ERIC LIDDELL

--- the begining of the legend ---

 

 

click here --- www.TheHerald.co.uk - August 11, 2007

click here --- www.theherald.co.uk - February 15, 2008

click here --- www.telegraph.co.uk - 21st July 2008

click here --- Asia News - August 1, 2008

Has anyone ever heard of this?

Did Eric Liddell turn down freedom to help another prisoner-of-war?
_DOUG GILLON, Athletics Correspondent_ (mailto:doug.gillon@theherald.co.uk)
August 11 2007



It was a typically selfless act. Eric Liddell, the iconic Scottish Olympic athletics champion, turned down an offer of liberation by Winston Churchill from a wartime internment camp in China in favour of another prisoner, it was claimed yesterday.
Simon Clegg, chief executive of the British Olympic Association, and elite performance director Sir Clive Woodward were laying a wreath on Liddell's grave in Weifang when they were told about the move by Chinese officials. Weifang, in Shandong Province, was used by the Japanese to intern many foreign and Chinese prisoners.
The pair are in China for the pre-Olympic regatta, and were taking the opportunity to honour the 1924 Olympic 400 metres champion who gave up athletics and a promising career as a Scotland rugby winger to become a missionary in China. He had been born there and his parents also served there as missionaries.
Mr Clegg said: "We had lunch with the vice-mayor of Weifang and some of her colleagues. I was told by a senior official that Eric was given the opportunity of being exchanged while he was still alive, and he turned it down in favour of someone else.
"If that's the case, it's entirely in keeping with the way he led the rest of his life. Talk about a role model - someone who had achieved so much in the sporting environment and then effectively to walk away from that, not for any personal advancement, but to devote his life to working with other people.
He really is an inspiration to us all.
"What was said related to Winston Churchill arranging a prisoner swap, but Eric let somebody else go in his place. It would be hard to substantiate the details now, but the Chinese are not known for elaborating in this way."
Liddell died of a brain tumour in February 1945, just months before liberation. His grave was marked with a plain wooden cross, his name written in boot polish. However, on the 60th anniversary of the internment camp a memorial park was built, and in 1991 a one-ton block of Mull granite was erected on
Liddell's grave.
"It's in a quiet and very dignified setting of a courtyard," added Mr Clegg.
"We laid a wreath of brightly-coloured local flowers there, on behalf of the BOA and athletes past, present, and future. I hadn’t realised just what an outstanding human being he was
"Torrential rain fell before and after the ceremony, but there was a glorious break in the weather when we were at the memorial. There is still an old missionary building, which during internment had a hospital on the second floor, offices on the ground floor, and accommodation units on the third. It's in the courtyard of this building that the memorial stands.
"There's also a small museum to the internment camp. Liddell does feature, both in terms of his athletics prowess and contribution to the camp and society. There's a log book with his name, Liddell, EH, and a reference to where he was accommodated in the camp.
"The people of Weifang have done a fantastic job in terms of keeping his spirit alive today. I hadn't realised just what an outstanding human being he was. It was quite emotional being there."
The Chinese are making a documentary about the internment camp, and have interviewed survivors as old as 103. This will also feature Liddell, because of the role he played in the camp, and they are coming to the UK to research and film.
Numerous biographies of Liddell have made no mention of a prisoner exchange.
His late sister, Jenny Somerville, never spoke of it, nor did his daughter, Patricia, who accepted Liddell's induction to the Scottish Athletics Hall of Fame two years ago. An attempt to contact her at her home in Canada last night was unsuccessful.
Bob Rendall, chief executive of the Eric Liddell Centre in Edinburgh, said: "I have been in this job 12 years and have never heard any mention of it, either from the family or in print, but there are always secret papers being released."
Two other films are currently being made. Caithness-based screenwriter Murray Watts has collaborated in one of these, being made by Toronto-based Windborne Productions.
"Funding is still being put in place, but we look like going into pre-production at the end of next month with Bruce Beresford as director," said a spokeswoman.
Beresford won four Oscars with Driving Miss Daisy. David Puttnam's Chariots of Fire, which featured Liddell's life as an athlete, won five.
A life more worthy of a film than Chariots of Fire

