• Chenping Ching,
    Hong Kong, ChinaMORE...

    My name is Chenping Ching. I was born in 1918 in Putian, Fujian Province, China. I attended middle school in my hometown. When I was 13 years old, I went to Amoy (Xiamen) to study maritime navigation at Jimei Navigation Academy. Actually, I did not meet the admission requirement as I only had middle school certificate, but I sat for the entrance examination nevertheless at the insistence of my brother, and was admitted, to my surprise. I graduated three years later. I then went to Shanghai to get apprenticeship on board a Chinese mission ship.
    It was 1937 and I was four months into my apprenticeship when the Japanese started bombing China. I was in Shanghai then. My brother who was in Jakarta had wanted me to join him in Indonesia, but I wanted to stay in China. During the Japanese bombings, I was deeply moved and angry, having learnt the plights of so many victims in Shanghai. So many children were killed. I wanted to become a pilot to protect our country and applied to be a pilot with the Chinese Air Force. I successfully joined and was assigned to train with the 12th Chinese Air Force Division. The Japanese had been attacking all the provinces and cities along the Chinese coast, so we had to be based more inland. We trained to fly in Kunming, Yunnan Province, progressing through primary, middle and advance levels.
    In 1941, the Kuomintang government decided to secretly ask for American support; Americans would train Chinese pilots for an elite joint American-Chinese air force unit. I was selected to participate in the program. There were fifty of us. Retired US Air Force officer Claire Lee Chennault ran the program. General Chennault arranged for us to train all over again at Dale Mabry Army Airfield in Tallahassee, Florida and at the Arizona Thunderbird aviation school in Phoenix, despite having received trainings on the same courses, with the same aircraft and using the same systems in China. Naturally, we felt little insulted and were not happy.
    To our bemusement, when we reached the base we found out that our American instructor announced to the press that we are talented and well trained pilots, and it seemed like American public was surprised. You see, in the 1940s, the American society was still racially charged. At that time, we learnt that many Americans regarded "brown men" and "yellow men" as third class citizens. Colored people were to sit at the back of buses and at assigned seats in the cinemas. So, General Chennault, with good intention, wanted to correct the American perceived bias by dispelling the notion that the Chinese were inferior people. We felt shortsighted for thinking he was insulting us earlier on. Needless to say, he earned our respect for his effort. He was a good leader.
    I graduated from the Training Unit in 1942 and returned to China. Out of the fifty Chinese pilots, only forty-two graduated. We flew from Florida, through South America, through Africa, through India and finally reached Kunming. In Karachi, which belonged to India at that time, we flew the Vultee P-66 Vanguard parachute fighters. Each of us piloted one plane, from Karachi, through India and over the Himalayas to Kunming. Which then was the only major air base controlled by the Chinese government.
    We then carried out a mission to deliver planes to Chengdu, Sichuan province. The flight from Kunming to Chengdu took almost three hours. I was in the last group of six pilots and the youngest one. It was daytime and it was raining. About two hours in, the squadron leader suddenly dove through the clouds and down to the ground, from about 1000 feet. The other Chinese pilots wanted me to force land because they were concerned I may crash into them since the route involves flying through bouts of thick clouds. But we graduated from the US Air Force. We even underwent night flight training. Regardless, I was ordered to force land. I was angry. I wanted to save the plane, so I circled the plane above to look for landing sites.
    Luckily, I found a river, it was dry season and the river water level was low. The river was 5 to 10m wide. I could see the dry riverbed and force-landed there. I got hurt during the landing. My head had pounded against the instrument panel. My two legs had to bear very hard impact and felt like they broke. I felt numb. But there was no damage to the plane.
    Two Chinese soldiers came over to the crash site, they thought I was Japanese. When we bought the planes, it came with American insignia - there was a white star with a red circle inside so they confused it with the Japanese insignia. I was dizzy at first so I could not talk. The soldiers cautiously aimed their rifles at me. But as soon as I spoke to them in Mandarin they lowered their guns and they quickly got me out. The plane was later repainted with a Chinese insignia. The two soldiers brought me to a military station near by. The plane of the leader was also landed on a river, and that one was damaged. The other four pilots made it to the base. My plane was later retrieved. To this day - I don't understand why he ordered me to force-land and had to do it himself. But I couldn't question or discuss the decision of any commanding officer.
    After that incident, I was unimpressed with the Chinese Air Force. How could they fight the Japanese with such inferior attitude and unity?
    On March 7, 1943, I was asked to report to the 14th Air Force, the Chinese-American Composite Wing. There were twelve of us Chinese pilots selected, the only few who graduated from the US air force operation unit. We were later known as the "Flying Tigers" and we flied the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. The plane is culturally iconic because of the painted shark face on the engine cowling. To my knowledge, only President Chiang Kai Shek, his wife Madam Soong and the Commanding General knew of our existence. My family must have thought I was killed, as I couldn't contact them for more than six months of missions.
    There were three squadrons: 74th, 75th and 76th. I was assigned to the 75th squadron. The squadron base was in Guilin and another one in Kunming. I was based in Liling in Hunan Province. The Japanese were based in Hankou, Hubei Province, with over 100 fighters to attack Hunan Province, and also 150 fighters in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province to attack Guilin. To attack Kunming, the Japanese would use their Hanoi base in Vietnam.
    The Japanese were crafty and strategic. They had challenged us to engage them in air battles. Somehow, via small transport aircrafts, they managed to drop these letters at our air bases. The letters basically said this: "if you have guts, meet us tomorrow morning 9:30am about the river". The Japanese called these the "Letter of Challenge".
    But General Chennault was at least equally wise, strategic and cautious. He knew that it would be futile for us young Chinese pilots to engage in these dogfights with more experienced Japanese pilots. So he ordered the more senior American pilots to fight instead. He also instructed to attack the Japanese planes from a higher altitude and above them because the American planes would lose to the more agile Japanese planes if they were below them. He said to strike at higher altitude once and then return. As a result, for every one of our planes the Japanese managed to down, we shut down three of theirs. So in a way, we were winning.
    When the Japanese challenged us the third time, General Chennault ordered us not to take up the challenge. That day, we were all ordered back to Kunming air base. All the pilots were angry as it gave the impression to the Japanese that we had chickened out of the battle. When we arrived in Kunming, the fighters from Guilin pilots also came back. The next morning, 40 Japanese planes attacked Kunming. I think they must have been surprised that more than 50 pilots had return to defend Kunming. General Chennault once again had been wise and could see through the Japanese intentions. It severely deterred the Japanese attack. Again, we were shortsighted for he was proving himself a great leader.
    I could still recall my last mission. Yunnan province was an important target for the Japanese because Kunming airbase is the terminus for the "Hump route", a major and only military materiel supply line from Assam in India, which passes through the Himalayas. It was an important source of external support for the Chinese war effort. Chennault sought priority to protect Kunming. The Japanese had wanted to cut this strategic supply line, but realized they could not attack Yunnan Province from Burma. They had difficulties moving the tanks across the country. So they changed their base from Hanoi to Haiphong in Vietnam, which had a rail connection to Kunming. So the Japanese started to concentrate their air force, navy and army there with intent to attack Yunnan province.
    We studied the situation in Vietnam intently for two months and prepared an action plan. On October 10, 1943, we decided to embark on a pre-emptive strike to bomb the Japanese navy and their warehouse infrastructure at the harbor in Haiphong. My mission as a P-40 fighter pilot was to escort the big B24 bombers. For the past five missions, fifteen unescorted bombers were downed. This time round, we had learnt our lessons. The bombers had to be escorted. We went with forty planes: twenty-one of B24 bombers, seventeen of P-40 fighters, and two of P38 fighters. After we finished bombing the harbor, we headed back to Kunming.
    When we flew over Northeast Hanoi we engaged in an air-battle with more than 30 Japanese planes. I managed to hit one Japanese fighter, but it did not go do down, though I reckon the pilot was shot dead. However, soon after, my plane was hit by the artillery. I realized that a fragmented bullet had hit me on my right shoulder. I did not feel pain at first but it became increasingly pronounced. I continued flying. About ten minutes later, white smoke appeared from the back of my plane. It indicated that the engine cooling system was in trouble. I realized I had no choice but to bail out on the situation as more white smoke emanated. I parachuted out and landed on a big tree.
    My parachute covered the tree. I used the knife to cut the parachute and to free my bag. My bag contained medicine, fishing net and a water sterilization filter. When I tried to reach for my bag, the tree branch suddenly broke. I tried holding on to the tree with my legs, but eventually felt head down. I lost consciousness for some time and when I woke up, my body was in pain. I realized I had fallen on a big pile of dead leaves, which had definitely mitigated the impact of my fall. I found a dried out creek so I walked along that creek. Then unsuspectingly, I stepped into a pile of green leaves and fell into a hole - it was some sort of an underground cave. Luckily, there were some branches inside that I was able to grab on and climb out. Even after 50 years since that happened I still have recurring nightmares about falling in that hole.
