Lewis (Louis) Chow (Primary Source)

Lewis Chow was a Chinese Canadian conscripted to serve in Force 136, the Far East Branch of the Special Operations Executive. Chow was rushed through training and parachuted into Kuala Lumpur. However, the atomic bombings of Japan cut the war and his dangerous mission short. Read and listen to Chow describe his training and the risks he faced as an Allied undercover agent in the Japanese-occupied Malay Peninsula.

Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.

Lewis Chow was a Chinese Canadian conscripted to serve in Force 136, the Far East Branch of the Special Operations Executive. Chow was rushed through training and parachuted into Kuala Lumpur. However, the atomic bombings of Japan cut the war and his dangerous mission short. Read and listen to Chow describe his training and the risks he faced as an Allied undercover agent in the Japanese-occupied Malay Peninsula. Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.


1007_original
Portrait of Lewis Chow in uniform.
(Courtesy of The Memory Project/Lewis Chow)

"If you’re caught as a spy, they don’t take prisoner of war, they would just shoot you. Or use just sword. It was a dangerous job when you’re a secret agent."


Transcript

They really rushed us through everything training. There’s only about a few hundred Chinese Canadians that were conscripted. How they got my number is that, at that time it was the summer holiday, I worked for my brother in the restaurant and he had to pay at that time, what’s that, unemployment insurance. And that’s how they got my number, my name I guess and they conscripted me.

And we all went. We just had no choice because when the Prime Minister, he asked that we conscript the Chinese, they were valuable for working behind enemy line. And actually in the beginning, Mackenzie King refused but he insisted that he had to because it was important that they have the Chinese as well as the European, they were doing underground service, it was very valuable. Chinese, they could just blend in there.

Oh, let’s see. We had our original training in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. Trained to do communicate with Ceylon and that was in Kandy, Ceylon. Nowadays, it’s called Sri Lanka. And that’s where Louis Mountbatten, our commander in chief, he was there. And we were communicating in Morse code to Kandy, Ceylon.

When you landed in Kuala Lumpur at nighttime, that’s the scary part, when you’re landing in the night, parachute at night. And only one hour training. You hope that you can steer your chute out and if you landed on a tree, it might be too bad for you. How are you going to get out of it? You might use your Ghurka knife to cut the strings and then you have to hide the parachute... And then you go and meet the Chinese. I landed, safely. I guess I wouldn’t be here today. And you landed there and they, they know when we were coming and they would receive us and take us to hide. Because it was shortly, a couple weeks I guess. And that’s when the second atomic bomb. Otherwise, if it was years I guess, we would not have lasted too long and if you’re caught, the fatality would be they say 80 percent probably. If you’re caught as a spy, they don’t take prisoner of war, they would just shoot you. Or use just sword. It was a dangerous job when you’re a secret agent.

Book a Speaker

oqQUQK3

The Memory Project is a volunteer speakers bureau that arranges for veterans and Canadian Forces members to share their stories of military service at school and community events across the country.

Request a Memory Project speaker at thememoryproject.com/book-a-speaker.