The Royal Navy & the Far East in the 1930s: Promoting Stability & Preserving Peace on a Budget
The events that took place the morning of the 30th January 1939 at Tsingtao, involving HMS Birmingham, a Town class cruiser and it’s rescue of the SS St Vincent De Paul is not a famous one today, but as Alex Clarke writes here, it should be remembered not only because of the history, but for the lessons it can teach the future about how to deter war… it is part of the #Tsingtao80 project that he has been running from @AC_NavalHistory
Introduction Britain, the Far East & the Royal Navy in the 1930s
The Royal Navy asked the British government for seventy cruisers for most of the 1920s and 1930s, this was not an idol request, it was not hubris, it was based in the necessity of defending an Empire, Colonies, Dominions and Allies that encircled the world North & South as much as East & West. It was an impossible task on paper, in reality as impossible as it might be if the RN failed, so would the empire – their job therefore was to square the circle and make the impossible achievable.
The RN set about doing this in the best way it knew how, economic warfare; whilst famed for battles fought the British had always realised that real power came from economics, from maintaining their position at the centre of a global trading network. A network that was facilitated more and more in from 1850 onwards by their pre-eminence in finance, communications and presence. Now whilst World War I had dented this, Britain had recovered and whilst new powers had appeared, it was if anything even more committed to supporting the finance, the communications and to an extent the presence which its position depended upon.
Presence is the trickiest of the three to areas to define as so much of it is image and perception, rather than pure fact or reality. Presence was about the ability to influence events, but not necessarily the employment of the full force or might of the nation wielding it. The China Station was perhaps the classic example of this role; far beyond the main fleets, Home and Mediterranean, at almost the furthest reach of empire, yet a vital bastion for its security. The China Station and its squadron was therefore by default never going to be the largest force in peace time, but that meant that what was there had to be right.
When considering the concept of deterrence it’s easy to get caught up, especially in the ‘nuclear age’ with its focus on the strategic deterrent, to think only about ‘big sticks’. The reality though is that for conventional/geo-strategic conflict deterrence, whilst the biggest stick (i.e. capital ships, aka battleships & battlecruisers in the 1920s & 1930s) is useful as a distant ‘image’; it’s the more modulated cruiser, with its ability to walk softly as well as wield a big stick, which can be of greatest use. As such it is unsurprising that the China Station was not only based around these vessels, but they also comprised the majority of its real terms organic firepower.
Whist the China Station and the Far East is the focus of this paper, the methodology used to explore the role and capability of the cruiser, will be to start off by examining a singular event, the SS St. Vincent De Paul incident of January 1939. After this it will move on to consider the political and economic challenges of the interwar years, before diving into how the RN played to its strengths and finally concluding with a summary. First though, it’s to the eve of the eve of World War II.
On the 6th of January 1939, the Town class cruiser, HMS Birmingham, along with two sloops (HMS Folkstone & HMS Lowestoft) left Hong Kong to do a traditional show the flag/diplomatic relationship building visit in Manila, Philippines.1 Supposed to last several days and involve many diplomatic exchanges – it was part of the program of introduction for the new to the China Station ‘light cruiser’. 2 However on the 10th, the visit was cut short as the Japanese were sensed to be acting up again and a force was needed back at Wei Hai Wei for deterrence/presence. This decision was validated when news reached them on the 28th that a British merchant ship, the SS St Vincent de Paul, along with two Norwegian merchant ships, the Haida and Hafthor, had been detained by the Japanese at sea and was being escorted to the Japanese base at Tsingtao.3 Leaving Lowesoft behind, Birmingham and Folkestone were ordered to make best speed to Tsingtao – arriving on the 29th of January, they were met by a force of Japanese Heavy Cruisers, led by the HIJMS Ashigara.4
This was on the face of it a very uneven match, one cruiser – armed with twelve 6in guns, versus three Myōkō class cruisers led by HIJMS Ashigara; these were much more heavily armoured vessels, mounting between them thirty 8in guns – they were heavy cruisers. More than that they were heavy cruisers, which were actually the first class designed to exceed the Treaty limits Japan had signed up to, though not by as much as they ended up doing. Stacked up against though is the fact that Birmingham was a Town class cruiser.
