Roy Mah (also known as Mah Quock Quon) was born in 1918 in Edmonton. He volunteered and served as a sergeant with Force 136.
After the war, he became the publisher and editor of the first English language Chinese community newsmagazine: THE CHINATOWN NEWS. Through his publication, he championed the cause of repealing the Chinese Exclusion Act and the loosening up of immigration laws.
A taped interview w/ Roy
Question: What was the response from Chinatown of going into the War?
Roy: When we received the call to serve, it stirred up quite a controversy in the Chinese-Canadian community. The community was divided. One faction said no, we are second class citizens and the government has no right to call us up and serve the country. Let the government give us full citizen status and we’ll gladly go to war. The other faction, which I was championing, said no. If you force the government its hand under duress, they won’t give in. The best bet is to go and serve now and when we come back, we would have solid credentials to demand our full rights and privileges.
We had a public debate at the United Church and eventually our group won the debate, so we all decided that’s the course to follow.
Question: What role did you play in the war?
Roy: We belonged to the intelligence unit. Force 136. Force 136 operated behind enemy lines. We would operate in units of 4 or 5 persons per unit. The unit is usually led by a British officer. He’s either a Colonel or Captain, and then there would be one of his assistants and three other Chinese-Canadians. Our front was Malaysia-Singapore, which was occupied by the Japanese. The British would fly us in at night and drop us down and we would land by parachutes and then there would be a reception party to settle us. I was on the list to go. Everything was ready and then what happened was that the Allies dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The operation was cancelled.
Question: How did you get involved after the war?
Roy: Our efforts were to campaign for equal status, and full Canadian Citizenship rights. We drafted briefs to various Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister, requesting and urging the change of Canada’s various legislations to recognize the full citizenship rights and the status of the Chinese-Canadians.
Listen to an interview with Roy Mah which is part of the Heroes Remember series.
Read about Roy Mah receiving a commendation in 2003 from the Minister of Veterans Affairs.