hosts & guests
Hosts and Guests
the Liberation Banquet  Menu
Liberation Banquet Menu
speech by Mrs Estelle Cowley (née Cliff)
Mrs. Estelle Cowley, (née Cliff)
Song sung by Mr. Ronald Cowley
Mr. Ronald Cowley
speech by Madam Wang Xioujuan
Madam Wang Xioujuan
speech by Mr. Theodore Bazire
Mr. Theodore Bazire
speech by Dr. Neil Yorkston.
Dr. Neil Yorkston


Return visit in 1995.
(click on the books for the texts)
back to main index page



Mr. Li Huixin, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of Weifang Municipal People's Congress


Mrs. Wang Xiujuan, Vice Mayor of Weifang Municipal People's Government


Mr. Lu Mingren, Director of the Foreign Affairs Office of Weifang People's Government


Mr. Wang Cunjing, Principal of Weifang No. 2 Middle School


Mr. Wang Yiping, Vice Director of Weifang People's Hospital


Mr. Shan Yiping, General Manager of Weifang Tourism Corporation


Mr. Song Jinlin, General Manager of China International Travel Service Weifang


Mr. Sui Shude, Manager of Sales and Marketing Department of China International Travel Service Weifang


Mr. Lu Peng, Interpreter of the Foreign Affairs Office of Weifang People's Government





Mr. Theodore Bazire, former internee


Mrs. Estelle Cowley (née Cliff), former internee


Dr. Neil Yorkston, former internee


accompanied by

Mr. Ronald Cowley, husband of Estelle

Miss Ruth Yorkston, daughter of Neil

Miss Anne Yorkston, daughter of Neil





Cocktail Sausages with Mixed Greens




Shrimp Foo-Yong

Beef with Mixed Vegetables

Grilled Lemon Chicken

Cabbage in Cream Sauce

Braised Mushrooms with Carrots

Westlake Beef Soup




Steamed Dumplings

Deep Fried Vegetables

Cream Butter Cake




Speech by Mrs. Estelle Cowley (nee Cliff) at Memorial Ceremony, Weifang, 17 August 1995



         Respected Mr. Li Huixin, Vice-Chairman of Weifang People's Congress, Madam Wang Xioujuan, Vice-Mayor of Weifang People's Government, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, we are honoured to have you with us for this special occasion.

         We have come here today to celebrate an event which took place here half a century ago and which was destined to change the lives of us all, Westerners from across the sea and Chinese people living in this area. We have come thousands of miles from four continents to this place which, for us, is sacred ground.


         We are only a few, but we represent approximately 2000 people who, in the years 1942 to 1945, were imprisoned in this place by the Japanese. They were the Western businessmen, teachers and missionaries and their families from the whole of North China , including the cities of Beijing and Tianjin . Many of the men had already sent their wives and children to their home countries. Many were Roman Catholic priests and nuns. Many were children whose parents were working in Free China.

         We also represent, in a sense, about one thousand alumni of the Chefoo School , a British school founded at Yantai in 1881 for the children of foreigners. The whole school was moved here from Yantai in 1943 - about 100 of us, scholars and teachers. Three of us who are present here today wrote our Oxford University School Leaving Certificate examinations here, two of us while American aeroplanes were flying overhead dropping food parcels by parachute almost exactly 50 years ago.


         We have come here today to give thanks for our preservation at that time and to the present day. We know now that, if Japan had not been forced to surrender when she did, the Allies, including China , would have launched an invasion on Japan ; this invasion would have been greater than the Normandy landings in June 1944. We knew then that, if those landings had taken place, our guards had orders to kill all their prisoners in order to release the soldiers to fight at the front.


         We have come here today to honour our dead. One of them was Eric Liddell whose memorial we see before us. We buried our beloved "Uncle Eric" here in early 1945. He helped all of us as children to play sports in order to raise our spirits and strengthen our bodies. Thirty years later, he became known all over the world through the film "Chariots of Fire" telling of his Olympic Gold Medal in 1924. He died in the hospital here of a brain tumour a few months before the war ended and, when he was gone, it took six men to replace him in all the work he was doing.


