Paul Chan

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Paul Chan is one of four brothers - Herby, Ira, Roy and Paul - who served in the Second World War. « View Transcript

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Wesley Lowe (Interviewer)

Herby, Ira, Roy and Paul Chan were four brothers from Victoria that served in the Second World War. While Paul knew why he was there, he was able to find adventure and humour, sometimes in the darkest places.

Paul Chan (Interviewee)

So we were on this New Amsterdam, so we were on that troop, and by the time we go down we feel like warmer weather and then we go up north. One night, we had, I had, we had supper about five o'clock and saw the cook running up. I said, "Oh maybe they are training," and later on this loudspeaker said, "The German claim to sink the New Amsterdam" (laughs). We were sitting there for supper.

Wesley

Like many in Force 136, Paul was stationed in India. He gives a personal perspective on the advanced training he received.

Paul

We learn ... map-reading and ... short arms shooting and, and ... there was a lake there so we had a kayak paddle. Learn how to row the kayak with two person in a kayak. And then ... the Sergeant said, " You want to go for the sailing, a small sailing boat?" So we said, "Sure," we'd go sailing, and just go around and come back.

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And then we got the order, and they gave us money, enough for the train. Went up back to Bombay to New Delhi; take two days on the train. So we. we got on the train, there's... 10 of us. We said, "Don't let anybody in." You know the. you've seen a lot of them in India. They hang on outside the train there packed tight, so we just keep ourself [sic]. And then they took us to this called Merritt (snap) up a little further. It's a big Pay Corps camp the British have there so we had this compound. So we were learning wireless... training wireless. I asked them, "How long actually the training of a wireless?" He says, "Six month." We only do two month. They try to rush us, so we need another month. And after that, so we take the train or bus it to... this place, stop for the night. And we saw this bridge there in Calcutta and then a bus come along, take us to the airport, so we had our parachute training.

Wesley

Proper parachute training was mandatory if one was to be dropped behind enemy lines.

Paul

Well four days we're there. First day is in the hangar. Show you how to put on the. the. the strap and everything, and learn how to roll to left or right, not forward; with your pack and everything. And the Sergeant told us, "If it's water, you just hit ( slaps chest) the button and the leg part drop off but you still got the harness on your shoulder." Until you, if you then you hit the water, then you open up your (raises his arms) and let it. the chute got out ( lowers arms). He said, "People, jump out" and he got drowned, he didn't get out fast enough. With two feet of water, he get drowned. And another thing he said, "When you come to see tree, you bend your leg ready to kick, but make sure (demonstrates) you cover your face. And then kick the tree, the branch so you, if it's coming to it." So he teach us all that; we listen to him. So after that, we finish that... we had two day jump and one night jump - a thousand feet (rustling sound) as long as the wind is not over 20 miles. So we. they had a "T" lighted up at nighttime. Like a "T", you're supposed to drop it right there (slaps knee). And you pull this way or the side way, or this way or back way. So the chute would go. all depend which way you see. They show you how to do it. It was good. It was a Dakota. We jump in the. that front door, but if you go in the operation, it's on the tail slide, different plane.

Wesley

It sounds like ... being in the military was a lot of fun for you.

Paul

Oh yeah, well we had a lot of fun.

Wesley

Yeah.

Paul

Yeah it was, and we've been around.

Did you Know?

Did you know that Paul Chan was a drummer in an all-Chinese band before the Second World War?

Copyright to Produce

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Interviewee: Paul Chan

Duration: 4:48

Date modified: