Might a been the gin
Could have been the 3 or 4 six packs
I don't know but look at the mess I'm in
William just wanted to go to a party also. It was the fourth of July and he was 14 and old enough to go on his own. It was just short of the 80th anniversary of the day when John Hancock and many others representing the 13 UNITED STATES signed their names to the document to become famous as the Declaration of Independence. (A future blog in this space will bring you the interview I had with a Victoria BC woman who is a descendant of one of the signers.)
William was far from home at the time. He was on a boating trip with his uncle and they were cruising off the shores of China when the lad asked if he could go ashore to partake in the festivites. His uncle, fearing for his safety refused, but the youth snuck off the vessel anyway and swam ashore to begin an adventure a little more mind boggling than what might have awaited him back home in Maine.
The Station was a very hot spot at this time. It was just a few months earlier that a British Shanghai merchant named Richardson and 3 associates were riding along the road between two major centres when confronted with troops who were protecting the father on one of the nation's leaders. That leader was also travelling along the road and the job of the troops was to ensure no one else was on the road at the same time, for protection reasons. Richardson and others immediately complied and turned about to reverse their travel when the troops attacked then with the razor sharp swords Richards received severel death blows but the others, 2 very badly wounded, escaped to get help.
Demands were issued to have the matter properly abbatted but the Japanese continued to stall. Kuper then sought and received directions from London. He was ordered to make a demand on the Tycoon to pay a penalty of L, 100, 000 for allowing the Englishman to be murdered in his territrory and for taking no action to catch and punish those involved. Also passed on was that any failuire to comply would result in ..." the most deplorable consequences to Japan." 1/'4 of the payment was to be given to each of the 4 victims... or their families.
After some stalling an agreement was made to make the payments spread over several weeks..but then another stall of even more time was interupted early one morning when carts ladened with boxes of coins arrived. Apparently all the schroffs that could be found were hired to do their work. A schroff was specially trained to exaimine the coin to ensure it is genuine, and then to count it. The work took three days!
Money was one thing, but there was no action forthcoming on the investigation and capture of those reponsible for the murder. Kuper therefore decided to take a squadron of his fleet to Kagoshima to continue to press his demands. But the ships were then fired upon. The Brits returned fire and ultimately destroyed the town and many ships. But the Euryalus was badly hit. A 10" shell landed on her deck and took off the heads of two of her senior officers. The vessel was also said to have taken about two hours to start returning fire on the enemy. It seems they had a whole lot of boxes piled in front of the amunition rooms and they could not get in to get the ammo. The boxes were full... of coins. The Brits sailed out of port but not before destroying over $1,000,000 in Japanese property.
When Japan refused to open the straight again, the British formed a coalition with France, Holland and the US, and soon an international fleet was position to start a battle to get the port reopened. You can see many of the vessels in position along the south side of the straight at mid point in the above map. The flagship Euryalus with our friend William can be seen as the middle of three ships at the head of the fleet. (In right, above and under the 2nd "O" in Simonoseki.)
He would be in the front with those that landing and would lead some to their targets. He would also be responsible for hauling some of the wounded back to safety.
HRH Queen Victoria ordered that all three men were to be paraded at one place and given a special presentation ceremony of their VC's, , and this was later done. The above image is the actual London Gazette entry documenting the awarding of the Victoria Cross to Sweeney and his 2 shipmates mentioned above.
Well, my friend and fellow member in the society, like I dip in matters dealing with the VC often as well. And it is because of this great work of Bill Sweeny... that Seeley's place of rest was located... with no stone whatsoever. It is less than an hour's drive from his home in Massachusetts. Bill did the homework to have a marker created, mounted and an appropriate service for this US hero.
Sweeney is one of only 7 Americans who are known to have been awarded the Victoria Cross. This blog is the first of 7 that will bring you the stories of each.
Hope you enjoy them.