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U.S. Marines in Tsingtao, China 1945-49

Updated: Saturday, 22 November 2014 — Submitted by Fred Greguras28 Comments

Tsingtao China, now known as Qingdao and famous for its beer, was a German treaty port from 1897 to 1914 in Shandong Province.  It is in the northeastern part of China on the east coast, north of Shanghai and southeast of Beijing.  The city was occupied by Japan from 1914 to 1922 and again from 1938 to 1945.  The city was under Chinese rule from 1922 to 1938.  The US Navy Asiatic fleet used the city as a port during the 1930’s.  In early June, 1949 the Peoples Liberation Army entered Qingdao and took control of the city.

After the end of the war with Japan on September 2, 1945, the U.S. Marines were ordered to participate in the occupation of certain areas of China primarily to assist Chiang Kai-shek’s government in the surrender and disarmament of Japanese troops.  As part of Operation Beleaguer,  the 6th Marine Division, under the command of General Lemuel C. Shepherd (later Commandant of the Marine Corps), was ordered to carry out the mission in the Tsingtao-Chefoo area.  The 6th Marine Division was deactivated on March 31, 1946 and the Tsingtao command size was sized down to become a reinforced brigade.  In May, 1947, after more reductions in force, the command became Fleet Marine Force, Western Pacific (“FMFWesPac”).  Some Marine units remained in Tsingtao until early May, 1949.  Tsingtao was also the headquarters of the Western Pacific Fleet of the US Navy from 1945-1949 and the Marines provided security for the naval facility in the northwest part of the city.

In July, 2013, almost 70 years later after the Marines landed, I visited Qingdao to see what remained of the Marines presence in Tsingtao.  I was armed with old maps of Tsingtao, photos and articles from the China Marines Association newsletter, the Scuttlebutt, and information provided by Billy Parker and Hal Stephens.  I also had my iPad which provided on the ground, mobile access to Google Earth, Google maps and additional research as needed. The use of location based services allowed me to track my route wherever I went.

One group of photos I used to search for then and now comparisons was a 1945 era souvenir photo packet of the 6th Marine Division which has over 20 photos of Tsingtao including division headquarters, Pagoda Pier, the Shantung College compound, St. Michael’s Cathedral, Shantung Road scenes, the enlisted men’s club, the Japanese surrender scene at the race course and others (the “Packet”).

While there are shopping centers and other new buildings or park-like areas that replaced old buildings in the old town area, the modern part of the city primarily expanded to the east which helped save many old buildings.  The old town area is full of historical buildings and the architecture reflects the German presence and a few buildings are influenced by the Japanese occupations.  It would have been fun to try to inventory the historical buildings but I limited my search to those that had a specific Marine use or that were part of the Marine’s landscape of the 1945-49 period.  The number of buildings needed for Marine billets decreased as the size of the Marine force in Tsingtao was reduced so not all buildings were used for the entire period.  The Shantung College compound described below appears to have been used throughout the Marines presence in Tsingtao.

Shantung Road
Many 1945-49 era buildings familiar to Marines still stand on Pacific (now Taiping) Road mostly east of Shantung Road (now named Zhongshan Road) as well as on Shantung Road itself going north from Pagoda Pier.  Maps from the 1930’s and 40’s sometimes name Shantung Road as Chung Shan Road and sometimes it is named “Chung Shan Road (Shantung Road)” on such maps.  Pagoda Pier (now Zhan Qiao) is still a prominent landmark at the foot of Shantung Road jutting out into Qingdao Bay and was my starting point for exploring the city. The walkway to the Pagoda Pier was being repaired so I couldn’t take photos of the city waterfront from there for comparison with old photos.

Pagoda Pier TsingTao

Pagoda “Zhan Qiao” Pier TsingTao 1945 – 2013

The building identified as 6th Marine Division headquarters in the Packet was directly on the water front just to the west of Shantung Road.  The building is gone and the site is a small park.  The International Club building which served as the Red Cross Enlisted Men’s Club, known as Shepherd’s Club in honor of General Shepherd, still stands on the east side of  Shantung at the corner of Pacific Road.  This was northeast across the street from division headquarters.

Shepherds Club TsingTao

The Shepherd’s Club TsingTao 2013

Three blocks up Shantung, the former German Navy Seaman’s Club building still stands that housed the enlisted men’s club at the northeast corner of Shantung and Hupei (now Hubei) Roads.  The address is still no 17 as it was in 1945.  Completed in 1902, the building looks and feels old.

