A long walk across wartime China in the winter--with 60 orphans

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HENGDIAN, China -- The story of how a young Englishman, George Hogg, took 60 orphans on a journey of hundreds of miles to safety across war-ravaged China in the winter of 1944 is one of the more remarkable tales of the Second World War.

In the town of Shandan, in Gansu province on the Mongolian border, Hogg and his friend and mentor, the New Zealand philanthropist Rewi Alley, are remembered with a statue and affection, but Hogg is little known outside China. This is all set to change with a new film called The Children of Huang Shi currently being made by the Canadian-born director Roger Spottiswoode.

With Japanese forces snapping at their heels as they made their western advance across China in 1944, and with the help of Mao Zedong's Communist guerrillas, Hogg escorted the boys across 688 miles of treacherous mountainous terrain in north-western China to a temple town in Shandan. Just one year later, Hogg contracted tetanus after he injured his toe playing basketball with the students. With no medicines to stop lockjaw, he died aged 29.

His Chinese odyssey is just one small part of this remarkable Englishman's life, which encompassed the most radical changes the Middle Kingdom had seen for thousands of years.

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