What may be the sole surviving Chinese eyewitness account of the Allied invasion of Normandy endures in the form of a diary found in a ramshackle apartment in Hong Kong’s Sai Ying Pun.
Discovered by professional history enthusiast Kelvin Hang Yun-kuen, the diary is reportedly that of naval commander Lam Ping-yu. Although not personally among the literal landing party, Lam witnessed it all from on board the HMS Ramillies on the June 6, 1944. SCMP reports that Lam’s personal account offers invaluable insight into one of the most significant events in Chinese history — the country’s involvement in the European theatre of World War II and the nation’s help in defeating Nazi Germany.
Here is what Lam wrote on June 5, 1944:
In the morning, [we all] gathered at the hall of officers, and were briefed the details of the mission … The objective is to cover the landing of ground forces and open the second front.
At around 9pm, everyone was at their position, and was expected to arrive at the spot where we would bombard the shore. The minesweepers would clear the way for the fleet.
According to Lam, even such a war-zone as D-Day didn’t entail the disruption of food service on board a British military vessel. After the ship’s narrow escape of three torpedoes, Lam reported:
Meals were served as usual even when the fighting was ongoing, bread, sausage and canned beef, and [they] didn’t forget about afternoon tea.
China spent much time and energy earlier this year commemorating the 70th anniversary of its victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression; however, around the globe, China’s role in World War II is often downplayed. This is yet another interesting reminder of just how global those world wars were.
By Pinky Latt