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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 June 2021
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.
This research is funded by All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese of China (17BZQK213).
1 The National Archives at Kew (hereafter NA), AIR 395/1, Operation Record Book, RAF Liaison Office Chinese EFTS, 3 Dec. 1945.
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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.
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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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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.
34 NA, FO 371/4303, Memorandum from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the British Embassy, 15 Aug. 1944.
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46 NA, AIR 23/7646, Concerning ‘Observation from RAF Point of View’, 1 Aug. 1945.
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52 NA, AIR 23/7646, from O. C. RAF, Liaison Office, CEFTS, Walton to the Commandant, IDCAFCS, 5 Sept. 1944.
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