         Another of those who died here was our friend and fellow scholar, Brian Thompson, who was electrocuted accidentally before our own eyes exactly fifty one years ago while we stood in line for our twice daily roll call. The electric cable to the corner guard-tower behind the hospital was drooping over our heads and he touched it. It was not insulated and so he was killed.


         We have come, today, to honour all those who died in the Second World War defending the world from oppression. Millions of soldiers and civilians died in the struggle. Some of us, both British and Chinese, lost close relatives. We honour all those in the Allied Forces, including the millions of Chinese, who died to free us from the forces of oppression seeking to rule the whole world.


         We have come here today to honour our camp committee, headed by Mr. McLaren, the chairman, and Mr. Lawless who was in charge of our discipline and who lost his own wife here from typhoid fever. They organised us so that each person had a job to do to help the camp community. Besides my schoolwork, I washed the laundry in the basement at the hospital. The boys pumped water for hours every day. Our teachers worked at night in the bakery. Every prisoner worked very hard to keep the camp clean and to prepare the food.


         We have come here to honour those, mainly the Roman Catholic priests and the Chinese farmers outside the walls, who bought and sold eggs and vegetables over the electric fence at night to supplement our meagre diet; the eggs went to the little children and the hospital patients, and all we school-children received were the ground-up eggshells, a teaspoonful every week, to make our bones strong! One of the priests, Father Scanlan, was put into solitary confinement when he was caught, and one of the Chinese sellers was electrocuted on the barbed-wire fence.

         We honour the International Red Cross who frequently sent us wonderful food parcels. It was not their fault that we received them only twice in the three years we were prisoners. They helped us to write 25-word letters every month to our families outside. It was not their fault that only one or two of these reached their destination. We honour the Swiss Red Cross Representative, Mr. Egger, who smuggled extra soap supplies to us under the seat of his car when he came to visit from Qingdao .

         We have come here to honour the two men who escaped over the wall, Lawrence Tipton and Arthur Hummel who later became the United States Ambassador in Beijing . Instead of getting freedom for themselves, they stayed outside our camp with the Chinese guerrillas in the countryside. Together they helped us to keep in touch with the Allied troops who were bringing supplies to the Chinese army from India over the Himalayan mountains to Chengdu .


         We honour the brave Chinese labourers who came in every day with their buckets to empty our cesspools. Hidden in their mouths they brought messages which they spat on the ground at the feet of our contact man, even though they were searched by the Japanese guards.


         We honour the brave party of seven American parachutists under Major Staiger who came on August 17th 1945, 50 years ago today, and jumped from an aeroplane and landed in the gaoliang fields just over there. They could easily have been shot while they floated down from the sky. One of them was an Old Boy from our own school, Jimmy Moore, who had volunteered for the mission to free his old school.


         Even among the Japanese there were some good people. We honour our Japanese guards, especially Commandant Kosaka who was over us in our first prison in Yantai and who was always courteous and kind. We have heard dreadful reports of atrocities committed in other prison camps and we consider ourselves very fortunate that, here, there was no ill-treatment of prisoners. Conditions were hard, especially in the last very cold winter of 1944-1945 when the temperature here dropped below -20 degrees Celsius. We made coal-balls from coal dust and mud with our frozen hands. But we were always aware that conditions were even worse for our Chinese friends outside our walls.


         We honour our teachers and parents who left the comfort of the home countries and came to work as missionaries in China , not for profit but for love of the Chinese people. This compound, the school and the hospital were also founded and built by missionaries. Those who worked here were Americans. One of the teachers who taught here at this school in Weifang before the Japanese war was Dr. John Hayes, also a Chefoo boy. He was imprisoned here with his old parents, and his father, Dr. Watson Hayes, died during that time. A famous man, Henry Luce, founder of Time magazine, was born here in this compound of missionary parents.


