This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.
General Woo Kwang-hsin, a native of Hsuchowfu, Kiangsu Province, was born in 1881. He received his early education under private tuition, and was an apt scholar. At the age of nineteen, he graduated from the Peiyang Military School; and soon afterward he was sent by the government to further his studies in Japan. At the age of twenty-one, he graduated from the Japanese Cadet Academy. Upon his return to China, he acted as instructor of artillery, —with a military title. At the age of twenty-five, he took up a course of higher military science in the Military University—where he graduated after a term of three years. He was then made a Colonel in the artillery.
When the Revolution broke out, he was staff officer under Marshal Tuan Chi-jui, and he was instrumental in the establishment of the first republican government. As a reward, he was given the rank of Lieutenant-General,—and he was later appointed as Military Councillor to the President.
In 1914, General Woo was Commander-General of the Twentieth Division, with headquarters in Hsinminfu, Fengtien Province. He was a great opponent of the Yuan Shih-kai monarchical movement, and because of his opposition he was dismissed. When Yuan Shih-kai was defeated in his movement, and Marshal Tuan Chi-jui was acting as Premier, General Woo was recalled and given the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Upper Yangtse. He was later strongly in favor of declaring war against Germany.
When General Chang Hsun attempted to reinstate the Manchu ruler in the throne, he again offered his services to Marshal Tuan, to defeat the proposed change in the government.
When His Excellency Hsu Shih-chang was made President, General Woo proposed dismissing all surplus troops, as a means of retrenchment; but, before his proposal could be put to the test, a sudden change occurred in Hunan,—which had fallen in the hands of anti-government forces. The Peking government summoned him to Changsha as Tuchun,—which post he declined. With painstaking efforts he planned different ways of saving the situation, but, on the contrary, he was dragged into the political muddle. General Wang Chen-yuan, Tuchun of Hupeh, suddenly changing his views, surrendered himself to Marshal Tsao Kun, at the outbreak of war between the Chihli and Anfu parties, and used General Woo to his advantage. For this reason, General Woo was thrown into prison, until Marshal Hsiao Yao-nan, under Marshal Wu Pei-fu’s orders, banished General Wong out of Hupeh. It was then that General Wang felt the pangs of conscience, and so succeeded in having General Woo set free.
General Woo is a close friend of Marshal Chang Tso-lin, of Mukden. In the fall, of 1924, in command of Fengtien forces, he took an active part in the fighting between Marshal Chang Tso-lin and Marshal Wu Pei-fu. After the defeat of the latter, he was appointed Minister of War in the Provisional Cabinet formed by Marshal Tuan Chi-jui.
A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors, Biographies of Prominent Chinese (Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925). 57.