1923 - Col. M.A. Cohen arrives in H.K. as A.D.C. to Dr Sun Yat-sen.jpg

Mon, 03/02/2020 - 11:35
Date picture taken
1 Feb 1923 (day is approximate)

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Michael Alderton (essaren) notes: It was at Hong Kong, during February 1923, that the larger-than-life, heroic figure of Colonel M.A. Cohen, principal aide-de-camp to the Chinese nationalist leader Dr Sun Yat-sen, first stepped out onto the world’s stage.

27 Jan 1923. French Concession, Shanghai. Morris A. Cohen, a leading figure in Dr Sun’s representative organization in Canada, has been summoned to China to serve once again as devoted bodyguard and genial companion to the now famous Chinese leader, Doctor Sun Yat-sen. Reports coming out of Canton confirmed that the situation there was extremely tense. But despite the very real threat of assassination, and ignoring the pleas of his closest advisers to call off so risky a venture, the Doctor, with Colonel Morris Cohen by his side, remained intent on returning to his Canton toe-hold in a desperate do-or-die attempt to restore order in that southern metropolis. (Colonel Cohen in his own words): It was one of those ‘stop-go-stop’ affairs. On January 27th we were all set to sail (from Shanghai) that same day; then our departure was postponed; on February 10th the whole show was off for good; on the 15th we actually sailed for South China. We steamed under the big batteries that commanded the Lyemun Pass into that lovely harbour, and tied up at Kowloon where deputations on the wharf welcomed us. (Extracts from: Commander Charles H. Drage, Two-Gun Cohen, Jonathan Cape, London 1954)

Senior British East Asia intelligence operative and respected biographer, Commander Charles Drage, provides a personal, revealing and insightful character sketch of his good friend Morris A. Cohen: Morris landed in China a few weeks after his thirty-third birthday, at an age, therefore, when the physical and mental make-up of most men has been finally settled for life. In appearance he was not greatly changed from the handsome, tough young fellow of those vigorous, bustling days before the Great War. In the face he certainly looked a full ten years older. His glossy black hair had begun to retreat up the massive brow, but the widow’s peak was still in evidence and, if anything, emphasized by the recession around it. His features had been harshly marked by harsh experiences – in France as well as Western Canada – and a year of pain from his head wound and discomfort from the damaged jaw had drawn deep lines from mouth to nostril, without in any way diminishing the cheerful good-nature of his normal expression. For Morris was a man of singularly happy disposition; throughout the years of our friendship I have seldom seen him worried and never seriously angry. Possessed of inexhaustible vitality, he was never bored or depressed; he genuinely and unaffectedly liked his fellow men and could never have too much of their society. The end of a long night at the card-table or in a stuffy, smoky, and crowded conference room found him as cheerful and good-tempered as had the morning. He could be patient with the aggrieved, tactful with the quarrelsome and was ever ready to out-talk the most garrulous. Canada had taught him much. He had met the hard cases – and he knew how to handle them. He had met the professional politicians. Over a poker hand, and over an office desk, he had met a slice of mankind clean across the social structure of the Dominion. To earn his bread and butter he had been forced to study all of them and he had applied his logical, orderly brain, his excellent memory, and his natural intuition to good effect. His greatest asset was his personal prestige among the Chinese, of which such extraordinary proof had been given when he was chosen to guard Dr Sun during his Canadian tour. Although, as matters turned out, the trip had proved uneventful; his post had been no sinecure. The Doctor’s enemies were numerous, powerful, and unscrupulous. That his safety could be entrusted to a man of alien race was a truly astonishing witness to the reputation for absolute integrity which Morris had acquired and which he was ever after to enjoy among the Sons of Han. Morris was well known to the Chinese in Canada, and about the Chinese race he knew a great deal.

21 Feb 1923. Hong Kong. (Colonel Cohen in his own words): In the morning the cars came round to take us down to the river steamer for Canton. We had a good send-off from crowds carrying banners on the waterfront, and plenty of fire-crackers from the sampan folk in the harbour. We steamed out into the Pearl River estuary and turned north for the Chinese Bocca Tigris Forts. I’ve done the Hong Kong to Canton run more times than I can remember, but that first trip I’ll never forget. There was every kind of queer craft to be seen. On the bank you’d see a big black water-buffalo, and on its back a little nipper steering the great beast with a bit of string threaded through one nostril. When we came into the last reach leading up to the Canton Bund the excitement began with swarms of sampans to welcome us, and when we tied up the whole place went raving mad. There’s just one skyscraper in Canton, and at every window on every story of it there was a Chinese throwing down fire-crackers. It was like a continuous cascade of fire from on high. We got Dr Sun through the mob and into his motor boat and made our way over to Honam Island, where his headquarters had been fixed up in the house formerly belonging to the manager of the Cement Works. (Extracts from: Commander Charles H. Drage, Two-Gun Cohen, Jonathan Cape, London 1954)

kwok Ming-Tang or Kuo Ming Tang is not a society. It is just Chinese romanization of Kwok Ming which means citizen. Tang means party. It is just Citizen Party or Nationalist Party. After Sun's death, Chiang Kai shek eventually took over the party as its head and succeeded in sort of unifying the country by defeating all the warlords in 1928. After WWII, civil war broke out and he was defeated by Mao. He relocated the government to Taiwan.