Tag Archives: 4th Marine Regiment

Chainsmokers

A group of Marines having a smoke while checking out what looks to be a shell and fuse for either an 81mm mortar or 75mm howitzer.

Dig the M1917A1 Brodie helmets with EGAs, sewn-on stripes on light khaki uniforms, and the top-charging M1928A1 Thompson submachine gun. The Tommy gunner also has pretty bad trigger D and what looks to be a set of wire cutters in his five-cell stick mag pouch. At least there isn’t a mag in the Chicago typewriter. 

I can’t find a full-fledged source for the image, but reverse sources are all Chinese-language pages for 1938 Shanghai, a tense place and period in history as the country was torn between the Reds and KMT while under aggressive attack by the Empire of Japan as the rest of the world stood by to wish the Chinese the best of luck.

These men are likely of the 4th Marine Regiment, the famed “China Marines” stationed in Peiping, Tientsin, and Shanghai from 1927 to 1941. Pulled out of the continent only weeks before Pearl Harbor, they were withdrawn to the Philipines just in time to defend Bataan.

There is this great follow-up picture of these Devils.

Keeping Warm, Operation Newton edition

53 Years Ago Today:

Official Caption: “3rd MarDiv, Vietnam, 3Dec67, L/Cpl Hagarty, GH & L/Cpl Rose, HF flammen with ‘C’ Co. 1st Battalion, 4th Marines help each other with their gear on Operation Newton.”

Photo by PFC Shackhail, Marine Corps A193874, via NARA 127-GVB-204-A193874

Of note, the M9A1-7 flame pack weighed upwards of 50-pounds when full, but allowed a range of 130+ feet when using thickened fuel. Add to that the M-1955 flak vest (10-pounds), M1 helmet (3-pounds), web gear, boots, canteens, sidearm, grenades, patrol rats, et. al. and multiply it by the heat and humidity of Southeast Asia, and you realized just how warm Cpls. Hagarty and Rose were, even before the pilot light is lit.

A lot worse than a rock in your shoe

Vietnam, Marines of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment, walk through a punji-staked gully; 28 January 1966. Note the M14 battle rifle, Marlboro (they were issued in packs of 5 in C-rats) and bare M1 helmet.

General Photograph File of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1927 – 1981; Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, Record Group 127; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. Photograph 127-N-A186578

Punji sticks are ancient anti-personnel devices, with the British reportedly encountering them in Burma as far back as the 19th Century and, as noted in our post on the frogmen of Balikpapan, the Japanese used them extensively in WWII. Today they are banned from use in warfare under Protocol II of the UN’s 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. 

Of course, those who are most likely to use them never had much use for what Geneva had to say, anyway.

Of watercooled Brownings, obsolete landing guns and horse Marines

Marine Corps Photo #530953 entitled “Ready for Anything–Maneuvers outside of Peking” showing some well-outfitted Devil Dogs clad in overseas winter gear to include fur caps readying a Browning M1917 water-cooled 30.06 machine gun while sheltering in what looks like a tilled field. Although the M1919 air-cooled Browning was around, the sustained fire M1917 was a thing of beauty on the defense.

The picture is comparable to one from RN Marines from about 30 years previous:

“The New Maxim-Gun mounting field Service with the Naval Brigade in South Africa 1900.”

While the USMC photo is undated, it likely comes from the late 1920s-30s, the heydey of the famous “China Marines” which saw the whole of the 4th Marine Regiment stationed in Shanghai from March 1927 onward to augment the Legation Guard Marines from Peking and Tientsin in protecting American citizens and property in the International Settlement during outbreak of violence that came with the Chinese Revolution– and, after 1937, the Japanese invasion of China.

“Technical Sgt-USMC-1938, Mounted, by Maj. J.H. Magruder, USMCR” typical of the kit of the 4th Marines in Northern China at the time of the photo at the top of the post.

Reduced over time to just two (sometimes horse-mounted on Mongolian ponies) battalions, each with only two rifle companies of two platoons each and one machine gun company (but augmented by the only fife band in the Corps), by 1940 the Marines were the only large international force in Shanghai as the French and Brits had withdrawn due to pressing needs elsewhere.

A group of horse Marines gallops in formation in Peking, China. These Marines were members of the American Legation Guard. 1936

Horse Marine, China, circa 1913 USMC photo

One of several Mark VII 3-inch landing guns remaining in the hands of the Marine garrison in Peking in service with the 39th Company, Marine Artillery. Just 51 of these handy 1,700-pound guns were built from a German Ehrhardt design 1909-12 and were used extensively by the Marines in the Banana Wars (although not in France in the Great War). China was the last hurrah of these peculiar 3″/23 caliber field guns– and the Japanese captured six of the example in storage at Cavite in 1942.

The 4th Marines was itself pulled from China less than a month before Pearl Harbor. These hardy regulars were withdrawn to the Philippines aboard the chartered Dollar liners SS President Madison and President Harrison, where they were soon ground down against the Japanese to the point that the remnants burned their colors on Corregidor before the surrender there in 1942.

Of the 204 remaining Legation Marines and their Navy support personnel under Col. William W. Ashurst in China not directly assigned to the 4th, their own planned extraction to the PI was interrupted by Pearl Harbor and, on 8 December 1941, they were captured by overwhelming Japanese forces. The men were interned in a prisoner of war camp in Shanghai under harsh conditions until it was liberated, 19 June 1945.