THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1938

THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1938

On 25th January 1938, during the Nanking Massacre, John M. Allison, the consul at the American embassy in Nanjing, was struck in the face by a Japanese soldier. This incident is commonly known as the ‘Allison Incident’. The Americans demanded an apology and the Japanese Consul-General Katsuo Okazaki apologised formally on the 30th January 1938. This incident together with the looting of American property in Nanking that took place at the same time, further strained relations between Japan and the United States, which had already been damaged by the USS Panay incident less than two months earlier.

Following the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army marched rapidly into the heart of China and reached The Yellow River on the 13th March 1938. By the 6th June 1938, the Japanese had control of all North China. To stop further Japanese advances into western and southern China, Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Republic and Nationalist Government in Central China, was determined to open up the dykes on the Yellow River. The dykes were opened on 7th June 1938 but the flooding destroyed the southern bank and the water covered and destroyed thousands of square kilometres of farmland and shifted the mouth of the Yellow River hundreds of kilometres to the south. The loss of life was later estimated at 800,000 drowned.

On the morning of the 12th March 1938, the 8th Army of the German Wehrmacht crossed the border into Austria. The troops were greeted by cheering Austrians with Nazi salutes, Nazi flags and flowers. For the Wehrmacht, this was the first big test of Adolf Hitler’s demands over territorial rights. Although the invading forces were badly organised and coordination among the units was poor, the Austrian government ordered the Bundesheer [Austrian Armed Forces] not to resist. Riding in a car that afternoon, Hitler crossed the border along with a 4,000 man bodyguard. The enthusiasm displayed toward the Germans surprised both Nazis and non-Nazis, as most people believed that a majority of Austrians opposed Anschluss which refers the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany.

The Évian Conference was convened from the 6th to 16th July 1938, at Évian-les-Bains in France to discuss the Jewish refugee problem following the persecution of the Jews by the Germans. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated the conference in an effort to obtain commitments from some of the invited nations to accept refugees. The conference was attended by representatives from 32 countries, presenting plans either orally or in writing. Adolf Hitler, Germany’s Chancellor, responded to the news of the conference by saying if other nations would agree to take the Jews, he would help them to leave. The conference was ultimately doomed, when delegates from 31 of the 32 participating nations failed to come to any agreement about accepting the Jewish refugees fleeing the Third Reich. The conference inadvertently proved to be a useful propaganda tool for the Nazis.

The Battle of Lake Khasan began on the 29th July 1938. It was a military incursion by Manchukuo (the Japanese puppet state in China) into the territory claimed by the Soviet Union. This incursion was founded on the in the belief of the Japanese, that the Soviet Union misinterpreted the demarcation boundary based on the Treaty of Peking agreed by Imperial Russia and the Qing Dynasty China. The Japanese also claimed the demarcation markers had been tampered with. Japanese forces occupied the disputed area and on the 31st July 1938 the Soviet army and navy responded. Despite repelling the Soviet thrusts, it became obvious the local Japanese units would not be able to hold the area without widening the conflict. On the 10th August 1938 the Japanese ambassador asked for peace. On the 11th August 1938, satisfied the incident had an “honourable” conclusion the Japanese stopped fighting and the Soviet forces reoccupied the heights overlooking the lake.

On the 27th September 1938 U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote to the German Chancellor Adolf Hitler regarding the threat of war in Europe. Hitler had been threatening to invade the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia over their natural and industrial resources. Roosevelt’s letter and subsequent follow-up letter failed to find a peaceful solution. Hitler’s response was that the Treaty of Versailles had treated Germany in a “shameful way” and given the Sudetenland to the state of Czechoslovakia. Therefore the invasion of “Sudetenland” was justified by returning the area to its cultural and historical roots. Hitler assured Roosevelt that he also desired to avoid another large-scale war in Europe.

