Eric Liddell's grave in 1991
CHINESE GRAVE’S SECRET: A FAMED RUNNER RESTS HERE
A marker at last for the devout hero of “Chariots of Fire”
By, BARBARA BASLER
Special to the New York Times
December 2, 1990
Eric Liddell, the extraordinary runner whose brief, brilliant athletic career was the subject of the movie, "Chariots of Fire” has lain in an unmarked grave in Weifang, China, for the last 45 years.
Mr Liddell, who astounded the world at
the 1924 Paris Olympics when he stood by his Calvinist, principles and refused
to compete on Sunday, spent his adult life as a missionary in,
He was interned in a Japanese prison camp in Weifang, where he died and was buried in 1945.
Now, after months of research, a fellow
Scotsman, Charles T. Walker, has found Mr. Liddell's grave in a small cemetery
next to the sprawling
"I was working on a book about
Scots, and the more I talked to people who had known Liddell the more convinced
we all became that his grave should be marked," said Mr. Walker, a consulting
A gifted runner, Mr. Liddell was
heavily favored to win the 100-meter race in
The coach of the British Olympic team
then entered him in the 400-meter race, an event he had not trained for, and
he; again astonished the world by winning first place. Mr. Liddell left for
Mr. Walker said that when word spread
he intended to find the grave and erect a memorial, "offers of help, money,
came flooding in," from
“There was a need to harness all that
good will," Mr. Walker said, and this week he and a group of prominent
A Student's Recollections
In January; David Puttnam, the producer of "Chariots of Fire," will journey to Hong Kong to attend a fund-raising event for the foundation and is scheduled to speak about Mr: Liddell's life at a screening of the movie.
Cheng Hon-kwan, a director of the
foundation and a member of
"He was very well liked by the students,” Mr: Cheng recalled. "We all knew he was an Olympic gold medal winner and that he had not run on Sunday. Everyone thought of him as a hero. He was tall and very fit, but be was bald headed by then. My impression was of a very lively, very likable man."
Mr. Cheng said Mr. Liddell was his teacher for only a few months. "War broke out in the Pacific," be said; “and the Japanese came and took all the British teachers away to camps."
Mr. Liddell was interned along with
1,800 other Westerners in Weifang, then a remote provincial farming center
about 500 miles northeast of Beijing. Mr. Walker said Mr. Liddell's wife,
"There were quite a few youngsters in the camp who were interned without their parents, because they had been at a nearby boarding school," Mr. Walker said. "Liddell was put in charge of one of the dorms for these boys. He was called Uncle Eric, and he organized sports and all kinds of activities for them.
"The people who knew Eric all said that he was a very special person," Mr. Walker said. "He was a strong believer, but he wasn't a pushy Christian."
Mr. Liddell was 43 years old when he died of a brain tumor in the camp. Several men who were boys at the time recalled his burial for Mr. Walker.
Graveyard Is Intact
Mr.-Walker and some friends went to Weifang, last July, armed with notes from the former prisoners and an old map of the area. Though the provincial town is now an industrial city of four million people, the little camp grave-yard was still intact, next to the sprawling post-war school. The graves in the old camp cemetery, Mr. Walker said, were marked only with small wooden crosses, but people present at the funeral recalled which was Mr. Liddell's.
The granite stone marker for the grave will be engraved with Mr. Liddell's name, a brief biography in English and Chinese, and a quotation from Isaiah: "They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary.
--- and finally a last question:
Where WAS the cemetery?
2) between the
boundary-wall North of the Hospital and the extreme South-watch tower = out
of bounds --- as shown in Mrs. Ida
Talbot's painting (there is an identical painting in
From Donald Menzi,
Did you figure out the location of the cemeteries? I would guess that there were two - one that may have been the local farmers', outside the walls, and the other that was inside the walls, by the jail. Fr. Scanlan's book (I think) speaks of their going into the "out of bounds" Japanese residence area for funeral(s), so I think the map is accurate, but not complete, since it doesn't show anything outside the walls, and the paintings obviously show another cemetery there.
For the cemetery, I guess you are right!
--- and click on the various links. On the enlarged map, move the mouse pointer to plot-59, (Eric Liddell). The cemetery for the Weihsien locals was on the other side of the wall. In the fields, farther beyond, were a series of tumulus ― graves too.
"May he rest in peace."
PS -- when you were in Weifang, did you have the opportunity of visiting plot-59?
No one even mentioned that the grave was still there. Maybe they didn't think it was adequately cared for.
From Mary Previte:
about Eric Liddell in Shanghai Daily
Article about Eric Liddell in Shanghai Daily
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
Dear Mary, When the memorial gravestone was erected. Eric's remains were located and moved to that site. About 2 years ago Priscilla Russel (Eric's daughter) wrote me and told me that she had had a letter from the official who was in charge of the exhuming and reburial. He assured her the suggestion that they had been moved to the National Martyrs memorial was a rumour. I myself made some brief enquiries when we were in Weishien regarding the remains of Brian Thompson. They pointed out a private garden quite a distance from the site and said they are lost somewhere in that location. I myself in writing up my article on Eric had taken up the rumour and included it in my article. In hindsight I have been quite embarrassed about it. Priscilla was quite distressed that they had not been consulted,and wrote me asking who she should contact to clarify the situation. I gave her Sui Shu De's E-mail. and subsequently he contacted the official who wrote her. Unfortunately there are rumours about Eric, ie: that Winston Churchill negotiated for him to be repatriated....(Highly unlikely) Journalists write things to make a good story! Of course once things are in print they are likely to be disseminated. I would suggest that where you have seen it on the internet you suggest they correct it.
Stephen A. Metcalf
Where is Eric Liddell buried?