The Consul General at Tsingtao (Spiker) to the Ambassador in China (Stuart)3

No. 1

Sir: I have the honor to submit a report of military and political developments in the Tsingtao Consular District during December, 1947.

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Disappearance of U.S. Marines

On December 26 it was learned by the Marine Headquarters here that at noon on the previous day four American Marine enlisted men, engaged in a Christmas Day hunting expedition, had been captured, presumably by Chinese communists. The men had received permission to go hunting, but had driven in a jeep far beyond the authorized hunting limits, which are approximately 18 miles north of the city, at the Paisha River. Although the Chinese Garrison Headquarters reported that the men had been captured at a point two kilometers northwest of Lingshan, subsequent investigation revealed that the incident occurred 10 kilometers northwest of that town, or approximately 42 miles from Tsingtao. The jeep reportedly was burned. As that area became inaccessible owing to the withdrawal of Government forces from the Laiyang road following evacuation from that city about December 27, it was not practicable for American investigators to visit the scene. By December 31 it had been established by the local Marine authorities that an additional enlisted man was probably included in the party, although he had not been granted clearance to make the trip. A report from Garrison Headquarters on December 29 that one of the party had been killed and buried near the scene of the incident subsequently was revised (after the organization of an investigation expedition) by further “information” that the body had already been removed from its grave by the communists. A Marine intelligence officer who visited Lingshan on December 31 found [Page 348] that the Chinese Army authorities in that area had been able to learn nothing of the fate of the Americans, and had made no report to Garrison Headquarters concerning the burial of a Marine.

It is the intention of the Marine authorities to await developments, if any, and not to attempt to penetrate what is now communist territory 6 miles beyond the Government’s Lingshan salient to investigate the scene of the affair. The presence of a party of enlisted men, armed with at least three shotguns and a carbine, in an area which on December 25 was virtually No Man’s Land, invited trouble. It is obvious that the communists may seize upon the incident as evidence of the operations of an Armed American patrol in a sector of active operations, and seek to publicize the case as an example of American participation in the civil war. On the other hand, if all members of the party were killed, the communists may prefer to make no mention of the affair.

Respectfully yours,

C. J. Spiker
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Consul General without covering despatch; received February 5.