“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Bad Americans in 1946 Shanghai

Posted: June 9th, 2016 | 2 Comments »

With the large number of American soldiers, seamen and airmen in Shanghai in 1946 there was bound to be a bit of trouble. The old foreign concessions were gone – get in trouble now and you faced the Chinese cops and not the old Shanghai Municipal Police. 22-year-old Merchant Marine sailor Edward P. Werda from Alpena, Michigan was awarded the dubious honour of being the first Yank to be tried before a Chinese court after the abolition of extraterritoriality. He got two and a half years for manslaughter (or assault causing death – the maximum sentence the court could award was apparently five years) after knifing fellow American sailor, Steward’s Mate A.S. Spruce, during a barroom brawl (outside a brothel reported the locally connected China Weekly Review). Arrested by the US NAvy Shore Patrol, as a Merchant Marine sailor (aboard the David A. Curry out of San Francisco) he faced the Chinese courts and not a United States Court Martial. In court Werda claimed self defence, though Spruce had been stabbed in the back. Six other crew members of the David A. Curry appeared in court and the ship was delayed leaving harbour.

He went to the old Ward Road Gaol where they now served only Chinese food and he wasn’t allowed to smoke (not sure this is entirely accurate?). Werda claimed his trial was entirely in Chinese, he only met his lawyer (a Chinese defence attorney) 20 minutes before the trial, that the attorney told him to expect a seven year sentence (when the max was five indicating the attorney was useless) and he was not provided with an interpreter – so he appealed to the Shanghai High Court. In the meantime, he went to jail (of which more tomorrow)….



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2 Comments on “Bad Americans in 1946 Shanghai”

  1. 1 gail said at 9:59 am on November 15th, 2018:

    can anyone provide me more articles or pictures the was my uncle. And we are searching his case.

  2. 2 Paul French said at 8:22 pm on December 11th, 2018:

    well there’s this follow up – http://www.chinarhyming.com/2016/06/10/lock-down-in-1946-shanghai/

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