The RLC Museum has acquired a Chinese Labour Corps (CLC) Cap Badge which it intends to use it to tell the story of how during WW1, the Labour Corps recruited large numbers of foreign or “alien” labourers to support the war effort.
In Apr 1917 the first members of the CLC arrived in France. Recruited directly from China and arriving by steam ship, by 1918 nearly 100,000 had joined up.
An often forgotten and unrecognised contribution to the British Army in WW1, they were members of the Labour Corps, so can be considered predecessors of the modern day RLC.
Issued blue uniforms, with felt caps and well paid by Chinese standards, they worked behind the lines where they dug trenches, built roads and railways, repaired tanks and, after the war, cleared ordnance, buried the dead and restored the land to agricultural use.
Unfortunately, their bravery was rarely officially recognised and of the 52 MSMs awarded to the CLC only five went to Chinese soldiers.
The last CLC returned to China, via Canada, arriving in Sep 1920.