THE life Eric Liddell had after the Chariots of Fire era may prove more worthy of a film than the athletic achievements which Ian Charleson famously portrayed. Liddell, who gained seven rugby caps on the wing for Scotland before winning Olympic gold and silver in 1924, was carried shoulder high down the platform of Edinburgh's Waverley Station when he turned his back on sport for the glory of God, as a missionary in China.
He risked his life, smuggling money for church work, hidden in bread, or tending typhoid victims.
A man whose execution the Japanese had bungled lay dying in a derelict temple. Fearing reprisals, nobody would go to him, until Liddell rescued him on a handcart.
Another man was cleft from the back of his head to his mouth, and left for dead. Liddell ferried both 18 miles to a hospital. Both recovered.
Many Britons were interned when the Sino-Japanese war erupted, Liddell among them. He had sent his pregnant wife to Canada for safety, in 1941. He died without ever seeing his third daughter.
Inmates of the camp included the elderly, children separated from their parents, a touring jazz band, and a white Russian prostitute.
The Edinburgh University BSc wrote a chemistry book for the camp children, inscribing the cover: "The bones of Inorganic Chemistry. (Can these dry bones live?)"
One lad, David Mitchell, became a minister, and wrote a book on his childhood. He recalled Liddell mixing glue from fish bladders and scales, mending hockey sticks, and doing so by night, to spare inmates the smell.
The man who had declined on Sabbatarian grounds to run the 100m at the Olympics, refereed youngsters' football on Sundays. He mixed coal dust with clay to make crude briquettes for the elderly, and when the prostitute was ostracised by other women, he rigged a shelf for her. She said he was the only man to do her a favour without seeking other favours in return.
When he died on February 16, 1945, the camp was devastated. He had seemed invincible. The kids whom he had walked with earlier were the cord bearers at his burial in the snow of north China.

© All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without _permission_
(mailto:rights@glasgow.newsquest.co.uk) is prohibited.

From: "Ron Bridge"
Date: mardi 14 août 2007 19:31

I think that I can shed some light on this.
1. Eric Liddell is listed as not having ever applied for evacuation in the Swiss Consular records for Weihsien Camp.
2. When the second evacuation was being planned for US and Canadians in September 1943 there was also correspondence regarding doing an exchnage for UK British but it was abandoned when it was found that there were insufficient Japanese living in UK or UK colonial territory to do a swap. Remember for every Canadian released to Canada a Japanese resident in Canada was exchanged and the same thing happened with the US. In the first exchange in August 1942 which was largely diplomatic and quasi diplomatic staff through Lournco Marques the numbers were not so precise as it was a diplomatic "thing".
3 However Eric Liddell's wife Flo had not gone back to Tientsin after their 1940 home leave which ahd begun in Scotland and went to live in Toronto with their children and as Eric Liddell's next of kin had a Canadian Address he would have briefly been listed as Canadian and hence eligible for exchange evacuation. His passport was definitely British ( issue by Brfitish Consulate Teitnsin in January 1937) thus I am of the considered opinion from the research that I have done that the fact that he was consdiered for exchange was based on incomplete knowledge of the facts above rumour and surmise.
Rgds
Ron Bridge

From: "Albert de Zutter"
Date: jeudi 16 août 2007 7:42

Ron,

Thank you for your factual input.

The original email was headed "Has anyone ever heard of this?" And my answer is "No." If anything like this ever happened the whole camp would have known about it. Obviously the story was not well researched, as it states that Weifang "was used to intern many foreign and Chinese prisoners." While there were people of Chinese descent in the camp, there were no Chinese prisoners per se in the camp.

This is a typical instance of trying to add to the legend of Eric Liddell. I almost fell out of my chair when I read "It would be hard to substantiate the details now, but the Chinese are not known for elaborating in this way."

The Chinese have refurbished Eric Liddell's tomb (?)/ monument, made a movie, etc., precisely because of the upcoming Olympics. It is public relations for them. So it would be hard not only to substantiate the "details," but the substance appears to be made of whole cloth. The story's testimonial to Chinese veracity is based on wishful thinking.

