1. The Secret Betrayal: From Heroes to Villains

1. The Secret Betrayal: From Heroes to Villains


In this series of podcasts, the story of how a brutal policy of forced repatriation caused thousands of Chinese men to disappear from Liverpool at the end of World War II. This policy, orchestrated by the British government, would leave families traumatised and the community broken.

In 1866, shipping group Alfred Holt & Company was founded in Liverpool. It quickly became one of the UK’s biggest shipping merchants, building established trade routes between Liverpool, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Its major subsidiary, the Blue Funnel Line, carried cotton, tea and silk, and relied heavily on Chinese sailors.

Over time, many of these seamen and traders settled in Liverpool, and on the eve of World War II the city was home to a thriving British-Chinese community of thousands. This harmony was short-lived as the end of the war saw a mass deportation of Chinese men.

We speak to the children and grandchildren of those men whose childhoods were blighted by the loss of their fathers and the secrecy and misinformation around the policy. 

We also speak to Rana Mitter, an Oxford University historian specializing in modern China, about the role of Chinese sailors in the British Merchant Navy and what these family members faced on their return to China.

Presenter: Jamie Owen
Producers: Elizabeth Mearns, Mark Ashenden
Series Producer: Simon Morris

Heart UK