The Hikmat Remembers WW1 Exhibition is heading to North Devon next week after being launched in May at Co-Lab, followed by the Exeter Picture House.
The exhibition is being hosted by the Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon from 11th October 2017 until 5th January 2018.
Following contact with Gregory James in Hong Kong – we have now in our possession much information on all the Chinese Labour Corps Graves in Efford Cemetery.
We know which boats the men arrived on – the route they took, the illnesses they did from, whereabouts they came from – and in four cases we have their home addresses. Though we are sure these will not be there today in modern day China. Jane has translated some addresses – they talk about gates and dragons!
We are having a preparation day in advance of our trip to the Efford Cemetery – so that anyone interested who would like to go can find out more.
We will be going to the Naval Museum at Devonport.
Brenda is going to make contact with the Naval Museum to see if they hold any information about the CLC - after all many thousands of men went through Plymouth to Kent by rail.
Today three of us went to the IWM in London to listen to China and the Great War: A symposium. We all enjoyed it and learnt so much from listening to the “experts” on this topic. We also met Gregory James and he was so interesting – he has spent a lifetime cataloguing CLC graves throughout the world. There was a Photographic Presentation by Marius Gasior and Gregory James was able to really interpret a lot of the photos and point out small details in the photos which we would have not seen.
It was interesting listening to Professor Xu Guoqi on “What is China”
We had a good prep session in St Sidwells and took a group through everything that we would be doing at Efford Cemetery in terms of finding the graves. We talked about how these men must have felt boarding a boat to go to a country they may never have heard of – to a war which was not theirs. Very brave men indeed – never to see China again and to be buried far away. Many of the group shared their personal experiences of leaving China/Hong Kong and how they felt.
We have decided to read a poem on the day over the graves.
Trip to Efford Cemetery. It was a cool day – part sunny – part cloudy when we arrived. Clive took a lot of photos. It was a very sombre occasion, and when Kit read the poem – I think we all felt very sad – in fact Kit had to stop during the poem. Every Grave was honoured by members on the trip – and tea was poured at the sides of the graves.
I think everyone will hold a special moment to themselves of that day.
Jess talked with a lot of us and really captured a lot of the sentiment.
Emotionally it was quite tiring – not something that we had expected.
We then went to the Naval Museum at Devonport and had our lunch. We then had a delightful tour through the museum, we learnt a lot and had some fun dressing up!
We all enjoyed ourselves a lot – but will not forget the cemetery visit – it was very poignant.
Whilst we were at the cemetery – almost buried next to one of the CLC men was a young South African aged 18 years old who had been in the South African Native Labour Corps – Irfaan found his grave and was very interested as he is from South Africa. We will try and find out who he was.
Just before it got really busy!
Had a great morning telling people about the project and sharing stories.
The table included material about the Chinese War Graves, propaganda across the contingents, a map of journeys, food from the trenches and victors painting. Many people keen to come to the event in September! For our part today has helped define some of the topics that are most engaging.
Great workshop on with poppy making and diary writing. Held at RAMM today after the 2 min silence. More info and images on the projects part of the website. Thanks to all who came and made! Plan to make it even bigger next year!
A group of Hikmat met at the Cathedral Green and observed a two minute silence. Then discussed the significance of the poppy and why the silence is observed. About a hundred people gathered together to mark the moment in silence.
For those who are interested in how or why, here is a link to the BBC's information on the subject.
Tony Cheung & Ken Phillips visited Reading Museum on 5.9.2015 to see a special exhibition of India's contribution to World War I. The exhibition was opened a few months ago to emphasize the huge contribution in men, money, material (even animals such as horses and bullocks) that India made to the War Effort. The exhibition is only open for another couple of weeks, and consists mostly of posters about the Indian Army, what they did, how their wounded were cared for, and particular individuals who did outstanding service. It was all very moving - Tony photographed most of the posters. We putting just a few on the Hikmat Blog for people to look at.
Tony & Ken
Tony has been searching on eBay for possibly interesting items relating to the WW1 Chinese Labour Corps attached to the British Army. He has found a "certificate of attestation" of a Private Albert Arthur Edgar whose address was SE London. We think he was "demobbed" in 1921, after the war, but at some stage he was involved with the Chinese Labour Corps. As he was British, it's likely that he was in charge of Chinese labourers in some capacity. We are posting a couple of images from the certificate that Tony bought on-line as possibly the most interesting - there is a British Army service number that could help elucidate his background from the Forces on-line web site if someone has a subscription to this site.
(Ken Phillips & Tony Cheung, 9.9.2015)
Following mondays visit to the records office here are some notes about how to use the resource. Looking forward to going back!
Do have a look at Devon Remembers website - now up and running.
These images are the front and back of a postcard sent to a Mrs D. R. Jenkins by (possibly) her husband in July 1918, so only a few months before the end of WW1 hostilities. There are some personal remarks, then some comments (written in a patronising way that was presumably common then) on the men the writer was in charge of - it reads: This is a picture of some of the Chinese I have had charge of. I am sending it along, just for you to see for yourself that they are not soldiers.
According to Tony, this postcard was being bid for on eBay and eventually reached about £250. He made copies of the item as displayed on eBay (so I hope we're not infringing copyright). The price may have been driven up by Chinese bidders as such items are so scarce now.
Sept. 10, 2015
Just a few words to explain Tony Cheung's updates, uploaded today (2.8.15) as a Word Document (in English and Chinese):
Introduction - Tony explains how he got interested in the WW1 Remembers project.
1. Some remarks about Mark O'Neill's book "The Chinese Labour Corps".
2. Professor Xu Guoqi's researches on Chinese involvement in WW1 including his book "Strangers on the Western Front".
3. Remarks about interesting documentary called "First World War: China's Forgotten Foreign Legion" available on the Chatham House (Royal Inst. of International Affairs) web site.
4. Tony's extensive MS Word documents from the "South China Morning Post" about Chinese involvement in WW1, with interesting images about the harrowing conditions that Chinese workers had.
5. Tony also has Word documents on food and drink that army personnel had in the trenches. These are all available from him.
We hope you will find these contributions interesting. Tony plans to follow up on several items above in the coming months.
Fantastic introduction workshops in Exeter and Barnstaple this week. The involvement of vast numbers of different nationalities involved in the war was sketched out. Lots of questions about how and why people were recruited and from where. Also lots of questions about what the war was all about. Interest in the effect that the war had on people and countries from which they returned after 1918. Lots to explore !
Great archive of information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission FOREVER INDIA project website. Has been added to out links in India Resources.
Don't forget to check out our suggested resources and add to them as and when you come across interesting projects or publications.
If you are starting to look at India in WW1 then good place to start.
On 4th June our third death certificate arrived – that of Yang Wu Lin. This showed that he was from Northern China and had died at Ford Park Military Hospital from pneumonia and cardiac failure.
We have decided to continue and apply for all the death certificates of those men from the Chinese Labour Corps buried in Plymouth.
Once we have these we can begin looking at that information if any we can find – from persons who specialise in this area.