CHINA AT WAR by Freda Utley
Preface and Chapter 1 Hong Kong and Canton 1937
This book does not attempt an adequate analysis of China’s social and political structure, nor does it give an account of her economic problems. My visit to China was too short, and the horrors of the war too close, for any cold appraisal of the ills of China. I have endeavoured to describe, as truthfully as possible , what I saw in China; and to make others see the tragedy now being enacted in the Far East.
That life in China in war-time was not all sadness and horror, but had its gay and pleasant side, these pages will show. Something of the serenity and good humour of the Chinese people, something of their friendliness, cheerfulness, and philosophical acceptance of the good and the ill which life brings, infected all the members of the ‘Hankow gang’ of war correspondents, among whom I lived for a few months, with whom I visited the Chinese fronts, and with whom I ‘tired the sun with talking’ through a long Chinese summer.
Intent on the troubles of Europe, fearful of the war which may engulf the western hemisphere, we hardly heed the rumble of the distant drums in the Far East, yet the fate of China’s four hundred millions may well seem to the historian of the future the most important event of the early twentieth century. The city states of ancient Greece saw only the conflict of democratic Athens against that prototype of the Fascist State, Sparta. They were oblivious to the growing might of Rome and Carthage, whose eventual conflict was to decide the fate of the Mediterranean world. It may well be that the future of the world is now being decided on the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, rather than on the Rhine or the Vistula, or in the conference halls of Europe.
The most ancient civilization in existence, and the most pacific of all civilizaitons, that of China, is struggling not to be overwhelmed by the ‘dwarf robbers from the Eastern Isles’, who have learnt from the West all the arts of modern war, but have rejected our political conceptions and the humanism which has slightly tempered the ferocity with which we have waged our wars.
Japan aims at world conquest, and her rulers have the singleness of purpose to accomplish it, but neither the requisite man power nor the material resources, unless they can incorporate China into their empire.
If China’s millions should ever be militarized, either by Japan or in a long struggle to resist her, the world would be faced by a military menace besides which the might of Germany would pale to insignificance. As General Smuts once said: ‘It may well be that Western civilization will stand or fall in this matter of its contacts with the immense human masses of the East.’
Should the Chinese despair of the Western democracies who continue to supply Japan with the sinews of war, and should they decide to submit to the Japanese yoke, Japan might become the strongest power in the world.
For nearly two years now the Chinese people have continued to fight – ill-armed, often poorly led, handicapped not only by their primitive economy, but also by having as yet created only the embryo of a modern government and a modern social organization. No one who has seen China at war can doubt the reality of the Chinese renaissance, and, although it would be foolish to be optimistic, it is still possible to believe that Japan will not conquer in the end. But the sufferings of the Chinese people are beyond the capacity of our imagination to realize, and some little encouragement must be given to them, if they are to continue to bear them.
I have dared in this book to criticize China. In spite of my strong desire that she should win this war, I can see her faults and I have been horrified at the neglect of the common people, and especially of the wounded soldiers; and feel strongly that to hide China’s weaknesses, or to be over-optimistic, is not to do her a service. China will survive, in spite of the superior armaments of Japan, if ancient injustices, ancient social and financial tyrannies, and ancient ways of thought and methods of administration give way to reforms consonant with the spirit of Young China.
Few people who have lived in China and have been received by the Chinese as friends fail to love them and to admire them. I learnt also in China that no criticism which a friendly foreigner could make equalled the criticisms of the best men and women in the country, who are giving all their strength, and many of whom have sacrificed their lives for the New China which they believe is being created in the agony of this war.
Any one who has read the details of America’s war of Independence against England will remember how the incompetence of Congress, the greed of those who saw the war as an opportunity to make their fortune, and the failure adequately to arm and feed the soldiers and militia, nearly lost the war, and nearly gave back to England her dominion over her American colonies. The spirit of the men who fought overcame all these handicaps, and it may be that in China the same thing will happened.
Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek is as great a man as General Washington, the Chinese guerrillas are not inferior to the militia of New England, and China is more united than was the American union of thirteen states in the eighteenth century.
My thanks are doe to the many Chinese friends I made last year, who gave me some slight understanding of the problems of their country, as well as an appreciation of the devotion of those who are working and fighting to save it.
My thanks are also due to the ‘bamboo’ Americans mentioned in this book, who have lived for years in China, who speak her language, and have not feared to risk their lives at the front and in air-raided towns, nor to incur the enmity of the Japanese in their exposure of the Japanese terror in China to the all-too-indifferent public of the West.
From these men I, an amateur war correspondent, received help, friendship, and the courage to bear the sight of suffering.
Lastly, I would express my gratitude to Mr. Walter Bosshard, Captain Evans Carlson of the U.S. Marines, Mr. A.T. Steele of the Chicago Daily News, and Mr. Leslie Smith of Reuter’s, for permission to reproduce some of the photographs they took in China, while journeying with me to the front, on in Hankow.
London, May 1939
PARADISE TO PURGATORY: HONG KONG AND CANTON
- Hong Kong
Early in the morning of a July day I arrived in Hong Kong after three weeks’ lazing and basking in the sun through the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific. I had left England fearing that Hankow might fall before I got there, and this sense of urgency prevented my staying more than a few days in one of the lovely cities of the world to study the ‘Hong Kong mind’, if there is such a thing. Certainly even my brief stay convinced me that there is to-day more of the old ‘Shanghai mind’ to be found amongst the English in Hong Kong than in Shanghai itself. For although the very existence of Hong Kong, and the livelihood of its inhabitants, white or yellow, depended on a Chinese victory, many of the English still though of China as the China of a decade ago, and were more afraid of Chinese nationalism than of Japanese imperialism. Even the wealthy Chinese British subjects of Hong Kong had been more generous in contributing to British war funds in 1914 than to the call of their own people to-day.
Hong Kong in the summer of 1938 was one of the most prosperous cities of the world. Since the loss of Shanghai to Japan in the autumn of 1937 it had become the main port for all trade with China, as distinct from trade with the Japanese in China; it was also the magnet for all the liquid capital of China. Being a British Crown Colony, although a part of China, it was in and yet not in the war. Profiting enormously from the war, Hong Kong, unlike the Chinese cities, had neither Japanese bombers nor gunboats to fear. Obviously its very existence depended upon access to Canton and the Chinese hinterland; once cut off politically as well as geographically, it was doomed to become a kind of Eastern Vienna, an organism deprived of nourishment. Yet, unlike Shanghai, where the presence of Japanese troops and the arrogance and insolence of the Japanese were a perpetual reminder of what was in store for the ‘white races’ all over China should Japan win, Hong Kong remained curiously detached from the war. The English continued to lead the leisurely and pleasant lives which they have always lived in the East, whilst the wealthy Chinese flooded the restaurants and cafes and had no shame in flaunting their affluence. Hong Kong was even reluctant to set up refugee camps for the destitute who had fled from Canton, and it was easier to collect money for China from Chinese residents in Singapore or the Dutch East Indies than in Hong Kong.
