go to home page

... the most recent messages are on top !

From: Mary Previte
Sent: Sunday, August 31, 2014 11:04 PM
To: Leopold Pander
Subject: Fwd: Wehsien


Can you help?


Begin forwarded message:

> From: np57@cox.net
Subject: Wehsien
Date: August 31, 2014 12:56:15 PM EDT
To: Mary Previte

Dear Mary,

I am afraid that our used-to-be wonderful website is not working at all. It worked for a very short time, then I was unable to send to all, nor to receive. I regret to say that my grandson is unable to help. Is there anyone from our listing who might be able to set up a new website?


Envoyé : vendredi 29 août 2014 21:12
À : np57@cox.net ; Leopold Pander
Objet : Topica?

Dear Leopold and Natasha: We haven't heard anything from Topica for ages. Is it not funtioning any more?

It would be a sad loss if that were indeed the case.

I hope not.

Christine Talbot Sancton

De : L PR
Envoyé : mardi 26 août 2014 10:21
À : Teddy Pearson
Objet : Fw: the facts ...

Hi Ted, ... This should interest you ...

It is just a © extract of a book I found on the Internet !

Belgium was NOT a neutral country.
We had declared WAR to Japan and therefore, we were considered as "ennemy nationals"! by the Japanese.

bien amicalement, Leopold


… which would be purely formal because of the Belgian inability to contribute to the Allied military effort in the Pacific, or misunderstood by the United States.

Paul Henri Spaak asks for the opinion of the Foreign Office, as well as of the ambassadors of Belgium in the United States (van der Straeten-Ponthoz and Theunis) and in China (Guillaume) in order to determine if the simple rupture of the diplomatic relations with Japan can be seen as "a sufficient measure or if you feel that from the point of view of American public opinion and government it would be desirable that we declare a state of war". The minister explains that the absence of a declaration of war by Belgium is justified by the practical impossibility in which the country finds itself committing acts of hostility towards Lapland. But he does not want the United States to interpret this decision "as a lack of solidarity on the part of our party". Wishing to avoid the procrastination shown by the Belgian government before indirectly declaring war on Italy, G. Theunis immediately cable to London so that Belgium can immediately take a position alongside America at the time when America had just suffered the serious failure of Pearl Harbor ”. G. Theunis immediately understands the recovery of Belgium's image with American public opinion which could result from an immediate declaration of Belgian-Japanese war. (Ambassador van der Straeten Ponthoz is of the same opinion, while Baron Guillaume is opposed to a declaration of war.

1st December 18, P. H. Spaak informs the Council of Ministers of his consultations. He indicates which (the position of the British authorities on this subject is obviously favorable to such a gesture of the Belgian government; however, they do not put pressure on us. "Spaak considers that" our position with regard to Japan should be reviewed and that Belgium should declare war on this country. ”He recalls, in order to support his argument, the violation by Lapland, which has moreover“ broken the status quo in the Pacific ”, of the Washington Treaty of February 6, 1922, of which Belgium is one of the signatories. Moreover, China has already declared war on Japan. Minister Gutt, "strongly supports" the point of view developed by Spaak. Convinced by Theunis' arguments, Spaak and Gutt, ministers Pierlot and De Vleeschauwer bow '. The Belgian government informed the Allies, by means of a laconic declaration, on December 19, that the state of war existed between Belgium and Japan as it exists with Germany and Italy ”. This does not prevent C. Gutt from raging against the ten-day procrastination demonstrated by the Governments. For its part, P H. Spaak would like to reassure Pierlot about the implications of this gesture, which should not be given excessive importance, given that, in practice, this declaration of war does not translate into much. a symbolic step is indeed taken. Finally, it should be noted that this is also an act of solidarity with the Netherlands, whose Indonesian colony is threatened by the Japanese, which is not indifferent in the context of the ongoing Benelux rapprochement. The Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs, E. N. Van Kleffens, is indeed satisfied to learn "this happy news" on December 20, through L. Nemry.

On the occasion of his speech before the House of Representatives on December 6, 194-t, P H. Spaak, being constant with himself, will be particularly firm as to the position of Belgium towards Japan, intended to support the American war effort until final victory: I attach exceptional importance to this commitment. „

H. Pierlot's relations with the British authorities:

At the beginning of November 1940, shortly after his arrival in London, H Pierlot was received in audience by the King of England, George VI. In the absence of the head of state. H. Pierlot is in fact the highest Belgian government authority on British soil. King George VI insists to the Belgian Prime Minister on the need for the union of all Belgians in Great Britain: the British will not be able to tolerate on their territory Belgian-Belgian disputes of the same kind as those which took place in exile in France. King George VI was nevertheless relieved by the fact that King Leopold III did not devote himself, in occupied country, to ...



From: sipabit
Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 2:09 AM
To: pander41@skynet.be
Subject: Fw: RE camp -- Her explaination re the Spingaerds ** who knows

From: Angela
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2014 6:21 PM
To: sipabit
Subject: Re: RE camp -- Her explaination re the Spingaerds ** who knows
330 pm mon


She is about a year and a half younger than I am - & dont think she paid much attention to the Jap occupation era as she hardly remembers Tientsin.

The family left early ...lived in HKG then Yokohama & ended up in Mexico city ..... then to Los Angeles aerea.


From: sipabit
To: Angela ; Leopold Pander
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2014 2:42:28 PM
Subject: Re: RE camp -- Her explaination re the Spingaerds

I think from here that Belgium was invaded by the Nazis and was never really neutral. Probably what Leo and Janette said was closer to the truth. Some just opted for the “easy way out”.


ps. How does someone “forget correctly”?

From: Angela
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2014 11:26 AM
To: Ted Pearson ; Leopold Pander
Subject: Fw: RE camp -- Her explaination re the Spingaerds

----- Forwarded Message -----

From: Anne Megowan
To: alank keet ; Angela Elliott ; Frank Keet alankeet
Sent: Sunday, August 24, 2014 7:37:18 PM
Subject: Isaac, camp

Isaac finished translating about a third of my book, and the section on the bridge (this was for the Lanzhou historians, I believe). I am still looking for a Chinese publisher who can produce the book in China so our relatives can read Paul's story. Desmond gave me the name of the person who got his book, "Little Foreign Devil" published, but I found that I never sent the letter I had begun to that Professor.

On the subject of Weishien, I am wondering why Pander, a Belgian, was interned. My Dad, also a Belgian citizen, told me that since Belgium was a neutral nation, our family was not interned. Unless I am forgetting it correctly, he told me he had to wear an armband that indicated his nationality. I was told they were under a sort of "house arrest" rather than being sent to a camp as the British were, because of Belgium's neutrality. I wonder what was different about Mr. Pander's situation.

Did you ever talk to Frank about his camp experiences? He has a cute story about the weevils in their rice porridge. Frank Keet was from a Shanghai camp - our cousin

Best wishes to all of you,

De : sipabit
Envoyé : lundi 25 août 2014 14:44
À : tapol_(Skynet)
Objet : Re: do you... SPLINGAERD


From: tapol_(Skynet)
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2014 5:30 AM
To: Teddy Pearson
Cc: Janette & home
Subject: Fw: do you... SPLINGAERD

Hi Ted,

Janette found the good link:

bien amicalement,

From: Pierre Ley
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2014 10:14 AM
To: 'tapol_(Skynet)'
Subject: RE: do you... SPLINGAERD

Look up Paul Splingaerd on Wikipedia, en fait il est très connu , je me rappelle avoir entendu ce nom while in China, sans plus.