    I continued walking along the creek and it was getting darker. On the first night, I slept in the middle of the creek on two big rocks surrounded by water because I was afraid an animal can attack me at night. I felt vulnerable as I had lost my pistol and knife.
    I kept walking along the creek. On the third day, due to exhaustion, thirst and hunger, I began hallucinating. I began to imagine a woman with a child on top of hill nearby. I remembered repeatedly trying to climb the steep slopes only to find there was no one. For the next couple of days, I would follow the creek. In the evenings, I would find shelter and security in hollowed out trunks of old trees where I would sleep.
    On the sixth day, I was extremely weak and very tired. I have had no proper food and water for six days. I was resting and sleeping on in a field when suddenly I saw something moving. I thought there was an animal so I stood up. But it was a naked old man with long hair wearing grass and animal skin, a native wild man. I was afraid he could kill me, so I pretended to have a gun, holding my belt, and partially showing him my empty holster.
    I think he was scared too, but he motioned me to come with him. We headed south for an hour, crossed a big river and then turned right. He led the way and I held on to his left shoulder, as I was afraid he would run away. Finally we got to a cottage, a grass house. I went around the house to check if anything seemed suspicious. By the time I was done checking and wanted to thank the old man, he was already gone. A woman opened the door and I gestured that I wanted to eat. She cooked me a big bowl of rice. After eating I felt tired and felt asleep. It was very hot outside. I then awoke to the sound of a rifle recharge. It was a French army officer. I felt relieved - they were our allies. I showed him my jacket with the Chinese-American insignia; he understood and then hauled me up with his rifle. He offered me more food, a chicken, but I told him I was full. It seemed that the cottage belonged to the French intelligence.
    Outside I noticed some mules, twelve of them there by the cottage. Apparently, the French officer had heard of my plane crash. It took him two days to get to his headquarter from the cottage, two days to report the crash and prepare the mules, and then two days to walk back to the cottage. They thought there would be casualties, hence the mules to carry the bodies.
    From the cottage, we headed to the French headquarters. On the way there, we bumped into a Japanese soldier. I was very nervous. I tried to hide myself, but I had no hat and my face was covered in blood. The kind French officer assured me not to worry. He told me not to run away and just keep quiet. I spent a night at the French station and some nights at their hospital. After six days, I was told I would be transferred to the Japanese. My heart sank, I strongly protested. The French officer apologized, explaining that they are subjected to give any prisoners to the Japanese since they are technically located on their territory. I accepted the reality as there was nothing I can do. I was transferred to a Japanese hospital.
    I developed a strong fever shortly. The Japanese only sent Vietnamese medical officers to attend to me. They placed ice packs on my head. After four days, my fever subsided. Then I was sent to an airport where I met an American pilot from the 76th squadron. He was captured at the Port of Hanoi. We were flown from Hanoi to Nanjing as the city was occupied by the Japanese at the time.
    We were placed at the Nanjing military prison, in a small cell, three stories underground. Each meal was a bowl of rice mixed with earth. After four days, they sent me to the hospital to operate on the bullet wound on my shoulder. But two days later, it got worse. There was a bad smell, the wound got infected. It seemed they had operated without applying any medicine. I learnt later that they had treated others similarly, leaving them to rot to death. It was a dirty policy.
    After the hospital I was transferred to an American Concentration camp in Jiangwan, Shanghai. There were 850 Prisoners of Wars there from Wake Island in the South Pacific captured by the Japanese. The Japanese thought I was American, so I was sent there as well.
    I was already very weak when I got there. On the sixth day, I was so motionless they thought I was dead. They were prepared to bury me, but found I was still warm. The American doctors attended to me and gave me blood transfusion. It felt like an out-of-body experience. I remembered seeing a bright light and seeing my own body from a corner of the room. I only learnt later from others with similar experience that I had probably briefly died, but was resurrected. The American doctor and assistant said I was lucky to have survived, usually those with blood level below 32% would not. My blood level was 28% and I survived. Finally, after three weeks, the Japanese asked me if I am an American or a Chinese. I said I was Chinese. The next day, they sent me to a Chinese war prison in Nanjing.
    Unlike in the concentration camps, the Chinese prisoners were managed by Chinese officers. I learnt that about a quarter of the prisoners die of hunger and sickness every month. But I was relatively lucky. As a pilot, I was well respected and so was well taken care of. The prisoners also grew to respect me because of my defiance to the Japanese. Every time the Japanese came, I would decline to bow to them, and they would use rifles to hit me on my back. The Japanese threatened to punish the entire batch of prisoners whenever I undermined them, but I stood my ground. I thought everyone was suffering already, what more do we have to lose, why do we give in? My fellow prisoners understood this code of honor.
    The Chinese high officer managing the camp assigned me as the Chief Secretary for the prison. In reality, it was just a title without any duties, so that I can get more food - three bowls of rice for each meal. But since I could not eat that much, due to my degenerated stomach, I only had one bowl and gave away the rest. I was also assigned a young helper to take care of me, to put my clothes on, etc., as I could not move my right arm.
    Those working outside in the field would sometimes hide wild rats, cats and vegetables in their clothes and sneak back to cook in the kitchen. Sometimes, the Japanese would ask the prisoners to bury dead horses, so the prisoners would also sneak in horsemeat. They would make sure I have more than my share.
    There were some Taiwanese nurses working in the prison for the Japanese. They were kind too. Once, there was a Taiwanese nurse who helped me with a fever. She requested the Chinese doctor to give me an injection. Had a Japanese found out about that, that nurse would have been probably killed.
    On 22nd of August 1945, the Chinese prison high officer informed me and some others to prepare ourselves to meet Japanese officers the next morning. When morning came, the head of the Japanese army saw us and bowed silently for about 10mins. I thought they were going to kill us. I was resigned, ready to accept my fate. But to my surprise, he told us we would be released. He told us to place our hands near our hearts on the way out. This symbolized a no-revenge pact. The Japanese officers wanted us to keep good conscience and did not want us to haunt them even in spirit after we die. The gate then opened and just like that we were released.
    A car by the road picked us up. The driver was a representative of the Chinese intelligence. We were told that the war had ended. The Chinese intelligence knew the Japanese were going to release us, so they were there. I had been imprisoned for twenty-one months by the time the war ended.
    We were sent to the Nanjing airport where I boarded an American C- 46 transport plane. At first I was rejected onboard as they did not know who I was and did not believe I was a pilot. I was angry and thought they were impolite. Then an American pilot came. He tested my knowledge of flying and I easily convinced them I was indeed a pilot.
    I was eventually sent to Chongqing to report to the Chinese Air Force headquarters. I met with the Deputy Commander General of the Air Force who nonchalantly told me to go to the hospital across the river by the mountain. I felt no one cared that I had nothing to eat and no money to spend, and no possessions to keep. One month later, I was given honorary medals and a $50,000 reward - I was credited for downing a Japanese plane. But at that time, $50,000 was of little value. I exhausted the money quickly on hospital fees and five months of food. There was no other support for me thereafter. That was when I decided to leave the KMT government.
    I could have returned to the "Flying Tigers" and join the American military if I had wanted to, but I had dedicated and sacrificed so much of my life to China and I remained patriotic even if the KMT government was conspicuously corrupt. Once a Chinese, always a Chinese.
    After eleven missions risking my life fighting for the country I love, I chose to move to Hong Kong as a civilian in 1963. I married a Hong Kong wife and became a merchant with a small business. I did not want to expose my background, so I changed my name.
    Regardless, the Chinese government in Mainland China, by then the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), knew who I was. They treated me much better than the KMT government, that is now in Taiwan. The CCP sent a representative to visit me in 1975, asked me how my health is and if I needed government assistance. When my mum died in 1985, I went home to Putian. A Chinese Colonel was even there to represent the CCP. Traveling through Mainland China then, reminded me that all Chinese have black hair and brown skin. We are from the same family, of the same blood. I hope can China get stronger and that all Chinese will love their country.
    Personally, I have nothing else to wish for. I am blessed with a good family. My wife is 90 years old now. I am lucky to have such a beautiful and understanding wife. She is from a large family and did not care about my background of a poor Chinese air force pilot. My son has retired. My daughter is still working.
    I am 98 years old. I am ready to go. I was born in China and I am a Chinese - so when I die, I will also be a Chinese in spirit. That is my unchanging philosophy.

