Category Archives: Chinese

#Folkestone, 3rd North Carolina’s and the Chinese Labour Corps

Late May, or early June 1918 the HMT Bohemia arrived at Liverpool with soldiers from the 120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, U.S. Army, on board. From Liverpool the headed down to a waiting cross channel packet steamer at Folkestone. From there to Calais. The 3rd were initially billeted at a British Rest Camp just outside of Calais. Here they came into contact for the first time with the CLC (Chinese Labour Corps). All the American equipment the men had carried with them from America was handed over for salvage. Salvage was carried out by the CLC inside of a warehouse. Page 9 of the “History of the 120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, U.S. Army.” records the men were given an order  “Requesting American soldiers to refrain from shooting Chinamen”. Prior to the arrival of the 3rd Carolina’s it seems American sentries had shot at the Chinese for reasons the 3rd’s history does not divulge.

After the 30th US Division had completed their training the 3rd were ready to go into action. On the night of the 17-18th August the 30th took over from the British 33rd Division out side of Ypres. Roughly from Zillebeke Lake to near Voormezelle. The 1st Battalion were sent to “Belgian Battery Corner” On the night of the 22nd-23rd August the 3rd Carolina’s took over from the 1st Battalion. At last they were at the front. Shortly after their arrival, page 16 of their history states the 3rd captured the 30th Division’s first prisoner of war. A member of the CLC. His English was limited to “Yes” and “Calais” so the history does not record why he was there. The Carolina’s sent him back to the rear along with a note which read, “Here is a Chinaman captured near post 5. He is either on leave or A.W.O.L. In either case he picked a damn bad place to spend it.” the note was signed by the 3rd’s commander.

No other incidents or meetings with the CLC are recorded in the “120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, U.S. Army.” published history.

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Chinese Labour Corps, First and Last #FWW #WW1 #WWI

I keep saying I will never write another blog on the Chinese Labour Corps, so…

The Chinese had been labourers in the British Empire for a while. They were miners in South Africa, railway navies in Canada and worked in other roles throughout the Empire. Prior to the First World War, there was a Chinese Regiment in the British Army There were Chinese civilians on Royal Navy warships in the Falklands War in the eighties. They are often forgotten, as are the British Soldiers who volunteered to serve in the Chinese Labour Corps.

The recruiting area for the Chinese Labour Corps was centred on Weihai, Shandong, China. The first known recruit in my records is Bi Xuzhong. Bi Xuzhong came from a village in Rongcheng, Shandong.  Bi Xuzhong survived the war and almost certainly returned to China.

The last, again in my records is Ch’un Ch’ih Wang. While not the first or the last Chinese man to be executed for murder by the British in France, they are my records and I have put him last. Ch’un Ch’ih Wang was executed in the small square at Poperinghe Town Hall.  His execution site is one of the most visited places in Poperinghe yet few could tell you a Chinese man was executed there. Ch’un Ch’ih Wang is buried in Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery, it is a mile down the road from the New Military Cemetery. For at least one reason this is a shame because busloads stop at the New Military Cemetery and place at sometimes seems armfuls of poppies on the graves of those who were shot at dawn there and ignore Ch’un Ch’ih Wang’s grave a mile down the road.

One of the basic premises behind the then  Imperial War Graves Commision, now the Commonwealth War Graves Commision’s treatment of Imperial/Commonwealth war dead is they should all be treated equally. Something we seem to have “Unremembered”, No matter the rank, age, sex, race, what they did or how they died. Death is the great equaliser. We just don’t,  we put armfuls of poppies on some. I tell people go to any of the CWGC cemeteries in the tourist season and walk down the row ends look along the rows. The mounds of poppies mark the grave of a VC holder, Boy Soldier, shot at Dawn, or a poet. We say we treat them all with the same respect. It is time we did.

Merry Christmas.

In Defence of the Empire, Americans Volunteer #FWW

On the 6th April 1917, America declares war against Germany.  Two years earlier in May 1915, Americans volunteered to help defend a small corner of the British Empire as long as they could serve “…without prejudice to our allegiance to the United States of America.” This small group of Americans had already served as Armed Civilians, one was almost court-martialed for falling asleep but the British Officer in command thought better of it. These armed American civilians were also Methodist 5 of them clergymen. There was another proviso which reflected this.”…Mr Oechali has a public service to conduct every Tuesday from 5.30 to 6.15. The authorities will, we anticipate, give due consideration to this fact…”

So where was this? Who were these Americans? How do we know?

The places is the Settlement of Singapore.  The Americans were:

William T Cherry, Superintendent Methodist Publishing House.

Earl Hibbard, Principle, Oldham Hall.

Osbourne E Hooley Teacher Anglo-Chinese school, Oldham Hall.

Harry H Mansell, Mission Treasurer,

J Stewart Nagle, Principal Anglo-Chinese School

Leonard Oechali, Paster Wesley Church

and George E McComb, Teacher Anglo-Chinese School

The quoted pieces and the names are from a letter to the Editor of The Straits Times published by the Straits Times on the 10th May 1915.

All the men named had served as Armed Civilians helping to suppress Singapore Mutiny.

 

15/2/15 Singapore #FWW

When the trigger of a rifle is squeezed no one knows how many people will be killed as a result.

Events in Singapore in February 1915 will always be overshadowed by events in Singapore in February 1942. This year being the 75th anniversary of the fall of Singapore the overshadow is even darker.

Just after 3 o’clock in the afternoon on the 15th February 1915 in Alexander Barracks in Singapore Sepoy Ismail Khan squeezed the trigger of his rifle. This shot signalled the start of the mutiny. Here is a list of people who were killed as a result of that single shot. Not included are the names of an estimated 200 mutineers who were killed during the mutiny or executed in its aftermath.

