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by Norman Cliff ...

On 8 August, 1945, America dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and three days later on Nagasaki. On 10 August Japan surrendered.

In the internment camps of China were some 11,000 prisoners, who had been struggling to survive with war conditions having dragged on month after month. Their health and morale were critically low, and the ending of the war though a tragedy for the Japanese people was timely and welcomed.

In Weihsien, on 13 August, a sanitary worker spat out on the ashes of a rubbish pile a waterproof package, which brought the first indication that the war was over. The camp was not kept waiting long to be assured that the news was true. On Friday, 17 August, a B24 appeared over the camp. It dropped seven men, who landed in the gaoliang fields, a mile outside the camp; and took up positions behind grave mounds with loaded guns.

They took control of the camp, and continued to use the services of the Japanese as they were aware that rival guerrilla groups would be fighting in the vicinity. For the following weeks crates of supplies, which included food, medicine and clothing, were dropped outside the camp.

The next task of the Americans was to get the prisoners safely to freedom and to their home countries. They had to arrange a temporary truce between the warring factions so that the internees could travel safely by train to Qingdao.

By the end of October, 1945, ten weeks after the Japanese surrender, all the internment camps in China had been cleared.

After 17 August 1945 the Weihsien Camp leaders had much conferring to do with local Chinese military and civil leaders, as well as with the American officers.


" We end with a description by Gordon Martin of our departure from
"Courtyard of the Happy Way":

We who wanted to return to our home countries were in the first large party to leave Weihsien. We were taken by train to the port of Tsingtao [Qingdao]. We were met by a detachment of the Royal Navy in their white summer rig - a refreshing sight - and the Royal Marines Band of the cruiser Bermuda was playing to welcome us. At the station, as we waited for transportation, I asked a young officer where they were going to house us. He said, "I think we have got fairly good digs for you" ; an understatement which we appreciated when we were housed in the Edgewater Mansions Hotel, a first class hotel, every room having its balcony and view of the sea, and private bathrooms.

Then in an American vessel, USS Geneva, we were taken to Hong Kong. The ship was good, and the food fabulous, but the weather was rough. In Hong Kong we were housed in several empty houses as we waited for shipping to take us forward. Finally we split up and most of us were repatriated to England, and then dispersed. Others returned to Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. "

... and some of the last photos ...

Lt. Col. H. Weinberg and American officers with Weihsien Camp Committee.
[© Desmond Power's book: "Little Foreign Devil"] seated, left to right = Ron Chapman, Ted McLaren, Miles Halton, Wilfred Pryor, Major Staiger, Unknown, Col. Weinberg, Capt. Kranic, Ernie Schmidt, Jock Allen, Bill Howard, Parey Whiting, Unknown, Unknown.

Chinese characters read "Occasion of Victory - 2 Sept. 1945. Taken in Weihsien, Shandong, at the Courtyard of the Happy Way."

Chinese military officials with Weihsien Camp Committee.