  • Man Luk-Bun,
    Hong Kong, ChinaMORE...

    My name is Man Luk-Bun. I was born in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, China on August 28, 1918.
    I came from a well-educated family. My grandfather was an Imperial scholar in the Qing Dynasty, having passed the Imperial Civil Examination and achieving the dynasty's highest academic honor. My father however did not have the opportunity to sit for the examination as it was later abolished. He became a teacher in a private school organized by the village. The Qing Dynasty ended in 1911. Following that, China went into a power vacuum, but was eventually governed by the Chinese Nationalist Party in the early 1930s after initial period of internal wars.
    After I graduated from high school in 1938, I wanted to apply to Wuhan University, which was one of the most prestigious institutions of the time. So, I embarked to Wuhan for the entrance examination. However, the Japanese invasion of China had just begun to spread to Wuhan when I got there in July 1938. The Japanese had occupied Shanghai and Nanjing by the end of 1937, and had been attacking the big cities westward along the Yangzi River, towards Wuhan and Changsha. Wuhan University had to close. And so I never got the chance to sit for any entrance examination. Many other prospective students were affected as well.
    The KMT government called upon us students to relocate to the Southwest of China behind Chongqing as Wuhan was no longer safe. The initial plan was to group us in Kunming and then for us to proceed to Chongqing. So in July 1938, we all marched from Wuhan to Kunming, passing by Changsha. The journey took us about one odd month.
    By that time, the Japanese had occupied Beijing and Tianjin. Some universities had to relocate. Subsequently, three of the most prestigious universities - National Peking University in Beijing, National TsingHwa University in Beijing and Private Nankai University in Tianjin - all relocated to Kunming and co-founded the Southwestern Associated University. So instead of continuing my march to Chongqing, I decided to sit for the entrance examination at the Southwestern Associated University in Kunming. I was admitted to study literature at the Faculty of Arts.
    Shortly after, on May 3, 1939, Japanese planes began bombarding Chongqing. We all became worried. The thought was: what future would we have if the second capital also falls? With that in mind, many of us took our own initiative to join the army. As a Chinese idiom goes, we decided to "lay down the pen and take up the sword".
    I applied to the branch of the Whampoa Military Academy in Kunming. The academy was the premier military school of the time in China, fostering potential military officers. It was originally located in Guangzhou but had to relocate after Guangzhou fell to the Japanese. For the entrance exam, I was tested on Chinese history, Chinese literature, mathematics, and physics. I passed the tests and was admitted as a student officer of the 17th class.
    On the first day at the academy, my head was shaven and I was given a uniform. But the school did not provide us with shoes or boots to wear. We were simply given a pair of woven sandals, which did not last long. So, all of us were taught to weave our own sandals from grass.
    We followed routines at the academy. In the morning, we had to wake up at 5:30 am and within 10 minutes, we had to assemble at the drill square to sing songs of the academy. Then it was time for breakfast, for morning exercises and later for practicing military drills. Whoever was late for these activities was punished. We had simple meals. It was congee with peanuts or bean curd for breakfast. Lunch was also simple - there was no meat, no chicken and no fish - just vegetables. We learned how to shoot various weapons three months after the admission. I was at the academy for two and half years from 1939 to 1941.
    After graduation, I was assigned to the 19th Army and was ranked the Second Lieutenant, Platoon Officer, one bar. Soon after, I was asked to report to the headquarters of the 19th Army in Gaoan, together with five other young officers from Jiangxi. As my home was on the way to the headquarters, I decided to drop-by to see my family before reporting for duty. Upon arriving, my father told me to get married there and then. It is in the Chinese culture to secure a heir. And this was especially so for soldiers like myself who may not ever come back home again. My wife-to-be was the daughter of a family friend. It was an arranged marriage and it was decided on before we were born. I haven't met my wife-to-be prior to the wedding day. I went ahead with the marriage and spent two more days at home. That was our honeymoon.
    After that I went straight to the headquarters in Gaoan. It was June 1941 and it was near the end of the Battle of Shanggao. We learnt that the Japanese were advancing towards Nanchang but they first had to cross the Jinjiang River, and that's where I was sent. So, we were on one side of the riverbank and the Japanese on the other. On our side, we had barbed wire around trenches, which were camouflaged. The Japanese started firing artillery to cover for their soldiers who were trying to swim across the river in few groups. Most were killed before they could reach the shore.
    After successfully defending several waves of attacks, on the third day, a small group of Japanese soldiers managed to get over to our side of the riverbank and even managed to climb over the barbed wire. We had no choice but to fight with our bayonets. There was one particular soldier that I fought with that I remembered. He plunged his bayonet at me. In turn, I managed to deflect his bayonet against mine. That action saved my life as I was only wounded superficially. I managed to stab him. He fell to the ground. That was my first fight, first kill. It was a chaotic scene so I did not have the time to reflect deeply on my feelings back then, but I remember I was somewhat happy to have won that fight. This was one of the most memorable moments for me as a soldier. That battle lasted three days and three nights.
    In 1942, the highest commanding general of my army, Commander Luo Zhuoying, was designated to be Commander in Chief of the 1st Route Expeditionary Force. The force was tasked to support the British army against the Japanese army in Burma. Commander Luo selected four of us to assist him. So, in mid-1942, we flew from Kunming to Ramgarh Cantonment at the northwestern border of India. When we arrived there, Commander Luo was already replaced and I was then redeployed to the Division Commander Liao Yaoxiang of the New 22nd Division.
