As a Chinese-medium educational institution, Chung Ling High School (CLHS) in Penang enjoyed an illustrious reputation in the Malayan era. During the fall of Penang in World War II, the deaths of eight teachers and forty-six students from CLHS marked a painful episode in the history of Penang's intellectual community, manifested in their sense of trauma and reflections on the crisis of Chinese education. After CLHS was reopened during the postwar period, the school set up a committee to commemorate the sacrifices of its teachers and students through memorial services, erection of a monument, and publication of tribute books. Applying the theories of French historian Pierre Nora, this article discusses how the ensuing les lieux de mémoire (sites of memory) formed through the sacrifices of CLHS teachers and students, inscribing the plight of literary lineage and cultural severance, which in turn takes on the role of reviving and perpetuating the ethnic Chinese spirit. In this sense, the sacrifices of the CLHS teachers and students as “sites of memory” have become a part of the ethnic community's collective memory. When we examine how war memory texts are constructed, the CLHS tragedy embeds the connections between Chinese education and the ethnic sentiments of the Chinese community during the Japanese occupation.

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