'Japan vs. Italy' - Did Mark Felton fabricate an entire battle?

Discussions on all aspects of the Japanese Empire, from the capture of Taiwan until the end of the Second World War.
UncleBourbon
Member
Posts: 82
Joined: 11 Oct 2019 09:00
Location: United States

'Japan vs. Italy' - Did Mark Felton fabricate an entire battle?

Post by UncleBourbon » 24 Oct 2023 09:35

I recently saw someone mention the 'Japanese banzai charges' upon Italian concessions in China after the Armistice in September 1943.
I had seen Mark Felton's video, 'Japan vs. Italy - The Forgotten Pacific War,' when it came out, and hadn't thought on it much until seeing that mention, which almost certainly got it's information from Felton's video. Given I've since learned of Felton's various controversies in the years since this upload, I determined to confirm whether the clash over the Beijing Radio Station described by Felton 8 minutes and 25 seconds into the video, the 'Banzai charge' in question, even occurred.
As is usually the case, Felton cites no sources for his video. However, he also wrote an article on the same subject for HistoryNet, yet still cited no sources for it,
https://www.historynet.com/command-ital ... vy-forces/

As such, I was left to my own devices, and started by searching for the commander mentioned, 'Baldassarre.' The only sources I could find in English mentioning the Beijing Radio Station battle are from blogs that similarly lack any sources,
https://www.oocities.org/dutcheastindies/shanghai.html
http://www.icsm.it/regiamarina/orienteng.htm
http://www.avalanchepress.com/Italy_marines.php

I thus moved to looking for English language sources on the overall subject of Italy in the Pacific Theater. One of few being 'Italy and the Pacific War' by Enrico Cernuschi and Vincent P. O'Hara, featured in World War II Quarterly 3(1), August 2007, which states on page 18 that the 'little garrison' at Peking surrendered 'without shooting.' In personal email correspondence, Mr. Cernuschi confirmed to me that no fighting occurred between the San Marco Marines and the Japanese.

Onto Italian sources. I don't speak Italian, so I was assisted by Italian speakers and OCR/MTL in this regard.
An Italian speaker helped me find an Italian blog that also made the claim of resistance at the Beijing Radio Station,
https://www.storiologia.it/universale/cina/cina60.htm
This one actually cites sources, however given that the majority of the post regards the Boxer Rebellion, a majority of the citations regard the Boxer Rebellion. Of the few that seem to be certainly related to the Armistice in 1943 is 'La Marina dall’8 settembre 1943 alla fine del conflitto,' which I found online here,
https://issuu.com/rivista.militare1/doc ... del_confli
Using the Indece to find the ship Eritrea, which I know was serving in the Pacific, I found Chapter 3 largely regards Asia. I ran Chapter 3 (pp.87-107) through an OCR and MTL, and found no mention of the Beijing Radio Station battle.
Back to English sources for a moment, in Bernard Wasserstein's 'Secret War in Shanghai: Treachery, Subversion and Collaboration in the Second World War,' I found mention of a Lieutenant-Commander Bordandini Baldassarri, who was a pro-fascist collaborator. This almost certainly being the commander mentioned in Felton's video, and now having a given name to go off of in searching, I found him mentioned in the Italian book 'Lealtà e Compromissione: La Discriminazione nei Fondi Archivistici della Marina Militare - Storia, Archivi e Biografie,' available at these two locations,
https://issuu.com/rivista.militare1/doc ... rina-testo
https://www.difesa.it/Area_Storica_HTML ... marina.pdf
Chapter 3 (pp.23-36) covers the fate of Italian garrisons in Asia, and page 105 offers a brief biography of Lieutenant-Commander Luigi Bordandini Baldassarri. Having run both through OCR and MTL, Lieutenant-Commander Baldassarri was in charge of a barracks on Robinson Road in Shanghai, whereas it was Giovanni Maraschin who was in charge of the Beijing Radio Station. Moreover, no mention is made of resistance either by Baldassarri or Maraschin; Baldassarri was in fact a fascist collaborator and convicted as such, and Maraschin's biography on pp.105-106 states the extent of his resistance to the Japanese was destroying ciphered documents before surrendering.

Given my research above, I'm highly doubtful that Mark Felton's claims of a battle between Italians and Japanese over the Beijing Radio Station occurred. I would absolutely appreciate opinions regarding this, given it's controversy. Any and all input on the subject would be of great help confirming the facts.
Also, I was unsure whether to post this in this forum, or the 'Italy under Fascism 1922-1945' forum, since it frankly applies to both. Given it's setting in Asia, I opted for here, and hope that's acceptable.

Return to “Japan at War 1895-1945”