Shanghai Municipal Police

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The Shanghai Municipal Police (上海公共租界巡捕房) was the police force of the Shanghai Municipal Council which governed the Shanghai International Settlement between 1854 and 1943, when the settlement was retroceded to Chinese control.

Initially composed of Europeans, most of them Britons, the force included Chinese after 1864, and was expanded over the next 90 years to include a Sikh Branch (established 1884), a Japanese contingent (from 1916), and a volunteer part-time Special police (from 1918). In 1941 it acquired a Russian Auxiliary Detachment (formerly the Russian Regiment of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps).

Origins[edit]

The first detachment of 31 Europeans, effectively borrowed from the Hong Kong Police and led by Samuel Clifton, was recruited almost immediately after the formation of the Shanghai Municipal Council (SMC). These men were on patrol by September 1854.[1] Further men were recruited from the Royal Irish Constabulary, London's Metropolitan Police, and from the military presence in Shanghai itself, while a structure for recruitment of Britons in the United Kingdom eventually came about through the Shanghai Municipal Council's London agents, John Pook & Co. Once formalised, a steady stream of young men was recruited to serve in Shanghai. Promotion from the lower ranks of the force was, however, limited. Most of the force's commanders were recruited from British domestic or colonial police forces, although a cadre of young British men was recruited as Cadets, and held senior ranks in the force in the 1910s-30s.[2]

In 1936, the last year of near-normal peacetime policing, the force totalled 4,739 men with 3,466 in the Chinese Branch, 457 serving in the Foreign Branch (predominantly British), 558 in the Sikh Branch, and 258 in the Japanese Branch.[3]

Though the force was mostly occupied in the routine business of crime prevention, detection and traffic control, it was also seen as the Settlement's first line of defence against Chinese nationalist activity. After the failure of the 1913 Second Revolution against the autocratic presidency of Yuan Shikai, the settlement was increasingly troubled by armed crime. In the build-up to, and aftermath of, the 1926-27 Nationalist Revolution, the force also struggled to contain another wave of armed robberies and politically motivated kidnappings. Throughout the 1930s it faced challenges from the Nationalist Government and the police force of the (Nationalist Chinese) City Government of Shanghai, particularly over rights to operate outside the historical bounds of the Concession and in cases of extraterritoriality.

World War II and disbandment[edit]

Between the Japanese occupation of China in August 1937 and the attack on Pearl Harbor on 8 December 1941, the International Settlement became the only neutral area in east China. In this crowded and officially neutral enclave, the SMP struggled to maintain order in the face of a wave of increasingly violent terrorist bombings and reprisals between the Chinese and Japanese Army and their collaborators. With the occupation of the Settlement in December 1941 the police came under Japanese control. Although a number of British officers were arrested as 'political prisoners' and interned in Shanghai's Haiphong Road camp, most British staff in the SMP's Foreign Branch had no choice but to stay in their posts until their eventual dismissal and internment in February/March 1943. The SMP continued after this date, and was incorporated into the police force of the amalgamated Municipality of Shanghai in mid-1943. White Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Indian (many of the latter being dismissed in 1944-45) staff continued to serve, as did some European personnel from Axis or neutral states.

Interned officers of the SMP had expected to return to their duties at the end of the war but the conclusion of the 1943 Friendship Treaty between the British and Chinese governments confirmed the abolition of the International Settlement. The post-war city police bureau continued the employment of a steadily declining number of the former SMP's Russian cadre, although all Chinese staff remained in post.[4] Foreign members of the SMP were dispersed, some to take up police, civilian or military employment elsewhere. Records in Shanghai indicate that some surviving Chinese personnel of the SMP were investigated as "counter-revolutionary" elements following the communist revolution in 1949.[5]

Legacy[edit]

The SMP retains the legacy as a pioneer in the field of police work, and many of its past members remain internationally renowned due to their contributions in the fields of policing and self-defence. Particularly well documented is the SMP's response to a staggering rise in armed crime, whereby serving officers such as William E. Fairbairn, Eric A. Sykes, and Dermot 'Pat' O'Neil developed innovative combat pistol shooting, hand to hand combat skills, and knife fight training.

As a result of the catastrophic policing failure of 30 May 1925, when Sikh and Chinese members of the SMP were ordered to open fire on Chinese demonstrators and thereby precipitated the nationwide anti-imperialist (and anti-British) May Thirtieth Movement (五卅运动), the SMP developed a myriad of riot control measures. These riot control techniques led to the introduction of Shanghai's "Reserve Unit" - the first modern SWAT team. The skills developed in Shanghai have been adopted and adapted by both international police forces and clandestine warfare units. William Fairbairn was again the central figure, not only leading the Reserve Unit, but teaching their methods to the United States, Cyprus and Singapore.