There were many refugees of another kind in Hong Kong; not the starving, ragged, miserable hordes which trudge inland in hundreds of thousands along the roads of China, or crowd the streets of as yet unconquered Chinese cities; not again the hopeless men, women, and children who sleep in the streets of Shanghai and die off slowly in their daily hundreds. Hong Kong’s refugees were for the most part well fed, well dressed, and well to do. Families which had left Canton to escape the constant bombings, or had left some other part of China with their capital – intending to remain wealthy whatever the outcome of the war – and the wives and children of officials in Canton or Hankow, placed here for safety. All in Canton who cold afford it, except the most patriotic, fled to Hong Kong, or at least sent their families there. There was exchange control in China and it should theoretically have been impossible for so much Chinese money to find its way to Hong Kong. But is addition to the fact that incorruptibility amongst officials is a new thing in China there was the difficulty inherent in the existence of foreign settlements on Chinese soil and the position of foreign banks in China. Real control of Chinese capital was impossible without the full co-operation of the foreign banks. It is true, also, that for the moment the fact that Hong Kong belonged to Britain, and was there fore outside the war zone, helped China; but its existence, like that of the Shanghai International Settlement, enabled the rich Chinese to escape taxation and transfer their wealth outside China.
Prices in Hong Kong were soaring and business booming. Every hotel was packed and had doubled its prices. The cafes, restaurants, and shops were full of people. As the cities of China bled in the devastation wrought by the war, Hong Kong waxed fat.
It was none the less an uneasy prosperity. At any moment the Japanese might launch an attack on Canton and cut Hong Kong off from the sources of its wealth. Might not the Japanese even attack Hong Kong itself, men asked? Would Britain defend it? In whichever way Japan chose to act, the writing on the wall was plain for all to read and the gaiety of Hong Kong was a little hectic.
No docks in the world can have been as busy as those of Kowloon in the summer of 1938. Kowloon is the ‘leased territory’ opposite Hong Kong on the Chinese mainland whence starts the 550-mile railway line to Hankow via Canton. The German boat on which I had come proceeded to unload, at top speed, its cargo of munitions for China, before proceeding to Kobe to unload a similar cargo for Japan. Next to it an Italian freighter discharged other war supplies. British, French, Russian, and American ships could all be found tied up in the docks. China was buying munitions wherever she could get them and rushing them up to Changsha and Hankow along the daily bombed railway which the Japanese never succeeded in destroying. China was utilizing all the foreign currency and silver reserves she had deposited abroad before the war began, and exporting as much tea and tung oil, manganese, antimony, tungsten, and other merchandise as she could, to provide new means of payment. China knew that at any moment the Japanese might attack Canton, or at last succeed in taking Hankow, and she was feverishly laying in all the armaments she could for that day. When, in October, Kankow and Canton both fell to the invader, the Chinese Government said it had laid in supplies sufficient for a further nine months of war.
There was no particular secrecy about these shipments. There could not be, since Hong Kong was a free port and British. One could walk at will over the vast docks, see the coolies sweating under the heavy cases, or lying in exhausted sleep near the water-front, note whence came the freight. I met an Englishman who was first mate of a ship flying the British flag, owned by French nuns in Hong Kong, whose captain was an American and whose engineer and second mate were Japanese, and which had brought a cargo of munitions from Odessa in Soviet Russia. Such is the internationalism of the shipping trade, or for that matter, of the armaments business. It was said in Hong Kong that the only armament firm which did not sell to both sides was the Czech firm of Skoda. It was difficult to preserve any illusions about wars for democracy in Hong Kong. Rather did one remember the now extinct post-war literature warning us of the machinations of the world armament rings which foster war and rumours of war, whilst men fight in the names of ideals – or ideologies. Later I was to hear a cynical old French priest in China say that the war would go on until Britain, France, and the U.S.A. had made about all they could expect to make out of both sides.
The typical foreigner in Hong Kong had little thought for the miseries of China, nor could he readily admit that such a thing as Young China or a Chinese national renaissance existed at all. There was plenty of scandalmongering and mockery concerning the venality of the Chinese officials. Every one saw the results of the old Chinese individualism and nepotism and refused to see the New China being strengthened in the fires of war. China today is like an animal changing its skin. Plenty of the old h ide remains, but beneath it appears the new coat, if one gets close enough to see.
Moreover, the Westerners – and particularly the English – forget that in war-time in all countries there are profiteers, and that more veiled and ‘gentlemanly’ forms of corruption exist even in Britain. Japan, as every one who has ever read the Japanese press knows, is riddled with corruption; and Japanese history shows that the corruption of high officials and generals was most naked in the great days of the Meiji era, when she first started to become a modern State.
The trouble in Hong Kong was that the bad side of China at war was the only side visible. It was here that the unpatriotic wealthy congregated and here that the munition buyers and sellers met. No one had seen the Chinese fighting, or felt the spirit of Young China. Or if they had, it meant to them only the memories of 1924-7, when they had trembled for their profits, if not their lives, before the anti-imperialist wave of those years. When I visited Shanghai three and a half months later I was struck by the contrast in the British attitude. For in Shanghai the new quality of China had been seen; in Shanghai British officers could wax lyrical over t he galantry of the Lone Battalion and the courage of the Chinese soldiers who, ill-armed and fighting under every disadvantage, h ad held the Japanese back for nearly four months. In Shanghai, too, there were few who had preserved the illusion that Japan would let Britain or the United States do any more trade in China should she win the war.
There were a number of interesting people to meet in Hong Kong: Chih-ling Soong, the widow of Sun Yat Sen and sister of Madame Chiang Kai-shek; T. V. Soong, her brother, ablest and most honest of Chinese banker-officials; Eugene Chen, just returned from years of exile in Paris, kept at arm’s length by Chiang Kai-shek and attacking his policies in the Hong Kong and Shanghai papers, but expecting, or at least hoping, that in time he would be called back to office.
