battle of shanghai


Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle For The Sunken Treasure at Shanghai Disneyland, full attraction in HD.

This is what I have been waiting for - the use of giant screens a sticking point for me (see Ratatouille in Paris, or Iron Reef for negative examples), but this seems like there is no way to achieve the desired effect without them in the large scenes and if lighting done correctly and lower edges hidden by water, it could be very successful indeed in person. Count me impressed. The other uses are of course reminiscent of the Harry Potter attractions, minus the physical sets the filmed characters are in.

However, the real show-stopper effect for me may well be a call-back to a decades old Marc Davis gag that never got used in Florida: the transformation of a static skeleton figure into a flesh and blood pirate via lighting effects that would start the ride. This is par for the course from the movies as well naturally, but the staging of the effect of the skeleton in what is plainly an homage to the ‘shipwreck cove’ scene in Anaheim’s attraction settles it firmly in being a historic nod as well, and the moment when the bony corpse slumped over the wheel turns into Jack Sparrow with a crack of lightning is a thrilling one both techwise and on a story level, subverting expectations of what you are seeing based on the previous skeletal vignettes. The ‘pirate court’ scene with the skeletons also calls to mind Davis sketches, to me, though doubtless the clothes of the individual characters are straight from the films -

All in all, this attraction looks superlative for what it is and I hope the rest of elements to be revealed from Shanghai Disneyland’s Pirates Cove and the giant crocodile monster water ride match this in quality of design and detail.


The Eight Hundred Heroes

Late October, Shanghai, China, 1937. Almost four months since the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

To Be Sacrificed

The Battle of Shanghai had been going on since August that year. Despite their logistical problems, generally inferior training and lack of air support, the Republic of China held on to the city, much of which had already been reduced to rubble.

A decision to withdraw was made by Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek (蔣介石). He ordered the withdrawal of all Chinese troops in the area, with the exception of the 88th Division, which was to be left behind to buy the retreating forces more time, and to show the world that the Republic of China is not a nation that would surrender. “How many people we sacrifice would not make a difference; it would achieve the same purpose,” said Sun Yuanliang (孫元良), the Division Commander. A final decision was made: just one over-sized battalion from the 88th would be left behind, to defend one or two fortified positions in the city.

88th Division

Lieutenant Colonel Hsieh Chin-yuan (謝晉元) volunteered to lead the battalion. And so the 1st Battalion, 524th Regiment, 88th Division, led by the brave Lieutenant Colonel, went into battle with 423 men on 26 October 1937.

The 423 men were no ordinary Chinese soldiers. The 88th Division was one of the “German Equipment Divisions (德械師)” - Divisions fully armed with German-made weapons and equipment - and were trained by the Germans; they were some of the best troops the Republic of China had at that time. They went into battle with equipment few other Chinese units had - each soldier was given a G98 or K98 rifle, 300 rounds of ammunition for the rifle, an M1935 Stahlhelm, hand grenades and a gas mask. There were also 27 light machine guns, mostly Czech ZB vz. 26. The heaviest weapons the Battalion had were four Type 24 Maxim machine guns.

First Day of the Battle

On 27 October 1937, they made their way into the Sihang Warehouse (四行倉庫), a six-story concrete building, one of the tallest in the area. Previously the divisional headquarters of the 88th Division, it was stocked with much food, first aid equipment and ammunition. This was where the Chinese made their stand against the 3rd Division of the Imperial Japanese Army.

The Chinese quickly fortified the Sihang Warehouse. Some nearby buildings were flattened to create a killing field; makeshift defenses were made from sandbags, and sacks of pretty much anything they could find - corn, beans, anything. Some nearby fortifications were demolished to deny their use to the Japanese.

The first day of the defense went okay - the Japanese attack was repulsed, but the 3rd Company commander Shi Meihao (石美豪) was shot in the face, even though he continued to command his men until he was shot again in the leg. Two defenders were killed, and in exchange a reported number of 17 Japanese soldiers were killed. The Japanese set fire to the warehouse to no effect; the fire was put out.

“Defend to the Death!”

The second day of the defense was more eventful.

The defenders realized that the location of the warehouse probably saved them from being wiped out by naval artillery or air strikes; it was just across a river from foreign concessions, and the Japanese did not dare to call in naval artillery strikes, air strikes or mustard gas attacks for fear of hitting the foreign concessions.

That day in the morning, roughly 1000, while on the roof of the warehouse Lieutenant Colonel Hsieh noticed a group of Japanese soldiers on the move roughly 1,000 meters away - he picked up a rifle, fired a shot, and according to records he killed one of the Japanese men.

With water and electricity to the warehouse cut, the defenders were in great need of supplies - fortunately for them, not so for the Japanese, the Shanghai Chamber of Commerce received news that the Chinese hadn’t entirely given up on the city yet, and the news soon spread through radio. The citizens of Shanghai donated more than ten truckloads of supplies to the defenders.

Later that day, a girl scout, Yang Huimin (楊惠敏), delivered a flag of the Republic of China to the defenders. When Hsieh accepted the flag, Yang asked for their plans; “Defend to the death!” was Hsieh’s answer.

Yang asked for a list of the defending soldiers’ names, to announce to the entire country. The commander, unwilling to have their real strength known to the enemy, produced a fake name list with some 800 names. Hence the story of the “Eight Hundred Heroes (八百壯士)” spread.

“Long Live the Republic!”

In the early morning of 29 October, the residents of Shanghai woke up to see a 13-feet-wide flag of the Republic of China flying atop the Sihang Warehouse (see: first image of this post); the Japanese were furious, and sent aircraft to take down the flag - but they failed. The flag would keep standing, as the Chinese defenders fought on. Later that day, a private strapped grenades to himself and jumped off the building; he took some twenty Japanese soldiers with him. The Japanese were not the only one to use suicide bombing tactics.

The End of the Battle

The fighting continued for two more days. On 1 November 1937, the defenders, after an agreement was made with the British and the Japanese, retreated from the warehouse, having completed their mission of providing cover for the retreating Chinese troops. 10 defenders lost their lives; 27 more were too badly wounded to move, and they agreed to stay behind and man the machine guns to cover the remaining forces. 376 men, led by the commander Lieutenant Colonel Hsieh himself, moved across New Lese Bridge toward to the British concession.

The Japanese threatened to invade the foreign concessions if the soldiers were allowed to leave, and as a result the Chinese soldiers were placed under arrest by the British and their weapons seized. Following the Pearl Harbor attack later, the foreign concessions were occupied by the Japanese and the soldiers were captured. Some of them survived the whole war.

Sadly, the courageous Lieutenant Colonel Hsieh Chin-yuan did not live to see the end of war. On 24 April 1941, he was assassinated by Sergeant Hao Dingcheng (郝鼎誠) and three other soldiers who had been bribed by the collaborationist government. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of Major General; more than 100,000 citizens of Shanghai turned up for his funeral. Hsieh, together with the brave “Eight Hundred Heroes” of the 88th Division, will be remembered.