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Notes about Eric Liddell

Posted by Rick on March 14, 2008

Most of us only think about Eric Liddell as ‘the man who wouldn’t run on Sunday’, for whom about the movie “Chariots of Fire” was made.  After his running career, he served as a missionary to Shandong Province, China.  He was captured during WWII by the Japanese and died in a prison camp in Weifeng, China, in 1945, just five months before the camp’s liberation.  In a prisoner exchange bargain, his freedom was arranged by Winston Churchill, but he gave it up and let a pregnant woman leave instead.  He was known as the “Flying Scotsman” and by his Chinese name,  Li Airui, 李愛銳.

I had the opportunity to visit Weifeng in 2004.  I saw the camp and hospital where he died.  There is a wonderful monument erected in his memory, but someone has defaced it by scratching out the cross at the top and the Bible emblem at the bottom.  During the Cultural Revolution, the cornerstone of the hospital was defaced by the Red Guard.  They committed a similar act on the monument to Lottie Moon in Penglai.

One of the most moving monuments was the wall of names.  It listed everyone interred by the Japanese.  Liddell’s name is, of course, listed as well.

Monument to Eric Liddell in Weifeng, China Monument to Eric Liddel in Weifeng Prison Camp

Wall of Names at Weifeng Prisoner’s Monument, Weifeng, China Wall of Names at Weifeng Prison Camp Memorial (I circled Liddell’s name in red)

Hospital in Weifeng Prison Camp where Eric Liddell died Hospital where Eric Liddell died in Weifeng Prison Camp in 1945.

Click on a picture to enlarge.

Bro Rick


5 Responses to “Notes about Eric Liddell”

  1. Gordon said


    In your article you say “There is a wonderful monument erected in his memory, but references to God and the Bible were defaced by the communists during the Cultural Revolution.”

    However, the monument in Weifeng Prison Camp was only erected in 1991 which was long after the cultural revolution. It has not been defaced or had anything removed from it. In fact Eric Liddell is something of a hero in China and revered as their first Olympian because he spent most of his life there. His helping Chinese people during the Japanese oppression has also added to his status in China.

    Maybe you are refering to a different memorial?

    We have lots of information about Eric Liddell on our web site (link below). We maintain an archive of material and personal posessions of his which have been given to us by his daughters and other family members (with whom we have worked for a number of years).


    Gordon Hudson
    Eric Liddell Centre

    • Rick said

      Hi Gordon! Thanks for visiting our website and taking time to comment.

      Of course you are correct. It certainly could not have been done during the Cultural Revolution. The Red Guard did, however, deface the cornerstone of the hospital.

      However, as I went back to look at my pictures again, it is clear to see that the Bible emblem at the base of the monument and the cross at the top of the monument, along with part of Liddell’s name has been “scratched out”, that is, someone has taken the time to remove the gold paint that makes the parts readable.

      Of course, I don’t know if the monument has been repaired since my visit in 2004.

      I would be most happy to send you the pictures to which I am referring. However, if the monument has been repaired, I’d also like to know that.

      I’ll go and “fix” my statement above regarding the Cultural Revolution.

      Again, I am happy you’ve taken the time to comment and grateful you have brought this error to my attention!

      Rick Boyne

  2. Gordon said

    Thanks for the info Rick,

    I will need to check up on this.
    The stone had to be moved and it may have been damaged. It was actually a gift of Edinburgh University. They arranged the stone and the family gave the university Eric’s medals on permanent loan. We borrow them sometimes for functions and events.

    The person who located his grave and organised the memorial was one of our trustees. Unfortuantely he died a few weeks ago so I can’t ask him but I will see what I can find out.


  3. Rick Mc said

    I love Eric Liddell. Can’t wait to meet him…

    • Kid Mack said

      Well said!
      I was too busy because of a tight tour schedule on my visit to China I would’ve liked to have visited his monument and left some Chinese plums and mandarins.

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