Encyclopedia Titanica

Fang Lang

Chinese seaman travelling in Third Class

Wing Sun Fong (listed as "Fang Lang") was born in Taishan in Guangdong Province in Imperial China on 21 June 1894.

He was travelling to New York City with eight colleagues from the Donald Line's Anetta. He was a fireman.

While it has been alleged that some or all were stowaways on the Titanic, in fact, all eight boarded the Titanic at Southampton as fare-paying third class passengers, albeit the fare was probably paid by the Donald Line. Lee Bing, Chang Chip, Choong Foo, Ling Hee, Ah Lam, Len Lam, Fang Lang and Lee Ling travelled together on the same ticket (ticket number 1601, £56 9s 11d).

"Fang Lang" was rescuedpicked up from the sea apparently clinging to a wooden door although the identity of the person picked up is not firmly established.

After arrival in America aboard the Carpathia the Chinese survivors were transferred to the Donald Line's Annetta, and departed for Cuba on 20 April1

It appears he spent the next few years working aboard ships in the Caribbean but with the outbreak of WWI he resettled in Europe and worked on ships operating out of Le Havre in France. 

Fong lawfully entered the USA as an immigrant on 15 September 1920 and settled in the Chicago area, attempting to establish himself as a merchant before launching a laundry service. After a time he relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he worked as a waiter at Lotus, a Chinese restaurant located on 3rd Street. In June 1956 he became a US citizen and was described as a waiter standing at 5’ 6” and having black hair, brown eyes, a “yellow” complexion and weighing 147 lbs. 

Fang Lang signature
Wing’s signature, 1956

Wing returned to Asia in the 1950s and was married in Hong Kong on 6 February 1957 to a much younger woman, Ah Fon Tom (b. 15 July 1933), similarly a native of Guangdong Province who in America became known as Marie. Husband and wife returned to the USA in February 1959 and their son Tom was born on 12 December that year. Wing and his wife later divorced in 1966. 

Chinaman's Wife Receives Divorce

MILWAUKEE. Wis. (UPI) — Mrs. Marie Fong, 32, wanted a divorce. She said her husband, Wing Sun Fong, 72, made her sleep on the floor, gave her almost no social life and relegated her to "the status of a housekeeper." Mr. Fong said it was the Chinese way. The judge said this is America and granted the divorce. — The Post-Journal, 23 June 1966

Following his divorce Fong returned to Chicago where his younger brother operated the Quon Yick bakery, making his home at W. Cermak Road in the Chinatown area of the city. Active in local civic and political matters, he became a well-known fixture in Chicago’s Chinese community where he also had many relatives. 

Wing Sun Fong died aged 91 in the Chinatown area of Chicago on 21 January 1986 and was buried in Mt Auburn Cemetery under a modest metal plaque which bears his name and place of birth, written in Chinese. His former wife Marie was still alive as of 2021 whilst his son Tom still lives in Janesville, Wisconsin. 

In his later life Wing Sun Fong did not openly discuss the topic of the Titanic with his American family and his own son was not aware that he had been on the ship, despite a childhood memory of a relative telling him that his father had lived through a shipwreck and survived by clinging to wreckage. It was close to two decades after his passing that Fong’s son Tom, whilst entertaining family from Hong Kong at a Titanic attraction in Wisconsin, was again informed by a cousin that his father had been on the ship and survived. Incredulous at first, Tom was quick to browse the internet and found information about the Chinese passengers, with one name leaping out, despite differences in English spelling—Fang Lang. Tom ascertained that “Fang Lang” had perhaps been the Chinese man rescued by the occupants of lifeboat 14, found floating aboard a door or sideboard and hauled aboard the lifeboat and revived. 

