From: "Greg Leck"

I've taken a look at the new paintings.  The one of the Japanese in the tower doesn't look accurate - I suspect the artist employed some artistic license.  The individual looks like a regular army solider - steel helmet, uniform, Arisaka rifle - instead of the dark, blue black consular guard uniform, with pistol and wooden holster.


Of the paintings for which the artists are not identified, some clues are there.  One has the monogram which looks like "MTS" monogram represents.

There was a Sambo Tremlett who painted watercolours  But his middle initial is A, not M.


I particularly like the painting by AG Cameron, who was a taipan with the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank.




From: "Donald"


Very interesting.  Ted Pearson's note says that the sentry picture was done by a war correspondent, not an internee.   It certainly looks like the inside of the "ball field" watch tower.  Ironically, it was the one "new" picture that I decided to use it in the "slide show" for the program because it embodies so well the fact that this was forced confinement, backed up by guns.  Could there ever have been a time when a soldier in this uniform would have been a sentry - maybe toward the end of the war - or is this image just historically wrong?



From: "Greg Leck"



After the OSS Duck Mission team landed, the Japanese guards were utilized to help guard the camp against marauding bandits, or communist units which were in the area.  But no regular Japanese units were allowed into camp.  In fact, there was an incident a few days later when regular Japanese troops at the Ershilipu airstrip prevented an American plane from landing, causing Major Staiger to blow up at the Japanese commandant.


I'm presuming the image was published somewhere after the war.  No doubt the American public would have recognized the Japanese soldier depicted, but a consular guard might have seemed strange to them.


The internees I've spoken with were adamant and certain that no regular army Japanese were allowed into camp.


As for Tin Pan Alley, I would guess that many of Weihsien's top notch musicians may have been quartered there.




From: "Donald"



Of course I accept your testimony as to who was and was not in the watchtower.  Did the consular guards' uniforms have the same pattern - "riding" pants with sort of a ballooning top, with high boots - as is shown in this picture? 


I noticed that the guard who appears in Cameron's drawing of the un-covered guard tower in the southeast corner has a similar style uniform, with what appears to be the same sort of cap as the picture we're discussing.  This led me to think that it could have been accurate.





From: "Albert Dezutter"

I remember the guards wearing faded khaki uniforms and wearing caps. Those on guard duty did, indeed, carry the regulation Japanese bolt-action rifle.

I don't remember anyone in the camp wearing a dark blue uniform or carrying a pistol in a wooden holster -- which would have been a Mauser. The officers carried a smaller side-arm in a shiny brown leather holster.


Albert de Zutter


From: "Donald"

Dear Albert,


Thank you Albert.  Your memory seems to confirm the authenticity of the "Japanese Sentry at Weihsien" painting.

How about it, Greg?




From: "Albert Dezutter"

Dear Donald,


While I have not seen the painting in question, I should also say that I do not recall any of the guards wearing helmets in the camp. What I do remember is that the guards looked just like the Japanese soldiers I saw in Tsingtao from 1938 on. If they were, indeed, "consular police," there was nothing in their appearance that distinguished them from the Japanese Imperial Army.




From: "Dwight W. Whipple"

What I remember about the guards in Weihsien is that they wore hats, not like baseball hats, but rather a short brim in the front -- sort of like a Greek hat.  I remember it because my cousin and I would sneak up behind them when they were sitting down and we would knock off their hats and then run as fast as we could.  They were good natured about it and would run after us, making a game of it.

~Dwight W. Whipple


From: "Alexander Strangman"

Gee Dwight, you must have been a brave lad to mess around with the guards like that.  How old were you at the time?  Your name doesn't appear on my camp list, so, could you have been one of those luckier ones repatriated in September '43?

There was nothing good natured about the guards reaction the day I was hauled off to the guard house after being caught retrieving a soccer ball outside the camp wall.  Granted the degree of the 'offence' was different and besides a tall lad of 15 or 16 years of age has to be taught some 'respect' ! ( ?) ! I guess.

They must have scared the daylights out of me, at the time, because I can remember every detail of it, today.


Then, some of you (ie: Albert de Zutter), seem to have extraordinary memories for detail, such as the colour and shape of their uniforms and head gear worn etc.  I agree khaki registers in my mind, as their predominant uniform colour but didn't the likes of Sgt. 'Boo shing dee' always appear wearing a uniform bordering on the colour black?  Or was it his 'foreboding' image colouring my recall, there?


