Lingnan in Exile

The paintings and sketches are of Lingnan’s wartime site in Taitsuen, some done by Szto Wai and some by his students. When Canton was occupied by the Japanese in 1938, the students and faculty evacuated the campus and Lingnan relocated to Hong Kong. Because of the ownership of the campus by the Foundation in New York, the Canton campus was neutral territory and served as a refugee centre until the United States entered the war. After Hong Kong was occupied by the Japanese army in December of 1941, it was decided to relocate the University to Free China, i.e., within the area of China not yet occupied by the Japanese. Szto Wai, who was then Principal of the Middle School, set out to Taitsuen, a village just north of Kukong (曲江) (Shaoguan 韶關), the temporary capital of Guangdong, to rebuild Lingnan University. A selection of his letters from the time gives a verbal portrait of the campus and the times. He travelled with his colleague, Mr. Yeung Tsz-hin, two carpenters, and ‘some cooking utensils, some earthen jars, a few pairs of chopsticks, and a few personal belongings’. Surveying his paltry expedition he said, ‘Lingnan University starts again.’ (Corbett 142). Over 300 builders were eventually employed and the Middle School was able to open on 1 August, 1942.