LONDON, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- When Dennis Morley, a survivor of the cargo ship Lisbon Maru, was still around, he would tell his family how self-sacrificing Chinese fishermen, with outstanding courage, rescued British prisoners of war (POWs) during World War II.
"He said if the Chinese fishermen hadn't come, there would have been more carnage, (and) there would have been more prisoners of war shot and killed," his daughter Denise Wynne recalled.
In October 1942, Lisbon Maru, requisitioned by the Japanese army to carry more than 1,800 British POWs from Hong Kong to Japan, was hit by the U.S. army off the Zhoushan Islands in Eastern China.
A total of 843 POWs died, while 384 were rescued by local fishermen. The British officers and soldiers and the British government were deeply grateful for their help.
In a recent letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, Wynne recalled the rescue with gratitude, expressing solid support for an ever-lasting friendship between the British and Chinese people.
When receiving Xi's reply letter in late August, Wynne said she was really honored and very pleased to receive the letter which Xi, despite his tight schedule, wrote personally after reading her letter.
"My father said he owed his life to the Chinese fisherman, and that he wouldn't have been alive and survived the years, (that) he wouldn't have had married, he wouldn't have had many grand-children and great grand-children," said Wynne.
Wynne also expressed the hope of visiting Zhoushan in the near future to meet the families of the fishermen who rushed to the rescue.
"I already have some Chinese friends," said Wynne. "I'm friendly with a young girl who wanted to learn English and I helped her with English and she's now a teacher of English in a Chinese school."
Wynne's friend Brian Finch, who has been committed to collecting the historical documents on Lisbon Maru, was also at the site when Xi's letter arrived. He said that the story of Lisbon Maru contained the very worst and the very best of humanity: the kindness of the Chinese fishermen was absolutely outstanding and unbelievable was the cruelty of the Japanese fascists.
This touching history is worth remembering and the friendship between the Chinese and British people in the fight against fascism should be passed down from generation to generation, said Finch.
Seventy-year-old Hu Yifang, a descendant of Hu Aagou, who participated in the historic rescue, recalled how the fishermen in the Zhoushan Islands risked their lives in the sea to come to the aid of the British POWs.
Hu said his father went out with a sampan and saved eight people in the sea onto the island. The fisherman then almost brought out everything they owned, including food and clothing, to help the British survivors.
On hearing that President Xi has replied to Wynne, Hu said he is proud that his father was involved in that rescue.
"When I learned the news, I told again my children and grandchildren the story of the Lisbon Maru, just as my father had done many times before. I hope my descendants will value and cherish this friendship as much as I do," he said. ■