IN THE BEGINNING:
Before we start to talk about Willie Chong and his comrades in arms, we need to know what life was like for the Chinese Canadians not just in Vancouver but all over Canada.
In the search of a better life, Chinese families sailed East from China to the west coast of Canada. Initially they came at the time of the Frazier River Gold Rush and came to help build trails, wagon roads, dig ditches etc. Sadly life was not as they expected to find it. They were treated as second class citizens and had few rights. They weren't allowed to study or have "Academic" jobs as despite their qualifications, had to work in the most menial of jobs and live in very basic conditions.
The Canadians over the years had tried to curb Chinese immigration through taxes and other means but 'they still kept coming'. They would arrive at the docks in Victoria and after a thorough medical examination, were sent to rooms with bars on the windows to be confined until someone decided what to do with them. All of their belongings were opened and no-one and nothing was safe. Most regretted migrating to Canada and could only mourn the life they had left behind. From 1923 to 1947, no-one of Chinese descent was allowed into Canada and those who were there, were treated terribly.
Willie (Jun Wai) Chong's parents were one of those immigrant couples wanting to bring their children up in a land where they could have 'a better life'. They left behind their families and loved ones and came to a land where 'their kind' would barely be tollerated. The Chong family settled in Vancouver and this is where the story begins.
Below are some links which will give more information about the Chinese immigration into Canada
In 1997 Willie Chong wrote :
My name is Willie Chong, a Canadian born Chinese in British Columbia Canada. Chinese were not allowed to serve in the Armed Forces, until September 1944 after a Canadian in the British Army, long involved in both M.I.6. and S.O.E. A MAJOR FRANCIS WOODLEY KENDALL, came to Canada and wanted Chinese who spoke Chinese Dialects and English. These men would be loaned to the British for S.O.E. with Force 136. He found 126 Chinese volunteers including myself, to serve in the S.E.A.C. He also found 30 more volunteers to go to Force Z in S.O.E. in Australia. A second draft from Canada were cancelled after the bomb was dropped in August 1945.