Summary of the locations of Camp One
Camp One began April 1, 1943 and operated in Anhwei (now Anhui) Province. Their first location was Chung Chuen (Heroe’s Village), 5 miles south of Hweichow (now Shexian or Huicheng) [lat. 29-52, long. 118-26]. It was almost 125 miles west of Hangchow (now Hangzhou) and 200 miles from Shanghai.
Special criteria for site selection of the camps were:
(1) close enough that those being trained could walk to enemy engagements, such as ambushing, sabotaging, or mine laying
(2) far enough from the Japanese that the guerrillas were reasonably free from attack
(3) the Chinese official in charge of the area must trust the SACO men, or at least not be afraid the presence of the camp would upset unduly his own operating conditions
The initial six Americans in the unit were Major John H. “Bud” Masters, commander; Way Holland, marine sergeant; Willie Flurnoy, aerographer; John Hundredmark, photographer; Robert D. Ryan, Marine sergeant; and Robert L. “Buck” Dormer, chief radioman. These men named themselves, perhaps because of the temple and pagoda they first called home, “Masters’ Mad Monks”.
The first major project was establishing radio contact and constructing a direction finder; this used the rotating Adcock principle which they called a “compromise type” because the lack of material required numerous compromises. During the first winter a rhombic antenna was constructed in a nearby corn field. Gasoline for the radio’s generator was available on the black-market but it had to be strained. Since chamois was unavailable, the men found that Viyelli socks, available from India, were an effective substitute.
The camp was built in six months. During this period the men lived in the village library, ate at the inn, and became good friends with the local inhabitants. The facilities included numerous newly constructed “farmhouses” along the bank of the river and abundant new plantings of trees and gardens.
General Tai’s spies regularly went to Shanghai and took requests for almost anything – tires, gasoline, daily papers, watch repairs, and black umbrellas (for radio antennas). Local Chinese flour sacks were especially useful for use in transporting a new flour-like explosive which was edible in small quantities – to prove its harmlessness – but even after being baked into cakes it could be detonated. The men called this explosive “Aunt Jemima.” It took two months round-trip to ask for and then receive back items from Shanghai. To cut the delay SACO exported flour sacks to the United States where they were precisely reproduced and exported for China-wide operations.
To fill their free time the Americans played basketball against local Chinese teams, learned Chinese, and went hunting. The frequency of mail was always a problem. Captain Miles often wrote letters to the families of his men, especially when the men had little opportunity to send mail.
On one occasion, however, Bud Masters let out an “Ouch” by radio when he finally had mail from Polly, his wife, who was sputtering at a note from me that I had ended with “Thanks for lending me your husband.” That would no doubt have been all right except for the fact that I thoughtlessly signed it “Mary.” (Miles, 1967, p 155)
At Camp One, members of Gen. Tai’s L.P.A. – Loyal Patriotic Army – were trained in the use of the .45 revolver and Springfield rifle (the only weapons available at that time). Later instruction included the use of the carbine, Thompson machine gun, and .38 pistol. Course work included scouting, patrolling, and military intelligence with emphasis on aircraft and ship identification. The first class of about 320 men completed their three-month training program on October 2, 1943. The second class, the same size, began November 15.
In September, 1943, the Chinese learned that the Japanese were reinforcing their garrisons and looked like they were planning an offensive inland. A series of guerrilla strikes by 93 members of the first class of Camp One were waged against the expected push. One action not only destroyed a train but killed the puppet governor and chief of the Secret Service of Kiangsu (now Jiangsu) Province. Other saboteurs destroyed nine planes in Shanghai, burned an enemy garrison and raided a town gate. Numerous Japanese were killed and many captured.
This action delayed but did not stop the offensive. On October 3, 1943, as a safety precaution, Camp One was moved 80 miles north of Hweichow to Shunan (now Shun’an) [lat. 30-57, long. 117-57], Anhwei Province. The group returned to Chung Chuen in November. This was the only time the camp had to be evacuated.
Unit One instructed 6,026 of 15,291 members of the L.P.A. and supplied them with weapons. In mid 1945 the 11th class, 750 students, was in progress. There were more students trained at Camp One than any other.
A primary objective of SACO was for the Americans and the Chinese troops to participate in joint operations. There was reluctance on the part of the Chinese for this type of activity. General Ho Yuen-ting, commander of Column 4, was the first to include Americans (from Unit Two) in combat; this cooperation began in May, 1944. On June, 22, 1944, members of Unit One were invited to take part in operations with the L.P.A.; Gen. Ma Tse-chow was in command.
The headquarters of the L.P.A. were at Ho Chiao (now Heqiao) [lat. 30-07, long. 119-14] Chekiang Province – 60 miles southeast of Camp One at Shunan and only 35 miles west of Hangchow (now Hangzhou). A primary target was the Huachow-Kinhwa (now Wuxing-Jinhua) Railroad that headed south from Shanghai. In November Lt. Carl F. “Peanut” Hull and a handful of Americans accompanied 131 L.P.A. guerrillas to Anhwa (now Anhua) 65 miles southeast of Ho Chiao with plans of attacking the railroad. They carried 40 pounds of explosive and a new device that counted cars before firing; it was a “Purnell Persuader,” named after ADM Purnell who had requested its development. This detonator could be set to ignore the empty cars that preceded the valuable one, such as engine or box car of munitions. What the group lacked was information about times and types of traffic.
“I will tell you when the next train is coming,” the mayor of the village told them, "and will be killed tomorrow for doing so. But after I am dead the next mayor will also help in any way he can.” (Miles, 1967, p 348)
This degree of determination by the people was encountered on a regular basis; entire villages would help the guerrillas despite knowing that the Japanese would retaliate and destroy everyone. At 10:30 pm, November 26 the group derailed and damaged one locomotive and two rail cars and killed 8 Japanese and wounded 20.
COMBAT RESULTS OF CAMP ONE AND THE LPA
Miles, M. E., 1967, A Different Kind of War, Doubleday & Co, Garden City, NY. 629 p.
Provided courtesy of Charles H. Miles on November 20, 2010