Return visit in 1995.
(click on the books for the texts)
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
Mr. Sui Shude, Manager of Sales and Marketing Department
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
Mr. Ronald Cowley, husband of Estelle
Miss Ruth Yorkston, daughter of Neil
Miss Anne Yorkston, daughter of Neil
LIBERATION BANQUET MENU
Cocktail Sausages with Mixed Greens
Beef with Mixed Vegetables
Grilled Lemon Chicken
Cabbage in Cream Sauce
Braised Mushrooms with Carrots
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.
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
also represent, in a sense, about one thousand alumni of the
have come here today to give thanks for our preservation at that time and to
the present day. We know now that, if
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.
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
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
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.
honour our teachers and parents who left the comfort of the home countries and
came to work as missionaries in
soon as the sailing ships from the West were able to sail further than
great grandfather, the brother-in-law of Hudson Taylor, lived in
of his children came to
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.
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
Song sung by Mr. Ronald Cowley at Memorial Ceremony, Weifang, 17 August 1995
"LOVE CHANGES EVERYTHING"
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.
years have passed and peace and development have become two major subjects in
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
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.
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
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.
schoolchildren in the internment camp, we were studying for our school-leaving
examinations but, of course, our teachers had no communication with
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.
therefore gives me great pleasure to take advantage of this unique opportunity
to propose this toast: to the
continuation of the friendship between
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, Toronto, Ontario M5M 1W8 Canada
50th Anniversary of V-J Day
Thank You, America
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 Francisco, CA (US Army)
- Cpl. Peter Orlick, Woodside, NY (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.