Looking for my Shanghai father

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2015-08-30 02:17Z by Steven

Looking for my Shanghai father

BBC News Magazine

Jody-Lan Castle

Yvonne Foley with her mother Grace

After World War Two ended, the British government forcibly repatriated hundreds of Chinese sailors who had been recruited for the Merchant Navy. Their sudden departure had a devastating effect on families left behind, like that of Yvonne Foley.

“You’re just like your father,” Yvonne’s mother exclaimed, “always arguing, trying to change the world.”

The nine-year-old was confused. That sounded nothing like her father.

“I mean your Shanghai father,” her mother insisted.

Who? Yvonne was momentarily baffled, but then put it to the back of her mind.

Two years later, in 1957, the subject came up again. This time her mother, Grace, wanted to tell her more.

The man Yvonne had been calling “Dad” was not her biological father. Instead her birth father was Nan Young, a Chinese ship engineer her mother had met in Liverpool in 1943…

Read the entire article here.

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Children of the banished dragon

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2012-05-18 19:24Z by Steven

Children of the banished dragon

The Daily Post
Liverpool, England

Lew Baxter

Lew Baxter reports on a shameful episode after World War II when Chinese sailors who had risked their lives for Britain were deported back to China, many leaving behind distraught British wives and children.

Even 60 years later, tears and trauma trail in the wake of a callous official decision to forcibly repatriate hundreds of Chinese seamen who helped crew the British merchant fleets on the dangerous Atlantic wartime convoys ensuring the country’s vital lifeline.

Hundreds of other Chinese sailors lost their lives in those bitterly cold waters.

As a result of Home Office policy of the time, families were broken up and many of the British-born wives and children left behind became destitute, some women even thought of suicide as a way out of their misery. Others remarried and tried to forget the past. Many believed their husbands had deserted them and, for years, explained away their embarrassment by claiming they had drowned at sea.

The truth is much harsher and more brutal.

From October 1945 to July 1946, hundreds of Chinese sailors were rounded up, largely in Liverpool—quite a few at night by crack squads of police led by Special Branch—and repatriated. In reality, almost 5,000 were sent back to China under specially altered directives that affected their landing rights.

Their children—at least 450—were told little of their fathers, or that they were dead or had left, others were adopted by strangers who knew nothing of their background. Their early lives were cloaked in mystery and confusion.

Today the story of these perfidious and shabby deeds has been unearthed by the tenacity of a small number of these lost children of the Chinese dragons.

A memo locked away for decades in the Public Record Office in Kew—amongst a fascinating archive that reveals the shocking depth and extent of the iniquity—dated November 9 1945 reads: “I am directed by the Secretary of State to say that, with the ending of the war against Japan, deportation to China is likely to become possible before long and the Ministry of Transport will shortly be making available transport for the repatriation of Chinese now in this country.”

Many of the men had settled in Britain after “doing their duty” and had married local girls, particularly in Liverpool. There were hundreds of Eurasian children from these relationships and most of these sailors from Shanghai, Ningbo, Hong Kong and even Singapore assumed they had a right to remain in the country they had defended…

…It was the same mission that drove Yvonne Foley, who first learned of the facts after the BBC documentary and she became determined to trace her own background.

“My interest was stirred by that programme and I met Keith. We agreed to help each other. He gave me the names of others and there are now about nine of us. We have called ourselves the Dragons of the Pool,” says Yvonne, who has actually lived in Hong Kong and visited China many times. In many ways, the “dragons” are now a family forged out of a shared heartache.

In the wake of these post war deportations came awful distress and even attempted suicides amongst broken, distraught families: women who had no idea where their men had gone, some believing they had deserted them while generations of children never knew their fathers or their true bloodlines. Official records show that more than 230 married Chinese sailors were given no choice or chance to say goodbye to loved ones…

Read the entire article here or here.

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Eurasians: The First British Born Chinese?

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2012-05-18 18:04Z by Steven

Eurasians: The First British Born Chinese?

DimSum: The British Chinese community website

Yvonne Foley

I am a Eurasian.  I am the daughter of an English mother and a Shanghai father.  In traditional Chinese culture, having a Chinese father, I am regarded as being Chinese.

I am part of a community that has been around for over 100 years.  We pre-date by many decades what many people seem to think is the point at which Britains’ Chinese community came into being.  The 1950s, when people from Hong Kong’s New Territories started to come to the UK.

Our fathers’ origins

Chinese men started to settle down in Britain in the last years of the nineteenth century. Right from the start they seemed to have few problems in getting partners amongst the working class girls of the cities in which they settled. Not very surprising when up to World War Two and even beyond it marriage for a young woman could mean violence and the most desperate poverty.  John Chinaman, as he was called at the time, was clean, sober, hard working and a good father. And, of course, more often than not he was quite a handsome man!

But where did these men come from?  For many, the answer they gave to any official who asked was ‘Hong Kong’. But that tells us little.  A Chinese seaman had to take an English language test – unless he was from Hong Kong.  So there were few who were prepared to say that they were not from Hong Kong unless they had confidence in their English language skills!  Where they were actually from ranged from Hainan Island to Fukien and Tientsin.  But since Shanghai was by far the most important commercial city in China and its major port, it seems that many were recruited there and in the nearby city of Ningbo

Read the entire article here. For more information about Liverpool’s early Chinese Community, see http://www.halfandhalf.org.uk

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