Donald is certainly doing a great job getting words and pictures for all to see.  He's certainly giving me the feeling of missing out on the fun.


Last but certainly not least of all,  Sui Shude 'Hsien Shung', the whole organising committee and the Weifang People's Government are to be congratulated and applauded for organising such a wonderful 'once in a lifetime' event, honouring this lucky little group of WW 2 internees from the Weihsien camp.

A.(Zandy) Strangman



From: "Albert Dezutter"

Sgt. "Booshindy" wore the regulation khaki or the alternate olive drab.

I have specific memories of him because I foolishly said his nickname when he came to our block for roll call one morning. He heard me and started yelling, wanting to know who said "Booshindy." I was too scared to answer, so my older brother John, stepped forward and said he did it. Booshindy yelled some more, and the incident ended without any serious consequences.

I don't remember any black uniforms.


Albert de Zutter


From: "Donald"



Well, I am happy to report that at last we have some hard evidence for the authenticity of the painting of the Japanese guard.


One of the former internees I met in Weifang brought with him an article written by the artist who drew the sketch - William A. Smith - which he had kept because it includes a sketch by Smith of him (the internee) in a line-up waiting for boiled water.  The following is a quote from Smith's article:


     "...Inside the gate conferences were held which resulted in the surrender of the camp.  One of the conditions of the surrender was that the Japanese should continue to furnish sentries to guard the camp against any possible outside danger..."


     "...I climbed the wooden ladder in one of the guard towers and when I got to the top I found a somewhat embarrassed Jap sentry.  When I greeted him with "Konnicic-wa" he snapped to attention, saluted me and handed me his rifle.  Naturally I was surprised, but I accepted the weapon, inspected it and handed it back to him.  He again saluted and after returning his salute I descended the ladder, leaving him with the mutual "sayonaras."  I felt that if it was as easy as that, I could certainly get him to pose for a sketch.  The next day I made the painting of him in the tower which is reproduced on the third cover.  That night I found a bottle of saki that he had left in my quarters as an expression of his gratitude."


I think this proves conclusively that the sketch is accurate, and argues for the correctness of memories of khaki uniforms by internees who were actually there. 


As I mentioned before, if you look closely at Cameron's pencil sketches in Norman Cliff's collection on Leopold's web site you will see a sketch of a guard in a guard tower with what appears to be exactly this type of uniform, which is another piece of contemporary documentary evidence arguing for its authenticity, Desmond's memory notwithstanding.  (I'm attaching the sketch, though the resolution make it a little "sketchy," and I'm not sure it will fit topica's size limit)


The only irony in all this is that at the time William Smith's sketch was made, the guard was actually protecting the camp from "outsiders" (communist guerrilla’s were nearby) not preventing internees from escaping.  That would also explain the helmet.  If they were expecting possible trouble from armed guerrillas outside the camp, it is perfectly reasonable that they would have issued helmets to the guards.  It's also perfectly reasonable to assume that helmets were a standard issue for tower guards all along, who had the dual role of preventing escape and protecting the camp from outside assault.  The internees would not necessarily have seen them being worn, however, and they wouldn't have been worn by the ground-level guards that they had daily contact with.


By the way, the other sketches accompanying Smith's article show him to be an excellent representational artist.  A sketch of one of the members of the OSS team is similar in style and quality to the one of the Japanese guard.


Your reasoning about memory's tricks is quite valid in a general way, but in this case the hard evidence is all on the other side.  So the question becomes how to explain Desmond's scoffing?  Any theories?

In conclusion, there does not seem to be any reasonable doubt left about the drawing's accuracy, which pleases me greatly because I will be able to continue using it in the "walking tour" slide in good conscience, though I may have to add a footnote at the end about when it was actually drawn.


I think this whole discussion is reminiscent of the History Channel series that goes by the lurid name of "Secrets of the Dead," but which is actually rather good at unravelling questions like this.


Best regards.




P.S., I'm sending this to the entire group because I'm sure that many of them will find the whole discussion fascinating.


From: "Donald"


Do you remember the color of the guards' uniforms - khaki or blue?  As you can see by the exchange with Greg Leck, this is a matter of some dispute.




From: "Dwight W. Whipple"

Hi Donald~

No, I don't specifically remember the color of the uniforms, but I do have a memory of kids going outside the camp.  My sister and a neighbor child (as I remember, Astrid by name and Norwegian) of about the same age (3), walked out the main gate one day, apparently unobserved.  Someone must have spotted them walking down the road because a guard was dispatched and brought them back hand in hand.



