Soldiers of Misfortune

 the history of mercenaries
Cohen on a book cover

Morris Abraham "Two-Gun" Cohen (1889-1970)

Morris Cohen was born in 1887 in a Polish shtetl not far from Warsaw. 1890 the family emigrated to England. Young Cohen grew up on the streets of London, learned some boxing and got problems with the law for petty crime. So like many trouble makers in this time his parents sent him with 18 to Canada.

There he was wandering through the Western provinces, making a living as a carnival talker, gambler, grifter and real estate broker. Some of his activities landed him in jail. As a member of a gang of pickpockets he came in contact with the large Chinese community in British Columbia. He protected some of their gambling dens and became friends with political emigrants. Soon he exported also some arms to revolutiary China. In World War he joined the Canadian Railway Troops in Europe where he supervised Chinese laborers.

After the war back in Canada he found the economy declined and looked for new possibilities. So he took the opportunity to go to China to close a railway deal with Sun Yat-sen. In contact with first president of the Republic of China he took the chance and become the chief of his body guard. Cohen trained Sun's small armed forces to box and shoot

After the death of Sun Yat-sen in 1925 Cohen served various Kuomintang leaders, rich bankers and important warlords. Security and training were now only the smaller part of his work he mainly organized the importaion of arms where a lot of money was to be made.

When the Japanese invaded China in 1937, Cohen joined the fight and became a prisoner when Hong Kong fell in 1941. Later he was one of the few prisoners who were exchanged in this war. He went back to Canada and married. After the war he visited China regularly hoping to reestablish his business.

Later he settled in England and used his good contacts to Taiwan and Communist China to help British companies to export their products to China. He soon was able to arrange consulting jobs with Vickers (planes), Rolls Royce (engines) and Decca Radar. Morris Cohen died in 1970 and is buried in Manchester.