Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Eastern Moon

Note from the Editor
In April 2016, we published the article ‘Eastern Ranger and the Red Guards’ which covered the frightening experience of the officers and crew of the Eastern Moon at the hands of the Red Guard movement and the Chinese authorities in 1967.

At the end of his article, the author, Frank Pickering said “With the passing of time, the real story of the Eastern Moon incident will probably never be told”. Astonishingly, since then, John Joyce who was third offi cer on the Eastern Moon at the time and who, himself, was subjected to awful treatment has been in touch to give his first-hand account of events. I am pleased to publish his story, as it gives us a fuller understanding of what was a nightmare experience and of the truly dreadful poisonous atmosphere in China at that time.

INTRODUCTION
An old friend and colleague, being aware of my involvement in the incident, passed me a copy of the article “Eastern Ranger and the Red Guards” that appeared in the April 2016 issue of Sea Breezes. In a footnote to his article, Frank writes “with the passing of time the real story of the Eastern Moon incident will probably never be told”. It is true that without an input from all those involved, including the Chinese authorities, a true and complete background to events will remain concealed. I believe however, that my own close involvement in the incident does qualify me to present my own account of events and the possible implications. Having previously served on the Bay of Bengal service, I was appointed to the Eastern Moon as third offi cer in August 1966. The ship was employed on the Australia service and, at the time of the incident, I was on my third round trip and it was my third visit to Shanghai.

BACKGROUND
At the time of the incident in 1967, there was ongoing serious conflict in Vietnam between forces in the south supported by the United States, and allied forces including Australian ground troops, and North Vietnamese fighters. In Hong Kong there was serious rioting by those who opposed the Hong Kong authorities and British occupation of “part of China”.

In China the “cultural revolution” and consequential dramatic rise in the number of young people in the Red Guard movement had become a serious threat to law and order. A new book on the period by Dutch historian Frank Dikotter reveals the “grotesque violence inflicted on ‘class enemies’ and intellectuals as teenage Red Guards fanned out with orders to “sweep away monsters and demons”. Victims were beaten, flogged and stoned by ‘Mao’s little generals’. Homes and places of worship were ransacked and burned. One teacher killed himself after being set upon by students who forced him to drink ink. Another was doused in petrol and set alight. Others were electrocuted or buried alive.

Percy Cradock, a senior British diplomat in Beijing, recalled in his memoirs; “The country was in the grip of a nightmare”. Shortly before the Eastern Moon’s arrival in China, on this voyage the British charges d’affaires in Shanghai had been expelled from the city. An estimated two million people lost their lives during the period the Red Guards were allowed, possibly even encouraged, to run-riot.

It is appropriate to at this point remind ourselves that during this period of internal turmoil, normal communications between China and other countries was almost nonexistent. Indeed, it was Taiwan that was accepted as representing China and not the People’s Republic that had still to be recognised by the UN and the United States, although the latter were keenly interested in all developments in China. An important point to bear in mind is the fact that in 1967 the various means of communications available today were in their infancy. The vast majority of Chinese citizens relied entirely on news and information provided by their Government. The resultant downside to this was to ensure that the Red Guard movement and the public generally, were rabidly hostile toward the UK, the USA and Russia, in particular. This important point goes some way towards understanding the difficulties faced by the Chinese authorities in communicating with its people. Clearly, there was almost certainly a hierarchy in China who controlled the information/ propaganda distributed to the public. Similarly, although the Red Guards were directing most of their energies on internal matters, external affairs, notably the Hong Kong situation, was seen as evidence of British imperialism that demanded the strongest objection on their part.

THE EASTERN MOON
The Eastern Moon had been employed for some years on the ‘Australian Service’, sailing from Hong Kong with general cargo for Australia (east coast ports) and returning via Japan and China to Hong Kong. On the voyage in question, following departure from Japan, the ship was scheduled to call at Hsinkang* (the port for Tientsin*) and Shanghai. Prior to arrival in China, the crew followed their usual drill of packing away all their ‘western’ style clothing and belongings, and dressing in their Chinese tunics and rubber shoes. Anyone in China wearing a jacket and tie or lace-up shoes would be severely dealt with. It was obvious that the crew were seriously worried about doing wrong in the Red Guard’s eyes. It is also true that the officers were generally experienced enough to know how to behave in the host country.

On arrival at Hsinkang, the ship was treated, as on the previous voyage, to a welcoming party of Red Guards singing songs and entertaining an audience of officers and crew. The first cargo to be discharged, were the 350 or so live sheep which had travelled on deck in wooden pens from Brisbane, under the care of two shepherds. After discharging, the remaining Hsinkang cargo the ship was made ready to sail for Shanghai. Posters covering the wheelhouse windows put up by the Red Guards were carefully removed for obvious reasons, but not before an official had questioned how one poster had been damaged. Interestingly, and unusually, no back-loading had occurred at Hsinkang.

