Huang Tingxin. RIP.

Discussion in 'Memorials & Cemeteries' started by CXX, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. CXX

    CXX New Member

    Huang Tingxin, who has died aged about 91, was the last surviving Chinese naval officer to have served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

    In 1942 Chiang Kai Shek, the Chinese nationalist leader, asked the Admiralty from his capital in Chungking for help in strengthening his navy in its War of Resistance against the Japanese (1937-45). The Admiralty agreed to train his officers. About 250 candidates were examined, and Huang – a native of Anhui province who had graduated from the naval academy in Qingdao, Shandong province, in the late 1930s – was one of only 24 young officers eventually selected to travel via India to Britain.

    Internal rivalry between Cantonese and Fukienese elements in the Chinese National Navy meant that Huang did not arrive in London until late 1943, when he began six months' training at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

    In March the following year he was appointed under training to the escort carrier Searcher, in which he was employed as watchkeeping officer. Over the next two months Searcher took part in Operation Tungsten, the Fleet Air Arm attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in Altenfjord, Norway; and in May she was part of Operations Croquet and Hoops, raids on enemy shipping off the Norwegian coast.

    By early June Searcher was deployed to provide anti-submarine air cover for convoys in the North-West approaches. Huang, recalling hearing on the wireless on June 6 that the Allies had landed in Normandy, said: "All of us were overjoyed at the news, but we didn't feel completely relieved until our escort mission ended." He modestly told the Chinese press: "My part on the ship was not much," but added proudly that "one of my comrades showered thousands of artillery shells on the Nazi defences".

    In August Huang saw action more directly when Searcher took part in Operation Dragoon, the Allied landings in southern France.

    In January 1945 he went back to Greenwich to attend sub-lieutenants' courses, and three years later – shortly before China became a communist state – returned to his home country. He served for a decade in the Chinese navy and later taught English, and looked after the library, at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

    In 2006 Huang received the French Légion d'honneur in recognition of his wartime service, an accolade accorded to fewer than 200 of his countrymen. He dedicated his medal to his former comrades.

    Huang Tingxin died on November 11 and is survived by his three children. During the Cultural Revolution he remained silent about his life in the navy, but when he was confined to bed by Parkinson's disease he started to dictate his wartime memories to his son, Huang Shansong.

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