During World War
II a special operations training camp was established briefly at a bay
on Okanagan Lake south of Kelowna. That bay is now known as Commando
Bay in recognition of the wartime activities that took place there.
136 Volunteers train in Lake Okanagan
in amphibious infiltration techniques
camp at Commando Bay was part of larger scale secret warfare training
and operations that had been taking place in Canada under the direction
of Britain's SOE, Special Operations Executive. A camp, known as Camp
X in southern Ontario, had been in operation for some time before the
Commando Bay facility was established. Many allied agents and special
operations teams had been trained there for activities behind enemy
Major Hugh John
rigorous training that was conducted at the Commando Bay camp was for
a small group of specially selected Chinese-Canadian volunteers. These
courageous men were trained for infiltration behind Japanese lines in
the South East Asia theatre of operations on missions that would be
extremely dangerous. The camp was placed under the command of Major
Hugh John Legg who with experts in various combat skills such as small
arms, hand-to-hand combat and demolitions trained the volunteers.
Andy McClure - Camp X demolitions
at Commando Bay
as Force 136 they were to participate in operations in support of allied
efforts in places like Malaya and Borneo where their knowledge of Chinese
would be an invaluable asset in cooperation with local resistance members.
The requirement for this force originated from the British Security
Coordination organization of Sir William Stevenson, the man called Intrepid,
a Canadian heading British Intelligence during WW II. The British desperately
needed operatives with a Chinese background and came to Canada to recruit
from the Chinese Canadian population.
Commando Bay camp operated between May and September 1944. Its graduates
went on to further training in Australia and service in in India, Ceylon,
Malaya and Borneo.
A testament to the courage of the
members of Force 136 is the fact that out of this small group, four
were awarded the Military Medal for their bravery in action.
For more information on
the role that Chinese Canadians played during WWII and continue to play
in the Canadian Forces of today please visit the Chinese Canadian Military
Museum's website at the link below: