Master Warrant Officer (Ret’d) George Chow, CD

Mr. George Chow was born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1921. Two months before his 19th birthday, he went to the recruiting centre at the Bay Street Armoury in Victoria to sign up without his parents’ knowledge.

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Cpl. Bambi Gray in uniform

Mr. George Chow was born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1921. Two months before his 19th birthday, he went to the recruiting centre at the Bay Street Armoury in Victoria to sign up without his parents’ knowledge. “I was just 18, not quite 19. So I walked in the armouries and they said, Oh, you want to join the army, I said, yes. You want a lot of action? I said, yes.” After he had stayed at the Armoury for 2 days, he went home in uniform to surprise his parents. They didn’t want him to go but they weren’t going to persuade him out of it. “I was determined, I wanted to go.”

“I was just 18, not quite 19. So I walked in the armouries and they said, Oh, you want to join the army, I said, yes. You want a lot of action? I said, yes.”

A week later, George was sent to the Seaforth Armoury in Vancouver, British Columbia for basic training.  He was later dispatched to Windsor, Ontario for further training and then shipped to Halifax to board a vessel for England.

During the Normandy Campaign, George was a member of the 2nd Army Group Royal Artillery (AGRA).  They were lucky when they came off the Landing Craft Tank (LCT) as the water was only 9 inches deep during their Normandy landing. After D-Day they continued to move inland to Caen and other regions of France before heading into Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. 

“You just live from day to day actually. If someone says they weren’t scared then they’re just lying. Darn right you’re scared.”

After the victory in Europe, George volunteered to prepare for the Pacific theatre but his new assignment ended soon after the atomic bomb had been dropped in Japan.

“Once a gunner always a gunner.”

Joining the Air Force

D-Day and Battle of Normandy Veterans, such as George Chow, will share their experiences and help unveil a special commemorative poster at the launch event at the Pacific Central Station in Vancouver on March 29.

Joining the Air Force - Transcription

When I joined up I was still eighteen, August I joined up and it wasn’t until October to turn nineteen but I was only young but as I said I was as green as grass, I didn’t know anything.

In those days it wasn’t a thing of patriotism, nothing like that at all just wanted adventure that’s all it was.

I went as a gunner with 16th Light Battery, 3rd Regiment, it’s Bofors, an anti-aircraft gun that’s what it was.

In Vancouver, they didn’t have any equipment at all.

And how we trained, we used broom handle, okay this is your gun here, and you stand on this side.

Like when your gun is hooked on to the tractor, the rear of the gun, you’re facing the barrel because it’s pointing that way but once it’s unhooked the rear part of the gun is behind the breach.

In other words, you’re facing the back of the gun and the front of the gun is where the barrel is pointing.

The routine we had, you know, take route marches, take lectures from the military law, first aid, we had to learn all that stuff.

And then, of course, air craft identification that was a must because we don’t want to shoot down our own plane.

After the Second World War, George joined the 43rd Heavy Anti-Aircraft (HAA) of the Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA) in the Bessborough Armoury in Vancouver, British Columbia, as a Gunnery instructor in 1950. “Once a gunner always a gunner.” He reached the rank of Master Warrant Officer (MWO) holding the position of a Battery Sergeant Major when he was honourably discharged in 1963.

George was awarded numerous war medals and the Canadian Forces Decoration (CD).  In 2012, he was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.  In October 2014, he was awarded the rank of Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour by the French Government and was subsequently presented the Medal of Legion of Honour by Consul General Jean-Christophe Fleury of the Consulate General of France in Vancouver, British Columbia in April 2015.

In commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands in 2015, George had the privilege of joining the Government of Canada Delegation to visit the Netherlands in May 2015.

George is currently 97 and continues to keep himself active.  He still drives during the day for shopping, running errands, and attending health care appointments and social events.

In honour of the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, Master Warrant Officer (Retired) George Chow is one of our Faces of Freedom. He will be participating in commemorative events leading up to June 6th.


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