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Formation of China Seas Command (1900s)


The founding of the Legion of Frontiersmen in Asia was organised by a Captain Walter Kirton in Shanghai in 1904. A "China Seas Command" was established in 1907. Although not much is recorded about these first years, one of the most well-known stories about the Legion in China at this time would seem to be that of a Frontiersmen named Charles Mason. It is reported that he was employed by the Imperial Customs and stationed at Yang-Tse where he obtained much information which he sent through Legion channels to England. Eventually he became involved with a group called "The Triad" (a political party whom had been established in the 1850's), their objective was to overthrow the Manchu Dynasty. Mason found himself commanding three Legion Battalions or irregular troops, but was also known as the leader of the Triad rebels.

In the early 1900's, Doctor Sun Yat Sen succeeded Mason, and established a new party called the "Tung Meng Hui" (Brotherhood League). Dr. Sun Yat Sen was to become the first president of the Republic of China in 1911. In England Mason took part in Legion activities for some time but then left for abroad again.

By 1909 the Legion in China had become the "Far East Command" (covering China, Hong Kong, Kobe and Singapore). It was now commanded by a Lt. Col. R. Bate, FRGS. Bate was a former Royal Naval Officer whom had also served in the Field Force during the Boer War. The Headquarters for the Legion was now in Newchwang. This town was in the region the Chinese called the North East Provinces but it is more commonly known by its Japanese name of Manchuria. The Legion noted signs of civil unrest and as early as 1910 requested from the War Office (UK) that they should have first call to any stored arms in time of trouble. The War Office pointed out that the Legion was a civil organisation and that no such request could be acceded to, they then made discreet further enquiries and sarcastically noted that the Far East Command was only 32 men.


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The Legion of Frontiersmen (Far East Command) is registered in Singapore and gazette notification effecting the registration was published in the Government Gazette vide Notification Number 574 under the registration T18SS0035B.