7 September 1945
SUBJECT: Chronological Report on Duck Mission.
TO : Mr. Roland Dulin, Chief MO/OSS, China Theatre.
1. On August 17 the Duck Team proceeded by air to Weihsien, China and after reconnaissance from, their plane located the Civilian Assembly Camp and jumped to begin their mission.
2. They were greeted by the civilian internees who rushed out past the Japanese guards to welcome the parachuting men. Major Staiger immediately made contact with the governing authorities in the camp - the Committee of Nine administrating the local affairs of the internees and the Japanese Consular and Police authorities representing the Japanese Government.
3. At the conferences with these authorities Major Staiger arranged for the Duck team to take over control of the Civilian Assembly Camp on behalf of the Theatre Commander. Internal affairs were to be jointly controlled by Major Staiger's group and the Camp's Committee of Nine. The Japanese were to remain responsible for guarding the camp walls and for provisioning and supplying the camp.
4. From 17 August to 30 August Major Staiger and the Duck team consolidated their position in the camp and fulfilled other objectives of their mission - such as opening up the airfield for relief planes, caring for health and morale conditions in the camp and negotiating with the Japanese Authorities. On 30 August, Lt. Col. H. Weinberg arrived from the Theater with a processing team to take over command of the Civilian Assembly Camp, thus ending the first phase of the Duck team's
5. In subsequent paragraphs there follows a more detailed account of the Duck team's achievements from 17 August to 30 August.
The Duck team in a B-24 arrived over the target of Weihsien at approximately 0930 hours. Owing to the very scanty photographic and other information with which they had been provided, they could not immediately locate the Civilian Assembly Camp where the 1500 Allied civilians were interned. A sweep was made over the area at approximately 2000 feet and, as no fire was drawn, subsequent flights were made around the area at lower altitudes. Major Staiger, commanding the Duck team, knew only that the internees were held in a compound some way outside of Weihsien, but from the air several locations would have answered to this description. Finally when the B-24 was down to around 500 feet, a compound was located in which hundreds of people were collected, waving up at the plane. It could therefore be presumed that this was the objective sought.
In the course of the circling an air-strip had been noted below located not far from the internment camp. A conference now took place between Major Staiger and the pilot of the plane as to whether a landing should be attempted. Major Staiger finally decided against this course owing to the danger that the field might be mined. Also as the reception of the mission by the Japanese was far from sure, Major Staiger decided to go through with the original plan of jumping. Thus, if the worst came to the worst, the loss in men and equipment would be minimized. Accordingly the B-24 dropped down to about 450 feet and the Duck team bailed out.
The names of the men composing the Duck team and their functions in the mission are given below in the order in which they jumped from the plane:
1. Major Stanley A. Staiger, team leader.
2. Sgt. Tadash T. Nagaki, Japanese interpreter.
3. Ensign James W. Moore USNR, S.I.
4. T/5 Peter C. Orlich, radio operator.
5. Eddie Wang, Chinese interpreter from F.A.B.
6. Lst Lt. James J. Hannon, AGAS.
7. T/4 Raymond N. Hanchulak, medic.
The men left the plane in good order. There was little opening shock, but a stiff ground wind and the low altitude of the jump made the landing difficult. There was no open or plowed ground near the objective so most of the men came down in high growing corn fields. Lt. Hannon, whose parachute was swinging, sustained a shoulder injury on landing which caused him considerable discomfort. Nevertheless in subsequent weeks he continued to perform his duties efficiently despite bandaging.
The plan had been that major Staiger alone of the team should leave his parachute unfurled as a check point for subsequent drops the airplane was to make. However, by the time the men had recovered from their landings and had begun to roll up their chutes, the crowds of internees from the camp had rushed out to greet them. In the general rejoicing and confusion that followed there was the ever present danger that containers dropped from the plane would injure the people below. Fortunately this happened in only one case. A small Chinese boy (a local spectator, not a member of the camp) sustained a skull fracture from a falling container. He is now recovering satisfactorily in the Camp hospital. Otherwise the drops of supplies and equipment were effected without incident and the members of the internment camp assisted team members in collecting the containers and carrying them to the camp.
From the confused and often hysterical account of the internees, Major Staiger was able to form a picture of what had taken place when the B-24 began circling the internment compound. The people within had gone wild with joy, and when they saw the team parachuting, had burst out past the Japanese guards at the gate - the first time they had been outside the compound walls during two and a half years of captivity.
Major Staiger credits this spontaneous action on the part of the civilian internees with easing to a considerable extent his subsequent negotiations with the Japanese. This defiance of the guards apparently threw the authorities into such an uncertain state that all idea of resisting the Duck team by force seemed to disappear. It was possible subsequently for Major Staiger to take a firm line with the camp commandant who had lost face to such an extent that he had no alternative but to accept the terms dictated to him.
