HONG KONG, Oct. 16, 1949 (UP) -- Communist shore batteries bombarded a British steamer off the southeast coastal port of Amoy, it was reported Sunday as the main Communist armies north of Hong Kong prepared to move down to the border of this British crown colony.
The steamer Anhui arrived Sunday and reported the Communist Shore batteries opened up on her Saturday as she left Amoy with 1,400 passengers. Three Chinese passengers were killed and 25 others were wounded.
Ship's officers said the vessel was under fire for 15 minutes during which more than 20 shells from Red land batteries straddled the ship. The Anhui left Amoy 12 minutes before, large British flags painted on her hatch covers.
J.L. Mair, general manager of Butterfield and Swire which operates the vessel said protests would be lodged with both the Nationalist and communist governments.
The dead were a man and a woman and a girl of five.
The Anhui was evacuating refugees from the island naval base which has been under Communist attack for a month and the fall of which is considered imminent. Amphibious landings on nearby islands have put Amoy under a heavy threat.
The Communists were reported today to have captured islands between Amoy and the mainland in preparation for a final assault on the port, once a major supply port for the Nationalist government.
Communist Gen. Tsang Sang's east Kuangtung army was reported waiting in the hills north of the British border, ready to move down in force when Nationalist troops pulled out of the area.
The first Communists to reach the border were irregulars, stragglers who returned into the hills after being greeted by border villagers who set off firecrackers and flew the fiver-starred Communist flag only yards from the British Union Jack.
Tsang's main army of 15,000 to 20,000 men, reported to have captured Tangshui, 15 miles north of the border early Sunday, was said to be awaiting full Nationalist evacuation before moving south and west toward the crown colony.
An estimated 20,000 Nationalist troops have pulled out of Chinese territory to a point 30 miles north of the border, and Communist regulars were expected to fill this void within the next 24 to 48 hours.
Some 40,000 British troops near the border spent most of Sunday moving filed headquarters of the 40th division nearer the border.
Several thousand civilian refugees, some of whom might have been Nationalist troops the day before, moved unmolested across the 30-foot bridge at the border village of Shumchun into the safety of Hong Kong. Some changed into civvies before the eyes of watchers.
Highway and railway bridges were closed and barbed wire barricades were guarded by alert Chinese Hong Kong patrolmen armed with submachine guns and shotguns searched all passers but did not detain them.
Acting President Li, Tsung-jen and Premier Yen His-shan meanwhile had arrived in Chungking to set up a new Nationalist capital, but there were unconfirmed reports here it might be transferred to Kunming in face of new threats to Szechuan province.