Huang Tingxin: Veteran of the liberation of France

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The Independent Online

Huang Tingxin, who died on 11 November aged 91, was the last Chinese veteran of the 1944 liberation of France.

Huang had been an officer aboard the British aircraft carrier HMA Searcher during the invasion of southern France known as Operation Dragoon. The August landings near the city of Toulon were a follow-up to the June 6 D-Day invasion of Normandy.

A graduate of the Qingdao Naval Academy in eastern China, Huang was one of 24 Chinese officers sent to study in Britain in 1942 and who later served with the Allies. After studying at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, Huang was assigned to the Searcher, a US-built assault carrier that deployed up to 25 fighter planes.

"My part on the ship was not much," Huang said in 2006. "Some other Chinese soldiers fought on the front line. One of my comrades showered thousands of artillery shells on the Nazi defences."

He returned to China in 1948 and served for a decade in the Chinese navy after the founding of the communist state in 1949. He later taught English and tended the library at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University in the eastern city of Hangzhou. In 2006, Huang received France's Legion d'Honneur in recognition of his wartime service, dedicating the award to his Chinese comrades.