The Town class, as exemplified by Birmingham, were not only the most modern design of cruiser in service with the RN at the time; but one of the most modern, efficient and effective designs of any ship in service with any navy at the time. Her MK XXIII mountings might have only been carrying 6in guns, but those were very successful weapons, their combined performance capable of putting 9.5tons of high explosive on a target 18km away within 2 minutes – although at such close quarters it would be her fire cycle of 5 seconds which would matter most. 5 Suitably, for this mission, Birmingham was also fast, capable of 32knots+ and looked impressive; although she would not utilise her full speed as she was accompanied by the sloop HMS Folkestone.
The Town class displaced nearly 12,000tons fully loaded (9,100tons in standard), embodying a statuesque yet sleek lined build, every member of class had presence – not just in the regular naval warship sense, but in the ‘X factor’ sense as well, the Town Class were special. A veritable floating demonstration of British Power and Influence, propelled around the world by 750 crewmen and 75,000shp. Unfortunately though, the mere sight of even this vessel was not enough immediately to win the day. Certainly a contrast to vessel accompanying it, HMS Folkestone was a 1,045ton, 76m long sloop – so was less than half as long and a fraction of the weight of her counterpart; furthermore armed with no weapon larger than a 4in gun and a top speed of 16 knots her inclusion would seem to be counter intuitive. However, it made perfect sense.
Presence and deterrence is about image as has been said, sending a larger ship with an escort, reminds the opponent that whilst the little ship is an escort to the big ship that is seen, that big ship is an escort for the either bigger ship out of sight. In itself though it’s not a threatening increase, so it is still walking softly, it just reminds the opponent of the big stick. This was the fine line which the RN had been walking for many years in the China Station – a line it’s officer, along with diplomats of the Foreign Office, would have to continue to walk with great care for the duration of the incident.
After almost a day of tense diplomacy, that had commenced immediately upon arrival of HMS Birmingham, with both her Captain Eric Brind and the Tsingtao Consul General, Mr A J Martin (Henry Hadley-Derry according to some files).6 These meetings where heavy going and were apparently getting nowhere, frustrated by the very senior officers ‘absent due to it being Sunday’ and the moderately senior officers claiming no knowledge of why it had happened, so much so that in fact when coupled with the incidents of Japanese interference with the boats, Captain Brind decided to force the issue. 7 Therefore he announced that the British ships would be leaving at 08:00hrs the next day.8
Almost as soon as he announced this, Captain Brind ordered a party to go and secure the merchant ship. Whilst the night was passed relatively peacefully, thanks in part to the gangway having been raised. First thing in the morning there was an attempted boarding of the SS St Vincent de Paul, but it was diplomatically resisted by a RN party, led by a 19 year old Midshipman (and future Admiral of the Fleet) Edward Ashmore, which had been stationed aboard earlier.9 In the morning the ships all got their engines warmed up and ready as early as possible; forming up with HMS Folkstone in the van and HMS Birmingham protecting the rear.