From: "Donald"

Thanks, Dwight,


This is another example of the un-wisdom of making absolute categorical statements about the past - i.e., no one ever went outside the camp -  when one can really only speak from one's own imperfect recollections one's own experiences, which may differ from others.




From: "Albert Dezutter"

In 1943 I was 11 years old, and I was 13 when we were liberated. Any implication that I was not in the concentration camp is preposterous, as is the implication that I do not have specific memories of the appearance of the Japanese guards.


I have no documentary evidence as to whether our guards were regular army or consular guards. I know for a fact that there were no dark blue uniforms on the Japanese guards in the concentration camp, and that the guards were dressed just like the regular army Japanese in Tsingtao that I saw daily from January 1938 onwards.


I saw no machine guns in the Weihsien compound, but again, my memory of Japanese guards carrying the same bolt-action rifles I saw in Tsingtao is specific and not some psychological chimera as was implied regarding my memory of the color of the uniforms in one of the previous messages.


Albert de Zutter


From: "Ron Bridge"

There is a very simple explanation of the uniforms which is absolutely obvious they had "Winter uniforms" which were Blue and summer uniforms which were Khaki" A procedure which many military forces throughout the world have I know intimately having served in he RAF for 20 years from the North Pole to the tropics.




From: "Edmund Pearson"

If you google on ― WilliamA Smith ― you will get a note on his career.  I was his guide taking him around the camp and he drew many drawings of me.  Unfortunately I do not have any.  The one of the sentry was on a page torn from an unknown magazine.  Teddy


> >

From: "Albert Dezutter"

Nice try at conflict resolution. But there were no blue uniforms at Weihsien. Their winter uniforms were olive drab, probably wool.


From: "Edmund Pearson"

I only remember olive drab also. 


Was there a sentry called Soapy San?  Did he not beat one of the cesspool Chinese on his goitre?


From: Desmond Power --- about the book,

Let me introduce myself. I am Desmond Power, born in Tientsin in February 1923 and a resident of Weihsien from January 1944 to October 1945.


I've long vowed never to allow myself to become involved in the controversies that stir up  members of Weihsien Topica, for  I am a firm believer in the old maxim, so well put by, I think, Tolstoy, "that it is the endless variety of men's minds which prevents a truth from ever presenting itself identically to two persons."


To my extreme regret, however, I discovered that without my knowledge or authorization I had been thrust headlong into the wrangle as to form of dress worn by the guards at Weihsien camp. With no wish to impose my view, rather only to stop my name being bandied about in Topica's exchanges, I wish to clarify my position on the matter.


In my formative years I lived through the 1937 Japanese invasion of north China. I saw their soldiery at Tientsin East and at every PNR station to Shanhaikuan. With my Brownie camera I took pictures of their 1939 "show of force march" march along Racecourse Road and Elgin Avenue in the British Concession. In March 1941 when I was a Lewis gunner in the British Volunteer Corps only a barbed wire barricade at Morlings Corner separated a squad of them from us. On December 8th 1941, I witnessed them swarming into the concession. Then as now, 64 years later, I would instantly recognize a Japanese storm trooper's get-up - greenish khaki jacket and pants, brown boots, chamber pot helmet.


In March 1943, as an adult aged 20, I was sent to Pootung Internment Camp, Shanghai (closely packed British American Tobacco godowns long condemned for storing tobacco). The welcoming speech was given by the Commandant in civilian dress. It was immediately followed by one given by the Japanese responsible for maintaining discipline in the camp, Chief of Police "King Kong", a sumo wrestler type, his shoulders bursting out of his black Consular Police uniform. He shouted threats, saying we would be "shot to the death" if we made trouble.


I was in Pootung for 194 days, and on each of those 194 days I lined up for roll call conducted by a black-uniformed sergeant, with a long sword in a shiny scabbard dangling from his belt, and two of his black-uniformed Consular Police underlings with our block monitor in attendance.


In September 1943, one hundred fortunate inmates, including myself, under escort of black-uniformed Consular Police, were transferred by ferry, truck and bus to Lunghwa Camp, where I was to spend the next 116 days. So, on 116 occasions twenty of us who had our bunks on the stage of the Assembly Hall lined up as if taking curtain call to be counted off by black-uniformed Consular Police. After confirmation that we were all present and correct, we had a ringside view of the lines in the auditorium being counted off. One day, right before our eyes, an internee who arrived late for roll call was beaten up severely by a black-uniformed sergeant. (The victim's name was Reuben. I knew him having played against his Shanghai United Field Hockey Club when I came down in March 1941 with the Tientsin Interport Hockey team.) 


