The famous Flying Tigers of World War II, with over 200 members from this small town in the south of the Ridge!109
Although more than 70 years have passed, the name of the Flying Tigers still rings a bell. This famous Air Force volunteer team was officially established on 1 August 1941 and has since undergone several reorganisations, writing a glorious page in the history of World War II.
"General Chennault", "Hump Route", "Yunnan-Burma Highway", "American GIs", "warplanes painted with the Flying Tiger or Shark's Mouth logo" have all become our memories of this US Air Force volunteer brigade, but in fact, over the years, we have more or less overlooked a very important point, that is, about 90% of the members of the Flying Tigers led by General Chennault were Chinese Americans, most of whom were descendants of Chinese from Taishan, Enping, Kaiping and other places in the US, and the most of them were Taishan children.
In fact, only a small proportion of the Flying Tigers were pilots, most of them were mechanics and ground crew because behind every pilot who fought in the skies were 30 to 40 ground crew members, all of whom made indelible contributions to the victory of the war against Japan. The descendants of these "Jinshanbao", in a time of crisis for their country and the nation, joined the army and returned to their homeland to fight and kill the enemy and even died in battle, and we should not forget this part of history.
In 1943, more than 1,300 Chinese Americans in their twenties were sent to China to support the US 14th Air Force, most of them from the overseas Chinese community of Jiangmen, especially the Taishan people.
Let's go to the scenic Shihuashan Park in Taishan and begin our search for this once legendary and glorious piece of history, now forgotten by most.
There are not many tourists on the lush green paths, so it's perfect to cycle around the reservoir or stroll through the greenery.
But the purpose of my visit to Shihuashan today was not to take a leisurely stroll or cycle around the reservoir but to find a pavilion and a pagoda and trace a piece of history that is gradually being lost.
There are few preserved relics of the Flying Tigers' history today, including an SDU memorial in Zhejiang, Hunan, where the SDU was surrendered during the war, a few relics in Kunming, Yunnan, and Guilin, Guangxi, where the SDU fought, and a pavilion and plaque in Taishan, Guangdong, where the largest number of SDU members lived.
In World War II, the SDU's initial mission was to fight directly against Japan and defend the Yunnan-Burma Highway, known as the "blood vessel of the war effort", and later to transport war supplies on the "Humpback Route".
In particular, the "Hump Route", also known as the "Death Route", was used by the Chinese and American air forces to transport 800,000 tonnes of much-needed supplies and 33,477 personnel to the Chinese war effort for more than three years, and the flight over the "Hump Route" has been described as a world-famous feat by the Chinese and American forces in the history of World War II.
In 1991, 10 veteran members of the Flying Tigers, led by former Flying Tigers Captain Liang Bingcong, returned to Taishan and built the Flying Tigers Memorial Pavilion at the foot of the Shihua Mountain in Taichung. The pavilion is a 9-metre high pavilion with hexagonal double eaves, covered with yellow and green glazed tiles, with the "Flying Tigers" emblem painted on the upper eaves.
A granite monument is erected in the centre of the pavilion. Designed by Mr Liang Bingcong himself, the monument is unadorned, with simple lines and a generous shape that resembles the life of a member of the Flying Tigers.
The inscription reads: The Flying Tigers under the command of General Chennault never flew more than 500 planes, but destroyed thousands of Japanese enemy planes, contributing to the ultimate victory of World War II.
The side of the monument bears the symbol of the Flying Tigers, which once terrorised the enemy.
Remember the names of the 10 Chinese American veterans of the 14th Air Force who donated money to build the Flying Tiger Pavilion.
In 2006, the Taishan government erected a "Flying Tiger Pavilion Monument" next to the Flying Tiger Pavilion, which reads: "The name of this pavilion is the flying Tiger Pavilion, in commemoration of the 'American 14th Air Force' of the Anti-Japanese War. The pavilion was named "Flying Tiger" in honour of the 14th Air Force of the United States during the War of Resistance against Japan. It is also known as the 'Flying Tigers' because of the 'Flying Tiger' emblem. Ninety per cent of the members of the 'Flying Tigers' were of Chinese descent, with the majority being from Taishan ......"
Next to the Flying Tiger Pavilion is the Flying Tiger Spring, where the water gurgles and the name of the heroes live on.
In 1994, veteran Chinese Americans and family members of the former 14th Air Force of the United States Air Force built a memorial pavilion in front of the pavilion, which is one of the few memorial buildings for the Flying Tigers in mainland China.
On the stone pillars on either side of the pavilion is a couplet with the word "Flying Tigers", the first couplet reads, "Flying into China and Burma, Asia's might is shaken", and the second couplet reads, "Tigers chasing Japanese invaders, the world is famous".
"More than 70 years have passed and the vast majority of the former Flying Tigers have withered away, General Chennault has long since become a legend, the Flying Tigers have long since become a piece of history, and General Chennault's wife, Ms Chen Xiangmei, passed away on 30 March 2018.
In addition to the Flying Tiger Pavilion and pagoda at Shihuashan, there is also a former residence of Flying Tiger member Ye Songxiang in Tianjin Village, Shui Bu Town.
He spent his childhood here as a Chinese pilot in the Flying Tigers. He was the navigator of a heavy aircraft, the "Air Fortress", and was awarded the title of "Air Combat Hero" by the US Air Force Headquarters for his work with his comrades in shooting down many enemy planes over Burma.
Why did the largest number of Chinese soldiers in the Flying Tigers come from the Taishan diaspora? In 1942, Yu Xinxian, who led a team of technicians employed by the United States Army, was a key figure in the formation of the 14th Air Ground Support Group, and when the group was first formed, he asked his men to agree to join the Flying Tigers. Inspired by this, Yu's three cousins, Yu Xinzhen, Yu Xinlun and Yu Xinwei, joined the Flying Tigers one after another. The family of four Flying Tigers became a legendary story. In addition to this, Yu Xinxian was also responsible for the recruitment of military personnel. Under his leadership, expatriates responded positively and enlisted in the Flying Tigers. At present, there are more than 200 Flying Tigers of Taishan nationalists whose names are known exactly.
"They are the real heroes, they may not have ever flown into the blue sky, nor have they ever come into direct contact with the Japanese, but it is their silent hard work that has made the Flying Tigers famous, so hats off to the heroes