The Special Branch[edit]

A political policing unit had existed within the SMP from 1898, the so-called Intelligence Office, but this was renamed Special Branch in 1925 so as to join the form used in British colonies and concessions.

The office's greatest coup was the arrest of Jakob Rudnik (a.k.a. Hilaire Noulens) and his wife Tatiana Moissenko on 15 June 1931. The arrest, result of close co-ordination with the Special Branches in Singapore, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (M.I.6), and French colonial intelligence, broke up the Comintern's secret International Liaison Department in the city. The SMP also correctly identified Richard Sorge as a member of the Third International; he was resident in the city from 1930 to 1933.[6] After 1928 Special Branch worked closely with Guomindang intelligence services, helping to destroy and disperse much of the urban base of the Chinese Communist Party by 1932. The Special Branch's archive was acquired by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1949, and was eventually opened to researchers in the 1980s, although the files had clearly been weeded to remove material that might compromise some figures with a Shanghai past.

Shanghai Police Ranks[edit]

The Shanghai Municipal Police used police ranks based along British lines, and owed much to the Victorian rank-structure of the Metropolitan Police Force. From lowest to highest, the ranks were:

  • Constable (post 1929, Probationary Sergeant)
  • Sergeant
  • Sub-Inspector
  • Inspector
  • Chief Inspector
  • Superintendent
  • Assistant Commissioner
  • Deputy Commissioner
  • Commissioner of Police (pre-1919, Captain-Superintendent)

Police Stations[edit]

Between 1854 and the police's effective end in 1943 some 14 police stations were in use at various times.

  • Central Station (1854 ~ 1943): Foochow Road
  • Louza Station (1860 ~ 1943): Nanking Road, scene of the May 30 Movement on May 30, 1925
  • Bubbling Well Road Station (1884 ~ 1943)
  • Sinza Road Station (1899 ~ 1943)
  • Gordon Road Station (1909 ~ 1943)
  • Chungdu Road Station (1933 ~ 1943)
  • Pootoo Road Station (1929 ~ 1943)
  • Hongkew Station (1861 ~ 1943)
  • West Hongkew Station (1898 ~ 1943)
  • Yangtszepoo Station (1891 ~ 1943)
  • Wayside Station (1903 ~ 1943)
  • Arnold Road Station (1907 ~ 1943)
  • Yulin Road Station (1925 ~ 1943)
  • Dixwell Road Station (1912 ~ 1943)

The 1930s Longchang apartments building, a former dormitory complex for Chinese constables and their families, is now a government protected building.

Force Commanders[edit]

  • Samuel Clifton (Superintendent 1854–1860), resigned after charges of embezzlement were ‘not proved’ in court (North China Herald, 24 November 1860).
  • William Ramsbottom (still titled Inspector in February 1862, though Superintendent from 19 April 1861). Late Sergt-Major, 2nd Queen’s. Resignation submitted due to ill-health, 9 October 1863.
  • Charles E. Penfold (Superintendent, 19 April 1864 – 1885).
  • James Painter McEuen (Captain Superintendent, 6 March 1885 to 25 July 1896), previously a Royal Navy captain and Hong Kong Harbour Master, invalided, died on way home, Yokohama.
  • Donald Mackenzie (Deputy Superintendent, also acting Captain Superintendent 16 September 1896, to 1898).
  • Pierre B. Pattison (Captain Superintendent, 12 Feb 1898[7]-30 September 1900), on secondment from Royal Irish Constabulary, but denied extension for apparent political reasons.
  • G. Howard (Chief Inspector, Acting i/c 1 October 1900 to 8 March 1901).
  • Alan Maxwell Boisragon (Captain Superintendent, 8 March 1901 to 20 September 1906), forced to resign after Mixed Court Riot of 1905. Boisragon had been one of the two survivors of the 1897 massacre which prompted the British Benin Expedition.
  • Kenneth John McEuen (acting i/c Sept 1906-August 1907).
  • Colonel Clarence Dalyrymple Bruce (Captain Superintendent, 7 August 1907 – 1913), forced to resign after being scapegoated for SMC attempt to annex Chapei (Zhabei) during the Second Revolution.
  • Alan Hilton-Johnson (acting Captain Superintendent 1914), resigned to serve in British Army during Great War.
  • Kenneth John McEuen (Captain Superintendent, 1914–25), forced to retire after May 30 incident (son of J. P. McEuen).
  • Edward Ivo Medhurst Barrett (Commissioner of Police, 1925–29), forced to resign after power-struggle against perceived SMC progressivism.
  • Reginald Meyrick Jullion Martin (Extra Commissioner, 1929–31, until F.W. Gerrard appointed permanently to post).
  • Frederick Wernham Gerrard (Commissioner of Police, 7 October 1929 to 1938), retired.
  • Kenneth Morison Bourne (Commissioner of Police, 29-5-38 to February 1942), terminated due to Japanese occupation.
  • Henry Malcom Smyth (Deputy Commissioner of Police, 1938–42; acting Commissioner, August 1941-February 42). Resigned due to Japanese Occupation; Advisor to (Japanese) Commissioner of Police Watari 21 February 1942 to 10 August 1942.
  • M. Watari (Commissioner of Police from 19 February 1942)