EM "Seaman's" Club TsingTao

EM “Seaman’s” Club TsingTao 1945 – 2013

A photo from the period looks east up current Fei Cheng Road from Shantung Road toward St. Michael’s Cathedral.  The 1945 era photo shows that the “U.S. Bar” occupied the building on the southeast corner of Shantung Road.  A photo in the Packet also shows this bar which was located at 75 Shantung Road.  Today the lower level of the U.S. Bar building is a Kentucky Fried Chicken and directly west across Shantung Road is a McDonald’s.

US Bar TsingTao

U.S. Bar TsingTao 1945 – 2013

I walked up the hill east from Shantung Road to St. Michael’s at 15 Zhejiang Road to visit this much photographed landmark.  The Cathedral still looms over the city but it is not as visible as in the 1945-49 period.  There are many buildings in this neighborhood from the German period.

St Michael's Cathedral TsingTao

St. Michael’s Cathedral TsingTao 1945 – 2013

Pacific Road
The Zhanqiao Prince Hotel is located at 31 Pacific (now Taiping) Road east of Shantung Road and is the survivor of the three buildings called the Grand Hotels which were used as a Marine billet.  The two buildings labeled annexes in old photos to the east and west of the Prince Hotel are gone.  Many postcards and photos of the Qingdao water front show these hotels.  The annex used as the Navy/Marine Corps YMCA on Pacific Road is gone.  The Oceanwide Elite Hotel is at 29 Pacific Road, next door to the east of the Prince, and appears to be of more recent construction based on comparisons of the building with old photos.  I walked through both of these hotels.

Pacific Road Grand Hotels TsingTao

Pacific Road Grand Hotels TsingTao 1910 – 2013

A photo in the Packet shows a plaza type area on Pacific Road east of the hotels that is open to the north up to the former municipal office building from the German period.  This area was full of construction during my visit so I couldn’t take a comparison photo.  I walked by the former U.S. consulate on Yishui Road just northeast of the former municipal office building but couldn’t get a good photo because of trees.

I walked north from Pacific Road up Jiangsu Road.  This road has many old buildings on both sides as does Guangxi Road which runs east-west.  Jiangsu Road intersects with Yishui Road near the former U.S. consulate.  Daxue Road (formerly University Road) is another tree- lined street full of old buildings north from Pacific Road which is the route to Ocean University. Daxue Road seems relatively undisturbed from the 1945-49 period.

Former Race Course Area
The Japanese surrendered at the Tsingtao race course on October 25, 1945.  The Packet contains a photo of the event.  I had hoped to do a then and now photo comparison of the surrender scene.  This was impossible given the recreational and other uses of the site.  Google Earth provides a good overview of the current uses of the former race course.  The outline of the race course is still very evident.  The stadium east across the street used by the Marines for football games is still there but has been significantly expanded upward.  One of the photos in the Packet shows a football game between the 22nd Marines and 29th Marines.  The press box like structure at the north end of the stadium in the photo appears to have survived.

The former Strand Hotel building on Nanhai Road at the south side of the former race course which was used as a Marine billet still stands across the street from Strand Beach (now No. 1 Bathing Beach).  The outside has been changed slightly and it is still used as a hotel.  This hotel was built in the 1903-1904 time frame and is identified as part of the Grand Hotels group in early tourist advertising.  The beach was very popular with tourists during my visit.

Strand Hotel TsingTao

Strand Hotel TsingTao 1945 – 2013

I rode by the Iltis Barracks buildings several times.  They were built during the German period and are just east of the former race course.  These buildings were the tank battalion billet in 1945 and the tanks were parked at the race course.  The buildings seem to be currently used for military purposes since there was a military guard out front.

Shantung University Compound
Google Earth provided a good overview of the large Marine billet at what was Shantung University in 1945 (the “Compound”) and now is a campus of Ocean University.  These buildings were built by the Germans as Bismarck Barracks in the 1900-1909 period.  As mentioned above, the Compound appears to have been continuously used by the Marines from arrival in 1945 until departure from Tsingtao in 1949.

