Thanks to Kent we now know more about the 17th Battalion and the Plymouth Graves.
Men were organised into battalions, which is a military designation. Each battalion is approximately 1000 men and this individual was attached to the 17th Battalion Chinese Labour Corps. There is a chance that the 17th Battalion war diaries are held at the National Archives at Kew. Whilst all military units have archived war diaries, the 17th was a labour battalion, so we will have to research further.
Another suggestion is that we go on the TNA website and/or make an enquiry through the web site to find out what archival material they have in London.
Lastly Kent suggested a book Gregory James, The Chinese Labour Corps (1916-1920) (Hong Kong: Bayview Educational, 2013). There are several references to Plymouth which Kent has identified below. At this stage it seems most likely that
You could have a go on the TNA website and/or make an enquiry through the web site to find out what archival material they have in London.
On page 309 of the James book, Plymouth is mentioned for two different groups. The first in Ford House Military Hospital are five men buried in Efford Cemetery in Plymouth are: Wu Jinsheng, 28 June 1917 (dysentery); Wang Fengzhu, 29 June, and Wang Peisheng, 2nd July (both of gastritis); Yang Meilin, 3 August (pneumonia); and Sun Yuchen, 22 August (cerebro-spinal fever). The last one is your man for if you look on the death certificate on the left hand side you will see 22 August.
There were three arrivals who succumbed to beriberi in 1917: Zhang Enqing on 30 June; Wang Defu on 4 July and Song Jinglong on 6 July.
Wow, thats a lot of info for the group to take in and explore. ! Good luck!!
Oli (with all the input from Kent)
Well the second death certificate has arrived and is attached. It is for Shun Yu Tsai. As you will see the certificate tells us he was 30 yrs old died of cerebral spinal fever – which I looked up and is meningitis today. I also says there was no postmortem. From the certificate it says he was in the 17th Battalion. Useful if we could follow this through at some stage. I have no idea who the 17th Battalion were .
Today the death certificate of Wang Pei Sheng arrived. I knew from looking at death certificates that it would provide some information about the person, where they had died and what they had died from.
The death certificate is on the site to view.
The certificate showed that Wang Pei Sheng had been a Private in the Chinese Labour Corps. He had come from Northern China, and had died from Gastritis and Diarrhoea in Ford Military Hospital Plymouth.
I began to look at what could have happened to Wang Pei Sheng as he died in 1917 before he was able to be sent to the Western Front.
Below is an interpretation of what may have happened.
The British Chinese Labour Corps were recruited from Northern China and the British used Private Recruitment Agencies. These agencies directed potential recruits to the British Territory of Wei-hai-wei in Shandong Province where they were given contracts and placed under the administrative control of the War Office
The first contingent – and this may have included Wang Pei Sheng were 1000 recruits from Wei-hei-wei for England arrived in Plymouth on 11 April 1917 before being sent on to Northern France.
The journey was long and hard, and it is easy to imagine - the cold, and the lack of suitable nourishment - that could be a reason that Wang Pei Sheng fell sick.
The number of Chinese recruited by British Agencies is quite significant.
British Chinese Labour Corps
I have now requested the death certificate of Shun Yu Tsai. He died in Plymouth on 22 August 1917.
As with Wang Pei Sheng – the name of Shun Yu Tsai has been difficult to verify. So many names were entered wrongly – different spellings, first and surnames muddled, so when searching, many different spellings of the name require being entered in the search engine.
Once the death certificate of Shun Yu Tsai is received, I will update what is happening.
Researching the Chinese War Graves in Efford Cemetery Plymouth.
Last week I decided to start looking at the Efford World War One Chinese Labour Corps graves in Plymouth. To begin with there was a lot of information on the Plymouth Site. After being able to get all the names from the 8 Headstones (pictures attached) I thought that after our launch I would start to identify each person as an individual and collect any further information available.
I initially thought that it would not be too difficult, but have now realised that the information held on each of the 8 Privates has been recorded using different spellings and interpretations of their names. All 8 were identified using their Service Number only – and for many there were many different spellings for their name.
Names and Services Numbers were found on the Commonwealth Graves Commission Site on line. (Please see list of graves). Hikmat Remembers Project has applied for the death certificate of Shong Wang Pei .
More to come……….when we get the death certificate
ALSO SEE THE PROJECT GROUP PAGE.
A great launch at Ramm today in Exeter. Over fifty of us ! Amazing talk from Kent Fedorowich about the huge contribution by Commonwealth, Chinese and other countries in WW1. The numbers are boggling!! Also brilliant talks by Tony and Musarat about the project. And a brilliant introduction to Ramm by Ruth Gidley. Thanks to all for the help!
Photo from Tony
Brenda has emailed this amazing photo of troops boarding a train in France.
Will add to the archive. If you have any other images please send them in..
Hikmat Remembers site to go live. Work is underway in advance of the project launch on the 29th April.