The legend of Eric Liddell needs NO elaboration from Chinese publicists.

Albert de Zutter

From Leopold
Date: jeudi 16 août 2007 11:03
---
This article written by Doug Gillon. "They" are building a legend around the person of Eric Liddell ---

I doubt that Mr. W. Churchill, in those difficult days, had time to arrange for the repatriation of a Scottish missionary prisoner of the Japs, even if he be a famous Olympic runner. I would like to see the official documents justifying that.

The article mentions: "and in 1991 a one-ton block of Mull granite was erected on Liddell's grave". This monument is arbitrarily erected between block-59 and the hospital and is certainly not on top of Eric's grave as affirmed.

Eric's grave is elsewhere.

Exactly at the same place where he was buried in 1945 which is plot 59 as mentioned on the map Norman showed to me. Go to: http://www.weihsien-paintings.org/NormanCliff/people/individuals/Eric01/p_grave.htm

In conclusion I'd like to say that "History" is slowly becoming "Legend" and even if it is for the benefit of the 2008 Olympic Games it is unfair not to tell the truth.
---
Best regards,

Leopold

From: "rod miller"
Date: vendredi 17 août 2007 23:49

Hello Ron

At 03:01 AM 15/08/2007, you wrote:

I think that I can shed some light on this.
1. Eric Liddell is listed as not having ever applied for evacuation in the Swiss Consular records for Weihsien Camp.

Could the Weihsien internees apply for evacuation?


2. When the second evacuation was being planned for US and Canadians in September 1943 there was also correspondence regarding doing an exchnage for UK British but it was abandoned when it was found that there were insufficient Japanese living in UK or UK colonial territory to do a swap.
Remember for every Canadian released to Canada a Japanese resident in Canada was exchanged and the same thing happened with the US. In the first exchange in August 1942 which was largely diplomatic and quasi diplomatic staff through Lournco Marques the numbers were not so precise as it was a diplomatic "thing".

Sorry Ron but I don't believe this is quite correct. What is difficult to understand is that on the insistence of the US the negotiations for exchange of British and US internees were conducted separately. This was insisted on by the US in 1942 for they had assumed that the British held no Japanese internees for there were only 25 diplomatic staff held in London at the outbreak of the Pacific war.
It's true that in the UK proper they held no Japanese after the first exchange but Australia had only released 870 Japanese for the first exchange and was still holding at least 400. It was politics that derailed the 2nd British exchange. For the second British exchange to go ahead the Japanese were insisting on 300 merchant sea men held in Australia to be part of the exchange. MacArthur couldn't believe we had released 870 for the first exchange for they had knowledge of Australia's north from where we were being attacked. He refused to release the sailors which just brought whole the question of a 2nd British exchange and a 3rd American exchange to a complete halt. The American special division that was handling the exchange in the US, got so infuriated with MacArthur they approached Roosevelt who approached Churchill. It's a long story but the British had forced Curtin to include the 870 for the first exchange, for which Australia only received 32 Australians in return. Curtin supported MacArthur and that is the reason there was no 2nd British exchange.


3 However Eric Liddell's wife Flo had not gone back to Tientsin after their 1940 home leave which ahd begun in Scotland and went to live in Toronto with their children and as Eric Liddell's next of kin had a Canadian Address he would have briefly been listed as Canadian and hence eligible for exchange evacuation. His passport was definitely British ( issue by Brfitish Consulate Teitnsin in January 1937) thus I am of the considered opinion from the research that I have done that the fact that he was consdiered for exchange was based on incomplete knowledge of the facts above rumour and surmise.

--- turned down an offer of liberation by Winston Churchill from a wartime internment camp in China in favour of another prisoner

Could Winston Churchill could have got an offer into Weihsien with out all of you knowing? Seems a little farfetched to me?

Rod

From: "David Birch"
Date: samedi 18 août 2007 5:14

Albert, Leopold, et al.

As soon as I read that first account about Winston Churchill arranging a repatriation of Eric Liddell, and Liddell turning it down, I said to myself, "This has to be completely phoney!" I agree that Winston Churchill would not be arranging this sort of thing. Secondly, if Liddell really had been offered a repatriation, it would almost certainly have been to Canada to rejoin his wife, Florence, and their little girls.

