The Juno Beach Centre has published a seven-part serihttp://www.junobeach.org/six-men-on-a-nickel-sgt-john-gordon-hopper/es that tells the story of the Last Flight of the Whitley AD-701, researched and written by Shirley Stone. This is part six. Click here to read The Last Flight (part one), F/O David Goodwin (part two), Sgt. Wilfred Gordon Harris (part three), Sgt. John Gordon Hopper (part four), W/O Joseph Gaston Jacques (part five) and F/O Charles Beverly Wyckoff (part seven).
FLYING OFFICER – NAVIGATOR
R.C.A.F. – J/37185
Joe, as he was known, was born on December 8, 1922, in Windsor, Ontario. He was the fifth child born to Mi Hong and his wife, Chung (née: Eng).
Mi and Chung (June) were born in Canton, China, and settled in Windsor, where they operated two restaurants.
Joseph attended Prince Edward Public School in Windsor from 1929 to 1936, Walkerville High School in Windsor from 1936 to 1941, and O’Neill’s Business College in Windsor from 1941 to 1942. When Joe graduated from high school he became a member of the advertising staff of the Windsor Star newspaper and worked there from August 1941 until he enlisted on August 10, 1942.
Joe’s R.C.A.F. training took place at Lachine, Victoriaville and Mont Joli in Quebec; London, Ontario; and Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was an AC2, LAC, Flight Sergeant, P/O and F/O. He received his Navigator’s Badge on October 15, 1943. Joseph was the first Chinese man in the Windsor area to graduate as an Air Force Officer. It was not until 1947, after the war ended, that Canada’s Chinese Exclusion Act (1923) was abolished. Until that time, Chinese Canadians were marginalized and not allowed to vote.
Joe left Halifax by sea on November 1, 1943, and arrived in England on November 9 where he was posted to the 3 P.R.C. On January 15, 1944, he went to the A.C.H.U. He was then transferred to the 6 (0) A.F.U. on February 22, 1944. He arrived at his final posting with the 24 O.T.U., R.A.F. Honeybourne, on April 4, 1944.
On May 22, 1944, Joseph was aboard Whitley AD701, on a mission to drop leaflets over the LeMans, France area when shot down by flak and crashed at La Potence, near Sées, Normandy. All aboard were killed. Joseph is buried at Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, Cintheaux, Coll. grave XXVII. G. 4-7. The Town of Sées, erected a memorial to the crew that was dedicated on May 8, 2005. Family and friends of Joseph attended the ceremonies.
Joe’s brother, George, was a private with the West Nova Scotia Regiment, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. George, age 18, was killed in action on September 8, 1944. He was buried at Ancona War Cemetery in Italy, less than four months after Joe was killed in France. One cannot begin to imagine the grief of their mother, June, after losing two sons in such a short space of time.
Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.