Large clus­ter of Fly­ing Tigers relics found

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI YINGQING in Kun­ming liy­ingqing@chi­

Ex­perts study­ing the his­tory of the Fly­ing Tigers in China said they have dis­cov­ered the largest and most con­cen­trated clus­ter of relics sites re­lated to the le­gendary US vol­un­teer air squadron, which helped China fight Ja­panese in­vaders dur­ing World War II.

More than 10 sites were found in Wu­longpu vil­lage of Cheng­gong, a dis­trict of Kun- ming that is more than 30 kilo­me­ters from down­town Kun­ming, ac­cord­ing to Sun Guan­sheng, direc­tor of the Yun­nan Fly­ing Tigers Re­search In­sti­tute.

The sites in­clude the rem­nants of the Fly­ing Tigers Com­mand, its en­camp­ment and the Cheng­gong air­port, built be­tween 1940 and 1941 for their use, he said.

The ex­perts also found a fa­cil­ity near the Cheng­gong air­port that was used to store gaso­line, bombs and ma­chine-gun bul­lets.

The find­ings were made thanks to years-long ef­forts in­clud­ing on-site in­ves­ti­ga­tions, talks with wit­nesses and checks of mem­oirs and doc­u­ments by a team of ex­perts, led by Sun, from the Yun­nan Fly­ing Tigers Re­search In­sti­tute and the Yun­nan Fly­ing Tigers Mu­seum.

“The dis­cov­ery is of im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural value, and th­ese relics sites are tes­ti­mony to the friend­ship and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the Chi­nese and US peo­ple,” Sun said.

All the relics sites lack

proper pro­tec­tion, Sun said, adding that funds and pol­icy sup­port are ur­gently needed to pro­tect the sites.

The Fly­ing Tigers, the Amer­i­can Vol­un­teer Group led by Gen­eral Claire Chen­nault, ha­rassed the Ja­panese forces from the air from Au­gust 1941 to July 1942.

The pi­lots, all for­mer mem­bers of the US Army Air Corps, Navy or Ma­rine Corps, par­tic­i­pated in more than 100 bat­tles, shoot­ing down 27 2 Ja­panese air­craft and de­stroy­ing an­other 225 on the ground. The group left China in 1944.

His­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments showed that the head­quar­ters in Wu­longpu re­ceived 110 pi­lots, 150 ma­chin­ists and sup­port staff in De­cem­ber 1941.

The area where the relics are lo­cated is now used by Yun­nan Qiushi Wood Prod­ucts Co, which ac­quired the right to use the land and started pro­duc­tion of wooden prod­ucts in 2011.

Xiong Guip­ing, who is in charge of the com­pany’s op­er­a­tions, said the com­pany has lit­tle ca­pa­bil­ity to help pro­tect th­ese relics.

“We have moved work­ers from the three rows of cotta- ges that used to be the air squadron’s dor­mi­to­ries, but a large sum of money would be re­quired to re­pair and main­tain th­ese old houses,” she said.

Some of the relics sites have been se­ri­ously dam­aged, Sun said. For ex­am­ple, the Fly­ing Tigers’ Com­mand had been used as a pigsty for years.

He said he hopes the clus­ter of relics can be de­vel­oped into an in­ter­na­tional cul­tural tourism area to pro­mote the his­tory of the Fly­ing Tigers.

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