Yes, I agree that Liddell was a truly saintly man, but he was also a husband and the father of little girls, one of whom he had never even seen yet. I think that at this point, where his normal missionary work was no longer possible, he would have (or certainly should have) rejoined his little family if the way had really opened up for that! Which I don't believe for a moment it did.

You are right that a legend has begun to form around Eric Liddell. He was certainly a good man, and there are legendary aspects to his life. But he did have his feet firmly planted on the ground and was still just a man.

I knew Eric Liddell from afar, heard him tell the story of the 1924 Olympics to a group of us young people in the camp, and definitely in those days saw him as a Christian hero. So I have no bias against him, but I know for certain that there would have been no major movement to repatriate him at the height of World War Two. That's just someone's dream!

David


Sent: Monday, January 15, 2007 9:19 PM
Subject: Article about Eric Liddell in Shanghai Daily

________________________________________
Hero honored
By Douglas Williams 2007-1-13

________________________________________
Olympic gold medal-winning runner Eric Liddell will be celebrated tonight in a show called "Beyond the Chariots," looking at the man's life and faith, from when he returned to China until his untimely and sad demise, writes Douglas Williams.

There was no small amount of hype surrounding Eric Liddell in the run- up to the 1924 Paris Olympics. The British public was quietly confident that their lightning-fast sprinter, born in Tianjin in 1902, would bring home gold in the 100 meters.

He did bring home gold, but not for the 100 meters.

Liddell's Scottish father, a missionary working in China, had instilled in him a strong faith that was to be tested to the limit in Paris that summer.

One of the qualifying heats for the 100m final fell on a Sunday, the Sabbath, and Liddell refused to take part. One Sunday, one race, Olympic gold at stake and the hopes of a nation - but the Edinburgh University undergraduate would have none of it. As a strict evangelical, he would simply not race on the Sabbath. He would, however, run in the 400 meters, a distance he had never competed at but which didn't have heats on Sundays.

Astonishingly he won, took gold and smashed the world record in the process. His refusal to run the 100m was big news but his victory sent shockwaves around the world.

It inspired the film "Chariots of Fire," which won four Oscars, and the one-man show "Beyond the Chariots" by Rich Swingle, which plays tonight in Shanghai.

"Beyond the Chariots" looks at Liddell's life beyond the Olympics when he returned to China to initially teach science at the Tianjin Anglo Chinese College and later serve as a missionary like his father. He was ordained as a minister in 1932.

"Despite all the fame and adulation he was showered with after the Olympics and all the career opportunities that were presenting themselves at the time, Liddell chose to return to China and teach," says Swingle who has performed his show off Broadway, across the States, Canada and in Hong Kong. He has also performed the show in front of Liddell's three daughters who now live in Canada.

"His daughters told me they found the show a cathartic experience," says Swingle. "It brought them a sense of closure."

Liddell sent his wife and daughters from their Tianjin home to safety in Canada in 1941 with war encroaching.

Swingle, also a runner, is returning to the Chinese mainland for the first time in 20 years. "I competed in an International Sports Exchange program in Guangzhou in 1986. It was a great experience and it was then that I heard about the Liddell story. It has fascinated and inspired me ever since," says the native New Yorker.

As a competitive runner, Swingle listened to the "Chariots of Fire" Vangelis soundtrack before races.

"Liddell was obeying his calling when he returned to China, it was what God wanted him to do, or so he believed," says Swingle, an actor.

Liddell taught and worked as a missionary in the Tianjin area until he was interned in a Japanese concentration camp in Weifang, Shandong Province, in 1943.

"Even as a prisoner Liddell continued teaching and carrying out pastoral duties," says Swingle who bares a remarkable similarity to Liddell. "In our research we've met several of his students from both his time in Tianjin and in the camp and they all say he was an inspiring teacher."

The show looks at how Liddell gets on with one of his students in the camp, the fictional Maiker, a Chinese who is also played by Liddle. "The two have a volatile relationship, with Maiker holding some resentment towards Liddell due to familial history. Maiker is basically anti-Westerner," explains Swingle.

