Screening of Tricks on the Dead

See our review of this past event.

Sunday 05 February 2017 16:00
British Film Institute, Southbank Centre, London.

The multi-award winning film on the Chinese Labour Corps, Tricks on the Dead is being screened in London with an introduction by Director Jordan Paterson.

A few tickets remain available. Purchase tickets here:

UK Premier: Tricks on the Dead

BFI Southbank, London. Sunday 5th February, 2017 at 4:00pm

Tricks on the Dead is the critically acclaimed docudrama telling the story of the Chinese Labour Corps. Directed by Jordan Paterson it has won a number of prestigious domestic (Canadian) and international awards.

Tricks on the Dead will be screened at the British Film Institute on the Southbank, London on Sunday 5th February at 4:00pm. London’s Chinese New Year 2017 are also taking place on this day, so an opportunity to enjoy the festivities in Chinatown and Trafalgar Square, and then round the day off with this exciting film.

Whet your appetite with the film’s trailer:

Tickets (the theatre only has 134 seats) are on sale from Tuesday 17th January (11:30am) from the BFI website.

New Year Message from the Campaign’s Chair

It is over two years since the Campaign was launched. Our expectation was that we would achieve our primary objective of building a national memorial to the 96,000 volunteers of the Chinese Labour Corps within three years, boldly announcing our intention to unveil the memorial on the 14 August, 2017, the centennary of China’s declaration of war against Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The timetable was ambitious as indeed were the plans we had. However, the complexity of the process was underestimated. Memorials sit within a context or narrative, and the story of China and Chinese labourers’ involvement in the Great War is extremely complex, as history it is highly contested. Working our way through that story with the Campaign’s many stakeholders has taken time, and in truth many areas remain contested.

Our journey so far has been one of engagement, connecting with community leaders, academics, politicians, the public. We’ve made friends with people in high places at some of our leading institutions, often surprised at how open they have been to us. On the odd occaision it’s been tough with reasonable requests met with clear irritation by parts of the Establishment, but generally, even in the position of critical friend we have been received with openess and genuine goodwill.

Our greatest issue has been securing a location for the memorial. In this we’ve not made things easy for ourselves, adamant on a central London location, aspirational in our hope that the memorial would be stumbled upon as much as visited. A location microsite was produced which until now has not been made public. We still have to secure a site for the memorial.

So how confident are we of unveiling the memorial on the 14th August 2017? In truth, if we are to do so, then a seemingly impossible amount needs to happen between now and August. And although we have no doubt whatsoever that a memorial will be unveiled, we are realistic enough to accept the fact that it may not be on August 14th.

Missing the date would be disappointing, yet at the same time we’d rather be a little late having done the job properly than be on schedule having cut corners.

I don’t want to end on that slightly somber note, so let me finish with some news of a few exciting things to come in 2017. In February the critically acclaimed film, Tricks on the Dead, will be screened at the BFI, Southbank Centre, London. We’ll announce details as they are finalised. Later that month there will be a nationwide campaign that will raise the profile of the Chinese Labour Corps – again, we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as details are available.

In April the major New exhibition on the Chinese Labour Corps will be opening at Durham University’s Oriental Museum. This will arguably be the most comprehensive exhibition on the CLC and will include publication of a new book of photographs from the WJ Hawkings Collection – a unique collection of photographs which, unlike the official propaganda photographs, contain images which would never have passed the censors in their day – such as the only known photographs of the burial of a member of the CLC.

There’s lot’s more to come in the year ahead, and as you can see, the Campaign will be moving up a gear. Thank you for your support and best wishes for 2017 from us all.


Steve Lau
Ensuring We Remember Campaign

War Hellish War – the illustrated diaries of Jim Maultsaid

Barbara McClune is to be congratulated for getting Jim Maultsaid’s war diaries published. Although not a diary in the classical sense, with each entry dated, the entries are (or at least appear) to be in chronological order. What makes this book worth the five stars? That’s easy. In this book there is an intriguing, and often spellbinding combination of astute observations on human nature, some quite wonderful illustrations (drawn mostly by Jim Maultsaid, but with the occasional contributions from those he is with) and writing which draws you into Jim’s world, the world of an unassuming down to earth, yet quite remarkable man.

Nowhere is Jim’s remarkable character more clearly illustrated than in the section covering part of his command of a battalion of the Chinese Labour Corps. In stark contrast to most accounts of the relationship between the Chinese workers and their British officers, Jim demonstrates an appreciation and understanding of the Chinese that was totally contrary to how the Chinese were perceived at the time. Fear of the Yellow Peril was at its height, and the Chinese were portrayed in press and fiction (see England’s Yellow Peril: Sinophobia and the Great Warl) as sinister, depraved and licentious. Even British Officers of the Chinese Labor Corps were often shunned by other British Officers simply for being associated with the Chinese, refusing, for example, to sit at the same table with them to eat. Jim Maultsaid, however, paints a completely different picture, all the more amazing because it is the first time he has come into contact with Chinese people. Jim writes,

“To my last day on this Earth I will always have a very high opinion of the Chinese as people. Sober, industrious fellows, interfering with no man, only wanting to live in peace and get on with their own lives, upholding over centuries old traditions. Gain their respect by honest fair dealing and you made a friend for life. Childlike in many ways, their bland simplicity often amused me, and at other times their deep thinking astounded me. I set out to study their habits and language and, according to the Army authorities, became ‘indispensable’ in the Chinese Labour Corps.”

