Derry woman’s quest to ‘Find Wee Paddy’ to be screened at the Nerve Centre

Sara Moran.
Sara Moran.

Directors of an award winning documentary telling the incredible true story of one Derry woman’s unwavering quest to locate and honour her uncle’s long lost grave in Shanghai are hosting a screening of their film at the Nerve Centre in Derry on Saturday October 26 at 7:30pm.

The film won Best UK Film at Telling Tales Film Festival in Manchester and had its world premiere at the Belfast International Film Festival. Going on to be featured on the Real Stories Channel, attracting over  30,000  views.

Flowers at the graveside.

Flowers at the graveside.

It tells the story of Sara Moran and her 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 whilst serving with the Royal Ulster Rifles in China.

In August 1937, the 1st Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles was moved at 24 hours notice from Hong Kong to Shanghai on emergency deployment following the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The battalion’s task was not to get involved in the conflict, but to assist with the protection of the International Settlement that was home to nearly 3.5 million civilians.

On the 24th October 1937, 25-year-old Rifleman Patrick McGowan of Derry was killed by fire from a Japanese aircraft whilst attempting to help civilians to safety. Private McGowan’s death caused political outcry and had far reaching international significance.

McGowan, along with four other Ulster riflemen 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 Private McGowan’s niece, 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.

A local press campaign led to her letter reaching the British Consulate in China, who enlisted the help of Shanghai based historian, Dr. Mark Felton.

Through an incredible piece of detective work, after being lost for 75 years, the final resting places of Paddy McGowan and his comrades were found in the Song Qing Ling Cemetery in Shanghai. McGowan and his fellow Ulster Rifles were honoured on a visit to Shanghai by Rear Admiral Matthew Parr & Captain Rupert Hollins of HMS Daring, accompanied by Consul General Brian Davidson.

Squeaky Pedal writer/producer Jason Davidson said: “I first heard about Sara’s incredible campaign back in 2013 whilst reading an article about the memorial service. Since then I have been determined to bring her story to a wider audience and to acknowledge the bravery and sacrifice made by her uncle ‘Wee Paddy.’”

The documentary is the culmination of two years work and includes interviews with the key figures involved in the story. Using specially commissioned artwork and the involvement of key experts the documentary makers have travelled across the UK and even to Denmark to help bring Paddy’s tragic story to life.

Squeaky Pedal are a multi-award winning independent film production team bringing personal stories, communities and ideas to life.

A spokesman said: “With a strong passion for culture and the arts we have been involved in documenting numerous projects celebrating people, places and organisations. Including Network Rail, Cheshire East Council, Manchester University, HISTORY Channel, History Hit, Bangor Cathedral, The Imperial War Museum and The Royal British Legion.

“Finding Wee Paddy won Best UK Film at Telling Tales Film Festival in Manchester and had its world premiere at the Belfast International Film Festival. Going on to be featured on the Real Stories Channel, attracting over 30,000 views.”

The screening will take place at The Nerve Centre, Derry and begins at 7.30pm. For tickets and further information please visit www.nervecentre.org/whats-on/film/finding-wee-paddy or call 028 71 260 562.