low flying B-24 U.S. bomber

On August 17, 1945 ---

When, around ten in the morning, out of a beautifully clear sky, a B-24 began circling over our camp, the excitement increased and came to a climax as we watched white parachutes opening over the grazing fields outside, and could hardly realize that there were men, seven in number, attached to them hanging from red parachutes which at first looked the size of large thermos bottles and others which were cubical in shape.

We rushed irresistibly out through the gate along the road leading towards Weihsien to meet these Americans, discovering that they were on a humanitarian mission which had left from Kunming the previous day, but coming by Sianfu, where they spent the night and left at 6:30 a.m.

This mission had been sent here in order to find out in what condition we were in and send in a report to headquarters.

For many, our elation was tinged with sorrow, when one of the packages, dropped without a parachute, on a Chinese youth of about 15, on a shoulder, violently throwing him against the ground, causing a concussion of the brain. He was quickly reached by a camp doctor and others who brought him to the hospital for treatment. We were saddened by the possible death of an innocent Chinese who was evidently too dazed to know where to run for safety in watching this package, consisting of a net holding the duffel bags of the officers, quickly increasing in size as it approached the earth.

My first emotion was of gratitude caused by the thought of the prompt solicitude of the American authorities for our safety and welfare; no doubt because Lieutenant Hannon, one of the mission, had had such bitter experiences himself as a prisoner of war of the Germans.

It was also moving and inspiring to mingle with the Chinese in the fields and on the road, and to see their joy and pleasure, as they came flocking out of Weihsien, expressed on their faces and by their very eloquent gesture, consisting in holding up the thumb of the right hand, while saying enthusiastically: "Mei-kuo"

Another highlight was the welcome given to the Americans as they entered the camp, by the Salvation Army band, playing a medley of national anthems, being most enthusiastically clapped by the Chinese crowded outside the gate, when they heard their own.

Personally my two greatest reasons for rejoicing were, first, that after so many decades, China is to recover Formosa and Manchuria while Korea is to regain to independence. Secondly that we were once more in touch with the outside world, by wireless and by the visits of representatives of Chinese military, civil and Christian organisations. A thrilling feature of each of these visitors was the evidence of their friendship for us in the bringing of gifts of money, foodstuffs, cigarettes and clothing.

Yet one sobering fact, like a dark cloud, threatening to overcast the bright blue sky, brilliant with sunshine, of our rejoicing over the coming of the final peace in East Asia, is the continued military struggle between the governments of Chunking and Yenan, which presages a protracted period of suffering for the Chinese people.

George R. Loebs
Yenching University – Peking
August 23rd, 1945
from Norman Cliff's Scrap Books

"HIGHLIGHT IMPRESSIONS " by George R. Loebs, ... August 23, 1945

The Rafu Shimpo Magazine
Eddie Wang remembers: ... "the low flying B-24 then leveled at 450 feet for the jump. I remember that when we bailed out of the B-24 bomber, Major Staiger was the first one to go. I was the fifth one, just before James Hannon and when it was my turn, I hesitated. James gave me a slight push and off I went ― and he followed immediately after."
Mary Previte remembers ...
Mary Previte writes: They were spilling from the belly of a low-flying plane, dangling from parachutes that looked like giant silk poppies, dropping into the gao liang (broom corn) fields beyond the barrier walls. August 17, 1945. Every former Weihsien prisoner can tell you exactly where he was that sweltering August morning when the heroes came. Six Americans parachuting from the sky, dropping from a B-24 “Liberator.”
James Jess Hannon
Salvation Army Band
When the end of the war was approaching the bandsmen practised a "Victory March", a medley of the various Allied national anthems. For obvious reasons the air to the tune was omitted. When the American parachutists arrived, the band was at the front gate to welcome the liberators with this Victory March and other suitable pieces.
© 2000-Mathew White
© 2000-Mathew White
© 2000-Mathew White
© 2000-Mathew White