CF Anscombe, JVR Beagley, P. Boyce, EO Butterworth, BC Cameron, J Clarke, HB Collins, H O’Shaughnessey Collins, H Cullimore, JB Dunn, A Drysdale, CV Dyson, NF Edwards,          HS Elliot, AR Evans, RH Galway, F Geddes, PN Gerrard, JC Harper, Hassan Kechil bin Hassan, AJG Holt, FV Izard, Abdul Jabar, Omar bin Ahmad Kaptin, GO Lawson, Lim Eng Wee, AF Legge, WH Leigh, JH Love-Montgomerie, D McGilvray, MFA Maclean, WJ Marshall, Yacob bin Salleh, EF Senftleben, FH Sexton, Sim Soh, C Smith, G Wald, ED Whittle, Mr and Mrs GB Woolcombe, Chinese man name unknown. 23 of the dead are known to be buried in Kranji  War Cemetery.

One of the mutineers known to have been killed by the forces fighting the mutiny was Sepoy Ismail Khan who fired the original shot.

A contemporary report by the Japanese reproduced in Secret Documents on the Singapore Mutiny 1915 by SR Sareen, puts the successful suppression of the mutiny down to the deployment of Japanese marines. It would not be the last time Japanese troops landed at Singapore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Lieutenant W. G. R. Murphy, (Chinese) Labour Corps.

William Murphy was born in the Parish of Northwood on the Isle of Wight. His father was a Scot from Edinburgh. On his attestation papers his nationality would be listed as “English”. Educated at Northwood and Newport William moved to Shanghai and worked as a Merchant’s assistant in a firm of importers. At Shanghai William and his wife settled down as ex-pats. In 1915 William joined the Shanghai Volunteers. He remained a member of the Volunteers for 2 years before he, at his own expense, crossed to Canada on the 22nd December 1916. He attested in the Canadian Army Service Corps in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force at Vancouver, British Columbia on the 25th January 1917. After basic training in Canada Private W. G. R.. Murphy No. 200222 was posted to Shorncliffe, near Folkestone. Here on the 4h August 1917, William applied for a Commission in the Chinese Labour Corps. On his letter of application he listed his qualifications as follows:

“5 1/2 years business experience in Shanghai during which period I  personally supervised a large  staff of native workpeople.  2 years Shanghai Military Vol unteers through which I frequently  worked with the native company both on Parades and in camps.

I have a fair knowledge of Mandarin  and am conversant with the best methods  of producing results from these people.”

His certificate of recommendation was signed by Major General steel who was the Major General Commanding Troops, Shorncliffe, on the 17th August 1917. The Certificate of Nomination to a Particular Unit was signed by the Officer in Charge, Chinese Section, Labour Concentration Camp, Folkestone

Upon acceptance William Murphy was to be discharged from the Canadian Expeditionary Force enabling William to take up his commission. He was appointed temporary Second Lieutenant on the General List for employment with the Chinese Labour corps with effect from the 7th of September 1917, and was struck off the strength of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada on his Commission in the Imperial Army on the 8th September 1917. 2nd Lt W. G. R. Murphy first crossed to Boulogne, on the 26th of September 1917, when he was posted to Labour Corps Base Depot at Boulogne. On the 18th December 1917, while at Aberville, William was admitted to hospital with Bronchitis. A long standing perforation of the tympanic membrane, not caused by shell shock was also diagnosed. He was granted leave to an Officer’s Hospital from the 29th December 1917 until the 4th March 1918. He embarked from Le Havre on the 29th of December and disembarked at Southampton on the 30th December 1917. William survived the war and was released from service on the 31st May 1919 and relinquish his commission. He was to retain the rank of Lieutenant. William’s claim for travel expenses, presumably, from and to Shanghai, was deemed time barred in 1919.

Poppies, to be reprinted

“Poppies from the Heart of Strathspey” will be reprinted. The book will be reprinted as it was published, warts and all, so it does contain one or two things that I would have edited, but that takes time and would add to the cost. The book will be available from

,The Bookmark
34 High Street
Grantown-on-Spey
Moray
PH26 3EH

01479 873433

or from myself

Still to work out the price. I think it may be £15.99 + p and p from the Bookmark,

or

or £20 from me including p + p to anywhere in the UK or £25 including p + p overseas

Price is due partly to the increased cost of a small print run, inflation, and I much rather you supported a small independent bookshop

So if you would like a copy, order before Monday 12 noon UK time.

Merry Christmas

No new blog this week do to events outwith my control, ie Christmas/New Year

I will be researching cholera in Sinai during 1916, the invasion of Palestine in 1917, and the Chinese contribution to the First World War.

Cholera in Sinai because both General Murry and Allenby had to fight two wars, one with men the other with medicine.

The invasion of Palestine, a long running exercise, I now have the two books Allenby used to plan the invasion.

The Chinese contribution, because I promised someone I would. The first First World War site I can remember visiting was Outram Road in Singapore. The Chinese contribution to the First World War is often just ignored, not forgotten, ignored. Sometimes things in front of our eyes are. If you have the time over the holidays visit the Imperial War Museum, it is closed 24th-26 inclusive but open other days. Have a look at the First World War exhibits. You will see something that the Chinese gave to the British Army nearly a hundred years ago. They are still used by the British Army today. I doubt if the vast majority of visitors to the museum know what “they” are, but most visitors will look at “them”.

My better half is working both Christmas and boxing day, so hopefully I will have the time.

Have a Merry, Happy, Peaceful Christmas, and may your God, gods, or source of inspiration, peace and love, be with you.