While this had all been going on in the harbour, A J Martin the consul had been having an absolute nightmare, after the previous day he had gone back to the consulate only woken by a phone call from Mr Yamamoto, the head of Customs Service in Tsingtao, who earlier that day had claimed he had no interest in the SS St. Vincent De Paul.10 Mr Yamamoto had a question which went right to heart of the issue, rather than being at Hsinyangchiang as her papers cleared her for, the SS St. Vincent De Paul, had along with the Norwegians, been at Sheyangho – as shown by photographs taken by aircraft – many miles apart. 11 After midnight there was though no chance of communicating with the ships, the Consulate didn’t have a radio; upon being told this Mr Yamamoto responded that if the ship left before the matter was cleared up it would be dangerous – not exactly phraseology that would have reduced Mr Martin’s worries. 12
Martin, in the true style of the Foreign Office in China, calmly asked what the danger was, whether the Japanese Navy would open fire upon the British ships; before waiting for an answer, he carried on to inform Mr Yamamoto that it would be quite impossible for a telegram to reach Shanghai by 08:00hrs, so the Japanese authorities would be solely responsible for any consequences.13 1930s diplomatic speak for “this situation is not going to end well if you are saying what I think you are saying, so why not think again, preferably quickly.” This firm approach, echoing Captain Brind’s stance earlier in announcing his time for leaving, resulted in the Head of Customs in stating “he was merely a messenger” and then took his leaving; only to return a few minutes later to inform Mr Martin, that he could send a letter out to HMS Birmingham by launch – stating he needed an answer by on the Hsinyangchiang/Sheyangho issue and also offering to take a letter for Mr Martin along to.14 Unsurprisingly, Mr Yamamoto was taken up on this offer, but the messenger, a junior Customs officer returned at 01:30hrs on the 30th to say the Japanese navy would not allow him to even get onto the peer, let alone aboard a launch and furthermore his late arrival was owing to being prevented taking a straight route by their sentries.15 What this illustrates is despite being able to communicate, the Japanese were apparently unable to work together as well as the British, who couldn’t talk to each other; or perhaps weren’t willing to, either way the scene was set for later that morning.
So at 08:00hrs, after starting his ships and withdrawing his party from SS St. Vincent De Paul, Captain Brind had his little convoy begin their move. During the passage out, Birmingham and HIIMS Ashigara’s squadron all had their guns trained on each other, at full action stations; Brind went so far as to assign turret(s) to each of the Japanese ships, focusing on their bridges. That this incident passed off peacefully under such circumstances was a testimony to the strength of presence the RN had managed to mobilise regarding legacy, personnel, and vessels within the Far East.16 As well as to the confidence that their crews had to hold firm in the face of such overwhelming ‘enemy’ strength. The official write-up of the Tsingtao Incident though, makes no mention of this and strikes a very measured tone:
“H.M.S. Birmingham was ordered to Tsingtao to investigate and to obtain the vessel’s release. The Japanese navy disclaimed responsibility for her arrest, and the Commissioner of Customs at Tsingtao stated that he did not wish to detain her. In view of these disclaimers Captain Brind announced that he intended to sail the ship in company with H.M.S. Birmingham for Shanghai at 08:00 on 30th of January, which he did after having placed an armed guard on board for the night of 29th/30th to prevent any further interference with the ship” 17
In reality though it was a very tight incident. Although Admiral Noble (Commander in Chief/CinC China Station) plays it down in his official report to give allow the British government room to manoeuvre. There can be no other explanation for him describing such an event so, when all the eyewitnesses there agree, HMS Birmingham was facing off against three Japanese cruisers. A situation when as said above, all of the four cruisers at battle stations, with their guns tracking each other, as the little British group exited the harbour.18 It’s even stranger when considering the reports and obvious worry of the diplomats, but makes sense when considering the wider strategic issues of the China Station. Such space was necessary with a government which didn’t want to start a war it wasn’t ready for, if deterrence hadn’t worked, if the RN hadn’t been able to use a combination of capability and reputation to bring about a successful resolution, war would have happened.
This is because if Britain had bowed to Japanese pressure it would have exposed weakness and probably led to them taking a more aggressive path sooner; but of course, war would have been triggered even more quickly, if Captain Brind had misjudged the level of Japanese resolve and started a fight.19 That war was avoided was because of the tradition of deterrence that the RN had employed in the region in protection of its interests from long before the start of the Second World War; diminishing only with the fateful 1968 East of Suez decision, although like the even more recent ‘Peace Dividend’ at end of the Cold War, this decision did not reflect reality of need or ongoing commitment, it was more an exercises in justifying reduced finances for defence to focus on other projects.
Political & Economic Challenges
During the 1920s and even later there were significant economic issues which had affected government willingness to invest in defence; especially considering the ‘War to End all Wars’ had been fought, won and the nation were still getting over it. Conversely though this was actually a boon to the presence mission, as whilst the government didn’t want to build battleships, it did want to keep the shipyards going; depending upon perspective out of desire to help poor areas and a crucial industry or to shore up crucial marginal seats. Anyway, whatever the reason, Cruisers, Destroyers and Sloops, the tools of presence, were ordered.
