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The current time is: 3/25/2019 2:49:47 PM
 (1939-1945) WWII Battles
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 8825

Force 136 British Special Operations Executive (SOE), getting the vote.
Posted on: 1/2/2019 9:47:25 AM
This is not really a story about heroism as much as it is about racism and the desire for citizenship.

Let me explain.

When Japan entered the war, the British Special Operations Executive determined that much as it had done in Europe to assist resistance movements and to spy on German activities with a spy network, it would also do the same in Japanese controlled territory.

And so SOE established Force 136. SOE decided that caucasian agents would stick out like a sore thumb.

They desired to help organize people of Chinese ancestry who were living in occupied British territory like Burma and who could perhaps be organized into a resistance movement if SOE could find agents who looked like Japanese but spoke Cantonese or Mandarin.

There is considerable difference between the facial features of a Japanese and a Chinese but that seemed to be lost on SOE

The SOE determined that there was a sizeable population of Chinese in Canada and so they came to Canada to recruit Chinese-Canadians.

This had nothing to do with the Canadian military. In fact, most Chinese-Canadians had been rejected when they tried to enlist because their race was not wanted in the military.

You should know that even if a person of Chinese ancestry had been born in Canada, that person did not have citizenship nor did he have the vote.

There was legislation on the books that excluded further immigration of Chinese people. (often called the Chinese Exclusion Act).

As well, the Chinese were the only people subjected to a head tax should they wish to sponsor wives and children. It was almost impossible for a person to raise the funds necessary to pay the fee to allow relatives to come to Canada.

I have presumed that the Canadian government knew that SOE was recruiting in Canada but I do not know that for sure.

And so, they recruited Chinese and Chinese-Canadians for Force 136.

These men were highly trained commandos but the force was created near the end of the war so only a few of them were deployed to places like occupied China or Burma where they lived off the land and made contact with resistance movements and created as much damage as they could.

I have to note that several of these men had to spend time taking Mandarin or Cantonese lessons because they only spoke English, having been born in Canada. That always makes me chuckle.

The reasons that these men gave for enlisting with the British forces and taking on a role for which survival was unlikely, (note they were issued cyanide capsules, lest they be captured), were primarily to prove to Canada that they were good citizens and worthy of respect.

This is a shameful period in the history of my country and I knew very little of these men. Their exploits, their service was not deemed important enough to talk about, it seems.

And they had been sworn to secrecy and did not talk about their war.

When the war ended, many of these men became social activists and pushed for the vote and in 1947, they were granted that right. The country was forced to respect their service even if it was with the British.

The number recruited to Force 136 was about 150.

[Read More]

The following story printed in the Toronto Star tells the story of Hank Wong who served with Force 136 and was fully trained and ready to be deployed as part of Operation Oblivion. But the atomic bombs were dropped and that was it.

Wong was in Australia and as the war ended, there seemed to be no-one to claim him and the other men in his section who were ready to be dropped into Burma. They weren't Canadian soldiers.

So these men hired on as ship's crew on a freighter and worked their way home to Canada.

The story begins with Sandy Wong, daughter of Hank Wong describing a day just a few years ago when she and her dad were driving along a road in Ontario and passed a hydro line cut with the tall transmission line towers. Her Dad looked at them and said, "I know how to take those down". Sandy was shocked. She had never heard her father talk about the war.

[Read More]

Men of which to be proud and we are now. They should have been told.



Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major

Posts: 4759

Re: Force 136 British Special Operations Executive (SOE), getting the vot
Posted on: 1/2/2019 10:21:26 AM
Hi George,

Good topic, a story few of us know!? It's a shame how Orientals and others like 1st nations have been treated in North America,!? The US Armed forces had units of Japanese Americans fight the Germans in WWII, & they accounted themselves very well!?

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Native Americans as well!?

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true patriots, all!
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major

Posts: 7733
Re: Force 136 British Special Operations Executive (SOE), getting the vot
Posted on: 1/2/2019 10:47:11 AM
Thanks for the story George--a very true "rumble in the jungle"


Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 8825

Re: Force 136 British Special Operations Executive (SOE), getting the vot
Posted on: 1/2/2019 12:55:21 PM
The National Film Board of Canada is an award winning association that has produced some brilliant documentaries.

This one is titled, Unwanted Soldiers

This is the story of a few of the Force 136 Chinese Canadians. It was produced by the daughter of one of the veterans.

Her Dad had served and he was one of the ones who did not get to perform the acts of heroism that some others of his peer group did because the war ended just as he was about to be deployed.

He said that while born in Canada, he always felt like a foreigner in a foreign country.

His daughter asked him when he first felt like a citizen.

His answer was, "When I first put on the uniform, I felt like a man".

Such a shameful time in my country's history. It is why I hope that many of us will continue to push back against racist thought and action.

From the NFB:

You may have to register but there is no cost to that.

[Read More]



Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 3798

Re: Force 136 British Special Operations Executive (SOE), getting the vot
Posted on: 1/2/2019 1:12:01 PM
Noor Inayat Khan.....does that name mean anything ?

It should do.

Recruited by the British into SOE, she was sent into occupied Europe and paid with her life.

Worse than that, she underwent torture before the Germans executed her at Dachau in 1944.

She was an Indian princess of Sufi decent.

There is a campaign to have her face on the new £50 note.

Curmudgeon that I am, I get pissed off with constant insistence that we must do more to recognise race and gender “ issues” when we countenance aspects of culture and society in every manifestation.

Now I’m beginning to feel a change of heart.

When it comes to commemorating this lady, I’ll be shouting loudly and hope that - if ever I spend a fifty pound note - it’ll be her face that honours the transaction.

Regards, Phil
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

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