Documenting History – When Thunder Comes

These are very rare photographs of the nurse and the doctor who were the first to provide medical treatment for treat Major Ted Lawson (author of Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo). Dr. Chen Chaomin and his wife nurse Hong Qi. They helped arrange for the injured airmen to be taken to a larger hospital further away. The Japanese attacked and as they trying to avoid the Japanese, nurse Hong Qi had a miscarriage. That is just one of thousands of the previously unknown details about the Chinese rescuers of the Doolittle Raiders. I learned the details when my wife and I helped translate a letter from Nurse Hong Qi to one of the Raiders. She was a very old lady living in Shanghai at the time.

Dr. Ren Chaomin

Nurse Hong Qi

Because maps like the above are rarely seen outside of China, I have included it at a higher resolution. This is a map of guerilla activity against the Japanese from May 1942 – August 1945. The city of Yiwu is in the center and Jinhua is to the south. This came from our archive research.

Much of the information about the local Chinese contribution to the war effort has never been translated. There is a wealth of information available if one can sort through the information. I was a lecturer at one of the top universities in Zhejiang province. This is where the majority of the Raiders ended up after their Raid on Japan. I knew from the book Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, by Ted Lawson, that his plane, and others, had crashed off the coast of Zhejiang province. I asked my students if they could find any information for me. Since, I was also the foreign editor and lead writer for a monthly magazine and weekly newspaper, I asked my fellow editors to help me find some information too.

One of my students had a friend in her hometown who was taking classes from a professor who had written a book on the Doolittle Raiders. I learned later that Professor Wang had also been the head of the Provincial Archives. His first question, when my wife asked if he would meet with us was – Why? Why do you want to know these things? We did meet and had a wonderful time at his university. He was such a gracious host, and he gave me autographed copies of his books. He also told us how to find accurate information in the archives. The archives visit was a story in itself 🙂

Entrance to the Zhejiang Province Archives

This is a book of the “City History of Quzhou”. Every major city in China has these books documenting their historical records. They are rich with history, if you can see them. The archivists became increasingly nervous as my wife and I took photos of page after page of various official books. They asked several times why I was there. The archives are open to the public, but it was questionable if that included a foreigner like me. They eventually pestered us to the point that we left. I didn’t want to cause trouble for them or for us.

Professor Wang (second from left), his assistant and my wife and I.

Construction drawings of the Quzhou airport from the engineer who constructed the airport. He went to Taiwan after the war.

Crash sites in Southwest Zhejiang

Official map of crash sites in Zhejiang Province.

Official map of Doolittle Raider’s B-25 crash sites.

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