Shantung University Tsingtao

Shantung University Compound TsingTao 1945 – 1948

I walked east along Pacific Road and then north up University Road (now Daxue Road) and entered the Compound by the north entrance on Hongdao Road.  The rectangular area inside the Compound is very park-like with mature trees and shrubbery.  I couldn’t see the buildings from one side to the other either north-south or east west because of the trees.  All of the buildings in the photo in the Packet appear to have survived.  There is one modern building on the northwest corner of the rectangle but otherwise no significant changes.  A biology student let me into the building at the southwest corner of the compound which was occupied by the 3rd Marines when the command was FMF WestPac.  Some of the exterior doors appeared to be original and the building looked and felt old.  The athletic field used as a parade ground by the Marines is still just to the south of the Compound.  A 1945 era map shows an officer’s club on the west side of Daxue Road just north of the Compound.  I photographed several buildings that could have served that purpose.

Other Sites
I saw the former Japanese Middle School at 7 Yushan Road several times which was used as a Marine billet.  This is just south and west of the Compound.  The building is Japanese style architecture and was built in 1921.  It is currently part of the Yushan campus of Ocean University.  The Edgewater Mansions Hotel, an officer’s club and BOQ, located on Huiquan Road has survived.  This modernistic style building was built in 1936.  I believe it is currently an R&R facility for the Chinese military.

Edgewater Mansions Tsingtao

Edgewater Mansions Hotel, TsingTao 1948 – 2006


The people of Qingdao were helpful and friendly.  The fresh Tsingtao beer was very good.  I can understand why the Marines used rickshaws in Tsingtao because, while the distances are not great, they are long enough to work up a good sweat in hot weather.  I welcome any corrections and comments and will update this from time to time.

Semper Fi Fellow Marines!
Fred Greguras
August, 2013
If you have any images that you wold like to include in the following gallery, please send them to tsingtao {at} thatsqingdao.com.  If possible, please include any info you have so that we can give your images proper credit and correct captions.

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U.S. Marines in Tsingtao, China 1945-49, 5.0 out of 5 based on 10 ratings

28 Responses to “U.S. Marines in Tsingtao, China 1945-49”

  1. Boyd Bivens says:

    Nice reading. My Dad was 1st Marine, III Amphibious Corp. I have many mementos of his time in Tientsin, China.

    Many photos with his pals and Chinese girls, A brass box with a dragon and Tientsin, China engraved on it, A leather suitcase with painted dragons and the city, a silk copy of the Ike jacket with embroidered dragons. His nickname was “Chick”. Many III Amphibious plaques made in China.

    I would like to find out more about his unit as the only thing he ever talked about was boot camp, and very little about his time in China.

    His name was Boyd Beecher Bivens.

  2. Perla A. says:


    My father bought a leather album that says My Oriental Album with pictures in it that I suppose are from ww2. I dont know where to look for in information but it seemes that is from a US Marine by the name Charles A. I found out that he may have been there in tsingtao during 1946. I would like to know more information because I want to sell the album or do something with it because I think that is important. The album has a lot of pictures and other stuff.

  3. Henry A says:

    Hi Meilynn my dad also was on Okinawa then Tsingtao with the 6th Marine division. He has also past but it was nice to hear the stories that he shared with me come back to life on this website. Machine gunner Corporal Henry Andreana 6th Marine Division.

    • Pan says:

      Dear sir, I m a Chinese history researcher in Tsingtao, want to ask a question. Do you had heard the history your father told about six planes crashed of December 10th 1945, and 2 pilots were saved by Chinese? Best Regards, Pan.

    • Charol (Atchison) Thompson says:

      Does anyone remember a marine by the name of Howard Bertis Atchison. I know he was trained in the 75 mm pack howitzer. On “October 23, 1944 his designation was changed from “A” Battery, 75mm Pack Howitzer Battalion, 4th Marines, Reinforced, 6th Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force to “A” Battery, 1st Battalion, 15th Marines, 6th Marine Division, Fleet Force, In the Field, Authority 6thMarDiv SO-76-44 dated 22Oct44.” Signed by M. W. Baldwin, 1stLt, USMCR, Personnel Officer.

  4. laurel Pritchett says:

    I was so excited to find your website. I had just put some pics of my father on my FB from his time in the Marines in the Pacific. He was 10 years in China, first as a young sailor, corpsman then later with the 22nd that became the 6th on Guadalcana. We too had his leather dragon album pictures stolen after he died. It was filled with pics before and after the Japanese invaded. Fortunately I still have some of the loose ones. There is one that puzzles me. It is of 3 young,Caucasian men in civies sitting on the ground in what looks like a cave. They don’t look comfortable as if they are hiding or something. Also have pictures of Shanghai where my father was also stationed.

