An ex­hi­bi­tion of le­gends

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By LI XUEQING in Shang­hai

lixueqing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Photos of China’s “800 he­roes” are now on ex­hi­bi­tion for the first time at the Si­hang Ware­house Bat­tle Me­mo­rial in Shang­hai as part of the com­mem­o­ra­tive ef­forts for the 78th an­niver­sary of the Bat­tle of Songhu (also known as the Bat­tle of Shang­hai), the largest bat­tle waged dur­ing the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s War of Re­sis­tance Against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion (1937-45).

Shot by Amer­i­can pho­tog­ra­pher Hy­land Lyon, who was then work­ing for the As­so­ci­ated Press, the photos are a rare doc­u­men­ta­tion of the 420-strong Chi­nese bat­tal­ion (which claimed to have 800 men) led by Xie Jinyuan and its fight against the Ja­panese.

From Au­gust 13 to Novem­ber 11, 1937, Shang­hai and its ad­ja­cent ar­eas were turned into a bloody bat­tle­field that claimed the lives of about 300,000 Chi­nese and 100,000 Ja­panese. Be­tween Oc­to­ber 26 and 31, 1937, these “800 he­roes” used the Si­hang Ware­house as a for­ti­fied base. Be­sieged by the en­emy, Xie’s men re­pelled the at­tacks of the Ja­panese sol­diers and were later or­dered to with­draw to the in­ter­na­tional set­tle­ment lo­cated one river away. The troops were de­tained by Bri­tish sol­diers in the set­tle­ment while some were sent to hos­pi­tals for treat­ment.

Af­ter the Pa­cific War broke out, the Ja­panese en­tered the in­ter­na­tional set­tle­ment and sent the re­main­ing sol­diers to be­come coolies, said Ma You­jiong, who helped with the found­ing of the Si­hang Ware­house Me­mo­rial. Xie was later as­sas­si­nated by the pup­pet gov­ern­ment of Wang Jing­wei in April 1941.

At an auc­tion in Bei­jing ear­lier this year, the Si­hang Ware­house Me­mo­rial suc­cess­fully won two sets of Lyon’s his­toric photos doc­u­ment­ing the fight at the ware­house and how Xie’s bat­tal­ion en­tered the set­tle­ment, which re­mained neu­tral un­til the Pearl Har­bor in­ci­dent in 1941.

The com­mem­o­ra­tive ac­tiv­i­ties across the city have at­tracted vet­er­ans who fought in Shang­hai dur­ing World War II.

“So many of our sol­diers and gen­er­als died here,” said Xie Tianyou, 90, who joined the army at the age of 12 as a ra­dio man.

“I was taught that my coun­try is my home. My fam­ily was rich, but we were will­ing to give up our wealth and our lives to fight the Ja­panese in­vaders,” said Zeng Xian­gao, 94, when vis­it­ing the Songhu Anti-Ja­panese War Me­mo­rial Hall in Shang­hai.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

Shot by Amer­i­can pho­tog­ra­pher Hy­land Lyon, photos of the Si­hang Ware­house Bat­tle are on ex­hi­bi­tion to com­mem­o­rate the 78th an­niver­sary of the bat­tle.

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