From Hupeh. The Lyths [family of Dr Lyth], Miss Hicks and H B R have taken to the road again. There appears to be little hope of getting a ride in a motor, truck or car; so it may mean seven days travel stopping at six inns.
There has been a great deal of fighting for Changsha and they have received telegrams from [Cyril George] Baker indicating that [Cyril S.] Clarke and [John Norman] Foster are remaining[?] in Pinkiang. [Clifford V.] Cook is appointed to Paokang. Greetings have arrived from Simpson[?].
Yesterday's news was of the Japanese withdrawal from the area after experiencing a bad time. [Two unreadable words] are not much use in miles of paddy fields. The Japanese have been using launches and the Chinese have held them back just as they have held them on the Han [river] and around Ichang. 'I do not suppose the high command really feels that Japanese soldiers can go everywhere if there is real resistance & the Chinese faith is beginning to be justified'. The Japanese airforce meanwhile continues to launch incendiary attacks on the inland cities. They do not have limitless supplies of high explosives and incendiary bombs are in any case lighter and more effective.
H B R's delays will put him out quite badly with regard to letters. A great bundle must be waiting for him in Hong Kong. He has not heard at all from Emily and has had just one communication from the Mission House since August 2. They are dependent for news on the Chinese press. They are certainly in a world apart.
They have been delayed here for two days beyond their expectations, which has given him time to catch up with correspondence.
He is hopeful after the good news from Central China that he will be able to get to Hunan, Changsha and then Hong Kong and the north.
The German-Soviet pact has so far not worsened things here. The Japanese must feel that Europeans are very strange indeed.
The latest bit of news is the arrival for the first time ever of American [unreadable word] in Manila.
They also gather that the French have the upper hand in the air.
- Cyril George Baker (1897-1976) was born in Cardiff. He trained for the Wesleyan ministry at Richmond College and was appointed to the China mission in 1924. He served overseas until 1949 when he was forced by the Communist takeover of mainland China to return to Britain. He was a circuit minister for nine years in England before returning to overseas work as Principal of a Bible School in Indonesia. Baker superannuated in 1965 and spent the remaining years of his life in retirement in Somerset. Source: Minutes of Conference 1976.
- Clifford Vallance Cook (1906-72) was born in Bristol, the son of the Wesleyan minister Vallance Cook. After a year at Cliff College, he trained for the Wesleyan ministry at Handsworth. Cook served as a missionary in the Hunan District of China from 1929 to 1952. During the Japanese invasion, he served as the Missionary Committee representative with a particular responsibility for supplying money to missionaries working in occupied territory. In 1952 he transferred to Hong Kong and worked with refugees from Communist China. Cook returned to Britain in 1954 and after several years circuit ministry in Manchester and Gloucester, spent four years as the warden of Methodist International House in London. His last appointment was to the Hull circuit, where he died after a long illness. Source: Minutes of Conference 1972 and Methodist Recorder February 17 1972, p.14.
- John Norman Foster (1907-75) was born in Hitchen, Hertfordshire. After a year as a pre-collegiate in the Newbury Circuit he trained for the ministry at Richmond College and was appointed in 1933 to the Hunan District in China. He served in China for nineteen years, narrowly escaping capture by the Japanese during their advance into Hunan in 1944. He was finally forced to abandon his station and join a long difficult march into a neighbouring province. After the end of the war and a period of home furlough, he returned to China until he was compelled to leave the country by the Communist government in 1952. After a year as a circuit minister in England, he went to Sierra Leone in West Africa for one year and then after a period in the Barnsley (west) circuit he joined the staff of the theological school at Sibu in Sarawak for five years from 1957. After returning from overseas he spent ten years in English circuits before superannuating in 1972. Source: Minutes of Conference 1973.