Timeline

1937

January – Pamela Werner’s mutilated body is found by Peking’s Fox Tower. A murder investigation begins immediately and a desperate manhunt across the city ensues

July – The Marco Polo Bridge (Lugouqiao) incident – Japanese troops provoke a firefight as a prelude for the invasion of Peking; the city is occupied by Japanese troops; the official Pamela Werner investigation ends

August – ‘Black Saturday’ in Shanghai; bombs fall on the International Settlement killing 1,740 people and injuring 1,873; the Japanese proceed to heavily bomb the Chinese-controlled districts of Shanghai causing death, mayhem and firestorms; thousands of Chinese refugees flood into the foreign concessions; what was once the most cosmopolitan city in Asia becomes a ‘solitary island’ surrounded by occupying Japanese forces.

September – A number of evacuation ships leave Shanghai carrying foreign nationals; Japanese forces advance swiftly up the Yangtze valley; the Chinese government, under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, relocates to Wuhan from Nanking; Japanese troops enter Nanking virtually unopposed and proceed to run riot – looting, killing and raping on a horrific scale for six weeks in what became quickly known as the ‘Rape of Nanking’

1938

February – The Chinese government relocates once again in the face of the Japanese advance, this time to the mountain city of Chungking at the head of the Yangtze; from here the defense of ‘Free China’ and resistance against Tokyo is coordinated

September – British Prime Minister Chamberlain appeases Hitler at Munich

1939

April – The assassination by four Chinese nationalists of the collaborationist manager of the Japanese-owned Federal Reserve Bank of North China sparks the ‘Tientsin Incident’. The British refuse to handover the accused men to a certain death without fair trial

June – A the Tientsin Incident escalates the Japanese Northern China Area Army blockades Tientsin’s foreign concessions over the British refusal to surrender the Chinese, who had taken refuge within the British concession.

August – The British capitulate and turn over the four Chinese fugitives to end the standoff; all were later executed

September – Great Britain declares war on Nazi Germany

1940

May – Nazis invade France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk begins

June – The Fall of Paris; Italy declares war on Britain

July – The Battle of the Atlantic begins as does the Battle of Britain in the skies over southern England

August – Hitler declares a blockade of the British Isles; first Blitz attacks on London

1941

December – The Japanese mount a devastating surprise attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii; 2,350 people are killed; Tokyo and Washington are at war; in solidarity Great Britain immediately declares war on Japan; Hong Kong falls to Japan on Christmas Day; the Japanese invade Burma; Manila is bombed; Japanese troops occupy the foreign concessions of Shanghai and Tientsin; across occupied China allied nationals are rounded up and interned in ‘Civilian Assembly Camps’

1942

January – The Malayan Campaign ends with Japan taking control of British Malaya

February – The Fall of Singapore to the Japanese; 80,000 British, Australian and Indian troops become POWs; Japanese bomb Darwin

March – The British evacuate Rangoon; the Dutch surrender in Java

April – US forces on Bataan surrender unconditionally to the Japanese; the Bataan Death March begins

May – The Japanese capture Burma and the Philippines

October – British launch an offensive in Burma

1943

January – Werner investigation documents received and officially noted at the Foreign Office in London

October – The Japanese execute 100 American POWs on Wake Island

1944

July – The Americans liberate Guam

October – The Battle of Leyte Gulf results in a decisive US Naval victory; Japan starts to use “kamikaze” pilots against American battleships

1945

January – The Allies reopen the Burma Road to China

March – Tokyo is firebombed

May – Germany surrenders; the Japanese begin to withdraw troops from China

July – The Liberation of Philippines declared; 1,000 bomber raids against Japan begin

August – Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Emperor Hirohito broadcasts the unconditional Japanese surrender to his people; B-29s drop supplies to Allied POWs in China; Shanghai, Peking and Tientsin all liberated; internment camps liberated; the British reoccupy Hong Kong; USSR declares war on Japan then invades Manchuria

September – Britain reoccupies Singapore; the Japanese in Korea and Korea surrender

1946

June – The Civil War between the Nationalists and the Communists resumes

1947

July – Wentworth Baldwin Prentice dies in Peking aged 57

1949

January – Communist forces occupy Peking

October – After nearly five years of bitter civil war Chiang Kai-shek and the remnants of his Nationalist army depart for the island of Taiwan to continue the Republic of China. In Peking Chairman Mao Tse-tung declares the creation of the People’s Republic of China. Chiang’s troops are exhausted after eight years of fighting the Japanese and another five fighting the Communists while Mao’s Red Army remains relatively fresh after having largely sat out the war. With the Communists in control Peking once again becomes China’s capital. However the ‘bamboo curtain’ rapidly descends, foreign individuals and firms are expelled and the highly repressive nature of the regime becomes rapidly apparent.

1954

ETC Werner dies in Ramsgate, Kent aged 89

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