Denise Wynne (left) and Leone Coyff, daughter and granddaughter of Dennis Morley, the late British survivor rescued by Chinese fishermen from a sinking Japanese cargo ship in World War II, show on Friday the letter of reply from President Xi Jinping at a documentary screening session in London, the United Kingdom. (PHOTO BY XING YI / CHINA DAILY)
To commemorate the 77th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) and the World Anti-Fascist War, a screening of Asia-Pacific War Crimes Trials was held in London on Friday.
The award-winning documentary has been broadcast in China and the United States, and this was the first time it's been officially premiered in the United Kingdom by its producer SMG Documentary Center and its co-organizer, The Media Pioneers, a UK production and distribution company.
With nearly 100 people in attendance, including descendants of veterans of World War II, the screening showed one episode detailing Japanese atrocities, the inhumane transportation of Allied prisoners of war in the Pacific and how Chinese fishermen saved them from sinking ships.
With nearly 100 people in attendance, including descendants of veterans of World War II, the screening showed one episode detailing Japanese atrocities, the inhumane transportation of Allied prisoners of war in the Pacific and how Chinese fishermen saved them from sinking ships
Yu Guo, first secretary at the culture office of the Chinese embassy in the UK, said in a video message that he's glad to see Shanghai Media Group and The Media Pioneers work together to bring this documentary to British audiences.
"Humanity shines in the darkest time, and this part of history should be remembered," Yu said.
The documentary interviewed Dennis Morley, the last British survivor rescued by Chinese fishermen from a Japanese cargo ship, the Lisbon Maru, which was sunk by Allied forces off Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, in 1942.
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A musician of the second battalion of the Royal Scottish Regiment, then 22-year-old Morley was one of the prisoners held on the Lisbon Maru. He was lucky to escape the sinking ship after it was torpedoed by a submarine.
Seeing the prisoners jump into the water, Japanese soldiers opened fire on them.
"It was a Chinese fisherman that changed everything. When they came out, the Japanese saw them, and that was it. That was when they (Chinese fishermen) started picking us up," Morley said in the documentary when he was interviewed in 2019.
Morley died of complications from COVID-19 in January, but his daughter, Denise Wynne, traveled from Chalford to London to attend the screening.
"I felt overwhelmed and honored to come and watch the premiere, it is my first time seeing it on the big screen," said Wynne, with tears in her eyes.
"If it wasn't for the Chinese fishermen, the Japanese would continue shooting those who escaped from the sinking ship, so I suggest building a memorial for the people who died in the incident and also the fishermen who saved lives," she said.
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Earlier this year, Wynne wrote to President Xi Jinping expressing her gratitude to the Chinese people for the heroic rescue, and her firm support for the friendship between the two countries.
At the event on Friday, Wynne brought a letter of reply which she received last week. In the letter, the president encouraged family members of the survivors to further work on the advancement of the bilateral friendship as this year marks the 50th anniversary of ambassadorial-level diplomatic relations between China and the UK.
Brian Finch, translator of the book A Faithful Record of the Lisbon Maru Incident, said in a panel discussion after the screening, "Remember is the word that I'd like to say to recommend the documentary to my friends－remembering what those people suffered and how people went out of their way to save lives."
Leone Coyff, a granddaughter of Morley, said a memorial for the Lisbon Maru was built in the National Memorial Arboretum in Britain in October. "We'd like to see a twin memorial being replicated in Zhoushan for future generations to visit and remember the past."
In a tablet Wynne brought with her, she saved many photos of local Chinese in Zhoushan performing a commemoration at the shore and on ships.
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"If my health allows, I would love to travel to Zhoushan to meet the families of the fishermen when the memorial is built," the 73-year-old said.