Mais dans les années 30-40, cette famille possédait-elle un passeport belge ?

Quelle est la filiation d’Angela ? et son nom de famille ?

Secondly, if you were from an Allied country, you could declare yourself to be for or against the Japanese, many French and quite a few Belgians declared themselves « Vichyists » (French who were pro Germans) not from ideology, but because then they didn’t have to be interned ! In 1942-43 we left some of our belongings with French friends who sayed in Tientsin. Also with Russian friends ; in 1946-47 being apatrides they were caught by Stalin’s police and sent to Siberia as were many other Russians.

Bonjour à Ted and Angela, sorry for the Frenglish, bises, Janette

From: sipabit
Sent: Sunday, August 24, 2014 2:27 PM
To: pander41@skynet.be
Subject: do you ...

... know why some of Angela’s relatives were not interned? Apparently they were Splingaerds, off spring of the “First Mandarin” who was Belgian.

I did not know these people but Angela says they had Belgian citizenship.


De : L PR
Envoyé : jeudi 21 août 2014 09:21
À : Angela
Cc : Janette & home ; albert deZutter @ home
Objet : Re: Weihsien memories of August 17, 1945 *** TV interview with Liu Li

Thanks very much, Angela ... you look great !

bien amicalement,

From: Angela
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2014 8:24 AM
To: Mary Previte ; Ted Pearson ; Desmond Power ; Molly Soltay ; Monica Strelow ; Leopold Pander ; Alain Keet ; Alex Tsukada ; Andrea Klopper ; Anna knoppe de-Jonghe ; Anne Megowan ; Chris Hagen ; Ronald Bridge ; Maida Campbell ; Frank Keet ; John Hoch ; Michael Dhunjishah
Subject: Fw: Weihsien memories of August 17, 1945 *** TV interview with Liu Li
1120 pm Wed aug 20

Hi Everyone,

The link to my interview with Liu Li from CCTV ...in Peking June this year. Look too serious & not articulate with what I said... too late now ... Hope I did alright .

Its my old friend Molly Foyn who I/m urging to attend the Aug 15 2015 Reunion.... photos are from the 2005 Reunion with my cousin Ted & then with the mayor of Weifang.

Of course just seconds of the interview are aired ... as expected.


----- Forwarded Message -----

From: LiuLi
To: Angela
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 1:54:53 AM
Subject: RE: Weihsien memories of August 17, 1945 *** you may find this interesting

Hi, Angela,

the story has been aired on Aug 15. Here's the link.


Best regards,
Liu Li

Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2014 01:26:44 -0700
From: angelalousia@yahoo.ca
Subject: Fw: Weihsien memories of August 17, 1945 *** you may find this interesting
To: liuli010911@hotmail.com
0130 am Mon aug 18

Hi Liu Li,

Mary Previte sent this to me & hope you enjoy reading it.. It was a very meaningful day for the internees.... I was at the gates too with Maida Harris Campbell who came to play & walk me often .... she took me with her but unfortunately I have no recollection of the fantastic day.

Also the last parachutist Ted Nagaki the American Japanese interpreter just passed away beginning of this year - the last one left.

I can just imagine how everyone on that day felt to be finally liberated ...


De : L PR
Envoyé : lundi 18 août 2014 08:38
À : Mary Previte
Objet : Re: Memories of August 27, 1945

Dear Mary,

Something is definitely not working with TOPICA.

I tried connecting via our website and the message I posted yesterday passed thru !

As for your message about Miss Davey’s death, .... ? No I did not get it from TOPICA.
I hope that Natasha is OK ???

all the best,

From: Mary Previte
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2014 1:26 PM
To: tapol_(Skynet)
Subject: Re: Memories of August 27, 1945

I most certainly agree with you, Leopold -- with sorrow -- about the tragedies around the world.

I'm concerned about Natasha.

I wrote an inquiry to her a week or so ago about a message I had sent to Topica about the death of our last Chefoo School teacher, Miss Davey, age 99, I have had no response from Natasha. If the message went through to Topica, it did not come to me.

Did you get that message on Topica about the death of Miss Davey?


On Aug 17, 2014, at 3:57 AM, "tapol_\(Skynet\)" wrote:

Dear Mary,

Many thanks for this marvelous compilation.
Sixty-nine years ago ... already!
Directly from “TOPICA”, ?? No, I did not get the message. I hope that Natasha will be able to fix it.
I feel a bit sad though, with all that is going on in the Middle East, Ukraine, and elsewhere on our small planet and I am thinking about all those innocent kids – as we were in 1945 – who will not have enough with a life time to forget all those atrocities ... engendered by “grown-ups” !!!!!!! once again.

... all the best,

De : L PR
Envoyé : lundi 18 août 2014 08:25
À : Janette & home
Objet : Fw: Weihsien memories of August 17, 1945 *** still too early regarding Reunion

From: Angela
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2014 5:57 PM
To: L PR
Subject: Re: Weihsien memories of August 17, 1945 *** still too early regarding Reunion
850 am Sun aug 17

HI Leopold,

Winter must have been too cold to visit Weifang but glad you returned - now so different . Yes I will look at the pictures . We were feted during the 2005 Reunion & in the summer. Sure we will hear more later from the officials as now still a year away. Mary will probably be notified & in turn advise us .

I am presently reading Miracles of Life by JG Ballard who wrote Empire of the Sun which thought was a true story. I picked up the book at the hotel library in Penang over 35 years ago & then the movie came out. It is a novel based on life in Shanghai & then Lunghua camp with his parents but moreorless based on his experiences. He was an adventurer - riding his bike all over Shanghai & poking into places he shouldnt have & found camp an total adventure. He befriended many adults who normally wouldnt have had bothered with a kid but due to time on their hands paid attention to him. He admired the Americans & although food rations were cut drastically with cold winters & no heat ... ending with infections on his body & a prolapsed rectum he tends to view it all as quite the adventure. For the first time - he was in a room living with his parents .... he wrote that many rich families of the British were detached from the children & viewed them as appendages somewhere between servants & the obedient pet labrador dog .... he/d sneak under the barbed wire to retrieve a ball .. or hunt pheasants. In any case he went on to become a writer which I didnt know. Heard that at one of the meetings of the Interment groups in London ... many of that camp complained to his mother regarding what he wrote about Lunghua camp ... of course the movie threw in the usual Hollywood themes .


From: L PR
To: Angela
Cc: Janette & home
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2014 1:16:44 AM
Subject: Re: Weihsien memories of August 17, 1945 *** wonderful to read

Dear Angela,

Yes, I had the opportunity of going to Shanghai and asked to our friends to organize a trip to Weifang where we stayed three days if my memory is correct. It was in winter.

