Excerpt from Ida Jones Talbot’s diary entry of 11-4-'44
The wedding of Bill and Clemmie Chilton (as written in the diary changes made in italics)
My dear Freda:
The wedding went off grandly. I had to assist at the Homes’ Committee Monthly meeting first
and dashed off at 3.45 to the wedding. The church was already packed by the “other” guests, and
1/4 of the Assembly Hall was reserved for the K.M.A. Albert Carter, Percy Jones & Lungmow
Smith were ushers. The altar was austerely beautiful: a black velvet all-over cloth, then a centre
piece of Persian rug, a-topped by a large earthenware vase of peach blossoms. Vases of peach
blossom were placed & evergreens in the 2 side tables. Down below in the hall the organ &
piano were placed back to back. Percy Glede (Gleed) the organ & Frankie Taylorson the piano.
The lady guests were groomed to perfection atopped by their latest style bonnet.
Mrs Ghislaine Declercq Winslow looked a magnificent grey steed she had a grey
postilion hat, and a postilion coat without cape. ‘Twas heard that one lady asked another if she
were going to the wedding, “of course,” I want to see, for a change, well dressed folk! I had my
black woollen frock, wore my white organdi lace edged blouse, the collar plastron showed
handsomely out of the deep “v”. I wore my white string turban and my beautiful lilies.
Clemmie looked most bride like in her short sleeved blue dress and white silk turban with stiff
white nose veil. Jo Kemball & Claire Abbess made a fine “pair-some” bridesmaids.
As for the Rev. H. Cook he was dramatic.
His pause after: “let those who have any just cause to
prevent this wedding...”
I was impressed by his emphasis and deliberation when he uttered “for
better, for worse, in sickness and in health love cherish and honour”.
No loop holes for a divorce.
We went on to No 2 Dining Room, the bride & groom went the hospital to visit Elsie, and when
they arrived at the Kitchen ludo beans were sh(ower)d on them.
After Clemmie & Bill had been
“wished happiness”, E.J.Nathan made a speech and he mentioned that the knife with which the
bride would cut the cake was an heirloom. That its painting of a wounded officer on a horse,
tired out, arriving at the army headquarters in 1840 was the only British survivor of the 2nd
Kabul War. That man was Captain William Bryden after whom Bi1l was named, he was Bill’s
It is a giant boy scout knife. Bill at the end of his reply continued with .. “before
I will permit my wife to cut the cake I must” The bridegroom was the more prominent of the 2,
like a king and his consort a few steps to the rear smiling graciously.
I think they’ll be happy, Clemmie didn’t go into it blindly and she knows that always ‘Bill’ will
always have to be No 1.
... Block No.45 ---
SVD Quarters. The "priests" were located in blocks-42-45-46, 55-58-59 and 60 ...
"Société du Verbe Divin" ! (???)
Which means: "Divine World Missionnaries"
The Society of the Divine Word (SVD) is an international religious community of Catholic missionary priests and brothers, founded in 1875 by Blessed Arnold Janssen. Members work primarily where the Gospel has not yet been preached at all or only insufficiently.
Internationality has characterized the SVD from its very beginning. The society's 5,800 members live and work in more than 60 countries around the world. The work which our missionaries do very much depends on the needs of the local church. We work in primary evangelisation, education, development work, scientific research, communications, biblical apostolate, and with youth, with refugees, with minority groups etc.
The Society's members work in Europe, North, Central and South Americas, in the Caribbean, in Asia, Oceania and in Africa.
The SVDs - about 450 of them in Weihsien - work in 11 countries in Africa. You will find them in Angola, Benin, Botswana, Dem. Rep. of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
... a view to "freedom" ...
... a map with painting locations [click on the picture]
... Church/Assembly Hall:
... local cemetery beyond the walls ...
... the children's playground ...
... painted July 6, 1943 ... The Children's Playground -- East wall ...
