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About the Author iii
Foreword iv

Part I
1 That Jap Kid 1
2 The New Czar's Revenge 7
3 The Emperor Speaks 11
4 Tientsin Goes Yankee 18
5 Make `Em Pay 25
6 The Defenders of Fuchen-li 27
7 No Whisky Soda 36
8 Camp Kindergarten 42
9 Rising Sun 47
10 For Your Safety And Comfort 53
11 Weihsien Winter 62
12 Guardian Angel 68
13 Diplomat In Black 72
14 Radio Drama 79
15 Stalingrad 85
16 Monica's Little Secret 92
17 Holy Days 98
18 The Flood of 1939 100
19 Japan Makes War 113
20 Der Führer of La Cuvette 117
21 Hostage 133
22 Murder In Manchuria 141
23 The Collector 158
24 Happy Hour 167
25 The White House 181
26 Tennis At The Arsenal 186
27 The Opium Wars 195

Part II
28 No Culture — No Manners 209
29 Entnazifizierung 218
30 Civil War 226
31 Edge Of The Dream 236
32 Emperor Chin's Magic Horse 243
33 Sticks And Stones 248
34 Keys Of The Kingdom 258
35 Napoleon's Trousers 270
36 The Greatest Event Of The Year 277
37 Repatriation 289
38 Evacuation 296
39 The Siege Of Tientsin 301
40 Meet The People's Liberation Army 308
41 Of Warlords And Landlords 320
42 China For The Chinese 326
43 The Purser 338


This book would not have been possible without an extraordinary degree of cooperation and kindness from many wonderful people.

The author is deeply grateful for the generosity of Thomas Cook Japan, which provided a grant of sufficient size to cover a round-the-world research trip; to Mr. Yukio Nosaka, president of the World Corporation trading company in Tokyo, for an equally generous and timely gift of support; and to Mr. Alex Tsukada, president of Alex Tsukada International, who provided continuing financial backing for the research and writing phases of this project.

Heartfelt thanks for generous hospitality during the research phase go to Vladimir Nelsky of the Melbourne suburb of Viewbank and to Rob and Rikki Fisher of nearby Eltham. In Sydney, the late Jesse Tracton kindly arranged for necessary accommodation. Bill Persik made the long side trip from Sydney to Salamander Bay, N.S.W., more than worthwhile. Bobby Tam, then of Hong Kong, provided accommodation and gave freely of his precious time.

In Hamburg, Monica and Joachim Strelow were generous hosts, while multilingual sinologist Monica shared a wealth of personal recollections and historical records.

In Vancouver, a base of operations was available through the warm hospitality of newspaperman Lorne Malin. George and Nela Wagner of Indianapolis, Indiana, were more than generous in sharing their home with an unusually curious visitor.

The author is also greatly indebted to Alex Liu of Exmouth, W.A., for written notes that provided valuable recollections and background information in exhaustive detail, and to Raymond Han of Toowoomba, Queensland, for otherwise inaccessible background. In Melbourne, thanks to Genia Findlay, Marie Barschoen, Joe and Ellen Smith and Tania Buunk, for many a good yarn and a great deal of reliable information. In Sydney, precious insights and information came from Igor Binetsky, Robin Candlin, Alec Zamiatin, Gary Nash and Frennie Beytagh. George Nathing of Newcastle was a tower of strength with his wealth of personal historical information, rigorous attention to detail and constant enthusiasm.

Invaluable information (along with moral support and treasured friendship) was also provided by Angela and Tom Elliot and Desmond Power of Vancouver. Thanks also to Yervand Markarian of Palm Springs, California, John Hoch of Tell City, Indiana, Alexander Kirilloff, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Jacques and Joe Barbé of Belgium. Truly intriguing tales and valuable information came also from the late Talip Utush of Burlingame, California. Thanks also to Lord Robert Skidelsky, who managed to find time in London to share reminisces despite an extremely hectic schedule and demanding responsibilities.

Residents of Tianjin and environs were a crucial component of the St. Louis College network and old boys reunion. Those who shared with the author, to whatever extent, are remembered with great fondness; and include Jimmy Cooke, Prof. Zhao-hong (Carlo) Guan, Yu-qi (John) Han, Yong-yi (Isaac) Huang, Arthur Von Gao, and the inimitable Hai-han (George) Wang.

As heartfelt as is all of the above, the author wishes to record particular thanks for the surviving Marist Brothers teachers of St. Louis College, not only for their generous contribution to this work, but also for the dedication and strength that made them a focal point in the lives of generations of pupils. Those interviewed in Tianjin were Brother Kenny and Brother Konrad. Brother Dennis was interviewed in Hong Kong where he and Brother Konrad have continued to teach well into their eighties.


