Many historical artifacts have been destroyed during China’s Cultural Revolution including foreign graves.
Recently, the family of a Royal Ulster Riflemen discovered the man’s grave in a Shanghai cemetery, after they were told that his grave was probably lost.
Private Patrick McGowan died in 1937 during the Japanese invasion. Because he was one of the first British soldiers killed by the Japanese troops, his death was discussed in Parliament by Anthony Eden, the British Foreign Secretary at the time.
Most of the headstones in the cemetery ended up smashed after the Cultural Revolution. Some of them eventually got replaced. The only issue was that the Chinese stonemasons had to take the names of the fallen soldiers from the shattered fragments, the BBC News reports.
This is why McGowan’s name was spelled with a C rather than a G.
Private Patrick McGowan’s niece, Sarah Moran from Londonderry, has been trying for years to find his grave. As a final option, Sarah wrote to PM David Cameron. Her story caught a lot of attention when it was written up in a Derry newspaper. The Foreign Office approached the British consulate in Shanghai and asked for the help of a military historian.
Other three graves of Royal Ulsters were found in Shanghai; those of James Mellon, Willian Christopher Howard and Joseph O’Toole.
Also, the discovery of Private McGowan’s grave happened to coincide with the visit of a British warship to China.
Rear Admiral Matthew Parr of the Royal Navy, paid tribute to the four men and their bit of British history.