The number of 96,000 is, as best we can estimate, the correct number of Chinese recruited into the Chinese Labour Corps. It is a number we have agreed with Dr Gregory James, the world’s foremost authority on the Chinese Labour Corps.
The figure of 140,000 is sometimes used. This figure is the approximate figure (perhaps slightly overstated) of the number of Chinese recruited by both Britain and France, to work on the Western Front.
As the Ensuring We Remember Campaign specifically seeks to redress the historical relegation of British Chinese labour units to a footnote in the narrative of the Great War the figure of 96,000 is correct.
That said, that we refer to the Chinese Labour Corps and the figure of 96,000 is actually out of convenience and a wish to avoid confusing people as in actual fact the memorial we have commissioned is dedicated to the Chinese labour units of the Great War, and so includes a further 5,000 Chinese labourers who were recruited in the south of China, Hong Kong and Singapore to work in Mesopotamia (at Basra in modern day Iraq) and known as the Chinese Porter Corps; and a further 1,000 who were recruited form those same places and who supported the British war effort in East Africa, known as the Chinese Contingent.
It is also worth noting that the memorial is deliberately inclusive in referencing the Chinese labour units, and not just Chinese labourers. In doing so the memorial also stands for hundreds of British officers who served in those units.
We will remember them.
17 October -20 October
23 October–17 November 2018
“The foreign devils will be entranced by our performance and line our path back to Shandong with gold and cherry blossoms…”
1917. Shandong Province, Northern China. Times are tough in Horse Shoe Village. Old Six and Second Moon struggle to earn enough to feed their young child. Big dog struggles to overcome opium addiction and for Eunuch Lin, the fall of the Imperial Dynasty couldn’t have come at a worse time. Could a fierce war away in Europe present an opportunity to put both themselves and their struggling nation on its feet?
遗忘 means ‘Forgotten’. ‘Left behind’. ‘Erased’.
Forgotten 遗忘 is inspired by the little-known story of the 140,000-strong Chinese Labour Corps who left everything and travelled halfway around the world to work for Britain and the Allies behind the front lines during World War One.
Written by Daniel York Loh.
Directed by Kim Pearce.
Photography by Suki Mok. Graphic design by Émilie Chen
Running time: 2hrs (approx.)
Age guidance: 14+
Today, Tuesday 24th April, 2018, a specialist team went to a carefully selected quarry in Hunan Province surveying the various exposed marble rock faces. After careful consideration one location within the quarry was selected. It will now take 15 days to quarry the huge pieces of marble required to produce the Memorial Huabiao.
Steve Lau, Chair of the Ensuring We Remember campaign, will talk about Chinese peasants who were sent to the Western Front during the First World War.
Learn about the journey of the Chinese Labour Corps, as they were secretly transported across Canada, and shipped to Europe to fight in a war they didn’t necessarily understand.
Please note: new charges have been recently introduced for National Archives visitor parking. Follow the link for further information.
We run an exciting range of events and exhibitions on a wide variety of topics. For more details, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/whatson.
For more information on our First World War 100 programme, please visit: nationalarchives.gov.uk/first-world-war.
It is right to be mindful of history, but as this video shows, things are changing in Britain. The Ensuring We Remember Campaign has achieved a great deal, but we have not been alone in this endeavour. Other organisations have directly addressed the issue of remembrance of the Chinese Labour Corps, and not only Chinese organisations. We have many friends from various communities, and have been delighted to work with central and local government, and proud to have influenced the work of the three most important heritage organisations in the UK for the Great War: the Imperial War Museum, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the UK National Archives. We have letters of support from both Her Majesty the Queen and the British Prime Minister, and from the very start of our campaign, we have had the support of the Department for Communities and Local Government, with the practical and personal support of the Minister for Communities, Lord Bourne. It is through Lord Bourne’s office that the Big Ideas Company’s incredible Unremembered Project is funded.
Yes, there are grounds for grievance if we want to focus on history, but from our experience of working for more than four years on this project, we can honestly say that the response of British people has been overwhelmingly positive. Chinese or not, all people of good conscience recognise that the cause to remember the Chinese labourers of the Great War is just. People recognise and agree that Britain’s promise never to forget those who took part in the Great War applies to the Chinese as to any other.
There is still a long way to go, and a very small minority will not like what we are doing, but we should build bridges wherever possible, and not mistake our friends as enemies, our supporters as opponents. It is only by working together that we can achieve our longstanding hope and aspiration that the contribution of China and Chinese people in the First World War be given the due recognition they deserve.
The Campaign team are busier than ever and the workload is ever increasingly complex as different areas of activities interact, deadlines loom and expectations rise.
