Shanghai Volunteer Corps



The Shanghai Volunteer Corps was formed to protect the foreign settlements from the wars and disorder which swirled around Shanghai almost from its earliest days.

"In 1870 the control of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps was handed over to the Council 'who shall, through their Chairman, decide upon all questions of organization, and shall generally control the actions of the Corps.'" - F.L. Hawks Potts

By the 1930s, the Volunteers were a truly international force, with American, English, Scottish, Chinese, Italian, Jewish, Portuguese, Filipino and White Russian units. When the Japanese landed their troops in Shanghai in 1932, the unit had 1,525 men, with the ranks growing to 2,300 at the height of the crisis. The Volunteers guarded the entry points to the Settlements and kept the japanese at bay until re-inforcements arrived from Britain and elsewhere. The Japanese stayed out of the Foreign Settlements until Pearl Harbour.

An excerpt from Sin City, by Ralph Shaw, describing the Corps in 1937:

"In the International Settlement a reserve force in time of emergency was provided by the Shanghai Volunteer Corps (S.V.C.) which consisted of one professional battalion of young White Russians, superbly disciplined and impeccably turned out in British Army uniforms. The other companies were manned by volunteers from the civilian population. The commandant was a Briton, Colonel Hornby. There was 'A' Company formed by Britons of pure-white descent. 'B' Company contained Eurasians. 'C' Company was the Chinese unit. There was no racial integration in the S.V.C. 'A' Company was exclusively white and it would have been impossible for a British Eurasian to have breached the strict racial barrier. The most picturesque unit was the kilted Scottish Company complete with pipes and di-ut-ns but the mounted American Troop commanded by a local lawyer, Major H. D. Rodger, ran the Scots a close second in their 'Boy Scout' hats and American-style cavalry uniforms."