• Si Biggs

12th Battalion Royal Marines in Shanghai - 1927

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines


Location: China


Period/ Conflict: 1900's


Year: 1927


Date/s: March 1927




27th January 1927. Portsmouth gave a splendid send-off to a 1.000 Royal Marines who had been selected for service in China. They embarked on the Transport Minnesota which left the next day, arriving in Shanghai after a 28 day passage.



The Battalion came under the army GHQ’s direct command to provide guards, and from 21 March was in the Pootung district, covering almost a 5–mile front along the Whangpo River opposite the city.

Standing on parade at the Shanghai racecourse c1927 Marine Cross is marked with the arrow. The imposing building with the clock tower was known as the China United Apartments, to the left is the unfinished YMCA residential building for foreigners, on the Bubbling Well Road, Shanghai.

An area of factories, wharves and warehouses, where most communication was by boat. On 20 August ‘C’ Company arrived at the British Cold Store in Nanking on a gruelling hot day, where they found the Southern Army’s soldiers had briefly occupied the western compound, the most suitable for defence.


After taking over from Dauntless, 21 volunteers stoked the boilers generating the power for the cold stores, as when the temperature was 32 C the cold rooms were needed to keep rations fresh.

The following photo is rare in the fact that it is not a postcard (which makes it unique really) and that it shows two vessels together of historical significance. The photograph can also be precisely placed on the Huangpu river which flows through Shanghai, a tributary of the mighty Yangtze. The photo shows HMS DAUNTLESS with the trader SS KIAWO, the latter being central to the uprisings and skirmishes on the upper Yangtze in the late 1920's. (Bert Cross)

Nanking lies on the southern bank of a river bend, and was reoccupied by the Southern Army in 1927 without opposition on 3 September and for the next ten weeks the Marines were confined to the compound, before being relieved on 20–21 November by an army company.



The Battalion embarked on 6 December in SS Mantua after Chiang Kai–shek arrived and the tension had eased in Shanghai. Read More/ Web Link:


Lt. W.E. 'Bert' Cross


The story of a 17 year old boy who left a dreary existence in a noisy, dark and dank 1920's hosiery factory, toiling at producing stockings and socks, to forge a new life as a sea-soldier in Britain's Royal Marines.


See newsreel - Marines Arrive in Shanghai

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