Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Mukden Incident, or the Death of Dong Bei

September 18, 1931

It was quiet near Liutiao He, a lake near Mukden, Manchuria. Lieutenant Kawamoto Suemori took a couple of men and placed a small charge of dynamite near Japan’s South Manchurian Railway tracks. Japan had received control of this railway, on Chinese soil, from white men who didn’t care what happened to anyone they could define as yellow.
Two colonels in Tokyo wanted to make sure that Japan could take over all of Manchuria, so the Manchurians could grow crops for consumption by the superior race that lived in Tokyo.
The blast didn’t really do very much and the tracks were in good shape when the next train went by. In Tokyo they said the Liutiao Railway Bridge had been knocked down by Chinese dissidents. There hadn’t been any Chinese near the blast area and it wasn’t a bridge. The blast didn’t really hurt anything or anyone, but now the Japanese had an excuse to take over all of Manchuria.
Chiang Kai-Shek  had ordered Zhang Xueliang, the young marshal of Manchuria, not to resist but let the Japanese take all the area that ended at the Black Dragon River.  The Back Dragon River was China’s border with Russia.
And so the slow dismantling of China began, a natural evolution since the Opium Wars let England and others seize Chinese ports for their countries.
The people of China were very angry about their country’s position and felt a communal loss of face. In Shanghai they started boycotting any products from the land of the rising sun.
The Japanese had decided that the Chinese were a weak people, undeserving of being treated honorably by their army, so the road to the Rape of Nanjing was under construction. In Heaven the Gods wept for the Chinese people.

From "Shanghai Rose"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Skies over France

My novel "Shanghai Rose," which takes the reader from skies over France in WWI to front row seat at the Japanese invasion of Shanghai, begins with this look at aerial warfare. 

We are flying from the fields of Flanders across the border to targets of opportunity in Ypres, Belgium.  As we had readied for takeoff,  a Royal Flying Corps  Officer told us the Germans had launched 50,000 mustard gas canisters against our soldiers there.
It isn't just the gas that has me concerned for those below. When a man's foot develops gangrene, doctors amputate it, effectively changing the course of his life. It happens all too frequently in the brutal, seemingly permanent, jagged slashes in the landscape, where soldiers'  feet rot away in rain soaked trenches. The guilt I'm feeling in being above it cancels much of the joy I once received from flying.
 My plane, the "American Angel," is one of four Sopwith Camels leaving France. Crosby's plane had earlier experienced engine trouble so we are late arriving at the battle. I think conditions are looking good until I  notice  nine German planes. My body suddenly tightens as I encounter the fear of death that travels with men in war. Concerns for other men cease.
 I'm a sitting duck and  mutter an oath as my Camel is hit. The plane shudders and I  find myself falling in a fast full power spin. I am right over the Hun trenches, so I decide to try to pull out, turn her around, and attempt to reach our nearest airfield. My Camel is badly shot up with many of the flying wires cut, so it won't be easy. Somehow, I interrupt the fall  and turn the plane towards our lines. I  say a quick prayer,  worry I am too close to the ground, and black out.
At the forward aid station, the first focused image I see involves a pair of hazel eyes with a nurses' cap perched above them. I quickly assume I must've crashed somewhere over British lines. When she speaks with perfect diction I feel I've fallen into the library of a British country house.
"Hold on flight lieutenant," she says. "We're going to give you something for the pain."

Friday, July 6, 2012


For anybody left out there who still checks my blog, I've been writing them for two years with braces on my elbows and hands. I've done this because my neck has stenosis, arthritis and herniated discs. This affects the use of my hands. My lumbar region has the same problems, with scoliosis thrown in. Now my body has decided those braces are foreign objects and reacts strongly to their use. I am completing a book called "Shanghai Rose," which begins in World War I and includes a rewrite in the first person of a novel I pulled off Amazon called Winters in Shanghai. With a little help from my friends I should have it posted on Amazon in about a month. I hope you like it.(By the way, no matter what they say about dictation, if you can't position the cursor by hand in a rewrite, you might as well pack it in)  I'm pretty happy with my life and I figure obstacles are there to be overcome. Ganbatte, Jia You, Fi-Ting