[This article first appeared in Stand To ! No.36 Winter 1992. The authors, Bob Grundy and Steve Wall have since complete 100 editions of 'The Camera Returns' which feature in every edition of Stand To! to the present day. Members of The Western Front Association are able to view all previous editions in the Stand To archive as part of their membership].  

     
     
 

The Chinese Labour Corps on the Western Front 1916-1918 Chinese labourers celebrate Chinese New Year in a labour camp at Noyelles, 11 February, 1918. © IWM. Q8485 

 
     
 

Bob Grundy and Steve Wall  Stand To ! No.36 Winter 1992 74 years later 

 
   


 

 

Google Street View June 2018 © Google 2020

 

In Stand To No. 29, page 6, Norman Mellor recalls his experiences with the Chinese Labour Corps in the months following the Armistice. In the penultimate paragraph he tells of his return visit in 1975 to Flanders and the town of Noyelles-Sur-Mer, the wartime headquarters of the Chinese Labour Corps. 

Situated eight miles north west of Abbeville, Noyelles-Sur-Mer and its beautiful Chinese Cemetery had been visited by the Camera Returns team in 1990. Realising the importance of this area prompted us to search for a suitable photograph at the IWM. Q8485 is the result of that search and shows New Year celebrations in the town's centre on 11 February 1918, the beginning of the year of the horse! As you will see from our comparison, very little has changed here, with even the railings in the background appearing to have the same paint! 

Thirty-five year old Steve lives with his wife at Aylesbury but works as an administrator in a busy set of barristers chambers in the Inner Temple. Has been Chairman of the Herts and Beds Area since its inception in 1985. Spare time is limited to the Great War and 'Camera Returns' and, to relax, DIY! Bob was born in 1948 at Dewsbury, Yorkshire. Interest in the Great War started when he obtained a copy of Michelin's Guide to the Battlefields (Ypres) when he was eleven. Served with 5th/8th (Volunteer) Bn The King's Regiment, 1970-81. Is married and self-employed.

In 2020 you can return to the spot courtesy of Google Street View 


Further Reading: One Man's War. Norman Mellor Remembers the Chinese Labour Corps

Sources: Stand To! No. 36; Google Maps, Noyelles-Sur-Mer Tourism Website