The Treaties actually helped this, because by defining the terms of competition they created competition; the very fact that the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States Navy, along with all the other signatories navies, were forced to build ships which were theoretically comparable and within the bounds of a total tonnage ratio. This meant that the British government were forced in a way to build, not only quantity, but the quality of the allocation within the Treaty, for fear of losing not only status abroad, but elections at home. Treaties were of course not all positive, they did put limits on imagination and stopped the RN being able to fully adapt to its needs – but, without them it is difficult to imagine them getting the vessels they did get built, built, in the 1920s.
By the 1930s, in Britain, there had been successive economic crises. First, the First World War had generated enormous debts for the country. Second, while Britain had returned to the Gold Standard in 1925, this did not improve economic instability that became worse when the Great Depression began. As such, Britain’s finances were under considerable strain and retreating from the world was not an option. Neither was abandoning Britain’s pre-eminent position of influence a choice while deserting the Dominions, the Empire, and dependencies was also not an option.
Firstly, the loss of influence would severely impact Britain’s ability to influence the global system to best fit the way it felt things should be run. Secondly, the Empire especially, but wider system of relationships that had been built over centuries, was seen as crucial to Britain’s economic security. Thirdly, it would be seen as a breaking of bonds, of disregarding vows – for Britain, a country with a tradition of an un-codified constitution and with much of its law based on precedent under the description common law; such an act was not to be contemplated lightly and not carried out unless there was absolutely no other option. It was this self-diagnosed tendency which had been partially responsible for Britain’s traditional eschewing of peace time alliances. It was in the name of preserving all this without bloodshed and most importantly without the cost bloodshed would entail, that Britain agreed to the series of naval treaties which limited its ability to develop its naval power.20
Unfortunately, these treaties had an array of unforeseen consequences. Domestically, they strengthened the Treasuries hand in terms of limiting spending. The Treasury claimed it wasn’t needed when they had an agreement with all the other powers – which those powers would of course honour. Worse still, it put the RN in a position where it could not simply out build its opponents as it had relied upon in the past, because there were limits put on not just total tonnage, but individual tonnage, armament and most problematically age for replacement. Something which worsened the effects of the inter-war financial crisis on ship building as governments couldn’t just build more ships for the navy to help the yards stay viable. Which created a consequential knock on effect of reducing war time emergency build capacity.
More immediately though it meant that the RN, The latter was problematic because arguably the RN used it ships more than any other navy. After all, the RN had to secure access to all of the world’s oceans for British trade and security while the nearest competitive powers, America and Japan, only had to secure access to two and one oceans respectively. Still, the RN managed to keep war at bay for nearly a decade. The RN even succeeded in January 1939, in the events described, to deter and hold the British line when they were overwhelmed by the number of Japanese ships at Tsingtao. How was this possible? The RN played to its strengths.
The Royal Navy Plays to its Strengths
The RN used the ships it did have, the personnel it did have, the basing it had to ensure there was enough of a presence effect to undermine the perception that its paper visible weakness would show. For example by September 1939, even with tensions rising in Europe, there were still three County-class heavy cruisers (HMS Kent, HMS Cornwall & HMS Dorsetshire) along with HMS Birmingham (a still fairly new Town class light cruiser) assigned to the 5th Cruiser Squadron of the China Station.21 Whilst the Indian Ocean (East Indies Station) had the 4th Cruiser Squadron, which was comprised of three of Birmingham’s sister ships, HMS Gloucester, HMS Liverpool and HMS Manchester. 22 The impact of these forward deployed forces was multiplied further still by them often operating in support of each other, in fact war plans were designed around them linking up and combining.23 As ships though, these vessels represented the newest and most powerful of the RN’s light cruisers, a group which were deployed alongside a significant proportion of the RN’s Heavy Cruiser force.24
The situation was further augmented by the two heavy cruisers (HMAS Canberra & HMAS Australia) and four light cruisers (HMAS Sydney, HMAS Hobart & HMAS Adelaide, along with HMNZS Leander & HMNZS Achilles) provided by the regions Dominions: Australia and New Zealand.25 This combined force of thirteen vessels were, unless in need of refit, kept constantly on the move so that neither the Americans, the Japanese, nor any of the other European powers within the region could really be sure where they were going to pop up next. It wasn’t just though the numbers of ships which mattered, it was their designs which made them so useful to both the British way of war, but most importantly for this time, deterrence.