The Munich Agreement was a settlement permitting Nazi Germany’s annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia along the countries border mainly inhabited by German speaking people. The new territory was given the designated name of “Sudetenland”. The agreement was signed in the early hours of the 30th September 1938 after being negotiated at a conference held in Munich. The agreement was signed by Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy but excluded Russia. The Sudetenland was of immense importance to Czechoslovakia, as most of its border defences and financial institutions were located there. Czechoslovakia had not been invited to the conference and therefore did not have the opportunity to protest. They realised Britain and France had betrayed them in the face of the demands made by Adolf Hitler. The agreement later proved to be a failed act of appeasement to Germany. The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, attended the conference wishing for peace in Europe. On the 30th September 1938, upon his return to Britain, Chamberlain delivered his controversial “peace for our time” speech to crowds of spectators.

Herschell Grynszpan was a seventeen year old German born Polish Jew who was living in Paris when he assassinated Emst vom Rath. Grynszpan was one of thousands of Polish Jews who were expelled from Poland by the Nazis. On the morning of the 7th November 1938, he purchased a revolver and a box of bullets. He went to the German Embassy and asked to see an embassy official. After he was taken to the office of vom Rath, Grynszpan fired five bullets at him, two of which hit him in the abdomen. Vom Rath was a professional diplomat with the Foreign Office who expressed anti-Nazi sympathies, largely based on the Nazi’s treatment of the Jews, and was under Gestapo investigation for being politically unreliable. Grynszpan made no attempt to resist or escape, and he identified himself correctly to the French police. He confessed to shooting vom Rath saying his motives were to avenge the persecuted Jews. He was arrested but never appeared in court. He was transported to various prisons and his fate is unknown. Some sources say he was executed in 1940 while others state he was seen as late as 1960. Despite the best efforts of French and German doctors, vom Rath died on the 9th November 1938. The Nazis used Grynszpan’s action as ‘justification’ for further violent assaults on the German Jews. Within hours, the Nazis began a pogom against Jewish communities throughout Germany, known as Kristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”), which lasted all night and into the next day. More than 90 people were killed, over 30,000 Jews arrested and sent to concentration camps. Thousands of Jewish shops, homes, offices and synagogues were smashed up or burned. These events shocked and horrified world opinion and helped bring an end of support for appeasement of Hitler in Britain, France and the United States. They also caused a new wave of Jewish emigration from Germany.
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THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1937

THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1937

Franklin D. Roosevelt began his second of four terms in office as President of America with his inaugural speech on the 20th January 1937. His first inauguration was held in March 1933 but the 20th Amendment made the 20th January the official inauguration date for future presidents.

In January 1937, the American Congress passed a joint resolution outlawing the arms trade with Spain. The “Neutrality Act 1937” was passed in May 1937 and included the provisions of earlier acts although an expiration date was not included. The Act was extended to cover civil wars. U.S. ships were prohibited from transporting any passengers or articles to warring nations, and U.S. citizens were forbidden to travel on these nation’s ships. In a concession to President Roosevelt a provision of ‘cash-and-carry’ was also added. This allowed the warring nations to obtain materials and goods from America as long as purchaser arranged transport and paid immediately in cash. The thinking was that this arrangement would not draw America into the conflict. Roosevelt believed the cash-and-carry would aid Britain and France in the event of a war with Germany. Both Britain and France were able to take advantage of the provision as they were the only countries who had control of the seas.

The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka (German Sturzkampffugzeug meaning “dive bomber”) made its combat debut on 11th April 1937 with the Luftwaffe’s Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War. The aircraft first flew on the 17th September 1935 but needed considerable modifications to the original design to produce a successful aircraft that was easily recognised by its inverted gull wings and fixed undercarriage. Fitted to the leading edges of the main gear legs were wailing sirens which became the propaganda symbol of German air power. The Stuka was able to dive between sixty degrees and vertical prior to releasing a bomb on target before recovering to normal level flying.

Arthur Neville Chamberlain was a British statesman of the Conservative Party who took the place of retiring Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister on the 28th May 1937. His premiership was dominated by the question of policy towards an increasingly aggressive Germany. He sought to conciliate Germany and make the Nazi state a partner in a stable Europe, He believed Germany could be satisfied by the restoration of some of her colonies. Chamberlain is best known for the foreign policy of appeasement and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938. By conceding the German Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany he announced on his arrival back in the U.K. what he believed would be ‘peace for our time’.

