faulogo chinese textFAU China Convoy Reunion Group

China Convoy

July 1941 - May 1942
May 1942 - Feb 1945
Feb 1945 - Jan 1951

Transport Work
Medical Services
Recon & Rehab
Wartime China
Lest we forget
July 1941 – May 1942
By late 1940 the Sino-Japanese war had been raging for three years and the impact on the civilian population had been devastating. An approach to the International Red Cross to provide ambulances and trained personnel for relief work in Western China was eventually received positively in late 1940.

The first forty China Convoy volunteers undertook extra training in motor mechanics and Mandarin Chinese. In May 1941 an advance party of four set out by ship from Glasgow, after their first ship had been bombed off the Ayrshire coast. Arriving in Burma in July, Selby Clewer, Theo Willis, Henry Rodwell and Peter Tennant began organising the supply route from Rangoon up the Burma Road to Kunming in Yunnan Province.

This party was followed by further groups of four to six men, taking around six weeks to sail either around Africa to India or via the Panama Canal to Singapore and thence to Rangoon.

Trucks initially supplied proved too long for the narrow hairpin bends and too wide for the streets of the towns of Western China and were swapped for US army trucks. These were converted and fitted with a workshop, an operating theatre and an x-ray unit.

This phase was brought to a swift and abrupt halt in early 1942 following the Japanese invasion of Burma. Unit members were among the last to leave Rangoon on the 7th March, four hours before the Japanese arrived, after assembling trucks from transport crates on the dockside and salvaging what equipment, fuel and medical supplies they could.

The main body of the FAU men got out up the Burma Road and into Yunnan. Stanley Macintosh became separated from the others as did Pip Egerton, who was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese but soon escaped. Separately they each lead groups of assorted refugees on foot safely into China. Seven members of an FAU Mobile Surgical Team led by Dr Handley Laycock made it out into southern Assam with the main remnants of the British forces and fleeing civilians, providing medical assistance as the ragged evacuation trudged west.

Another Unit team attached itself to the mobile field hospital of American Baptist Dr Gordon Seagrave, “the Burma Surgeon”, with his team of Burmese nurses. This group joined the remnants of the staff of Lt Gen. Joseph Stilwell, US commander of Allied forces in Burma. All 114 in the party led by Stilwell managed to survive the 140 mile journey by raft and on foot across the Chindwin River and over the 7,000 ft Naga Hills into India, with FAU members acting as stretcher bearers for the sick and exhausted.
Tending wounded

Martin Davies (standing) and Nurse Lulu (second right) tend Chinese wounded as part of Seagrave's field hospital team.

Walkout o burma

Walkout of Burma, Lt General Joseph W. Stillwell leads the way.