Notes

  1. The documentary The Six made the inference that the seamen were prevented from leaving the Carpathia in compliance with the Chinese Exclusion Act.  It is unclear whether this was really the case as they had intended to join the Annetta all along.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Fang Lang (Wing Sun Fong)
Age: 17 years 9 months and 24 days (Male)
Nationality: Hong Kongese Chinese
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Seaman
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 1601, £56 9s 11d
Rescued (boat 14)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Tuesday 21st January 1986 aged 91 years
Buried: Mount Auburn Cemtery, Stickney, Illinois, United States

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References and Sources

BBC News Titanic: Searching for the 'missing' Chinese survivors
The Six (2021 Documentary)
Chicago Tribune, 3 November 2021, A Titanic Survivor lived and died in Chicago’s Chinatown

Research Articles

Titanica! (2003) Chinese Sailors on the Titanic
Information on the eight Chinese passengers aboard Titanic
Titanica! (2018) Titanic: The Disappeared
Which Titanic survivors have never been found?

Newspaper Articles

Brooklyn Daily Eagle (19 April 1912) Five Celestials Among Rescued
How They Got There a Mystery

Miscellaneous

John P. Eaton Voyage (2010) Annetta
Donald Line Freighter
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Comment and discuss

  1. Ioannis Georgiou

    Ioannis Georgiou said:

    In all they were 8, travelling on the same ticket and going to New York to join their ship Annetta. I am sure you will find some more information... Read full post

  2. Charles

    Charles said:

    Thank you Ioannis :) I found a picture of the Annetta at I found that Fang was the one picked up from the water in Boat 14,

  3. Bill Baird

    Bill Baird said:

    I just saw information about the Chinese passengers and am wondering if anyone has any definitive information about how they were treated on the Carpathia. I have seen that they were "held overnight" after arrival in NYC and also one quote that "they were put... Read full post

  4. Dave Gittins

    Dave Gittins said:

    It's well established that the Chinese men were held on Carpathia overnight and taken to their ship Annetta by boat in the morning. See Debbie Beavis: Who Sailed on the Titanic. By doing this, they complied with the Chinese Exclusion Act to the letter. They never set foot on US soil. (It seems an earlier post of mine was incorrect). The "putting in irons" sounds like an invention. Many sensational things were published soon after Carpathia arrived and they can't be trusted. Do you know that the lifeboats were menaced by a school of whales? A reporter did! See my earlier posts for... Read full post

  5. Bill Baird

    Bill Baird said:

    It's well established that the Chinese men were held on Carpathia overnight and taken to their ship Annetta by boat in the morning. See Debbie Beavis: Who Sailed on the Titanic. By doing this, they complied with the Chinese Exclusion Act to the letter. They never set foot on US soil. (It seems an earlier post of mine was incorrect). The "putting in irons" sounds like an invention. Many sensational things were published soon after Carpathia arrived and they can't be trusted. Do you know that the lifeboats were menaced by a school of... Read full post

  6. Dave Gittins

    Dave Gittins said:

    I'd back Debbie's account. I don't have her book, but I've read it and she gives proper sources for her story. The Secretary for Commerce and Labor, Charles Nagel, went to New York and ordered his officials to minimise red tape, so nobody went to Ellis Island. It would make sense for the Chinese to be taken to their ship by boat, which was both convenient and in accordance with US law.

  7. kaoritokyo

    kaoritokyo said:

    Hi,I was lurking here for a while.Although everyone is talking about Chinese passengers of Titanic now so I assume everyone here already knows,There are pretty interesting articles about Chinese passengers. [URL... Read full post

  8. Encyclopedia Titanica

    Encyclopedia Titanica said:

    Interesting to see Tom Fong mentioned on the articles... he posted about his father in 2004! Look forward to seeing the documentary.

  9. Seumas

    Seumas said:

    This is a wonderful story about the Chinese passengers and some great detective work. What a pity Fang Lang was never interviewed despite living such a long life. His story would have perhaps been the most horrific of them all. This was someone who could actually have actually looked you in the eye and told you what it was like to wait for rescue whilst nearly 1500 people slowly die around you. Although new discoveries about the actual ship itself may be unlikely, this goes to show that there are still discoveries to be made regarding the passengers and crew.

  10. aramizhu

    aramizhu said:

    Have you all seen Steven Schwankert’s documentary “ The Six”? Tom Fund was featured in it.

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Acknowledgements

George Behe, USA
Gavin Bell, UK
Chris Dohany, USA
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Michael A. Findlay, USA
Tom K. Fong
Alan Hustak, Canada