Wei Hai Wei

Weihai Road, Rushan, Weihai, Shandong, China
Posted on September 20, 2022 / 7
Listing Type : Naval Port or Anchorage
Location : China (PRC)

Wei-Hai-Wei is located the north-east coast of China in Shan-tung (Shandong).  The principal military presence in this area was on the Island of Liu-Kung Tao (Liugong, 劉公島).  In 1883 a small naval base was established on the Island by the Chinese employing European experts.  A machine repair ship was added in 1885 and the following year a gunnery school was established with the assistance of Lieutenant H.E. Bourchier of the British Royal Navy. In 1890 an Imperial Naval College, based loosely on Royal Naval College at Greenwich, was added to the facilities on Liu-Kung Tao Island. Coastal defence batteries were also built, and a torpedo boat station added.  In 1894 war broke out with Japan and after the fall of Port Arthur, the Chinese based the remnants of their fleet (twenty-six vessels including two battleships) at the Island. The Japanese moved on to capture Liu-Kung Tao and parts of the mainland which they occupied until June 1898. On the 27th March, 1898 the British leased Wei Hai Wei from the Chinese Government.

The initial British intention was to establish a major naval base on the Island of Liu-Kung Tao, and on the 11th of September 1898 a report was submitted by a Colonel J.F. Lewis of the Royal Engineers outlining the proposed defences for the island.  This report envisaged a garrison of one British Battalion, 200 Royal Artillery and a Section of Royal Engineers.  The sea defences included a total of six coastal defence batteries, two heavy (9.2-inch), and four medium (6-inch, Quick Fire).  There was also provision for eight 12-pdr Q.F. guns.  Paper estimates showed that the cost of a garrison of British troops would be more than £176,000 per year, while locally (Chinese) enlisted troops would be under £80.000.  The cost of accommodation and coastal defence works would be in excess of half a million Pounds. By the 16th December 1898 the Colonial Defence Committee commented stating that Admiralty should bear the cost of the defences, and they recommended only about 200 Chinese should be employed to guard the establishment. (TNA CAB 11/59).

The cost was considered prohibitive, and the changing geopolitical situation resulted in Island of Liu-Kung Tao losing its’ appeal as a naval station. By the end of 1898 the plans had been considerably paired back, and it was decided to garrison the Island with a Chinese regiment.  The Chinese Regiment of one Battalion was based on the Island until disbanded in 1906.  By that time the Island had lost all military significance to the British.  It is believe only one battery may been been built, but never completed.  This is Bluff Battery, a 6-inch QF Battery on the north west of the Island (TNA WO 78/435).

The old cigarette card image on the left shows a soldier of the 1st Chinese Regiment of Infantry or Wei Hai Wei Regiment.  This Regiment was raised in Wei Hai Wei in 1899 but recruiting stopped after 1900.  The Regiment was disbanded in June 1906.

Soldier of Wei Hai Wei Regiment

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