SHANGHAI! Truly a name that conjures up all the mysteries of the Orient. A port of call that ranks with Manila, Hong Kong and Singapore in the hearts and minds of old salts who sailed the Seas in the Domain of the Golden Dragon. From: Shipmate description Casablanca class Escort Carrier:
My watch section drew the first liberty ashore and during the next couple of days, my shipmates and I saw many strange places, people and things. We saw the Bund, the Cathay Hotel and the Whangpoo River teeming with Junks and small flat bottomed Sampans. At the loading docks of the warehouses, we were amazed to see coolies load monstrous bags of rice on their backs and then trot off to who knows where like the weight of their load was nothing at all.
There was the run down New Garden Bridge which was being refurbished by scores upon scores of Chinese laborers hanging all over it while chipping paint with little ballpeen hammers. Two days later it had a fresh coat of paint and looked like it was brand new.
There were some great sounding names like Bubbling Well Road where the Navy had taken over the old and very famous Shanghai Race Track. It had been converted into an Enlisted Men's Club and in it we enjoyed hamburgers and Stateside beer.
We later had a full dinner at the Seventh Heaven Restaurant in the old Standard Oil Building. There was a waiter standing behind every chair to see to it that you did not strain yourself by having to light your own cigarette or refill your beer glass.
There were dozens of bars like the White Horse and night clubs like the Domino Club in the Old French Quarter of the International Settlement as well as huge dance halls that accommodated hundreds and hundreds of people.
In 1945 Shanghai was populated with about 4,000,000 people. Almost all of them seemed to be on whatever street we happened to be on and almost all of them tried to sell something to us. Herbs and roots to cure every malady known to man. There were some things floating in liquid in glass jars that to this day I do not want to even speculate what they were or what you were expected to do with them.
As I remember it, we felt perfectly safe even in the "back alleys" except that we had to watch out for the dreaded Shore Patrol as we were selling or trading cartons of cigarettes for Kimonos, Japanese swords (cheap imitations to be sure) and embroidered Dragon decorations for the linings of our pea coats and the cuffs of our dress blues.
We put out to sea for the long voyage home on 10 December. Despite a real longing to get home, I watched the China Coast drop below the horizon and felt a pang of regret that I could not have spent more time in Shanghai.
Our 20 day voyage home was pretty uneventful for our ship's crew but for our airmen passengers it was another story. Cramped quarters and long lines were just a part of their problems. We hit some heavy weather during our passage and there were some very sick flyboys aboard. One T/Sgt who was an aerial gunner with 32 missions in his log book told me that he would fly them all over again rather than set foot aboard another miserable ship sailing on another miserable ocean. Frankly, his language was a bit more colorful than that but I am sure that you get the drift.