How a bomb dropped in 1937 complicated my life, 2004-2012


Continued from this post about Ernie and Florence Allison at the outbreak of war in Shanghai, August 1937

A flight of Japanese warplanes roared across the city and bombed Lunghwa and Huanjao airfields.[i]

A DC-2 in front of the CNAC hangar at Lunghwa Airport, 1937 — before the outbreak of war

Fearing the worst, Ernie Allison rushed from the Grosvenor House to the airfield to inspect the damage. By some miracle, CNAC’s hangar had been only hit once — by an incendiary bomb that had fallen through the roof of Allison’s office and set fire to his desk. Hangar hands and volunteer fireman extinguished the blaze before it spread, but it destroyed Allison’s office and burned the company’s operational records to ash.[ii]

Of all the bombs that the Japanese dropped during the 1930s and 40s, it’s strange to reflect on how much that one incendiary affected my life more than sixty-five years later — I would have saved colossal amounts of time during the years of my China’s Wings research (2004-2008), if I’d have had access to those lost records.

Eurasia, CNAC’s chief commercial rival, wasn’t so lucky — bombs shattered their hangar.


[i] Bombing of Lunghwa and Huangjao, Monday, August 16: “Chinese Surprised,” New York Times, August 16, 1937.

[ii] Incendiary bomb hits Allie’s office: Churchill, Edward, “The Rise and Fall of China’s Airlines,” clipping from an unidentified magazine, possibly a house organ publication for Harlow Aviation, clipping provided to the author via email by Ernie Allison’s daughter, Nancy Allison Wright, November 15, 2005.

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