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.