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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 11 June 15, 1938

Cheng-Chow — Backyards of War


Backyards of War

An ex-student of V.U.C. who is now in Chengchow, writes to New Zealand, We give here some extracts—limited, because of personal references, and also because even "Salient" cannot report ail the tails as a doctor sees them.

Chengchow is an advance hospital—the writer of the letter penetrated six miles behind the Japanese line on a bicycle. The most recent news deals with the Japanese bombing of the railway stations white the wounded were being unloaded.

All or the letters have a realness that comes from being written in moments between operations and reveal the pace or life in a war area—today.

"Well the war is still pursing its course and believe me, my lad, there is no scope in modern war for heroes. The next war is going to be hell warmed up. At 'present, for some reason, despite the statements of the press, there is no poison gas being used though the Chinese are starting to use flame throwers.

Behind the Bombs.

But it's the civilian side of warfare that is really bad. I never thought much of it in theory, but it's true.

There are kids in this hospital—even babies, lacking arms and legs and fathers and mothers."

To substantiate this claim that the "backyards of war" are more terrible than the front lines here is another quotation—from a young New Zealand journalist's letter written from Shanghal:

"In this city are 80,000 refugees. Hundreds of thousands have passed through, many have moved on towards the South, many have died, some have gone truck-loaded to slave-labour in "Japanese" cotton mills—taken over from the Chinese by the invaders—and there's a drift towards the provinces which would be stronger. If so many thousands of harmless villages hadn't been bombed to pieces.

And there are hundreds of thousands too, in the refugee camps. One of these is established in the Chlao Turn, University building. Now the Japanese are taking this as "compensation'" for a Japanese college burnt here during the hostilities.

Fun and Games.

Air raids are fine sport to watch, but it spoils it a bit when you see the subsequent blood and guts. There is a humourous side to the spectacle though. The natives are certainly scared. The alarm is enough to send them all scurrying for [unclear: ogouts] and trenches—one of [unclear: Cahina's] biggest post war problems is going to be the filling in of dugouts as far as I ran see. In one of the [unclear: maps] you can see a corner of the hospital with shrapnel holes from a bomb that was closer than usual. That one, Incidentally, killed a patient who was taking the air and killed a coolie. It also badly frightened the young N.Z, doctor who was in the room on the right.

And the Outome.

I think that one probable termination of this war is a cessation of hostilities after which both parties argue for years as to who really won.

However, expert opinion somewhat disagrees with me. They say that Japan will push on regardless of cost, to occupy Hanchow—at present we are between it and them. They can never hope to subjugate the country parts, but by occupying the towns they can command the revenue. They obviously cannot stop where they are because they've told their own people such a lot of lies.

The, alternative expert opinion, which I prefer, is that Japan will provoke Russia almost, but not quite, to the point of hostilities. She can then save her own face Internationally by withdrawing troops from China to mass on the Soviet border."