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Bill Chong

Bill Chong, born in Vancouver, was caught up with the Japanese takeover of Hong Kong in 1941 and volunteered with the British Army Aid Group, an intelligence unit, serving as Agent 50 under extreme dangerous and hostile conditions in China. « View Transcript

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Larry Y Wong (Interviewer)

Before he was known as Agent 50, William Gun Chong was born in Vancouver July 15, 1911. By circumstances, he found himself in Hong Kong in the fateful week of December 1941.

Bill Chong (Interviewee)

The Japanese had already occupied Hong Kong and I was staying in my my sister's apartment. My sister then, she left and half of the apartment was vacant below. She rented and I look up from the veranda. I won't dare go up there, and stand up and look. I just peek down. I saw the Japanese kill one of the American uh or the Canadian. I think he's officer ah ah. He's a young man. He was wounded. He was lying on the sidewalk. He asked. Japanese came and didn't take him as a prisoner, then shoot him. They they do not understand what this guy want. All he want is a drink of water and the Japanese soldier didn't do anything until the officer came. He look at this guy and ah the the soldier, I think he's a a second lieutenant. He had one pip on his shoulder. Ah he asked for water and the Japanese pulled pulled out of his back. I thought he would take the water bottle out. Instead he took a pistol out and shoot him right there. But I said, "How could ah people do that?" He couldn't fight any more. He was a young guy. He could have taken him in too as a prisoner, but they didn't. That's ah how the Japanese, when when they occupied Hong Kong, they were rude. They were mean. They killing people without any reason. So then finally I thought, "When is my turn are they going to be kill?" so I I decided to escape, and went into free China and I joined up with with the British Army.

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Bill took his orders from the British Army Aid Group, also known as MI-9. From 1942 to 1945, Bill travelled alone, dressed as a peasant, avoiding bandits and enemies, though he was twice captured by Japanese patrols. His mission was to bring escapees from occupied territory and save other lives with medical supplies. The British Army recognized Bill's courage and bravery with the highest civilian award, the British Empire Medal

You went into free China you went looking for the ah British Army and I believe ah you found the British Army A Group which was really an intelligence (Yeah.) unit using civilians to ah spy on the Japanese (Yes.) and I understand you met um ah I believe it was Colonel Lindsay Ride at that time.


Yeah. They never told me but our group called B A A G -- British Army A Group. We're supposed to help the Chinese. Well, the Chinese need a lot of help from foreign country ah and ah ah our organization called British Army A Group: it's phony, it, because we are doing intelligence actually. I was never told. We were under Lord Mountbatten. He's over our command of Southeast Asia, Southeast Asiatic Command (coughs), Lord Mountbatten. I never met him, but all our work is doing under, for, under him; so any information about China the Japanese occupy, what the China, how the Japanese work, anything about the Chinese I'm supposed to bring back. And that will go into England, and where they ah ah compile them, know what the Japanese, how they're doing, how strong are they, things ah like that. But besides this job I, they told me that I'm to rescue, I'm to rescue any person if they are British subjects. I I brought out people ah from England, Australia, French ah ah ah India: lot of places, if they are British subjects; they mostly escaped from Hong Kong.

(The story of Deamato and Marcus da Silva) (Yes.) They both are very famous people in Hong Kong which I never met them before, I don't know who they are because I wasn't in Hong Kong long enough to know them, so I brought them out from ah ah to safety but I, my job, I never ask them for their last name. I never tell them who I am or what I am doing. All they know about me is "Bill" and they, ah I don't know this person is Leo and the other one's Marcus da Silva, his name is Marcus. So they are very important people in Hong Kong. They were more of captured by, tortured by the Japanese, and they escaped, and my job, I brought them home free; and after the war I was sent by the Supreme Court -- the land bailiff came, looked for me in my hotel.

They want me to listen to the Court ah in session. Afterward I went out and sat down. Marcus is the prosecutor. Leo Deamata is the Chief Justice. The guy he, they, prosecute is a Chinese guy. His name is Lee. He work for the Japanese. He knows all about Hong Kong. He knows whose and who. He marked a deserter that was tortured. Japanese film warder and put a flag over his his body and walk over it. He survive but ah ah Leo Deamata I don't know. He didn't say. But he's the ah Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and they ah finally they got this guy, Lee guy, they they order execution. He's to be hanged.

Did you Know?

After a career of working with British Army Intelligence in Hong Kong, Bill Chong retired to Vancouver Island and opened a Chinese café in Chemainus.

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Interviewee: Bill Chong

Duration: 7:36

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