I took a lot of pictures – have a look at my website >> click on the chapter ”from Janette and Leopold” ... here is a short cut:

I hope to be able to come next year but I am still waiting for a “contact” from the Weifang folks !!

bien amicalement,

From: Angela
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2014 9:29 AM
To: Leopold Pander
Subject: Fw: Weihsien memories of August 17, 1945 *** wonderful to read
0040 am Sun aug 17

Hi Leopold

Loved what you wrote - but suprised that it appears you have visited Weihsien - that I did not realize but still hoping you will return for the Reunion ...

cheers angela

De : L PR Envoyé : dimanche 17 août 2014 10:16 À : Angela Cc : Janette & home Objet : Re: Weihsien memories of August 17, 1945 *** wonderful to read Dear Angela, Yes, I had the opportunity of going to Shanghai and asked to our friends to organize a trip to Weifang where we stayed three days if my memory is correct. It was in winter. I took a lot of pictures – have a look at my website >> click on the chapter ”from Janette and Leopold” ... here is a short cut: http://weihsien-paintings.org/pander/Weifang2006/Slide_Show/02_Weihsien/p_01.htm I hope to be able to come next year but I am still waiting for a “contact” from the Weifang folks !! bien amicalement, Leopold

From: Angela
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2014 9:29 AM
To: Leopold Pander
Subject: Fw: Weihsien memories of August 17, 1945 *** wonderful to read
0040 am Sun aug 17

Hi Leopold

Loved what you wrote - but suprised that it appears you have visited Weihsien - that I did not realize but still hoping you will return for the Reunion ...

cheers angela

----- Forwarded Message -----

From: Mary Previte
To: John Hoyte ; Elizabeth Hoyte Goldsmith ; Peter Bazire ; Beryl Welch Goodland ; Kathleen Nordmo Rictor ; Allison Martin Holmes ; AUDREY NORDMO HORTON ; hakon Torjesen ; "maryhbroughton@swissmail.org" ; Stephen Metcalf ; Teddy Pearson ; Marian Bevan Lauchlan ; Estelle Cliff Horne ; David Allen ; David Birch ; Douglas Sadler ; Jimmie Harrison ; John & Beth Taylor ; Neil Yorkston ; Maida Harris Campbell ; Angela
Sent: Saturday, August 16, 2014 7:36:03 PM
Subject: Weihsien memories of August 17, 1945


“...the boy who spread the word made it clear as he ran through the kitchen yard screaming in an almost insane excitement, ‘An American plane, and headed straight for us.’ We all flung our stirring paddles down beside the cauldrons in the kitchen, left the carrots un-chopped on the tables, and tore after the boys to the ballfield. At this point the excitement was too great for any of us to contain. Suddenly I realized that for some seconds I had been running around in circles, waving my hands in the air and shouting at the top of my lungs. This plane was OUR plane. It was sent here to tell US. To tell us the war was over. The plane’s underside suddenly opened. Out of it floated seven men in parachutes. The height of the incredible!

Without pausing even a second to consider the danger, we poured like some gushing human torrent down the short road. The avalanche hit the front gate, burst it open and streamed past the guards. Some of the more rational internees were trying to fold the parachutes. Most of us, however, were far too ‘high’ for the task. We just stood there adoring, or ran about shouting and dancing...”

--Langdon Gilkey, Virginia, USA

I took myself home to treat my bleeding soles

Although I was as thrilled as anyone else when these guys dropped from the sky, I never connected with any of them personally. I was a shy 13 year old. My friend and classmate David Birch tells me that he and I were playing ping pong in Kitchen #1 when the sound of an airplane drew us outside. When we got to the front gates, they were open and we went out. I followed the kids ahead of us at a run. That’s when I was stopped by a weed patch. I don't know what they are called but they grow prostrate along the ground and produce lots of tiny little thorny tetrahedral stars that always have one thorn facing the sky. I was of course barefoot! I lifted one foot and saw perhaps 20 thorns up to the hilt in my calluses. I knew there must be a similar number in the other foot. I wanted very much to sit down and pull them out, but that would only have put another 50 of them in my bum. I walked on the thorns for 15 or 20 steps till I got out of the patch, sat down, pulled all the blankety-blank things out of my feet and took myself home to treat my bleeding soles. As you can see, this little experience has completely colored my memory of Liberation Day !

We heard that one of the parachutists had been slightly injured, and wondered if he had known that the kao liang (broom corn) was 12 feet tall when he made a landing. I remember hearing that one the guys had his 45 out as he listened to the noises converging on him and only put it away when a crowd of jubilant kids burst through the kao liang.

--Stan Thompson , Iowa, USA

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!

My memory is of being in class. Hearing the plane, so different to the sound of the rare Japanese plane that flew over. We all rushed outside looking up. As it circled we ran in circles under it. Then it started to climb higher, thinking it was going away we stopped and wailed, only to find to our joy there were soon parachutes gently floating down with men attached. So we rushed to the gate and carried on through for the first time ever. I confess I didn’t go very far as there were so many prickles attacking my bare feet. I was certainly part of the reception back at the gateway. Then we followed with the crowd to stand outside the Headquarters building where Major Staiger spoke to us all. It wasn’t long before we learnt 'You are my sunshine' and every morning at 6 am they played over loud speakers 'Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a wonderful day' regardless of the weather.

--Mary (Hoyte) Broughton, New Zealand

Liberation Day glimpses

I was on the top floor of the camp hospital along with fellow students, when one of us heard a faint burred humming sound. As this grew louder, our first thought was that it was just another Japanese plane. We crowded to the window and realized that the drone of the plane was unfamiliar to us, and hoped against hope that it was an American plane.

As the plane circled over the camp, we were thrilled to see the American markings and then witness the heart stopping descent of the parachutes.

One analyst concluded that the parachutes were actually deployed with attached dummies in order to draw enemy fire. Should this have occurred, then the plane would have returned to its base without completing the mission. Fortunately for all of us, the 7 heroes risking their very lives on our behalf, gloriously fulfilled their mission.

We joined in the stampede to and through the gate to welcome our liberators. As I recall there were no casualties. The leaders in our camp had prepared for the possibility of such a wild chaotic exuberant exodus from the compound on the day of actual liberation by creating their own police unit with the members sporting red armbands. Their immediate task was to get the women and children back into the camp and allow only the able bodied men to recover the support supplies that had been air dropped by the rescue plane. Without their efforts, we might still be roaming the countryside.

--Stanley Nordmo, Arizona, USA

Memories of a Ten-Year-Old

I remember seeing the B-24 fly over and the crates and drums falling from the bombays and the 'chutes never opening. Then I remember the 7 jumped from the B-24. The parachutes came down so evenly spaced. They were like steps in a staircase. Somehow everyone ran out of the gates. Being small and fast – 10 years old -- I was way ahead of everyone. I was barefoot and wore shorts. I ran to the nearest parachute that I saw land and came upon this man in uniform who had his glasses taped to his temples. He was already disconnected from his 'chute when I arrived. We were in a field of stubble – maybe gaoliang. Anyhow, he pointed to some Chinese writing which was printed on his uniform.

I said to him, ''I'm sorry, Sir, I don't know how to read Chinese''.
He was amazed. ''You speak English?''
''I'm from the camp, Sir”, I said. “ We burst the gates''.
Then the adults showed up, and I was pushed aside.

--Ted Pearson, Montreal, Canada

The Most Exciting Day of My Life

August 17 was my best friend in camp's birthday, Wies de Jongh. And we were grinding peanuts, making peanut butter in their front yard. The plane came over low and then lower and we saw the US insignia and then the pilot and copilot. I remember the Salvation Army band playing God bless America and the British singing God save the King. I remember the colorful parachutes red, yellow and blue, coming down and everybody screaming once again when they started realizing that they were people. What a day! Has to be the most exciting day in my life. I have had a wonderful, blessed life. BUT that was something and the best!

I was 12 years old.

