Tag Archives: China

“Chocolate Soldier. The Story of a Conchie” by Hazel Barker


Review by Abigail Cobley.

This book is a true testament to his courage and convictions and I highly recommend it!

Too little is known about conscientious objectors’ roles in the Second World War and Hazel Barker does a terrific job of bringing the story of Clarence Dover to our eyes. To stand in front of a judge at the tender age of 20 in the midst of war and tell him that you will not fight is such a courageous decision. Clarence did so, and by joining the Friends’ Ambulance Unit, he went on to risk his life stretcher-bearing in the London Blitz. After this, he travelled to India and China where he helped transport medical supplies.

This book is a true testament to his courage and convictions and I highly recommend it!


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The Brave Men who recaptured Burma

Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child by Hazel Barker will appeal to both sexes. Lovers of war stories will be interested in learning of the American Volunteer Group, the Chindits and Merrill’s Mauraders. In the next few days I’ll be writing a few notes on these brave men who helped re-capture Burma from the Japanese in 1945.

The American Volunteer Group was officially employed by a private military contractor, the Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company. Although called a volunteer group, they were the highest paid combat fliers, their monthly salary being no less than $600, while pilots in the American Armed services were receiving no more than $170 per month. Besides their monthly salary, pilots received $600 for every Japanese plane shot down. The 1st and 2nd squadrons were assigned to both ends of the Burma Road, and based at Kunming, in China. The 3rd squadron was based at Mingaladon airport, a few miles out of Rangoon. AVG fighter planes were painted with a large shark on the front. The pilots were the only Allied pilots trained in Japanese combat tactics. They fought against odds of more than five zeros to one P40. During the first two raids over Rangoon, on 23 and 25 December 1941, the AVG had only 14 planes at Mingaladon, but they shot down 36 Japanese planes with a loss of only two AVG fliers.

Between 23 December 1941 and the beginning of March 1942, they flew the oldest model P40, the Tomahawk, shooting down well over a hundred Japanese planes.IMG_1699

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Review of View from the Faraway Pagoda

View from the Faraway Pagoda: A Pioneer Australian Missionary in China from the Boxer Rebellion to the Communist Insurgency by Robert and Linda Banks, Acorn Press, 2013
Authors’ Blog
This book describes the life and service of an inspiring woman, Sophie Newton, the grand-aunt of Robert Banks, whose desire to serve God led her to the forefront of missionary work in south-east China from 1897 to 1931. She lived through the tumultuous events of the Boxer Rebellion and Nationalist Revolution, as well as warlord conflicts and early communist uprisings.
Sophie spent her life empowering women through establishing schools and training Christian workers, as well as opposing the opium trade and challenging the practices of foot binding and infanticide.
Drawing on a wide range of family journals, personal letters, official records and newspaper reports, this story describes how the conviction, sacrifice and compassion of one single-minded woman can make a real and lasting difference to a community.
Robert and Linda Banks have worked in churches, universities and other educational institutions. Robert has taught in history departments and theological colleges and written several award-winning books. Linda has been a teacher, pastor and chaplain. Together they have produced a range of creative Christian resources.
Review by Hazel Barker
The story opens with an excerpt from The Sydney Morning Herald, August 1895. Due to the recently installed cable system, it reaches the ears of Australians, with life-changing consequences for the protagonist, Sophie Sackville Newton. She longs to serve the Master, but her father’s death delays her departure as family responsibilities require her to wait.
Early the following year, the Church Missionary Association accepts her, and, after undergoing six months of training, she joins a little band of missionary sisters and embarks for China.
Besides spreading God’s message to the Chinese, Sophie and her co-workers endeavour to stop such practices as foot-bind, opium addiction and the disposal of unwanted babies. She writes that Chinese fathers squeeze the little ones through openings in miniature round towers specially built for the purpose.
Sophie suffers from migraines despite prayers to remove her affliction. She lives in fear of her life during the Boxer Rebellion, when ruffians attack mission stations. The inmates are hacked to pieces, set alight or skinned alive.
Even during her leave back in Australia, she does not rest, but spends her furlough speaking about China and raising money for the CMA.
Sophie Newton dedicated 34 years to the cause of Christ in China.


