|A very interesting photograph supplied by Mr. Karl Spencer of Hong Kong depicting Francis Haskey a sergeant of engineers
of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps (SVC).
Established in 1853 the corps was not actually part of the British military in either a regular or volunteer context. Shanghai
was never a colony of the British crown but British subjects living in the foreign enclave of the city organized themselves into
one company of what became known as the Shanghai Volunteer Corps. Other companies were formed by other expatriates
and would eventually be comprised of members from some 20 nations and groups including Americans, Italians, Russians,
Portuguese, Jews, Filipinos and Scots. There was even one company each of Eurasians and Chinese. The Corp must have
looked quite colorful while on parade since each unit was uniformed according to there own national tastes.
In his book Sin City, Ralph Shaw describes a bit of the flamboyance that accompanied a public appearance of the Corps:
"The most picturesque unit was the kilted Scottish Company complete with pipes and di-ut-ns but the mounted American
Troop commanded by a local lawyer, Major H. D. Rodger, ran the Scots a close second in their 'Boy Scout' hats and
American-style cavalry uniforms."
Haskey's rank chevrons almost appear to be those of an artillery sergeant but the badge above the chevrons is actually a
mechanical device, possibly a pump. In any event the British elements of the SVC does not appear to have used regulation
pattern British noncommissioned rank insignia. In any event his inscription shown below leave little doubt as to him being an
The Corps continued it duties in Shanghai until being disbanded after the city was occupied by the Japanese in 1941.
Shanghai Photographic Enlarging Company - Photographer
11 Foochow Road, Shanghai, China
|Above: The reverse side of the photograph showing Sergeant Haskey's inscription.