--Georgie (Reinbrecht) Knisely. Pennsylvania, USA

I remember precisely the same scene. Being with Wies and looking at her birthday presents, when the planes flew low that day. Thank you for the reminder.

In friendship,
--Gay Talbot Stratford

It Wasn’t a Dream I remember that it was a bright day --- it must have been a cloudless blue sky over Weihsien. I was 4-years old wandering all alone on a grassless slope of dirty brown soil. I was next to a big rock --- as big as I was. I felt lost – completely lost. Grown-ups running all over the place. In my memory, I remember that all was silent --- very silent. Somebody picks me up --- .

--- And then I wake up in the middle of the night.

I had this dream for many – many years and finally found out that it was the day that the Americans liberated us on 17th August 1945.
I don’t have that nightmare anymore but the image is indelibly printed in my neurones. Two years ago, when we visited Weifang and the old Weihsien hospital, I think I recognized the brown earth slope going downwards towards the river. Alone and with my digital camera, I started walking upstream towards what had been the Weihsien main gate and walls beyond the compound. I think that it is there that I was lost – 62 years ago. I was then politely and firmly invited to rejoin our group of visitors waiting near the hospital grounds.

Once again, I woke up ――――

--Leopold Pander, Belgium

The Bomber

“IT’S AMERICAN! It’s American!”

I remember standing at the top of the outside staircase leading up to the room where our family of four had spent the last 2-1/2 years and seeing the sun sparkle off the aluminum body of this unknown airplane as it turned in the distance and started back toward us, dropping altitude. It grew larger and larger, and the roar of its engines grew stronger and stronger until it was almost directly overhead, and we saw the insignia on its wings.

"IT'S AMERICAN! It's American!" we shouted to one another.

Every one of the 1,500 civilian prisoners who could walk must have come out to see this airplane. Having made a low flight over the center of the walled compound, the silver bird circled back and gained altitude. As I stood at the top of the outside staircase, shirtless, barefooted, my spindly legs brown from the sun sticking out from my khaki shorts, I saw the silver bird out over the field again, this time going from right to left. I was afraid it was leaving.

Then objects began dropping out of the plane. Parachutes began to open, and I could see arms and legs moving!

I and hundreds of other prisoners rushed the main gate of the concentration camp, hurtling past the startled Japanese guards standing there with bayonets on rifles. We turned left on the dirt road and pounded into the fields, heedless of the brambles and stones and thorns under our bare feet.

The seven Americans were crouched down, .45-caliber Tommy-guns held ready when we reached them. It must have been a strange experience for them and perhaps a great relief to be rushed by a ragamuffin crowd of undernourished men, women and children instead of an armed enemy.

The Americans were carried triumphantly on the shoulders of the men of the camp back through the main gate. They were led by a major, to match the Japanese major who was in command at Weihsien. In the commandant's office, there was a short, tense confrontation between the two majors. Following the American major's demand that the Japanese major surrender, they eyed one another for a few seconds. The Japanese commandant unbuckled his sword and laid it on the desk.

--Albert deZutter, Missouri, USA

From Courtyard of the Happy Way

In the middle of the morning while I was dictating a business letter in a Gregg Shorthand class to a group of girls preparing themselves for Oxford Matriculation, and while hundreds in the camp were at their normal duties, the sound of a plane could be heard.

It became louder and louder. Throughout the camp, studies, manual work, and cooking were instinctively and instantly dropped. A plane was flying overhead lower and lower, as though searching for our camp. We were later to know it was a B-24. British and American flags, which had been concealed in the bottom of trunks from earlier days in Tientsin and Peking, were brought out and waved towards the sky. The plane responded to these signals and circled even lower, dropping leaflets. And then the unimaginable happened. A man floated down on a parachute, followed by six others. They landed not far from the front gate.

Without any thought for the camp regulations which had confined us for years, fifteen hundred internees rushed down the main road through the “Courtyard of the Happy Way” gate, past the solitary guard on duty unable to hold us all back, to welcome our liberators.

We found them a mile outside the gate, perched behind mounds (which were Chinese graves) with loaded guns, uncertain of their reception by the Japanese, but ready for any eventuality. I suddenly remembered my commitment to the Salvation Army band—to welcome whoever freed us with the “Victory March – the medley of the various Allied national anthems.

Getting my trombone from Block 23, I rushed back to the gate. The band was standing on a mound behind the electrified wires at the rear of the church in a position which commanded a good view of the triumphal entry of the seven American parachutists. The baton of Brigadier Stranks gave the signal, and we were away.

But my eyes strayed from the music to the drama outside the gate. The parachutists were being carried shoulder high towards the entrance by excited internees. My right hand went through the motion of playing the trombone as I watched. In the group of American liberators was Jimmy Moore who had been a prefect in the Chefoo Schools when I was in Second Form. He had evidently pulled strings to be part of this relief mission.

Steven, the first trombonist beside me, a tall American lad, stopped playing and collapsed, sobbing like a baby. I was later told that hospital patients suffering from all kinds of ailments, had jumped out of their ward windows to witness the spectacle, and never returned to their sick beds, mysteriously healed of their physical complaints.

--Norman Cliff, United Kingdom

We Found Ourselves LOCKED OUT!

I remember --- on August 17, 1945, internees poured through The Gate to welcome six American liberators and to carry them in triumph to accept the surrender of the Japanese commanding officer. Three or four of us Chefoo boys sneaked away from that triumphant procession and dashed into Weihsien (village), where we found the Catholic Mission. I'll never forget the welcome we were given. And I'll never forget that when we got back to The Gate, we found ourselves LOCKED OUT!

--James H. Taylor, Hong Kong

We Were FREE from “Song of Salvation at Weihsien Prison Camp”

It was Friday, August 17. In a scorching heat wave, I was withering with diarrhea, confined to my “poo-gai” mattress on top of three side-by-side steamer trunks in the second floor hospital dormitory. I heard the drone of an airplane. Sweaty and barefoot, I raced to the window and watched a plane sweep lower then circle again. I watched in disbelief. A giant plan emblazoned with an American star was circling the camp. Americans were waving from the bomber. Beyond the tree tops, its belly opened. I gaped in wonder as August winds buffeted giant parachutes. I raced for the entry gates and was swept off my feet by the pandemonium. Prisoners ran in circles and pounded the skies with their fists. They wept, cursed, hugged, danced. They cheered themselves hoarse. Very proper grown-ups ripped off their shirts and waved at the B-24 “Liberator” circling overhead. Wave after wave of prisoners swept past Japanese guards into fields beyond the camp.

A mile away we found them – six Americans – standing with their weapons ready, surrounded by fields of ripening broom corn. Advancing towards them came a tidal wave of prisoners drunk with joy and free in the open fields. Ragtag, barefoot, and hollow with hunger, they hoisted the American major onto a bony platform of shoulders and carried him back to the camp in triumph.

In the distance near the gate, the music of “Happy Days Are Here Again” drifted out into the fields. It was the Salvation Army band playing its joyful Victory Medley. When it got to “The Star Spangled Banner,” the crowd hushed.

“O, say, does that star spangled banner still wave
O’er the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.”

From up on his thrown of shoulders, the 27-year-old American major struggled down to a standing salute. Up on a mound by the gate, a young trombonist in the Salvation Army Band crumpled to the ground and wept. He knew what we all knew.

We were free.