"In the show I want to show that although there were Westerners who came to China to merely exploit the country, Liddell wasn't one of them. The same is true today, while some are here for their own ends, many aren't," says Maiker.

"I also hope to get across some of Liddell's philosophy. He was a great believer that if something is worth doing then it's worth doing well. I also think the message of Liddell's life is to love each other wholeheartedly no matter where we come from."

Liddell died in the camp in 1945, six months before the end of the war, from a brain tumor brought on by overwork and malnourishment. He is interred in the Mausoleum of Martyrs in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province.

Time: January 13, 8pm

Venue: Community Center Shanghai, 568 Julu Rd

2008

From: MTPrevite
Sent: Friday, August 15, 2008 2:21 PM
Subject: from THE HERALD, Scotland


Did Eric Liddell turn down freedom to help another prisoner-of-war?
DOUG GILLON, Athletics Correspondent August 11 2007

Comment | Read Comments (14)
It was a typically selfless act. Eric Liddell, the iconic Scottish Olympic athletics champion, turned down an offer of liberation by Winston Churchill from a wartime internment camp in China in favour of another prisoner, it was claimed yesterday.

Simon Clegg, chief executive of the British Olympic Association, and elite performance director Sir Clive Woodward were laying a wreath on Liddell's grave in Weifang when they were told about the move by Chinese officials. Weifang, in Shandong Province, was used by the Japanese to intern many foreign and Chinese prisoners.

The pair are in China for the pre-Olympic regatta, and were taking the opportunity to honour the 1924 Olympic 400 metres champion who gave up athletics and a promising career as a Scotland rugby winger to become a missionary in China. He had been born there and his parents also served there as missionaries.

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Mr Clegg said: "We had lunch with the vice-mayor of Weifang and some of her colleagues. I was told by a senior official that Eric was given the opportunity of being exchanged while he was still alive, and he turned it down in favour of someone else.

"If that's the case, it's entirely in keeping with the way he led the rest of his life. Talk about a role model - someone who had achieved so much in the sporting environment and then effectively to walk away from that, not for any personal advancement, but to devote his life to working with other people. He really is an inspiration to us all.

"What was said related to Winston Churchill arranging a prisoner swap, but Eric let somebody else go in his place. It would be hard to substantiate the details now, but the Chinese are not known for elaborating in this way."

Liddell died of a brain tumour in February 1945, just months before liberation. His grave was marked with a plain wooden cross, his name written in boot polish. However, on the 60th anniversary of the internment camp a memorial park was built, and in 1991 a one-ton block of Mull granite was erected on Liddell's grave.

"It's in a quiet and very dignified setting of a courtyard," added Mr Clegg. "We laid a wreath of brightly-coloured local flowers there, on behalf of the BOA and athletes past, present, and future.

I hadn’t realised just what an outstanding human being he was


"Torrential rain fell before and after the ceremony, but there was a glorious break in the weather when we were at the memorial. There is still an old missionary building, which during internment had a hospital on the second floor, offices on the ground floor, and accommodation units on the third. It's in the courtyard of this building that the memorial stands.

"There's also a small museum to the internment camp. Liddell does feature, both in terms of his athletics prowess and contribution to the camp and society. There's a log book with his name, Liddell, EH, and a reference to where he was accommodated in the camp.

"The people of Weifang have done a fantastic job in terms of keeping his spirit alive today. I hadn't realised just what an outstanding human being he was. It was quite emotional being there."

The Chinese are making a documentary about the internment camp, and have interviewed survivors as old as 103. This will also feature Liddell, because of the role he played in the camp, and they are coming to the UK to research and film.

Numerous biographies of Liddell have made no mention of a prisoner exchange. His late sister, Jenny Somerville, never spoke of it, nor did his daughter, Patricia, who accepted Liddell's induction to the Scottish Athletics Hall of Fame two years ago. An attempt to contact her at her home in Canada last night was unsuccessful.

Bob Rendall, chief executive of the Eric Liddell Centre in Edinburgh, said: "I have been in this job 12 years and have never heard any mention of it, either from the family or in print, but there are always secret papers being released."

