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The Last Hump: The Lahore Elementary Flying Training School, the Chinese Civil War, and the final days of the British Raj

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2021

YIN CAO
Affiliation:
Department of History, Tsinghua University Email: caoyin50@mail.tsinghua.edu.cn
Corresponding

Abstract

This article centres on the evacuation of the Lahore Elementary Flying Training School, which was built in 1943 to train Chinese pilots and mechanics. It details the British and Chinese authorities’ concerns over the school and how the chaotic situation in India during the final days of the British Raj influenced its evacuation back to China. This article locates the story within the broad context of the British withdrawal from India and the Chinese Civil War, and it uses this case to uncover the links between the two most significant events in the history of modern India and China. In so doing, it puts forward an integrated framework for studying modern Indian and Chinese history.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

This research is funded by All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese of China (17BZQK213).

References

1 The National Archives at Kew (hereafter NA), AIR 395/1, Operation Record Book, RAF Liaison Office Chinese EFTS, 3 Dec. 1945.

2 NA, AIR 395/1, Operation Record Book, RAF Liaison Office Chinese EFTS, 10 Dec. 1945.

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7 India in this research refers to British India that includes today's Republic of India, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and the People's Republic of Bangladesh.

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15 Since Lahore was British India territory until 1947, a study of the LEFTS from 1942 to 1946 has been taken as a study of India-China connections rather than Pakistan-China connections. The colonial period refers to the period from the eighteenth century when the British established colonial rule in India to 1947 when British India was partitioned into India and Pakistan (including East Pakistan, today's Bangladesh).

16 The primary sources provided by the LEFTS are mostly British official documents, which only shed light on the British official view on the event. By locating the LEFTS within the broader context of Anglo-China tensions during the Second World War, the chaotic ending of the British Raj, and the Chinese Civil War, and by combining British official documents with Chinese and Indian archives, this study attempts to transcend the national and colonial narratives of an event that is transnational in nature. In so doing, this study contends that the transnationalization of both perspectives and primary sources could be helpful in addressing problems and challenges brought about by the overreliance on national and colonial materials. For the limitations and problems of national and colonial archives, see Stoler, Ann Laura, Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009)Google Scholar.

17 NA, AIR 23/5348, from Ho Yin-ching to Major General J. G. Bruce, 29 June 1942.

18 Zhu Liyang, Zhongguo Kongjun Kangzhan Jiyi (Memories of the Chinese Air Force in the Second Sino-Japanese War) (Hangzhou: Zhejiang Daxue Chubanshe, 2015), pp. 311–313.

19 NA, AIR 23/5348, from Air Vice Marshal T. M. Williams to Group Captain, Staff Office, 11 Aug. 1942.

21 NA, AIR 23/5348, from Air Headquarters, New Delhi to British Military Mission, Chungking, 4 July 1942.

22 NA, AIR 23/5348, from Governor General, New Delhi to Secretary of State for India, London, 4 July 1942.

23 NA, AIR 23/5348, from Air Headquarter, India to Air Attache, Chungking, 11 Jan. 1943.

24 NA, FO 371/25829, from Foreign Office to G. N. Moleworth, India Office, 18 Aug. 1943.

25 NA, FO 371/35829, from British Embassy, Chungking to Minister for Foreign Affairs, Chungking, 29 Jan. 1943.

26 NA, AIR 23/5348, from Group Captain, Staff Officer to Air Vice Marshal T. M. Williams, 19 Nov. 1942.

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28 NA, AIR 23/5348, from Org.1 to Air Vice Marshal T. M. Williams, 1 Aug. 1942.

29 In addition to the 30 Ryan Trainer Aircraft in Allahabad, another 120 trainer aircraft (American-made Boeing Stearman PT-17) in Karachi that were supposed to be transported to China were handed over to the Lahore Elementary Flying Training School in November 1942.

30 NA, AIR 395/1, Operation Record Book, RAF Liaison Office Chinese EFTS, 31 Aug. 1943.

31 Ibid., 27 Nov. 1944.

32 Ibid., 31 July 1944.

33 Ibid., 22 Mar. 1944.

34 NA, FO 371/4303, Memorandum from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the British Embassy, 15 Aug. 1944.

