Year
1945
Month Day
August 25

An American missionary to China becomes the first casualty of the Cold War

On August 25, 1945, John Birch, an American missionary to China before the war and a captain in the Army during the war, is killed by Chinese communists days after the surrender of Japan, for no apparent reason.

After America had entered the war, Birch, a Baptist missionary already in China, was made a liaison between American and Chinese forces fighting the Japanese. But on August 25, Birch, commanding an American Special Services team, was ordered to halt by Chinese communist troops. A scuffle ensued, and Birch was shot dead.

In the 1950s, Robert Welch would create a right-wing, anticommunist organization called the John Birch Society. For Welch, Birch was “the first casualty in the Third World War between Communists and the ever-shrinking Free World.”

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