The Marco Polo Bridge Incident was a battle between the Republic of Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army. On the night of the 7th July 1937, Japanese units stationed at Fengtai crossed the Chinese border to conduct military excercises. Japanese and Chinese troops exchanged fire outside the town of Wanping, 10.2 miles southwest of Beijing. Later in the night Japanese infantry attempted to breach Wanping’s walled defences but were repulsed. At 02.00 on the morning of the 8th July 1937 the acting commander of the Chinese Army sent the mayor of Wanping alone to the Japanese camp to conduct negotiations. This proved to be fruitless as the Japanese insisted they be admitted into the town to investigate the cause of the exchange of fire. A couple of hours later reinforcements on both sides began to arrive. The Chinese Army opened fire on the Japanese Army and attacked them at the Marco Polo Bridge along with a modern railway bridge on the outskirts of Wanping. The Japanese Foreign Service began negotiations in Beijing with the Chinese Nationalist government and a verbal agreement was reached and ceasefire declared. However, heightened tensions of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident led to a full scale Second Sino-Japanese War that continued until 9th April 1945.

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the Quarantine Speech on the 5th October 1937 calling for an international ‘quarantine’ against the ‘epidemic of world lawlessness’. The speech intensified America’s isolationist neutrality and was aimed at specifically aggressive nations. No countries were directly mentioned, although it was interpreted as referring to the Empire of Japan, the Kingdom of Italy and Nazi Germany. Roosevelt suggested a forceful response of economic pressure rather than outright aggression.

In Rome on the 11th December 1937 Italian dictator Benito Mussolini took his nation out of the League of Nations. In October 1935 Italy invaded Ethiopia and in May 1936 they occupied Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian Emperor Hail Selassie pleaded with the League for assistance but this was not forthcoming. The League did, however, rule against Italy and voted to apply economic sanctions. His disagreements with the League occured when his delegates walked out of a lively League Council meeting after it had voted to continue economic sanctions against her over the Ethiopian war. Mussolini addressed a crowd of 100,000 black-shirts and asked them if they would prefer to stay in the League or not and their overwhelming response was that Italy should leave. At this point Italy abandoned the League of Nations.

The USS Panay Incident was a Japanese attack on the American gunboat Panay while she was anchored in the Yangtze River outside Nanking, China (now spelt Nanjing) on the 12th December 1937. Japan and the United States were not at war at the time. The Japanese claimed they did not see the American flags painted on the deck of the gunboat, apologised and paid an indemnity. On that morning the Japanese air forces received information that fleeing Chinese forces were in the area of Nanking. While anchored at Nanking, Panay and three Standard Oil Tankers came under attack from the Japanese naval aircraft. The result was Panay and the three oil tankers sank with the loss of three American lives and forty three wounded. The sinking of USS Panay caused the U.S. opinion to turn against the Japanese.

During the Sino-Japanese War, Nanking, the capital of China fell to the Japanese Army and the Chinese government fled to Hankow which is further inland along the Yangtze River. On the 13th December 1937, Japanese General Matsui Iwane ordered the city of Nanking be destroyed. Much of the city was burned and Japanese troops launched a campaign of atrocities against the civilian population. In what became known as the “Rape of Nanking”, the Japanese butchered an estimated 150,000 male “war prisoners”, massacred an additional 50,000 male civilians. They raped at least 20,000 women and girls of all ages, many of whom were mutilated or killed. Shortly after the end of the Second World War, Matsui Iwane was found guilty of war crimes by the International Tribunal for the Far East and was executed.

The Chinese Civil War, began on the 12th April 1927 between the Chinese Communists and the Chinese Nationalists. The war was carried out sporadically until the latter part of 1937, when the two parties came together to form the Second United Front in order to resist the Japanese invasion.

In America during 1937, a Committee sat for the purpose of defending Russian Leon Trotsky of the charges made against him in Moscow. Having fallen out with Joseph Stalin, the charges against Trotsky was that of a terrorist conspiring against Stalin, found guilty and sentenced to death. The American Committee found that Trotsky was innocent of the charges made against him. Stalinist assassins raided Trotsky’s Mexico City home on the 20th August 1940, and drove a pickaxe into his skull. He survived for 30 hours, dying on the 22nd August 1940 at the age of 60.

