Bombings of the Bund, August 1937

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Re: Bombings of the Bund, August 1937

Post by gebhk » 10 Dec 2019 14:04

I am a little confused. Are we talking about one of the events of August 14 1937 (also referred to as 'Black' or Bloody' Saturday) ? If so then the context is that of repeated Chinese aerial attacks on the Japanese Navy in the Huangpu river which was shelling the city, with the Third Fleet Flagship Izumo being the principal target. A number of the bombs that missed, hit the wharf areas with inevitable loss of life. The Japanese Navy, responded in kind, adding to the destruction. As they were located near the river, the foreign settlements were hit by four bombs with an estimated 700 civilian fatalities in total (the numbers are estimates, with another estimate of approx. 3000 civilian deaths and injuries due to accidentally dropped bombs that day). The majority of the 700 estimated fatalities were among Chinese refugees packed into and around the Great World Entertainment Centre where food was being distributed - the frontal area was hit by two bombs. Another estimate is of 2000 refugees and shoppers killed and injured by the double hit on the Centre.

I believe 4 Americans were killed that day but do not know the stats for other foreigners. One can speculate that European civilian casualties were greater than might otherwise have been the case because many if not most folk, used to the frequent outbreaks of violence, did not yet believe a full scale war was on and carried on business as usual. One of the fatal casualties, missionary Frank Rawlinson, opted for a family outing by car with his wife and daughter. He was killed by a bomb blast because he got out of his car (at his wife's urging!) to 'get a better look' at the goings on.

It is an inevitable and tragic consequence of urban fighting, that the civilian casualties will vastly outstrip military ones. I don't think that has changed since the days of spears, bows and arrows. With the growing concentration of humanity in urban areas and the increasing lethality of weaponry, this sad statistical gap has only grown. The theory that the bombing was deliberate I find somewhat far fetched - but then again I am inclined to Occam's razor.

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