The County Class provided the majority of the vessels for the RN’s China Station, their powerful 8in guns and globe roaming sleek oceanic designs had allowed Britain to dominate the Far East from a position, certainly in terms of infrastructure, of relative weakness. They did this by being used as both a power broker, balancing out the USN and the IJN – often by taking the impartial adjudicator/‘common friend’ role, and a symbol of economic warfare – often running exercises where the County class ‘acted’ as surface raiders. This role, both in terms of application as well as counter, was an increasing focus of the RN at the interwar years went – as they realised the next conflict would inevitably be even more global, arguably even more naval, that WWI had been. This though, when coupled with the effect of the Treaty made for a furious debate.
The 8in was considered the better weapon for engaging likely heavily armed enemy surface raider’s one on one; the 6in was originally considered the more suitable for fleet operations where the cruisers could fall back on capital ships for support if they encountered something more powerful.26 This explained why nations with fewer capital ships preferred the heavier guns, also why nations presuming a war of a Mahan style, preferred heavier guns as they were thinking of one large battle. Britain, which was looking at more distributed style conflict, kept exercising, testing its ideas and ended up going its own way.27 However, things in this debate only really started to change, with the development of the MKXXIII mounting for the 6in gun, which meant each turret could accommodate three barrels.
This combined with a rate of fire per gun more than double that achievable by the 8in weapon and the effective engagement range, pre-radar being closer to the 23km of the 6in rather than the 28km of the 8in, shifted the debate within the RN at least, in favour of the 6in. The decider probably being that at 18km (20,000 yards) range in first minute, a County class, with eight guns could put 2629kg of high explosive at the target, a later Town class (HMS Belfast and sisters) only 2203kg; but by minute two the Town class would have reached 9547kg, the County’s only 7269kg – the York’s by minute two would even be out fired by the Leader class with double 6in turrets. Within the space of 5 minutes at 18km the Towns would out fire a County by 10 Tons, more importantly perhaps, would have fired more than 3x as many shells – with a consequently greater chance of achieving a decisive hit. This class though would not have had the impact they could have had if it wasn’t for the men, like Captain Brind, chosen to lead them.28
Then RN had developed early on a habit of sending out either very good or very diplomatic officers to the Far East. Brind as was highlighted at Tsingtao, was a former, as was Ashmore – although unless the RN believed in inherited traits, they had no idea of this before he was deployed. Brind kept his nerve, he didn’t blink, when backing down or acting overly aggressive carried equally dangerous consequences – he threaded it though, keeping his crew motivated and at the same time calm the whole time. Admiral Noble was a good example of the latter and he would go on to command the naval delegation the USA in during the Second World War. 29
If any proof were needed that the China Station was not considered a ‘backwater’ by the RN, then the fact that Noble had also been preceded in post by the likes of Reginald Tyrwhitt and Frederic Dryer, would certainly do that – although they both fit the ‘very good’ category more than ‘diplomatic’. The most important mission that these commanders were charged with, was that of firmly establishing in the mind of all those they encountered, the sincerity and conviction of the British to do whatever was necessary to ensure the right side prevailed in any circumstance. 30 The right side, being of course, the side that aligned most closely with British interests. The trouble was with the Japanese actions in Manchuria, as well as wider China, this illustrious stream of officers were given the responsibility of checking them – without the necessary strength to do much more than try to influence them.
