General Instructions and Local Regulations for the Squadron and Naval Establishments on the China Station, 1899.

[Hong Kong]: Noronha & Co., 1899 Stock Code: 114737

Regulations for the British Fleet on the China Station on the eve of the Boxer Rebellion

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Extremely rare station order book printed a few months before the onset of the Boxer Rebellion, untraced in libraries and secondary literature. From the library of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, not marked as such, though copiously revised by annotation or by the insertion of printed slips, assiduously enumerated in the "Corrections to Station Order Book" on the front pastedown and free endpaper, the first tranche dated 6 June (1899, two months before the beginning of the uprising) and initialled "D.G.S." under "Officer making corrections", the remaining interpolations dated from 19 August 1899 to 21 June 1901 (three months before the Boxer Protocol) and initialled "A.E.P". As the initials evade ascription to any Royal Navy commanders then in China, they appear to belong to junior officers possibly writing on a captain's behalf; on the title-page this copy is hand-numbered 12 of what appears to have been a highly restricted print-run; there is additionally the pencilled inscription "Captain" to the front pastedown, and a foolscap sheet giving notice of the Diseases of Animals Act with regard to the import of dogs, pasted in to page 272, is headed "To be inserted at page 273 of Captain's Copy of Station Order Book".

The Chinese defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-5) encouraged a scramble for concessions among the major European powers, especially with regard to trade agreements and missionary privileges. There was soon a violent reaction among the Chinese, culminating in a series of systematic attacks on Europeans, their embassies, and Christian converts in May 1900. On the 28th the British ambassador at Peking telegraphed for assistance, and Admiral Seymour, commander-in-chief of the China station, with HMS Centurion as his flagship and Jellicoe as his flag captain, "assembled a force from the various national squadrons then lying off the mouth of the Peiho (Beihe) River. On 5 June Jellicoe went ahead to assess the most effective method of advance after passing Tientsin (Tianjin) the expedition was unable to advance or retreat; the Chinese army, now openly hostile, had destroyed the railway. On 19 June Seymour abandoned the railway, loaded the wounded onto sampans and retreated. The allies had to clear every village on their route, and on 21 June Jellicoe was hit in the chest while leading such an attack. Although the wound was initially considered fatal he was evacuated with the rest of the force and made a full recovery Returning to his post afloat Jellicoe accumulated considerable experience of foreign armed forces, and was particularly impressed by the professionalism of the German navy. Created CB in 1900, he had demonstrated leadership, courage, and administrative talent. There could be no doubt that he would reach the top of his profession. The Centurion paid off in August 1901" (ODNB).

The profuse interpolations, alterations and deletions form a picture of extensive and precipitate revisions of protocol in the lead-up to and during the conflict. Several speak to ongoing struggles and negotiations between the European powers. A notable addition to the section on use of Russian ports in the chapter "Dealings with Foreign Powers" indicates that Russian Empire secured a major concession in preventing British (and perhaps other) ships from entering the Amur River or visiting Nicolaievsk, the Russian trading port established there in 1851; a pasted slip on page 146 incorporates an entirely new article stressing that "Foreign Port Regulations are to be strictly adhered to and are not to be infringed without leave being asked and granted". Other changes might be taken to reflect increasing co-operation, including a pasted slip allowing Japanese authorities to be rewarded for the apprehension of absentee British seamen (p. 163), and a tipped-in slip adding the Italian National Fête Day to Washington's Birthday, the Fourth of July and Bastille Day as occasions on which a British ship may mark at the request of a foreign officer (p. 25). Other emendations range across the entire corpus of naval protocol, including minor changes to dress regulations ("sashes are not to be worn by officers nor N.C.O's over white tunics", p. 41), various administrative and financial practices (the annotated slip to p. 59 ordering that oil for torpedo nets be charged against the ship), signals, drills and exercises, gunnery, equipment, and even the chain of command (an interpolation at p. 173 for instance transferring the charge of the rifle range to the commander over the warrant office "for ease and maintenance"). All the updated regulations are recapitulated in the index for reference, as well as being listed by date at the front of the volume, the whole a superb demonstration of the administrative discipline which undergirded British sea power.

Shortly after his return to England in 1901 Jellicoe was promoted steadily up the naval hierarchy, culminating in his appointment at commander of the Grand Fleet in 1914. Despite the initial failure of the Seymour Expedition, the Boxer Rebellion was a considerable success, some years before Jellicoe's much-debated conduct at the Battle of Jutland allowed German propagandists to claim that the spell of Trafalgar had finally been broken.

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Large octavo (241 x 161 mm). Original blue-green cloth, rebacked and recornered in black leatherette, retaining the original skiver corners on the rear board, spine and front board lettered in gilt.


Annotations throughout in black (very occasionally red) ink; profuse printed slips with revised regulations tipped in or pasted over existing text; and laid-in foolscap typescript of orders relating to use of the Picket Room with reference to the commande


Sides rubbed and marked, corners of rear board worn, inner hinges reinforced with linen, pale foxing to endpapers, light toning, occasional staining and cockling from adhesive, short closed tear to top edge of pp. 19-20 not affecting text, still very good.


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