Chinese Labor Corps: WWI Chinese Labor Corps remembered in Britain
For the first time, Chinese labourers are being commemorated for their efforts in World War One, as wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph in London. Known as "the forgotten of the forgotten," the Chinese Labour Corps are now being remembered as part of history in Britain. CGTN's Zhang He has more.
In 1917, about 140,000 workers travelled from China to Europe to help Britain and its allies win the First World War. After 100 years, their contribution has been formally remembered in the UK.
DR. TOM THORPE, TRUSTEE WESTERN FRONT ASSOCIATION "The Chinese Labor Corps have been neglected from history. There are a number of reasons for that. Partly, there are not many written records and their role you can find to the West front. They won't see outside that area. So their contribution is significant in terms of they helped to build logistic supplies. They prepared trenches. They did a lot of work which actually made the efforts on the West front possible."
There are over 60,000 memorials in the UK commemorating the First World War, but given the contribution they made and the price they paid, Chinese laborers are not mentioned at all.
KAREN SOO DESCENDANT OF CHINESE LABOUR CORPS "There is not one memorial in the UK that commemorates the Chinese Labour Corps. And this is an absolute honor. This is the first for the Chinese Labour Corps to be remembered. And there is campaign at the moment which I hope will be successful very soon, which is to erect a permanent memorial to the Chinese Labour Corps in England. "
To remember the contributions by the Chinese Labour Corps, various activities were held across the country to educate the British public on this long neglected chapter of history.
ZHANG HE LONDON "Nearly 20,000 men of the Chinese Labour Corps died in the First World War. Most of them were buried in France and only a few graves can be found here in Britain. Now, more young people are getting to know their story and come here to remember their sacrifice."
Students from Kingsford Community School gathered in local cemetery in London. They read poems and held up names of some Chinese workers who lost their lives in the First World War.
JOAN DESLANDES, HEAD TEACHER KINGSFORD COMMUNITY SCHOOL "Very often, the contribution of the Chinese Labour Corps is one that is not even known of. Never mind forgotten. And today, we have an opportunity to remember the fantastic contribution that was made towards have having a more peaceful world by the Chinese. I think it is so important that young people in Great Britain have this knowledge of understanding and awareness."
ANDREI ANAMARIA-STEFANIA, STUDENT KINGSFORD COMMUNITY SCHOOL "It's great that it is targeted at young students, because we can pass it on even further than others. So now we can tell our own kids and our own parents. It is passed on just like ripple in water. It is great to share this history."
A labour with his shovel is no less a hero than a soldier with his gun. And his work is no less a contribution to the cause. The story of the Chinese Labour Corps will be remembered. Zhang He CGTN London.