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Letter to P. Lister, 13 November 1918

On headed notepaper of
Government Controlled Establishment.
The Parsons Motor Co., Ltd.
Oil & Petrol Engine Builders
13th Nov 1918
PES/R
Mr. P. Lister,
12, Brittania Road,
Northam,
Southampton. (By hand.)
Dear Sir,
ABSENCE FROM EMPLOYMENT.
We are rather surprised to note your continued absence from the important work in progress here, and have to say that the Armistice signed by Germany does not decrease the importance of the work upon which you are engaged.
It is essential that you take up your duties without further delay.
Yours faithfully
THE PARSONS MOTOR CO: LTD: Initialled PES

20TH (Light) Division Operations (Medical Arrangemenst). 15 Nov 1917

SECRET.
Copy No. 1
20th Div. No. G.32.

20TH (LIGHT) DIVISION OPERATIONS
INSTRUCTIONS NO. 4.
(MEDICAL ARRANGEMENTS).

LOCATION OF MEDICAL UNITS. 1. A Prior to Zero.
(1) Battle Aid Posts. Left R.20.a.2.9. (XVI RAVINE) Right R.25.d.4.9.
(2) Relay Posts. (1) R.25.a.8.4. (HOTEL CECIL)
(2) R.19.d.3.7. (near XV RAVINE).
(3) A.D.S. GOUZEAUCOURT, Q.36.d.6.9.
(4) Div. Walking Wounded Collecting Station GOUZEAUCOURT BATHS, Q.36.b.1.4.
(5) H.Q. 60th F.A. (O.C. Bearers) & Bearer Camp, FINS V.12.c.8.8.
(6) Corps Main Dressing Station V.18.c.0.7. FINS – NURLU Road.
(7) Corps Walking Wounded Collecting Station V.18.c.0.7. – FINS – NURLU Road.
(8) Corps Sick Collecting Station. V.18.c.0.7. FINS – NURLU Road.
(9) C.C.S’s. (1) YTRES Group.
(2) TINCOURT Group.

B. At Zero.
(a). An Advanced Battle Aid Post (Right) at R.20.d.7.4. will be taken into use by the right (61st) Bde. The QUARRY (R.25.d.4.9.) will continue to be used for the Reserve Battalion of the 59th Bde. until this is ordered up by B.G.C. 59th Inf. Bde.

(b). A Forward A.D.S. (left) will be established at original left battle aid post R.20.a.2.9. (XVI RAVINE).

(c). An Advanced Battle Aid Post (left) will be established at R.14.a.8.9. (SURREY RAVINE) – destined eventually to become one of the chain of F.A. Relay Posts.

(d). A Forward A.D.S. (right) will similarly be established later at the Advanced Battle Aid Post, R.20.d.7.4.

POSITION OF MEDICAL OFFICERS. 2.

On account of the more open nature of the operations, it has not been feasible to make arrangements for any but the initial positions of Regimental Medical Officers. It has been tentatively arranged that these will be as follows at Zero.
(a). Advanced Left Battle Aid Post. R.14.a.8.9. (SURREY RAVINE). One or more M.O’s of 60th Bde.

(b). Original Left Battle Aid Post. R.20.a.2.9. (XVI RAVINE) One M.O. of 60th Bde. in Reserve until ordered up.

(c). Advanced Right Battle Aid Post. R.20.d.7.4.
(i). One or more M.O’s of 61st Bde.
(ii) One M.O. 61st Bde. remaining here in Reserve until ordered up.

(d). Original Right Battle Aid Post. (QUARRY) R.25.d.4.9.
One M.O. of 59th Bde remaining in Reserve until ordered up.

With the exception of the M.O. of each Bde. whom the B.G’s C. desire to keep in Reserve at first, all R.M.O’s will be prepared to establish R.A.P’s as situation demands.

The Line R.10. central – R.5. central is suggested as possibly suitable as a route of evacuation of wounded, while it may be found convenient to establish posts at the two points mentioned.