--Mary Taylor Previte, New Jersey, USA

De : Cui, Dongxuan (2013)
Envoyé : mardi 12 août 2014 13:06
À : L PR
Objet : Re: About Laurance Tipton

Dear Leopold,

Thank you so much for all the information and all the work you have done!!!! You are such a kind and nice people!

I'll try to contact the Georg Group.

Thanks again!!

Best regards, with respect
Dongxuan Cui

De : L PR
Envoyé : mardi 12 août 2014 09:04
À : Dongxuan (2013) Cui
Cc : Mary Previte ; Peter Bazire ; Ron Bridge ; Janette & home ; joseph.coterill@hotmail.com
Objet : Fw: About Laurance Tipton

Dear Cui, Dongxuan

The book, "Chinese Escapade" was published by Macmillan Publishers - London, in 1949

Since 1999, it has become: Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group (Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH)
You can contact them at :

Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH
Gaensheidestraße 26
70184 Stuttgart
Phone: +49 711 2150-0
Fax: +49 711 2150-269
E-mail: info@holtzbrinck.com

I think that the book is long time “sold out” and the only way of buying it is thru the internet via ABE-books, Amazon, or any other library. To “commercialize” a Chinese translation, it is best to be in order with the copyright laws.

Best regards,
Leopold Pander

-----Original Message-----

From: rwbridge@freeuk.com
Sent: Monday, August 11, 2014 4:24 PM
To: L PR
Cc: Peter Bazire ; Ron Bridge ; josephcoterill@hotmail.com ; Janette & home
Subject: Re: Fw: About Laurance Tipton

> Regretfully I have no information.
I agree that if it is a "Commercial" operation permission of the copyright holders needs obtaining. I would have thought that an approach to McMillans would be the answer as whoever has ultimate ownership it can be sought through McMillans


De : L PR
Envoyé : lundi 11 août 2014 16:03
À : Janette & home
Objet : Fw:
Death of Evelyn Davey Huebener, Chefoo School teacher

From: Mary Previte
Sent: Monday, August 11, 2014 3:52 PM
To: Leopold Pander
Subject: Death of Evelyn Davey Huebener, Chefoo School teacher

Our Chefoo School teacher, Evelyn Davey Huebener, died July 19.

Today I received a lovely note from "Miss Davey's" daughter, Lois Huebener Reed, including pages from "Miss Davey's" memorial service in Seattle.

BORN May 20, 1915, Liverpool, England. Our "Miss Davey" married E. G. Huebener while they were in Weihsien. Mr. Huebener had been a room mate of Eric Liddell in the single men's dorm in Block 23.

I know many of you wrote personal notes or sent cards to help her celebrate her 99th birthday.

Here's my love letter to our "Miss Davey." While I wrote it only as a love note, daughter Lois Reed says that one of "Miss Davey's" grand daughters read it at the memorial service.

I believe "Miss Davey" was the last living member of our Chefoo School teachers/staff.

Mary Taylor Previte

Mary Taylor Previte
351 Kings Highway East
Haddonfield, NJ 08033

May 21, 2014

Happy 99th birthday, Miss Davey. What a milestone!

Every mention of your name floods me with memories of your leading our Brownie troop both in Temple Hill and in Weihsien. Do you remember teaching us how to tie knots like reef, granny, half-turn-two-half-hitches and inspiring us to make magical posters with windows or doors that opened to show secret messages inside? And do you remember the story about an elf doing good deeds -- a story that always ended with the little verse:

Twist me and turn me and show me the elf.
I looked in the mirror and there saw myself ?

Since my first career was teaching high school students, I never underestimate the power of a teacher's influence. My own memories of you Chefoo teachers have taught me that.

So I send you -- a most remarkable teacher -- the gratitude from the warmest place in my heart -- gratitude for how you and our Chefoo teachers sheltered us and nurtured us in the midst of a bloody war and in circumstances that might have immobilized us with terror. I have no baggage of fear or terror. You anchored us with having us memorizing Bible verses day by day: "God is our refuge and strength; therefore we will not be afraid." I can still quote many of these Bible verses by memory. What a gift of a lifetime you gave us!

Another gift: Structure, structure, structure! Comfortiingly-predictable structure that created inside us a confident little voice saying, " Oh, I know what's going to happen next!" Of course we knew! You teachers saw to it that the structure and rituals never changed -- from daily clean-and-tidy inspections, Were we clean, were we neat, did we have our mending done? to orders for act-like-a-princess manners when we trooped into mealtime in Kitchen Number One., to Yes, of course, school will go on! Bless you for such lifetime gifts, Miss Davey.

If you ever wondered what-ever-happened-to … ? Here's a thumb nail view of Taylor family’s careers:

Kathleen Taylor died of lupus while she was studying in Asbury seminary to go to Africa with her husband as missionaries.

Jamie Taylor (James Hudson Taylor III) served his entire adult life as a missionary in China, Taiwan, Singapore – became General Director of Overseas Missionary Fellowship, formerly China Inland Mission; died about 3 years ago in Hong Kong.

John H. Taylor , a surgeon who pioneered kidney transplants in his area of Ohio, has gone with his wife on several medical missionary trips in China, Africa, Indonesia, Central America.

Mary Taylor Previte,: teacher, stay-at-home mother, administrator of the county pre-trial youth detention center (31 years), author, Assemblywoman in New Jersey Legislature (8 years), happy retiree.

May God bless you today on your birthday and in your year ahead.

Mary Taylor Previte

De : L PR
Envoyé : lundi 11 août 2014 15:37
À : Peter Bazire ; Ron Bridge ; josephcoterill@hotmail.com
Cc : Janette & home
Objet : Fw: About Laurance Tipton

Dear Ron,
Dear Peter,
Dear Joseph,

I just sent this message to Mary who suggested I ask you ...
Can you help this Chinese gentleman ?

> I just received this message.
> It is, of course, a good idea to translate Laurance Tipton's book but if
> the person intends to publish it ... This is a "commercial" operation and
> the copyright laws apply !
> Do you know if Mr. Tipton has a family ... who are the only ones to give
> permission in this particular case.
> I found out - on the Internet - that Macmillan publishers were bought by a
> German publisher in 1999. ...
> ---
> Hope you can help.
> ... all the best
> Leopold

De : L PR
Envoyé : lundi 11 août 2014 13:49
À : Mary Previte
Cc : Janette & home
Objet : Fw: About Laurance Tipton

Dear Mary,

I just received this message.

It is, of course, a good idea to translate Laurance Tipton's book but if the person intends to publish it ... This is a "commercial" operation and the copyright laws apply !

Do you know if Mr. Tipton has a family ... who are the only ones to give permission in this particular case.

I found out - on the Internet - that Macmillan publishers were bought by a German publisher in 1999. ...
Hope you can help.
... all the best

-----Original Message-----

From: Cui, Dongxuan (2013)
Sent: Monday, August 11, 2014 11:25 AM
To: tapol@skynet.be
Subject: About Laurance Tipton

To whom it may concern,


There is one book named Chinese Escapade written by Laurance Tipton. I found your website is all about the experience in Weishien in Second World War. And Weishien is my hometown.

Now my father is translating Mr. Tipton's book and wish to publish it, only if he gets the authorization.

I’m writing trying to get some information about Laurance Tipton. I know after the war, he went to India and do a business about secondary furniture in Mumbai. But how about then?

Thank you!
Best wishes.
Dongxuan Cui

De : L PR
Envoyé : dimanche 10 août 2014 10:00
À : Janette & home
Objet : Fw: overgrootmoeder.

