Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Chinese Labour Corps Cemetery on the Western Front

Noyelles-Sur-Mer at the basin of the Somme River was the base depot of the Chinese Labour Corps in France, the site of their largest camp and of No.3 Labour (originally the Chinese) General Hospital.

Chinese Laborers at Mealtime

The Chinese Labour Corps was the outcome of an agreement made between the United Kingdom and Chinese governments on 30 December 1916 for the employment of Chinese labour in France. The men were recruited in north China, and the first contingent arrived in France in April 1917. By the end of 1917, 54,000 were in France and Belgium. At the Armistice, the Corps numbered nearly 96,000 and even in May 1919, 80,000 were still at work. Nearly 2,000 died during the war and when the cemeteries were constructed after the war was over, the headstones for these men were engraved in Chinese characters by a selected group of their comrades.

Appropriately, a Dragon Guards the Cemetery

There are now 841 First World War burials in the cemetery.

Sources: Commonwealth War Graves, Tony Langley Collection

1 comment:

  1. It is interesting that both China and Japan participated in the Great War as our allies, but were never given their due afterwards. Thus setting up conditions for Asia and the conflagration that followed, and gave us impetus to number World Wars.