As it is the centenary of the formation, recruitment and deployment of the Chinese Labour Corps in WW1 I’ve been putting up the odd post as we move through the year noting highlights of events. If you’re interested just put ‘CLC centenary’ in the search box on this blog and they’ll all come up.
I want to give a quick mention to Hardy Jowett, an old time and long time Pekinger. Hardy Jowett is one of those people who pops up all over the place in China, especially Peking, in the first half of the twentieth century. I have long known him as the man who wrote the introduction to the excellent 1927 guide travel guide Sidelights on Peking Life by Robert W. Swallow. In that introduction Jowett describes himself as an old resident of Peking.
Jowett, from Bradford in Yorkshire, had originally gone to China in 1896 working for S. R. Myers and Co. Ltd., of Colliergate, Bradford. He began mission work in Hankow as a lay worker with the Wesleyan Methodist Society, was ordained and became a missionary.
He sailed with a detachment of the CLC recruits across the Pacific to Canada – when he was nearly 40 (so too old for active service). This means it must have been some time after the dreadful sinking of the Athos (post to come on that) by German submarines – many Chinese drowned in that disaster. The British then stopped using either the Cape of Good Hope or via Suez routes to Europe and opted for the Pacific to Vancouver, train across Canada to Halifax and then a second ship to Europe. This is the route Jowett took. In France he was initially given the rank of Technical Officer and then Second Lieutenant. at the end of the war he transferred to G.H.Q. as a Staff Captain in 1920.
Anyway, he made it through the war, became a colonial official, District Officer and Magistrate, in Weihaiwei for time and then worked for Asiatic Petroleum as their Peking manager till 1933. Along the way he married an artist (Katherine Jowett nee Wheatley – an example of her great block prints below), couple of kids and died, in China, in 1936. His name crops up all the time in research – he was involved in so many things: Rotary Club, Toc H, the China International Famine Relief Commission, the Peiping Institute of Fine Arts, the College of Chinese Studies, the British Chamber of Commerce and the Famine Relief Commission.
Gate of the Rising Sun, Peking – Katherine Jowett