The summer in the UK is not only the peak season for tourism, but also the peak season for all kinds of exhibitions. The exhibitions with different themes are like a hundred flowers, which are often dizzying. However, in a number of exhibitions, a small exhibition held in London attracted me.
This exhibition is entitled “The Lion Dance” – a history of Chinese-English military, co-sponsored by the British Regent University and Caritas College. The exhibition traces the contributions of the Chinese in the British army during the 19th and 20th centuries. This is a little-known historical fact, and it has also caused me extreme curiosity.
To this end, I especially found Li Zhong, dean of Caritas College, one of the curators of this exhibition, and asked her to introduce the background of this exhibition and the history that few people know.
She told me that Caritas College is committed to researching and promoting the historical heritage of British Chinese culture. “As early as three or four years ago, we were doing another project in the British Chinese occupational history. After the British National Military Museum learned about this project, we contacted us and said, do you know that many Chinese have served in the British army? We Very surprised, so I worked with the military museum and found a lot of precious historical materials.”
They found in historical data that as early as the 19th century Yihetuan period, there were Chinese serving the British army. At that time, there was a Chinese army “The First Chinese Regiment” in the Shandong Army. In recent years, in Europe, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the First World War, the researchers of Caritas also found that there were Chinese service groups in the Anglo-French allied forces, doing labor work for the British and French troops participating in the war. Although these Chinese workers do not participate in the war, they must also abide by the military law.
A man named John De Lucy contributed a set of precious historical photos to the exhibition. His grandfather used to be the captain of a team of Chinese workers in World War I. Fortunately for us, the future is that he has a camera that records the life and work of the Chinese workers. The old gentleman was recruited from Shandong Weihaiwei.
Why not recruit in the southern coast of China and go to recruit in northern China? It turns out that the recruits of the British and French troops are not stupid. They know that these Chinese workers are going to work in the cold regions of Europe. The southern Chinese people may not be able to adapt, and the Shandong Dahan will be able to withstand the harsh conditions of Europe and the harsh environment of war.
In 1916, these workers from Shandong and Hebei drifted from the sea, first to the Port of Liverpool in the UK, and then took the ferry across the English Channel to reach the already smoked France.
The exhibition reviewed the history of the “War of the First World War”. These Chinese workers were not only involved in the war on the Western Front, but also on the front line of the Soviet Union.
During the Second World War, the history of Chinese participation in the British military mainly occurred during the Hong Kong Defence War. At that time, many Hong Kong civilians joined the Volunteers to participate in the Hong Kong Defence War. Li Zhong said that they were fortunate enough to interview a Chinese British soldier who had participated in the Hong Kong Defence War in Hong Kong. He is now 93-year-old Cai Peter.
Cai Peter joined the British army when he was 18 years old in 1941. Before the training was completed, the Japanese army began to attack Hong Kong. So the young Cai Peter participated in the defense of Hong Kong. His anti-aircraft artillery unit laid a Japanese warplane, which was the only Japanese plane that the British army had laid down. After the fall of Hong Kong, Cai Peter turned underground and participated in the collection of Japanese intelligence activities. He later served as chairman of the Hong Kong British Army Veterans Association.
In addition to participating in the British Army service, there are also Chinese serving in the Royal Navy and Air Force. Zheng Wenying joined the Royal Navy in 1947, and he worked for 24 years. In the interview, he remembered the wars and rescues he had participated in, and he followed the Royal Navy in many countries around the world.
Although the scale of the exhibition is not large, many information and precious materials are presented to the public for the first time. Li Zhong said that the purpose of Caritas College is to preserve and spread the cultural heritage of British Chinese. Through the “Oral History” and “Lion and Dragon Dance” exhibitions, more people can understand the contribution of Chinese in British history. The exhibition address is on the Regent Univercity campus and ends at the end of August.