35 NA, AIR 395/1, Operation Record Book, RAF Liaison Office Chinese EFTS, 14 Feb. 1945.

36 Ibid., 4 Oct. 1943.

37 Ibid., 15 Jan. 1944.

38 Ibid., 22 Sept. 1943.

39 Ibid., 8 June 1944.

40 Ibid., 11 Apr. 1944.

41 Ibid., 28 July 1944.

42 Ibid., 16 Sept. 1944.

46 NA, AIR 23/7646, Concerning ‘Observation from RAF Point of View’, 1 Aug. 1945.

49 NA, AIR 23/7646, from Office of the Air Attache British Embassy, Chungking to Wing Commander H. F. Bishop, 6 Oct. 1944.

50 NA, AIR 23/5348, from A. A. Chungking to Air HQ, Delhi, 18 Sept. 1943.

51 NA, AIR 23/5348, from J. G. Bruce to Air Headquarter, New Delhi, 4 July 1942.

52 NA, AIR 23/7646, from O. C. RAF, Liaison Office, CEFTS, Walton to the Commandant, IDCAFCS, 5 Sept. 1944.

53 NA, AIR 395/1, Operation Record Book, RAF Liaison Office Chinese EFTS, 20 Oct. 1945.

54 Academia Historica,Taipei (hereafter AH), Jiangzhongzheng zongtong wenwu, shilue gaoben (Documents of President Chiang Kai-shek, the chronology of the event), 26 Aug. 1945.

55 AH, Jiangzhongzheng zongtong wenwu, gemingwenxian, kanluanshiqi (Documents of President Chiang Kai-shek, documents of the nationalist revolution, the period of the civil war), 14 Sept. 1945.

56 NA, AIR 395/1, Operation Record Book, RAF Liaison Office Chinese EFTS, 12 Oct. 1945.

57 Ibid., 25 Sept. 1945.

58 AH, Jiangzhongzheng zongtong wenwu, kangming huoguo kuojunpanluan, kanzhanshiqi 10 (Documents of President Chiang Kai-shek, the uprisings of the Communists, the period of the War of Resistance 10), 17 Oct. 1945.

59 Ibid., 25 Oct. 1945.

60 AH, Jiangzhongzheng zongtong wenwu, gemingwenxian, guogongxieshang yu gongjunpanluan (Documents of President Chiang Kai-shek, documents of the nationalist revolution, the peace talk and the uprising of the Communists), 26 Oct. 1945.

61 NA, AIR 395/1, Operation Record Book, RAF Liaison Office Chinese EFTS, 1 Oct. 1945.

62 Ibid., 29 Oct. 1945.

63 Ibid., 19 Oct. 1945.

64 Ibid., 5 Nov. 1945.

65 Ibid., 7 Nov. 1945.

66 Ibid., 20 Nov. 1945.

67 Ibid., 18 Nov. 1945.

68 Ibid., 22 Nov. 1945.

69 Ibid., 24 Dec. 1945.

70 Ibid., 2 Jan. 1946.

71 Ibid., 12 Jan. 1946.

72 Ibid., 31 Jan. 1946.

73 Ibid., 1 May 1946.

74 Ibid., 4 May 1946.

75 Ibid., 21 Mar. 1946 and 13 Apr. 1946.

76 Ibid., 27 Feb. 1946.

77 Duncan, David, Mutiny in the RAF: The Air Force Strikes of 1946 (London: Socialist History Society, 1999), pp. 714Google Scholar.

78 Ibid., pp. 8–9.

79 Ibid., pp. 22–23.

80 Ibid., pp. 8–9

81 Ibid., pp. 27–33.

82 Ibid., p. 33.

83 Spence, Daniel Owen, ‘Beyond Talwar: A Cultural Reappraisal of the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny’, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, vol. 43, no. 3, 2015, p. 500CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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85 Indian Office Records (IOR), L/MIL/17/9/379, Report of the RIN Commission of Enquiry, pp. 37–38; Spector, Ronald, ‘The Royal Indian Navy Strike of 1946: A Study of Cohesion and Disintegration in Colonial Armed Forces’, Armed Forces and Society, vol. 7, no. 2, 1981, pp. 271284CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

86 Ibid., pp. 30–35.

87 Ibid., pp. 28–30.

88 NA, ADM 1/21104, from Miles to Admiralty, 14 Jan. 1948.

89 Spence, ‘Beyond Talwar’, pp. 489–508.

90 NA, AIR 395/1, Operation Record Book, RAF Liaison Office Chinese EFTS, 22 Feb. 1946.

91 Ibid., 18 May 1946.

92 Ibid., 7 June 1946.

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