Weihaiwei Regiment

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1st Chinese Regiment (Weihaiwei Regiment)
Active 1898–1906
Country British Weihaiwei
Branch British Army
Garrison/HQ Matou, Weihaiwei
Engagements Gaselee Expedition
Battle of Tientsin
Colonel of
the Regiment
Hamilton Bower
Hamilton Bower (1898 to 1907)
Clarence Dalrymple Bruce (1902 to 1907)

The 1st Chinese Regiment, or the Weihaiwei Regiment, was a British Army Regiment formed and disbanded in British Weihaiwei. The "First Chinese Regiment" which was praised for its performance, consisted of Chinese rank and file serving under British officers.[1]


The 1st Chinese Regiment was created in 1898 from men of Shantung Province led by British officers and Colour Sergeants.[2] Army Order No 2 of 1899 approved the raising of a Chinese regiment of 1,000 men. Major Hamilton Bower of the Indian Staff Corps was given the local rank of lieutenant colonel and appointed Commandant of the new regiment. British officers started to arrive in late 1898 and the regiment first appeared in the Army List, preceded by the Hong Kong Regiment (not to be confused with the later Royal Hong Kong Regiment), in January 1899.[3]

The Regiment was highly regarded for its drill, military appearance and marksmanship.[4]

By 1900 the Regiment consisted of 420 men organised into seven companies.[5]

Active Service[edit]

The Regiment on active service during the Boxer Rebellion

In its first action in March 1900, 420 men of the regiment led by Lt Col. Bower quelled a failed uprising in Chengfoo without bloodshed.[6]

The Regiment sent 200 men in 4 companies led by Lt Col. Bower to serve in the Boxer Rebellion, arriving in Tientsen on 24 June 1900.[7] The men of the regiment fought alongside United States Marines led by Smedley Butler.[8][9] Two British captains and 21 Chinese NCOs and other ranks were killed, two majors, one colour sergeant and 15 Chinese NCOs and other ranks were wounded during this campaign.[10]

The regiment was alerted to be deployed to Chemulpo in Korea but the movement did not eventuate.

A party of one British colour sergeant and 12 men travelled to London in 1902 to represent the regiment at the Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.[11]

By 1902 the regiment consisted of over 1200 men organised into 12 companies.

Uniform and insignia[edit]

Upon formation in 1898 the Weihaiwei Regiment wore a medium blue uniform with Chinese style headdress and white leggings. By 1900 this had been replaced for parade dress by a black turban, dark-blue/grey (almost black) tunic, breeches and puttees. The tunic was double-breasted with two rows of brass buttons. For ordinary duties and active service, khaki drill was worn with a straw wide-brimmed hat modeled on that worn by the Royal Navy at the time. A red waist sash was worn with both blue and khaki uniforms. The regimental badge worn on both collars and turbans was a bronze representation of a city gate of Tientsin.


When it was decided to run the territory under civil, rather than military lines at the end of 1901, the first stage of disbandment was begun. The regiment was reduced from 1,200 to 500 men through natural wastage and a freeze on recruitment, retaining 16 officers and six NCOs[12] organised into four companies.

In spite of its excellent record the regiment was ordered to be totally disbanded on 1 June 1906[13][14] by Army Order No.127 of 1906.[15] The reason appears to have been primarily a financial one, after the decision was made not to develop Waihaiwei as a naval base.

Further service from members of the Regiment[edit]

Some of the soldiers were retained as a permanent police force with three of the British Colour Sergeants commissioned as police inspectors. In 1910 the police force was commanded by three European Inspectors, one being Colour Sergeant Purdon who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in the Boxer Rebellion, and the others being C/Sgt Alfred Whittaker and C/Sgt Young.[16] The remainder of the force consisted of 55 Chinese Constables,[17]

The original second-in-command (2IC) and later commander of the Regiment, Colonel Clarence Dalyrymple Bruce, became Captain Superintendent commanding the Shanghai Municipal Police from 1907 to 1913.

During the First World War, the Chinese Labour Corps was recruited in Weihaiwei for service in France. The unit's commanding officer was Colonel Bryan Charles Fairfax who had served as a lieutenant with the Chinese Regiment in the Boxer Rebellion, the unit's 2IC was Major Purdon, who was later promoted to colonel and succeeded Colonel Fairfax.[18]


  1. ^ Ralph L. Powell (8 December 2015). Rise of the Chinese Military Power. Princeton University Press. pp. 118–. ISBN 978-1-4008-7884-0. 
  2. ^ p. 125 Airlie, Shiona Thistle and Bamboo: The Life and Times of Sir James Stewart Lockhart Hong Kong University Press, 1 Oct 2010
  3. ^ http://www.kaiserscross.com/304501/306501.html
  4. ^ Perrett, Bryan Against All Odds!Hachette UK, 11 Oct 2012
  5. ^ p.34 Bodin, Lynn E. & Warner, Chris The Boxer Rebellion Osprey Publishing, 1979
  6. ^ pp 2-3 Barnes, Colonel A. A. On Active Service with the Chinese Regiment : A Record of the Operations of the First Chinese Regiment in North China from March to October 1900 1902
  7. ^ Harrington, Peter Peking 1900: The Boxer Rebellion Osprey Publishing, 23 Apr 2013
  8. ^ p.17 Schmidt, Hans Maverick Marine: General Smedley D. Butler and the Contradictions of American Military History University Press of Kentucky, 17 Feb 2014
  9. ^ p. 83 Johnston, Reginald F. Lion and Dragon in Northern China Cambridge University Press, 30 Jun 2011
  10. ^ pp. 227-228 Barnes
  11. ^ http://www.kaiserscross.com/304501/306501.html
  12. ^ p.126 Airlie, Shiona Thistle and Bamboo: The Life and Times of Sir James Stewart Lockhart Hong Kong University Press, 1 Oct 2010
  13. ^ The Army ListGreat Britain. Ministry of Defence H.M. Stationery Office, 1906
  14. ^ p. 56 Airlie, Shiona Scottish Mandarin: The Life and Times of Sir Reginald Johnston Hong Kong University Press, 1 Oct 2012
  15. ^ http://www.abandonedbritish-chinesesoldiers.org.uk/the-forgotten-history/
  16. ^ http://www.dnw.co.uk/auction-archive/special-collections/results.php?specialcollection_id=297&layout=list&offset=48&limit=24
  17. ^ p.83 Johnson
  18. ^ p.83 Xu, Guoqi Strangers on the Western Front Harvard University Press, 2011


  • Barnes, Arthur Alison Stuart On Active Service with the Chinese Regiment: A Record of the Operations of the First Chinese Regiment 1902

External links[edit]