Uniforms[edit]

For most of their existence the SMP wore uniforms that were British or British colonial in style. These included custodian helmets for European police until the early 1900s. Uniforms were dark blue serge in winter with khaki drill (including shorts or slacks) in summer. Sikh personnel wore red turbans while Chinese members of the force were distinguished by a conical Asian hat until about 1919. After this date Chinese and European police wore the same dark blue peaked cap with the coat of arms of the International Settlement as a badge. Pith helmets were often worn in hot weather. Sam Browne belts were worn by officers carrying side-arms .[8]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Robert Bickers, Empire Made Me: An Englishman Adrift in Shanghai (London, 2003 ISBN 978-0-14-101195-0; New York, 2004 ISBN 0-231-13132-1).
  • Robert Bickers, 'Who were the Shanghai Municipal Police, and why where they there? The British Recruits of 1919', in Robert Bickers and Christian Henriot (eds), New Frontiers: Imperialism's new Communities in East Asia 1842-1953 (2000), pp. 170–191
  • Guide to the Scholarly Resources Microfilm Edition of the Shanghai Municipal Police Files, 1894–1949, with an introduction by Marcia R. Ristaino. (Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources Inc., 1984?)
  • Peter Robins, The Legend of W. E. Fairbairn: Gentleman and Warrior, The Shanghai Years, Research by Robins, Peter and Tyler, Nicholas; Compiled and Edited by Child, Paul R. (Harlow, 2005).
  • Frederic Wakeman Jr., Policing Shanghai, 1927-1937 (Berkeley, 1995).
  • Frederic Wakeman Jr., The Shanghai Badlands: Wartime Terrorism and Urban Crime, 1937-1941 (Cambridge, 1996).
  • Frederic Wakeman Jr., ‘Policing Modern Shanghai’, China Quarterly 115 (1988), 408-440.
  • Bernard Wasserstein, Secret War in Shanghai (London, 1999)

Memoirs[edit]

  • E.W. Peters, Shanghai Policeman (London: Rich & Cowan, 1937). Peters was dismissed from the force after being found not guilty (with a colleague) of the killing of an indigent Chinese man. The volume is part policing memoir, part apologia.
  • Ted Quigley, A Spirit of Adventure: The Memoirs of Ted Quigley (Lewes: The Book Guild Ltd, 1994). Quigley served in the SMP from 1938 to 1942.
  • John Sanbrook, In my Father's time: A Biography (New York: Vantage press, 2008). A memoir of John (Jack) Sanbrook, who served in the force 1930-42, and then after internment in War Crimes investigation.
  • Maurice Springfield, Hunting opium and other scents (Halesworth: Norfolk and Suffolk Publicity, 1966). Springfield was a senior officer in the force, and led its anti-opium squad. Most of the book is concerned with hunting.

References[edit]

  1. ^ North China Herald, 2 September 1854, p. 8.
  2. ^ Robert Bickers, pages 31-32 "Empire Made Me", ISBN 0-7139-9684-6
  3. ^ Shanghai Municipal Council, "Annual Report 1936"
  4. ^ Robert Bickers, "Empire Made Me", pp. 312-322, ISBN 0-7139-9684-6
  5. ^ Robert Bickers, "Empire Made Me", p. 15, ISBN 0-7139-9684-6
  6. ^ Records of the Shanghai Municipal Police, "Foreign Agents of the Third International, D4718" May 18, 1933, National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 263, Entry A1-02, 190/24/30/06, Box 37
  7. ^ "Meetings: The Shanghai Municipal Council", North China Herald, Shanghai, 14 March 1898, p.24
  8. ^ Harriet Sergeant, page 146 "Shanghai", ISBN 0-7195-5713-5

External links[edit]