Whitehall honour

November 25 2021

Mark Nam with Dawn and George Harrill

Mark Nam with Dawn and George Harrill

A CHURCH curate was invited to lay a wreath to commemorate Chinese workers enlisted by the British in World War I.
Mark Nam, 40, is assistant curate at United Church in Longwell Green and St Anne’s in Oldland Common.
As the first British-born Chinese priest in the Church of England so was invited to commemorate the Chinese Labour Corp workers who provided supplies to British soldiers, removed bodies and cleared unexploded mines.
Just before 11am on November 11, Rev Nam laid his wreath at the Cenotaph on Whitehall then bowed, a mark of respect in Chinese culture.
He said: “I was there as part of a small group representing Chinese communities. It felt very meaningful to lay the wreath and the bow was also very important to me.
“For many years I felt that Remembrance Day wasn’t really about my culture and no one ever told me that people like me served in the war. Laying that wreath helped me feel connected to it all as a British Chinese person. I have three young children and my hope is that they will grow up knowing the contribution that their ancestors made to the war efforts.”
Despite more than 50,000 monuments in Britain honouring people and even animals that served in the wars, none are for the 95,000 Chinese workers who served the British. Of those, around 20,000 lost their lives.
He sourced his poppy wreath from Captain George Harrill and wife Dawn, who run the Bitton and Oldland branch of the Royal British Legion.The couple run a poppy stall outside Asda Longwell Green and have raised more than £2,000 this year.