Eugene Chen’s name had once been for the British the most feared and hated of Chinese names. That was in the days when he was Foreign Minister and negotiated the rendition of the British concession at Hankow to China – the famous Chen-O’Malley agreement of 1927. He now lived in a small house in Kowloon, ignored by the British and mistrusted by his own countrymen. In British eyes he represented the most uncompromising Chinese nationalism of the revolutionary Kuomintang period; his name recalled the days when it was China, not Japan, that was insulting the British and attaching their imperialist interests. In the Generalissimo’s eyes he was the one important Chinese of any faction who had never bowed down before him or ceased from openly criticizing him. The Communists, for their part, mistrusted him as too much of an individualist, and although he is all for their policy of collaboration with the U.S.S.R., compromise with Western imperialism, and ‘mobilization of the people’, they also cold-shouldered him or ignored him. It may be, of course, that they are too nervous of the associations of his name for the British, or of Chiang Kai-shek’s enmity towards the opponent of the ‘Soong Dynasty’. In any case, for both the British and the Chinese governments, his name is too unwelcome a reminder of the days when China’s struggle for independence was waged under anti-British slogans for it to be at all likely that he will be recalled to office. Nevertheless, there were recurring rumours that he was to be appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, and there is little doubt he would have made an astute and clever one. His vitriolic articles and downright criticisms are a healthy, even if a bitter, tonic for China, whose Government is a little too accustomed to face-saving eulogies, and a too complacent satisfaction with the way in which the war is being carried on.
One might perhaps describe Eugene Chen as a kind of Trotsky of the Kuomintang Party, who never ceases to remind it of its original aims, nor fears to tell Chiang Kai-shek that he is not a superman and should not try to run everything himself and keep all power in the hands of his family and personal friends. Eugene Chen, born abroad and resident abroad for the greater part of his life, sees political problems with a Western eye; Chiang Kai-shek, who knows no foreign country except Japan, and speaks only the Chinese of his native province, sees the problem of keeping China united and resisting Japan as problems to be solved in the Chinese way by Chinese methods. Their views are obviously irreconcilable.
I found Eugene Chen a most stimulating talker and an acute observer and thinker. Perhaps he is
ambitious, but who amongst outstanding personalities is not? He certainly understands the Western world and its policies as few Chinese do. He is as keen as Madame Sun Yat Sen on closer collaboration with Russia, but he has no illusions about the U.S.S.R. He is prepared to ‘go along with’ Britain today and for so long as China’s and Britain’s interests are the same. He is a realist and not an idealist. Perhaps that is why he is disliked by so many people. The count against him is also that, born and reared in the West Indies, and unaccustomed even to speaking Chinese, he is a foreigner to China and Chinese ways of thought and does not understand his own people. His count against Chiang Kai-shek, on the other hand, is that the latter is too Chinese in his methods, too feudal-minded, and too little aware of the realities of the world outside.
I had two long interviews with Eugene Chen in his little house on the outskirts of Kowloon. Over and over again he emphasized the fact that China’s lack of armament factories was the dominating factor in the situation.
‘China,’ he said, ‘cannot win alone. She must have allies. We ought to have a diplomatic front as well as a military front, but Chiang Kai-shek envisages the problem as purely a military one. Japan is waging a totalitarian war against us and our resistance should also be a totalitarian one. Chiang Kai-shek should have realized that the diplomatic front is of paramount importance, yet for him it hardly exists.
‘In 1932 Japan had no modern air force. We have had the opportunity since then to create an air force. Yet, although millions have been raised in China to buy aeroplanes, we only had between 158 and 167 when the war began. They put Madame Chiang Kai-shek at the head of the air force. She had good intentions, but she was just a well-meaning girl who knew nothing about the subject. It was quite crazy and the Russians refused to send planes if she remained in charge.
‘Then there is the question of the German advisers. They were sent out originally when the Germans had a theory that it was Chiang Kai-shek’s historical mission to liquidate the war-lords and transform China into a vast market for German capital goods. After Hitler came to power, Chiang Kai-shek’s “mission” was held to be that of an instrument against the U.S.S.R. Military aid, armaments, and advisers were supplied to China because Ribbentrop imagined it was possible to reconcile the victim and the aggressor by bringing them both into a bloc against the U.S.S.R. He failed to realize the contradiction inherent in such a policy. The war, as it progressed, made the realization inevitable, and so, following Hitler’s speech in January 1938, the German advisers were withdrawn. Hitler had realized that he must choose between losing China as a market and losing Japan as a military ally. Germany’s economic interest was sacrificed to her political interest.
‘The German advisers erred concerning fortifications and our air force. Their theory of a Hindenburg line of fortification which could not be broken was useless in so vast a country as China. They were good drill sergeants, but this is not what we wanted and their conceptions and tactics were unsuitable in China.’
I was to remember this part of my concersation months later when, on the night I left Hankow, I paced the air-field with Captain Stennes, captain of Chiang Kai-shek’s bodyguard and his confidential adviser. Stennes is a German who was a Left-Wing National Socialist and a friend of General Schleicher. He had been enabled to escape from a German concentration camp by his wife and was now an exile in China. The perfect type of adventurer, absolutely fearless, intelligent, physically a splendid specimen, and with an attractive personality, he loathed Hitler and had a very real loyalty, affection, and admiration for the Generalissimo. In his view the German advisers had been invaluable to Chiang.
‘The French,’ he said, ‘are too arrogant and impatient to be of any use as military advisers in China. They tell the Chinese command what it should do and then shrug their shoulders when it doesn’t get done. The British are too lazy; only the Germans have the necessary patience. You should have seen the tact and patience with which Von Falkenhausen got his views adopted. He would never say, “I think this ought to be done.” He would say, “I think the best strategy would be that plan you suggested a week or two ago,” and then proceed to outline his own plan.’
‘What about the Russians?’ I asked.
‘Not bad, but their psychology is too similar to that of the Chinese. Their nichevo (“can’t be helped”) and the Chinese mei yu fa-tze (“nothing to be done about it”) are too similar. Besides, their military advisers are too specialized. Each knows just one thing and no more. For instance, their technical advisers just understand one particular make of gun, and that is hopeless in China, where we have armaments from all over the world.’
He went on to say how greatly he admired Chiang Kai-shek. ‘He knew he must wait a few years if he were going to resist the Japanese successfully. That’s why he gave way to them time and again until he should have built up his military strength. But he was forced to fight in 1937 by the pressure of the Communists and the Lest intellectuals.’
