1937-1938. Oblong Quarto album (ca. 20x27 cm). With 23 card stock leaves with tissue guards (10 blank). With 39 mounted original gelatin silver photographs of various size from ca. 13x8 (5x3 in) to ca. 4,5x3,5 cm (1 ¾ x 1 ½ in). All but two photos with period with ink captions in English on the mounts (the captions relate either to individual photos or groups of photos); twelve photos with Chinese captions in negative. With 17 newspaper and magazine clippings, including from “The Shanghai Times,” dated 1937-1938; all but one mounted. With three pieces of ephemera loosely inserted. Period black full-cloth album fastened with a string; gilt-lettered title “Photographs. Shanghai. China 37-38” on the front board. Binding slightly rubbed on extremities and weak on hinges, but overall a very interesting collection of strong rare photos.
Historically important collection of thirty-nine original gelatin silver photographs, twenty newspaper clippings, and three pieces of loosely inserted ephemera, documenting the Battle of Shanghai (August 13 – November 26, 1937) during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). The album was compiled by Lt. Paul Stevens, who served in the International Settlement of Shanghai in 1937-1938 with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment of the US corps. The Regiment was sent to the Settlement to protect American citizens on August 18, 1937, shortly after the outbreak of the war, and was deployed to San Diego, a few months after the end of the battle.
On August 13, 1937, after the Japanese invasion of Shanghai, the city became the epicenter of the first major battle of the Second Sino-Japanese War. As tensions escalated, the US Marine Corps increased its presence in the International Settlement of Shanghai, an area of the city extraterritorially held by the British and the Americans since 1863. While maintaining neutrality, the settlement received more than 400,000 Chinese refugees fleeing the war. After the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in November 1937, the International Settlement found itself surrounded by the Japanese Army. Soon, the Marines were evacuated either to the United States or the Philippines and on December 8, 1941, the Settlement was occupied by Japanese forces.
The album contains thirty-nine photographs, including twelve photos with Chinese captions in negative, apparently taken on the order of Shanghai authorities. Five photos show Chapei (Zhabei), an area north of the International Settlement: the office of the Mayor of Shanghai Yu Hung-Chun (1898-1960) who fled the city after the end of the battle, a destroyed girls’ school, and a racecourse. One of the photographs of the girls’ school portrays the album’s compiler standing in front of the ruined building.
The album also includes three photos showing a Chinese funeral procession and different buildings in Peiping (Beijing).
Most of the other photos contain graphic scenes of the destruction of Shanghai, showing the Bund (with “background burning”) mistakenly bombed by the Chinese forces, North Station, Café de Luxe, streets, houses, and cars after the Japanese bombardment. Five photos show some of the victims and a wounded Chinese with “two boy scouts” (evidently Chinese). There are also photographs of naval ships in the Wangpou harbour (Huangpu; Shanghai), a “Chinese sandbag in placement,” a Chinese soldier on a Shanghai Street, the compiler’s friend Wittig “on top of Billet 611, Shanghai” and a “Chinese funeral truck.”
Eight photographs show the compiler’s friends and acquaintances both in the US and China, including a Russian girl in Shanghai. One photograph depicts a group of Chinese soldiers drinking tea.
The album is supplemented with seventeen period newspaper and magazine clippings, including those from “Shanghai Times,” showing the destruction of Shanghai after the Japanese bombing. The clippings also include some humorous caricatures and jokes about life as a Marine: “It takes a man to be a Marine! It takes a Marine to Win a Medal! And it takes a Marine and his Medals To Win a Girl!!”
The collection contains three pieces of loosely inserted ephemera:
1) Printed covers of the map of Shanghai issued by the Shanghai Branch of the oldest and largest youth charity in the world, Navy Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.). With Steven’s manuscript inscription on the front cover. The front wrapper shows a red triangle pointing the way to the building of the Y.M.C.A. at Cor. Szechuan and Hongkong Roads in Shanghai. The back of the wrapper features a listing of the services and amenities available at Y.M.C.A., including a swimming pool, billiard room, and religious services. On the inside of the back wrapper is a listing of U.S. officials stationed in Shanghai. Ca. 16,5x9 cm (6 ½ x 3 ½ in);
The organization was established by the philanthropist George Williams in England in 1844. The Y.M.C.A. arrived in Shanghai in 1912 and was intended to provide help to the U.S. servicemen stationed in the city.
2) A liberty card with Stevens’ name and date typewritten (14 July 1938) and signed by his superior from the 1st Battalion, 6th Regiment of the US Marine Corps, H. C. Tschirgi, ca. 5x7,5 cm (2x3 in);
3) Stevens’ original manuscript note on how to operate “Browning automatic rifle model of 1918 caliber 30 gas operated, air-cooled, magazine fed, shoulder weapon.“ Ca. 23x15 cm (9x6 in). Black ink on woof paper with the printed letterhead of the Navy Y.M.C.A.
Overall, an important collection of photographs, newspaper clippings, and ephemera documenting the Battle of Shanghai during the Second Sino-Japanese War.