    The main force including the New 22nd Division was still in Burma. I set out to join my division in Shin Bway Yang, Northern Burma. I was assigned to the 66th regiment and was promoted to Lieutenant, Platoon Officer overlooking the machine gun platoon. By the time I joined them, they were already retreating following the defeat by the Japanese. Some of us tried to go back to China, while the others retreated to Ramghar Cantonment with the British. In our retreat, we had to go through the Burmese tropical jungle during the raining season. We had three-days worth of supply of food and drinks with us. After the third day, we ran out of everything including medicine. Many of us were wounded beforehand. Many of those who were seriously injured collapsed due to worsening wounds. Others died of thirst, starvation, insect bites, animal attacks and sickness. There were notably many leeches. We marched days and nights without any sense of direction. The hardship was unbearable. I cannot believe that I lived through that and survived.
    Later, we managed to make our way back to Ramgarh Cantonment. There, at the base, we were re-equipped and re-trained by the British and American forces. We ate rice and bread supplied by them and wore American supplied uniforms.
    The counterattack took place in northern Burma. It started in late October 1943 along the Hukawng Valley. We fought the Japanese to Makaw in early 1944. During the counterattack, my Company Commander died. I was promoted to Captain Company Commander. I was shot once in the leg but I could still walk. The medical team took out the bullets after the battle. Before the counterattack campaign ended, I was ordered to go back to China to participate in the Battle in Hangyang in Hunan Province. Hanyang is a significant and strategic military point that connected the southeast and southwest of China by air, water, rail and road.
    We were assigned to defend the city of Hangyang for two weeks. There was supposed to be reinforcement but it only came after two months. And when they did come, it was only to cover us for our eventual retreat as we were ordered to do. Only 37 out of 180 of my fellow soldiers in the company survived. We found out later that the Japanese were impressed that none of us surrendered in the 48 days that we fought. I was wounded in the back by shrapnel.
    It was near the end of 1944 when the Battle of Hanyang ended. We were ordered to go to Leiyang in Hunan Province, en-route to Chongqing. In Leiyang, I was selected to join the 208th Division, which was a division in the Youth Expeditionary Force. I was promoted from a Captain to a Major, a Deputy Battalion Commander of infantry to train all of its student officers in the force.
    On August 15th 1945, the Japanese surrendered. I was in Yichun, Jiangxi Province that day. We did not have a radio, so we only learned of the Japanese surrender in the evening after the political officer of the division told us. When I heard of it, I was very delighted. We celebrated and jumped for joy. Civilians everywhere were setting off firecrackers.
    After the Japanese surrendered, the 208th Division was supposed to take over Taiwan after 50 years of Japanese occupation. So we advanced to Fuzhou in Fujian Province. As my division was about to set sail to Taiwan, our mission was cancelled. The Governor of Taiwan had rejected us and wanted his own troops to take over Taiwan. So from Fuzhou, we went to Wuxing, Zhejiang Province where three hundred odd young soldiers from Jiangxi were demobilized and went back to their hometown.
    I also went back home after that. This was in the mid-1946. Upon my return to Nanchang, I found out that both of my parents, my brother and my sister-in-law had all passed away during the war. I also learned that I had a son.
    It was supposed to be a two-week holiday. But on the second day I was back, I received a telegram from the Regimental Command asking me to head to Qingdao in Shandong Province, to deploy a new division for the KMT. This new division was brought to Nanjing to join the 202nd Division. The purpose of setting up the 202nd Division was to protect against the communist forces taking over major cities. I was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Battalion Officer in 1946.
    On May 24, 1949, we had a meeting onboard a KMT flagship on the shore of Shanghai to discuss how to defend Shanghai from a communist takeover. In the evening, I heard some bombings coming from the city. While the meeting was going on, the anchor was lifted and we headed to Xiamen to report to Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the KMT. In Xiamen, six of us officers were taken to the airfield and we boarded a plane where I saw Chiang Ching-Kuo, son of Chiang Kai-shek. I was introduced to him. I had no idea where the plane was heading and why six of us were selected. We were the lowest-ranked among the officers. I did not bring any belongings with me. Eventually I found out that we were heading to Taiwan.
    I did not go back to Mainland China afterwards. I lost all forms of contacts with my family, relatives and friends. In the years following, I became a Colonel, Regiment Commander. Later, I was recruited by the Military University, and from there I was slowly promoted to be a One Star Major General of the Nationalist Army in Taiwan.
    In the 1960s, the KMT government in Taiwan implemented a new policy allowing military Generals and those ranked above to early retirement, allowing them to reside in neutral places outside Mainland China. Having learned of this, I wanted to retire early. But Chiang Ching-Kuo, somehow knew of my intention and urged me not to retire. But he was also ready to help me. So, I was deployed to Hong Kong in 1970 to look after Chinese overseas nationals. In 1984, I retired.
    In 1985, China underwent Chinese Economic Reform. In light of a more open China, I returned to Jiangxi where I was reunited with my wife and son. I learnt that my family had for a long time been blacklisted in the span of the Land Reform Movement, the Cultural Revolution and other political movements in post-independent China. Everything in our house was taken away. The family genealogy book was gone. My wife had to work as a maid and was contented with working for some food without any pay just to survive and to raise our son. At one point, she was even forced with torture to marry another man. She strongly resisted it, even though she did not know if I was still alive or not.
    My wife now resides in China where I would visit her sometimes. My son is now 73 years old. My great grandchild is now attending university. As for me, I still pursue my passion in reading, and in writing poetry. I have published two books of poetry.

  • Wong Kwong Hon,
    Hong Kong, ChinaMORE...

