British army in West Indies and China before WW2...

Discussion in 'Prewar' started by Gourami, Aug 6, 2020.

  1. Gourami

    Gourami Faugh a Ballagh

    My great grandfather served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in the 1920s and early 1930s in Bermuda and Jamaica and spent four years in China.

    Is anyone aware of any information, be it in fiction or non-fiction, which might give me an idea of what his life and service would have been like in these deployments during this time? There is virtually nothing available in a Google search.
  2. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    I have a book written by a man who served as an NCO in China 1912 -14 but's that's probably too early for you
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  3. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    The main British Army base in Jamaica was in the hills above Kingston and regiments left their painted crest on a wall, which is visible from the road passing through - no longer an army facility from memory.

    The main inter-war British military presence in China was the International Settlement(s) @ Shanghai, with up to a brigade stationed there. Smaller detachments could have been elsewhere. See: Docs Far East 1930 - 1947 British Troops in China - British Military History I exclude Hong Kong as it was a British colony.

    Using "Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders" + "shanghai" you will find plenty to check out (22k plus). By using "Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders" + "shanghai" it is 90% less.

    I would expect the regimental journal will have articles, mainly by officers and possibly rather bland. There are articles aplenty on the Shanghai Defence Force - the international coalition protecting the international settlements. Note this shows British Light Infantry Regiments & National Service shows only the 2nd Bn. was posted to China and the West Indies 1927-1933 (incl. Hong Kong).

    Before the Japanese intervention there were patrols into the interior, I found an account of armoured cars deep inside China visiting missionaries to reassure the locals that they could get there.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2020
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  4. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

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  5. Gourami

    Gourami Faugh a Ballagh

    Thanks everyone for your replies.
    To add to all this, for anyone else who is interested in this regiment, I found this oral history about the battalions service in the West Indies and China:

    Anderson, Robert Charles Beckett (Oral history)
  6. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Before WW1 it was not uncommon for units of different countries to co-operate in guarding international settlements. In the case I mentioned a British and a German battalion were teamed up 1912/1913 and got on very well together. When in 1915 the two found themselves facing each other on the Western Front it seems that there was much entirely unofficial visiting across No Mans Land to renew old
    acquaintances and a live and let live policy was adopted in general. I would imagine that the battalion war diaries for that period were largely a work of fiction.
    Hard to imagine anything like that in WW2 even though some British and Japanese units had served alongside each other in China in 1914 and British and Italians had served together in more than one theatre. - too big a gap in both time and national ideologies.
  7. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Robert W,

    It was a surprise to see an Argentinian Army unit join the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus a few years after the 1982 Falklands War. Their rear echelon - as I recall - was the UK Army base @ Dhekelia SBA. Sharing a passion for football helped. They arrived in 1993 and are still there, a reinforced company and three helicopters. See: UNFICYP
  8. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    In 1913 an international force was sent to Scutari in what is today Albania. The city's water and sewage system had essentially collapsed and famine and pestilence were imminent. Russia and Turkey (the Ottoman Empire) were both meddling and stoking internecine conflict. British, German, KuK, Italian and French troops were sent in and a squadron of RN semi dreadnoughts blockaded the port. Within a year they had re built the sewage and water systems, organised a food supply and distribution system, set up a reasonably non corrupt police force and courts and kicked the back sides of any local groups stirring up trouble - probably better than the UN would manage today - they were definitely not PC. Then they all went home and next year started fighting each other.

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