WW1 Photos Centenary Website: 2014-2018 By Paul Reed

War Horses: A Chinese Labour Corps Team

The use of horses and horse transport by the Chinese Labour Corps is not something widely considered but this image shows two types of such transport in use in 1919. On the left is an Army Service Corps Water Cart and on the right a General Service Wagon. In both cases the driver of the vehicle is from the Army Service Corps but they both have CLC in the cab with them.

One can only speculate on the circumstances of this photograph but it was taken in 1919 and in the rear background is a road sign which points to the village of Roisel. Roisel is on the Somme and was the scene of fighting in August 1918. At the time this image was taken the CLC were being employed in this area to bury the dead and clear the area of unexploded ordnance. It is therefore likely that these War Horses and their masters were being employed in such work and were part of a team roving the Somme battlefields at this time.

2 responses

  1. This is an aspect of the war which I have found isn’t very well covered, most books finish at 11am on 11/11/18.
    I remember reading a book while visiting the somme in 1999 which mentioned how the work by the CLC was done, especially around finding makeshift graves and concentrating them into the CGWC cemeteries (which i have since forgotten the title of), I had an interest in how much effort was put in after hostilities had ceased, sceptical about the amount of effort the government went to inorder to find and give the dead a known resting place.

    Can anyone point me in the direction of more information on this topic? Or even suggest any books which give it more than a passing remark?

    thanks!

    14/03/2012 at 09:10

    • The Chinese Laborer Corps also played an important role with the Forestry Regiments, British, French and American. They were responsible for loading wood that the regiment loggers harvested for war production from the French forests. Interestingly, the CLC also played an important role later in the communist regime. Up until the laborer force went to Europe, common laborers were looked down upon. They returned from the war as national heroes. Suddenly, being a common laborer was seen in a much more positive light-paving the way for the communist party to take hold. The “workers” uniform of the communist party was modeled after those worn by the Chinese Laborer Corps. There is an excellent book that is in Chinese with English translation about the Chinese Laborer Corps. It was produced in conjunction with an exhibition about them that debuted in China. The book looks at the political climate, the contribution made by the CLC to the shaping of Chinese politics and sheds light on how the western treatment of China after the war led to the rise of the communist party. The book is: Over There; The Pictorial Chronicle of Chinese Laborer Corps in the Great War. It is published by; Shangdon Pictorial Publishing House.

      15/03/2012 at 17:47

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