A public cemetery once maintained in honor of the Chinese soldiers and support staff who aided foreign airmen during World War II now sits disused and vandalized on the outskirts of Kunming. An article published August 13 by Kunming Information Hub (KIH) reports the cemetery is now filled with garbage and many of the graves have been opened and their headstones scattered around the grounds.
The graveyard is home to the remains of some 500 men who fought to supply and protect pilots of the Flying Tigers and the China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) in Kunming during the Second World War. Today the place is all but abandoned, its grounds littered with beer bottles and plastic bags. Many of the cemetery's once-buried cedar coffins have been dug up and broken for use as firewood.
Hidden in the hilly forests in an area southeast of the city center called Changchun Mountain (长春山), the graveyard was completely unknown to KIH reporters. They quickly learned they needed to hire a guide to locate it. While on the phone with the Flying Tigers Research Council (飞虎队研究会会), reporters were told: "Very few people know where it is. We'll arrange someone to take you there, otherwise you will never find it."
When they did finally arrive, at night and in the rain, the reporters found piles of trash and evidence of several campsites. Twelve tombstones remained in good repair, but otherwise little was left but debris to mark the existence of a burial ground. In a gruesome aside, the journalists mention finding unearthed human bones visible around the area.
During World War II a graveyard was created where Chinese volunteers were buried alongside 300 foreign servicemen. Shortly after the close of hostilities in World War II, the Americans and Europeans were disinterred and returned to their home countries. The cemetery was moved entirely in 1953 to make way for construction of a warehouse facility and relocated to its present-day site.
The social upheavals of the Cultural Revolution required family members of those buried in the graveyard to stop visiting. Any connection to countries considered enemies of China at the time — even from two decades earlier — was dangerous. The memorial fell into disrepair and was apparently forgotten.
Members of the Flying Tigers Research Council found the cemetery again in 2007 and the following year erected a monument marking its existence. Despite their publicity efforts and multiple promises by the Kunming government to restore the grounds, the graveyard has fallen further and further into decay.