         As soon as the sailing ships from the West were able to sail further than Indonesia and reached the shores of China at the end of the 18th century, the British began to take an interest in the Chinese people. My great-great grandparents were so concerned that they hoped that one day they would have a son who would come to China . When their son, Hudson Taylor, was a young man, he studied to be a doctor and came out to China in 1853 during the Taiping rebellion. He was one of the first missionaries. His son, Herbert Taylor, was a prisoner here aged over 80 years old.


         My great grandfather, the brother-in-law of Hudson Taylor, lived in England and spent his whole life fighting against the opium trade. He wrote letters to every member of the British government telling them to stop the shameful trade. Finally the work he and his friends were doing succeeded. The British government passed a law to stop the sale of opium in China just before my great grandfather died in 1911, the year of the Revolution.

         Five of his children came to China . My grandfather worked in Shanxi and Hubei and he is buried in Shanghai . His widow, my grandmother, Alice Broomhall, was also interned here aged over 80. My mother was born in Hankou. My father came out to China from England in 1921. They worked in Shanxi and Henan and were still working there during the Japanese War. My brother and I were born in Yantai and, together with these friends, were caught by the Japanese occupation and were separated from our parents for six years - from 1939 to 1945.

         Our friends here have similar stories. Our parents were missionaries and loved the Chinese people. We spoke the Chinese language fluently when we were little children but, unfortunately, through our separation from the people as we grew up, we have forgotten most of it. Because we suffered the same hardships as the Chinese people in the war, we feel even closer to them.


         We thank you for coming today to join us in our celebration of our release from captivity 50 years ago today. We remember this place so well and all the old buildings hold memories for us, some good and some bad. We know your old people have these memories too. Some will remember the aeroplanes coming over and dropping the food parcels. Some will remember us.


         We wish your community, the school and the hospital good progress in the future years. We trust that every child educated here will live a life of honour and responsibility to his family and his country. We watch the progress of China with great interest and wish her everything good in her future.


Song sung by Mr. Ronald Cowley at Memorial Ceremony, Weifang, 17 August 1995



from the musical "Aspects of Love" produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber


Love, love changes everything,

Hands and faces, earth and sky.

Love, love changes everything,

How you live and how you die.

Love can make the summer fly

Or a night seem like a lifetime.

Yes love, love changes everything

Now I tremble at your name,

Nothing in the world will ever be the same.


Love, love changes everything,

Days are longer, words mean more.

Love, love changes everything,

Pain is deeper than before.

Love will turn your world around

And that world will last for ever.

Yes love, love changes everything,

Brings you glory, brings you shame,

Nothing in the world will ever be the same.


Off into the world we go

Planning futures, shaping years.

Love bursts in and suddenly all our wisdom disappears.

Love makes fools of everyone

All the rules we make are broken.

Yes love, love changes everyone,

Live or perish in its flame.

Love will never, never let you be the same,

Love will never, never let you be the same.


Speech by Madam Wang Xioujuan at Liberation Banquet, Weifang, 17 August 1995


         Ladies, Gentlemen and Friends, today, six friends from four continents gather in Weifang to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Weifang compound's liberation. First, allow me on behalf of Weifang People's Government to extend our warmest welcome to you.


         Fifty years have passed and peace and development have become two major subjects in the world. China 's quickly developing economy attracts global attention while Weifang, a medium-sized city, has also witnessed great social and economic progress. You have seen that a new industrial city has been built up from a small county town; a school and a hospital have been set up on the relics of the dismal camp.

         Compared with developed countries, our education level still lags far behind. We hope friends from across the world will help us to improve it with advanced methods and experience. Education is the basis for a prosperous country; a powerful China would be a positive factor in the development of world peace. I believe this is in compliance with Mr. Liddell's ideals of peace, fellowship and dedication.

         Please forward this information to your friends - that Weifang's gate is always open and welcoming to sightseers and to those looking for co-operation opportunities in Weifang.

         Now, I'd like to propose a toast: for the 50th anniversary of the camp's liberation; for everyone's health and happiness. Cheers!


