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Chinese Labour Corps, Western Front, 1919

peter monahan

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One of  a series of headstones in a cemetery in France is to a member of the Chinese Labour Corps.  These rarely remembered men worked in the thousands during and aftyer the War.  In 1919 many were yused to relocate the remains of soldiers to large cemeteries and to 'salvage' weapons and other things from the battlefields.  Some died in accidents with unexploded munitions and more from disease.  Sadly, their stones give their names only in Chinese.  At least, I hope and assume that they do list names. 

I'm hoping that someone can translate at least the name on this stone for me, so that I can share it with others on November 11th, Remembrance Day here in Canada.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry I just read this article.

吕玉兰 This person’s name = Lv Yulan (In modern people’s opinion, it is a commonly used name for women, but in ancient China, Lan also means "junzi")

流芳百世=This idiom is often seen on Chinese tombstones. It probably means "passed on for a long time, a hundred generations = a hundred centuries", similar to a western epitaph

直隶=A province in the Qing Dynasty, probably located in Beijing, Hebei, and Shandong together

沧州=The hometown of martial arts in China, with strong folk customs

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Thanks for starting this thread and to 1812 Overture for translating it.  I bid on one of the bronze medals issued to the survivors last month but it went too high for me.  An interesting and little known part of WWI.  Particularly to Canadians as many members of the Chinese Labour Corps were sent through Canada hidden in sealed trains on their way to France




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Thank you, 1812 for taking the time to do that translation.

Gordon: I regualrly [until March this year] work with Canadian high school stiudents in southern Ontario, so there are a lot of Black, South Asian and Oriental kids in many classes and I always bring up the CLC and the sealed trains.  Part of our history, like the Komagata Maru and the 2nd Construction Battlion. :(


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