... in fact, it is the same "entrance door to the children's playground" [click here] . The two paintings (above) are superposed on the entrance-door but you must imagine the two paintings at 90° of each other in a vertical pane. The North wall with the swings and the East wall with its vegetation ... ... you can even imagine seeing the Shadyside Hospital in the background - behind the trees !
... The Shoemaker's shop ... & ... Hospital water tower ...
... Block #6. The sports-field and a corner watch-tower visible in the background ...
... Block #50 and surroundings ...
... Cow Shed Road ...
... The Main Gate, long after sunset & closed for the night ...
... Blocks #16 and #17 on "Tin-Pan Alley"
... Open Gate between Blocks-17 & 18 looking East ...
... Down Ludgate Hill Road ...
... The Elephant Bell (barter) Shop ...
From Mitch & Linda Krayton,
We live in the greater Los Angeles community of Santa Clarita.
Several years ago, while attending an antiquarian book fair, we came
upon the most incredible book that was the guest book of a The Camel
Book shop in Peiping (Peking, Pekin, Beijing). We purchased this tome
which is leather bound volume (apx 12"x18"x6"), corners of woven silk,
has brass hinge fittings (missing the locking pin) and encrusted with
many semi-precious stones. It was in the Grand Hotel de Pekin which was
the largest and most modern hotel in the area and served as the major
hotel for visitors of every rank and distinction.
The hotel was located inside the walled city (which have since been
removed to make the ring road) and very close the The Forbidden City and
Tienanmen Square. Also nearby was the Foreign Legation which came to be
as a result of the Boxer rebellion.
The Camel Bell (aka The Camel Bells, The Camel's Bell) was owned by Miss
Helen Burton. My wife and I are researching the life of this incredible
person and hope to put our findings into a book. The more we research,
more fantastic things we find out about the time, the place and the
people she knew. Here is a bit of what we know...
Born in 1917 in North Dakota, her father and brother both rose in state
politics. She wanted to venture off to exotic places. She wound up in
Peiping looking for secretarial work and it turns out she was a bit of
an artist and entrepreneur.
It was not long that she started her shop with candy, clothing, art and
gifts of her design that she arranged to be made by locals.
People from all over the world stopped by and signed her guest book.
Others did a lot more: drawing, painting and writing poetry. There are
photos and holiday cards, too. Hundreds of visitors are here (we are
trying to catalog them all).
She was very much the socialite and people would often stay with her in
the city or at her summer home in the hills outside the city.
She never married, but did adopt 4 Chinese girls who helped her run the
When the Japanese overtook Peiping, she was captured and wound up in
Weihsien. Which leads me to find all of you.
There she was involved with a barter site that has been called The White
Camel Bell or The White Elephant Bell. There was no money but I suspect
her entrepreneurial spirit and her fearless willingness to bargain gave
her the courage to set this up.
So to all of you who knew Miss Burton in Weihsien or the barter shop, we
would be delighted to know your stories and your impressions of her. And
if you have relics or photos of her or the shop, it would be a thrill to
see those, too.
Thank you all in advance for making our quest so real and so
The 4th of July, 1943 ... The Fallen Wall --- "The Omen" ...
--- Excerpt from Ida Talbot’s diary of the 4th July 1943 Weihsien.
We had hardly returned from supper when the rain started pouring. Sid was holding the baby who was crying very badly. Peter & Gay were creating a terrific din when thunder & lightning flashed & drummed and a tremendous crash was heard. Gay looked out and said that the Carters’ sunshade had collapsed. Then Sid looked out of our little back window and shouted "there was no wall".
For several minutes, it did not seem to penetrate into anyone’s head that it was the wall which was keeping us in. I jumped up on the box under the window to see; I did and immediately painted it. Sid was chafing with Christine’s howling. However when I had finished and he saw the result he was proud.
No one in the row thought to look out of their back window until Sid convinced them. However the zinc roof of the water tower situated between one row of buildings in front was blown into our courtyard by a rain spout.