A key methodology therefore that RN used to maximise their influence and to keep the Japanese in check was strategic basing. Hong Kong was great for this, but Singapore was the logistical lynchpin: however, local bases like Tsingtao were often used to further, until it was made inhospitable by the sheer quantity of Japanese presence spread the British influence and maximise the naval presence.31 A judicious commander could make a couple of ships seem like a fleet if they kept that force moving, staying just long enough in one area to be seen before going to the next port along the way and repeating. This is what the Admirals did, often working with the attached aircraft carrier, be it HMS Hermes or HMS Eagle to maximise this effect with aerial patrols.32 It was a game of smoke and mirrors, which held up excellently until pressures of a European war, forced the British to hollow out the China and Indian stations so much, that even the arrival of a token capital ship deployment could not provide the necessary bulwark to re-secure it.33
The reason for this was that whilst the capital ships could not represent a significant threat to the Japanese fleet, since 1934 the RN had been consistently hammering home to the Japanese the threat its cruisers posed to their economic well-being – especially in terms of fuel. 34 This was the entire RN strategy, cruisers had the diplomatic/military standing necessary to deliver signficant messages with their presence; but the threat they posed was not a direct military one. Whereas Battleships by their nature exist to fight other battleships for supremacy at sea, cruisers contest the use, rather than the control of the sea. This is by its very nature far more dangerous for a fleet which is focused, as the Japanese fleet was, on fighting battles – as the asymetric threat is not something they could easily adjust structures, definitely not ship capabilities, to deal with that threat.
Deterrence is always a tricky proposition – too weak or to strong and war will still come along, get it right though and diplomacy gets the time to work. This means the glory will go to the diplomats and that the armed forces roles will probably be forgotten, at least by the press of the time, but few professional service persons would be unhappy by such a turn of events. Tsingtao is a classic example of this, it’s a forgotten turning point because of what was adverted. The history of the China station could be said to have been littered with such events, but really very few, if any, were as filled with potential for igniting a conflict as Tsingtao January 1939. Britain was already, visibly, focusing on events in Europe and having its eyes drawn away from the rest of the world; the Japanese knew that British forces were not well placed to reinforce, let alone deploy in strength, to the Far East under the prevailing circumstances. This weakness, combined with the Japanese martial psyche, was definitely all the ingredients needed for much worse things to be brought up.
Yet, the British apparent willingness to use force, the speed, strength and resolve of the response conjured up, checked the Japanese. It forced them to think rather than to respond, this is what gave the British the time to extract the Vincent St Paul, which removed the fuse from the charge. Unfortunately it didn’t resolve the wider issues, there was no time for longer term diplomacy as Britain was still focused on Europe, so the situation did not resolve and eventually the British deterrence bluff was called. It was a long and costly war, even though it was won; Hong Kong, even Singapore, would fall and where the RN’s enforcers of peace, the cruisers that HMS Birmingham epitomised, had once ruled the waves, the wagons of war, the dreadnoughts HMS Prince of Wales & HMS Repulse, would be sunk. Deterrence though had stopped it from being much worse, by putting it off for longer, time was bought, ships were able to be that much further along in building and the global war, made that much more manageable.
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TNA – ADM 1/9390, 1936. Southampton Class Cruisers, 1933, 1934 and 1935 Programmes. Revised Legend. London: United Kingdom National Archives(Kew).
TNA – ADM 1/9869, 1939. China Station: Report of Proceedings of CinC, China, for period January – March 1939. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 116/2509, 1926-1928. China Station Proceedings. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 116/2510, 1927-1928. China Station Proceedings. London: United Kingdom, National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 116/2547, 1926-1928. China Station – Reports. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 116/2827, 1923. British and Dominion Merchant Shipping. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 116/3119, 1933-35. China Station; Emergency and War Orders. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 116/3125, 1924-7. War Memorandum (Eastern). London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 116/3615, 1933. Naval Base Singapore: Defence Policy, 1931-33. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 116/3617, 1931-1933. Disarmament Conference of the League of Nations: Armament for aircraft carriers, reductions in size and numbers of 6″ cruisers and below. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 116/3872, 1933-38. Fleet Exercises: China Station 1933, Mediterranean Fleet 1935 & 1937, Submarine Exercies 1933-36, Home Fleet Exercise 1937 & 1938. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 116/3873, 1937-39. Combined Fleet Exercises. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 116/4030, 1939. Naval Air Policy 1936-39. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 116/4110, 1928-40. Harbour Attack Committee. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 116/4635, 1942. China Station War Orders, 1937-1940 (-42). London: United Kingdom National Archives(Kew).
