The Story of China Post 1: The Generals Ward & Chennault American Legion Post 1, Shanghai, China
China Post 1, the oldest American Legion Post founded in China, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The history of this Post is in fact a history of the membership of the Post, their love for it and their dedication and efforts in ensuring the success and survival of this organization.
During the early years and prior to the invasion and subsequent occupation by Japan in 1938, the Post conducted operation much like any other Post within the American Legion. Following the Japanese occupation the membership shifted focus and much of their work consisted of clandestine operations, intelligence gathering and reporting through their established business connections.
On December 8, 1941 following Pearl Harbor, all U.S. expats were gathered up and incarcerated in “civilian detention facilities” like Pootung Prison. During that long incarceration, Post members continued their intel gathering and reporting through a vast network of established civilian contact. One member in particular stands out, Past Commander Frank D. Mortimer.
Following the war and their release from incarceration, Post members immediately returned to the old Post home and began the process of assisting expats and veterans return to the U.S., locate missing relatives,arrange for final honors; frankly, anything that was within their power to accomplish with little money. General Chennault, Chairman of the Executive Committee for China Post 1 donated a large portion of his own money rebuilding the Post, restoring Ward’s Tomb and providing food and materials to the People of China. He redirected his energy into assisting the people of China with the herculean effort to rebuild this war ravaged country. Despite the government’s best efforts, the people abandoned the Chiang kai-shek government for the populist Mao Zedong and in 1948,Americans in Mao’s China became persona non grata.
So began our exile.The Soldier of Fortune moniker appealed to a certain category of war fighters in South East Asia. Men and women who willingly volunteered to conduct operations in regions where their detainment would result in long periods of interrogation without the access to consular services. Further, these people provided plausible deniability to the agencies, an asset during clandestine operations. The resurgence of the Post is due in large part to these people willing to work in the world of the grey.
You cannot join China Post 1. Membership in the Post is not solicited. Prospective members MUST be recommended by a current member. The veracity of their application is carefully verified and an intake interview is conducted. The brand that is China Post 1 is carefully protected.
The story of China Post 1 is the story of the membership. This is a collection of their stories and their contributions to maintaining the Post and it’s brand. There are people in this world that will sacrifice everything for God and Country. This is their story.