Two other films are currently being made. Caithness-based screenwriter Murray Watts has collaborated in one of these, being made by Toronto-based Windborne Productions.

"Funding is still being put in place, but we look like going into pre-production at the end of next month with Bruce Beresford as director," said a spokeswoman.

Beresford won four Oscars with Driving Miss Daisy. David Puttnam's Chariots of Fire, which featured Liddell's life as an athlete, won five.


A life more worthy of a film than Chariots of Fire

THE life Eric Liddell had after the Chariots of Fire era may prove more worthy of a film than the athletic achievements which Ian Charleson famously portrayed.

Liddell, who gained seven rugby caps on the wing for Scotland before winning Olympic gold and silver in 1924, was carried shoulder high down the platform of Edinburgh's Waverley Station when he turned his back on sport for the glory of God, as a missionary in China.

He risked his life, smuggling money for church work, hidden in bread, or tending typhoid victims.

A man whose execution the Japanese had bungled lay dying in a derelict temple. Fearing reprisals, nobody would go to him, until Liddell rescued him on a handcart.

Another man was cleft from the back of his head to his mouth, and left for dead. Liddell ferried both 18 miles to a hospital. Both recovered.

Many Britons were interned when the Sino-Japanese war erupted, Liddell among them. He had sent his pregnant wife to Canada for safety, in 1941. He died without ever seeing his third daughter.

Inmates of the camp included the elderly, children separated from their parents, a touring jazz band, and a white Russian prostitute.

The Edinburgh University BSc wrote a chemistry book for the camp children, inscribing the cover: "The bones of Inorganic Chemistry. (Can these dry bones live?)"

One lad, David Mitchell, became a minister, and wrote a book on his childhood. He recalled Liddell mixing glue from fish bladders and scales, mending hockey sticks, and doing so by night, to spare inmates the smell.

The man who had declined on Sabbatarian grounds to run the 100m at the Olympics, refereed youngsters' football on Sundays. He mixed coal dust with clay to make crude briquettes for the elderly, and when the prostitute was ostracised by other women, he rigged a shelf for her. She said he was the only man to do her a favour without seeking other favours in return.

When he died on February 16, 1945, the camp was devastated. He had seemed invincible. The kids whom he had walked with earlier were the cord bearers at his burial in the snow of north China.

From: Albert de Zutter
Sent: Friday, August 15, 2008 11:08 PM
Subject: Re: from THE HERALD, Scotland


That apocryphal story is resurrected once again. Many missionaries were repatriated or allowed to return to their former places of residence. There was no quota and no "places" for people to give up. For example, there were originally 300 Catholic priests in the camp, but all but 11 (who volunteered to stay) were allowed to return to their stations. Eric LIddell was a fine man and no doubt a father figure to many of the Chefoo boys and girls whose parents were not with them, but there is no reason to gild the lily.

Albert de Zutter

From: James Taylor
Sent: Saturday, August 16, 2008 4:56 PM
Subject: from Jim Taylor re. Eric Liddell repatriation story


I have always tried to play down this story about Eric Liddell forfeiting his opportunity to be repatriated in favor of someone else. As far as I can recall, the repatriation option was never open to subjects of Great Britain. As we Chefoo students were about to leave Temple Hill, a number of our American classmates were informed that they would be part of a US/Japanese prisoner-of-war exchange. For a brief moment, I was quite excited thinking that having an American mother would somehow qualify us for consideration. It was not to be. We were all on British passports. Our American classmates shipped out on the SS Gripsholm shortly after we were moved to Weihsien. That is when Kate Leininger and Geneva Sayre also left. A few of our classmates were moved to camps elsewhere in China because their parents were there.