Yet, although Stennes might have been accused by Eugene Chen of thinking of warfare entirely in terms of the training and equipment of armies, he was well aware of the factor of morale. ‘Give me five men who really believe in what they are fighting for,’ he said, ‘and I will lead them against a hundred.’ It is also of interest that he told me that night on the air-field that my interview about the neglect of the Chinese wounded (see Chapter 6) had done good, and that Von Falkenhausen had pressed for years to get a proper army medical service organized and trained.
To return, however, to Eugene Chen. When I asked him whether it was true, as so many people said, that T.V. Soong was being prevented from exercising his great talents in China’s interest by the jealousy of his sisters, who maintained Dr. Kung in office, Eugene Chen answered as follows:
‘T.V. Soong is himself one of the architects of the counter-revolution which has been dominant in China since 1927. The Nanking Government is the creation of the counter-revolution. It has spent 3,000 million dollars on new roads and railways, which now only help the Japanese to advance the faster. The paradox of the situation is that, since the policy of the Government was objectively basically wrong, all its work of reconstruction today benefits only Japan. T.V. Soong represents the banker-comprador wing of the counter-revolution. They see only the financial side of reconstruction. Soong himself is a clever politician who sees the deluge coming and is concerned above all to save his reputation, which is so high amongst the foreigners. Since the financial headquarters of the bankers and compradors has been destroyed by the Japenese in Shanghai, Soong has tried to reestablish it in Hong Kong, whence he maintains financial control over the Chinese banks. He pretends that there is a feud between him and Kung, but in reality he, Soong, commands on the financial front. He could have any position in the Government which he desires, but he doesn’t want to assume any responsibility unless he is sure of a British loan. He himself reallput Kung in office and maintains him there as a useful scapegoat; for T.V. is despondent and pessimistic about the outcome of the war. He, like his sisters in Hankow and the Generalissimo, conceives of China as the property of one family.’
He went on to speak of the ‘united front’ in China, saying he had been favour of it because it brought in the Communists, and because Chiang Kai-shek sees treachery everywhere.
‘But the united front has now outlived its usefulness. What we now need is a national front, which is something quite different. When you get to Hankow and ask questions you will find that both a Kuomintang man and a Communist will ask himself before he answers you, “Is my answer consistent with my membership of my party?” Neither will think “Is it consistent with the national interest?”’
‘We have a long tradition of secret societies in China and in some sense the Chinese Communist Party is one of those secret societies. Russia gives it a modern leaven; if fully independent the Chinese Communist Party would become as exploiting and parasitical as the Kuomintang. But its organizational link with the Comintern prevents its degenerating as the Kuomintang has done.’
Eugene Chen, as I have already remarked, is a realist, but it seemed to me that he nevertheless had too great faith in the possibility of China being able to obtain far greater assistance from Russia if only the latter did not still distrust Chiang Kai-shek. One could only agree with his argument that China must seek allies; but was it really possible for her to get them even if she paid more attention to the ‘diplomatic front’?
Again, his insistence on the mistake Chiang Kai-shek makes in keeping all power in his own hands, and trying to do more himself than any mortal man could ever do, was all very correct. But could Chiang admit others to equal power with himself, could group leadership be substituted in China for a one-man leadership, without renewed political disunity? Eugene Chen is clearly inclined to paint his political opponents blacker than they really are and to ignore their difficulties.
In a later interview, he made himself clearer on the political issue and the foreign policy which, in his view, China should pursue.
‘The essential point is that we can’t manufacture our own weapons. Our military leadership, experienced only in civil war, confuses the conditions of civil war with those of war without the assistance of Britain and the United States. Only immediate assistance can be given us by the U.S.S.R. It cannot suffice us but it can help us to fight until Anglo-American assistance comes into play. It is clear that Russia will avoid being drawn into the war. I myself have never been, even in the old days, in favour of throwing Britain and America out of China, but I insist today, as in the past, that they must obey the laws of China, i.e. that extra-territoriality must go. This can be accomplished in an orderly way, by negotiation. If only our diplomacy were more intelligent and forceful we could get aid into many respects, since we have so large a common interest with Britain and America against Japan. The basis of cooperation lies in the fact that we have millions of men to bear arms, but no arms factories.
‘It is a miracle that we have survived so long. The war has gone on already for a whole year. It shows the inherent strength of the Chinese nation. It is only our leadership which is at fault. The Chinese people are fighting the Japanese people, a totalitarian war is being waged; so that the struggle is not purely a military one but also an economic and diplomatic one. We must have group leadership instead of the present one-man leadership. A suitable and able man should be in charge of each department with absolute authority. The heads of each department should constitute the war leadership. The full resources of the country must be mobilized if we are to resist Japan.’
Interviewing Ching-Ling Soong, widow of Sun Yat Sen, after Eugene Chen, meant passing from an atmosphere of pitiless realism, bitterness, and frustrated ambition into an atmosphere of sublime idealism and unselfishness. Madame Sun wanted much the same things to be done as Eugene Chen; she criticized the conduct of the war as openly as he did, but her ideas as to what should be done were far vaguer, and she, unlike him, obviously had no personal ambition. She wanted reform because, quite literally, her heart bled for her people. He wanted them because he felt he could run China much better than Chiang Kai-shek and was annoyed at what he considered the incompetence, the pretences, and the stupidities of the ruling Kuomintang group.
She opened the door to me herself when I called upon her by appointment in her small flat up on the Peak. A beautiful woman, the fairest of the Soong sisters, she is also the simplest and most modest. There is a dignity about her which is completely unconscious and unstudied, and a grace which is typical of Chinese women. She seems far less Americanized than her brother and her sisters, both in voice and manner and in thought. European influences have formed her mind and outlook, and even her accent is English, not American. Talking to her one felt, and it is an unusual feeling to have with the Chinese, that the sufferings of the people move her profoundly, and that it is t heir suffering, not the awareness of national humiliation or the desire for power, which is the mainspring of her actions. One almost felt that, Christ-like, her heart is pierced by the death, mutilation or starvation of her countrymen. It was the deep feeling behind her words and her obvious sincerity which redeemed her views from a certain narrow-mindedness or naivete. She sees the political world in black and white; wicked Kuomintang bureaucrats, good Communists, good National Salvationists. Her political views were uncritical and second-hand and unrealistic. Russia is helping China, therefore the Stalinists are good people, and purges and concentration camps and executions can be ignored; journalists who appear to favour Japan must have been bought by the Japanese, else why else should they favour Wrong against Right? Revolutionaries who do not approve of the Comintern line are ‘those terrible Trotskyists’. Living in a world of ideas, she appeared to have little understanding of political realities, and to be too prone to uncritical acceptance of the professions of these who seemed to be working for the same ends as herself. One could love her and respect her, but one would be chary of trusting her judgements, and she could never play a leading political role.
