1927): 527-533.
____. "Captain Plant." US Naval Institute Proceedings 55, no.3 (Mar. 1929): 206-208 and plates nos. 33-48 following the article. [navigation on Upper Yangtze].
____. "Chungking to Ichang." US Naval Institute Proceedings 64, no.9 (Sep. 1938): 1312-1316.
____. Gunboat on the Yangtze: The Diary of Captain Glenn F. Howell of the USS Palos, 1920-1921. Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishers, 2002.
____. "Hwang Tsao." US Naval Institute Proceedings 64, no.8 (Aug. 1938): 1151-1155.
____. "Operations of the United States Navy on the Yangtze River - September 1926, to June, 1927." US Naval Institute Proceedings 54, no.4 (Apr. 1928): 273-286.
____. "Opium Obligato." US Naval Institute Proceedings 64, no.12 (Dec. 1938): 1729-1735.
Icenhower, Joseph Bryan. The Panay Incident, December 12, 1937: The Sinking of an American Gunboat Worsens U.S. - Japanese Relations. New York: F. Watts, 1971.
Jacobs, Volkert F.G. "Port of Call." US Naval Institute Proceedings 65, no.2 (Feb. 1939): 172-176.
Jarrell, H.T. "Discussions, Comments, Notes: How the Panay Was Sunk." US Naval Institute Proceedings 80, no.5 (May 1954): 573-575.
Johnson, Felix L. "The Asiatic Station." US Naval Institute Proceedings 58, no.5 (May 1932): 697-700. [An officer's experiences while assigned to the Asiatic Station concerning: transportation, equipment, living conditions, etc.].
____. "Naval Activities on the Yangtse." US Naval Institute Proceedings 53, no.4 (Apr. 1927): 506-514.
Johnson, Robert E. Far China Station: The US Navy in Asian Waters. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1979.
Karsten, Peter. The Naval Aristocracy: The Golden Age of Annapolis and the Emergence of Modern Navalism. New York: Free Press, 1972.
Knox, Dudley W. A History of the United States Navy. Revised edition. New York: Putnam, 1948. [Activities in China including the sinking of USS Panay are discussed on pp.435-436.].
Koginos, Manny T. The Panay Incident: Prelude to War. Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Studies, 1967.
Lake, Joseph R., Jr. The Panay Incident: The Unusual Story of How Cryptography helped Maintain the Balance of Peace in 1937. [This 71-page paper, also known as "SRMD-019," was declassified by the National Security Agency. The copy owned by the Navy Department Library is non-circulating. It can also be found in Record Group (RG) 457, at the Textual Reference Branch, the National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001.].
Love, Robert W., Jr. History of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1941. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1992. [See "China" and "Gunboats" in index. A useful source for understanding US Navy operations in China within a wider context. For comments on the significance of the Yangtze Patrol as well as a summary of operations in China, see pp.566-582.].
Manning, G.C. "Yangtze." US Naval Institute Proceedings 60, no.2 (Feb. 1934): 221-229.
McKenna, Richard. The Sand Pebbles. New York: Harper and Row, 1962. [Fictional account of San Pablo, a US Navy gunboat supposedly serving on the Yangtze River in the 1920s. Also see the film with the same name, adapted from the novel. The film was directed by Robert Wise, and starred Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, and Candice Bergen (as a missionary); it was released in 1966.].
Morison, Samuel Eliot. The Rising Sun in the Pacific, 1931 - April 1942. vol.3 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1959. [See pp.16-18, "The Sinking of Panay, 12 December 1937." The Yangtze River Patrol is mentioned on p.28. Also see the Index for "Asiatic Fleet," for useful contextual information.].
"Naval Activities on the Yangtze." US Naval Institute Proceedings 53, no.4 (Apr. 1927): 506-514.
Naval Postgraduate School. Dudley Knox Library. Yangtze Patrol: American Naval Forces in China, a Selected, Partially-Annotated Bibliography. [a very useful source].
Noble, Dennis L. The Eagle and the Dragon: The United States Military in China, 1901-1937. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1990.
Offutt, Milton. The Protection of Citizens Abroad by the Armed Forces of the United States. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1928.
Okumiya, Masatake "How the Panay Was Sunk." US Naval Institute Proceedings 79, no.6 (Jun. 1953): 587-596. [The author's air squadron led the dive bombing attack on Panay. The air strike was based on Japanese Army intelligence; the Japanese naval aviators purportedly thought they were attacking Chinese troops embarked on Chinese merchant vessels].
