‘Finding Wee Paddy’ is a new documentary that has its first showing on 21 October at the Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast. It tells the story of the relocation of the grave of Rifleman Patrick McGowan, Royal Ulster Rifles, who was killed by a Japanese aircraft while on patrol in Shanghai on 24 October 1937. Some of the photographs used come from the Malcolm Rosholt Collection, and the producers have been able to provide additional details we did not previously have for one set of photographs which showed a group of five Riflemen at their sandbagged Lewis Gun post.
Three of these men were killed by Japanese action, when shells landed nearby. James Mellon, manning the Lewis Gun; William Christopher Howard in the front row with a stick; and shirtless Robert Delaney. All were buried in the Bubbling Well Cemetery on 1 November, alongside Rifleman Joseph O’Toole, who was killed elsewhere the same day.
The fate of British War Graves in China, and in general of cemeteries established by foreigners there, is not entirely clear. Most cemeteries after 1949 were redeveloped or turned into parks (Bubbling Well is now Jing’an Park), and some were vandalised and destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Some inscriptions from former cemeteries were recreated on stones that now survive in the Song Qingling Memorial Garden on the site of the former New International Cemetery. Some details of this story and some lists of those interred can be found here.
Tickets for the film, made by Squeaky Pedal Productions, can be booked here.