In January 1944, two other internees and myself were taken out of Lunghwa and driven to Shanghai's North Station to catch a train bound for Tsinanfu and Weihsien. At the station we joined 70 Italians who were going to be interned for the first time. About a dozen black-uniformed Consular Police stood guard over us for the two-and-a-half day journey.


How different, Weihsien! Fresh champagne air, trees galore, a maze of picturesque courtyards and moongates and tingzis such as you would see in the Forbidden City. But one thing was exactly the same - the camp guards: black-uniformed Consular Police under a black-uniformed Chief of Police. I was in Weihsien for a total of 646 days, 580 of which were under Japanese rule, and the remaining 66, from August 17 to October 22 1945, under care of the Americans.


I lined up for roll call once a day for 146 of those 580 days, and following the Tipton/Hummel escape on June 9 1944, twice a day for 434 days. So I stood in line over a thousand times to be counted off by a Consular Police sergeant and his men in police black. But we did not always line up shoulder to shoulder. After I was moved from Room J Block 24 (where we were counted off in the pleasing courtyard with the picturesque tingzi) to Room 9 Block 23, we stood in the stairwell leading to the tower, one internee to a step. (Eric Liddell in Room 8 when not Block Monitor would have stood on one of the steps.) One particular roll call is indelibly carved in my memory. As the roll call bell rang I saw Sergeant Bushingdi in the yard below berating people to get a move on. Mindlessly I shouted a Chinese curse at him. He saw me, but I dashed down to my place in the stairwell. Not knowing who was the culprit, he grabbed hold of David Clark, the 15 year old ward of Reverend Simms-Lee and began throttling him. I had no alternative but to present myself as the perpetrator. To this day I can see Bushingdi's toothy snarl, I can feel the vice like grip on my neck, and I can smell the nap of his black uniform. I was lucky the war was nearly over. My punishment was only several slaps to the face. 


Weihsieners who have read the Duck Mission account will see how Mayor Staiger made a distinction between "Major Koyanagi Chief of Consular Police" and "Colonel Jimbo of the Japanese Army" (whom he gave short shrift). The account which names the seven brave paratroopers who liberated the camp makes no mention of William A Smith who obviously arrived with a later group. Therefore Smith's statement: "Inside the gate conferences were held which resulted in the surrender of the camp," (actually at the Commandant's HQ) is based on hearsay. His painting of a Japanese storm trooper is beautifully rendered, but the rendition is totally unlike any guard I ever saw in Weihsien, Pootung, or Lunghwa.


"Cameron's pencil sketch of a guard in a guard tower" deserves comment. That scene of the searchlight platform (not a guard tower) was the subject of the art class in which Sandy Cameron participated. And in donating the sketch to the collection Weihsien Memories, he made the annotation: "A Beginner's Contribution."  Another sketch of his in Weihsien Memories is of the basket court quadrangle in which he shows a priest reading his breviary and two internees forming coal briquettes. For none of the three did he fill in details of their dress. He left them in outline form just as his sketch of the guard on the search light platform is hardly more than outline. Sandy was an accountant at Hongkong Shanghai Bank, Tientsin, where my mother was secretary. He was a friend of the family before the war, in Weihsien, and in London afterwards. He often joked about his hobby of sketching which started in camp.


In that same art class doing that same scene of the searchlight platform that day were other neophyte artists. One, whose signature on the drawing is hard to decipher, shows the guard either in shadow or deliberately in black. But another, Nick Mihailoff (my boss when I worked at BMC Electricity Dept in 1940), who named his watercolour "If I Had the Wings of an Angel," paints the guard's uniform in vivid blue/black.


But what settles the colour of uniform question in my mind, if by now that is still needed, is the illustration in Laurance Tipton's most excellent book, "Chinese Escapade". Opposite page 88 is a picture of a roll call in progress in what looks to me like Block 47 or 57. Those wearing white are painted in white, those in darker clothes painted in darker colour, and those in black are painted in black. The black is not shadow. All figures are given the same treatment no matter which way they face. The Japanese sergeant with the dangling sword is painted in the BLACK UNIFORM of the Consular Police.


A last word before I close this already too lengthy email.


