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LETTER FROM CHINA: Hospital bombed

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each day during Baptist Press’ coverage of the Beijing Olympics, we are publishing a letter from a Southern Baptist missionary who served in China during the years before the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949. Some of the letters reveal these missionaries’ great love for the people of China; others provide glimpses into what life was like for an American living abroad in the 19th century. We hope the collection helps Southern Baptists capture the passion of these great souls and understand the sacrifices they made so the good news of God’s love could be taken to what was, for them, the ends of the earth. The letter below was written by Bill Wallace, who served in China from 1935 to 1951, in the aftermath of a July 1939 Japanese aerial attack on Wuchow, China.

WUCHOW, China — Dear Dr. Maddry,

Now that the heavy rush of caring for the wounded is over, I have time to write you in more detail. We were bombed July 26th at one o’clock p.m. Eighteen planes took part in the raid. The hospital was bombed as follows:

1) One direct hit over the flat concrete roof of the left wing of the hospital. Ward No. 8, penetrating on the roof.

2) One direct hit over the concrete roof of the right wing. This is on the roof of the room used as a Sunday school room on the fifth floor, penetrating only the roof.

3) One bomb at the edge of the porch on the south end of the right wing. Exact spot as the other bombing, doing about the same damage as before to the foundation.

4) One bomb exploded in the trees between the water pump house and the hospital. The fragments shattered the operating room windows and doors and cabinets, also some damage to Green house.

5) One bomb in the hospital yard on the southeast side of the clinic. Fragments shattered clinic doors and windows and sprayed the clinic walls.

At the time of the bombing, we had 120 patients in the hospital, about 40 of this number stayed on in the hospital after the bombing. None of the patients or the staff were killed or injured; one outside man was killed in the basement. We received 80 wounded into the hospital. None of our staff have left. In fact three student nurses who left last year returned immediately after the bombing.

We have just finished cleaning out the morgue this morning. There were 20 bodies to take care of. The staff is carrying on in a fine shape and the morale is good and the hospital is running as normal as possible. We got our water pump working again this morning. There are many windows and doors to be repaired. Most of the damage to the roof this time was on the concrete part. About the main roof over the chapel, only the tiles are broken; the chapel inside is shattered up pretty bad. The X-ray machine is not damaged.

We have workmen repairing the hospital already. I am going to put a shelter over the holes in the concrete roof. After repairing the tiles over the fifth floor and general cleaning up, we will be able to use all five floors again. The first, second and third floors are already occupied with patients.

We have 20 nurses. The church is doing fine work feeding and caring for the homeless.

Most all of this end of the city is bombed and burned. We praise God for his protection, take courage and carry on.

Very truly yours,
William L. Wallace MD
July 30 1939

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  • Bill Wallace