Born in Melbourne in 1948, David Charles Hulme learned at an early age to revere giants of Australian literature such as "Banjo" Patterson and Henry Lawson, and to revel in their brilliant treatment of simple reality. He became an insatiable explorer of places and people. After trying and abandoning promising careers in several fields, his abiding love of writing led to a career in journalism.

He roamed and worked across Europe, North America and Asia; and reported extensively on China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea and Japan. Settling in Tokyo in the early 1980s, he became one of the very few successful independent freelance journalists in Japan. His reports and analyses were seen regularly in publications as diverse as the Dublin-based Lafferty financial services newsletters, the U.S. specialist magazine Machine Design, Hong Kong-based Asian Business magazine, Australian newspapers, and various airline magazines.

In recent years, he served as editor-in-chief of the monthly Journal of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

Hulme now resides in Caboolture, Queensland, where he is developing a new career in radio and working on a novel. He still gets his kicks from simple reality.


This book began with a question. In Tokyo, I had been interviewing executive search consultant Alex Tsukada for a business magazine and happened to ask him where he had learned his English. "In China," he said, and I was hooked. Tsukada subsequently regaled me with tales of his continuing worldwide search for school chums last seen half a century earlier in Tientsin, the north-China city now called Tianjin. He also spoke of a school reunion, scheduled for September 1996 in Tianjin. There had been other reunions; in Australia, Japan, the Americas and Europe, but this was the first ever in China. Naturally, I had to be there.

My three days of interviews and discussions with old China hands, many of whom were meeting each other for the first time in some fifty years, opened doors to a time and place that is accessible through no other channel. Tianjin has an official local history, of course, but it gives short shrift to residents of the concessions, those territories that foreign powers (in this case Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Russia, Japan and, briefly, the U.S.) claimed for themselves in the colonial era. The concessionaires were never obliged to record anything but their own affairs. As a result, personal recollections (gathered intensively over the next two years) are at least as valuable as the sum of existing historical record.

That said, this volume was never meant to be a book of history. Rather, it is a collection of stories, blending verifiable historical fact with multiple individual accounts and family records. Its aim is to bring to life the city of Tientsin as it was for the children attending the Marist Brothers Saint Louis College about the years 1945-48 and, to a lesser extent, in previous eras as well. The school itself is a tiny footnote in the history of Tientsin, but it becomes a lens through which we view the life of the city and its place in that extremely turbulent period of history. Every student belonged to a particular strand in the city's extraordinarily colorful tapestry. Every family, whether Chinese (of great means or desperately little) Russian (Jewish, Orthodox or communist), British (the blatantly racist or the sinophile), Japanese (industrialists, farmers or military), Korean, French, German or other, had a distinct view. Their knowledge and opinions on such things as the opium wars, the fall of the Qing Dynasty, Russian influxes, warlords, China's civil war, the Japanese occupation and the American occupation varied to extremes.

A note on the two-part structure of this work is appropriate. Compiling a book based on a large number of accounts of widely varying detail, and covering several generations, presents serious problems. It was at Saint Louis College that children of different nationalities and backgrounds found the firmest common ground. The school and its teachers are therefore the hub of the story. However, a history of the school would by no means do justice to the community that it served. Nor would the combined resources of those associated with the school provide material for a comprehensive or satisfactory history of the foreign concessions. These are some of the reasons for rejecting a historical or strictly chronological approach. After deep and prolonged thought, I decided to begin Part I with a snapshot of the school as Tsukada first experienced it. From that point, it is possible to slowly peel back the layers, showing step by step the events, characters and trends that contributed to the formation of the school and the society that Tsukada and his contemporaries knew. By the end of Part I we have met some of the larger-than-life characters and explored the early foreign influences that shaped this unique city.

No worthy story of China after the Pacific War could be told without reference to that context. Thus, we return to the Tientsin of 1945, awaiting the victorious Allied army. With the Japanese boy, Tsukada, and his schoolmates, we experience Tientsin's brief recovery and its tragic plunge into civil war and hyperinflation. Eventually, with the triumph of the Communist Revolution, we sail away from the city with the last of the expelled foreigners.

As a journalist, I have done all within my power to verify and add clarity to the events described. I relied as little as possible on the memories alone of interviewees, for the human memory is at best selective in a multitude of ways. Where I have resorted to invention, as is the case with many of the conversational passages, it is to cement together the pieces of accounts from many sources, without tampering with substantive fact.

To the many wonderful people who shared stories, provided access to family records or pointed the way to official sources, my deepest thanks. I have endeavored to treat your confidence with respect and integrity and humbly apologize for any errors of my own in transcription or interpretation.

It is my belief that readers will derive most from these stories in the form and sequence that they are presented. It is my hope that anyone sensitive to the lessons and intrigues of history, anyone concerned with the attractions and vagaries of multiculturalism, and all those for whom China holds fascination, will find their curiosity inflamed by the sagas within these pages.

David C. Hulme