Moored in the River at Shanghai

by The Boatswain | February 11th, 2006

The Alshain was a good ship, with a good crew and most of our time was spent taking stores to Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines. Our longest runs, however, were to the remnants of Nationalist China, with supplies for their Army. Our usual ports there were Shanghai and Tsingtao and, occasionally, Beijing.


When we were there, ALL ship’s work (except for operating the booms) was done by Coolies, as this was their life! We were stunned to see them working around the clock, in freezing weather, wearing shorts and T-shirts and usually barefoot too! When I inquired about it, I was told that eating lots of garlic was what kept them warm!

We usually anchored out in the river, but sometimes we got pier space when no civilian ships were in. In the stream, we handled the cargo into lighters and they worked as quickly as at a pier! After we were empty, we usually had a period of a few hours or maybe a day, waiting for a pilot to take us out. Since the ship was all closed up, we often allowed vendors of all kinds to come aboard and try their luck at selling to us!


The war wasn’t going too good for the Nationalists and on our last trip to Shanghai we could hear the sound of distant cannons. Our orders were changed and we were told NOT to unload there, but instead, turn around and go to FORMOSA (now called Taiwan) and unload there. It was winter and bitter cold everywhere. We went to Taipei, an important city on the island, and off loaded.

This was to be my last deployment on the ship, as I had put in for shore duty and finally had orders. I was instructed to take a leave and report to the Severin River Command, which was attached to the Naval Academy. I was to serve as a skipper of a “Yippy Boat”, so called because of it’s designation as a Yard Patrol boat.

Ellen had flown home to Massachusetts with Bobby and, as my car was in storage in the Frisco area, I would load it up and drive it east.

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The United States Navy rating of Boatswain's Mate is a designation given to enlisted members who are rated as a deck seaman. The colloquial form of address for a boatswain's mate is 'Boats'.



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