Wednesday, September 19, 2018
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!

Nexus

Most Popular

  • LNG Not the Driver for New Ferry Orders +

  • Big Boost for Liverpool Container Services +

  • Tall Ships at Liverpool +

  • Royal Navy Commissions New Survey Ship +

  • Rolls-Royce Marine Sold to Norwegian Group +

  • 1
  • 2

Top 10 Books and DVDs 2017

Maritime Log

  • Bridge Sections Transported on Giant Barge +

    Lowestoft Barge One of the largest barges ever handled at Lowestoft was safely moved out of the port early in July on Read More
  • Tougher Penalties for Laser Misuse +

    Phil Buckley Tougher new penalties for the misuse of laser devices has been welcomed. Read More
  • Rolls-Royce Marine Sold to Norwegian Group +

    Rolls-Royce Autonomous Ship The UK-based major engineering company Rolls-Royce is selling its Commercial Marine business to the Norwegian technology group Kongsberg Gruppen ASA. Read More
  • Launch of New Ship For Antartic Work +

    The launch party Shortly after noon on July 14, the new polar research ship Sir David Attenborough was launched at the Birkenhead shipyard Read More
  • Barrow Takes Port of the Year Title +

    Barrow Port Barrow has won the prestigious Port of the Year Award at this year’s 10th annual UK Ports Conference in London. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Cleaning Up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch +

    Garbage System 001 This month, a new floating clean-up system to tackle what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch was due Read More
  • Panama Canal Ban on LNG Ships to Go +

    Panama Canal On Oct 1, the Panama Canal Authority will lift its daylight and encounter bans on LNG vessels to offer more Read More
  • Setting New Standards on Hawaii Service +

    Daniel K Inouye What is claimed to be the largest container ship to be built in the United States was named at a Read More
  • Wartime Wreck Checked For Oil Leak +

    Coimbra In mid-June, the US Coast Guard carried out a special survey to see if a fully-laden tanker sunk by a Read More
  • LNG-Fuel Ferry in Service +

    Spirit of British Columbia The BC Ferries’ Spirit of British Columbia returned to service on June 6 after a major mid-life upgrade which included Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Asia-Pacific

  • Wreck of Cruiser From 1905 Battle is Located +

    Kea Trader The South Korean company Shinil Group said it has found the wreck of a Russian cruiser that was sunk 113 Read More
  • Ship Salvors Recover Debris From Reef +

    Kea Trader A new independent bathymetric survey of the wreck of the container ship Kea Trader, 24,720gt, on a reef in New Read More
  • Final Hurdle Overcome in COSCO Takeover +

    COSCO The Chinese line COSCO Shipping Holdings has been given permission from the Chinese anti-trust authorities for its proposed US$6.3bn takeover Read More
  • Giant Collier Third to Trade With Japan +

    Port Kembla The first liquefied natural gas import terminal in New South Wales, Australia, is to be built at Port Kembla by Read More
  • ONE Commitment Enters Service +

    ONE Commitment The first of the magenta-coloured container ships of the Ocean Network Express (ONE) entered service in May. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • Royal Navy Commissions New Survey Ship +

    HMS Magpie British News The latest survey vessel to join the Royal Navy was commissioned into service at her homeport of Devonport Read More
  • F-35 Stealth Fighters Land in UK +

    F-35 British News The first four of Britain’s next generation F-35 Lightning supersonic fighter jets touched down in the United Kingdom Read More
  • Upgrade Planned for Russia’s Only Aircraft Carrier +

    Admiral Kuznetsov Russian News Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, will be refitted to prolong the warship’s operational life. Read More
  • HMS “Astute” in Cat-And-Mouse Pursuit by Russian Ships +

    HMS Astute British News Ahead of the American led missile strikes against suspected chemical weapon manufacturing plants in Syria in early April, Read More
  • Busy Period for Japanese Navy +

    JS Asahi Japanese News It has been a particularly busy period for the Japanese with a number of new vessels being accepted Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • Victoria Of Wight’s Voyage Home +

