Archive for September, 2015

The ‘Nanking Incident’

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Last November I did a posting on 1930’s China, and mentioned a 1933 novel by Alice Tisdale Hobart about an oil executive living in early Republican China. The recent R&R (see immediately below) gave me a chance to read another one of her books…. this one a non-fiction piece published a few years earlier, describing her experiences during the ‘Nanking Incident.’

In March 1927, the Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) army captured the city during its ‘Northern Expedition’ against warlords… and Hobart’s Within the Walls of Nanking provides a foreigner’s perspective about that complicated event. It describes the killing of foreigners (including Dr. John Elias Williams, Vice President of Nanjing University); the shelling of the city by foreign (i.e., British & American) warships; and Hobart’s escape to the gunboats, after scaling down Nanjing’s city wall on makeshift ropes.

The KMT at that time was riven with intra-party squabbling…. and the left-wing’s actions in Nanjing (described by Hobart) probably contributed to (right-wing) Chiang Kai Shek’s decision to purge communist elements from the party the following month. That period marked the beginning of a “golden decade” of relative peace and prosperity in Nanjing — with the city designated as the country’s capital, and activities such as those outlined in the Henry Killam Murphy posting below. It would all come to an end, however, with the horrific 1937 Japanese invasion.

Another foreigner living in the city during the March 1927 incident was Pearl S. Buck, whose family home at Nanjing University was ransacked by the invading army. Buck, too, was rescued by the foreign gunboats, and she left China to live in Japan for a year. But she subsequently returned to Nanjing, and shortly thereafter would retreat every morning to the attic of her university home to write The Good Earth. That home – a landmark now at Nanjing U. – was obviously a staple on Prof. Fowler’s walking history tours at HNC!

Pearl Buck memorial & home at Nanjing U.

R&R in Waikiki

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

We returned to Nanjing this September via California (to see our daughter & her family) and Hawaii…. a place we had not visited in almost thirty years. A week-long stay in Waikiki offered a bit of a respite from a rather hectic year…. and a chance to lay back & relax & do some reading not in any way related to energy or environment!

Pearl Harbor

It also offered an opportunity to visit the ‘bookends’ of World War II at Pearl Harbor: the USS Arizona and the USS Missouri. The USS Arizona was in the harbor & was hit in the December 7, 1941 surprise attack, resulting in the loss of 1,177 crew members (almost 80% of those on-board)… & about half of the total losses suffered that day. The Arizona Memorial sits above the ship’s sunken hull…. still leaking oil, even today.

WWII ended almost four years later, on the deck of the USS Missouri. On September 2, 1945, with the ship docked in Tokyo’s harbor, Japanese officials signed an unconditional surrender. Today, the USS Missouri is docked right next to the Arizona Memorial, about 400 meters away.

Arizona Memorial and USS Missouri