The men who occupied Room J Block 24, my first quarters in Weihsien, included among other 'oldies' from Tsingtao, Percy Whitting, a senior manager of British American Tobacco Co. Interested in my stay at Pootung and Lunghwa, we had long discussions about various BAT personnel in those camps, and we became good friends. Weihsienners from the Tsingtao intake will know that Percy was the camp leader when the Japanese interned Allied nationals at the Iltis Hydro. In Weihsien he was the first elected committee chairman. During the subsequent chairmanship of Billy Christian and Ted McLaren he continued to serve as head of one committee or another. On February 7 1946 he wrote an account of internment in Tsingtao and Weihsien in which he says: "At Iltis Hydro we were under the Japanese Army with a small detachment of soldiers and gendarmes." And just before the Tsingtao internees were transferred to Weihsien, he wrote: "When the Japanese Consul and Consular Police took over, things were different." I am adding this information to show that Tsingtao internees transferred from Iltis Hydro to Weihsien had been guarded by both the Japanese Army in khaki battledress and Consular Police in their black police uniforms. 


Desmond Power.


From: "Pamela Masters"

Hi Des --

Thanks for your very detailed explanation regarding the guards' uniforms. Like you, I decided to stay out of that very rambling controversy. 

In The Mushroom Years, at the top of page 131, I mention a couple of young guards in black uniforms up in the guard tower. And again in para 2 on the following page, describing King Kong, I wrote: "He also wore a black uniform, and I learned later that it designated that he, like the young guards, was a member of the consular guard and not an officer in the Imperial Japanese Army."

As I read all the input on Topica on this subject, I couldn't help wondering what camp they'd been interned in...

Have a good one -- Pamela


From Diana Linley
 Thank you once again for forwarding this interesting e-mail. I print every thing you send to me, and read it again and again. This past life of mine was just a faded memory. However reading every ones memories on the computer and meeting the wonderful people in China, has stirred some memories of my own. I thought that the Japanese uniforms were a dark green. I do remember that they had a gun over their shoulder and a pistol in a leather case on their belt. A long sword attached to their belt and a strap across their shoulder that contained the bullets for their guns. They had tall black boots and wore a cap the same color as their uniform. They seemed to patrol the camp all day and night.
My brother and I would play with marbles in the dirt, and often we would be so engrossed in the game that we never heard the guard and the next thing we would see among our marbles was a pair of black boots and we would look up to see the stern face of one of the many guards. He did not do anything to us but it would scare us and we would run away.
Once, a guard pointed his gun at us (I cannot remember the reason) and my brother firmly believed that if we both ran fast enough we could out run the bullets if he decided to shot!
Let me know if any one else remembers the color of the Japanese uniforms. Thanks.

From Greg Leck,
Mrs. Smith has the original painting, and although it is in storage, she recalls
the guard's uniform in the painting as being a dark blue.

From Kim Smith, William A. Smith's daughter:

and --- the colour of the uniform is: [click here]

From: kim smith
Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009

"After reading the (to me) fascinating controversies here, I must tell everyone that Dad was a STICKLER about accuracy. I guarantee he took no artistic license with the color, guns, caps etc. As I mentioned in my just-previous E-mail, when doing historical commisions much later in life, he would get permission to inspect inside the seams of historical uniforms to see the unfaded (or less-faded) color of the original cloth. He thus changed the historical record on at least one instance. My mother, a native French speaker, once accompanied Dad on research for project on the French and Indian war, looking at documents written in French. Mom found a punctuation error, which had resulted in an historical figure's name coming down through history, inaccurately!

Dad would have wanted to record the soldier in the watchtower as he was, and only employed his vivid imagination to the thousands of illustrations he did for the Saturday Evening Post and all the other highly illustrated magazines in the fifties.

Dad also took hundreds of photographs, which Leopold will publish for y'all when I get to burning them and sending them to him. The Japanese in the pictures (there are also many Chinese soldiers) are almost all, if not all, wearing the kind of hat you see in the painting. I don't offhand remember seeing any helmets, though I would ave to review the pics.

I would also like to say that Dad was OSS in China. He was not a war correspondent per se, but was sent a couple of days after the liberation to record the action. He spent most of his time in China in Kunming doing Morale Operations".
Leopold, would you publish the above along with the other comments I have read? I'm not sure how to connect to this thread. I'd love to stay conneted to that thread.

