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China: Around The Nation

Two war veterans reunited in hospital refuse to surrender

Fate brings seriously ill former guerilla platoon members together with same illness, at the same hospital, at the same time

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 April, 2017, 6:55pm
UPDATED : Monday, 12 June, 2017, 12:53pm

Two seriously ill veterans who fought side by side during the second world war found themselves admitted to the same hospital ward at the same time for the same illness in Shenzhen last week.

The two lay close to each other, clinging to life, for several days until one of them heard the other’s name being called a by doctor and recognised his war time buddy, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported.

Following the initial shock, followed by tears, they vowed to fight again, this time against their common enemy – the ravages of old age.

Zhuang Shuifa, an 88-year old farmer from Huanggang village, joined the famed Dongjiang (East River) Column of guerilla fighters who were active in Guangdong, including Hong Kong, when he was a teenager. A Japanese bullet claimed his left eye while shrapnel deformed one side of his face.

Zhuang was admitted to an affiliated hospital of Sun Yat-sen University with lung infection early last week. He was admitted to the intensive care unit due to the seriousness of his condition.

Lying in the bed next to Zhuang was Lin Shuishou, another elderly patient with a lung infection. Lin came from Chiwei, a village near Huanggang. He and Zhuang fought in the same platoon in the Dongjiang Column.

Unsung warriors set up in Sai Kung: the Hong Kong guerrilla fighters who battled the Japanese in WW2

They spent four days in the same room without recognising each other. Both were very sick, connected to breathing machines, and seemed to have given up the will to live, according to doctors who treated them.

But when a doctor called out Lin’s name amid a check on Thursday, Zhuang turned his head in a stir and identified the comrade in arms.

The doctor and nurses helped push their beds together.

“When they saw each other, their listless eyes suddenly shined. They were so emotional they could not believe what was happening, and their hands reached out for a firm grip,” a nurse who witnessed the scene wrote on WeChat.

Both men had been tormented by illness for years. Both had little fighting spirit left, the doctors said.

“Hold on, buddy, we’ll make it out of here together,” Zhuang was quoted as telling Lin.

The surprise reunion generated more comments on mainland internet and social media today than the launch of China’s first home-built aircraft carrier.