Peffer, Nathaniel. The Far East: A Modern History. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1958.
Perry, Hamilton Darby. The Panay Incident: Prelude to Pearl Harbor. New York: Macmillan, 1969.
Pineau, Roger. "USS Noa and the Fall of Nanking." US Naval Institute Proceedings 81, no.11 (Nov. 1955): 1221-1228.
Plaff, Roy. "Sea Duty on the Yangtze." US Naval Institute Proceedings 59, no.11 (Nov. 1933): 1612-1624.
Polley, Clad Elmer ed. U.S.S. Augusta Under Fire: Sino-Japanese Incident, 1937-1938, Shanghai China. Shanghai: North China Daily News, 1938. [The cruiser USS Augusta (CL-31) was the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet from November 1933 to November 1940. Much of this illustrated volume consists of "log of hostilities" entries from 13 August 1937 to 6 January 1938. The book includes information on the Japanese attack on river gunboat USS Panay (PR-5) including a list of survivors on pp.97-98, and the court of inquiry's finding of fact on the incident on pp.99-107. The copy of this volume owned by the Navy Department Library is non-circulating and must be examined at the library.].
Roberts, Stephen S. "The Decline of the Overseas Station Fleets: The United States Asiatic Fleet and the Shanghai Crisis, 1932." The American Neptune 37, no.3 (July 1977): 185-202. [In 1932 the Asiatic Fleet was comprised of the cruiser USS Houston (CA-30), 19 destroyers, 12 submarines and 9 river gunboats].
Sawyer, Frederick Lewis. Sons of Gunboats. Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute, 1946.
Sheehan, J.M. "From the Side Lines." US Naval Institute Proceedings 65, no.1 (Jan. 1939): 33-37.
____. "The Gorges of the Yanktze Kiang." US Naval Institute Proceedings 69, no.11 (Nov. 1943): 1418-1424.
____. "Nanking." US Naval Institute Proceedings 69, no.9 (Sep. 1943): 1189-1195.
Smith, Roy C., Jr. "Nanking, March 24, 1927." US Naval Institute Proceedings 54, no.1 (Jan. 1928): 1-21.
Smith-Hutton, H.H. "Lessons Learned at Shanghai in 1932." US Naval Institute Proceedings 64, no.8 (Aug. 1938): 1167-1180.
Sutliff, R.C. "Duty on a Yangtze Gunboat." US Naval Institute Proceedings 61, no.7 (Jul. 1935): 981-984.
Swanson, H.J. "The Panay Incident, Prelude to Pearl Harbor." US Naval Institute Proceedings 63, no.12 (Dec. 1967): 26-37.
Sweetman, Jack. American Naval History: An Illustrated Chronology of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, 1775-Present. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2002. [includes incidents in China].
Tate, E. Mowbray. "U.S. Gunboats on the Yangtze: History and Political Aspects, 1842-1922." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs, 22 October 1965, at Boulder, Colorado. [Contains a short, though useful, bibliography.].
Tolley, Kemp. American Gunboats in China. Monkton, MD: the editor, 1989. [Ten copies of this useful collection of veteran newsletters were printed. "The material herein is the property of the Yangtze River Patrol Association, and the South China Patrol Association and of the writers of the various articles. Not more than fifty words may be reproduced without permission." The Navy Department Library copy of this publication is non-circulating; it must be examined at the library.]
____. "Divided We Fell." US Naval Institute Proceedings 92, no.10 (Oct. 1966): 36-51.
____. "YangPat - Shanghai to Chungking." US Naval Institute Proceedings 89, no.6 (Jun. 1963): 80-94
____. Yangtze Patrol: The U.S. Navy in China. Annapolis MD: Naval Institute Press, 1971. [Covers the US Navy in Chinese waters until 1942; an extremely useful bibliography including sources of unpublished documents; a list of US Navy ships that served on the East India and Asiatic stations; and a list of commanders of US naval forces in the Far East from 1835 to 1942.].
US National Archives and Records Service. List of Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships, Stations, and Miscellaneous Units, 1801-1947. Washington: National Archives and Records Service, 1978. [Deck logs of commissioned US Navy ships from the earliest times through 1940 are in the Old Military and Civil Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20408, telephone (202) 501-5385.].