From: A. Knuppe
Sent: Saturday, August 09, 2014 5:43 PM
To: Maaike Riemersma de Feyter
Cc: tapol@live.be ; pierre.ley@pandora.be
Subject: Re: overgrootmoeder.

Beste Maaike,

Wat een snelle reactie op mijn mail! Wat een bewogen en trieste geschiedenis hebben jouw voorouders beleefd- heel dramatisch allemaal. Natuurlijk mag jij mijn mail aan je achterneef doorsturen, vooral als hij ook geinteresseerd is in de familiegeschiedenis. Hoe is het afgelopen met Lily’s ex-man en haar 2 zonen. Als Carl in Nagasaki heeft gezeten, heeft hij dan de 2e atoom meegemaakt, dezer dagen juist 69 jaar geleden? In deze periode denk ik altijd terug aan het einde v.d. Japanse oorlog, voor mij blijft 15 Aug. onze bevrijdingsdag!

Graag wil met jou en event. ook je neef praten over het kamp. Voor mij, als meisje van 12 – 15 jaar heb ik gelukkig geen nachtmerries overgehouden. Wij hadden tenslotte een zeer humanitair kamp, die prima werd gerunned door eigen mensen onder toezicht van de Jappen. Wij waren een civilian assembly centre, en geen militairen en onze leiding was God zij dank, niet wreed, afgezien van een paar voorvallen. Bovendien had ik de bescherming van een hecht gezin, de mannen waren bij ons in kamp, als oudste van 6 kinderen, broertje Paul is n.b. na 3 maanden in het kamp geboren.

Het knappe van de volwassenen was dat zij hun angsten en bezorgdheid wisten te verbergen voor de kinderen en dat hoor ik van veel van de kinderen van toen. Dus al met al zijn mijn herinneringen best positief, afgezien van het tekort aan voedsel, de koude winters en het gebrek aan kleding als je eruitgegroeid was. Enfin, dat wil ik je later allemaal wel eens vertellen.

In de registry lijst staat je overgr. moeder als C. van Ditmars, terwijl jij Lily en Elise noemt. Wat een moed om na het kamp nog in Tsingtao iets op te zetten, the Dutch Villa- Zij liep toen al tegen de 60. Tsingtao was voor de oorlog ook een mooie badplaats, in een rustige baai. Wij als gezin gingen elke jaar voor ruim een maand naar Peitaiho, aan de overkant, want de zomers in tientsin waren bloedheet.

Dit is alles voor nu. Een goed weekeinde wens ik je toe en tot de volgende keer

Hartelijke groet,

Subject: Re: great-grandmother.
Dear Maaike,

What a quick response to my email! What a turbulent and sad history your ancestors experienced - all very dramatic. Of course you can forward my mail to your second cousin, especially if he is also interested in family history. What about Lily's ex-husband and her 2 sons? If Carl was in Nagasaki, did he experience the second atom, just 69 years ago these days? In this period I always think back to the end of the day. Japanese war, for me 15 Aug. our liberation day!

Would like to work with you and event. also talk your cousin about the camp. Fortunately for me, as a girl of 12 - 15 years old, I have no nightmares. After all, we had a very humanitarian camp, which was well run by our own people under the supervision of the Japs. We were a civilian assembly center, not a military and our leadership was thank God, not cruel except for a few incidents. Moreover, I had the protection of a close family, the men were in camp with us, as the eldest of 6 children, brother Paul is n.b. born in the camp after 3 months.

The great thing about the adults was that they managed to hide their fears and concerns from the children and I hear that from many of the children back then. So all in all, my memories are quite positive, aside from the shortage of food, the cold winters, and the lack of clothing when you grew out. Anyway, I want to tell you all that later.

In the registry list your overgr. mother like C. van Ditmars, while you mention Lily and Elise. What courage to set up something in Tsingtao after the camp, the Dutch Villa- At that time she was already nearing 60. Tsingtao was also a beautiful seaside resort before the war, in a quiet bay. We as a family went to Peitaiho, across the street every year, for more than a month, because the summers in Tientsin were very hot.

This is all for now. I wish you a good weekend and see you next time


From: Maaike Riemersma de Feyter
Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2014 11:35 PM
To: A. Knuppe
Subject: RE: overgrootmoeder.

Beste mevrouw Anneke Knuppe,

Wat lief dat u mij mailt! Ik was er nog niet aan toe gekomen om te gaan zitten en een vervolg te geven aan de ook attente aanwijzingen van Leopold Pander.

Dank voor de informatie hoor, dat geeft toch een beetje een beeld. Een beeld dat ik me niet voor kan stellen, maar daarom juist zo belangrijk!

Van mijn overgrootoma 'Lily' weet ik niet veel. Mijn oma Ine, haar dochter en jongste kind, heeft naar het weinige dat ik heb vernomen nooit een goede relatie gehad met haar en ook weer niet met mijn moeder. Dus via die lijn heb ik maar weinig informatie over mijn familie.

Momenteel heb ik gelukkig contact met een neef van mijn moeder, Martin, de zoon van de oudste zoon Carl van overgrootoma Lily. En die weet wat meer. Ook omdat hij in Indië was en als kind de verhalen opving van de volwassenen.

Carl heeft in Nagasaki gezeten, zijn jongere broer Martin aan de Birma spoorweg en mijn oma Ine kon godzijdank naar India (Bombay) vluchten met haar dochter (mijn tante).

Vind u het goed als ik uw mail ook aan Martin, de zoon van Carl van Ditmars doorstuur? Hij zal zeker ook geïnteresseerd zijn in deze informatie.

En meer antwoorden kunnen geven op uw vragen ook.

Mijn overgrootmoeder Elise Nahl was als au pair vanuit Den Haag vertrokken richting Indië. Daar is ze getrouwd met Jacobus Marinus van Ditmars die een plantage had of kreeg op Atjeh. Het huwelijk bleek niet goed en op een gegeven moment is mijn oma - waarom weet ik niet - naar Tientsin gegaan. Van Martin kreeg ik een kaart van haar uit Tientsin aan mijn oma en mijn grootvader die toen net verloofd waren geloof ik. Vlak daarna brak de oorlog uit in China. Mijn grootvader was stuurman bij de KPM. Mijn oma zat toen dus met een klein kind in Indië en haar moeder in China kennelijk, en haar man op zee. Mijn oma leeft nog (92), maar wij hadden eigenlijk alleen in mijn jeugd enigzins contact met haar en ik heb haar de afgelopen jaren twee keer opgezocht in Frankrijk waar zij woont. Maar zij wil niet meer met mij praten. En zij sprak erg hard over haar moeder. Wat ik weet is dat mijn oma voor de oorlog heeft kunnen vluchten vanuit Medan naar Bombay, waar mijn moeder is geboren. Haar twee broers en vader niet.

Mijn overgrootmoeder had na de oorlog een horecagelegenheid. 'The Dutch Villa' in Tsingtao begreep ik van Martin.

Mijn belangstelling voor haar was er al eerder, maar ik kwam niet verder eigenlijk. Ik had geen idee waar ik kon zoeken. Toen heb ik het een tijd opgegeven. Druk met de eigen beslommeringen. Nu met internet is het zoveel makkelijker en hoopvoller! En ik merk dat ik ook bezig ben met een aantal persoonlijke dingen nu ik ouder wordt (46). En dan duiken je voorouders ook weer op. En probeer je dingen te begrijpen, in perspectief te zien. Dat is het denk ik.

