Cemetery for US "Flying Tigers" found in China

Updated: 2007-08-30 21:21

KUNMING -- Researchers have found in Southwest China a cemetery built during the Second World War where about 300 air warriors of the US squadron "Flying Tigers" were buried.

The cemetery lies in the woods in Puzhao village in the northeastern suburbs of Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, said Sun Guansheng, head of the Yunnan Flying Tigers Research Association.

About 300 Flying Tigers members and 500 Chinese airmen were buried in the cemetery when it was first built near a nunnery in the village in 1943. The cemetery was moved to the current site in 1949, according to Sun.

"Many people came to pay their respect to the air warriors before it was moved. However, few people are coming at present," Sun quoted local elder villagers as saying.

Many tombs have sunk decades after they were built, and the cemetery as a whole lacks due protection, Sun said, adding that the association has called on the local government to repair and protect the cemetery.

On August 1,1941, the American Volunteer Group, nicknamed Flying Tigers afterwards, was formed under the leadership of US General Claire Lee Chennaults to help China drive out the invading Japanese troops.

The airmen, whose planes were painted with shark teeth, were known in China as "Fei Hu" (Flying Tigers) for their courage.

According to the research of Sun's association, 2,264 US "Flying Tigers" members and more than 900 Chinese airmen who fought along with them devoted their lives in the war against fascists.

Between December 1941 and September 1945, the Flying Tigers shot down and blew up 2,600 Japanese military planes, destroyed 44 warships and killed 66,700 Japanese soldiers.

Chinese and American air forces also opened the famous Camel Peak Aviation Route across the Himalayas, the so-called "death route," to deliver urgently needed military supplies to support China's war of resistance against Japanese aggression.

More than 2,000 planes from China and the United States were used in the heroic flights, which succeeded in delivering 730, 000 tons of goods to 33,477 military personnel and recorded a flying time totaling 1.5 million hours.

In order to commemorate the heroes, China built the Monument to the Aviator Martyrs in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression in August 1995 in the eastern city of Nanjing. Names of more than 3,000 martyrs, including 870 Chinese, 2,186 Americans and 236 former Soviet Union soldiers, are inscribed on the monument in Chinese, English and Russian.

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