|Roger Kee Cheng
|Born 16 May 1915
|Royal Canadian Corps of Signals
Chan Kee Seng, born 1882 in China
My Ah Kung (Grand father Kee Seng) used to tell me about the war stories from the 1880’s. He told me that the Japanese used to have an army camp in Upper Lanang Road by Tai Kuon School not far from our house. It was probably five minutes walk. He recalled the time when the Allies landed soldiers from Kapit by parachute and the allies enlisted the locals and they swept aside the Japanese all the way down to Sibu. The leader of the Allied troops was an American Chinese Captain Fong. The Ibans called him Capitan Jina (Chinaman) The Allies used to strafe the local school by plane to scare the Japanese. He also told me when he and the clans in China had to fight the bandits attacking the village. He said we were landlords in China and very wealthy. He proudly said that our family had 2 big silos to store the grains. My Ah Kung and I shared a bed and he tells me his stories every night when we go to sleep. Mother put an end to that when she told him that I was still a school boy and needed my sleep!***Charles
I heard that he was Canadian Chinese Captain. He was big boy and with a bit of exaggeration he became a towering Chinaman and bigger than any white soldiers. He could be Canadian Chinese! Ah Kung said that in those days all persons of authority were Europeans and never a Chinese. The Chinese has to kow tow to Europeans. This Chinese captain commanded a company of white soldiers (about 100 soldiers to a Company). Ah Kung said whenever the Chinese captain gave orders to the white soldiers the white soldiers will stand to attention and give a big "da bag! (salute) and scream " yes captain sir!" That was why the locals were very impressed and the Ibans called him Capitan Jina! The Chinese would clap hands when they see the white soldiers take orders from this Chinaman! Fancy white people give a "da bag" to a china man! So this man must be very very powerful! I believed that from that time the Ibans started to give the Jina (Chinese) more respect! ****Joseph
Father's story: Ah Kung and others were surprised to hear from the Ibans of a Tuan Cina. Tuan, "Sir" was only meant for the white man. To the Iban: Cina, Chinese then were only farmers, and lowly coolies whom they encountered on the boats. So this Canadian Captain of Chinese origin was really a somebody being called a Tuan. So Ah Kung was so proud to be associated with the Sir. In jubilation, Ah Kung and his fellow villagers of Kwong Tung ba rushed to Tai Kuon School to welcome the arrival of their Canadian Chinaman Captain. They wanted to witness the triumphant victory of the Allies led by their own tall Cina captain over the shameful defeat of the short abominable bespectacled Japanese. The Chinese spat “Phui!!!” in disgust and shouted curses and “Bangsai go do a shit.” The onlookers including the Ibans cheered vigorously. There were peals or claps of thunder, but these didn’t come from the sky. They came from ripple after ripple of applause as the Japanese surrendered their rifles, long swords, scabbards and short knives. The villagers sneered and jeered. They said they were told that a Japanese soldier never gave up his weapon, unless he admitted defeat, a Japanese soldier would rather die than surrender. Ah Kung and his friends were like blood hounds waiting to watch the Japanese commit Seppuku or hara-kiri. One couldn’t blame them for their jingoistic euphoria, after all these Japanese were men from hell. But these were cowards, they didn’t commit Seppuku to the disappointment of the spectators. Instead they chose to become PoWs***HenryThe above three narration of the same event were by my three brothers told to them by my Grand Father Kee Seng or by my Father Hiu Fei.
Captain Fong is likely to be an alias of Roger Cheng. I am pleased that we could piece together Captain Fong, and validate Ah Kung's story. I am so excited that with our connection, we can dare say Captain Fong wasn't a figment of Ah Kung's imagination.
Larry Wong, curator of Canadian Chinese Military Museum.
Roger Kee Cheng served as a member of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals during the Second World War. He saw service in Ottawa prior to undertaking commando and guerrilla training for his subsequent service in the Molucca Islands and Borneo.
Roger Cheng of Lillooet British Columbia was living in Vancouver before he joined the military. He graduated from McGill University Engineering School in 1938 with a degree in Electrical Engineering.
After completing Signals training at A-7 Canadian Signal Training Centre Lieutenant Cheng was taken on strength of Canadian Signals Experimentation Establishment (CSEE) on 11 August 1942.
He disembarked in Australia on 22 November 1944 where he served with Services Reconnaissance Department (British Military Establishment No. 100) British Security Coordination until 31 October 1945. During this time he was employed on special operational duties in the Molucca Islands and Borneo from 13 July to 24 October 1945.
On 8 December 1945 Captain Cheng embarked at Brisbane Australia on board SS "English Prince" for return to Canada (Unattached List, NDHQ)
In the portrait shown of Captain Cheng he is wearing parachute wings from the 3rd Royal Australian Regiment. He presumably wore these in preference to Canadian wings as he earned them, "having qualified by completing sufficient descents to be deemed as operationally trained" while serving in the South Pacific.
Born on 16 May 1915 Roger Kee Cheng went on to graduate as an electrical engineer from McGill University in 1938, be commissioned as the first Chinese-Canadian officer in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in 1941, and serve in Borneo as a member of the Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD) component of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in 1945.
Second-Lieutenant Cheng began his officer training on 3 October 1941, probably at the Officer Training Centre in Brockville, Ontario. He was promoted Lieutenant (Lt) on 23 May, 1942, and completed his officer training at the Canadian Signal Training Centre in Kingston, Ontario, on 10 August, 1942.
Lt Cheng was then posted to the Canadian Signals Experimental Establishment (CSEE) in Ottawa, and promptly attached to the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps (RCOC), and seconded to the Master General of Ordnance (MGO) Branch of the Director of Electrical and Communications Design (DECD). On 1 October, 1943 he was made an Acting Captain. On 27 May 1944, he ceased his attachment and secondment, and was taken on strength of No. 11 District Depot in British Columbia.
From 28 May until 26 August, 1944, at which time he started five days embarkation leave, it is probable that Lt Cheng, was a member of an original group of Chinese-Canadians who became known as the Kendall Group, and underwent special training in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.
On 3 September, 1944, having finished his embarkation leave, Lt Cheng was promoted Captain, and posted to the "Q List", signifying that he was now officially on loan to the British forces. While details of his activities between then and 6 August, 1945, are sketchy, indications are that he, and five other Chinese-Canadians were landed, on that date, in Sarawk, in northern Borneo, by Catalina Flying Boat Upon arrival, the group joined a small British team which was gathering information on the movements of the Japanese as well as about conditions in prison camps in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, where about 25,000 British prisoners of war were being held. The day after the team landed, the Americans dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Although Japan surrendered, many isolated Japanese units refused to accept defeat and the war dragged on for months. The team's major accomplishment was assisting in transferring many emaciated prisoners to Australia before returning home themselves.
On 31 October, 1945, Capt Cheng was attached for all purposes from the SRD to. No 1 Canadian Special Wireless Group, a signals intelligence organization that had arrived in McMillan's Road Camp, Darwin, Australia on 18 April, 1945. He returned to Canada on 5 January, 1946, at which time he was again taken on the strength of No. 11 Disrtict Depot. On 7 March, 1946, Roger Kee Cheng was discharged from the Canadian Army.