Undoubtedly, given the prevailing attitudes at the time, Jim would have faced some opposition to such views, and yet he stuck to his guns. In my opinion this makes him a man not only of insight but also of integrity.

With the benefit of hindsight we can read Jim’s words with an understanding he could never have had at the time, like his description of a mysterious illness that was killing his ‘boys’. Reading the first few lines of the entry it dawns upon you that he is writing about the Spanish Flu. Knowing what is to come makes reading Jim’s words and his search for an understanding of what is happening all the more poignant, and draws you strangely closer to Jim the man, and with that, further into his world – a dark world of war and weakness, of disease and despair, of sadness and sorrow; and yet a world into which Jim, often inadvertently, shines a light of hope and of happiness.

Buy your copy from Amazon.

“确保我们永记” ——记英国华人纪念一战中国劳工的“立碑运动”(下)

作者:本报记者 林卫光《光明日报》(2016年12月13日)









(本报伦敦12月12日电 本报驻伦敦记者 林卫光)

A Christmas thank you to all our friends and supporters

It’s the year of the Monkey and we’re warned to expect mischief! Seems a little mischief has found itself into this years season’s greetings from the Ensuring We Remember Campaign Team.

On behalf of the Strategic Partners, volunteers and specialists a heartfelt thanks to all our friends and supporters this Christmas. May your dreams for 2017 be fulfilled beyond all expectations!


作者:本报记者 林卫光《光明日报》(2016年12月12日 12版)













(本报伦敦12月11日电 本报驻伦敦记者 林卫光)

Lunchtime recital: Pagoda Youth Orchestra Perform the Last Post

Southbank Centre, London.
Saturday 16th Deember, 2016 at 1:00pm
Central Bar Foyer, Level 2, Royal Festival Hall

Free of charge

Part of China Changing

Hear music from the oldest and largest Chinese youth orchestra in Europe who perform innovative music fusions with folk songs, reggae and hip-hop involved. The Pagoda Chinese Youth Orchestra (PCYO) was established in 1982 by its former musical director Mr Kui Hsuing Li.

The orchestra has been resident at the Pagoda Chinese Youth & Community Centre (Liverpool) for the past 34 years.

The PCYO takes an experimental and audacious approach in its innovative music fusions with folk songs, reggae and hip-hop involved. Their collaborations include work with The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Jah Wobble and noted professional musicians from China and the USA.

Their high profile appearances have included performing for Her Majesty The Queen and HRH Prince Philip at the International Festival for Business 2016 in Liverpool.

The youth orchestra is continuously looking for new collaboration opportunities and exploring new ways of reaching larger and more diverse audiences.

Chinese Arts Space presents Project New Earth

Southbank Centre, London.
Saturday 16th Deember, 2016 at 7.45
The Clore Ballroom, Level 2, Royal Festival Hall

Free of charge.

Part of China Changing

Celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Chinese Labour Corps (CLC) – the largest overseas labour force to help the Allies win World War I – in these films and live performances. 100 years ago, the British and French armies recruited 140,000 Chinese men to work behind the Western Front.

Heroes Within
by Julia Cheng, Lavin Lee, Andy Leung, Connor Wan, Ricky Payne,, Claire Nicholas, Dina Ahmed

A young Chinese woman discovers her ancestral contribution to Allied success in this music, dance and spoken word film. Animation peels back the layers of the painting, Panthéon de la Guerre, when the CLC were ‘painted out’ of history to make room for American soldiers.

Missing Parts
By Lucia Tong, Angelus Squid Marr, Cheng Yu, Sonja Perreten, King San Lo, Charlie Taillard, Robin Harvey

Contemporary dancers supported by a community cast explore distant journeys, monotony and nostalgia, in homage to the CLC who became essential cogs in the war efforts. Specially composed music creates a soundscape via recording and live performance on piano and pipa.

Lunar Corps
by Quang Kien Van, Suki Mok, Ruth Chan, Ruta Irbite

From labyrinthine warrens of lost memory, the stories and bodies of the CLC are excavated and brought into blazing light. This vivid dance-music film is a sensorial awakening to remember the forgotten.

Song Unsung
by David KS Tse, Kumiko Mendl, Chris Chan, Beibei Wang, Matthew Leonhart, Windson Liong, Candy Ma, Cherrie Lau

Singer-actors supported by local community choir members weave together Chinese folk and English World War I songs, with a moving drama focused on two men separated from family, lovers and friends due to the war.

Making Good on a Promise

Today Her Majesty the Queen will lead the country in the annual act of remembrance at the Cenotaph in London. Such scenes will play out not just across this country, but around the world. We, like so many others, will renew the promise, “We Will Remember Them”.

In Memoriam, 4 November

Eight men of the Chinese Labour Corps died on this day:

CHANG HSUEH WEN ‘68017’ 1918
LI SHAO HUA ‘1772’ 1918
LIU HSIN T’IEN ‘133447’ 1918
WAN LAN T’IEN ‘52963’ 1918
CHANG CH’ING P’O ‘130931’ 1919
CHAO TSENG MEI ‘67686’ 1919
I P’EI LIN ‘92203’ 1919
LI CHIN CHING ‘102581’ 1919

We Remember Them

In Memoriam, 3 November

The men of the Chinese Labour Corps who died on this day were:

CHANG WEN FENG ‘108832’ 1918
KUO YU KANG ‘27530’ 1918

We Remember Them


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