Quzhou When Thunder Comes

After bombing Japan, the plan was for the Raiders to fly on the Chinese airports. The airfield in Quzhou was the primary airfield. But for many reasons, the planes ran our of fuel, the airfield lights were not lit, navigation problems, the majority of the crews had to bail out. The City of Quzhou was hit hard by the Japanese afterwards, including the use of biological weapons.

This is the cave shelter where most of the Raiders rallied.

Entrance to the shelter.

Major Fitzhugh and Major Radney of Plane 2 carved their names outside the shelter.

I bought a used copy of the book Destination Tokyo, and I was overjoyed to find Major Radney had signed the book in three places.

The interior of the shelter. I was told by local historians, that I was the first American to enter since 1942.

Cave shelter taken from site of the old basketball court. There cave area would have been covered in trees, and nearly invisible from above.

Basketball court. One group of evacuating Raiders stopped in a small town and played the local boys in basketball. The Raiders team lost by one basket.

Quzhou Military headquarters by the air raid shelter.

View towards cave shelter from inside the military command headquarters. It was being demolished.

Modern patriotic painting inside the WWII military command headquarters.

Dormitory where the Doolittle Raiders were housed as they were being evacuated. The buildings were being torn down. Mr. Zheng and the local reporter wanted me to see this before it all was torn down. They asked me to take brick as a memento.

We visited the site of Cpl. Faktor’s grave in China. Mr. Wang was a schoolboy when they held the funeral. All the school children were let out of school. He remembers the rifle salute during the funeral. The funeral was presided over by the famous John Birch who was a missionary in China at the time. Doolittle got permission to officially enlist Birch in the war effort.

Mr. Wang is pointing to Faktor’s grave.

Mr. Wang identifies the location of Cpl. Faktor’s grave. He said some small bones remained in the ground after his body was repatriated following WWII.

I recited the Lord’s Prayer over Cpl. Faktor’s grave. It was Easter weekend. I felt deeply humbled standing in that far off field so far from home praying for such a brave young man.

Mr. Wang then asked if he could shake my hand to thank Americans for all they did during the war. I thanked him for all the sacrifices the Chinese people had made to save the Doolittle Raiders, and for their struggles during the war.

Remnant of the Quzhou City Wall which was destroyed during the devastating Japanese assault on the city.

Overgrown entrance to World War Two city air raid shelter.

That weekend was also the Qing Ming (Tomb Sweeping) holiday. It is when Chinese clean the tombs of their ancestors. We visited a museum dedicated to the survivors of the Japanese biological warfare attack on Quzhou and the region.

Survivors of the biolgical weapons attacks gather every Qing Ming to honor their family members who were killed.

The very kindly Teacher Chen, a former English teacher was so happy to chat with me in English. He said he had lost most off his former skill long ago. I thought he was wonderfully gentle and kind.

Teacher Chen showed me the scars left on his legs by the biological weapons attacks.

The leader of their group presented us with copies of a two-volume history book about Quzhou during World War Two. I told him I would be honored to have some of it translated by my university students.

He then turned to my wife and told her he had fought in the Korean War and had never been this close to an American before. I told him the war was over long time ago, so let’s shake hands in friendship.

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