Bij zo'n kamp kan ik me nauwelijks iets voorstellen. Dat moet toch onmenselijk geweest zijn eigenlijk. En dan jarenlang zonder dat je weet of het ophoudt. Ik kan me dat niet bedenken...

Graag zou ik u nog een keer spreken. Al was het maar om wat meer informatie over het kamp en de omstandigheden daar. Ik wil dan proberen daar wat over op te schrijven. Dan krijg ik toch een beetje een idee. En misschien later wel een verhaal over mijn overgrootmoeder. Ik zal Martin voor die tijd proberen te spreken. Dan kan ik u ook weer wat meer vertellen over mijn overgrootmoeder. En ik ben ook benieuwd naar uw ervaringen als u daarover wilt vertellen.

Nogmaals erg bedankt voor de moeite die u zich heeft getroost om informatie over mijn overgrootmoeder terug te halen en aan uw zus te vragen! Ook haar wil ik graag hierbij bedanken voor het delen daarvan!

Met een hartelijke groet,
Maaike Riemersma
Kees Mulderweg 43
6707 HB Wageningen
Postbus 270
6700 AG Wageningen
tel. 06 407 294 78
mail: maaikedefeyter@hotmail.com

Subject: RE: great grandmother.
Dear Mrs. Anneke Knuppe,

How sweet that you are emailing me! I had not yet gotten to sit down and follow up on Leopold Pander's also thoughtful directions.

Thanks for the information, that gives a bit of an impression. An image that I cannot imagine, but that is precisely why so important!

I don't know much about my great-grandmother 'Lily'. My grandmother Ine, her daughter and youngest child, as little I have heard of, never had a good relationship with her, nor with my mother. So through that line I have very little information about my family. Fortunately, I am currently in contact with my mother's cousin, Martin, the son of great-grandmother Lily's oldest son Carl. And he knows a bit more. Also because he was in the Indies and heard the stories of the adults as a child.

Carl has been in Nagasaki, his younger brother Martin on the Burma railway and my grandmother Ine was able to flee to India (Bombay) with her daughter (my aunt).

Would you mind if I also forward your email to Martin, Carl van Ditmars' son? He will certainly be interested in this information as well. And can provide more answers to your questions too.

My great-grandmother Elise Nahl had left The Hague as an au pair for the Dutch East Indies. There she is married to Jacobus Marinus van Ditmars who had or received a plantation in Aceh. The marriage turned out not to be good and at one point my grandmother - I don't know why - went to Tientsin. From Martin I received a card from her from Tientsin to my grandmother and my grandfather who were just engaged, I believe. Soon after, war broke out in China. My grandfather was helmsman at the KPM. So my grandmother was at sea with a small child in the Indies and her mother apparently in China and her husband. My grandmother is still alive (92), but we actually only had some contact with her in my youth and I have visited her twice in recent years in France where she lives. But she doesn't want to talk to me anymore. And she spoke very loudly about her mother. What I know is that my grandmother was able to flee before the war from Medan to Bombay, where my mother was born. Not her two brothers and father.

My great-grandmother had a catering establishment after the war. I understood 'The Dutch Villa' in Tsingtao from Martin.

My interest in her had been there before, but I actually got no further. I had no idea where to look. Then I gave up for a while. Busy with their own worries. Now with the internet it is so much easier and more hopeful! And I find myself busy with some personal things as I get older (46). And then your ancestors emerge again. And try to understand things, to see them in perspective. I think that's it.

I can hardly imagine anything at such a camp. That must have been inhumane actually. And then for years without knowing if it will stop. I can't imagine that ...

I would like to speak to you again. If only for some more information about the camp and the conditions there. I want to try to write something about that. Then I get a bit of an idea. And maybe later a story about my great-grandmother. I'll try to speak to Martin before then. Then I can also tell you more about my great-grandmother. And I am also curious about your experiences if you want to tell about it.

Thank you again for the effort you went to in retrieving information about my great-grandmother and asking your sister! I would also like to thank her for sharing that!

With kind regards,
Maaike Riemersma
Kees Mulderweg 43
6707 HB Wageningen
post address:
Postbus 270
6700 AG Wageningen
tel. 06 407 294 78
mail: maaikedefeyter@hotmail.com

De : A. Knuppe
Envoyé : jeudi 7 août 2014 22:49
À : maaikedefeyter@hotmail.com
Cc : tapol@live.be ; pierre.ley@pandora.be
Objet : overgrootmoeder.

Beste Maaike,

Via Leopold Pander heb ik je mail ontvangen met de vraag of wij misschien nog iets van je overgrootmoeder zouden herinneren. Het gekke is dat de naam van Ditmars duidelijk met het kamp te maken heeft. Ja, een oudere Hollandse dame, die in block 24 A woonde, dat was de huisvesting van de alleenstaanden en vrij dichtbij ons onderkomen. Inmiddels heb ik mijn zus Wies, die in Californië woont, gesproken. Zij is 2 jaar jonger dan ik maar heeft nog veel herinneringen aan Weihsien en die zei meteen, o ja, een oudere, grijze dame met een wat streng gezicht, op het magere af, die erg op zichzelf was en zij meende te weten dat zij met een vriendin inderdaad bij haar was geweest voor poppekleertjes of iets dergelijks. De Nederlandse gemeenschap was heel klein in ons kamp en zodoende hadden wij een band, maar zij was veel ouder, wel 10 jaar ouder dan mijn vader en ik vind alleen de naam bekend. Vader zou het ongetwijfeld nog hebben geweten, maar helaas is hij er niet meer.

Was zij een missionaris, waar kwam zij vandaan... ook uit Tientsin misschien. Heeft zij haar man en zoon ooit teruggezien na de verschrikkingen van Birma. Wat geweldig dat je na zoveel jaar ineens belangstelling hebt voor deze voorouder, die kennelijk na de oorlog haar leven in Canada heeft voltooid.

Je mag me gerust eens opbellen, maar ik vrees dat ik je verder geen gegevens kan bezorgen over deze dame. Het voorval met het hondje weet ik ook niet meer. Wat ik wel herinner is dat die alleenstaanden in grote dormitories waren ondergebracht en dat ze nauwelijks een eigen plekje hadden. Met gordijnen maakten ze een soort chambrette om hun bed heen. Wij zaten ook heel krap als familie in kleine kamertjes, maar wij hadden toch onze privacy en dat was heel veel waard.

Misschien hoor ik nog wel eens iets van je, met ‘n vriendelijke groet,

Objet: great-grandmother.

Dear Maaike,

I received your email through Leopold Pander asking if we might remember anything about your great-grandmother.

The strange thing is that Ditmars' name clearly has to do with the camp.

Yes, an elderly Dutch lady, who lived in block 24 A, that was the accommodation of the singles and quite close to our accommodation.

I have now spoken to my sister Wies, who lives in California. She is 2 years younger than me but still has many memories of Weihsien and she immediately said, oh yes, an older, gray lady with a somewhat stern face, to the point of being skinny, who was very private and she thought she knew that she had indeed been to her with a friend for dolls' clothes or something like that.

The Dutch community was very small in our camp and so we had a bond, but she was much older, 10 years older than my father and I only know the name. Father would undoubtedly have known, but unfortunately he is no longer here.

