George Hogg was born in Harpenden, near Stevenage North of London. He went to St George’s School and then on to Wadham College, Oxford where he attained a Batchelor of Arts.
During his formative years he was strongly influenced by his mother and his aunt’s strongly pacifist Quaker philosophy. He was brought up to see, think and believe in the best in people and to do his best for them.
In 1938 Hogg was a reporter working for Associated Press during the troubled times when there was an undeclared war between Japan and China and he left Japan where he was based at the time to visit Shanghai in China.
He intended to stay only two days but during his visit he witnessed the brutality of the Japanese army towards the Chinese and resolved to try to help.
He started by helping a nurse from New Zealand smuggle food and medicine to the Chinese communists and went on to assist in guerrilla raids by the Chinese against the Japanese. Whilst on the front line he wrote the book ‘I see a new China’.
Hogg started to assist New Zealand-born communist Rewi Alley’s Gung Ho movement in Shaanxi. He helped Alley operate a primitive orphanage for 60 boys. This was infested and had no beds, books or food. He converted a nearby cottage into a dormitory and having established credit in town, he was able to source basic foodstuffs for the children.
He was known as Ho Ke to the boys. Gradually, through games and activities such as hiking, swimming and singing as well as sports he gained the respect of the children. He went on to adopt four brothers from the orphanage.
In late 1944, the Nationalist army searched classrooms for boys to press gang into the army, Hogg resisted this strongly and was arrested by the army for resisting recruitment.
Hogg decided it was no longer safe to remain in Shaanxi and decided to relocate to Shandan – some 750 miles away in Gansu Province. Rather than leave the boys behind in the orphanage he made two trips by foot to Lanzhou, some 450 miles away across the snow covered mountains. Each trip took about a month. About half the boys travelled each time. From Lanzhou he hired six trucks to complete the journey to Shandan.
In early 1945 in Shandan, Alley of the Gung Ho movements rented some old temples and transformed them into classrooms and workshops and appointed Hogg as headmaster.
Later that same year Hogg stubbed his toe playing basketball with the children. It became infected with tetanus and despite a round trip of some 500 miles; two of the boys went to fetch medicine but were unable to get to him in time and Hogg died a few days later.
He is remembered to this day in China
Hogg was involved in many other projects and good works but this is the one for which he is most remembered. A fuller account can be read here and a little about Rewi Alley and the school he founded here
His life (abridged and modified somewhat) is portrayed in the film ‘The Children of Huang Shi’ which was released in 2008