20th February 1932

Letter : Herbert Davy ( Shanghai, China ) to Rustom K. Irani ( India )

c/- National City Bank of New York - 1a Kiukiang Road, Shanghai††††††† Cable : "Citibank"

Dear Rustom,

The last 20 days have been full of tension, Uni. strikes, rumours and alarms. The Japs started their attack in Shanghai on 28th Jan., bombarded Nanking on Feb. 1st, as they were aiming at a hill just behind my hotel, we had to evacuate to a house 6 miles away in the city. For 10 days we awaited a general bombardement, then riots, nothing happened probably because the whole Jap plans were held up by the staunch resistance of the 19th China army in Shanghai. On the 10th we advised to evacuate so I came to Shanghai on the 12th by boat.

I am waiting here for further orders from England and Geneva ( League of Nations ). Here we have very serious fighting, bombardements, aeroplanes and all the rest ; for the moment it is confined to the Eastern part of the settlement. I do not think it will pass by and leave it untouched.

I think it would be wiser to leave China now, but Geneva will not issue the order till the last moment ; then it may well be too late.

Refugees, thousands of unemployed, communists and the possibility of an anti-foreign outbreak all lie ahead. There are many troops in the place. Jap boats could very easily blockade the harbour. The war is likely to be very stubborn between the two oriental nations.

University work is over for some time, no students they fled when the bombardement started of 8 shells, no money, teachers have not been paid for 4 months. 3 or 4 months I should say. I offered my services for hospital work in Nanking not required. I came to Shanghai to offer my services to the Manchurian commission it seemed that they would need someone to write English for them, and the secretary general welcomed the idea. But now I see that Lord Lytton has brought over 2 unofficial English men with him ; so that has fallen through too.

When the order comes to evacuate what do you advise ?†† Go to India for duration, to New Hampshire ( Hancock ), or to England, if the order comes too late I could try and retire to an alive monastery ( Bhuddhist ) I am in touch now with a real practising Chinese Bhuddhist, through him I can get in touch with the few monasteries that are really active in Eastern China, near the Yangste. The language difficulty has to be faced.

Meanwhile, there is nothing to be done but to sit and wait in this none too pleasant town; I would like to travel but it seems unwise because of the expense and the Japs will soon begin to act very desperately, and it is better to be in reach of the sea and of the cables ( please note the above cable address for Shanghai ). As you suggested I have written some articles on the current situation and forwarded them to a friend of mine to dispose of if he can ( J.B.B. ); but the post takes so long and I do not know if they will be of any use. I am writing another now.


Your letters have not reached me of late so I have no instructions. I sent cables on the 13th Jan.

re G.C.; "( 29 re evacuating to Nasik for Baba and again on the 17 Feb. to Devon ; did you receive them.



Note : I hard to know if there were any more pages to this letter.There was only one page scanned and shown on the Trustís Archive webpage.

Re-typed by Anthony Zois