  5. Penny Ofstad Stowe says:

    My parents and I lived in Tsingtao 1948-1949 (communist invasion). My father was the CO of VMR-153 for the Marine Corp, then…Major Richard J, Ofstad. (Marine Aircraft Group 21). Both He and my mother, Mary Ofstad have now passed on. My first memories are of living in China. I was 3. I have my parents’ photo album and 3 home movies that my dad took. 2 are black and white and 1 is color. Years ago I made the color one into a video for my mom. That one was mostly a trip to Peking with another couple. I plan to put all 3 on DVD soon. I remember many of the Marine adults that were there because we were close to them afterward in the States. Like Michael O’connell, I have memories of the house boy, the Amah, and the cook. Some Marine family names I remember are Fusan, Pope, Tatro, Lantz, Carney, Lamson-Scribner, Nielsen…….. in later years in Orange County CA my mom would meet with “The China Girls” for lunches.

  6. Paul Ting says:

    Hello Fred Greguras, I was born in Tsingtao in April 1947. My father Edward Ting was the head of No.1 Hostel which belonged to WASC (War Area Searvice Corp)at No. 20 Hui Chuan Road.His job was tending on US Marine and Navy officers and men in Tsingtao. He told me many times when he was living that there were a US Naval Traning Corp in Tsingtao that time, and he was in charge of tend upon them. Many of them became his good friends. Among them, there were Lt.Mctague, Lt.(JG)Queen, Lt.(JG) Gustafson, War Pastor Lindbergh, Sergeant Austin, Yeoman Andersen, Quartermaster sergeant Clause, etc. etc. Lt.(JG) Gustafson was also my godfather. My father kept their photos and addresses for many years until the Cultural Revolution was erupted in 1966. We were forced to destroy all these ‘evidences of crime’ by ourselves. My father was suspected a US spy and was under investigation for many years. He was undergone numerous persecutions. After the death of Mao, we got a chance and left China and settled in Spain. My father died in 2000. In his last few years he tried his best to located his Navy and Marine friends. Unfortunately,his effort was defeated. I don’t know if you know how to located these US Navy and Marine officers and men. Could you please let me know something about where and how to locate these long period lost friend (including my godfather Gustafson)? Best regards, Paul Ting – Barcelona, Spain.

  7. Carol Spicer says:

    Hello, Was in a charity shop over the weekend and found a small replica of an anchor and on it is written TSING TAO CHINA 1949. It just captured my attention and I googled it and saw this page. If you would like a photo of it, please email me and I’ll send it to you ~ Kind regards Carol.

  8. Tom Guzman says:

    Our neighbor John Herrera was a China Marine, he passed away a month ago. Attempting to contact anyone that knew him or about him. He was a Marine sniper. Preparing to do a homage in his honor before the Monterey Park City Council, California. Any assistance would be very much appreciated. Tom Guzman home phone (323) 268-2901.

  9. Kimberlymyers says:

    Hi, I recently found a photo album. It’s brown leather with sewn in leather trim with a gorgeous picture on front etched in to it dragons and a light house and a pier bottom corner says TSINGTAO PIER. It was an album but pics have been removed and inside page says MY ORIENTAL ALBUM THEN A WARNING OF MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR SOME. Can anyone help me with information on this? I find it interesting. Thank you.

  10. Keith Miller says:

    My dad, GySgt Paul Miller, USMC-Ret. was stationed at Tsingtao from 1945 to 1949 We lost him a few years back but we would talk for hours about his time I China. We talked about H&S and the radio shack. He would always bring up his “Antenna Farm” He had vivid memories that he shared with us over the years. Dad retired as a Marine in 1964 He was a US Marine and I am proud of him. PO3 Keith Miller, USN-Ret.

  11. James Fowler says:

    I wasn’t a marine I was in the navy in Tsingtao in 1947 I enjoyed the time I was there I was with the last group that left Tsingtao when the com took over china I see there has been a lot of changes downtown but the old enlisted men’s club looks the same except for the paint job . would like to see Tsingtao again . would like to hear from any one that stationed at the naval barracks.

