2009-11-26 15:51 BJT

By the end of 1917 there were 54,000 Chinese labourers with the Commonwealth forces in France and Belgium. In March the Admiralty declared itself no longer able to supply the ships for transport and the British government were obliged to bring recruitment to an end. The men already serving in France completed their contracts.By the time of the Armistice, the Chinese Labour Corps numbered nearly 96,000, while 30,000 were working for the French. In May 1919, 80,000 Chinese Labour Corps were still at work.

The workers were tasked with carrying out essential work to support the frontline troops, such as building dugouts, repairing roads and railways, digging trenches and filling sandbags. Throughout the war, trade union pressure prevented the introduction of Chinese labourers to the British Isles. Sidney and Beatrice Webb suggested that the Chinese Labour Corps were restricted to carrying out menial unskilled labour due to pressure from British trade unions.

Other workers

Not only Chinese workers were supplied. There were Labour Corps serving in France from Egypt, Fiji, India, Malta, Mauritius, Seychelles, the British West Indies as well as a Native Labour Corps from South Africa. It was estimated that at the end of the war over 300,000 workers from the Colonies had aided in labour. There were 100,000 Egyptians, 21,000 Indians and 20,000 South Africans working throughout France and the Middle East by the end of the war in 1918.

Editor: Zheng Limin | Source: wikipedia