Speech by Mr. Theodore Bazire at Liberation Banquet, Weifang, 17 August 1995


         Respected Mr. Li Huixin, Vice-Chairman of Weifang People's Congress, Madam Wang Xioujuan, Vice Mayor of Weifang People's Government, Ladies, Gentlemen and Friends, we feel it an exceptional honour to be entertained so regally tonight.


         Mrs Estelle Cowley, Dr. Neil Yorkston and I, Theodore Bazire, have returned on the fiftieth anniversary of our liberation, following three years of internment by the Japanese near your city. Certainly, nothing we dreamed of fifty years ago could ever compare with the warm welcome you have extended to us today and this sumptuous Liberation Banquet you have so generously provided. Our party includes Mr. Ronald Cowley, the husband of Estelle, and Ruth and Anne, daughters of Neil. We have all made a special effort to be here on this special day and have come from all corners of the earth - from England , South Africa , Australia and Canada .

         You, our hosts, have honoured us with your company tonight, generously giving of your time. We have enjoyed this opportunity to meet you and to converse with you; certainly, we do not wish to detain you longer than necessary, but I nevertheless wonder if you might permit me just a brief reminiscence to conclude my speech.


         As schoolchildren in the internment camp, we were studying for our school-leaving examinations but, of course, our teachers had no communication with England and could not obtain copies of the official examination question papers for 1945. However, the teachers had brought into the camp copies of the examination question papers of previous years from which they were able to devise examination question papers for us comprised of genuine questions. When the war was over, our headmaster took these question papers and our written answers to the university in England and explained the circumstances. The university accepted his explanations and marked the papers in the normal way. That was how we three obtained our school-leaving qualifications and were therefore allowed to proceed with our university courses.


         In Weihsien camp, however, we did not have the apparatus necessary for the practical aspects of Physics or Chemistry, so our science studies had to be restricted to Biology. To complete our studies of Biology, we had to know how frogs grow and what makes them 'work'; to achieve that, we had to dissect frogs to find out. The problem was that we hadn't any frogs. But then came the answer: the skies opened up, down came the rain and up came the frogs - but in the stream outside the camp. So we went to the Japanese and explained that we wanted to go and collect frogs in order to cut them up. They thought this was unnecessarily barbaric but, nevertheless, gave us permission to do so. I was one of the frog-collectors. Eventually, we set off - outside the camp. All was going well until, at one point, we had to cross the stream. The Japanese guard had polished his boots and didn't want to get them dirty, so he handed me his rifle, jumped over the stream and beckoned me to follow. I had no wish to cause trouble, so I waded across - through the cool water - holding the rifle over my head. When I got to the other side, I handed the rifle back to the guard - with a grin. When we had finished collecting frogs, we had a lovely swim in the stream watched by all our jealous friends on the top floor of the hospital block. Some weeks later, however, when the Americans, including an Old Boy of our school, arrived by parachute, the laugh was on us because, while the rest of the school was out in the fields gorging on the treasures dropped by parachute, we were indoors doing our final, frantic revision and sitting our examinations. However, it was all worthwhile in the end because we were all successful.


         And now, fifty years on, all of us here this evening can express gratitude to the powers we individually believe in - whether such powers be of this world or another - that we have all come through this half century successfully and in good health and in friendship, to be able to celebrate together with this marvellous Liberation Banquet.


         It therefore gives me great pleasure to take advantage of this unique opportunity to propose this toast: to the continuation of the friendship between Great Britain and the People's Republic of China ; long may it last!


Speech by Dr. Neil Yorkston at Liberation Banquet, Weifang, 17 August 1995



         Respected Mr. Li Huixin, Vice-Chairman of Weifang People's Congress, Madam Wang Xioujuan, Vice-Mayor of Weifang People's Government, Ladies and Gentlemen and Friends, may I echo the thanks of my friend, Theo Bazire, for your generous hospitality in inviting us to this Liberation Banquet.