Major Staiger's immediate concern after landing however was to determine who the governing bodies were at the camp. He was soon informed that Committee of Nine, composed of delegates from the interned population, administered the internal affairs of the camp, while Japanese control was represented by the dual authority of the Consular service and the Consular police. (For a full discussion of this control see Appendix 1). It happened that at the time the B-24 was circling the camp a meeting was under way between the Committee of Nine and the Japanese controlling authorities. Major Staiger asked to be taken directly to this meeting. As his party approached the walls of the compound the camp band had organized and was playing "Happy Days are Here Again”.
On the way to, the meeting with the authorities Major Staiger had met several members of the Committee of Nine who had streamed out with the other members of the camp to greet him. Thus the first informal conference took place as the party walked to the interview with the Japanese authorities. Major Staiger asked the committee members for their recommendations in the situation. He explained that the purpose of his mission was humanitarian. Its objective was to contact the Japanese authorities and to take care of the health and welfare of the internees until more substantial aid could be forthcoming. He explained further first with only 7 men in his team the task of completely taking over all responsibilities for the camp was out of the question. In this situation it was decided between Major Staiger and the committee members that the Japanese should be asked to retain responsibility for provisioning the camp and guarding it against external forces while Major Staiger's group and the Committee of Nine would be charged with joint responsibility for administrating all internal affairs. At the Japanese headquarters building Major Staiger met the Chief of Consular Police, Koyanagi. Major Staiger showed Koyanagi his letter of authorization from General Wedemeyer for the Duck mission and was then taken to see Mr. Izu of the Japanese Consular Service, Commandant of the camp. A conference was immediately held between Major Staiger and his officers, the Committee of Nine from the camp, and Mr. Izu and Koyanagi and their staffs.
At this meeting Major Staiger put forward the proposals already decided upon between himself and the Committee of Nine - namely, that the Japanese authorities be responsible for guarding and provisioning the camp, while the Duck team and the Committee of Nine be responsible for administrating its internal affairs. The Japanese authorities appeared confused by the situation and felt themselves unable to make a binding decision but agreed to accept the arrangement temporarily. Major Staiger then stated that he and his men proposed to take up residence at the camp and asked that suitable quarters be provided. As the only suitable quarters were those that the Japanese authorities were occupying, they agreed to move out. At Major Staiger's insistence, they moved out during the dinner hour, and by the afternoon OSS headquarters had been established.
During the conference Mr. IZU, the consular commandant had obviously pried around to find out what courses of action were open to him. He had inquired repeatedly what would have happened if the Duck mission had failed. Major Staiger had informed him that in that case a second and larger expedition would have been sent which certainly would not have failed. Mr. Izu appeared convinced that the Americans were there to stay and subsequent conferences with the Japanese authorities, though often dilatory, were never openly hostile.
During the afternoon of August 17, Lt. Hannon and Ensign Moore went out to the airfield to examine its safety for subsequent plane, landings. Sgt. Hanchulak examined the camp for a. report on the medical conditions. Corporal Orlich set up his radio equipment to be ready for his first scheduled contact in the evening. Major Staiger held conferences with the camp committee on the various problems brought about by the new situation.
During the early afternoon a visit was made by Mr. Koga, vice-Consul at Tsingtao, who happened to be in Weihsien at the time the Duck team landed. Mr. Koga had higher authority than either the Commandant of the Camp or the camp Chief-of-Police, so the whole purpose of the Duck mission had to be explained again and the agreement reached that morning was renegotiated. Mr. Koga wished Major Staiger to take over full control of the camp, allowing the Japanese to withdraw altogether, but Major Staiger insisted on the original agreement standing.
Major Staiger made a general inspection of the camp. It was decided that 12 patients in the hospital were in such a condition mentally or physically that their immediate transference to Hsian was advisable. It was decided to send them back on the B-24 that was expected to land at the airfield the same day. However, when the B-24 arrived over the airfield the actions of the 200 Japanese guards surrounding the field were so suspicious, (they had taken up combat positions surrounding the strip) that panels were put out warning the plane not to land. The plane flew back to Hsian and the patients intended for evacuation were taken back to the hospital.
Major Staiger called a conference with the Japanese authorities to ask for an explanation of the happenings at the airfield. Izu, the Consular Commandant, stated that the airfield was the concern of the Japanese Army and that he couldn't be responsible for the Army's activities. Major Staiger then requested that a message be sent from him to the Japanese Army authorities, through the proper channels. His message was that he could have no respect for an army organization that could not enforce orders. This apparently touched the local commander's pride as he sent word that the incident at the airfield would not be repeated and that American planes could land freely in the future.
