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When did WWII start?

(70 Posts)
Yorkshiregel Wed 28-Feb-18 15:08:47

Well you will be surprised, as I was, because long before Poland was invaded Japan invaded China in 1937! This fight carried on all through what we think of as our war. The Chinese had lived through hell before Poland was invaded. Many people resorted to eating the bark from trees and the grass in the fields. They sold children for a little bit of food. It really was dire. What I would like to ask is why didn't we hear about this war in school? Does anyone remember what went on? There is a programme on PBS America at the moment if you can get that tv channel. America trained Chinese pilots and a three month battle was fought nr Bejing. It was unexpected and China nearly lost the battle to the Japanese.

merlotgran Wed 28-Feb-18 15:22:01

'The Small Woman' - the story of the missionary, Gladys Aylward is a book I can read again and again. It's so gripping and goes into the Japanese invasion of China in great detail.

It's all there....The danger of invasion, hardship, ancient customs, starvation, foot binding, abandoned children, determination, unrequited love.

It's no wonder Inn of the Sixth Happiness was my favourite film for many years.

The sad thing is though that many of the children GA walked across mountains to safety grew up only to perish under Mao's regime sad

Jalima1108 Wed 28-Feb-18 15:27:12

It was known as the Sino-Japanese war and I think tensions had been simmering for a long time before that.

whitewave Wed 28-Feb-18 15:30:03

Because we didn’t take part. Our history was very Britain-centric with the empire taking pride of place. Remember those maps?

Jalima1108 Wed 28-Feb-18 15:33:51

I would like to watch that film again, such a moving and true portrayal as merlogran describes it.

Jalima1108 Wed 28-Feb-18 15:36:00

DF was on the China Station and they were withdrawn and sent to the Mediterranean as far as I know, because of the threat there. I didn't ask a lot and he didn't talk about it very much.

Certainly the British traded a lot with China and the Royal Navy had a presence there.

Jane10 Wed 28-Feb-18 15:39:38

My great uncle was in the Shanghai police and was interned by the Japanese. Cruel bastards they were too. Not forgotten.

Jalima1108 Wed 28-Feb-18 15:40:40

^ Our history was very Britain-centric with the empire taking pride of place^ I thought it started because the Japanese had for a number of years been operating imperialism and expansionism after their period of isolation?

janeainsworth Wed 28-Feb-18 15:41:30

merlot I too was captivated by the story of Gladys Aylward. It was on the back of Girl magazine, and my mother took me and a a few friends to see the film when it came out.

Jalima1108 Wed 28-Feb-18 15:47:14

Russia and America took part, or at least aided China, so perhaps it could be termed as the start of WW2 although Hitler had already invaded Rhineland (1936) he had yet to invade Czechoslovakia (1938) and then Poland.

Oh dear, I mentioned Hitler.
It is not allowed.

suzied Wed 28-Feb-18 15:58:13

It’s like the war didn’t start according to the USA until 1941.

Yorkshiregel Wed 28-Feb-18 16:22:14

If you are interested in this story try and find it on PBS America - WWII - China's Forgotton war. The Chinese had been fighting for 8 yrs by the time 1944! Japan eventually surrendered on September 2, 1945, to Allied forces following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Soviet invasion of Japanese-held Manchuria.

SueDonim Wed 28-Feb-18 16:39:31

I wasn't taught about any 20C wars at school. Too close in time for comfort, I think.

I knew about the war the OP mentioned because a family member and his family were POW's of the Japanese. Not a pleasant experience. One of his daughters was born in a POW camp. Thankfully, they all survived both wars.

merlotgran Wed 28-Feb-18 16:44:23

janeainsworth, The serial on the back page of the Girl magazine prompted me to get 'The Small Woman' out of the library but it was too old for me and as a ten year old I was only interested in the romantic bits so I gave up after scouring the pages for mentions of Colonel Lin Nan.

I read the book over and over again in my teens having seen the film. I do wish they'd show it again.

BTW. When I was in hospital having DD2 the woman in the next bed told me she was of the 'children'. Her mother was Chinese and her father Welsh and she'd been picked for her photogenic East Asian looks.

It was filmed in Wales where she grew up.

Yorkshiregel Wed 28-Feb-18 17:40:53

So why didn't they tell us about it in school? It seems it was airbrushed out. Never happened, although of course it did. Why the silence? The Chinese suffered just as much as the Jews did. The Chinese were our Allies! Millions of them were killed and yet they did not provoke the Japanese. The Japanese wanted to expand their Empire. If it was not for this young researcher this story might never have come to light. A lot of the people are now dead but he managed to find a few who were not.

Yorkshiregel Wed 28-Feb-18 17:45:15

Jane a relative of my OH was a Babtist minister who knew and worked with Gladys Aylward. She was killed in the ambush by the Chinese, bandits who attacked their transport (not the Japanese) as they were trying to escape. Her name was Beulah Gasby. All a long time ago.

janeainsworth Wed 28-Feb-18 18:02:55

I’m not sure it was airbrushed out yorkshiregel - like suedonim I wasn’t taught any 20thC history at all, though I didn’t take it to O Level.

And it was so recent - for those of us doing history in the 60’s it was only 20 years ago. I wonder if children today are taught about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Balkan Wars of the 90’s. I somehow doubt it.

That’s interesting about your relative too. I found out not long ago that a cousin died after the D-Day landings and the knowledge of family involvement and loss of life in conflicts makes it so immediate, if you know what I mean.

janeainsworth Wed 28-Feb-18 18:05:35

That’s very interesting too metlot. What an experience filming with Ingrid Bergman!

Luckygirl Wed 28-Feb-18 18:17:01

I've just bought the kindle edition - looking forward to reading it.

Fennel Wed 28-Feb-18 18:24:13

I took history to A level, and it stopped at 1914 - as Jane A says, it was too recent for accurate recording.
I had read about the sufferings of the Chinese though, can't remember which books. ? Pearl S Buck?
I belong to WW Talk forum, which has been a further education for me, but still not so much on the China Japan subject.

Anniebach Wed 28-Feb-18 18:33:37

Gladys Aylward gave a talk in a Chapel in Merthyr in the sixties, I was lucky to attend. She was not pleased with the film of her life, the name given her in the film was not true, Col.Linan was not part European and she was not romantically involved with him or any other man , the loves of her life were God and China and her adopted children. She had to leave china at the start of WW2, was not allowed back by the communist government ,

she settled in Taiwan and I think is buried there

Jane10 Wed 28-Feb-18 20:28:13

Jalima!! grin

merlotgran Wed 28-Feb-18 21:03:30

Anniebach. Any life story that is given the Hollywood treatment is going to be way off beam from the truth. Apparently, Gladys Aylward never saw it and was dismayed at the casting of Kurt Jurgans as Linnan - no surprise there.

She and Linnan may not have been romantically involved in the modern sense but there was definitely a close relationship which led to him asking her to marry him. They decided a mixed marriage in times of war would be impossible and they parted company.

A year before GA's death she met up again with Alan Burgess author of The Small Woman and confirmed amongst other things that Linnan was the only man she had loved.

merlotgran Wed 28-Feb-18 21:10:05

The film was no worse a portrayal of events than any other war movie of the fifties and sixties. If nothing else it prompted people to read about that turbulant period of history

I'm quite surprised Andrew Lloyd Webber hasn't turned it into a musical. grin

joannapiano Wed 28-Feb-18 21:15:24

When we were first married we lived a few doors away from Gladys Aylward's little terraced house in Edmonton, North London where she grew up. It had a blue plaque on it. She was very much the local hero and talked about fondly by my grandmother. The local school was named after her.