Gong Gong says

This is a posthumous blog of our father's (Lim Kok Ann) life. When our father passed away on 8 March 2003, he left behind an unpublished autobiography. We'd like to celebrate his life by sharing his autobiography through this blog.

"I have dredged these anecdotes from memory just to pass the time; if they amuse my grandchildren their purpose will have been served; if they provide any instruction, it will be a happy coincidence; that they are disjointed is probably to be expected.

Aurora was the name of my grandfather’s house in Kulangsu.   Amoy, where I spent the first five or six years of my life.   I still have vivid memories of events that took place when I was barely three years old.

Lim Kok Ann
October 1996"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

2:8 War with Japan

Chong Eu and I had been making our contribution to the British war effort by giving talks for the British Ministry of Information on the Chinese war effort which was keeping the Japanese busy - so the British thought - thus saving the British from unwelcomed distractions in the Far East. Using material supplied by the China Campaign Committee we gave talks all over the place. and it was not with a little pride, that I referred to “My Uncle Dr. Robert Lim, the Surgeon General of the Chinese Army Red Cross.”

When Madame Chiang Kai Shek went to Washington to appeal for help for China’s war against Japan - “Our war against Japan is also your war,” she said - she was told that that might be so, but look where the aid-money America had given China in the past went to. Finally, it was agreed that the Americans would not give military aid as that might upset the Japanese, but help could be given for humanitarian purposes, for example, the Red Cross in China. Moreover, to ensure that the money given was applied properly, the money given would be channelled through Dr. Robert Lim whom they knew of as a Rockefeller Foundation appointee and whom they trusted. Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek made Robert Lim the Surgeon-General of the Chinese Red Cross, quite an innovation in China, for until then, medical aid for the wounded Chinese soldiers had a low priority.
Stella says: This shows that the American's trusted Robert Lim 's integrity. My father used to relate that in Chiang Kai Shek's army, it was almnost routine for generals and commanders to enrich themselves at the expense of the troops, stripping off and selling all the materials and supplies. But when Robert Lim left his post of Surgeon General of the Red Cross, every ambulance under his command was left with a full complement of spareparts, tires and battery. Robert himself was almost penniless... but his friends and admirers in America get him the job as Professor in Chicago, so he could start a new life in America with his family .. and there they remain to this day!

When in the winter of 1941, Japan thought it was time to launch her own deep-laid plans for expansion, and on December 7, struck at Pearl Harbour (Tora, Tora, Tora), the talks Chong Eu and I gave had a greater urgency. When asked if the Japanese could take Singapore, I confidently claimed that Fortress Singapore could hold-out indefinitely. I pointed out that a land invasion through the jungles of Malaya was not practical, for the invaders would be bombed all the way down the Malay Peninsula. I did not know that the British had few serviceable planes in the area, and that the Japanese would use bicycles to by-pass attempts to set up blockades. According to Churchill’s Memoirs he was just as surprised as I was that Singapore was unable to hold out for long.

Footnote: Tora, Tora, Tora’, Japanese for ‘Tiger, Tiger, Tiger’, was the code-word radioed back by the attacking bombers at Pearl Harbour to report that complete surprise had been achieved.


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