TNA – ADM 186/145, 1929. Exercises & Operations 1929 (C.B. 1769/29). London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 186/158, 1937. Exercises and Operations. Vols I and II. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 186/62A, 1924. War Standing Instructions of Foreign Stations. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 186/66, 1925. Naval War Manual. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 186/72, 1925. Battle Instructions. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 186/75, 1928. Chronological Summary of Fighting Instructions. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 186/78, 1929. War Games Rues. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 186/80, 1929. Naval Tactical Notes. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 187/1, 1939. Pink List, September 1939. London: United Kingdom National Archives(Kew).
TNA – ADM 187/2, 1939. Pink List, October 1939. London: United Kingdom National Archives(Kew).
TNA – ADM 187/3, 1939. Pink List, November 1939. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 187/4, 1939. Pink List, December 1939. London: United Kingdom National Archives(Kew).
TNA – ADM 187/5, 1940. Pink List, January 1940. London: United Kingdom National Archives(Kew).
TNA – ADM 199/382, 1939-1940. War History. War Diaries: East Indies Command – 5th Cruiser Squadron. London: United Kingdom National Archives(Kew).
TNA – ADM 203/84, 1924. Admiral Richmond’s report on the Combined Exercise conducted at Salsette Island (Bombay) Combined Exercise. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 203/87, 1928. Cruiser Policy – Staff College Investigation. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 203/90, 1929. Strategical Exercise MZ – Altantic and Mediterranean Fleets 1929. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – ADM 234/329, 1941. Battle Summary No 14. Loss of Prince of Wales & Repulse. London: United Kingdom National Archives(Kew).
TNA – ADM 234/330, 1941. Battle Summary No 14(Revised). Loss of Prince of Wales & Repulse. London: United Kingdom National Archives(Kew).
TNA – FO 371/22187, 1938. Political Far Eastern Japan. Files 578-987. London: United Kingdom National Archives(Kew).
TNA – FO 675/18, 1939. Inventory of Archives British Consulate-General Tsingtao, China. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
TNA – T 161/243 (25613a), 1924-5. Papers relating to: Japan & USA Navies, Singapore Naval Base, Vote 10, Vote 9, Fleet Air Arm, Guns & Ammunition, Vote A. London: United Kingdom National Archives (Kew).
Whitley, M. J., 1996. Cruisers of World War Two; An International Encyclopedia. London: Arms and Armour Press.
Wragg, D., 2011. The Pacific Naval War 1941-1945. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Maritime.
- McCart, 2012, pp. 109-10
- Light Cruiser because the class were armed with 6in guns, rather than the 8in of Heavy Cruisers, however displacing nearly 12,000tons fully loaded, meant they were definitely not small – in fact displacing just 3,000tons less than the HIJMS Ashigara and her sister Myōkō class Heavy Cruisers she was faced with! For more information go to Clarke, A., 2018. Royal Navy Cruisers (1): HMS Exeter, Atlantic to Asia! [Online] Available at: https://globalmaritimehistory.com/royal-navy-cruisers-1-hms-exeter-atlantic-asia/ [Accessed 30 March 2018].
- McCart, 2012, pp. 109-10; TNA – ADM 1/9869, 1939; Munday, 1939
- McCart, 2012, pp. 109-10; TNA – ADM 1/9869, 1939
- Clarke, A., 2018
- FO 371/23507 is full of documents signed/written by Mr Martin; yet according to these, From Our Own Correspondent. “More Japanese Outrages.” Times, July 12, 1939, 14. The Times Digital Archive (accessed January 13, 2019). http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/8mFmzX, it’s Henry Hadley-Derry.