Also, if people are interested, they might want to see some of Dad's other work, much of which is historical at these links:
Today's Inspiration, the blog which first ran a week of Dad's illustration. Here is a link to the first day, and if you then go to the April 2008 links to the right of the page, you will get the rest of the week
Here is the link to the same blog, but the week where Leif focuses on Dad's work in China liberating Weihsien civilian internship camp at the end of the war:
Here is Davis Apatoff's homage to Dad's China work, just scroll down to August 10th:

There will be more of Dad's work soon on the web, and I am in the process of making a Wikipedia entry,
Very best to you,


From: Albert de Zutter
Sent: Tuesday, January 06,

I have consistently maintained that the Japanese guards wore olive green uniforms and were army, and not consular police. There was a civilian authority, and in one of the writings of an American missionary who was repatriated in September of 1943 is the statement that there was disagreement between the Japanese civilian and military authorities.

Further evidence that our guards were army can be found in Father Scanlan's writings in the chapter where he describes his transfer from Weihsien to Peking. There he says that the guards accompanying his group from Weihsien were angry because their prisoners were transferred to consular police in Peking rather than to army personnel, as they were.

Albert de Zutter

From: Ron Bridge
Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let us settle this saga once and for all. I have had numerous examples during the past ten years when I have been establishing the names of those interned or who were military PoWS of Japan that the only truly reliable source of information was contemporary records and documentation. Human Memory is selective and often blind in spots. Books written in the 1950's are accurate but their was a tendency to use pseudonyms there was then a dearth until the late 1980s and 1990 where quite clearly memory failure has occurred

in November 1943 a repatriated Canadian (ex Gripsholm) from Weihsien filed a report for the British Commonwealth Governments reported that the Camp Commandant had been the Japanese Vice Consul in Honolulu that is was of limited intelligence, incompetent and spoke no English but that the police officials were correct in their behaviour towards internees. ( This is filed under CO.910/26 at the UK National Archives Kew)
in March 1944 The Swiss consul filed a report through the Swiss Consul General in Shanghai. This cites that the Commandant was Mr Tsukigawa who had been Vice Consul in Honolulu on 08Dec45. and had reported that he had a very rough time and that was why the camp was in Shantong Province away from civilisation. He reported to the Japanese Consul General in Tsingtao where all major decisions were taken. The Japanese Staff of the Camp is given as 1 Commandant, 4 Heads of Departments, 3 Police Officers and a varying number of policemen between 30 and 40. The original of this document is Despatch NO 7500 filed at NARA ( US National Archives)

in August 1945 the Japanese submitted documents to General MacArthur's staff during the discussions regarding the surrender. Among those is a list of all POW/Civilian Internee Camps with their controlling authority Weihsien is shown to be under the Department of Foreign Affairs ( I have seen the copy in the UK National Archives Kew but I am sure the same document will be available in NARA.

in September 1945 the Duck Mission refers to the Japanese Consular Police authorities representing the Japanese Government. Due to lack of US Manpower the Japanese were to remain responsible for guarding the Camp walls. .... Major Staiger met the Chief of Consular Police Koyanagi... and then met Mr Izu of the Japanese Consular Service who was the Camp NARA ( US National Archives) and also contained in Leopold's
Web site.

Having said that I have no doubt that by 1944 Japanese who were no longer fit for Combat duties were re-assigned to the Consular police as camp guards, but that did not mean to say that they were still in the Military.

The Japanese Consular Police Uniform was black serge ( for Temperate winters and Cold climates) and they wore a khaki/green cotton summer uniform in the tropics and in the Temperate Summer months.

I my dealing with the Japanese National Archives Weihsien which they had by different name as they could not decipher the characters is in the Foreign Office Archives, other camps are under the Japanese Navy and Japanese Army and those in Japan under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The control of the Japanese guarding Weihsien was military.not consular.We had proof when my father Algernon F. Evans was dying in camp(died 18 Jan 1944).My sister and her husband the Danish consul tried repeatedly to get in to see him They were allowed in briefly by the commandant twice.The Japanese consul in Tientsin was a friend,He gave my sister a 3-month pass to come to Weihsien but informed them that he did not have jurisdiction of the military camp of Weihsien.Phyllis Evans Davies

From: Ron Bridge
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009

It is pretty obvious that 64 years later nobody is going to agree despite the overwhelming evidence both pictorial and documentary that it was Consular Police. The quote cited below by Phyllis Davies is effectively correct as the jurisdiction was under the Tsingtao Consul General.

But I close matters by quoting yet another report from the debriefing of the Gripsholm evacuees in November 1943 " Discipline generally was under the control of a retired Japanese NCO who had under him 40 Japanese Consular police."

