(Taken from an article in The North China Marine.) August 3, 1946.
Tientsin,China. Marine Column Ambushed. Marines Strike Back In Fierce Fight On Peiping Highway. By Capt. Thomas A. Watson,
USMCR. Tientsin, Aug, 2- At 1205 Monday, July 29, a motorized patrol of the First Marine Division (Reinforced) escorting a
supply convoy from Tientsin to Peiping was ambushed by an estimated 300 uniformed Chinese at the village of Ta Hsiao San Ho
about 35 miles South east of Peiping. In the ensuing battle, which lasted four hours, one officer and two enlisted Marines
were killed, four enlisted seriously wounded and eight enlisted less seriously wounded.
Also hospitalized are an officer and one enlisted with injuries resulting
from motor accidents which were incidental to the attack. Estimated Chinese casualties were 12 dead and an unknown number
wounded. The section of the road where the attack occured is eminently suitable for an ambush. The road is raised between
deep ditches with tall corn growing right to the edge of the deep cuts on both sides of the highway. There is a clump of trees
on the west side of the road with a small, walled compound just opposite. The village of Ta Hsiao San Ho is about 500 yards
from the highway.
The attakers had arranged a road block of two wheelless ox carts between
the trees and the wall of the compound. A machine gun was emplaced at the south corner of the compound covering the road perfectly.
When the point of the patrol reached the road block, the attack began without warning. A potato-masher type grenade was thrown
just as the patrol leader dismounted from his jeep, killing him instantly. Immediately 11 other grenades were thrown at all
vehicles in the point.
At the same time rifle fire supported by one automatic weapon opened
from the tree clump. As the main body of the patrol and the convoy rolled to a stop, accurate, heavy rifle fire was received
from another clump of trees about 300 yards to the right of the road and from both right and left rear.
Platoon Sergeant Cecil J. Flanagan assumed command of the main body
and organized his defense in the ditch along the road. The shattered point was completely cut off by fire across an open space
in the road where no ditches existed. While a get away jeep raced for help at Tientsin, he directed the return fire of the
Marines until action was broken off at 1600.
An Army officer traveling with the group materially assisted in placing
the patrol's mortars and heavy machine guns and diricting their fire.
About 1600 a bugle was sounded at the Chinese command post which was
located in the tree clump to the right of the road. Fire from all Chinese positions was intensified for a period of about
two minutes and then ceased.
A white flag was raised on the compound wall. Accompanied by two interpreters,
a Navy corpsman started forward but was shot in the leg. This was the last round of the engagement.
The wounded were tended and the patrol mounted up and proceeded to
Peiping. Most of the casualties were suffered by the point in the initial grenade barrage. Only two men were wounded by rifle
The attackers were well organized, the ambush perfectly prepared and
the attack without warning was vigorous and aggresive. They wore blue-gray and tan uniforms and some were dressed in peasant
The efficiency of the Marine defense is attested to by the fact that
only two casualties were received after the surprise attack by grenades. The only vehicles left behind by the patrol were
damaged trucks which could not be started. The jeep dispatched to Tientsin for help overturned; the occupants then had to
hitch hike to Tientsin via a Chinese vehicle, and time was lost before word of the attack could be delivered to Marine Headquarters.
A heavily armed patrol with combat air support and light observation planes was sent out as soon as it could be organized.
This force searched the area where the fight took place but found
none of the attackers. It repaired the vehicles, recovered bodies of Marine dead and went on through to Peiping. The patrol
returned the next day and air search began at dawn but only revealed a peaceful village and a few truck tracks on the shoulder
of the road.
The Chinese bodies, in their gray uniforms, wrap-around leggings and
soft shoes were the only evidence of the violent and dastardly attack.
The patrol attacked was comprised of one officer and 41 enlisted Marines
mounted in two radio jeeps, one jeep, two one ton reconnaissance trucks and three two-and-a-half-ton cargo trucks. The convoy
was made up of an Executive Headquarters staff car containing three U.S. Army officers, six Marine two and-a-half-ton trucks
with Marine drivers loaded with food and military supplies and one CNRRA truck with a Chinese driver. A Marine officer was
in charge of the convoy
Patrols of this type travel the Tientsin-Peiping highway every third
day for the purpose of inspecting the roadway and as protection for supply convoys for Marine forces at Peiping and U.S. Army
Communications are maintained by radio jeeps with Tientsin and Peiping
through relays set up just outside of each city. Regular ten-minute reports were received from the patrol until 1130 when
atmospheric conditions caused a failure After the attack started it was impossible to man the radio jeeps.