Should a considerable advance take place the chain of Field Ambulance posts will be pushed up by the establishment of Relay and Bearer Reserve Posts as may be necessary. The successful accomplishment of this will be largely dependant on the regularity and promptness with which the O.C. Bearers at A.D.S. GOUZEAUCOURT, is kept informed of all changes of position. The paramount importance of the above, as also of maintaining touch with posts left behind, cannot be too strongly emphasised.

EVACUATION. 3.

Cases will be conveyed as usual by Regimental Stretcher Bearers as far back as R.A.P’s, where they will be taken over by the Field Ambulance bearers who have been placed under the orders of the R.M.O. at these posts. (8 bearers to each R.A.P. of 60th and 61st Bdes., 16 in the case of 59th. These bearers will be rationed by the Battalions).

Cases will be conveyed by Relays to the Forward A.D.S’s and back to A.D.S. GOUZEAUCOURT. Wheeled stretchers will be used as much as possible for conveyance of cases back to Ambulance Car Loading Posts, which will be pushed up as far forward as possible as soon as the situation permits.

A Trolley line is being repared, and will be used as soon as the Advanced Battle Aid Post at R.20.d.7.4.4. is taken into use. By means of 4 trolley cars (capable of holding 4 lying cases each) cases will be conveyed to a Relay Post which is being constructed in the Railway Cutting at R.19.d.3.7., whence they will follow the ordinary route of evacuation to GOUZEAUCOURT.

From the A.D.S. GOUZEAUCOURT evacuation will be as follows:-

A. Lying & Sitting cases.

(i). by DECAUVILLE. A service has been arranged for lying and sitting cases by special ambulance trains conveying –
(a) Direct admissions straight through to C.C.S. at YTRES. (As many as possible).
(b) All other cases to FINS detraining point, whence a ferry service of horse ambulances will convey them to the Corps M.D.S.
(ii). Failing the Decauville by Motor Ambulance Cars direct from A.D.S. GOUZEAUCOURT, to C.C.S. at YTRES.

B. Walking Wounded.
Walking wounded will be directed to Div. W.W.C. Station established in the GOUZEAUCOURT BATHS. From here they will be conveyed by charabancs and possibly by Decauville (empty ammunition trains) to FINS, and thence to the Corps W.W. Station which has been established next to the Corps M.D.S.

From the Corps W.W. Station evacuation will be by Decauville to C.C.S’s at TINCOURT. Failing the latter a ferry service of busses will be used.

DIVISIONAL STRETCHER COY. 4.

The Divisional Stretcher Coy. has been re-organised and instructed, and will be utilised, if required, to assist in the work of clearing the battlefield. They will be controlled by O.C. Collecting F.A. (60th ) at A.D.S. (GOUZEAUCOURT) – with the exception of the section drawn from and attached to 59th Bde., which will come under orders of B.G.C. 59th Bde. at Zero, and will be rationed by the 59th Bde.

Calls for the services of the Divl Stretcher Coy. (with the exception of the 59th Bde. Section above mentioned), will be addressed to O.C. Collecting F.A., GOUZEAUCOURT A.D.S., direct.

CORPS SICK COLLECTING STATION. 5.

A Corps Sick Collecting Station has been established next to the C.M.D.S. and C.W.W.C.S. on the FINS – NURLU Road, and will deal with ALL sick, both from the forward and surrounding areas. Cases will be conveyed by charabancs or busses to the C.R.S. at MOISLAINS.

DUMPS. 6.

Dumps of Stretchers, Blankets, extra Dressings etc will be formed at Relay Posts as early as possible.

ACKNOWLEDGE.

J. McD Haskard
Lieut. Colonel,
General Staff, 20th Division.
15th Nov., 1917.

Distribution overleaf.

Copies to:–
No 1. G.O.C.
2. “G”.
3. “A”.
4. 59th Inf. Bde.
5. 60th Inf. Bde.
6. 61st Inf. Bde.
7. B.G. R.A.
8. C.R.E.
9. Divl. Signals.
10. Divl. Pioneers.
11. Divl. M.G. Coy.
12. }
13. }
14. }
15. } A.D.M.S.
16. }
17. }
18. }
19. D.M.G.O.
20. A.P.M.
21. III Corps.
22. War Diary.
23. File.