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Review of ‘My China Mystery’

My China Mystery by Marion Andrews

Author’s Blurb.
Frank and Ella White’s passion was to touch the people of China. They met while working for the China Inland Mission in the nineteen forties, seeking to take the Gospel to a culture steeped in idol worship.
But their work was cut short and they were forced to flee.
In later years Frank rarely spoke of his time in China. It was only when he died that his daughter, Marion Andrews, discovered a treasure-trove of photos with accounts of his time there. These photos, combined with his prayer letters, uncovered the mystery of her parents’ work in pre-Communist China.
My China Mystery will take you on a journey into another time and culture, as Frank and Ella White take the name of Jesus to a people in need. As Marion discovers her history in China and receives the honours of a war hero for his work in China, the mystery is revealed.

Review by Hazel Barker

The author uses her journalistic skills to produce an interesting book on her parents, based on family photographs, diaries and correspondence between her father and his family, and his colleagues.
My China Mystery describes her father’s work in China – in God’s army of disciples as well as in the British army. The book interested me particularly as I’ve been researching my uncle’s life, during World War Two. He served as a member of the Friends’ Ambulance Unit, during the London blitz and in Yunnan, China in the final spasm of the war.
Marion Andrews has done extensive research and weaves it seamlessly into the story. The only flaw I found in the book was an error in the map, showing the position of Mandalay. That town is in the centre of Burma and not where indicated. Despite this, I would recommend My China Mystery to all those interested in broadening their knowledge of other countries and learning about the hardships and sufferings endured by missionaries while promoting the Lord’s Word.

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Excerpt from ‘Telegraph’, UK

Touching letters from WW2 soldier to his pacifist brother
One was a pacifist whose principles prevented him fighting in the Second World War, the other signed up took part in the gruelling campaigns to push the Germans out of North Africa and then Italy.

A letter from Douglas to Clarence Dover dated Sept 1 1943.
Now, letters between two brothers have emerged, almost 70 years after the conflict ended.
The correspondence was sent from Douglas Dover, serving in the Royal Army Service Corps, to his older brother Clarence, who had joined the Friends Ambulance Unit, a Quaker-run organisation with whom he was stationed in China.
The letters show the closeness of the pair, despite their different beliefs. Douglas, a driver, recounts his experiences in the heat of Africa coming under attack from the Germans, and then as his unit advances through Italy.
He described seeing an eruption of Vesuvius as “a marvellous sight with a column of smoke miles high with the base a mass of fire” and referred to Naples as “a city now famous for racketeers and filth.”
The brothers’ mother Ada died of a heart attack while both sons were overseas. Douglas wrote: “I know it will be a shock to you, I cannot believe it yet, or rather I can’t take it in yet. We lost the one who we all loved so much.”
When Douglas was granted a period of leave, in August 1945, he told his brother: “Only one thing is missing and that is that you will not be there, but maybe will we be together soon.”
On his arrival back home in Nottingham, he sent another letter telling Clarence: “Nottingham looks very much the same as when we left, but the girls seem to have lost all sense of moral control.”
The letters continue until May 1946, when Douglas was about to return to Nottingham again. The collection ends with the line: “Well C, I will not make this a very long one. For the folks do not know I’m coming … cheerio for now, my next letter will most likely be from home.”
Douglas died in 1989 and Clarence in 2001. The letters were found by Clarence’s daughter June Cobley, 61, from Beeston, Nottinghamshire. She said: “I am really proud of my dad for refusing to fight. I could not have done that at the age of 20.
“We never quite knew what his family’s reaction was at the time but I have a letter from his mother in which she said she was standing by him.
“She wrote to him: ‘I shall have the satisfaction of knowing that you have laboured for the benefit of peace’.
“My father did not talk about it much. In some ways, I think he was braver not to fight because of the pressure that was on him.”

See: The Chocolate Soldier: story of a conchie by Hazel Barker. Story based on Clarence Dover during World War Two.


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