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Kinmen (Quemoy) is a small island group, the largest of which is less than five miles off the coast of the People's Republic of China. It is administered by the Taiwanese Republic of China and therefore has been part of the on-going dispute between Communist China and Taiwan. This has included a vigorous propaganda battle through radio broadcasting, loud speakers, and the exchange of leaflets transported by balloons, artillery shells, kites, and bottles and model boats floated on the tide.
Throughout much of the Cold War, the U.S. maintained a Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) liaison mission with the Republic of China. As part of this mission, U.S. Army Sergeant Fynis Eugene Briddle of Strategic Communications Command (STRATCOM) spent eleven months of 1971 stationed on Kinmen. While based there SGT. Briddle collected the PRC propaganda leaflets illustrated here and visited the PSYOP section of the history museum which exhibited various leaflet dissemination devices.
I had just finished a year in Taegu, Korea in the Communications Operations Battalion and requested an inter theatre transfer to Taiwan. After my 30-day leave was over I reported to USASTRATCOM LL BN OP DET NORTH (PROV) TWN APO S.F. 92623 in Taipei, located in the TDC Building. Shortly after my arrival I was promoted to Sergeant E5.
One day at work I was told about a small island called Kinmen/Quemoy that STRATCOM supported by supplying several communications personnel to MAAG to operate the communications centre there. I was offered and accepted the position of NCOIC of the communications centre.
I was reassigned to the the MAAG on the island and was attached to ARSEC MAAG (KDCAT) APO 96263, KDCAT Team.
The team consisted of U.S. personnel, an Army Full Colonel - MAAG Chief; an Army Major - MAAG Advisor; a Navy E-6 Corpsman - MAAG; an Army E-5 - STRATCOM (NCOIC) of the communications centre and later on an Army Specialist 4 - STRATCOM, Equipment Repairman.
We traveled to the island and back in a C-117 aircraft. It was very noisy, the plane vibrated a lot and we flew just above the water to avoid detection by the Chinese radar.
The Colonel was the advisor to the Commanding General on the island. The corpsman was there in case of any emergency medical issues that may arise with any of the team members. The NCOIC (my position) was to maintain the communications center in a ready state of operation. We used both Teletype and voice radio for communications to Taipei. We were responsible for all Teletype messages to and from the island. All messages were classified and processed through Teletype crypto equipment. We were required to maintain contact with Taipei during normal working hours. The maintenance man was there to provide scheduled preventive maintenance to our communications equipment and emergency repairs as needed. We also had a VHF radio transmitter that allowed us to talk to Taipei.
One day shortly after my arrival a Liaison officer took me on a tour of the Island. One of the places we visited was a place called Chu Kwang Tower. It is a history museum, a large area is dedicated to the shelling back in the 1950's and propaganda techniques currently being used. I recognised the building but I couldn't remember from where. One day while in Taegu, Korea several of us went shopping in the village outside the compound. We stopped in this little shop that sold coins and stamps. I purchased an envelope (called a First Day Cover) celebrating a new building built on this small island called Kinmen/Quemoy. How could I have ever known that I would soon be visiting that building and working on that island?
While I was there both the Communists and Taiwanese military were still engaged in propaganda shelling on odd nights. That consisted of stuffing propaganda leaflets into Howitzer shells. They were then fired over the island where they exploded and the leaflets were blown out and scattered and would float to the ground. In the early days they used high explosives but from what I read that became too expensive and both parties agreed to replace the HE with leaflets. Several of us would go outside and watch the shelling. You would hear the shell go over and explode before the sound of being fired from the mainland reached your ears. We never once thought about how dangerous that really was. These shells are exploding in the air and sending shrapnel through the air and to the ground. Being 20-year-old kids we had no fear. It was more like the 4th of July to us. I went out several mornings and picked up propaganda leaflet souvenirs before the military did. I was able to remove them from the island by including them in my briefcase that I carried classified materials in.
There were several other methods of propaganda delivery used. The Nationalists would take hundreds of helium balloons; attach little gift packs such as soap dishes with soap and propaganda leaflets to them. They would then release when the winds were favourable where they would float to the mainland. They all had timers attached that would then deflate the balloon and deliver the gifts along with the propaganda leaflets.
Another popular method was to put leaflets in beer bottles, seal them and throw them into the ocean when the tides were going out. Also they would put the leaflets in little boats and float them to the mainland. I was able to acquire one of the beer bottles with leaflets inside for my own collection. Over the year I was there I was also able to build small collection of very colourful Communist Leaflets.
Here are a selection of People's Republic of China (PRC) airdropped propaganda leaflets which fell on the Kinmen Islands and were later picked up by SGT Fynis Eugene Briddle sometime in 1971.
The leaflet above depicts two People's Republic of China soldiers standing on the beach watching the ocean for Nationalist Chinese (or perhaps American) invaders. At their left is a quote from Mao:
The People's Liberation Army is always a fighting force.
The text at right, abbreviated a little, says:
Heroic soldiers who guard the socialist motherland's frontiers keep Mao's dictum in mind at all times, ready to slay any enemy who dares to encroach.
The back depicts five photographs of Communist Chinese soldiers ready for battle. The text is:
Top Left: Qin Hsiuming a "five good soldier" from a People's Liberation Army flamethrower unit, bearing a firm grasp of the enemy, sharpens his war-fighting skills with determination.
Top Right: Unit leader Wang Zhanshan, a Heroic warrior of the People's Liberation Army, involves himself with the lowest ranking members of his unit and participates in military training with the war-fighters.
Bottom Left: With vigilance heightened one hundred fold, People's Liberation Army commanders and fighters of a patrol boat unit guard the homeland's coastal defenses.
Bottom Center: Chairman Mao's thought is the guiding compass in building our military. A unit in Wuhan reads the works of Chairman Mao.
Bottom Right: Pilots from a People's Liberation Army Air Force unit exchange notes in a post-flight debriefing.
Note: The "Five Good Soldier" skills are: good ideology; good military skills; good working style; good fulfillment of duty and good physical training.
The final leaflet shows people of different ethnicities at a commune in Xinyuan County (close to the border with Kazakhstan) at a meeting to discuss Mao's "Three Constantly Read Articles," ("In Memory of Norman Bethune," "Serve the People," and "The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains."). The text is:
At the left is a patriotic song with musical notation. The song is "Sailing the seas depends on the helmsman." The helmsman, naturally, is Mao.
Sailing the seas depends on the helmsman,
The growth of all living beings depends on the sun.
Rain and dew nourish young seedlings,
Conducting revolution depends on Mao Zedong Thought.
Fish cannot leave the water,
Melons cannot leave the vine.
The revolutionary masses cannot do without the Communist Party.
Mao Zedong Thought is a sun that never sets.
The opposite side of the leaflet depicts a group of women looking at a photograph of Chairman Mao and two photographs of similar native people reading his little red book. The text is:
The Masses are the Makers of History...
The masses are the makers of history. The masses grasp Chairman Mao's thought, and become the most intelligent, the most courageous, and exhibit boundless strength!
Left: An elderly Uighur woman carefully examines a portrait of Chairman Mao she is holding with both hands.
Centre: Xinjiang, Shanshan County, members of the Dongfeng Commune study Chairman Mao's writings.
Right: An exchange of Chairman Mao's thought among Xinjiang women militia members in Xinjiang, Baicheng County.