    My name is Wong Kwong Hon. I was born in Guangzhou, in Guangdong province of China on March 19, 1925. My childhood was very simple. I spent some time studying in an old-style private school and I just remember that what they taught us was very difficult to understand, so I wasn't very interested in studying. Later on, I switched to a modern primary school and it was a bit better. My father was a chef, and my mother an ordinary village housewife. She gave birth to 15 children, but only 6 of them survived. I had 3 older brothers and then one older and one younger sister.

    In 1938, before I even graduated from school, Japan began to bomb Guangzhou. Once, I saw a bomb drop on the opposite side of the street from where I was, but luckily it didn't explode. We really hated Japanese at that time and that was the reason why later on I insisted on joining the army.

    Same as in other parts of China, people in Guangzhou started to resist the Japanese invasion. A unit was formed that provided military training for both male and female youth. I think they were called "Guangzhou Society Training Team." In 1938, this unit established another group for the teenagers that was called "The Junior Company." They provided military trainings for younger boys and girls, aged twelve to eighteen. I told my family that I wanted to join the company, but wasn't permitted to do so. One of my older brothers even laughed at me, saying, "How can you join when even a rifle is taller than you?" Yet, I insisted on joining the unit, so I did it without my family's permission. The training I received at the Junior Company was more or less the same as the formal military one. The weapons were the same size as the real ones used in army, except ours were made out of wood. Anyway, I enrolled in the unit in July of 1938. Every day we had 3 field trainings and 2 lectures. The activities took all day and by evening everyone was absolutely exhausted. Each company had 144 members. We were divided into 3 platoons, and each platoon was further divided into 3 squads. There were 16 people in each squad. The instructors were very strict, and if we didn't obey orders, we were put in a disciplinary cell as a punishment.

    Around October 1938, the Japanese were getting close to Guangzhou, and the government decided to disband the Company and relocate, but asked if we would like to stay. Around 40 people decided to stay, but majority decided to follow the leaders. I was among the second group.

    Oh, and I also would like to say that our Company was very unique as our leader and 3 platoon leaders were all female.

    So, we moved to Guangdong for a little bit, in the northwestern part of China. We settled in Shaoguan, a small city in the north of Guangdong. And we were taken to the Guangdong province children's home.

    I remember the roof of the house was made of pine bark. The life was quite tough, we ate pumpkin for almost every meal, and there were no tables or chairs, so we had to sit on the ground for meals. A lot of people got infectious diseases. One of those was night blindness. And another one was malaria. When the sick people felt chilly, they would shiver even with a few blankets on them. Only Quinine could cure the disease. Others got rashes and skin diseases, some were infested with lice.

    It wasn't easy, but with time things got better. The children's homes became better organized and they hired more teachers. In our group, they hired the Cantonese Opera actor Kwan Tak-hing as our Cantonese Opera teacher. Our Dean wanted to introduce the kids to the arts and to have them learn Cantonese Opera, drama and magic tricks for public performances.

    We didn't receive any actual military training there. I was 14-15 years old at the time. But despite the hardships, I look back on those days with gratitude to my teachers. I got extra attention from the Dean and the teachers as they thought I had a talent for acting, and I performed in a few drama plays while I was there.

    Unfortunately, it was later discovered that my teacher was having an affair with some female team members. Because of that, the divisional commander decided to disband the team. After the propaganda team was disbanded, people got relocated, the teacher was punished, and I was sent to learn telecommunications only because I could speak a little bit of English.

    That was still in 1940, and the Army lacked the talent for radio and communications at that time. I began as a warrant officer, but soon I was promoted as a Second Lieutenant.
    I joined the army as a warrant officer, which was the lowest officer rank, but I was still an officer. So soldiers had to salute me as a higher ranking officer when they saw me and let me tell you, they were not happy. They even discussed this with our commander; they wanted him not to commission me as a warrant officer and give me a rank of the staff sergeant instead, but the commander refused.

    I spent three months learning telecommunications. Mainly it was just basic knowledge of the machinery, telegraph code and also transmitting and receiving messages. I can't remember the salary we received, but in general the welfare was only so-so.

    In March 1942, our 6th army received the order to go to Burma as part of the expeditionary force. Unfortunately, only three months later we had to retreat back to the Yunnan province. At that time, there was a huge quality gap both in personnel and equipment between the Japanese army and us, and we were simply not good enough to fight the Japanese.

    I didn't know the content of the messages, as I was just receiving the codes, giving them directly to the office, and then transmitting the codes back whenever necessary. The messages were all encrypted. The staff with security clearance did all the decryptions of the coded messages. We were not armed and didn't even receive the training on how to use guns or any other weapons. I only had some weaponry training back when I was in the Junior Company, but those were wooden guns. Our communications squad had around 10 people: a leader, four or five radio operators, and several other soldiers, also unarmed, who would carry our equipment. When I was promoted to be the squad leader, and took charge of the team, I named my squadron WKH, after my own initials.
    Although I was not on the front lines, I understood the reason for our failure very well - we were undertrained and ill equipped. The Japanese soldiers had proper backpacks, while we were using a big square cloth to hold our possessions. They had boots, and we were wearing straw sandals. That's just the basic stuff, I'm not even talking about weapons and equipment. So that's why we retreated.

    Our base was very close to the road, and one day we received the order to retreat. We passed the orders, and about half an hour later we saw a convoy of cars and armored vehicles coming in our direction. One of the guards at the checkpoint got on top of an armored vehicle and was immediately shot, because those were the Japanese soldiers coming.

    Thankfully they didn't see us. They searched the area and fired in our direction, but I don't think they saw us. Finally they moved on.

    When we joined our retreating troops, I heard a rumor about the Division Commander. As we expected the retreat to happen, we were all well prepared. Yet the Division Commander was asleep when the order for retreat was given, and he didn't even have time to dress.

    During the three months we spent in Burma, our salary was paid in Indian rupees. And the first meal we had in Burma was unforgettable for me - the rice there was so white, smooth and fluffy compared to the brown rice we had before. The weather in Burma was quite hot. As we retreated back, walking through the tropical jungle, we saw lots of leeches, black ants, and other creatures. Black ants were huge, and you didn't want them to bite you, it was pretty painful.

    After retreating to Yunnan, we stayed in Tengchong for a short time. We were stationed on top of a hill for a while. I can't remember how long we were there, it should have been like a month. On some occasions, we would fire at the other side called Songshan - there were some Japanese stationed there. Later on we moved to Baoshan. When I was in Baoshan as part of the 6th army, there were no specific tasks given to us. We were there for quite a while, more than a year, for sure. We didn't have any radios, so there was nothing for us to do, but we still received the salary. We didn't stay in the military camps, but instead lodged in normal households. I remember I was staying in a two-storey stone house, and we were living upstairs. Our equipment was also there. The landlord's last name was Wong, and both him and his brother didn't have any sons, just daughters. He once asked me to marry into his family by taking his youngest daughter, but I refused.
    Anyway, then the US became China's ally, and I was relocated to the Sino-American Training Center. The aim of the center was to train the Chinese military officers to use the new American weapons and telecommunications equipment.