Fundraising has been an incredible success with donations being received from across the UK. Although the majority of donations have been made by members of the Chinese community, not exclusively so. Donations large and small have been received from ordinary folks who have been moved by the story of the Chinese Labour Corps, and indeed, it has always been our belief that people of good conscience, regardless of their ethnic, cultural, religious or socio-economic background, will recognise as a just cause, remembering the Chinese labour units of the Great War. This is borne out in the donations received by people in all walks of life, from business men to University students, school pupils to artists, from women’s groups, community centres, cultural groups, academics, musicians, medical practitioners, political groups, martial arts schools… the list goes on. Individual donations have ranged from £5000 to £1. Businesses have also donated, and many community groups have raised funds locally and forwarded them to the Campaign. It has been an incredibly humbling experience. Our commitment is to acknowledge each donor where their name has been given to us – from the largest down to the £1 donations. We know many who can ill afford to make any donation still do so, and as such, the size of the donation does not determine the gratitude we feel, rather all donations are equally cherished.
What the funds enable is for us to deliver the memorial. But that is a complex task in itself. The final touches are being put to the planning application that will be submitted to Newham Council immediately after the Easter holidays. But to get to this point has required significant time and effort. Final designs have had to be agreed, drawings compiled, technical information on the way the memorial is constructed and assembled explained, calculations relating to weight, load bearings and required foundations made. But this is just the start. The memorial will sit in a square and we need to present the landscaping, the spatial plan, plants, lighting, seating and so on. In all this we are tremendously indebted to ABP London Albert Docks who continue to be our stauchest supporters, and we share a common determination to do all we can to make the Memorial Huabiao the best it can be.
Whilst all that is going on, the procurement process takes on a life of it’s own. Our design brief is for the craftmanship employed in carving the Huabiao to be of the very highest standard. That starts with securing the very best white marble, and includes the large block of marble that will be used for the main column being specially quarried. Finding a company who understand the requirements has taken some time. From drawings a 1m high clay model of the main column of the Huabiao is being made. This will ensure that all of the elements of the columns work in the round, and will give the master stonemasons a clear and unambiguous design brief. We expect to sign the contract for the Huabiao’s production towards the end of April, at which time we will be announcing our Strategic Suppliers who will be making it. It’s a company with whom we have been in discussions for some time, and with whom trust has been developed – critical when what we are asking them to produce is so much more that the sum of its parts.
This entry is called a 360 degree update, but it’s probably a 180 or 270 degree update, we could continue telling you of the work that has already started for the unveiling ceremony – so much more complex than we had ever thought it would be. Or how we are in the process of establishing a legacy company to continue the work started by the Ensuring We Remember Campaign – which will cease to exist once the memorial is unveiled. These can, perhaps, wait for another time to be explained. Sometimes we fall a little silent, but with this entry we hope you’ll have a better understanding of just why.
Our thanks to a donation of £600 from Fuqing Yulong Ai Group and £ 800 from the London School of Management Studies (LSMS) . Our fundraising activities continue:
新春新氣象，狗年旺旺旺！一戰华工建碑計劃感謝福清玉融愛心群£600 及 London School of Management Studies (LSMS) £800的捐助，其他認捐和籌款活動仍在進行中。三月十一日下午二時至五時中英文化交流學會及英國華人詩書畫學會在120 Lower Road London SW16 2UB (Surrey Quays 車站步行兩分鐘，附近也有停車場)舉行藝術家及書畫家聯展，演出及義賣捐募活動，歡迎各位朋友及對中國文化藝術有興趣的朋友蒞臨參加及支持！
March 11, 2018
120 Lower Road London SW16 2UB
(Surrey Quays station 2 mins. parking nearby)
The Sino-British Cultural Exchange Society and the British Chinese Poetry and Calligraphy Society are holding a joint artists and calligraphers exhibition
All welcome, please do support the event.
We’re so happy to share a few examples of the wonderful responses we are getting to our fundraising efforts.
當英國各地華人團體紛紛慶祝春節的來臨，他們也沒有忘記為一戰華工建碑計劃捐助，英华中文学校師生和家長£690.50, 福建同鄉會£1,200, 英國天津同鄉會£500, 倫敦普通話簡體字學校師生和家長£500. 感謝大家的支持和衷心的祝頌建碑能早日實現！
When Chinese groups from all over Britain celebrated the arrival of the Spring Festival, they did not forget to donate money for the First World War Chinese Labourers Project. The teachers and students of Ying Wah Chinese School £690.50, the Fujian Association £1,200, the UK Tianjin Association £ 500, the London Putonghua Simplified Characters School teachers and students £500.
A heartfelt thanks to these and the many other groups and individuals who are making the dream come true through their generosity in gifts large and small.