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No one in the streets paid any attention to them as they marched past. These soldiers had no bands or drums to cheer them, no girls to throw them flowers or give them cigarettes. All the pageantry of war familiar in the West was absent in China. At night the Bund was crowded with the soldiers sleeping side by side sprawled out upon the scanty grass or the hard pavement, their rifles stacked at intervals and watched over by a sentry. The gay life of the city to defend which they were going to give their lives was unknown to these peasant boys, or to the junior officers who slept alongside them.

We had a strenuous time after airraids getting backwards and forwards to see the damage, first in Hankow itself, then over in Hanyang and then across on D 33 THE WUHAN CITIES the ferry to Wuchang. It would take hours to get from place to place in rickshaws and sampans and on foot. In Hanyang, clustered along the waterfront and back towards the ancient arsenal, the bombs fell almost as frequently as in Wuchang, and the poorest section of Hankow opposite was hit over and over again. Wuchang, built around Serpent Hill, and surrounded by a seven-mile wall which had been partially demolished in I 926, had 500,ooo inhabitants before the airraids began, and was the largest of the Wuhan cities.

Here old men and women and young mothers sat upon straw mats with babies and young children, thin, sad, hopeless in their misery, and many of them sick. I questioned one young woman who lay, very ill, upon a mat with a tiny baby beside her.

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China at War by Freda Utley


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