         What an amazing banquet! We are very grateful to our hosts and to all those who planned and served the excellent food prepared by the chefs.


         By contrast, this banquet reminds me of the first meal we had here in camp. The internees who staffed the kitchen had a sense of humour. Chalked on the blackboard was the menu, as though it was an item from a French restaurant: "Consommé Royale" - Royal Soup. The food at Kitchen 1 was shared among 1,200 people, and the full menu read, "Consommé Royale - with 47 eggs". (That meant one egg for every 24 people). The dish itself looked like greasy water with some white flakes floating in it.


         Your Liberation Banquet, I need hardly say, is quite unlike anything we have eaten before in Weifang. This Liberation Banquet, of course, reminds us of the years when we were not free. We were captives. I do not wish to bore you with details of being a prisoner. I refer to internment only because it is the contrast with captivity that makes freedom so thrilling.


         Liberation Day has played a large part, if I may say so, in my own life. I shall never forget the exhilaration of running out of the front gate on August 17, 1945.


         Liberation Day helps me to understand history. Liberation Day helps me to have a sense of other people's experience of slavery and freedom. Liberation Day helps me to understand war and peace.


         Liberation Day helps me to understand people I read about in history. Confucius said:


         "When you see a worthy person, endeavour to emulate him.

         When you see an unworthy person, then examine your inner self".


         Liberation Day helps me in medical practice. My work is to study people in the bondage of mental illness and to find ways to set them free.


         Liberation Day helps me in medical education. Every day I face the bondage of ignorance. Liberation Day encourages me to look for knowledge and truth. Every day, in the care of people with mental illness, I meet the bondage of prejudice. Thoughts of liberation encourage me to look for ways to bring truth to release people from prejudice.


         Ladies and gentlemen, on this anniversary of Liberation Day, may I propose a toast: to freedom!


From: Dr. David J. Michell,   TorontoOntario M5M 1W8   Canada

50th Anniversary of V-J Day

Thank YouAmerica


         On August 17, 1945, now 50 years ago, 7 brave GI's parachuted into Weihsien Concentration Camp in North East China and freed us after 3 years of captivity as POWs of Japan. We were all civilians of the allied nations and in bad shape. I was a boy of 11 and over 100 of us children had been separated from our parents because of the war and internment for 6 or 7 years. We heard about the atomic bomb and that the war had just ended.


         This weekend I am going to Detroit to say thank you in person to America for my gratitude for the courage and sacrifice that brought about our rescue and release when hope for our deliverance had all but failed. I have only met one of the GI heroes of my boyhood. He is Lt. James Walton Moore, now inDallas.


         All seven GI's signed their names on a piece of one of the parachutes. It is a long shot I know but I wonder if you can somehow help me say thank you to these seven GI's this August 17 which marks exactly 50 years from the day when they parachuted down outside our camp like saviours from another world. Here are their names and a copy of the signed parachute used by one of them.


- Major Stanley Staiger, Klamath Falls, OR (US Army)

- Lt. James Walton Moore, Dallas Tx (US Navy)

- Sgt. Ray N. Hanchulak, Wilkes Barre, PA. (US Army)

- Lt. James J. Hannon, San FranciscoCA (US Army)

- Cpl. Peter Orlick, WoodsideNY (US Army)

- Sgt. Tad Nagaki, Minatre, Nabraska (US Army)

- Captain Wilis S. Georgia (US Army)

- Edward Wang (Interpreter)


         Our camp had 1400 prisoners- American, British and other Allied nations, including about 500 children. One whom we remember so very well was Eric Liddell, the Olympic Gold medallist of Chariots of Fire fame. He was still a great runner but died in our camp at the age of 43. I wrote about him and our camp in my book, A Boy's War.


         I am truly grateful to America and I want to say thank you. Some of my boyhood friends of 50 years ago still suffer from their boyhood experiences. Eric Liddell himself never even saw one of his children. His other children he did not see him for the last 5 years of his life. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of VJDay, I hope the children of war and their heroes will not be forgotten.