The passage to Shanghai, contrary to the alleged running down of a Chinese fishing vessel, that simply did not occur, was uneventful and the ship berthed on the Bund as usual. There then followed what seemed to be a desperate rush to discharge the cargo to the point that the stevedores needed to be constantly reminded that they were overloading the cargo gear. There were regular visits to the ship by Red Guards often for the purpose of informing the crew that they were required to attend a meeting or rally during working hours. In the end the Chief Engineer felt obliged to protest to the authorities that the absence of the engine room crew was preventing the completion of essential maintenance work. At about the same time an official came aboard and raised again the question as to how one of the posters in the wheelhouse had come to be damaged.

Cargo discharge was completed, but peculiarly no information had been received about the return cargo. On previous voyages the ship would have been full above and below deck on departure Shanghai for Hong Kong. On deck would be vegetables and livestock, and below deck cargo for transhipment. The remaining below deck cargo for Australia included a large quantity for Woolworths (Australia). Contrary to the normal US rules banning all goods made in China, Woolworths (Australia) was autonomous and the rules did not apply.

The following day began with a massing of Red Guards on the quay complete with loudspeakers, music and armed PLA (Peoples Liberation Army) personnel. The Red Guards were addressed by a spokesman and, watched by the ship’s crew, there were by now some 3,000 or so and they became more and more incensed and hysterical. Selected Red Guards then, armed with paint pots and brushes began to paint slogans on the side of the ship in Chinese and in English. This continued for some time until it was clearly decided to board the ship and take a number of officers ashore. This began with the Chief and Second Engineers, and the Chief and Second Officers. These four were forced to mount a stack of cargo pallets, and to kneel and bow their heads where they were then fitted with dunce’s hats.

At this point the slogan painting had reached the accommodation block, the navigating bridge and funnel, and inside the officer’s accommodation where a photograph of the Queen was taken down and smashed. In the meantime I, as well as the Master and other officers kept our heads down in our respective cabins. Whoever was directing the mob then decided that I too should join the proceedings, and there was a pounding on my door. One of the Australian shepherds had joined me in my cabin and we were both extremely frightened. I said to him; “They don’t want you, quick, hide in my wardrobe”. Then the door gave in and I was bundled out and down the gangway where I was given the same treatment as my fellow officers.

I lost count of time as the shouting and yelling continued without let up. Every 30 minutes or so we were pulled off our makeshift platform, jet-planed and paraded around the quay where we were targeted by the more vicious Red Guards.

Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - November 2016 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

Hong Kong Express

Most Popular

  • 1
  • 2

Latest Products

Maritime Log

  • Replacement Cranes Giving Humber a Lift +

    Gottwald Cranes Unloading Two new Gottwald 820 cranes were delivered in June to the Humber International Terminal of Associated British Ports (ABP) at Read More
  • Unified Ship Design Rolls Off the Drawing Board +

    Unified Ship Design The UK-based engineering company Rolls-Royce has radically overhauled its vessel design philosophy in a bid to optimise construction and operations Read More
  • World's Largest in Felixstowe +

    OOCL Hong Kong The world’s largest container ship, the OOCL Hong Kong, of 210,890gt and 21,413teu, made her maiden call at Felixstowe on Read More
  • Southampton's Record in a Weekend +

    Southampton Port Southampton welcomed 15 cruise ships in three days making it the busiest cruise weekend on record. Read More
  • Cleaning up Plastic from the Oceans +

    Cleaning up Plastic from the Oceans The marine geophysical company Petroleum Geo-Services (PG-S), of Oslo, has developed a concept for the largescale collection of plastic in Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • "USS Ford" Commissioned +

    USS Ford Marine One, carrying US President Donald Trump, landed aboard Ford on 22 July for the commissioning ceremony of the latest Read More
  • Battleship Texas "Sinks" +

    USS Texas Having survived two world wars and now a museum ship, New York-class battleship USS Texas (BB-35), began to sink at Read More
  • Third Ice Class Ocean Tug for Foss +

    Nicole Foss On 6 June Foss Maritime christened their third Arctic-class ocean tug, Nicole Foss, at the Foss Waterway Seaport in Tacoma, Read More
  • "You may fire when ready, Gridley" +

    McCulloch On 1 May 1898, when US Admiral George Dewey gave this order to the Captain of his 344-foot Flagship, USS Read More
  • ‘Perfect Storm’ Star’s New Role +

    Tamora Decommissioned 74 year-old, US Coast Guard cutter, Tamaroa, famous for her role in the book The Perfect Storm and the Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Asia-Pacific

  • Trans-Shipment Hub for Coal Cargo +

    Coal Hub A coal imports trans-shipment hub centred on a floating platform is being established in Vietnamese waters by three partners. Read More
  • Court Stops Demolition Over Radioactive Claim +

    North Sea Producer The breaking up of the former floating oil production and storage tanker (FPSO) North Sea Producer was halted by the Read More
  • Two Crewmen Died Of 'Foul Play At The Hands Of Others' +

    Sage Sagittarius The inquest into the deaths of two crew members of the bulk carrier Sage Sagittarius, 73,427dwt, when the ship was Read More
  • Seven Die in Destroyer Collision +

    USS Fitzgerald Seven sailors died when the US, Navy destroyer Fitzgerald was in a collision with the Philippine-flag container ship ACX Crystal, Read More
  • Alert Over Gas Cylinder Safety Checks +

