The Chinese Community Centre-Birmingham has announced that it will stage the first exhibition about the Chinese Labour Corps in the West Midlands in February 2019, coinciding with Chinese New Year.

In November 2018, Britain commemorated the end of World War I with events across the country. One group that has been consistently overlooked is the Chinese Labour Corps (CLC) – volunteers from mainland China who were sent by the Chinese government to support the British and French armies on the Western Front. While hostilities ceased in November 1918 and troops returned home, the CLC remained behind to clear battlefield debris into 1919 with the final units not leaving until September 1920, almost two years after armistice.

Their contribution was never acknowledged in Britain until a campaign to recognise the CLC began in 2013.  Since then, a number of projects have taken place and the Chinese Community Centre-Birmingham (CCC-B) is bringing together elements from Ming Ai Institute’s ‘British Chinese Armed Forces Heritage’ exhibition which commemorates the CLC in WWI and the Hong Kong British Army Aid Group in WWII together with artefacts from the Chinese in Britain Forum’s ‘Ensuring We Remember’ campaign under the title ‘Chinese Labour Corps: the forgotten men of World War I’.

The full exhibition will be on display at CCC-B from 1st – 8th February 2019. After this, selected items will go on display in the Spotlight Zone of the Library of Birmingham from 11 February-1st March.

Chief Executive Anna Yim says: “CCC-B is excited to be working with other Chinese organisations that have undertaken significant research and produced excellent materials including exhibitions on the Chinese Labour Corps.  We have been able to draw on our good relationship with the Library of Birmingham to secure the exhibition space and facility for a panel discussion on 27th February to highlight these works in the second city. 

We have brought the exhibition to Birmingham so that Chinese and non-Chinese communities in the West Midlands can learn about the vital contribution of the CLC in the war efforts of Britain and her allies.”

The exhibition and talk are free to attend.