    When we arrived at the training center, we saw that the equipment introduced by Americans was completely different. When I first learned telecommunications, the transmitter was around 2 ft. long and 18 inches high and was stored in a wooden box. We had to manually generate electricity for the transmitter. The receiver was like an ordinary radio, and we had to wear earphones to use it. We had to use two 1.5V batteries for the receiver, they were pretty large. I remember their transmitter was more or less the same size as ours, but with a stand that could hold the transmitter. The most powerful transmitters were mounted on big GMC trucks. After the training, around 1946, I was relocated to Shenyang.

    After the war ended, we were disbanded, and I moved to the northeast. I left the 6th army and moved to Shenyang. I was transferred to the central telecommunications unit of the government. I was under the command of the Anti-rebel force. Same as before, I was working on transmitting and receiving telegrams. I left the army in 1947. I had been away from home for eight or nine years. Like many other guys at that time, I didn't want to be involved in the civil war. Yet it was really hard to leave the army. In the end I bribed the commander, and without any proper procedures I left the army.

    I went to Tianjin, and from there I boarded a ship of Swire group to Hong Kong as my older brother was already there. I couldn't get a job in the Hong Kong telecommunications company called Cable and Wire, as they required employees who were born in Hong Kong and fluent in English. I was not qualified. I went back to Guangzhou in 1948 and worked as a bus conductor selling tickets. I tried to search for jobs in telecommunications, but couldn't find anything. Later, in 1950, I went to Hong Kong again and stayed for good. By that time Guangzhou was already under the Communist regime. I worked as a coach driver for Hong Kong China Travel Services Company. I retired in 1984.

    I'm glad to see that two parties, the Nationalists and Communists are talking. I don't want to see things like the civil war ever again.

    I didn't think much about my life. After all these years, I finally got in touch and saw some of the people that were in the children's home with me. I found out that some of our teachers were jailed for almost a decade during the Cultural Revolution. Some of them had a really tough life.

    Now I spend my time playing with computers, and I just keep learning and learning.

  • Ye Yuliang,
    Beijing, ChinaMORE...

