We've all seen Ingrid Bergman in Inn of the Sixth Happiness but the real life Gladys Aylward was nothing like her. She was small in build and had a London accent. She didn't like the film and insisted it was nothing like her real life.
When she was 28 she took the decision to travel overland to China to work with missionary Jeannie Lawsojn in Yangchen, after failing her examination at the Mission Centre in London. When Mrs Lawson died Gladys took on the challenge of running the mission.
She was responsible for quelling a prison riot; helping to end the practice of foot binding of females; taking in abandoned babies and of course the famous twelve day walk with 100 children through harsh terrain to the Government orphanage at Sian.
She returned to England for health reasons and when she was refused permission by the Communist Government to return to China she settled in Taiwan and founded an orphanage in her own name. She worked until her death in 1970.