2014年1月31日 星期五

Taipei Song Shan Airport

Taipei Song Shan松山 Airport
Taipei 松山機場Song Shan Airport was originally built by the Japanese in 1936 (松山 is pronounced Matsuyama in Japanese) as a military airbase. After 1946, it was used as an international port of entry until 1979 when the much larger CKS (now Taoyuan) International Airport took over. It has remained underused as a domestic airport. Unfortunately, after the inauguration of Taiwan HSR in 2008, domestic flights could no longer stay competitive; although this was also when cross-strait direct flights gave the airport a new lease on life. It has since been renovated (above), with Terminal 1 receiving international passengers and, starting in 2011, Terminal 2, for domestic flights.

Principally because of the high real estate value of the land on which 松山機場 occupies, plus the many flight restrictions required for safety reasons, there have been calls for a relocation. The question is where can the airport move to. If history is of any guide, there may be two possibilities.

During the Pacific War, the Japanese had built 71 airports in Taiwan (including the seaplane port in Tamsui); detailed records of 46 remained intact while the rest were long lost. After the Nationalist Gov't takeover of Taiwan in 1945, only two, 松山 and 岡山 airports, were slated to be retained. However, starting in 1947, more were resurrected, repaired, and drafted into services again.

Records show that there were actually three military airports in Taipei: 松山機場, the unfinished 南機場, and an unknown airport in 板橋. According to 杜正宇 and 吳建昇, in their 日治下臺南永康機場的時空記憶 [台灣文獻 Vol 63, pp 229-284, 2012]:

"...松山機場就是日本海軍臺北飛行場。此外,美軍在臺北州(Taihoko)的攻擊目標中,除了松山機場外,亦有一座板橋機場(Itahashi)。除標定為第54攻擊目標,並註明此為主要目標。觀其地圖所示,此機場位於松山機場(Matsuyama)西南方,三條河川交會處(經比對後,應為淡水河、大漢溪、新店溪)之南,確實在板橋一帶。根據〈臺灣日陸海軍飛機場一覽圖〉,當時臺北地區標示了三座機場:海軍機場一座、陸軍機場兩座。由於臺北有海軍使用的松山機場與尚未完工,應屬陸軍的臺北(南)機場,因此這座板橋機場,或有可能亦是陸軍的飛行場。"
Translation: "...Matsuyama Airport was the IJN Taipei Airbase. In addition, among the US targets in Taipei-shu, other than Matsuyama, there was also the Itahashi Airbase, designated Target No 54 and noted as a main target. The US map showed that this airbase was located southwest of Matsuyama, south of the junction of three rivers (most likely Tamsui, Da-Han, and Xindian Rivers), within Banqiao area. According to post-war records, Taipei area did have three airbases, one for the IJN, and two, IJA. Since Matsuyama is known to be a naval airbase, and the unfinished Taipei South Airbase, the army, the one in Banqiao must also had been an army airbase."

Therefore, two possible locations for 松山機場 to move to, i.e., 萬華Wanhua and 板橋Banqiao. Part of the land is probably still owned by the state; however, acquiring the rest of the land by eminent domain is certain to encounter great public resistance. In addition, Taiwan HSR also travels through both these districts. All things considered, relocation of 松山機場 to either place or, in fact, anywhere within Taipei City proper may not become a reality at all.

2014年1月11日 星期六

Maps and pictures of old Tamsui

This map was dated Feb 28, 1899 (明治Meiji year 32), almost 4 years after Japan took over Taiwan:
Source: http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/30/df/a2.html
It was based on a map originally from British Admiralty with updated surveys done by IJN Capt 小掠元吉 and engineer 大林正作, and finalized by Capt 小倉寬一[郎], all of whom were attached to HIMS Kaimon [His Imperial Majesty's Ship 海門], a sail-and-steam sloop-of-war:
HIMS Kaimon 海門 (1884-1905)
 A section of the map is shown below:
Source: http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/30/df/a3.html
In which, the British Consulate and Ft San Domingo are both clearly marked.

A map of 1925 (below) shows that 滬尾 was now designated 淡水街; on the other hand, 油車口 remained unchanged:
Source: http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/30/df/a4.html
Also marked are 砲臺埔, 烽火[街], 郡役所the Town Hall, and 郵便局Post Office; the Post Office, however, appears mislabeled (although it could have been the original location).

A 1908 photo of Tamsui:
Source: http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/30/df/a7.html
This photo shows the 媽祖宮 (or 福祐宮, MaZu Temple, center right). In front of the trees, the open area is later known as 三角窗 or 小公園. The Mackay Clinic with its distinct white walls also can be seen. Tamsui Presbyterian Church had not been built yet at that time (not until 1933), it can be seen in the photo below:
Source: http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/30/df/ad.html
To the right of the Presbyterian Church in the photo above is 郵便局the Post Office.

