C. S. Trimmer

Based on: Suping Lu, They Were in Nanjing. The Nanjing Massacre Witnessed by American and British Nationals. Hong Kong 2004

Last updated: 09/07/2019

Clifford Sharp Trimmer was born on February 5, 1891 in Middle Valley, New Jersey. In 1913, he received a Bachelor of Philosophy from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. After obtaining his degree, he returned to his old high school, High Bridge High School and began teaching there. There he met Ruth Barkman, his future wife. In 1918, he received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and subsequently interned at the Methodist Hospital in Philadelphia for about a year. He went on to take his residency at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Stapleton, New York from 1919-1922.

In the summer of 1922, he was appointed to the Nanjing University Hospital by the Methodist Episcopal Board of Foreign Mission and together with Ruth traveled to China. During the invasion of Nanjing, Trimmer was working at the hospital taking care of victims. He was a member of the International Committee for the Nanjing Safety Zone and together with fellow member Robert Wilson he formed part of the small staff at the hospital.  He indirectly witnessed the atrocities via the victims brought in but did not see the attacks first hand since he was working and living on university grounds. Trimmer stayed in Nanjing until 1941 and, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, was detained and sent to an internment camp in Shanghai. He was repatriated in early 1943.

After working in the U.S. for a few years, Trimmer returned to his position at the Nanjing University Hospital in 1946. After the collapse of Sino-U.S. relations in 1950, he and Ruth were forced to leave China once more. Trimmer continued to work as a medical doctor well into his retirement, volunteering twice a week in the slums of New York City. He passed away on January 8, 1974 in Montclair, New Jersey.

Testifying and Contesting War Experiences in China and Japan