- McCart, 2012, pp. 109-10; TNA – ADM 1/9869, 1939; FO 371/23507; Ashmore, 2005; Munday, 1939
- McCart, 2012, pp. 109-10; TNA – ADM 1/9869, 1939; FO 371/23507; Ashmore, 2005; Munday, 1939
- McCart, 2012, pp. 109-10; TNA – ADM 1/9869, 1939; Ashmore, 2005; Ashmore, 1997, pp. 27-8 – This force comprised of four ratings, a petty officer and the Midshipman himself. Despite being armed, the small number meant that their main aim was to avoid confrontation and just by presence prevent boarding. To this end they had hoisted up the gangway, however when it had to be lowered to let aboard an RN telegraphist, the Japanese quickly arrived. This incursion Ashmore resisted by standing with his revolver visible but not drawn, constantly stating that they must go to his Captain aboard the Birmingham with any queries and stating that if they persisted he would have to signal for assistance. An occurrence which could well have lit the tinder of an already tight situation.
- FO 371/23507 Political Fear Easter China. 1939 – Tsingtao. SS St Vincent De Paul incident
- FO 371/23507
- FO 371/23507
- FO 371/23507
- FO 371/23507
- FO 371/23507
- McCart, 2012, pp. 109-10; TNA – ADM 1/9869, 1939; Ashmore, 2005…
- Quote from: TNA – ADM 1/9869, 1939, supported by: FO 371/23507
- McCart, 2012, pp. 109-10; TNA – ADM 1/9869, 1939; Ashmore, 2005
- Churchill Archives – Drax 2/12, 1940 – The respected and prominent naval personality, Admiral Drax, after the subsequent major incident, the boarding and removal of German Sailors from the Asama Maru, would actually level at his former RN colleagues the accusation of bowing to much too Japanese interests. This both serves to highlight how little of the real actions the RN forces of the China Station was getting through to even ‘informed’ opinion makers back home, but also how delicate the balance was that Captain Brind had walked – as he not only faced the chasm of war on the Japanese side, but also the pressure of living up to the expectations of Britain in its navy and even more precipitous, of the navy in itself.
- Lord Chatfield, 1942; Jordan, 2011; Signatories of the 1930 London Treaty for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armament, 2003; Signatories of the Washington Naval Limitation Treaty, 2005
- TNA – ADM 187/1, 1939
- TNA – ADM 187/1, 1939
- TNA – ADM 116/4635, 1942
- Morris, 1987, pp. 174-88; TNA – ADM 187/1, 1939 – Three of Thirteen or 23%… when combined with the two Royal Australian Navy vessels, it was five of fifteen or 33% of the total heavy cruisers available to the British Empire. These figures are of course ignoring the remaining Hawkins class which with their seven 7.5in guns were a bit of anomaly in the RN; despite the preservation of them having been a key part of the Washington Treaty stance of the British government, they were completely out of date and out classed by this point.
- TNA – ADM 187/1, 1939
- Morris, 1987, pp. 187-8; Whitley, 1996, pp. 92-6; Friedman, 2010, pp. 108-20 & 142-4; TNA – ADM 1/9355, 1933; TNA – ADM 203/87, 1928
- TNA – ADM 203/90, 1929; TNA – ADM 186/145, 1929
- Ashmore, 2005
- Ashmore, 2005
- Ashmore, 2005
- TNA – FO 675/18, 1939; TNA – ADM 116/2547, 1926-1928; TNA – ADM 116/2510, 1927-1928; TNA – ADM 116/2509, 1926-1928; TNA – ADM 1/9869, 1939; TNA – ADM 1/8759/207, 1932
- TNA – FO 675/18, 1939; TNA – ADM 116/2547, 1926-1928; TNA – ADM 116/2510, 1927-1928; TNA – ADM 116/2509, 1926-1928; TNA – ADM 1/9869, 1939; TNA – ADM 1/8759/207, 1932
- TNA – ADM 199/382, 1939-1940; TNA – ADM 234/329, 1941; TNA – ADM 234/330, 1941
- TNA – FO 371/22187, 1938