Saturday, April 17, 2021

Two-Gun Cohen was "adventurer of Jewish origin who became aide-de-camp to Sun Yat-sen and a major-general in the Chinese National Revolutionary Army"


Cohen was born Abraham Mialczyn into a Jewish family in Radzanów, Poland on 3 August 1887. 


Cohen's parents shipped the young Morris off to western Canada with the hope that the fresh air and open plains of the New World would reform his ways.


Cohen also became friendly with some of the Chinese exiles who had come to work on the Canadian Pacific Railways. He loved the camaraderie and the food, and in Saskatoon came to the aid of a Chinese restaurant owner who was being robbed. Cohen's training in the alleyways of London came in handy, and he knocked out the thief and tossed him out into the street. Such an act was unheard of at the time, as few white men ever came to the aid of the Chinese. The Chinese welcomed Cohen into their fold and eventually invited him to join the Tongmenghui, Sun Yat-sen's anti-Manchu organization.


In Shanghai and Canton (Guangzhou), Cohen trained Sun's small armed forces to box and shoot, and told people that he was an aide-de-camp and an acting colonel in Sun Yat-sen's army. Fortunately for Cohen, his lack of proficiency in Chinese — he spoke a pidgin form of Cantonese at best — was not a problem since Sun, his wife Soong Ching-ling and many of their associates were Western-educated and spoke English. Cohen's colleagues started calling him Ma Kun (馬坤), and he soon became one of Sun's main protectors, shadowing the Chinese leader to conferences and war zones. After one battle where he was nicked by a bullet, Cohen started carrying a second gun. The western community were intrigued by Sun's gun-toting protector and began calling him "Two-Gun Cohen."