    My name is Ye Yuliang. I was born in March 1922 in Beijing. My ancestral home is in Fuzhou city of Fujian province. My grandfather was a Jinshi in the former Qing Dynasty. Which meant that he was an advanced scholar who passed the triennial court exam, a very high honor. But after the Nationalists took power and Qing Dynasty collapsed my dad lost his job and the family moved to Beijing, where I was born and went to primary school and middle school.
    When the Marco Polo Bridge Incident happened on July 7, 1937, I happened to be on the way to Nanjing. I left Beijing on 6th of July and arrived in Nanjing on the 8th. I had an uncle there and we were afraid the war would come to Nanjing too, so together with the wife of my uncle, I fled to Fuzhou, my ancestral home.
    In Fuzhou, I continued to go to school. Back then, the Sino-Japanese war has already started. The leader of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek, announced that all Chinese men, no matter how old or young, living in North China or South China, must take part and fight the Japanese. I was too young to join the army still, but we had military training as part of the school program and propaganda lessons, where they would prepare us to fight the Japanese in the near future.
    I stayed in Fuzhou for one semester before I was able to get in touch with my family in Beijing, which was then called Beiping. They sent money to me and asked me to go back to Beiping. After I received the money I went to Tianjin first by ship and after that, I needed to take the train to Beiping. Back then Japanese Army already occupied Beiping and Tianjin and when I was trying to get on the train, it was very crowded so I clung to the door of the train. A Jap was trying to get on the train and I didn't make way for him. He gave me a hard kick and himeslf got on the train. I wanted to fight back but was stopped by a Chinese man that was standing near by, who told to me: "he is Japanese. He can kill you and receive no punishment. This is the world of Japanese now." So I endured this humiliation and had always borne grudge against the Japs since then.
    After I came back to Beiping, I continued my education. My classmates all hated the Japanese but didn't dare to talk about it in public. I had a relative who was a member of the underground resistance and it was basically a secret unofficial organization made out of volunteers for assassination of the Japanese and local traitors. As we talked a lot about anti-Japanese movement, he sensed strong sentiment in me and asked, "Would you dare to join the resistance?" I said, "I would." That's how it all started.
    The underground resistance started in Tianjin and our organization in Beiping originated from that movement in Tianjin. Originally, I was responsible for communication and investigation. Later, I took part in assassinations.
    After joining the organization, I had only one contact, Li Zhenying, who was the leader of Beiping underground. We called him the "principal". He was kind of my mentor, teaching me how to do investigations and gather information on collaborators. Later, he also taught me how to use weapons, bringing a real gun to teach me how to assemble and clean it, how to aim and shoot targets.
    My first assignment was to investigate the president of the chamber of commerce. Incidentally, his nephew was my classmate so used this connection to visit his place, and came to know how to get to his home, when he went to work and got off work. After I'd collected all the information, I passed it to Li Zhenying. Together with another killer, Li Zhenying planned the assassination and scheduled a day. On that day, when the chamber president drove away from his home, they shot at the car twice. However, when the news was published in a newspaper, we found out that the bullets missed him but hit his wife instead. We killed the wrong person.
    Another assassination was targeted at Shu Zhuanghuai in Beiping, who lived very near to me. He was the director for the department of public works. The responsibilities of this department included building barracks, trenches, etc. His daughter was my schoolmate in primary school. I was asked to find out where he lived. After my investigation, Li Zhenying brought another two killers to carry out the assassination. As soon as Shu Zhuanghuai came out of his car at the gate of his house, they shot him. The traitor was shot in his eye but wasn't killed at the scene. He died afterwards in the hospital.
    We also attempted to kill Yoshiko Kawashima and that was my first assassination assignment. It was on her birthday. Yoshiko Kawashima was a Japanese spy and a puppet of the Imperial government. Well, she was a Chinese princess but was brought up in Japan and was collaborating with them. Anyway, she was going to celebrate her birthday in Xinxin Grand Theatre. She booked all seats upstairs. Tickets for seats downstairs were still being sold. That day, Li Zhenying led me there to kill Yoshiko Kawashima. I followed Li Zhenying and we bought tickets in the front row, from where we could turn back and see what would happen upstairs. The opera that day was quite famous and was played by Yan Jupeng and his daughter. Yan Jupeng's daughter was Yan Huizhu. That was her first time on stage so there was a big buzz about this and many people in the audience.
    We waited. The opera had started but Yoshiko Kawashima hadn't arrived. Later, we heard some noises, turned back and saw her and her posse settling down. She was upstairs and sat in the middle. She was wearing men's clothes, a long gown and a Mandarin jacket, a pair of shades. We had to wait for a while, as it was too crowded. Then we heard some commotion again, turned back and realized that she was gone - went downstairs and left. We rushed outside, but she was already in her car driving away. We failed.
    On 7th of July 1940, the Japanese celebrated Third anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. They set up a stage at the Altar of Land and Grain in Zhongshan Park to make speeches and a lot of people went there to listen. The event was co-chaired by Wu Juchi and his Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Chen. Wu Juchi was the Editor-in-Chief of Xinmin Bao newspaper, which was an official newspaper for the Japanese puppet regime. And we decided to kill them.
    This assassination was very significant. Li Zhenying brought Feng Yunxiu, Liu Yongkang and me. We were in the crowd listening to the speech. When the speaker was condemning anti-Japanese armies and people, one of our guys was getting really worked up wanted to shoot him right on the stage. Li Zhenying quieted him down and said, "We can't take action here. There are too many people around and among them traitors, spies, special agents, policemen, and plain-clothed police... It's too dangerous to shoot here."
    Later, when the ceremony ended and the crowd was dispersing, we followed Wu Juchi and Chen. They went to a restaurant at Qianmenwai so we waited outside. After a while, Wu Juchi came out. Li Zhenying and Feng Yunxiu followed him outside to the South Xinhua Road. And all of a sudden, there was a funeral procession passing by, playing horns, gongs and drums. This was a perfect distraction and Feng Yunxiu rode his bicycle towards him and shot Wu Juchi in the head twice. He was instantly dead. Then they ran away. The policemen came immediately. The whole city was searching for the killer. Meanwhile I was still waiting for Chen with Liu Yongkang. Li Zhenying sent someone to inform us of the search and tell us to abort the mission. So we left and Chen was not killed. This assassination caused a great sensation and none of us got caught.
    Soon, we were planning another mission - to assassinate a newly appointed officer in the general office of construction, Yu Dachun. Liu Yongkang and I were assigned to execute the mission. Our investigator gave us his exact location at Fengsheng Hutong and the time he will be arriving. We were both on the bicycles, Liu Yongkang was in front and I was behind. Liu approached him first and shot him from behind. I was following and was supposed to make sure he's dead. But he wasn't - when I approached him he was laying down bleeding out, but still mumbling something. So I shot him. And I killed him.
    Immediately after this assassination, the military police launched a large-scale search. Liu Yongkang was arrested. As he had the list of members on him, our underground organization was almost fully exposed. All members were arrested, including our leader, Li Zhenying.
    When the Japanese military police came to my door to arrest me, my family had no idea I was part of the resistance. I hadn't told them. After the trial in the Japanese court, I received my sentence - life in prison.
    Then I was sent to a prison specially set up to hold anti-Japanese and resistance people, under the supervision of Japanese Army but administered by Chinese. It's called the First Prison for Asylum of Entrusted Prisoners. As the prison wasn't well armed like Japan's, to prevent us from running away, each of us had chains on our feet. We had to walk and sleep with those chains on, they never came off.
    In the beginning of my sentence the food wasn't bad. But around January 1942, after the Pearl Harbor Incident, Japan started war with US. They needed more food for soldiers. So at that time, outside of the prison, rice was for Japanese, while Chinese could only have wheat flour. In the prison, we didn't have wheat flour but ate steamed corn bread. Afterwards, we even ran out of corn flour and started to eat sorghum flour, bran and potatoes. Many prisoners died of malnutrition or hunger. I was luckier. As my family lived in Beiping so they could send food to me in the prison.
    Since I was sentenced for life, there was nothing for me to be afraid of... The Japanese translator came to talk with us on behalf of Japan and told me we shouldn't argue with the prison guards and fight against Japan. I told the translator, "You are wrong. You invaded our country, sent forces to China and transported resources back to your own country. You are invaders." We didn't reach any conclusion in the end. I remember, here was a Chinese guard beside us that said to me: "Are you crazy? If he came back and told others, you might be shot by them." I answered, "I'm not afraid of him. I'm not afraid of death now." However, nothing happened after that.
    The most difficult period in the prison was when I got ill. I was sick for 35 days. I got typhoid and had a severe fever. I recovered naturally after 35 days, but almost died. It was tough in prison. Food was getting worse,
    Finally, on 15th of August 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally. After I knew China won the war I was so happy that I jumped up. We broke the chains on our feet, dashed outwards but were stopped by the guns of Japanese soldiers. So we came back and waited inside the prison. While we were waiting, we were treated better. People outside were sending food to us. We didn't have to eat bran or potatoes any more. We got better food, like steamed corn or millet bread. People from some patriotic organizations also sent some dishes to us. Some traitors also sent something in order to please us.
    On September 3, I was released. On 10th of October, the surrender ceremony in North China was held in front of the Hall of Supreme Harmony of the Forbidden City. Commander Sun Lianzhong accepted the surrender of Nemoto Hiroshi, the Japanese commander in North China. I attended the ceremony and was sitting behind Sun Lianzhong.
    After being released, at first, I worked in the Beiping Guard for one year. Then I came back to Fuzhou, my ancestral home, and worked in the tax bureau for another year. After that, the finance ministry transferred me to the financial management bureau in Wuhan. When the communists occupied Wuhan, I didn't leave my position but was re-employed by the communists. All of us in the financial management bureau were transferred to a financial management department in the People's Bank for Middle and South China.
    When the communists started to suppress "anti-revolutionary", I was arrested to receive reformation through labor in March 1951. After completing the sentence imposed by the communists, which lasted 11 years, I could visit my families in Beijing every year but was not allowed to return back.
    In 1975, after the special amnesty, I came back to Beijing. Because when I was in the Japanese prison and when I was receiving this reformation through labor, I was manufacturing clothes, I got a position in a clothing factory in Beijing too. I retired at 62.
    Now I'm staying at home enjoying my life. There's nothing much for me to do. I love watching TV, chatting with friends on WeChat and playing on my computer. I use iPad when there's Wifi and I use it to communicate with my friends and relatives. I even got in touch with my former classmates.
    Looking back at the days when I was in the underground organization, I feel I have fulfilled the responsibilities as a Chinese. We should be patriotic but in different ways. I wasn't able to go to the battlefield so I took part in those underground activities.

  • You Guang-Cai,
    Beijing, ChinaMORE...

