Tachen Island Evacuation History

During February 1955 LST 1159 participated for seven days in the evacuation of the bulk of the 42,000 Chinese Nationalist soldiers, civilians and all of their supplies, ammunition, animals and personal goods from the Tachen Islands. LST 1159 was part of Task Force 702 which consisted of 50 ships, but this operation never made the news. There is little, if anything, in the history books about this operation either. It's like we were never there. This short article provides some of the highlights leading up the Tachen Island evacuation, and some of the significant events that followed the evacuation.

Following World War 2, Mao Zedung's communist armies defeated Chian Kai-sheck's Nationalists on the mainland of China. Chang Kai-sheck, supported by America retreated to Formosa and several other smaller islands named the Tachen Islands, the Pescadores, Quemoy, and Matsu, all of which were in artillary range of the mainland. A communist invasion of these islands was beaten back during 1949 but the threat of another invasion attempt was ever present, and military skirmishes over these islands were constant. During the mid-1950s a major artillary attack on Quemoy and Matsu, was thought to be the beginning of another invasion attempt on the islands by the communists. The Seventh Fleet was ordered into the Formosa Straits to prevent the invasion and protect the offshore islands held by the Nationalists.

US News reports almost exclusively focused on the Quemoy and Matsu islands because of the more frequent artillary duels engaged in. The Tachen islands, heavily populated, but of little strategic significance were ignored.

When a major military action against the Tachens appeared imminent, The Seventh Fleet readied Task Force 702. The operation's flagship was the seaplane tender Salisbry Sound. The Eisenhower administration was prepared to defend Quemoy and Matsu islands but decided to evacuate all the soldiers and any civilians that wanted to leave the Tachens.

Air and amphibious raids against the Tachens intensified during February, 1955, Task Force 702 was assigned to patrol the islands and to carry out the evacuation. LST's were used to carry out the bulk of the evacuation. When the civilians heard the communists were going to take over the islands they all wanted to also leave. The civilian evacuation was not just people. The civilians decided to bring their livestock and as much of their personal goods as they could carry. Loading up was OK but once the ships were underway in a seaway, the soldiers, civilians,AND the animals got sick and created a hell of a mess.

The communists took posession of the Tachen islands soon after the evacuation and since then have occupied them. The communist occupation of the Tachen islands prompted Congess to pass a resolution allowing President Eisenhower to use what ever force he saw fit to use in order to protect and ensure the safety of Formosa and the Pescadore islands. The United States established bases on Formosa and stated the islands would be protected by Chinese Nationalist forces with United States aid.

During the remainder of 1955, and again during 1956 and 1957 major military incidents occurred and were immediately followed by a United States show of force. During 1972 President Nixon improved relations with mainland China and in 1977 President Carter established diplomatic ties with mainland China

Even though this military action has not been recorded in history and is forgotten,it should be clear to all that participated in the evacuation of the Tachen islands that the consequences of that action had far reaching effects. It was a job worth doing and it was done well. Bravo Zulu

It is a small world as you will see by this Email I obtained in 2007. We never knew any of the people we evacuated but a note like this sure makes our efforts worthwhile. Ed Lange

hello there:
Just to let you know that I think my dad(may be a 12-year-old) and his entire familly was on board during the evacuation. My grandfather was one of the county officers. My grandparents are past away, my dad is retired, now my elder brother and his wife lives in Long Island, NY. I'll show the photos to my dad and see if he remembers anything.

It's incredible that one can find the piece of evidence of history via internet surfing, no matter how shabby and sad the history was.

Thanks and regards

Pei Han Wang

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