October 2, 2020
Today I went with Jun-Pei to visit the Cimetiere Francais de Kilung.
What were the French doing in Keelung? Wikipedia has it covered:
“The Keelung campaign (August 1884–April 1885) was a controversial military campaign undertaken by the French in northern Formosa (Taiwan) during the Sino-French War. After making a botched attack on Keelung in August 1884, the French landed an expeditionary corps of 2,000 men and captured the port in October 1884. Unable to advance beyond their bridgehead, they were invested inside Keelung by superior Chinese forces under the command of the imperial commissioner Liu Mingchuan. In November and December 1884 cholera and typhoid drained the strength of the French expeditionary corps, while reinforcements for the Chinese army flowed into Formosa via the Pescadores Islands, raising its strength to 35,000 men by the end of the war. Reinforced in January 1885 to a strength of 4,500 men, the French won two impressive tactical victories against the besieging Chinese in late January and early March 1885, but were not strong enough to exploit these victories. The Keelung campaign ended in April 1885 in a strategic and tactical stalemate. The campaign was criticised at the time by Admiral Amédée Courbet, the commander of the French Far East Squadron, as strategically irrelevant and a wasteful diversion of the French navy.” (From the introduction in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keelung_campaign).
The French cemetery is not named in English on Google Maps; instead only the phase “Memorial park” is used. However the name of the French cemetery is marked in Chinese as “清法戰爭紀念園區”. You can enter that in Google Maps if you want to find it.
I met Jun-Pei in Taipei and traveled by train to Keelung. Here she is standing at the Maritime Plaza. The cruise ship in the background reveals the water is very deep – Keelung is a major port.
Wikipedia says this about the Cimetiere Francais de Kilung:
“Only one trace remains today of the French occupation. At the request of Admiral Lespès, Liu Mingchuan undertook to respect the cemetery in which the French war dead had been buried. This promise was kept, and the French cemetery in Keelung can still be seen today. The French dead, between 600 and 700 soldiers and sailors (most of them victims of cholera and typhoid rather than battle casualties), were originally buried in a cemetery further to the north, close to the Erh-sha-wan battery, and their remains were transferred to the present cemetery in 1909. The French cemetery contains only two named graves, those of sous-commissaire Marie-Joseph-Louis Dert and Lieutenant Louis Jehenne. Ironically, these two marine infantry officers died not in Keelung but in Makung in the Pescadores Islands, in June 1885, and their remains were exhumed and transferred to the Keelung cemetery in 1954.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keelung_campaign)
The entrance to the cemetery. The sign edged in red, white and blue is written in French, which I can’t read. Fortunately Jun-Pei was there to translate for me
The cemetery is well tended and there are many trees. However there is not a lot of space – maybe half an acre. Houses are built right against the cemetery wall on two sides. The mosquitos were very bad.
This is the tomb of Lieutenant Louis Jehenne – see above.
A peaceful place.
There is a video of a ceremony in the French cemetery:
“Every year in the lunar calendar [in July], there is a local community to launch the Midi Pudu Sacrifice. The leaders of the French representatives in Taiwan came to participate and it was a good activity to promote peace.”
Nearby is the Martyrs’ Tomb, which is a monument, pictured here. Together with the French cemetery it’s official name is the Qing War Memorial Park. Behind the Martyrs’ Tomb there are cranes and ships unloading; the small blue rectangle in the upper right is the sea. I took this under an elevated highway.
“The Japanese captain Tōgō Heihachirō, the future commander-in-chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy, visited Keelung during the war aboard the corvette Amagi and was briefed by French officers on the tactics the French were using against the Chinese. Togo’s guide was the young French engineering captain Joseph Joffre, who had been sent to Keelung to lay out the new French forts after Duchesne’s March victory. Commander-in-chief of the French Army at the start of the First World War and victor of the crucial Battle of the Marne in 1914, Joffre would end his military career as a Marshal of France.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keelung_campaign)
Next we went by bus along a scenic area to Badouzi. I recommend this route; little inlets filled with fishing boats, hills with thick vegetation crowded together, sweeping views of the sea, and important institutions such as National Taiwan Ocean University and National Museum of Marine Science and Technology. A beautiful journey.
At Badouzi we switched to a train to take us to Ruifeng.
Ruifeng is up in the mountains away from the sea, sitting on the mail railway line. Quite a dramatic backdrop.
In a restaurant near the railway station in Ruifeng, Jun-Pei ordered many lunch dishes that she assured me were common items, but tasted odd (but delicious) to me.
We caught the train back to Taipei. By then I was exhausted, dozing in my seat.