Jim Taylor

From: Ron Bridge
Sent: Saturday, August 16, 2008 7:36 PM
Subject: RE: from Jim Taylor re. Eric Liddell repatriation story


There was a rumour around Weihsien after the Americans and Canadians left in late August early September 1943 that there would be another exchange and that would be for the British. It was just that a rumour. I have done extensive research into the subject at the UK National Archives Kew and can find no trace that it was ever organised or trying to be organised. One reason why it could not be organised in any case was that whilst there were from know records at the time 16856 British civilians in Japanese Camps there were no Japanese in any British Camp so the question of a swap never arose. Indeed when the diplomatic exchange was made on the Kamakura and Tatatu Marus they had to scrape the barrel to get enough Japanese civilains lioving in Britain and the British Commonwealth to equate to the large number of diplomatic and quasi diplomatic staff of British and Commonwealth origin who had been captured. Incidentally, subsequent recent research deone personally, from the contemporary nominal rolls (done 1942-1945) has shown 19,250 UK British, 712 Australian, 621 Canadian, 12 Maltese(Mostly nuns) 173 New Zealand 45 South African 11 West African and 8 West Indian a total of 20833. Of these 1,039 died in Captivity and there were a further 391 deaths of British subjects who through age infirmity or whatever were not interned but living in Japanese occuopied territory.

Back to Weihsien -I have a copy of the Swiss Government records of the British inmates of Wehsien Camp and the entry on one sheet for Eric Liddell is:

LIDDELL Rev Eric Henry born Tientsin(Tianjin) 16Jan1902 passport no C41820 issued Tientsin 16Jan37 no mention of a wife formerly resided in Tientsin. Never applied for evacuation received Cross parcel died 21Feb1945.
The other document lists the same basic data but adds Missionary emoployed by London Missionary Society Shanghai and that employer in the home country was London Missionary Society London England.

I support Jim Taylor whole heartedly and felt I must chip in befroe another fable was cast in stone.

Rgds
Ron

From: David Birch
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2008 12:26 AM
Subject: Re: from Jim Taylor re. Eric Liddell repatriation story


This is how I also understood the matter. Eric Liddell was a good man, a very good man. But it does him a disservice to fictionalize his life in an effort to make him what he was not!
Had he voluntarily remained as a prisoner of the Japanese in Weihsien, instead of accepting an offer of repatriation during the war, WHAT WOULD THAT HAVE SAID OF ERIC LIDDELL'S CHARACTER AS A HUSBAND OF A YOUNG WIFE AND FATHER OF TWO LITTLE GIRL'S?

It is true that he sent his wife and children home just before the war, while remaining himself to do missionary work. But this would have been quite different. He was in a prison camp and therefore unable to serve the Chinese people to whom he was called. So it seems to me that if he now had the opportunity to rejoin his little family, who had not seen him for several years, it would have made sense to him to accept the offer.

I do not think that the British Prime Minister ever became personally involved in negotiating the freedom even of British subjects. Eric's wife and two little girls were in Toronto, Canada and not in England. Of course in those days Canada was still a part of the British empire. I was a boy in Weihsien, and I was Canadian, but I held (and still possess) an Emergency Certificate from the British Consulate in Chefoo stating that I was a British Subject. As Jim says, we 'Britishers' were not eligible for repatriation during the war, although I think that somehow Jack Bell, a Chefoo grad, may have gotten in on that repatriation with the Americans.

These repatriations of internees were NOT CHEAP! I've read that the Japanese insisted on 'trading' our personnel for Japanese personnel from America. And it was apparently NOT one for one. Even for western children, the Japanese demanded several Japanese of fighting age from our side. Perhaps prisoners of war or possibly American ethnic Japanese.

Anyway, this fiction about Liddell is annoying. It's a phoney attempt to deify a wonderful man who was, nevertheless, just a man!

David

From: rod miller
To: weihsien@topica.com
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2008 12:59 PM
Subject: Re: from Jim Taylor re. Eric Liddell repatriation story

I was never an internee and unfortunately never had the honour of meeting Eric Liddell. I do however have a little knowledge of the
the British exchange from the Australian (Australians being classified British) point of view. I started reading this topica group
due to the fact that people from Weihsien had been part of the second American exchange.

It should be kept in mind that the exchanges were all politics and in the early days of the negotiations both the Allies and the Japanese,
as they were wining, thought they would be ongoing. However a lot of bureaucracy on both sides made things very difficult after the first exchange took place.

Ron I understand how much work you have done in the British archives but there is evidence of the British pushing for a second exchange.

