Air Force soldiers battle against sparrows

From the Archives (Beijing Evening Post, April 19,1958)


5 am. This morning, the big old bell in the Bell Tower suddenly sounded. Two soldiers from the Air Force and two civilians swayed a huge wooden mallet into the Bell six times , to kick off the “wipe out sparrow” campaign.

The Air Force soldiers in the Drum and Bell Towers began to wave flags and beat gongs, drums and iron buckets. Liu Dejiu, an outstanding shooter who fought in Northeast China and all the way to Hainan Island during the War of Liberation, patrolled in the Drum Tower with his gun. Beside him was a warden officer of intelligence Wang Zhonghu. When Wang spotted sparrows with his binoculars he would inform Liu. One time Liu took down two sparrows in one shot.

At the barracks of the Air Force headquarters, soldiers set up posts everywhere. Colonel Liang and Lieutenant colonel Guo were in command. When Liang was at the command post from 4 am he checked results of battle frequently. Shortly after the battle began, he discovered that some areas were uncovered. So he moved troops without any delay. The sparrows didn’t have a minute to rest. Within one hour, about 40 groups of sparrows were exhausted after being shooed away all the time, and some even fell to the ground and died.