For the first time the Japanese army entered the picture. Lt. Col. Jimbo and his staff came to call on the Duck mission. That their authority was on a different plane altogether from the Consular authority was attested to by the fact that both Mr. Koga and Mr. Izu were asked by Col. Jimbo to withdraw when be settled down to a conference with Major Staiger.
Col. Jimbo was pained that the U.S. Government had not notified the Japanese Government of the intended descent on the Civilian Assembly Camp at Weihsien. He asked that Major Staiger now request General Wedemeyer to inform the Japanese Government that the Duck mission was at Weihsien. The protocol having been thus disposed of, the conference was able to get down to business. Major Staiger informed Col. Jimbo that it was necessary the proper execution of his mission that traffic of American planes at the air-strip be not interfered with. Col. Jimbo agreed that in future American planes would be given full permission to land.
Major Staiger received word that the Eagle Mission had arrived in Weihsien the previous day and was staying in town under the protection of General Li Wen Li. Major Staiger established contact with Col. Byrd and the Eagle Mission (a party of 20) came out to the Civilian Assembly Camp. They subsequently spent the day inspecting the work that had been done and taking photographs of the internees.
In the afternoon a B-24 appeared over the camp and dropped OWI leaflets giving instructions to the internees on how to conduct themselves when the war ended. (See Appendix 2) Later still another B-24 appeared and dropped more leaflets, telling the people of the camp not to loose heart as a humanitarian mission was on the way to attend to their needs.
The C-47 that had originally brought the Eagle Mission to Weihsien left for Chungking with Col. Byrd aboard. Other members or the mission remained behind in Weihsien temporarily.
22 - 26 AUGUST
Snarls were straightened out in the administration of the camp. The first joy of the internees had evaporated somewhat by this time and most of them were eager to know when their evacuation for home would start. On this subject Major Staiger had no information, but the rumors that were flying about the camp provided difficult morale problems.
Conference with the Japanese continued. Particularly hard to solve was the transportation situation. The Japanese have only 4 charcoal burning trucks in this area and two are always out of commission. There are also a couple of old model sedans in town. Negotiations were under way to obtain one, the Americans providing the fuel to run it.
At 0730 hours an unannounced B-29 arrived (from Okinawa) and dropped leaflets announcing that in an hour more B-29s would arrive to drop supplies (see Appendix 3).
An hour later a B-17 arrived overhead and effected a landing on the short run-way of the airfield. It was full of reporters and photographers from the 20th Bomber Group who wanted to come to the Civilian Assembly Centre for photographs and news-stories. Major Staiger did not permit them to come in, however, as “visiting firemen" were raising problems between himself and the Japanese and disquieting the Camp population. When later a group of 10 B-29s appeared overhead, the B-17 took off to photograph the drop mission that was about to take place.
The ten B-29s dropped huge quantities of supplies (for full listing see Appendix 3) Unfortunately much of it was poorly packed in gasoline drums too heavy for their parachutes end a loss of about 25% was sustained. Major Staiger sent a message to Hsian requesting that the 20th Bomber Group be asked to send down lighter drops in the future. Actually while the B-29s were dropping a B-24 came in from Hsian and made a perfect demonstration of how a dropping operation should be effected. Many of its containers were dropped squarely on the marking panel. The civilian internees and members of the Duck mission spent the rest of the day carrying in the dropped supplies and sorting them out for issue.
Two C-47 which had arrived the day before left for Hsian. One evacuated the 12 invalids from the Civilian Assembly Centre hospital. The other transported the members of the Eagle Mission who had been left behind when Col. Byrd departed for Chungking. One member of the Eagle Mission, however, stayed behind to become attached to the Duck mission. This was Tech. Rep. Willis S. Georgia, a communications man.
At 0700 hours an SOS team of 7 officers and 12 enlisted men headed by Lt. Col. H. Weinberg, arrived at the Civilian Assembly Camp to take over administrative control on orders from the Theater.
Thus the first phase of the Duck Mission ended.
William G. Norwood
2nd Lt. AUS
JAPANESE ADMINISTRATION AT CIVILIAN ASSEMBLY CAMP WEIHSIEN
Because this was a civilian internment camp it was under the control of the Tsingtao Japanese Consulate. Administration was carried out by the consular service. Executive control was an the hands of the Consular Police.
Thus there were at the Camp two Japanese authorities - the Consular administrators and the Police executives. Commandant of the camp at the time of the Duck mission's, arrival was Mr. Izu of the Consular Service. Head of the policing and executive authority was chief of Police Koyanagi.