If she was a missionary, where did she come from ... also from Tientsin perhaps.

Did she ever see her husband and son again after the horrors of Burma?

How wonderful that after so many years you are suddenly interested in this ancestor, who apparently completed her life in Canada after the war.

Feel free to give me a call, but I'm afraid I won't be able to provide you with any further information about this lady.

I don't remember the incident with the dog either. What I do remember is that those singles were housed in large dormitories and that they hardly had a place of their own. They made a kind of chambrette around their bed with curtains.

We were also very tight as a family in small rooms, but we still had our privacy and that was worth a lot.

Maybe I'll hear from you again,
with a friendly greeting,

De : Maaike Riemersma de Feyter
Envoyé : mardi 5 août 2014 14:52
À : L PR
Objet : RE: Weihsien camp

Dear Leopold,

Thank you so much for all the information and all the efforts you have undertaken in such a swift time!

I am certainly going to mail all these people and see if they have known her.

Thank you very much again! I will keep you updated if you want and I had a look at search engine of the website just now. I found the part of the book again where she is mentioned and I found out that she stayed in Block 24 room A. With a couple of other women, even a Dutch woman. She was already 58 years old when the camp was freed.

'The only pet animal in the camp was a little white fluffy dog brought in by a Dutch lady, Mrs Van Ditmars. I do not know how she arranged it but the dog stayed with her during the whole time we were in the camp. Mrs Van Ditmars was not accompanied by any members of her family and I can only assume the Japanese allowed her to have her dog for company. The dog did not want for attention from the camp's population. It was always in the best of health because one of the inmates was a veterinary surgeon.'

Again, thank you so much and all the best to you!

Hartelijke groeten!

De : L PR
Envoyé : mardi 5 août 2014 12:38
À : Maaike Riemersma de Feyter
Cc : Anne de Jongh ; Janette & home
Objet : Re: Weihsien camp

Dear Maaike,

Thanks for writing in English. Though I should be able to read and write in “Flemish”, I never managed to learn the language as I should have. They all speak their local slang and I never got myself to understand it !! Sorry !

I live just South of Brussels in the French speaking part of our little country.

I am glad you like my website ...
On the main page, use the search engine with the word Ditmars and you will find what you are looking for.
If the persons are still alive, you can try and send a message to Joyce Bradbury-Cooke at glbmab@comcen.com.au or bobjoyce@tpg.com.au . Mrs Joyce Bradbury, 100 Coxs Road, North Ryde 2113, Sydney Australia

She is a very kind person who will certainly help you if she can. A few years ago, she gave me permission to recopy her entire book on the WeiHsien-paintings’ website.

As for Vancouver, David Birch lives there. You can also try and send a message to him too ... you never know !! gdavidbirch@yahoo.com However, I do not have his “snail-mail” address.

I also sent a message to my big sister, Janette, who remembers WeiHsien quite well. She was 7 years old in 1945 and does not remember of a pet dog owned by a prisoner in camp. (I just telephoned to her !)

You can also contact Annie deJong who lives in Holland: annemoen@tele2.nl
Anne de Jongh, now Mrs. Knuppe,
Kuipershaven 116,
3311 AM Dordrecht,
tel. 0031. 78. 6137153

She was older than we were and will certainly help you if she knows anything more about Mrs. Van Ditmars and a pet dog. By the way, I will also send her a copy of this message to her.

Met vriendelijke groeten,

De : Maaike Riemersma de Feyter
Envoyé : mardi 5 août 2014 11:16
À : tapol@skynet.be
Objet : Weihsien camp


Are you in Belgium? Then I could write in Dutch (I am in The Netherlands), but I am not sure however, so I will continue in English.

First of all I would like to compliment you on the website and the beautiful paintings and drawings. It gives so much depth to the stories. What a good idea to publish those!

Through your site I have found some information on my great-grandmother. She is mentioned in the book of Joyce Bradbury-Cooke: she is Mrs. Van Ditmars and metioned having a little pet dog in the camp. Also I have read (but I can't find where anymore) that she patched up the dolls in the camp for the children.

She was alone in the camp because her husband and both sons were at the Birma railroad in Indonesia. And her daughter - my grandmother - had fled to Bombay (now Mumbai) India from Indonesia. I do not know however why she was in China at that time.

I would love to be able to get some more information about her. I know she has died in Vancouver, long after the war. Did your family maybe know her personally?

Thank you so much.

Best regards,

From: Mary Previte
Sent: Friday, August 01, 2014 12:54 PM
To: tapol_ (Skynet)
Subject: Re: Duncan Hamilton

I think it was Angela who assured me that Weifang is definitely planning a 2015 celebration of Liberation Day and the end of the war.

I told Duncan Hamilton and Mandy yesterday that I have not felt a personal connect with Weifang's current Director of Foreign Affairs--not like the wonderfully close relationship I had with Sui Shude. but they assured me the current man is very friendly and speaks beautiful English. They were wildly positive of how they were treated there on their visit a couple of months ago., They were accompanied by an escort from the British Embassy. Of course, in 2005, Mr. Sui and his delegation came to my office in New Jersey, so I felt Io knew him before we ever got to Weihsien.

I find it very interesting that when Weifang wanted to connect me to a Documentary film director for China State Council Information Office to talk about a documentary film about Weihsien for next year they had Sui Shude write to me.

I don't want to drum up enthusiasm for a reunion at Weifang next August 17 if no very special program is being prepared.

If Duncan visits you, he won't be talking to you about Eric, but about Weihsien. That was the purpose of his visit here yesterday -- Weihsien. He told me he has started writing the book -- and the beginning of the book is about Weihsien -- not about Eric's winning the Olympics. Duncan said he and Mandy had had a powerful emotional reaction in their going through the buildings and walking the pathways of Weihsien -- like goosebumps, feeling the history.

I lik them both very much.

On Aug 1, 2014, at 4:30 AM, tapol_(Skynet) wrote:

Dear Mary,

Many thanks for your message.

Glad my “I-Remember” books impressed your guest !
Of course, that he will be welcome to come in Belgium but personally, I won’t be able to tell him much about Eric Liddell ... I was too young to remember?

By the way, I am always keen for new ‘I-Remembers’ as the layout of the book is always “open” for new extra texts to come.

“Topica” seems to be sooo -- completely silent now !

Do you know anything about a 2015 memory celebration in Weifang ?
I did get a few messages from Ted & Angela but all seems to be super quiet for the moment !

all the best,

From: Mary Previte
Sent: Friday, August 01, 2014 5:26 AM
To: Leopold Pander
Subject: Duncan Hamilton


Today, Duncan Hamilton, a prize-ewinning English sports writer, interviewed me for information about Weihsien -- as part of a book he will write about Eric Liddell. Duncan and his wife spent two days in Weifang this summer and he has already started writing the book.

He spent the entire afternoon with me today. Very , very thorough. Next he heads to Toronto to interview Eric Liddell's three daughters.

I'm writing to tell you how DELIGHTED Duncan and his wife Mandy were with your two volumes: The Children of Weihsien. I keep them prominently displayed on my coffee table. He said he had printed this information off the internet, but was thrilled to see all the photographs and drawings in such excellent quality prints.

His book will be published by an American company, Penguin Press, with release in time for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Don't he surprised if Duncan pays you a visit. He says that Belgium is not so very far from Yorkshire where he and Mandy live.

Mary Previte