Field Service Post Card to Dick-Cunyngham’s wife dated 14 Nov 1916

Field Service Post Card to Dick-Cunyngham’s wife dated 14 Nov 1916

I am quite well

I have been admitted to hospital sick wounded and am going on well.

I am being sent down to the base.

I have received your letter dated telegram parcel

Letter follows at first opportunity.

I have received no letter from you lately for a long time.

Signature only: J.K. Dick Cunyngham

Date Nov 14.

Addressed to Mrs J. Dick Cunyngham, 28 Coleherne Court, South Kensington. London S.W. Postmarked FIELD POST OFFICE D? dated 15 NV 16

George Ryan’s letter home dated 14 Nov 1914

George Ryan’s letter home dated 14 Nov 1914
S.S. “Dilwara”
Nearing Port Said
14 Nov 1913[4]

Dear Mother & F,

We left Gibraltar last Sunday at mid-day. We seemed to have been there quite a long while. It’s a nice place, I would not have minded staying there; but I was glad to leave it as we had got a long way farther to go & the sooner we get off this boat the better I shall like it. Of course we all get jolly hungry but each mess-table is only allowed a certain amount. The food is practically the same as we should get on land; bread & butter for breakfast & tea, &fresh meat & potatoes for dinner. We could generally eat double what we get. But of course we can’t get anything extra. The canteen’s jolly short of stuff; no mixed biscuits & what biscuits they have got they charge 1d for it. Oranges they bought at 3 or 4 a penny in Gib they charge 1d each. 2/- for a 2 lb tin of marmalade etc, etc. but we will soon be there now I hope, then we shall be able to make up for lost time. By all accounts we shall live alright in barracks.

We’ve had quite a smooth journey since we left Gib. The first day the sea was like a lake, but it’s not been more than choppy since. There was a thunderstorm all Thurs night; we couldn’t hear much thunder but there were flashes of lightning every half minute. It’s the rainy season along here, so the weather has not been so very grand. It doesn’t give you much warning when it does start; it’s more like a cloud burst. When we were in the harbour at Gib. we could hardly see the rock when it was raining, it was all misty.

We reckon to reach Port Said early to-morrow morning, I don’t know if we shall catch the other boats up there, they didn’t wait for us at Gib, we’ve come all the way from there by ourselves, no escort at all & we are not fitted with wireless. But we’ve met no Germans or Turks so far so I don’t suppose we shall now.

We shall not stop more than a few hours I think at Port Said, that is if the canal is clear. Then it’s 4 or 5 days journey through the Red Sea to Aden. We shall stop there 3 or 4 days as the other battalion on board is staying there. I don’t know whether we shall pick up some more in their place; I hope we don’t; we shall have a little more breathing room then. Then it’s about another 5 days journey to Bombay (or Karachi).

I’ve had the first dose of inoculation & got over it alright. There’s nothing much in it as long as you keep quiet for 24 hrs after you’ve been done.

Hope you are all quite well.
Write as much as you like
Love to all,
Yr affectn son
George

Excuse the scribble as the pencil is so small.

Dick-Cunyngham letter to wife dated 12 Nov 1916.

Dick-Cunyngham letter to wife dated 12 Nov 1916.

Letter written on Government embossed notepaper.

Saturday
My own darling one,

I’m just off to write to catch mail as I know I shan’t have time tonight. Isn’t it splendid getting back to a ‘Jock’ Divn & in H.G’s Army. I expect I shall find some old friends there.

My nose is perfectly all right, after a drive in an open car last evening – it was fairly cold motoring up.

They are all very kind & sorry I am going. I hate parting with old friends but am lucky in getting such a good Div.

All my love darling & god bless & keep you well

Ever your devoted Hubby
Jimmie

With envelope addressed to Mrs J. Dick Cunyngham, 28 Coleherne Court, South Kensington. London S.W. Endorsed On Active Service. Signed Dick Cunyngham. Passed by Censor No 21 cachet. Postmarked FIELD POST OFFICE unreadable dated 12 NV 16