Stan A. was witness to this phenomenon. He said a sheet of water came down followed by another and before it had time to reach the ground, the previous sheet of water lifted it right into air, taking the roof of the water tower with it and when its strength was spent, dropped it in our courtyard.
I have never seen such activity on our highway. People just keep on massing to see the broken wall and to look out onto freedom. Then people sang "God bless America". It is very touching time, and how we longed with all our hearts that this was all over.
The Japanese were the last to know, and after a couple of hours they came with a bale of barbed wire.
The American Fathers then had a sing song of old favourites. They sat on the stage wearing blue shirts, white pants & red ties. Some wore the letter "V" shape.
At God bless America, the Stars & Stripes was unfurled. It was impressive.
What a day!
... The Moongate ...
... The village - out of bounds ...
... The main entrance - as seen from out-of-bounds --- ...
... The Main Entrance -- the only "Way Out" ...
... August 6, 1943: A two story house: Block-56 "The Priest's Shack"...
... Looking at the Ballfield guard tower from the corner of Block-6 ... with the rising moon in the East ... on a hot summer evening ...
... 16/6/1943 ... The Ballfield and the brick wall surrounding the camp ... [click here]
... 31/7/1943 The Roll-Call Bell ... situated near the administrative Building ...
The other "Bell" was in the tower of Block-23 and was rang at around eleven p.m. by one of the prisoners on May 5th, 1945 ... just a few days before the official V.E.Day in Europe ... ... which caused a terrible incident with our Jap captors ...
... Flowers and laundry ... looking at Block-45 ... in the Priests sector before they left for Peking ...
... Block-1 ... Gardens in Weihsien 27/7/1943 ...
Though we did live in block 6.In the summer, we heard every softball game late into the night. The Dutch priests were most enthusiastic about the sport. They played in their silk Chinese gowns with beards flowing. 'Lope lope' (Run ,run) they all shouted in encouragement.
We also spent sometime in No 1 where the outhouse was to be found. We were petrified to use it since someone told us that the wicked witch of the west was hiding behind the door. Also in No.1 courtyard was where my father was caught red handed by a guard, with black market loot which he had NOT ordered. Mother and Dr. Robinson were the traffickers. Daddy was taken away into solitary confinement, At the time Daddy had dysentery so Dr Robinson, his friend, persuaded the Japanese that he needed medical attention. He took food to the prisoner. One day there was a book under the food called 'My thirty years in Singsing' I never knew if Daddy got the joke. Gay
... View from Block-1 looking at court number One in the Winter ...
... Watch Tower in the moonlight ...
... Looking through Blocks 31 and 47 ...
... Maple Tree in the Autumn 4/7/1943 ... ... most probably in the park surrounding Block-23 ...
... The Moon Gate in the moonlight ... and a corner of the Administrative Building on the other side ...
... The Main Entrance to the "Shadyside Hospital" ... as it was and as it is ...
... Trees in Weihsien 17/7/1943 ... ... the "Kiosc" is visible on Father Verhoeven's map of Weihsien in the Children's Playground situated just in front of the boudary wall to the Jap's quarters ... Looks like a beautiful garden with 1500 people cramed in there ... with just enough food to stay alive & guarded by armed Japanese with rifles, bayonets, machine guns, searchlights, dogs, etc.
... A Tower on the Wall painted: 25/7/1943 ... a Jap observation post ! ... situated behind Block-24 and against the electrified boundary wall of the camp. The Elephant Bell Exchange Shop was just next to this curious construction ...
... 1943 - A view of the camp. The Bell Tower of Block-23 is partially hidden by numerous houses and villas. According to the shades visible in the foreground, the artist was looking towards the sun - in a more or less southerly direction. Furthermore, if the artist can see beyond the walls I would guess that she is at a certain level. Let us speculate that she was at a window of the Hospital's upper floors looking South-West. ...