Stories in Yudu, starting point for China's Long March
Yudu County in Jiangxi Province was the starting point for the Long March, which took place between 1934 and 1936.
During this period, the Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army made their way from Ganzhou to Yan'an by way of Zunyi, breaking the siege of the Kuomintang forces to continue their resistance against Japanese aggressors. Many marched as far as 12,500 kilometers.
In 1934, around 86,000 Chinese Red Army soldiers, assisted by the local people, crossed the Yudu River and started the historic trek.
A group of people retracing the route of the Long March visited the river in Yudu County, Jiangxi Province on June 13, 2019. [Photo: IC]
Around 2 kilometers from the Long March Ferry crossing point, there is a quaint Hakka house. The house has around 20 door frames, but no door panels.
The owner of the house was Liu Guangpei's great-grandfather, who was a Red Army soldier.
Liu Guangpei has heard his great-grandfather' long march stories ever since he was young.
"On December 17th, 1934, my great-grandfather donated around 20 door panels to the Red Army to build the floating bridges. The panels are no longer here, but my great-grandfather said he hoped people can think of the Red Army when they see the door frames."
To help the Red Army build floating bridges, villagers along the river donated all of the wood they had, which sometimes included wood that was to be used to make coffins.
Li Meizhen, a local villager, with her empty door frames. Li Meizhen hasn't replaced the door panels donated to the Red Army in 1934. [Photo: ChinaPlus]
Xiao Tingting is a guide at the Red March Memorial.
"An old man whose last name was Zeng insisted on donating to the soldiers the timber he had for making coffins. The Red Army was reluctant to accept it. But Zeng said, 'the Red Army soldiers sacrifice their lives to the war, what does my donation of some timber matter? I saw a farmer destroy his pumpkin shed and donate the wooden boards.'"
Zhang Xiaoping, the vice curator of the memorial, said there were Kuomintang reconnaissance planes in the sky at that time.
To hide from them, the construction of the floating bridges could only be carried out at night.
The 600-meter-wide Yudu River had 8 ferries crossings, and 5 of them needed floating bridges.
The villagers built and dismantled the bridges 15 times in order to avoid being spotted by the enemy.
"At that time, we started to build the floating bridges at around 5 p.m. each day. The Red Army crossed the river during the night. To hide from the enemy's planes, we dismantled the bridges the next morning, and hid the wooden boards in the nearby forest to make sure the soldiers could safely cross the river."
Around 800 villagers also used their fishing boats to carry soldiers across the river.
Li Mingrong's family were some of these villagers.
"My father and grandfather had around 20 fishing boats. They introduced themselves to the Red Army, and spent two whole nights carrying more than 6,000 soldiers across the river."
Over 16,000 villagers from Yudu took part in the Long March, and many of them would lose their lives.
85 years have passed, and the floating bridges have been replaced with modern structures as Yudu became a new modern city.