As far as I am concerned having examined the surrender documents, the contemporary camp documents including reports by the Swiss Consuls and International Red Cross raised at the time I am satisfied that they were Consular police in Weihsien. Incidentally having studied the broader picture of all Camps
Shanghai all ten camps under civil Control except Haiphong Road and Kiangwan where military control and all inmates even if civilian at beginning of the war considered military PoWS and granted rank of Sergeant.
Hongkong initially military control transferred to civil in late 1942 reverted to military a year later.
Singapore military control
Burma military control
NEI military control except Celebes where Naval Control.

From: Albert de Zutter
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I am curious as to whether you, Ron Bridge, were an inmate at the camp, or is all of your information from documents? I grew up in Tsingtao, which was occupied by the Japanese army in 1938, when I was 6 years old. The Japanese soldiers were in our view from then on. I was 10-plus when we were interned in Tsingtao and 13 when we were liberated. I never saw a black uniform at Weihsien, nor did I see a dark blue uniform as some have maintained. I cited the adult testimony of an American missionary lady who was repatriated and the passage in Father Scanlan's book in which he depicts the guards from Weihsien who accompanied his groups to Peking as being angry at having to give up their prisoners to consular police. My direct experience bolstered by that of these two adults is proof enough for me.

Albert de Zutter

From: Ron Bridge
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009

1 I am not just an interested academic, I was in Weihsien Block42/Room 6 until Sep 43 when we moved to Block 13 Rooms 10 & 11. I would also refer you to Leopold's web site.
2 When I said Black they could have been mid-night blue.
3 I have cited only a few official sources.
4 I leave you all with the thought of a quote from " Shantung Compound" written by Langdon Gilkeyin 1966 when his memory would have been fresh although he uses pseudonyms for the Camp Inmates I quote:
" We were neither in Japan nor in "enemy" territory - we were in part of China which was occupied or "puppet" territory, held by the Japanese since 1937, and so maintaining at least nominal diplomatic relations with Japan. Thus we were under the Consular Service rather than the Army or the Military police As a result civilian diplomatic officials were in charge of us. OUR GUARDS WERE A PART OF THE CONSULAR GUARD RATHER THAN SOLDIERS IN THE REGULAR ARMY."(RWB My capitals) it goes on to describe why Weihsien inmates were handled differently to the "folks" in the Philippines East Indies or Singapore. ( for those with a copy of Gilkey's Shantung Compound it is on page 42)
5 As at no source from written by inmates during and after the war, red cross reports and surrender documents does any mention made of the guards being Japanese army other than by contributors to this Topica Bulletin. I consider the case proven beyond any reasonable doubt.
Ron Bridge
PS I leave you with the thought that I have been Vice Chairman 1997-2000 and Chairman 2001 of the Association of British Civil Internees Far East Region and have spent many many hours in studying the whole issue of internment in the Far East have been in constant dialogue with the UK Government over an ex gratia payment including 3 High Court and 3 Appeal Court cases against the Ministry of Defence. The British ex internees who are readers of this column will know what that entailed.

From: Albert de Zutter
Sent: Wednesday, January 07,

Thank you for the information. You have some good sources to cite and so have I. I have no doubt that the consular service was technically in charge and that there was a civilian authority. But I equally have no doubt that the guards were military personnel.

From: David Birch
Sent: Thursday, January 08,

Thank you for this interesting discussion. As with Ron Bridge and Albert de Zutter, I was interned by the Japanese at the Civilian Assembly Center (read Concentration Camp) until the end of World War II. I was thirteen years and nine months of age in August 1945 when the American paratroopers dropped to us from the B24 Liberator plane.

As you mention, Ron, after some sixty-plus years our memories of those days are not as clear as they must have been even forty or fifty years ago. But there are a couple of things that I do remember clearly today.

One is that in the Chefoo School, we always referred to the head man over the Japanese guards as the CHIEF OF POLICE. Never as the commandant. But he may well have had to report to some fairly high-level official with the Japanese army. The reason I think this may have been the case is that I can still recall a little group of officers (the head man may have been a colonel) visiting our camp and stalking about doing some kind of an inspection which probably did not last more than a couple of hours and may have been largely for show. Since I was first interned at Chefoo, in 1942 and transferred with the Chefoo contingent to Weihsien in September 1943, I no longer am able to recall whether this military inspection took place at Chefoo or Weihsien.

I do clearly recall that the uniforms worn by the army 'brass' were of the khaki variety.

