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Portraits in courage: Shanghai people celebrate V-J Day

ON V-J Day in 1945, US Marine Roger Moore watched victory celebrations in Shanghai and used his camera to capture ordinary people's portraits in courage, reports Nancy Zhang Sixty years on, photographs taken by a US marine in Shanghai in 1945 have resurfaced. As they capture the aftermath of wartime and privation, one would expect to see inhabitants downtrodden and defeated.

"To the contrary," says ex-marine Roger Moore who took the photographs after the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945). "Their demeanor and resolve was astounding."

A selection of Moore's photographs will be on display from tomorrow through May 17 at The Pottery Workshop on Taikang Road.

Now 84, Moore lives in Florida where he has retired and continues to take photos. But as a teenager, Moore sought adventure and joined the US Navy straight out of high school. He volunteered for hazardous duty with a unit that operated weather forecasting stations in the Chinese interior, despite the Japanese invasion.

He was posted to Shanghai in 1944, at the age of 19.

One year later, it was V-J Day, and Moore decided to capture the moment. But instead of photographing the celebrations, he turned the lens on ordinary citizens.

"I saw that Chinese workers were resolved to do their work in spite of the hardships imposed by the Japanese military over the previous eight years. I admired their courage and resilience and chose workers who showed these characteristics. I wanted to capture it. I see it in the worker's eyes. So does the camera," says Moore.

Out of more than 100 photographs, 20 were chosen for the exhibition because of how they tell the story.

Some of Moore's favorite photographs are those of old people "for their courage," and children because "I love their smiles and spirit."

It was not until 65 years later, in February 2009, that Moore was to return to China with an exhibition of his photographs in Hong Kong.

During his career, Moore founded a construction company building bridges and roads, but photography was always a passion. Taking his photographs back to Shanghai was also a dream.

Suen Shu Kwan, the Shanghai exhibit's curator, comments: "Even after 65 years, Moore can still recall how he was astonished by the faces of the Chinese people - maybe this is why he wants to hold the exhibition in China."

Date: April 18-May 17

Address: 2/F, 220 Taikang Rd

Tel: 6445-0902


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