For Madame Sun Yat Sen the third of her husband’s Three Principles (the San Min Chu, which are supposed to be the creed of the Kuomintang Party), ‘the livelihood of the people’, is the most important of the three and the most neglected. Because she would never accept a government which neglected this principle she had torn herself away from her family and gone to Moscow in 1927 when Chiang Kai-shek started massacring the Communists and trade-unionists, and converting the National Revolutionary Government into his personal military dictatorship. Because of th is she today ignores the darker side of Communism, since it is the Communists who appear to be most concerned with the sufferings of the mass of the Chinese people. Because of this she alone, amongst the members of her family, is poor, and lives with a single servant in a tiny flat. She is of the stuff of which martyrs are made, not political leaders or the unifiers of nations in the state of China. One understands easily the antipathy between her and her forceful, realistic, perhaps unscrupulous and certainly power-loving sister, Mei-ling Soong, the wife of the generalissimo; or the coldness between her and her worldly and materialistic sister Madame Kung.
She, like Eugene Chen, but from purer motives, will not pretend that all is well in China so long as the mass of the poor peasants are ignored and the soldiers neglected. Her views of the situation were, in fact, as gloomy as those of Eugene Chen. She has no patience with the pretences of the New Life Movement and wrote of it as follows before the war:
‘When I consider the New Life Movement I think it unfortunate that, well meaning as the author doubtless meant to be, he has not yet realized that the most fundamental need of the Chinese masses is economic development. In other words, to improve the people’s livelihood as Doctor Sun taught. In the New Life Movement there is nothing new to be found, it gives nothing to the people. Therefore I propose to replace this pedantic movement by another – that is a great campaign to improve the people’s livelihood through improvements of methods of production, especially in agriculture. The aim of revolution is the material welfare of human beings or masses. If that is not reached then there has been no revolution.’
It was Madame Sun, first of any one, who tried to get help from abroad for the wounded soldiers. For this purpose she founded the China Defence League, of which she herself is chairman and T.V. Soong president. She works indefatigably, and has not even a secretary to assist her with her vast correspondence and the many articles she writes. She visited Canton frequently before it fell and was there received with the utmost enthusiasm. There is a particular feeling for her there, in the cradle of the National Revolutionary Movement, not only because she is the widow of the great leader, but because it is felt that she alone has remained true to the principles and beliefs of Sun Yat Sen. One of China’s tragedies is that those principles were so vague. His widow, even if her political beliefs are even vaguer, has obviously preserved the spirit of the dead leader and will not be put off by pretences and shams, or lulled into acquiescence in social injustice by the fruits of office.
Madame Sun hardly ever meets her sister, Madame Chiang, and never her sister Madame Kung. She has never been invited by the Generalissimo to the capital to take a place in the Government. But she is on good terms with her brother, T.V. Soong, the President of the Bank of China.
Vincent Sheean, in his In Search of History, has painted a masterly picture of T.V. in 1927 – the liberal minded middle-of-the-roader who could not make up his mind between the military dictatorship of chiang Kai-shek and the slowly expiring ‘legitimate’ Left and majority Kuomintang government at Hankow, disliking and mistrusting both. T.V. is a modern-minded Chinese, without his youngest sister’’ idealism, or the energetic Y.M.C.A. spirit of his other sister, Madame Chiang, but very gifted and with an attractive, almost boyish, personality. He has a real desire to modernize China and would stick to the rules of sound finance, and thus secure foreign loans, to do it. He is very rich, but his fortune is largely a modern-made fortune, owing little to the devious ways of old China. He would modernize and enrich China and enrich himself with her, but this is a very different thing to enriching oneself at the expense of China, as so many officials and other bankers have done.
It was T.V. who was largely responsible for securing League of Nations experts to aid China, and for the Chinese currency reform of 1935. In fact, he is the outstanding representative of those capitalist interests in China which, whilst prepared to utilize the military to keep ‘internal order’, are opposed to any kind of ‘national socialist’ regime in China. They want to see China’s productive forces developed on capitalist lines, and they want a moderately democratic political system. They would rely on foreign credits, the remittances of overseas Chinese, and the capital accumulation of the large Chinese banks. It is possible that China would find it somewhat easier to get credits abroad if T.V. were the finance Minister, instead of Dr. Kung, who has been accused of venality, or of turning a blind eye to the venality of his close associates. Dr. Kung’s methods of running the finances of the country are certainly more old-style Chinese than Western and are criticized by the foreigner, but they may be the only possible methods at present. T.V. Soong’s present function, as President of the Bank of China, that of preventing the exchange value of the Chinese currency from sinking too low, is of equal importance to Dr. Kung’s function of raising money internally to carry on the war, and it is perhaps more suited to his talents.
T.V. Soong is thought not to be fully trusted by Chiang Kai-shek, that essentially Chinese politician and leader who prefers to keep Dr. Kung as Finance Minister. For Dr. Kung is more amenable and less of a personality, besides being the husband of Madame Chiang’s beloved elder sister. T.V. Soong’s efficiency, his occidental manners and methods, and his insistence on an orderly financial system, eliminating all possibilities of ‘squeeze’, do not endear him to the old-style officials. Perhaps Chiang Kai-shek thinks he would Westernize China a bit too rapidly and alienate too many people who must be kept loyal at this critical time. For the secret of Chiang Kai-shek’s strength and power is his skilful balancing between the forces of feudal and modern China.
- THE MIRACLE RAILWAY
I left the safe haven of Hong Kong at seven in the evening to take the train to Canton, with the knowledge that the Japanese had been bombing the line daily, and frequently also by night, for months past. Those for whom safety was of greater importance than time or curiosity travelled by steamer, but there was actually little danger, since the Japanese had rarely succeeded in hitting a train. Although their bombs seldom found their mark, they sometimes swept low to use their machine-guns to riddle the train with bullets. But the risk was slight enough to add only a little excitement to the journey.
The third-class carriages were packed to the limit with a cheerful crowd, for even if a Chinese is leaving Paradise for Purgatory, he is not outwardly sad. The second-class cars were also almost fully occupied, by officials returning to their posts after a visit to their families, and by merchants. Smart Cantonese soldiers guarded each car with revolvers ready cocked, officers patrolled the length of the train lest any Japanese agent attempt to do damage to the line or the train.
The only other European on the train was an Italian correspondent of French newspapers in Indo-China. Speaking no English, he enlisted my aid to convince the Chinese frontier officials that he was an exile, not a Fascist. Not that the Chinese appeared particularly interested in him or his passport, or wanted to keep him out of China., but he was acutely sensitive about his Italian passport, although it was eight years old. When the officials had departed, he made me translate quite a long speech to the occupants of the car about liberty, equality, the brotherhood of man, and his hatred of Fascism. He was young, earnest, and excitable; and as a journalist he came nearer to the romantic cinema conception of a war correspondent than any one I have ever met. In three days in Hong Kong he had discovered more ‘secrets’ than I was ever to discover in China. He had encountered a Japanese spy in the docks; he knew exactly what munitions were being then unloaded in the docks; he knew how the Italians were selling dud ammunition to China. He knew what the Chinese thought, the British, the French. The way he learned about things was to visit Catholic priests and opium dens, both invaluable sources of information! Within half an hour he had ‘discovered’, and pointed out to me, which of the occupants of the car was a spy out to watch our movements. He certainly ‘got a kick out of’ his profession and made me feel how unimaginative I must be.
My natural inclination in a train is to read rubbish or to doze. Buy sitting opposite the Italian, I was galvanized into activity. Like him, I craned by head out of the window; like him I exclaimed at every sign of the past bombings and at every sight of the repair squads. He certainly had a lot of information, and told me how the munition wagons are protected first by layers of empty earthenware jars, then by a layer of empty baskets, covered over in their turn by earth and matting and bamboo, how when there is a raid the train stops to let the passengers take refuge in the rice fields and then dashes on to hide in the nearest tunnel. However, after we had noticed that there are no tunnels after leaving British territory, we had to discount this particular story. As I learned later, what actually happens is that th e engine is uncoupled and also the carriages, so that a direct hit will not damage the whole train. All lights are turned out and even with a full moon the train is not easily visible. Later, also, I was told by the manager of the railway, whom I met at breakfast in Canton, that the story about the layers of protection for the freight cars wasn’t true either. I had wondered myself how there could be any room for the munitions themselves.
‘Le train des miracles,’ the Italian called it, and his excitement at travelling on it communicated itself to me.
We passed out of British territory into the danger zone in the twilight, and as night fell we looked anxiously at the full moon. Luckily it was veiled in mist, and we ordered some dinner with minds fairly easy but with our eyes always fixed on the track, and on each station, for evidence of the damage done in past raids. At almost every station there were partially demolished houses or ruins, and occasionally the train rocked a little as we passed over part of the line which had been bombed and repaired. The two important bridges had never been hit and the small bridges which have been damaged had always been rapidly repaired. Is the Japanese marksmanship bad, or are the Chinese anti-aircraft gunners good, or is it really much harder to bomb a definite objective from the air than the layman imagines? The Chinese had few anti-aircraft guns to defend the people of Canton, but the two vital bridges were defended and the Japanese dared not swoop low. The Kan Sui Bridge, about fifty kilometres from Canton, showed a crack in its concrete support from concussion or a hit below the water some months earlier, but no real damage had been done and the bridge was as safe as ever.
The real miracle of the railway is the repair work. At the time of my journey there had been 163 raids on the Kowloon-Canton railway since the previous October, and some 1,600 bombs had been dropped on the line. This meant ten bombs per kilometre and more than one ‘visit’ per kilometre; yet the trains had never stopped running for more than a few hours. Daily as well as nightly the munitions landed at Hong Kong had been rushed through to Canton, and thence along the even more frequently bombed railway to Hankow. The day I spent in Canton (11 July) there were three separate raids, over sixty bombs were dropped on the two vital railways, and the telephone and telegraph to Hong Kong were put out of action. Yet this was regarded as a more or less normal day, not worth cabling a special report about.
Repair gangs were stationed at every few kilometres along the line, and looking out of the window one could see, every now and then, dumps of repair materials, rails, and sleepers, and also pyramids of baskets. The repair squads quickly investigated the damage after each raid, telephoned through to Canton as to wh at materials were needed and where. These were rushed to the spot. Meanwhile the repair squads of skilled workers had been mobilized – labourers from the nearest villages. These peasants were paid sixty cents (about sixpence then) a day, and worked under the supervision of the repair squads. Within a few hours the line would be repaired and the trains running again. Similarly with regard to telephone and telegraphic communication. The day I was in Canton the correspondents had only a few hours to wait before the lines had been repaired and they could send out news of the latest raid. The raids that day were at 9.30, 12.30, and 3.30. In the two later raids twenty-four bombs were dropped on Sheklung, near the second of the two bridges we had crossed the previous night, and had seen in the moonlight with its sentries at each end standing by their little straw shelters. Sixty-five houses were demolished or damaged and twenty or thirty persons killed or injured in the town; but the bridge stood as before. Next day the Japanese airmen resumed the bombing of Canton itself and dropped some sixty or seventy bombs in the different parts of the city.
The organization of the repair work, which would have done credit to any country, showed what the Chinese are capable of, and how they might have transformed their country now that it had achieved political unity, if Japan had not interfered.
I was met at Canton by the Mayor’s secretary and went off in his car, leaving the Italian to reach the hotel by rickshaw. But our car broke down half-way and he arrived long before me. The Oi-Kwan hotel at Canton was a sign and a symbol of modern China. Ten stories high, it towered above the city – almost a skyscraper. Comfortable, cheap, and well run, it had many advantages over the ancient expensive hotel in the British concession over in Khameen; the only disadvantage was that it might be bombed. But in fact, it never was hit. The Chinese must have felt that this vast concrete structure afforded some protection, for the pavements around were crowded with sleeping families. The lobby and lower corridors were full of trunks and cases, for bombs would be unlikely to penetrate lower than the top floors. I had a lovely room on the tenth floor, with a bathroom, and it only cost three shillings. My windows looked out over the Pearl River and I felt it was altogether better than my stuffy small room in Hong Kong, looking over a backyard, which had cost me ten shillings a day.
