Chinese Labour Corps Project Launch Event – 19th April 2017
On 19th April, 1917, after a three-month journey over land and sea, a thousand Chinese men arrived in Le Havre, France, weary and bewildered. This was the first batch of the Chinese Labour Corps, recruited by the British to provide logistical help to the Western Allies. They would be followed by several tens of thousands, mainly from Shandong Province, thus forming one of the largest labour corps involved in the Great War.
To mark this historically significant event, exactly one hundred years later on 19th April, 2017, The Meridian Society, with SOAS China Institute as host, will be holding a film screening and talks to launch our heritage project on the Chinese Labour Corps, with the support of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The key resource is a collection of unique interviews with CLC descendants from Shandong. Their distinctive memories have been captured on camera and at this launch, guests will be able to view for the first time, a public screening of the documentary ‘Forgotten Faces of the Great War’, containing oral histories by descendants both of Chinese labourers and Western CLC officers.
Alongside the screening will be talks by eminent speakers (Chaired by Lars Laaman SCI) including:
- Frances Wood, Author of Author of ‘Betrayed Ally’, former Curator of Chinese Collections at the British Library and Research Associate at SOAS China Institute;
- Dominiek Dendooven, Curator at In Flanders Fields Museum;
- Andrew Fetherston, Archivist at Commonwealth War Graves Commission and
- Zhang Yan The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
A small display of items, including photos, documents and memorabilia, will be on show.
We will also be announcing details of the Society’s year-long series of activities to commemorate the CLC.
The event will be brought to a close by a Ceremony for the Departed conducted by Representatives of the London Fo Guang Shan Temple.
We hope you will be able to join us for this special event.
Please reserve your place no later than Monday 27th March by replying to The Meridian Society at firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Wednesday, 19th April
Venue: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT)
SOAS University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square,
London WC1H 0XG
Entry: Free, but places must be booked in advance
Click here for map to SOAS
For more details on the project, please click here
CHINESE LABOUR CORPS COMMEMORATION CEREMONIES IN FRANCE AND BELGIUM - 13th and 14th April, 2017
The contribution of the Chinese Labour Corps (CLC) to the Allied effort during World War I is unquestionable. Yet, to date, there has been no official acknowledgement of their vital role. To honour their memory on the centenary of the arrival in Europe of the first batch of recruits, the Meridian Society will be holding two commemoration events in France and Belgium. A small group of CLC descendants will be coming over from China specially to attend these ceremonies. Let us show that their ancestors have not been forgotten by all.
JOIN US IN HONOURING THE CHINESE LABOUR CORPS
The Chinese Cemetery at Noyelles-sur-Mer, France
April 13th (Thursday) - France
Visit to the Commonwealth War Graves Facility, Arras, to see CLC headstones being engraved, followed by a commemoration ceremony at the Chinese Cemetery, Noyelles-sur-Mer, where over 800 CLC members lie buried.
April 14th (Friday) - Belgium
Visit to trenches and battlefield sites along the Western Front and tour of In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, with curator Dominiek Dendooven, followed by laying of wreaths to the CLC at the Menin Gate Memorial at the Last Post.
The Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres
Depending on numbers, we may organise a minibus or coach to take us over from London, or we could carpool and share the cost of travel. Overnight accommodation will be required from April 12th to 14th inclusive. We will be happy to identify a range of hotels for you to choose from.
Please register your interest and indicate if you would be willing to drive your vehicle and, if so, how many passengers you can take. This will not commit you to attending, but will help us determine the feasibility of such a trip.
Please reply no later than Wednesday 15th March to: email@example.com