Rudolf Alfred Bosshardt was born in 1897 in Manchester. After coming to China in 1922 as a Christian missionary to study Chinese language and culture, he adopted a Chinese name, Bo Fuli.
He and his wife Rose Piaget had their first encounter with the Sixth Red Army in the October of 1934, while working in a church in Guizhou Province. The incident marked the start of an epic journey of over 500 days through China, during which the European covered 6,000 miles.
Initially, the Chinese soldiers did not quite trust the couple, until Bosshardt helped translating a French map of the province that eventually assisted the regiment with seizing the victory in Guizhou. The map was also the bedrock of the friendship between Bosshardt and General Xiao Ke, the regiment’s leader.
Moved by the Red Army’s willpower and fearlessness, Bosshardt wrote many times to Shanghai and Nanjing to raise funds for the Army’s medications. Due to military emergencies, the Englishman was sent to Kunming in Yunnan Province, in the April of 1936, where he ended his journey.
Bosshardt was the first person to tell the story of the Long March to a foreign audience. In November 1936, he published his memoir, “The Restraining Hand”, in which he hailed the Chinese Red Army as disciplined, courageous and skillful in battle.
In 1987, Chinese reporters managed to reconnect with Bosshardt, telling the excited 90-year-old man that in China he had long been remembered as an old friend of the Chinese people.