This is my fourth blog post on Operation Remorse, the secret Second World War operation for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) that earned millions for Britain. Read the entire series.
‘May you live in interesting times’ – people call that ‘the Chinese curse’. In 1944, China was certainly an ‘interesting’ place to be. In April, Japanese forces pushed deeper into China than ever before, and by September, the Chinese city of Kweilin was under threat. Panic spread, refugees fled west, and markets fluctuated wildly.
You might not think that these would be ideal conditions for business. But Operation Remorse, Britain’s secret scheme to manipulate currency on the black market in order to fund British organisations in the Far East, came through the crisis wealthier than ever. In this entry, I look at how Remorse got on in China and how its members felt about their surroundings.
Mighty ‘Mouse’: Frank Ming Shin Shu (‘B/B.319′)
Remorse launched a smaller operation, ‘Embryo’, behind the advancing Japanese lines: a ‘trade protection band…to be exploited to our advantage’, employing 500 Chinese guerrillas (HS 1/291, 14 Sept. 1944; HS 1/292, 2 Jan. 1946). Lionel Davis, field commander of Remorse, entrusted the operation to his two nephews – Arthur Davis (‘B/B.309’) and Christopher ‘Micky’ Davis (‘B/B.317’). Having been dumped out of Kweilin, Remorse hedged against further losses by building up currency and commodity reserves. ‘Embryo’ withdrew to Kweiyang as the Japanese pushed onwards.
Refugees bolted to Kunming, ‘City of Eternal Spring’. Its population mushroomed tenfold, to a million souls. Kunming’s black market thrived, and Remorse, with its central office in the city at 9 Hsin Chin Kai, stood to gain. 1 Frank Shu, a wealthy Kunming businessman, acted as a broker and contact for Remorse in China, as part of its legitimate business front. Shu was no stranger: he had been a key contact for Operation Mickleham, where he used the codename ‘Mouse’ (HS 1/290, 3 Aug. 1943).
- 1. Ryan, R. ‘A Very British Coup’. The Sunday Times [London, England] 22 Jan. 2006. Web. Accessed 3 Apr. 2014. ^