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Once in a Lifetime ...

Toronto, October 1988:

... a letter from Father Scanlan:

240 "B" STREET

August 1, 1988

Dear Mr. Cliff,

Recently a Brother Thomas of Mt. St. Beranard Abbey, Coalville, wrote asking me to send him some books I wrote about days in China, etc. and he gave me your name, as being in Weihsien with me. I do not remember you but it evoked old memories so I am sending you this note. I am now 92, so you will please excuse my typing errors. Do you know when and where I learned to type? It was in Weihsien. You know, we were in a former college or senior school and so there were all sorts of things strewn about. There was an old typewriter and with this I practised typing. You know how the priests and sisters were removed from Weihsien to Peiping and we were there when the war ended. I have never met anyone who was in camp with us. THE SENIOR USA officer who released us from the camps met me a few years ago and we have been meeting ever since. Also recently an American junior officer who was in Peiping at the time that the Japanese officers handed over their swords to the Americans met me and he says that he sat with me on that day. Now we go for dinner occasionally. Always, of course, talking all the old times over.

After the camp, I returned to England, then came back to China thinking the Chinese Communists were being beaten but you know what happened. I returned to England by way of my native land of Australia and was eventually asked to go to teach in Canada and the USA. I remember well many of those in the Camp with us but I forget their names. There reason for the writing of my book was that I was asked by the Superiors of the Order, the Cistercians (you may remember them better under the French name of Trappists). They asked me to write what I know about the priests who were martyred by the Reds. You know they lived with me before I went to the camp. We have introduced these martyrs for canonisation in Rome and I am actively engaged in the cause. The sale of my books go towards this cause. It is quite expensive.

I heard afterwards that the Japanese officer in charge of us in the camp was a Catholic and this explains why he treated me with much leniency. Of course he could not show us any partiality or he could have been killed by his own men.

At 92, my typing is not so good but at least you will be able to understand.

Now, with every good wish,
your former prisoner of war comrade.

(Signed): Father Scalan.
Rev Patrick J. Scanlan.

You should be getting my book from Brother Thomas.