China’s Secret Salvage of Britain’s Lost Submarine
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU
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To attempt a book as a solo endeavor is foolhardy, and any author realizes how quickly one comes to rely on the kindness, patience and My first acknowledgment goes to the man who inspired this book: Ed Lanfranco. A gifted historian, Ed’s friendship and interest in my pursuits pushed me towards this once-in-a-lifetime story without ...
Notes on Measurements and Romanization
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This book takes place during two distinct periods: 1931, and the present day. Therefore, I have chosen to preserve the spelling and measurements used most commonly in documents from each period. The former British colony of Weihaiwei, now the modern city of...
The Sea King
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It is a strange experience to search for one thing and find some-thing else entirely. That is especially true when what is discovered far exceeds the value of the original objective. Rarely is the miner so In that way, it seems my luck is far better than most. While search-ing for shipwrecks that would serve as candidates for an exploration ...
1. Hallowed Be Thy Name
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The Irishman’s prayer ended after “evil”; Catholics did not say that last bit. He opened his eyes, raised his head, and unclasped his hands, looking around the compartment in the dim glimmer of the flashlight, hoping that his vision would adjust and allow him to see something of the other men. They stood gathered around the ladder, these men ...
2. The Men and the Boat
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...oped world was suffering in the grip of the Great Depression, but life went on even as millions struggled. In the United States, the Empire State Building, the world’s tallest, had opened in New York song “Minnie the Moocher” was on its way to becoming one of the year’s most popular records. Less than a week before that Tuesday, ...
3. “This Most Absolutely Forgotten of Imperial Outposts”
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During its time as a British colony, Weihaiwei was far from a jewel in the crown. It did not have the magnificent harbor of Hong Kong. It did not see the diverse cargo of Singapore. It was a backwater before it ever came under British control. Weihaiwei’s process of becoming a British colony illustrates the geopolitical forces at work in East Asia ...
4. Bad Judgment in Good Visibility
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That Tuesday in June promised to be a fine late spring day for coastal Shandong Province. The air on Liu Gong Island bore a slight nip from the still-cold waters of Weihaiwei Harbor and the Gulf of Pechihli, into which it emptied. However, given the choice of the chill or the sweltering temperatures and suffocating humidity of Hong Kong or ...
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The men in Poseidon’s forward torpedo compartment were lucky, and When the submarine came to rest on the Gulf of Pechihli’s muddy bottom, the watertight door began to leak. It took all six of the navy men to shut it, and even then water still flowed in. Reginald Clarke in particular strained to close the door, and took a few minutes to ...
6. Hews and Ho
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Upon reaching the surface, Poseidon’s survivors were lauded as heroes, having the courage to attempt escape and the luck to succeed. But what actually happened in the torpedo room may have been different torpedo room and subsequent escape: Patrick Willis’s, first related at the court of enquiry hearing; Edmund Holt’s, also presented in part ...
7. “A Damned Lie”
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In a time without television or the Internet, news of Poseidon’s sinking, and commensurate media coverage, was exceptionally swift Most surprising is not the British public’s reaction to the event or the media’s interest in covering it. Instead, the surprise comes from the speed with which the story reached smaller communities in places ...
8. The Court of Enquiry and Court-Martial
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Less than a week after the loss of Poseidon, a court of enquiry was convened aboard the flotilla’s depot ship, HMS Medway. The three-man panel comprised Captain Geoffrey Layton of HMS Suffolk, the court’s president and a submariner of renown from World War I; court sought to find answers to the following questions: What was the ...
9. Aftermath and Legacy
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Although the loss of Poseidon and subsequent court-martial proceed-ings had publicly damaged Galpin’s professional reputation, privately his stature as a naval officer seemed little diminished. In a message from the commander in chief in China to the Admiralty, dated July 4, his leadership of the remaining Poseidon crew was sought once again:...
10. A Search Begins
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International’s Beijing bureau chief. I had first met him in the late 1990s, when we were both interlopers in the Internet industry, he an analyst and I a reporter and entrepreneur. I first visited China in 1985 as a tour group tourist, when I already had a journalism career in mind, and it seemed like a place where one would never run out ...
11. London and Portsmouth
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To Americans, London is not a real place. Of course, we know and acknowledge it as the British capital and as a world metropolis. But Sherlock Holmes sits and smokes his pipe and ponders his latest mystery over at 221B Baker Street. Soccer hooligans roam the streets, causing trouble regardless of whether Arsenal or Chelsea won. Harry ...
12. More Than Just the World Cup
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While many observers find it useful to classify Chinese cities as first tier (Beijing, Shanghai) or second tier (Hangzhou, Nanjing) to describe levels of income and relative quality of life, the presence of certain fast-food outlets may be a more meaningful measure to someone unfamiliar with China’s cities. Starbucks Coffee appears ...
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HMS Poseidon at anchor in Portsmouth, December 1930, just before depar-HMS Poseidon underway off the English coast. (Author collection)Four Parthian-class submarines in port. Poseidon is second from right. Poseidon’s forward torpedo room, from which six men made a miraculous A postcard depiction of Liu Gong Island, ca. 1920. (Author collection)...
13. London Again
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I went back to London later in 2006 for a simple reason: During my first visit, I did not get all the information and material that I needed.At the risk of paraphrasing former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,1 sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know. That is, we expect that a story will turn out one way or another, or that we need ...
14. The Rosetta Stone
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The story and history of the Royal Navy submarine was recorded pri-marily in English despite the fact that Poseidon sank off the coast of China. Official accounts, witness statements, court of enquiry proceedings, all of these would have been written in English, and some of them handwritten at that. Chinese sources were not at the ...
15. The Salvage
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Xiandai jianchuan (Modern Ships) is one of several general-interest naval magazines that are popular with younger, generally male, readers in China. Along with articles discussing the continuing development of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy), it looks at the relative strengths of other forces. It also sometimes includes trans-...
16. Finding the Graves
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A year passed between my first visit to Weihai and my second. The initial trip had been positive but had not provided any of the answers hints—maps, vistas, and landmarks—but I ended up being little more the photo of Lovock’s and Winter’s headstones, which would allow me to match the locations of their graves with the coastline along the ...
17. On Eternal Patrol
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Throughout the Poseidon research, there was something missing from the process: Despite the sinking having taken place in the twentieth century, there was no personal connection to the incident. Not only had all the survivors passed away but, in many instances, so had their children. The submarine had been salvaged and, therefore, diving on ...
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Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 33 b/w illus
Publication Year: 2013