From Ron Bridge:

There was a rumour around Weihsien after the Americans and Canadians left in late August early September 1943 that there would be another exchange and that would be for the British. It was just that a rumour.

I wasn't in Weihsien but isn't it possible that the Japanese were talking of a second British exchange?
The reason I pose this question is because the Australian nurses that escaped Singapore and were captured on Banka island heard
of all the exchanges, British and American. In her book White Coolies, published in 1955, Betty Jeffery dismisses the talk of exchange as rumour. Information about the exchanges, being secret during the war, went under the 30 year rule and wasn't released till 1975. She may have written it differently had she known of the exchanges. She mentions an exchange ship which was the Teia Maru. On Don Menzi's site http://reced.org/dmenzi/wilders/Gripsholm_English_04-10-07-b/Gripsholm_04-10-07-b.html
you can see that it was very close to where they were being held in the Malacca straits.

I have done extensive research into the subject at the UK National Archives Kew and can find no trace that it was ever organised or trying to be organised.

There was never a second British exchange but there were negotiations.
Even the Swiss minister in Tokyo M. Camille Gorge, who had been in charge of American interests in Japan since 9 December 1942, in early 1944 reported to the Americans that the Japanese were favouring a second British exchange before a third American

One reason why it could not be organised in any case was that whilst there were from know records at the time 16856 British civilians in Japanese Camps there were no Japanese in any British Camp so the question of a swap never arose. Indeed when the diplomatic exchange was made on the Kamakura and Tatatu Marus they had to scrape the barrel to get enough Japanese civilains living in Britain and the British Commonwealth to equate to the large number of diplomatic and quasi diplomatic staff of British and Commonwealth origin who had been captured.

Australia still had 800 odd Japanese in Australia even though we had released 850 for the return of only 150 odd in the first exchange.
The first exchange was a debacle for the Australian government.
As the war progressed the Japanese had lost so many ships it wasn't easy to find one for exchange purposes.

From David Birch:

At 08:26 AM 17/08/2008, you wrote:

This is how I also understood the matter. Eric Liddell was a good man, a very good man. But it does him a disservice to fictionalize his life in an effort to make him what he was not!
Had he voluntarily remained as a prisoner of the Japanese in Weihsien, instead of accepting an offer of repatriation during the war, WHAT WOULD THAT HAVE SAID OF ERIC LIDDELL'S CHARACTER AS A HUSBAND OF A YOUNG WIFE AND FATHER OF TWO LITTLE GIRL'S?

I do not think that the British Prime Minister ever became personally involved in negotiating the freedom even of British subjects.

Funnily enough Churchill did get involved with the exchange of internees, but for an American exchange not British.
Roosevelt cabled Churchill to put pressure on the Australian Prime Minister John Curtin, who backed by MacArthur, refused to release 300 merchant seamen specifically requested by the Japanese for a third American exchange to take place.


Eric's wife and two little girls were in Toronto, Canada and not in England. Of course in those days Canada was still a part of the British empire. I was a boy in Weihsien, and I was Canadian, but I held (and still possess) an Emergency Certificate from the British Consulate in Chefoo stating that I was a British Subject. As Jim says, we 'Britishers' were not eligible for repatriation during the war, although I think that somehow Jack Bell, a Chefoo grad, may have gotten in on that repatriation with the Americans.

These repatriations of internees were NOT CHEAP! I've read that the Japanese insisted on 'trading' our personnel for Japanese personnel from America. And it was apparently NOT one for one. Even for western children, the Japanese demanded several Japanese of fighting age from our side. Perhaps prisoners of war or possibly American ethnic Japanese.

The second American exchange was definitely one for one.


Anyway, this fiction about Liddell is annoying. It's a phoney attempt to deify a wonderful man who was, nevertheless, just a man!

You were at Weishsien, I wasn't but ask yourselves this, if Eric Liddell was on a list of people requested to be part of the exchange by
his government would the Japanese have let him give his position to some one else? Considering the problem I mentioned above about the men requested from Australia by the Japanese, I think this would have been an issue.

Note on the site below that the Japanese and the Swiss checked names for the first exchange.
http://www.bunton.id.au/china40y/chap7.html

It was all politics.

Kind Regards
Rod