Stranger In My Heart

By Mary Monro

Retracing her father’s heroic escape across China in World War Two leads his daughter on a gripping voyage of discovery about him, China and, inevitably, herself.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas 1942!

My Christmas holidays will include finalising the draft - the editor is pleased with what I have done so far and there are just a few loose ends to tidy up. I thought I'd share Dad's experience of Christmas from 1942, a year after the surrender of Hong Kong, when he was in Chongqing and being entertained by the President of China, Chiang Kai-shek:

“On Christmas day the Ambassador had a lunch party and in the afternoon I went to a tea party given by the Generalissimo [Chiang Kai-shek] to all ranks of the allied forces serving in Chungking. It was held in the auditorium of the National Military Council. At one end of the room there was a stage with an altar, or at any rate a table with a candle at each end, over which was hung a picture of the Nativity. On the bare whitewashed walls were painted life-size pictures. That on the right depicted the wise men with the camels approaching Bethlehem; on the left a Chinese soldier with Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin and the other leaders of the United Nations [the UN had been created by President Roosevelt on New Year’s Day 1942] trampled on the prostrate bodies of Hitler, Mussolini and the Mikado.

“When the Generalissimo arrived we all stood up. The Chinese national anthem was played after which we all sang a Christmas carol. The Europeans and Americans sang in English and the Chinese in Chinese. This is not quite as bad as it sounds as the Chinese translation has the same metre and is sung to the same tune as the original. This was followed by a speech from the Generalissimo, after which we had some more carols and a Christmas play in 4 acts performed by young Chinese children. It was extremely well done. It was accompanied by carols appropriate to the scenes enacted, sung by a Chinese choir in rear of the stage. I think the children must have enjoyed best the scene depicting the shepherds and their flocks. They had most lifelike sheep, though they had some difficulty driving them off the stage. Their masks were difficult to see out of and they had to be driven carefully past the trees on the stage. In the finale the back curtain was raised to reveal the choir waving the flags of the United Nations. A curious ending.

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