Photos of the riverside taken during the Japanese Era are shown below. This was at a time when junks from China were still allowed into Tamsui Port, after the once-largest seaport in Taiwan, that had seen the arrival and departure of giant ocean liners and cargo ships, became defunct:
Source: http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/30/df/af.html
Source: http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/30/df/a8.html
Source: http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/30/df/ac.html

2014年1月10日 星期五

Battle of Fisherman's Wharf in progress

The Battle of Fisherman's Wharf has already been described in detail in this blog, see: http://danshuihistory.blogspot.com/2009/03/blog-post.html

Another scene of the battle is depicted in this painting (artist and date both unknown). The battle started on Oct 8, 1884, first with heavy gun bombardments from French warships [lower right]. Local commander 提督孫開華 was in charge with eight battalions of defense force plus 100 artillery men [upper left]. At 10AM, five companies of French fusiliers marins landed on the beach [loaded landing crafts can be seen approaching the beach] to start the assult: 
Source: http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/30/df/a1.html
The light tower [above, top middle], used by the French as a landmark has long since disappeared. It fell into disrepair during the Japanese Colonial rule. In the heydays of the Tamsui Port in the Qing era, the light tower served well but was deemed inadequate during the Japanese rule when large ocean liners visited the port, and a taller, hence more visible one was built next to it.

Here is an old photo (below), structure on the left was the original, one to the right was the new tower, both of which were lost soon after Tamsui ceased to function as a seaport:
Source: http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/30/df/a6.html
This photo shows the entrance to the area of the light towers. The tall structure in the background (left) was the new light tower:
Source: http://taipics.com/taipei_danshui.php
The original commercial light tower was the first of its kind in Taiwan, known forever to the locals as 望高樓. A stone tablet recording its purpose, construction and maintenance, and the name list of committee members, dated 嘉慶九年 (1796), can still be seen inside 媽祖宮 the MaZu Temple on Chung Cheng Road today:

2014年1月4日 星期六

Last days of 鄭芝龍

鄭芝龍 (Cheng Chi-long, 1595 [or 1604] - 1661), father of 鄭成功 (aka Koxinga [國姓爺], 1624-1662), had commanded a vast privateer fleet with thousands of ships before accepting the official invitation to become a 都督同知 [equivalent to class-one deputy minister of defense] with the Ming Empire in 1628. He served the Ming Court reasonably well, albeit reluctantly at times, until 1646, when he was tricked by a Manchurian in-law into surrendering to the Qing. He was quickly sent to Beijing, from Hokkien, and kept under house arrest before any rescuing attempts by the Cheng Clan were possible.

It may appear puzzling as to why such a powerful rich-as-a-nation warlord could fall into such an obvious trap; in fact, even the Qing Court was surprised. The reason, usually glossed over or totally ignored by historians, might be the droughts and widespread famine in war-torn China at that time that had rendered it impossible for 鄭芝龍 to maintain his military base - not without resorting to drastic self-preserving measures that would have created even more human misery. This he had apparently chosen not to do. Plus, a lifetime of military actions had already worn him out, which he had also pointed out to Koxinga. Instead, he took the easy way out, against the counsel of his advisers, even the impassioned plea of Koxinga, and perhaps then willingly walked into the ambush in the form of a dinner party on a boat. In the Confusianism tradition, 鄭芝龍 has been regarded unfavorably (unjustly as far as the Cheng Clan is concerned), to be contrasted with his son's "higher" moral calling (see below).

In the ensuing years in Beijing, 鄭芝龍 was used as the pawn in Qing's dealing with Koxinga who, however, steadfastly maintained that his loyalty to the Ming emperor trumped a son's piety to his father and refused to abandon Ming. For the ultimately failed attempt in convincing Koxinga to yield, 鄭芝龍, together with 10 members of his immediate family, were sentenced to death and murdered in 寧古塔 where they were imprisoned [note: 連橫 claimed in his 台灣通史 that the execution took place in Beijing Marketplace北京柴市 - this appeared a citation error].


This Nov 24, 1661, Qing royal order of Emperor 康熙 (1654-1722, reigned 1661/2 - 1722) recorded the death sentence of 鄭芝龍, his two sons 鄭世恩 and 鄭世蔭, and family. At the same time, 鄭芝豹 (鄭芝龍's brother) and his sons, who had surrendered to the Qing before the Koxinga revolt, were spared.

Earlier on May 17, 1657, Emperor 順治 (1638-1661, reigned 1644-1661) had decreed that, instead of an immediate execution, 鄭芝龍 and family members be banished to and imprisoned in 寧古塔 (near present-day 黑龍江省牡丹江市). In addition, all family properties and holdings were to be confiscated. They were forced to travel on foot in yokes and chains all the way from Beijing to the destination (a distance of ca 1,440 km). Reports showed that female members of the family suffered the most ("indescribable hardship"), probably because of their bound-feet. Accompanying 鄭芝龍 in the prison was also a Franciscan priest originally from Macau where 鄭芝龍 was baptized.