Letter about the Chinese civil war 1927

Contributed by Keith Symes

Letter about the Chinese civil war 1927

The letter was written by my Great Uncle "Happy" - Harold Vermont. It describes his role as a Marine sent from HMS Emerald on the Yangste to protect the British and other civilians at the consul in Nanking from the retreating Northern army. For a chap who left school at 14 it is very rich in it's narrative of the horrors he saw and took part in. Thay marched to the Consul only to be sent back by chinese soldiers. As things got worse they sneaked back in ones and two's until 20 were there. The retreat was too heavy to get more ashore. He tells of the panic as the North troops reached the Yangtse and tried to cross in limited numbers of sampans and other transport. Shooting each other with Lewis guns the ground and water was soon full of dead. 12 thous got away in 10 mins on transports, leaving 30 thous on the banks. These fired on the receding boats who on reaching the other bank, pushed the dead off into the fast flowing river. The 30 thousand went back to town to surrender to the Southern army. But he thinks a massacre took place as the next day lorry loads of dead were thown in the river all day. Next morning, 24th March 1927 the Southern army advanced, passing through the Consul

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