Zu Xiulian (L) and Guo Wushi (R). [Xinhua]
Many brave local women – the so-called "Red Sisters" of Yimeng Mountains – were involved in helping soldiers in east China's Shandong Province when the area housed an anti-Japanese military base in the 40s during the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945).
Taking care of injured soldiers
In 1941, Guo Wushi was a scout from Shandong Command of the Eighth Route Army, which was led by the Communist Party of China (CPC). He suffered a serious injury during a battle.
After waking from a coma, Guo tried his best to crawl 1 kilometer, finally reaching the house of a female villager, where he met a "Red Sister", Zu Xiulian.
Zu took him in and cleaned his wounds. In order to hide from Japanese soldiers, Zu transferred Guo to a cave and took care of him at great risk to her life every day.
Guo recalled that Zu always gave him cooked batter, though flour was rare at the time, and even cooked him the only chicken her family owned.
In 1947, Guo was demobilized because of his injury. Although told to return to his hometown, the young man decided to stay and pay back Zu's kindness for the rest of his life.
Since then, Guo regarded Zu as his mother and accompanied her until she died.
Guo's son said his father once told them they should always remember the care shown by the people and the CPC.
Supporting revolutionary offspring and soldiers' daily life
During the war, Mamuchi Township was the core region of Shandong Anti-Japanese Base. Many revolutionary leaders who worked there had no time or energy to take care of their own children.
Often accompanying the troops and lacking proper nutrition, most of the kids had suffered badly. Under such circumstances, local woman Wang Huanyu decided to establish a nursery to give those children better supervision.
Due to the poor living conditions, Wang fed their own kids gruel and saved milk for the soldiers' children.
At that time, Wang lost four grandchildren but none of the soldiers’ children died or were injured under her care.
Wang's daughter-in-law, Zhang Shuzhen said, "If we lost our own kids, we can still have another one. We can't let martyrs lose their only heir."
In addition, local women such as Ming Deying, Wang Chungui and Ma Qianwen all saved many soldiers' lives and supported the front lines in the war when they were young.
According to statistics, women in the Yimeng region provided around 60 million kilograms of food to the army, made 3.15 million pairs of shoes and 1.22 million items of clothing, saved 60,000 wounded soldiers and covered for 94,000 comrades between the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the Chinese People’s War of Liberation (1945-1949).
Inheriting the selfless spirit of Yimeng women
Although the majority of Red Sisters have since passed away, their spirits of selfless devotion have still lasted.
Zhu Chengrong, general manager of Shandong Zhulaoda Food Company, established a Yimeng Red Sisters Cultural Museum in May.
Apart from spreading local women's stories, Zhu said that she also benefited a lot from their legacy.
Zhu said that she had depression after being laid-off in 1997. Zhu finally recovered from the strike and decided to start a new life.
Later, Zhu guided many unemployed people to set up a rickshaw company and then a food business. The spirit of persistence and bravery has been pushing her to run her company as a leading enterprise in the region.
Studying from those "Red Sisters", Zhu has visited over 300 troops during the past 14 years, donating more than 10 million yuan (U.S.$ 1,492,537) in military supplies. She also helped many impoverished soldiers to overcome various difficulties.
The contributions Zhu made won her the title the Most Beautiful Mother of Soldiers.
The same spirit also influenced the president of a local flour company, Li Xiuling. Li is dedicated to local poverty relief work as well.
Moreover, Yu Aimei, the grand-daughter of Wang Huanyu, always kept a sense of mission and responsibility in mind. After retirement, she became a volunteer at the museum. In the past 11 years, Yu has spread the Red Sisters' stories across the country.
The 'Sisters of Yimeng Mountain' pose for a photo to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of the Menglianggu Campaign (1947). [Xinhua]
Red Sisters Gao Zhenrong, Ma Qianwen, Zhang Shuzhen, Wang Chungui, Gu Rongcang (from left to right). [Xinhua/Wang Yang]
(Source: cpcnews.cn/Translated and edited by Women of China)