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Published by Vin Morgan

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Vin Morgan on Feb 01, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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The Granger Report-3rdQ/2000
3rd Quarter - July 13, 2000
Masthead photos: Walter and Anna Granger, ca. 1900.
 This is a subject one would notexpect to find under paleontology,fossil-hunting or Granger. Until thiswebsite publication, I am reasonablyconfident that no one has. It is aconnection which likely cannot bemade without reading Walter orAnna Granger's Central AsiaticExpedition diaries and here inDurham, NH, or stumbling onto arare, likely oblique reference in thevoluminous military records at theNational Archives in Washington, DC.Fossil-hunting and gunboats in theYangtze valley of the 1920s areindeed tied together by WalterGranger's three separate winter-longexpeditions to Sichuan Provinceduring 1921 to 1925 (1921-1922,1922-1923, 1924-1925). These took him (and twice Anna) from Shanghai(where he'd arrived by train fromPeking) upriver to the small hamletof Yanjingou [Yen Ching Kuo] 10miles past Wanxian in verydangerous section of the Yangtzewaterway.armament - two 6-pounders, six .30-caliber machine-guns, and anassortment of hand weapons such asnon-automatic rifles, shotguns(sometimes sawed off for use as "riotguns"), Colt .45s, Browning automaticrifles, Thompson submachine guns,Lewis submachine guns, and even teargas.The British HMS Widgeon was built of iron in 1904; displaced 180 tons;measured length - 165' x beam - 24'6"x draft - 2'6"; delivered a speed of 13knots; carried a complement of 35;and was armed with two 6-pounders,four machine-guns, and anassortment of hand weapons. Hershallow-draft design was also poweredby steam but was double-screwdriven.Maneuverability was critical; with herdouble-screw design and slightly lessdisplacement, the Widgeon couldmaneuver better than most gunboats,especially in rapids. The few gunboatsthat did negotiate the rapids of theYangtze were always in danger of becoming holed by rocks. The remedywas simple: the holes were patched bystuffing in bags of cement hastened toharden by adding soda. (Tolley, p.
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The Granger Report-3rdQ/2000
Wanxian was a city and district"[u]nique on the Yangtze, [for it] hadever been a trouble spot. Rivalgenerals fought in and around it.Bandits threatened, floods took theirtoll of the lower-lying parts,foreigners clung precariously to theirbusiness in the face of all hazardsand provocations." (Tolley, p. 232.)If that were not enough, the Yangtze'sworst rapids lay in the gorges justbelow Wanxian! That Granger neverlost a precious load of fossils in themis admirable. For, as Granger notedon February 28, 1922: ". . . Reachedthe wreck of the Hung Fok about 10o'clock . . . Capt. Hudson said he hadseen nearly fifty people drownedthere while he had been stationedthere. Several post boats hadcapsized and some mail lost." (W.Granger, Diary.)The Grangers' connection with theYangtze gunboats apparently isunique to the histories of gunboatsand paleontology. Yangtze gunboatsin particular interacted with all sortsof civilians throughout the Yangtze,but Walter Granger is the only fossil-hunting paleontologist for whom, aswell as for his wife, there is a recordof contact. The Grangers'involvement was not with Chinesegunboats however, although thosewere present on the Yangtze of course; it was with British andAmerican gunboats.But, you ask, how could this be?Wasn't the Yangtze a Chineseterritorial river then as it is now?The answer lies in the series of broad181.)YangPat's flagship was the USS Isabelstationed at Shanghai. Isabel'sstatistics were: displacement - 710-tons; length - 245'3" x beam - 27'9" xdraft - 8'6"; speed - 26 knots;complement - 99; armament - fourthree-inch rifles and an assortment of hand weapons. Though it had plentyof speed, this Isabel's greater length,draft and weight barred it fromupriver gunboat duty.When Granger made his threeexpeditions to the Wanxian district,only a handful of gunboats from anyof the nations present were capable of navigating the Upper River "where theshooting was prevalent . . . robbersproliferated . . . merchants andmissionaries complained bitterly."(Tolley, p. 84).It may have mattered little anyway:"[s]oon after the 1927 Battle of Wanhsien, where three British rivergunboats bloodily slugged it out witha Chinese field army, the ChinaWeekly Review read the tea leaveswith awesome accuracy: 'A little tingunboat on a narrow river is nomatch in a fight with a Chinese armyequipped with modern heavyartillery.'" (Tolley, p. 303.)The American YangPat fleet of the1920s also included the USS Elcano,Quiros, and Villalobos, three vesselscaptured from the Philippines duringthe Spanish-American War (1898).The Italians filled the gap left by theGermans and Austro-Hungarians aftertheir defeat in World War I. One of the Italian gunboats was the
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The Granger Report-3rdQ/2000
commercial "concessions" theChinese earlier had granted to othernations. "Concessions and foreignsettlements had been established [byvarious treaties] which were inpractically every sense of the word apiece of the sovereign territory of thecountry concerned, and in which thecontrolling foreign powers retainedthe rights of policing and governing,delegated to a council of residentmerchants. In a settlement, such as atShanghai, foreigners might lease landdirectly from native proprietors, whocould as well hold properties fortheir own use. A concession was aforeign leasehold where land couldnot be subleased [back] to Chineseand from which Chinese could beindividually denied entry." (Tolley, p.23.)"[The] Americans . . . gained [theiraccess by negotiating] 'most favorednation' status, enjoying manyprivileges given others by treaty. Thiswould have a profound effect on thelives of Americans in China foranother century. Through 'extraterritoriality' they would enjoy thesame personal rights and guaranteesas of they had been at their ownfiresides in the United States; Chineselaw could not touch them anywherein China." (Tolley, p. 23.)"With the end of World War I, a newera opened in China. The tradingnations, less Germany, came back stronger than ever, determined to betheir own policemen, as it wasevident that the former amorphousImperial authority had been replacedby near anarchy. The Yangtze Valleywas a cockpit of inter provincialdiminutive, but brave, RINS ErmannoCarlotto, commissioned at Shanghai in1921.Additional British gunboats were theHMS Teal, Cockshafer, Gnat, andScarab. The French fleet included theFNS Balny and the Doudart de la Gree.The Chinese fleet included the RCNYuen Nan, Chi Tung, and Chen Tungand the Japanese maintained perhapsthe most pervasive and ultimatelymost fateful naval presence. Amongothers, they patrolled the
 Hodero, Hodzu, Momo and Shinoki.To varying degrees, the Grangers werefamiliar with most of these gunboats.So, how were Walter and AnnaGranger involved with the gunboats of the Yangtze? Well, that's another storyfor another time.-- by Vin Morgan---------------------------
Sources: CAE Diaries of Walter andAnna Granger; U.S. Navy Ship logsand reports, National Archives;"Yangtze Patrol: the U.S. Navy inChina" by Kemp Tolley (1971);Dictionary of American Naval FightingShips; "Riding Shotgun on theYangtze" by David H. Grover (1993);and Kemp Tolley (USA) and MichaelPhillips (GB), personalcommunication.Corrections,additions, and observations arewelcome. (VLM.)
from an e-mail received 6-10-2000:
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