  12. Lesley S. "Jim" Hix says:

    My dad, Lesley Larue Hix was a Marine private in China between 1945-1949?! He married Margarita LLado in China. Trying to find a list showing his muster back to US, looking for date actually, my mother was on the same ship. Thx, Jim.

  13. Brian Kerry says:

    I was at boarding school in Chefoo at the outbreak of World War II. Together with all other enemy foreigners I was transported to Weihsien and interned there until our liberation by the USAF in August, 1945. We were eventually evacuated to Tsingtao where our school group were housed in the Edgewater Mansions Hotel. We were treated so kindly by the US Navy, who arranged children’s parties on their ships. After some weeks we were transported to Hong Kong on the USS Geneva, a troop ship. Thank you USAF and USN!
    Would be very good to hear from anyone who recalls these events.

  14. Michael O'Connell says:

    I was a Navy dependent in Tsingtao China but only about 3 years old. My father (Jerry O’Connell) was a corpsman. My mother always told me that we lived in Tsingtao for about 6 months but had to leave because of the Communists. I have in my hand right now a silver handmade cigarette case which reads, “COMPLIMENTS OF THE STAFF NCO CLUB, FMF WESTPAC, TSINGTAO, CHINA” To me this is a family treasure. Also, I inherited the family embossed leather with Chinese Dragon covered photo album of Marine and Navy personnel and places including our home interior and house boy. Oh, and RUPERT the family dog is in there too!

  15. Benjamin Varela says:

    I was on the USS Kermit Roosevelt in Tsingtao in 1948 and was the last ship to leave since we were a repair ship and had to be sure that all our people got out. I was a kid 16 years old. Have good memories of my chinese girl friend. Thanks for your photos, Ben.

  16. Joan Williamson Falin says:

    My father was in the marine third division at Tsingtao, stationed at Oahu, he was a mechanic for the 747 and also flew with Tyrone Power who was co-pilot. I am also researching and found this site amazing. I also have pictures that Tsingtao.

  17. Arthur Liu says:

    I was born in Tsingtao in 1936 or ’37 and lived through the War running away from the Japanese soldiers. My parents died when I was an infant. Eventually the Marines took me onto their base and in 1949, helped get me to the US. I would like to meet any Marines that may have been there. I am very grateful for their help, particularly Sgt. Art McCartney and Sgt. Vernon Caskey who are now deceased.

    • Fred Greguras says:

      Nice to hear from you. Are you the Doctor Liu I have read about that lives in Northern California? I live in Los Altos. I tried to send you a hard copy of the paper to an address I found on the internet. Are you familiar with the China Marines Association? I attended their annual reunion in Sept and met many Marines. I can connect you to see if that will locate the Marines you mentioned. I am a Marine from the Vietnam period who visits China regularly on business and became interested in the history of their presence in China. My July trip was my first to Qingdao. I would like to go back. Many buildings from the German and japanese periods still exist. My email is fgreguras@hotmail.com. Semper Fi, Fred.

  18. Glenn Gunnels says:

    My father was in Tsingtao in 1949 aboard a Naval destroyer assigned to pick up fleeing Chinese Nationalists. I have dozens of photographs he took that look very similar to yours.

  19. Meilynn Smith says:

    Hello Fred. My father was with the 6th division, coming from Okinawa to Tsingtao, to help help facility the surrender of the Japanese. Sadly Dad died many years ago. But what was exciting, is that he met my mom in Tsingtao. She was Swedish, with Swedish missionaries. Mom was inland in Kiaoshien at their home…when the war ended. There were no radios left, no way of knowing the war had ended…except that a US Navy pilot flew over their home, twice, and tipped his wings. Mom could even see his face, he flew so low. Mom is now 85….and would so love to meet this pilot or his family, to thank him for what it meant to them to have him fly over. They had been under Japanese occupation for 9 years…much of her youth. She was about 16 when the war ended. I have searched to try and find out what aircraft carrier must have been in tsingtao, or nearby…that this pilot flew off of. Can you be of any help? My dad was Bernard John Holmquist…Thanks! Meilynn.

    • Fred Greguras says:

      Meilynn, thanks for your comment. I don’t know which carrier it was but will do some research to try to find out. Semper Fi!

    • Ronald L. Hammond says:

      Meilynn the pilot could have been from the air base there, I was with a radar squadron in 1948 stationed there, and a few of the flying tigers were there also. We left when the ballous were getting to close.

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