    Emerald Princess A gas cylinder that had just passed a mandatory detailed safety inspection exploded while being refilled and killed a member Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • Los Angeles Class Decommissioning +

    USS Dallas American News The end of May saw a lot of submarine news within the US Navy with the decommissioning of Read More
  • HMS Westminster Returns to Service +

    HMS Westminster British News After two years out of service undergoing a major reconstruction and refit, the Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster Read More
  • USS Tripoli Launched Ahead of Schedule +

    USS Tripoli American News Ingalls Shipbuilding achieved a remarkable achievement when they launched the latest America class amphibious assault ship, USS Tripoli, Read More
  • New Voyages for USS Enterprise +

    USS Enterprise American News Huntington Ingalls Industries was awarded a $25.5 million contract to essentially start the advanced fabrication of the third Read More
  • Naval Update - April 2017 +

    USS Antietam American News On Tuesday 31 January, the Ticonderoga class cruiser USS Antietam ran aground off the coast of Yokosuka in Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • Superfast Moves +

    Stena Superfast VIII Interesting moves at Stena Line where their Cairnryan – Belfast Superfast VII and VIII vessels, which appear to be integral to Read More
  • Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority +

    Iyanough The Isle of Wight has always been associated in my mind with the “Southampton, Isle of Wight and South of Read More
  • CalMac's Isle of Lewis +

    Isle of Lewis This fine study of the Isle of Lewis in the dramatic environs of Castlebay, Barra, is a reminder she has Read More
  • Rotor Sails +

    Viking Grace If you thought the ungainly looking rotor sail system, an invention from the early 20th Century, was gone forever, you Read More
  • New Fast Ferry Deliveries +

    Express 3 News of Fast ferry investment; Express 3 has sailed from Tasmania on her delivery voyage to Denmark via the Panama Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • Oil Downturn Continues +

    Ocean Seeker The offshore oil downturn has been taking its toll around the North Sea amongst many rig boat operators and also Read More
  • Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta +

    Artemis On April 6 Dutch sailing vessels took part in the Race of the Classics from Holland across the North Sea Read More
  • Pioneering Spirit For Teeside +

    Pioneering Spirit Teesside has lost most of its steel manufacturing and much of the shipping traffic it brought, but at the other Read More
  • Troubles for Ahlmarks' Skagern +

    Skagern Ahlmark is Sweden’s oldest shipping company, founded by 1847, and still going strong, if not as strong as they used Read More
  • The Dawn +

    Dawn The 81ft Dawn, a ‘heritage’ sailing barge with an open hold and tiller-steered, took out trips last summer for people Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • Captain Fryatt, The Martyr Of Bruges +

    SS Brussels and Captain Charles Fryatt At the end of the Great War, the bodies of only three heroes were ever brought back to England and Read More
  • Brahminy Kites in Port Sweetenham +

    Brahminy Kite Recently, I have been back in touch with Captain John Anderson; he now lives in Canada, but we sailed together Read More
  • Peel Ports Appoints New Port Director +

    Jouke Schaap Never a dull moment at Peel Ports which owns and operates six of the UK's major ports – Liverpool, Heysham, Manchester Read More
  • Exhibition on HQS Wellington +

    HQS Wellington News of a really interesting free exhibition on board HQS Wellington entitled "Abandon Ship! – Surviving the Wartime Atlantic". Read More
  • MOL Triumph +

    MOL Triumph Gary Davies of Maritime Photographic sent me this "jaw dropping" photograph of the MOL Triumph which dramatically conveys the sheer Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Gliding up the Thames +

    Glider SS18 It's been eight years in the making but finally the first Glider was unveiled in London last month. Read More
  • Yacht With a Pinch of Porsche +

    Dynamiq GTT 115 Taking the spirit of highperformance sports car styling to the high seas, the Dynamiq GTT 115 is designed to appeal Read More
  • The “Celebrity Edge” +

    Celebrity Edge You have to admire the innovative mindset that is evident within the creative corridors of a modern cruise line. Read More
  • The Mailship vs The Corsair +

    Windsor Castle and Corsair Before the Internet, Websites, Blogs and eNewsletters presented themselves to an unsuspecting world, the arrival of the monthly passenger shipping Read More
  • Cloud 9 Launched in Italy +

    Cloud 9 Nine different colours of cloudlike smoke were used as a backdrop when Cloud 9, the brand new 74 metre superyacht Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

TSS Awatea

Secrets of the "Awatea"

Somewhere off the North African port of Béjaïa, deep on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea, lie the remains of Read More
Dalia

A Different Type of Railway Steamer

When one thinks of Railway steamers of the past, the mind is invariably drawn to smart cross-channel or short-sea packets. Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

Painting of Venus

A Quartet for the North Sea

The chain of events that led to the Bergen Line building the Venus started in the head office of Swedish Read More
MS Pacheco

Happy Seagoing Days - MacAndrew Line

After gaining my Masters Certificate in July 1962, I started to look for another job on General cargo ships, but Read More
  • 1
  • 2