Shanghai and various Philippine locations: 1930s. Album. A unique and important visual record of U.S. neutrality in the face of Japanese aggression in the years preceding World War II. As of 2018, no auction results for 1932 Shangai albums are found at ABPC or the Rare Book Hub although books of half-tone prints occasionally appear as does Ah Fong’s superb photograph book documenting the later Siege of Shanghai in 1937. No similar items are for sale in the trade. OCLC locates a similar album kept by a British soldier, but none from Americans. Very good. Item #008948
The album measures 11.5” x 7.5” and contains over 260 photographs, most 3.5” x 2.5” or 4.5” or 2.75”. The photographs are a mix of vernacular and more professional photos, some perhaps taken by a unit photographer. About 100 were taken during the Sino-Japanese conflict following the “January 28 Incident” in early 1932, and the others were taken in the Philippines at Manila, Vigan, Bagulo, and Corregidor. Most have fading white captions on the album pages and more detailed descriptions on the reverse. There is also a 9.5” x 9.5” map of Shanghai with annotations identifying the war zone and regimental positions. The photos are in nice shape; many have become attached to their mounting corners. Some of the mounting corners are detaching from the pages which makes it possible to read the descriptions on their reverse. The album and pages show some minor wear. On 4 February 1932, the U.S. 31st Infantry departed from the Philippines on board the USS Chaumont and landed in Shanghai the following day to bolster the defenses of the International Settlement as Japanese and Chinese forces began to fight on the outskirts of the city. The 31st quickly assumed defensive positions with the 4th Marines along Soochow Creek directly across from the Chapei district that became the focal point of Sino-Japanese fighting. The battle lasted through early March and intermittent fighting continued until a ceasefire agreement was finalized in May. The 31st returned to its garrison in the Philippines later that summer. (See Cornebise, The United States Army in China, 1900-1938.) Image highlights include: Regimental soldiers and locations (New World Building, Studio de Arts, motorcycle in front of 1st Battalion Headquarters, etc.), British military units marching through the streets and at the city’s Race Track, Soldiers laying communications wire through the streets, Regimental officers posing with a “Chink” policeman (the unit’s distinctive polar bear insignia is visible on several campaign hats), Block houses along the settlements protective walls, The location of “Charlie Chan” (a Chinese machine gunner who thwarted a number of Japanese advances), Japanese soldiers and equiptment (infantry, marines, tanks, artillery, etc.), Chinese soldiers (many dead), Destruction and ruins throughout Chapei including the Northern Railroad station, and Coastal artillery and anti-aircraft batteries at Corregidor (three, six, and twelve inch guns and Ft. Drum, the “concrete battleship.)”.