However, the Italian, who had secured a similar room, thought it too expensive and made me bargain for him for nearly an hour. He would be staying a month, and he, as he explained vehemently, was not an American or an Englishman, to pay fabulous sums for his articles. Afterwards, refusing his invitation to visit an opium den (since what would be the use without an interpreter?), we walked together in the city. The streets were full of houseless people and dozens of rickshaw-men pestered us. Forgetting the brotherhood of man, the Italian swore at them and shouted at them and told me he would kick them if he were in Indo-China. I told him I couldn’t see why he should be so angry because hungry men tried to earn a few cents, but, like so many other idealists, he loved humanity only in the abstract.
That walk in the moonlight in the streets of the doomed city of Canton game me my first sight of the misery and poverty of China. Women with emaciated babies, young children starved and ragged. The homeless in their thousands who from day to day die of want or fall victims to the death which rains from the skies.
Next morning the first air-raid alarm went at 9.15. It was the first time I had heard the ominous screeching of the sirens and my heart beat faster. I descended from my tenth-floor room and went out into the streets. The people seemed to be paying little attention. Indeed, of what use was it to rush to another place when one place was as likely to be bombed as another? For Canton appeared to have no air-raid shelters for t he population, although Government offices all had their dug-outs and important officials also had them in their homes. There are so many people in the cities; impossible to build shelters for them all, so of what use to build a few? Or that, at least I suppose, is how the argument went. I was in time to get accustomed to official callousness or negligence of the mass of the people. In fact one cannot really blame China, for first things come first, I suppose, and the maintenance of transport to supply arms for the troops must be the first consideration.
Under an archway outside the hotel a doctor and two nurses were inoculating the passers-by against cholera. Unperturbed, the smiling young man appealed continuously to the people passing by to stop and have an injection. The two nurses stuck the needle into one arm after another, at the rate of at least two a minute – men, women, children, babies. Probably it was a method which would have horrified a Western doctor, for the needle was not sterilized between each inoculation, but it was better than nothing, and it was hard to see how those teeming crowds could all have been attended to otherwise.
The second raid was announced two hours later at about 12.30 whilst I was interviewing the Governor of Kwangtung. He took no notice at all, but went on telling me about his rural reconstruction programme, a work which was clearly his main interest in life and which the war had interrupted. Kwangtung, he said, was a commercialized province which had for long suffered from the draining away of capital to Canton. The Cantonese were a mercantile and adventurous people whose energies had been employed in trade; it was necessary to bring back capital and enterprise to the land so that Kwangtung should no longer have to import large quantities of rice. He told me of the plans for the irrigation and drainage of unused land in Kwangtung, for rural education and a public health service. It had been hoped that after three or four years of rural reconstruction each ‘honest’ farmer would be able to free himself from the clutches of the usurers by being able to borrow at 7 or 8 per cent interest from cooperative societies backed financially by the provincial government. They would also then be able to get credit for the purchase of implements, seeds, and chemical fertilizers from Government factories.
This General Wu Te-chen was an old associate of Sun Yat Sen, and had been in prison under the Manchus. He had gained an enviable reputation for honesty and competence as Mayor of Greater Shanghai before being sent to Canton by Chiang Kai-shek, following the submission of Kwangtung and Kwangsi to the Nanking Government in 1936. Quiet, courteous, slim, and benevolent, and dressed in dark silk robes, he offered a striking contrast to the confident, ‘live wire’, burly Mayor of Canton, who, jovial, dressed in a Western suit and speaking with a strong American accent, might have been a party boss in the United States. Neither of them was of the type to prepare Canton to hold out against Japan’s coming attack, but poor Governor Wu, who was removed after the loss of the town, must have been an able peace-time administrator.
Returning to my hotel with the Governor’s secretary, I climbed up the ten flights to my rom, because the electric current was switched off during raids and the lift was not working. The Italian, whom we met in the passage, wasn’t satisfied with the tenth floor, however, and dragged me up on to the roof for a better view. We looked over the roofs of the city in the direction of Formosa for a sight of the dreaded planes, but could see nothing. Returning to my room, I found the Governor’s secretary at the telephone. He appeared to act as a kind of information bureau or press service, for as he received the news of the raid he passed it on by phone to the foreign correspondents waiting in the comparative safety of the British concession.
‘Twenty-eight planes’, he reported, ‘have just passed over in two groups. The first squadron of nineteen has already skirted the city and gone to bomb the Canton-Hankow railway. The other nine are at the Bocca Tigris forts, heading for Canton.’
A few minutes later:
‘The nineteen planes are returning and are approaching the city, while the nine are bombing Sheklung’ (the town on the line to Kowloon where one of the two vital bridges is situated).
Ten minutes later:
‘The nineteen planes are now bombing the Canton-Hankow line at Pa Kong, close to Canton.’
Five minutes later:
‘The nineteen are bombing the Shuk Wan railway junction on the line to Hankow, while the nine are bombing another section of the Kowloon line.’
Concluding that the planes must by now have dropped all their bombs and were not making for the city this time, we went out to lunch, but the all-clear was not sounded for another hour. The one English and one American news-agency correspondents then in Canton had been asked to meet me. The American had his wife with him, an exceptional thing in China, where the English and the Americans, diplomats or newspapermen, usually send their wives away from the war zones.
These two men, reporting the Canton air-raids to the world, both living in the hotel in Shameen and inevitably thrown together in the tiny foreign community in Canton, were the strangest contrast. One conservative, the other extreme Left in politics; one a blond army-type Englishman, the other a Jew born in Poland; they spent their evenings arguing the same points over and over again, and agreeing on nothing. Yet the conservative Englishman was as sympathetic towards China as the socialist American, and it was he who confessed to me later, over a drink that same evening, that the sights he had seen had so unnerved him that he could not, when he first came to Canton, get to the telegraph office to send his dispatches until he had rushed home and fortified himself with whisky. He further remarked that he always had to restrain himself from telling the full story of the raids, as otherwise he was accused of becoming hysterical and too ‘pro-Chinese’. The bare narrative of what one sees in China during this war is to terrible for the English or American reader to hear; it must be toned down if a correspondent is to keep his job.
I also met Mr. Lockwood, the Y.M.C.A. organizer in Canton, who told me that 50,000 people had passed through the Y.M.C.A. shelters, all but 2,000 of whom had now found shelter in the villages.
