- Murmin, Midshipman C.E. NSW Naval Brigade
- 19th century wars
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1976 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Left camp at 7.15 a.m., marched along the Pekin road to Tung-Chao, the distance being 15 miles. We passed through several villages on the way and saw some Russians and Japanese. We arrived at Tung-Chao and found British, American and Japanese camped there. The British were Welsh Fusiliers and Sikhs. The junks did not arrive till next morning so we slept ashore.
Friday 19th October 1900.
The Commander told off 60 men and 3 officers to go to the Llama Temple at Pekin, and 50 men and 3 officers including myself to go to the British Legation, the rest to go to the Tartar City. The junks arrived at 7.30 a.m. and we unloaded them and loaded up our carts which amounted to 58 and there were also 40 mules which we loaded next day.
We turned out at 4.30 a.m. after having spent an uncomfortable night on account of a gale springing up in the night at 1 o’clock and blowing our tent open and as it came on to rain it was very cold. We had some breakfast and left Tung-Chao at 7.30 a.m., it still being very cold and wet. On the march we passed several convoys from Pekin, there being one Italian, two French, one American, one German and one Russian; one man of the Italian soldiers had dropped behind his convoy and 10 coolies had set upon him and taken his arms from him, he was in a terrible way when we met him and was frightened of his life. We had seven Sikhs in front to lead the way and after going about a mile we came across some of the coolies and the Sikhs went for them and after an exciting chase amongst the corn which was about 14 feet high, they caught two and came along at a canter, dragging the coolies by their pigtails; they handed them over to us and we put them both in the Maxim Gun’s crews, of which we had two, and made them do their share of pulling.
After a very cold and dreary march of 15 miles we entered Pekin at 2.30 p.m. and marched to the British Legation, headed by two Sikh bands which picked us up about a mile back, and halted there. The rest of the Brigade marched off then to their Headquarters at the Tartar City and Llama Temple, our party dismissing, after which the Welsh Fusiliers gave them a jolly good dinner. The officers of our party (Lieutenant Roberts, Sub-Lieutenant Gillam and myself) were invited to lunch with the Welsh Fusiliers which we did and then went to our quarters which were very fine, each of us having a large bedroom and reading room. Sir Ernest Satow who is to relieve Sir Claude Macdonald as British Ambassador passed us while we were halted for lunch at 1 p.m. We dined with the Royal Artillery at 8 p.m. and enjoyed ourselves very much, being treated very well.
We accepted the kind invitation of the officers of the Royal Artillery to mess with them for the day as they were leaving next day at 9 a.m. The Welsh Fusiliers fell in at 8.50 a.m. and marched off for Tientsin at 9 a.m., we gave them three cheers and they returned it. Rode off to the Tartar City, which is 2 miles from our quarters, to leave some papers and arrange some matters with the Commander, and returned at 11 a.m. to the Legation. I saw the Carriages and Sedan Chairs that the Emperor and Empress used and they were very gaudy being covered in gold, but all the silk hangings had been torn off. I spent the rest of the day in drawing the men’s rations, and went to bed at midnight.
I went through some drill with a guns crew with two 12-pdr QF guns that were used by the Naval Brigade at Ladysmith and then brought up and used here. Lieutenant Roberts, Gillam and myself dined with General Barrow at 8 p.m. and he told us a lot about an interview he had with Li Hung Chang this afternoon.
Gillam and myself had a look at some Chinese houses which we were to move to in about 10 days, they were Chinese built and are very small but the Royal Engineers are doing them up as well as possible.
Was ordered out at 6.30 to take charge of a foraging party consisting of about 80 packmules and forty mule-carts and I had a guard of 20 of the 21st Baluchistans who were armed with rifles, etc. We left the Brigade outside the Legation at 8.30 and the string of mules and carts was nearly 500 yards long.
We went about 2 miles outside Pekin and I then split the party into three and sent them in different directions telling them as best I could (they were all Indians and could not speak English) to meet at the place, they left each other, when they were loaded up. Lupthen took two Sikhs with me and they charged their magazines and I went through five Chinese houses to see everything was all right and I picked up a few curios. It took about an hour for the coolies to load and when they were all together again we started back and reached the Legation at 1.30.
In the afternoon I went for a walk down the Chinese part of the city. Gillam and I with 3 men and 2 carts went out to the Emperor’s boatshed and found two large junks in one basin; I went onboard one and had a look around her, there being nothing in her except a little furniture. In the next basin there was a steam launch of the very latest pattern with paddle wheels and a very modern set of engines. I went in the cabin and found it very beautifully finished and the furniture was very nice. There were four pulling boats near here and I got two flags out of them. Lieut Roberts, Sub Gillam and myself dined with General Gaselee at 7.30.