US Naval Historical Center. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. 9 vols. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1959-1991. [Histories of individual ships that participated in the Yangtze Patrol are listed alphabetically along with the histories of other commissioned US Navy ships.].
US Navy. Bureau of Navigation. Navy Directory: Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, various dates. [See section on the US Asiatic Fleet for ships on the Yangtze Patrol. For example, in the Navy Directory dated 1 July 1922, on page 108 in the "Assignment of Ships" section, Division Three (Yangtze Patrol) lists the following vessels: Isabel (flagship), Elcano, Villalobos, Quiros, Monocacy, and Palos. One can then go to the "Ships' Roster of Officers Section" to determine the officers on specific ships. For example, in the same edition of the Navy Directory, on page 136, the following officers are listed on Elcano: Lt. Comdr. L.C. Davis, Lt. P.C. Ranson, Lt. (jg) A.D. Brown, and Lt. C.N. Smith (MC).].
US Navy. Asiatic Fleet. Fleet Regulations: United States Asiatic Fleet. [The Navy Department Library owns the 1931, 1934 and 1937 editions. See the table of contents for "Yangtze Patrol, geographical limits of," which in the 1934 edition on page one says: "The Yangtze Patrol includes the coast and navigable waters of the Provinces of Chekiang and Kiangsu and the Yangtze River and its tributaries." The Navy Department Library copies of these regulations are non-circulating; they must be examined at the library. Other copies, and perhaps different annual editions, might be located at the Old Military and Civil Branch, National Archives, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20408.].
____. Roster, United States Asiatic Fleet and Station. [The Navy Department Library owns the 1931, 1932 and 1938 editions. Headquarters staff officers and officers on each Yangtze Patrol ship are listed, along with their rank, official title, date of assignment and date of tour expiration. The Navy Department Library copies of these rosters are non-circulating; they must be examined at the library. Other copies, and perhaps different annual editions, might be located at the Old Military and Civil Branch, National Archives, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20408.].
Wharton, W.S. "Our Chinese Navy." US Naval Institute Proceedings 51, no.1 (Jan. 1925): 68-77.
Winslow, Cameron McR. "Action on the Yangtze." US Naval Institute Proceedings 63, no.4 (Apr. 1937): 491-498.
Winslow, W.G. The Fleet the Gods Forgot: The U.S. Asiatic Fleet in World War II. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1982. [See "Gunboats," ch.6, pp.52-62. As war approached, two sea-going gunboats were withdrawn to the Philippines, leaving the five river gunboats of the Yangtze Patrol. In late November 1941, three of the remaining riverboats were also ordered withdrawn to the Philippines, which would leave two non-seaworthy gunboats on the Yangtze. USS Tutuila (PG-44), 1,300 miles up the Yangtze, was turned over to the Nationalist Chinese, and her crew escaped overland to India. USS Wake (PG-43), stationed 600 miles up the Yangtze, withdrew to Shanghai, but was not considered seaworthy enough to steam to the Philippines. Most of her crew left for the Philippines on the other departing gunboats, but 14 men remained, and were subsequently captured by the Japanese.].
Worcester, G.R.G. The Junks and Sampans of the Upper Yangtze. Shanghai, China: Statistical Department of the Inspector General of Customs, 1940. [Navy Department Library Rare Book Room; non-circulating.]
____. The Junks and Sampans of the Yangtze. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1971. [The author served for 30 years in the service of Chinese Maritime Customs and spent three years in a Japanese prison camp. This volume is an edited compilation of four volumes published between 1940 and 1948 (see above and below for three of the volumes) by order of the Inspector General of Customs of the Chinese Maritime Service. In addition to general information on the river and its craft, the majority of the volume consists of plans and descriptions of boats.].
____. The Junks and Sampans of the Yangtze: A Study in Chinese Nautical Research. 2 vols. Shanghai, China: Statistical Department of the Inspector General of Customs, 1948. [Navy Department Library Rare Book Room; non-circulating.]
Prior to 1920, mention of China in the index of the Annual Reports of the Navy Department is infrequent. Subsequent to the China Relief Expedition (Boxer Rebellion) reported in 1900 and 1901, and prior to Yangtze River patrol activities reportage starting in 1920, China appears to only be mentioned in the indexes of the annual reports of 1905, 1907, 1908 and 1916.
Unpublished records of the US Navy's pre-World War II Asiatic Fleet are located at the Old Military and Civil Branch, National Archives, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20408.