    Victoria of Wight Wightlink’s new £30million flagship Victoria of Wight sailed from the Cemre shipyard in Yalova, Turkey on 16 July for the Read More
  • Greek Ferry Sector Steps Up in Fire Tragedy +

    Paros Jet The Greek ferry sector was in the news during the wildfire tragedy that swept the coastal area near Athens during Read More
  • LNG Not the Driver for New Ferry Orders +

    Stena E-Flexer In the last issue of Sea Breezes, I wrote of the breathtaking development of Irish Sea ferry operations over the Read More
  • Condor Looks to the Future +

    Condor Clipper Condor Ferries has faced some speculation in recent months as its owner, Macquarie European Investment Fund 2, winds down and Read More
  • W.B. Yeats Further Delayed +

    W.B. Yeats The delivery of Irish Ferries’ new €144 million cruise ferry W.B. Yeats from German shipbuilder Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) has been Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • Sunderland to Esbjerg Race +

    Oosterschelde On the north east coast of England, it was Sunderland’s proud claim that more ships had been built here than Read More
  • Tall Ships at Liverpool +

    Belem At the end of May, a Tall Ships fleet met at Liverpool. Read More
  • New Bridge Challenges Melissa +

    Melissa The organisers of the charter barges working from Ipswich are worried by plans to build a road bridge across the Read More
  • German Schooners +

    Thor Heyerdahl Two German schooners based at Hamburg are regularly making voyages under sail with general cargoes across the Atlantic. Read More
  • RFA Pearleaf +

    RFA Pearleaf Thanks to Orkney Image Library for this view of the RFA Pearleaf. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • Naming Ceremony for Forth Tug and Pilot Boat +

    Forth Puma and Craigleith In my Message From The Bridge in the August edition of Sea Breezes I highlighted the Firth of Forth. Read More
  • SMS Avonmouth Relocates to Bigger Premises +

    City of Cardiff In my long-ago deep sea days with Blue Funnel, Avonmouth was an occasional port of call before heading to our Read More
  • Big Boost for Liverpool Container Services +

    Port of Liverpool More positive news from Peel Ports Group. Read More
  • Kerne Preservation Receives Queens Award for Voluntary Service +

    Steam Tug Kerne I was delighted to hear that in the Queen’s Honours List, published at the beginning of June 2018, the Merseyside Read More
  • UK P&I Launched Safety Competition +

    UK PandI Logo UK P&I Club, a leading provider of P&I insurance and other services to the international shipping community, has launched its Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Turnkey Explorer Yacht +

    Explorer 67 An exciting opportunity for an owner looking to build one of the finest explorer yacht projects available has presented itself. Read More
  • Great Perseverance +

    Meira Behind the construction of every great yacht there is a story and in the building of Meira, it is one Read More
  • Keel Laid for Hapag-Lloyd’s First Expedition Cruise Ship +

    Hanseatic Inspiration A keel-laying ceremony was held on June 20 2017 for Hanseatic Nature, the first of two expedition cruise ships being Read More
  • Superyacht Season - Cannes +

    Numarine 26 XP Loved and hated in equal measure by those who exhibit at the Cannes Yachting Festival, as it is correctly known, Read More
  • Superyacht Season - Southampton +

    Targa 43 OPEN The season begins with Southampton, now celebrating its 50th year which, following the demise of the London Boat Show becomes Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

Largs Bay

One Voyage Too Many - The Last of the Bay Boats, 1957

Largs Bay, a twin screw turbine steamer of some 14,000 grt, had a long rather complicated history after being built Read More
Galeb

"Galeb" - From Banana Boat to Presidential Yacht

One day in October 2017, I sat at an outside table at a restaurant on the fringe of the harbour Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

Peter Crawford

Peter’s “Scillonian” Life on the Ocean Wave

Peter Crawford, is relief captain and first mate of the MV Scillonian, the sturdy little ship which is an essential Read More
HMS Lincoln

HMS Lincoln and Her Unusual Defensive Weapon

A “run ashore” the night before going to sea the following day is very much part of a seafarer’s life. Read More
  • 1
  • 2