    My name is You Guang-Cai. I was born in Taierzhuang on Third of September, 1919. My grandfather and father died when I was 4. We were very poor, though some of our relatives were well off. I still remember that when I was a kid every time before the Spring Festival my mom would send me to our relatives to ask for money. Our situation changed for the better when my elder brother found a job on a coalmine. He was able to support the family and we moved from Taierzhuang to Yi County when I was 9. And a year later I started my primary school. After graduating from school I got a job as a librarian in Yi County.
    In 1938 the Sino-Japanese war was already raging. KMD achieved a great victory in the Battle of Taierzhuang. The Japanese army changed their strategy and deployed more forces to encircle Xuzhou from the north and the south. In March 1938, the Japanese army approached our city.
    Out of patriotism, I kneeled down to bid farewell to my mother and left my home. I wanted to join the war effort and defend my country.
    The plan was to walk to the Huangpu Military Academy and enlist. When I was approaching Xuzhou, I saw two Japanese military hot-air balloons in the sky, directing the artillery to fire at Xuzhou. I was very scared and didn't know if I was in the enemy's area or KMT's. Later that night I came to know the Chinese army was having a big retreat towards Henan province. That was the Xuzhou Breakout.
    I followed the retreating army along with other civilians. We walked day and night on foot, over mountains and across rivers. We arrived at Fengyang, crossed Huai River and walked to Huangchuan County of Henan province.
    KMT was enrolling youth in Huangchuan. I couldn't head to the capital city Wuhan directly so I took the exam and was enrolled in the youth corps led by Li Zong-Ren. Later, we relocated to Wuhan and joined the No. 1 Officer Training Regiment of Huangpu Military Academy. The list of students is still kept in Wuhan Archive and my name is still there.
    Wuhan was for several times sieged by Japanese. When I arrived in Wuhan, the city was completely encircled so the Republic of China decided to move its capital city to Chongqing of Sichuan province.
    In the officer training regiment, there were different departments to train armed police force, political officers and military officers, etc. I volunteered to receive military training and joined the military department.
    At the end of 1939, we graduated in the southern part of Chongqing, near Qiqiang River and became the 16th class of Huangpu Military Academy graduates.
    Normally the education would take three years to complete but because of the war, they were rushing each class to graduate so we can join the battle... So my military education lasted less than a year.
    Due to my good performance, I stayed in the school regiment as a team leader, training cadets. For this reason, I didn't take part in the battle of Changsha where most of my classmates went. Almost all of them ended up being killed there...
    I also should note that at that time, even though we were at war with the Japanese, there had been serious internal conflicts between the nationalists and the communists.
    Soon our Academy got disbanded and someone recommended I join 54th Army that was led by General Huang Wei. In Huang Wei's army, I eventually ended up as the platoon commander of the special operations unit for a little over a year. I was very close to Huang Wei as I was always staying beside him, protecting him.
    Three divisions of Huang Wei's army were all deployed in the western area of Yunnan. The Japanese were trying to cut the Yunnan-Burma Road, which was essential for supply and transportation. It was a tough time, food was in scarcity and we had soldiers deserting just because they were getting too desperate, loosing their faith in a possibility of defeating the Japanese
    Right around that time Japanese successfully launched a surprise attack against United States in Pearl Harbour. America declared war on Japan and decided to support China in its war with Japan. That was a big relief.
    In April of 1944, when the Allied Forces started to counterattack Japan, 50th Division and 14th Division of 54th Army were transported to India and that was my first time on a plane. Our flight took about two hours. After those breathtaking moments of being in the sky and then landing, I was so excited that I wrote a poem.
    After arriving in India, we joined the Battle of Myitkyina. At that time, I was guarding the 50th division commander, General Pan Yukun, and the 30th division commander, General Hu Su. Three regiments attacked Japanese in Myitkyina by surprise. Before the attack we had an arduous journey to Myitkyina, tramping over two tall mountains.
    We joined forces with the Americans under command of Joseph Stilwell and launched the attack. The attack was flawless, a lot of Japanese fled and we secured the airstrip. About half an hour after the attack, the American officer leading the attack sent a message that read "The Merchant of Venice" to General Stilwell - that was their code for successful operation.
    I have to say that at that time I felt that fighting in the war was very exciting. I needed to release my hatred by fighting. The Japanese imperialists invaded China and I truly hated them. Being able to fight them gave me a relief.
    We pressed on and were moving further into Burma. In the second Battle of Hsipaw, I was the company commander of the special operations unit for 50th Division, part of the newly formed 1st Army. Our company was responsible for safeguarding and normally wouldn't take part in the fighting directly. But my soldiers wanted to fight and were asking me to send the request to our Division commander.
    I remember there was a bugler, Zhou Yong, an 18-year-old boy. He was very adept at using his bugle to signal during military routines. One day, before the morning exercise, he came and saluted to me, and then asked solemnly, "Mr. company commander, have you sent our request to the Division commander?" I felt a little embarrassed and mumbled, "OK, I'll do it."
    We got the permission and I led my three platoons and fought in the second Battle of Hsipaw. As we were moving towards the enemy line, we got under sniper fire. I turned around and I saw Zhou Yong was bleeding on his chest. I ran toward him and he died in my hand. I remember his last words were "I... won't... be able... to blow the bugle... for you..." I realized why Zhou Yong loved his bugle so much. He wanted to see how powerful it would be on the battlefield.
    I was amazed by my soldiers' loyalty and bravery. And in the battle of Hsipaw, we made our mark. That's the reason I was praised on the battle report: You Guang-Cai, loyal and brave, strong and resolute, commanded his troops calmly and acted resolutely to break through the enemy's defense line and pursued after the enemy for several miles, making it hard for the enemy to resist. This is my proudest achievement. The report is still kept in the Second Historical Archives of China.
    After the Battle of Hsipaw, in a military training exercise, a soldier stepped on a landmine and the it went off right beside me. I was wounded, but luckily the wound was not fatal. I was sent to the US hospital and returned to Hsipaw after four days. I still wear a scar from that incident.
    Soon we came back to China and were getting ready to attack Leizhou Peninsula in the southern part of China. When we arrived at Guixian, I heard the good news: the enemy, Japan, surrendered unconditionally. It was not announced to the soldiers because they wanted us to keep the fighting morale. However, when we reached Wuzhou, we saw the civilians all coming to welcome us. Then we knew Japanese had surrendered.
    After that, we stayed in Guangzhou. There were two prospects for New 1st Army which I belonged to: if the talks between the nationalists and the communists succeeded, we would go to Japan as the army of occupation; if the talks broke down, we would fight in the civil war. I hoped the talks would succeed, or I would have to go to the northeastern part of China to fight the civil war. And that's what happened.
    I also have a lot of feelings about the civil war that I'd like to mention. The result of the war was, in November 1948, the communists "liberated" the northeastern part of China. I surrendered and was asked to fight for the communists. I refused to do so because I didn't like the current situation in China caused by the civil war. So I came back and became a civilian. I was issued a certificate to prove I was an obedient civilian and settled down in Shenyang.
    I got married just before the end of the civil war in 1948. My wife was introduced to me by one of my comrade-in-arms. After KMT was defeated I was charged as a "Counter-Revolutionary". I was abandoned by society. No one wanted to employ me. I tried several times to learn new things while working with my true identity disguised, but every time I was found out. On the New Year's Eve of 1958 I was arrested by the police at a clinic I worked in Beijing. In 1962, my wife divorced me.
    The counter-revolutionary charge haunted me for 32 years. And I was nearly starved to death when I was "re-educated" through labor.
    In March 1965, I was sent back to my hometown, Zaozhuang City (Yi County) and received re-education under supervision. I moved to a village about 10 km from the city. In 1980, I was finally exonerated from the "counter-revolutionary" charge. As I knew some English, I became an English teacher in the middle school. With my good performance, I assumed the official status as a teacher, which meant I could enjoy all the social benefits from the government.
    In 1992, I got retired. In 1993, my daughter wrote to me and asked me to come to Beijing. In recent years, in order to promote the peaceful reunification of Mainland China and Taiwan, I became a communication officer in Chaoyang District of Beijing. I published a lot of my memories and won several awards for my work in this area.
    I have also got a lot of media exposure in recent years. In December 2010, I was invited by the Chinese Patriot Elites Charity Foundation Limited to share my stories in Hong Kong.
    I'm Catholic. I believe everything is our God's arrangement. I felt young even when I was already 92. Now I'm reaching 97.
    We are still experiencing the aftereffect of the civil war. Mainland China today... China today is in crisis. There are complex internal conflicts, problems within the society... There are threats from outside... These things are not good for China's development. I hope President Xi can reverse the bad situation. We can't afford another war in China, no matter with the nationalists or other countries. These are the last words I want to say.