I do know that the uniforms worn by our camp guards were different in color. They were NOT khaki in my recollection as the army uniforms were. I've always seemed to recall them as a dark 'navy' blue color, but certainly they may have been black.

I would respectfully suggest that I don't really think this really matters very much. It's sort of like the argument over which end of the boiled egg should be uppermost in the egg cup, the pointy end or the rounded end. In one of his books, Norman Cliff refers to the Japanese guards as consular police.


From: Albert de Zutter
Sent: Thursday, January 08,

I have had two careers in my life -- a journalist twice and, in between, a psychotherapist for 20 years. Both have helped me understand the human condition. I understand the urge to place oneself "above the fray," and take a bemused, superior position. I also understand the urge to truthful accuracy -- a trait I recognize and very much respect in Ron Bridge. Although the details of our internment hardly make any difference now (they can't affect how I relate to my children or grandchildren, for example), they are interesting to us -- we the survivors of what has been a turning point in our upbringing, especially those who underwent the experience for the full 35-36 months, in contrast to those who were repatriated in Septeber of 1943. Those two additional winters in Weihsien brought us to the brink of extinction and imposed two more years of not knowing what in heaven or earth was to become of us. That last winter was especially brutal, with all our clothes outgrown and worn out, not enough coal to keep our heating stoves burning, and food supply deteriorating from its already inadequate level.

Like David Birch, I was 13-plus when our seven rescuers dropped out of that B-24. I rushed out, barefoot and clad only in shorts, and I was not frightened by the sight of .45 caliber Tommy Guns pointed at us -- they were the "good guys," after all. I didn't know till a few years ago that the Japanese guards had orders to kill us all, and I'm glad they did not. I happen to think, without definite proof, that they would not have done so, but then, I'm kind of an optimist. Anyway, here we are, as Ron said, 64 years (not quite) later. What does it matter what color uniforms the guards were wearing? Not a damn bit. But it matters to me that I saw Japanese army uniforms from the time I was six years old till the end of the concentration camp experience, and I saw no difference between those I saw in Tsingtao starting in January of 1938 until the end of our imprisonment in 1945. I never saw a black or dark blue uniform in Weihsien, and I have great difficulty picturing "King Kong" in anything but army olive drab.

In reply to David, the vast majority of Weihsien prisoners NEVER referred to the commandant as "police chief." I have noticed that it is only Chefoo kids (a small minority), and some Peking personnel who insist that we were guarded by "consular police." Both groups encountered "consular police" before they arrived at Weihsien, and I believe it is a well-known psychological phenomenon that we tend to see what we expect. I never heard of the term "consular police" in relation to the Japanese occupation and our experience at Weihsien befor I read it on this site. Sgt. "Pushindi" sure as hell was not a diplomat.

So, snicker if you will, but Ron Bridge, a researcher, and I, a journalist, still care about accuracy. And I wish more people did.

Albert de Zutter

From: Joyce Cook
Sent: Saturday, January 10,

The Jap officers who came to our house in Tsingtao immediately after Pearl Harbour (albeit one was Korean) wore dark coloured uniforms. They attached a sign to our house indicating we were 'British - enemy'.

Later we went to WeiHsien being the first group to arrive there and one of the last to leave after liberation.

My recollection of the guards there is that they wore khaki uniforms.

After some time in the camp my father was astonished to meet a former civilian business acquaintence of his from Tsingtao who had become the new Commandant of WeiHsien Camp. He was Koyonagi. I think I only saw him once later in the camp but I remember my father saying to my mother, "Guess who I met today,Koyonagi, he's the new commandant of the camp." My mother was surprised and they spoke about him as a business acquaintence of my father pre war in Tsingtao. who suddenly appeared as the camp commander. Pop was manager of Jardine Matheson before the War in Tsingtao. He actually visited pop and gave him eggs and watermelon. He was very friendly. Dad asked him not to bring any more food to us as it would not look good. Dad knew him as a businessman and not an Army officer and was very surprised to see him as an officer.The Chinese police in Tsingtao pre war wore black uniforms as I remember.
Joyce Bradbury

From Greg Leck (June 10,2009)

I came across this article from a September, 1938 issue of The China Press, one of the English language daily newspapers in Shanghai.

It mentions the Japanese Consular Police, which was the organization which supplied the guards in Weihsien.

Some have pointed out that since the guards uniforms were khaki, they could not have been Consular Police. (There are photos and drawings of the Consular Police in their dark blue, almost black, winter uniforms.)

Here is documentary evidence that the Consular Police did wear khaki, at least part of the year.