A Brick from Lunghua's G Block
This all started in the Fall of 2008. I was cruising the web, following up on some JGB alerts, and I came across a blog written by one Greg Baines, a resident teacher at Shanghai High School, formerly known as Lunghua Civilian Assembly Centre. Greg had reported that the building formerly known as G Block, where Ballard and his family were interned from 1942-1945, had recently been knocked down to make way for a new swimming pool. I figured JGB would have liked that. I got in touch with Greg and he kindly offered to collect a brick for me and arrange to have it mailed to Canada.
Greg and his son Lyam on the (former) G Block site.
Alas, the best-laid plans. After wrapping it up and taking it to the post office to find out how much money I needed to send for postage, Chinese officials deemed the brick "dangerous" and refused to accept it for mailing. Thick as... Ever resourceful, we decided to try a courier. Yes, they'll ship it. Ordering from Canada is a rat's nest of bureaucratic blather, though, and things look complicated until we find a shipper who will do it COD. Hey presto. Four days later my little piece of Lunghua history arrived. I put it on the bookcase beside Empire of the Sun.
Greg was also kind enough to include a letter of provenance:
Greg also sent a number of fascinating pictures of what the old camp looks like today. To get a better idea of where these buildings are, here's a link to a large map of Lunghua drawn in 1945 by youthful internee Irene Duguid.
Here is G Block before it was demolished. Not how I might have imagined the building, but you have to remember during the war there would be no trees or hedges to soften the lines.
Two views for F Block, the camp's main entrance building. A Japanese flag would have flown in the area now used as a flower bed. When I visited the site in 2007, this was as far into the camp as the Chinese officials would allow me.
Two views of the school's central Assembly Hall. Irene's internee map shows this structure right behind the main entrance building as "Assembly Hall" (Number 2), which appears to have a garden in front of it (see next photo).
This is the area beside the large hall. During the war it was used as a vegetable garden.
Greg reports "this is in between E and D Blocks, and is a really old building. I'm not sure why it wasn't drawn on the school map, perhaps an oversight?" Block D is north of this building, and this photo was taken from the south and from behind Block E. This building looks very similar to Block D but is half as large.
The yellow building is very close to where G Block stood. It was constructed after the war, but done in imitation of the older buildings.
This is the grounds next to the present school theatre. At the time of the camp this would have been a garden area.
This is the road that runs across the north of the camp. Most of the roads on the map are still as is, but have been paved with cobble stones. This shot is of the north road running across the map toward the gate in the north east. Its near where the old kitchen would have been.
And another shot of the brick.