Derry woman’s search for lost grave now a film

Rifleman Paddy McGowan.
Rifleman Paddy McGowan.

A new film which tells the heart warming story of a 20-years journey undertaken by a Derry woman to honour her long-dead relative, will be screened in Belfast later this month.

Sara Moran’s one-woman battle to locate the final resting place of her uncle, Rifleman Patrick ‘Wee Paddy’ McGowan, who was killed in action 80 years ago while serving with the Royal Ulster Rifles (RUR) in China, is a truly remarkable story.

In October 1937, 25-years- old Rifleman McGowan, from Derry, was killed by gunfire from a Japanese aircraft while attempting to save Chinese civilians. His death caused political outcry and had far reaching international significance.

‘Wee Paddy,’ along with three other RUR soldiers killed in further attacks, were buried in Shanghai with full military honours. However, in the years after the conflict, their resting places were lost during the rapid expansion of the growing city of Shanghai.

For more than 20 years, Sara Moran had been searching for answers about her uncle. In 2013, she wrote a letter to David Cameron asking for help after the Chinese Government had been unable to provide any further information. Miraculously, her letter reached the British Consulate in China, who enlisted the help of Shanghai based historian, Dr. Mark Felton.

Through an incredible piece of detective work, the final resting places of Paddy McGowan and his comrades were found in the Song Qing Ling Cemetery in Shanghai.

The new film, “Finding Wee Paddy,” will be screened at ‘The MAC,’ Belfast on Saturday, October 21 (7pm). For tickets and further info, check out or call 07876263249.