In the after noon, while making a tour of the bombed areas, we heard the siren announcing the third raid that day. By that time I was almost as hardened and took little more notice of t he alarm than the Cantonese. Since the city itself had been little bombed since the middle of June, and since the morning raiders had concentrated on the railways, one had begun to take it for granted that it was again only the railways which would be attacked now. Some of the people I spoke to in Canton thought the three or four weeks’ respite from daily – and nightly – bombing of the civil population was due to the protest meetings in England and the United States at the time of the terrible raids of May and early June, coupled with the blunder made by Ambassador Yoshyida in London, who had admitted publicly that the raids were for the purpose of demoralizing the civilian population. Others thought it was only the rains which had kept off the Japanese raiders, and that the systematic bombing of the people of Canton would start again soon. The latter were soon proved right, for the very day I left Canton eighteen Japanese planes came over and dropped sixty or seventy bombs in ten different parts of the city, killing or maiming nearly a hundred people.
Standing in the Wongsha district with the Chinese doctor who had organized the air-raid rescue work, in the midst of acres of ruins with not a single house left standing, I heard about the terrible raids of six or seven weeks before. This doctor, Henry A. Jee, told me how he himself had been machine-gunned by the Japanese, and thirty-five of his helpers killed, whilst trying to give first-aid to the wounded and carry them out of the devastated area.
On a wall at the outskirts of the stricken area were pasted up photographs and descriptions of lost children, and children found whose parents were unknown. After a raid families often do not know for a long time whether their children are dead, or in hospitals, or lost somewhere in the city. I stopped to lean over the waters of a creek, standing on the historic Liapo bridge. On one side of me was devastation, on the other old China – ancient, picturesque houses hanging over the water and the beautiful old bridge. Next day the bridge and the old houses were no more; the Japanese had created the same havoc here as elsewhere.
Dr. Jee remarked once that he sometimes felt it would be worth suggesting to the people in America and England, who had so generously raised funds for the relief of the air-raid victims in China, that they should offer this money instead to the oil companies, asking them to take it instead of the Japanese money for which they sold the oil without which the Japanese bombers could not come over and devastate the Chinese cities.
We walked on to another bombed area, and then another. Here had been a school where seventy-five children had perished; here sixty persons had been blown to pieces or buried beneath the fall of masonry; here ten houses had been demolished, there twenty. In the area a mile away from the station, which was completely deserted and nothing but a mass of rubble and stone, five hundred houses had been demolished. And so on from place to place. A map with red points marking where bombs have fallen showed hardly a single area, except the British concession, untouched. Occasionally one saw a poor family still living in a room with three, or even only two, walls left. One place was as safe as another.
The destruction of Canton was all the more tragic since it was the most modern Chinese city in China. In fact Canton was the one modernized city in China which was neither foreign nor founded by foreigners. With its many wide streets and large concrete buildings, Canton was the concrete symbol of t he New China which Japan is determined to destroy.
We visited the Red Cross stations and inspected the volunteer first-aid squads standing at attention. These volunteers seemed to be almost children, girls and boys from the high school and t he university. Serious children who have performed heroic work and looked on terrible sights day after day. Unlike most Chinese, they do not smile.
Canton was estimated then to have lost two-thirds of its population. All who could leave the city had left. The officials remained and the patriotic students, volunteers, and the workers and middle classes who had no relatives in the country and no means.
Many shops not yet destroyed were shut and barred, but in the poorest quarters life seemed to be going on much as usual. There were some refugee centres for the homeless where the city administration supplied food until they could get away to relatives in the country, or be settled on new land in northern Kwangtung, or drafted into the army, if able-bodied men. I visited one such refugee centre. It had seven hundred people, all in one four-storied house. Men, women, children, and small babies were sitting patiently on mats on the floor. An old man with a long white beard like a patriarch, erect and motionless, with an emaciated and almost naked body, sat next to a tiny baby being looked after by a girl of five; on other mats were families of five or six people. The place was terribly crowded, dark and hot, but clean and orderly. It seemed surprising there was so little cholera in Canton. The Chinese doctors and their helpers must have worked hard.
I was in general struck in Canton by the resourcefulness and good organization of the Cantonese. Elsewhere in China, with less terrible problems to face, the air-raid victims and the sick were worse cared for. The Cantonese were proud of the large number of volunteers they had sent monthly to the front on the Yangtze five hundred miles away. They should be equally proud of the fortitude of the civilian population. There were few anti-aircraft guns to defend the city and insufficient shells for them to fire, and there were no planes at all. In Barcelona there was always hope that Government planes might chase away the bombers. But in Canton there was nowhere to hide and no hope that even a single plane would rise to challenge the invaders. Each family knew that to-day or to-morrow it might be their turn to be killed or maimed, yet although thousands had perished the city remained calm and the artisans continued to ply their trades and the sampans and junks to carry their freight.
My last visits that day were to the training-ground where the young men came for drill and rifle practice in the evening after their work, and to the women’s battalion in training outside the city. Here I saw more of the attractive young men and women of China, the sons and daughters of the middle and lower middle classes, whose stake is in the country, and who do not remove themselves to the foreign concessions or to Hong Kong. These boys and girl, like the students in the rescue squads, the doctors, and the slender khaki-green clad soldiers, are the salt of the country. There are still many corrupt officials, and merchants and bankers out only for their profits, but this is true of any country at war as in peace. I saw in Canton the bravery and determination of the people. The city was to fall in October, mainly because of the inefficient manner in which its defence was conducted, but also because its best sons were away in Central China defending the Wuhan cities. When the Cantonese evacuated the city they blew up or burnt the great buildings and the factories and left to Japan an empty shell. As I write now in the spring of 1939, General Pai Chung-his, the famous Kwangsi leader and reputedly the best strategist in China, is launching a counter-attack on the Japanese forces in Kwangtung. The Japanese, who took Canton in October 1938, now, seven months later, hold only a small strip of land around it. The young militiamen and the women volunteers I saw on that July evening are somewhere in Kwangtung harassing the Japanese army.
I have often since wished that I had stayed longer in Canton, but I felt I must hurry to Hankow, and I had already booked my seat on the plane from Hong Kong.
Next morning at six I waited on the Bund with a crowd of Chinese loaded up with all their belongings in sacks or bags carried on poles r in the hand. They were the lucky ones who were leaving the city of death. All of them had to possess at least twenty dollars to show the British authorities in Hong Kong. Only those who had at least a little money to spend might have Purgatory for Paradise.
An hour after our ship had left we saw the Japanese planes overhead making for Canton, and that day and for many days after, they attacked the city, killing and mutilating thousands.
(For continuation please go to PDF file http://fredautley.com/pdffiles/book19.pdf )