A great friend of the Juno Beach Centre left us November 6, 2020…
It was with sadness that we learned of the passing of Warrant Officer 2nd Class (Ret’d) George Chow, 16th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, 2nd Canadian Infantry Division.
The Juno Beach Centre sends its sincere condolences to his children, family, friends, and the Chinese-Canadian military community.
George, who turned 99 on November 5, 2020, was one of approximately 600 Chinese Canadians who served in the Second World War. In 2014, Chow 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.
We captured his story in our Legacy of Honour video series, and his testimonial is included among those on Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment service this November and December 2020. We are truly grateful to have had the opportunity to capture and share George’s story before his passing.
George was one of seven Legacy of Honour veterans at Veterans Affairs Canada’s March 2019 remembrance campaign launch for the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. He was also one of 40 veterans present at Juno Beach for the official Canadian ceremony on June 6th 2019.
After George’s passing, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a statement: “his service and legacy has been recognized through numerous war medals, Canadian Forces decorations and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. These awards cannot measure the lasting impact George’s service will have on generations of young Canadians. We have lost a trailblazer who broke barriers and showed young children what service, duty and love for one’s country is. You may be gone my friend, but you will never be forgotten.”
Read on to learn more about George’s incredible story:
In August 1940, two months before his 19th birthday, George went to the recruiting centre at the Bay Street Armoury in Victoria to sign up. After basic training he was transferred to 16th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery in Windsor, ON, for advanced training. The Battery was then shipped to Halifax to board a vessel for England. In England he was a member of the first all-Canadian crew to shot down the German plane on English soil.
During the Normandy Campaign, the 16th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, RCA was part of 2nd Army Group Royal Artillery (AGRA). They were lucky when they came off the Landing Craft Tank (LCT) as the water was only 9” deep during their landing. They continued to move inland to Caen and other regions of France before heading into Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. 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.
During the war, he married his English bride. Eventually, he, his wife and their children returned home to Canada where George joined the 43rd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA at Bessborough Armoury in Vancouver, BC, in 1953, as a Gunnery instructor. He attained the rank of Warrant Officer 2nd Class (today equivalent to MWO) and was appointed Battery Sergeant Major (BSM) of 210 Battery in 1958. In 1959 the 43rd was amalgamated with the 15th Field and George continued as BSM. He was honourably discharged in 1963.
Farewell, George. We will remember.
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 email@example.com.