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SGT Jack Wong Sue OAM, DCM, JP

时间:2009-12-11 13:21:04来源: 作者: 点击:
Pride, Courage & Service Chinese Australian War Veterans, Servicewomen and Men


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16 November 2009 saw the sad passing of a World War II hero, SGT Jack  Wong Sue aka Jack Sue (Jack).  His funeral service was held on Wednesday, 25 November 2009 at 2.30pm at the Special Air Services Regiment (SASR) Barracks, Swanbourne, Western Australia.  This service was “Invitation Only”, restricted to immediate family members and specially invited guests.  I had the privilege to be invited by Barry, his eldest son, and the opportunity to say farewell and pay my respects to a great legend.  It is most fitting that his last parade and farewell was held at the SASR, for he had help trained the SASR troops in the early years after WWII.
Although I first arrived in mainland Perth from Christmas Island in the late 70’s and enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), I did not meet Jack Sue until 1986.  I was based mainly in the Eastern States.  It was on 26 August 1986, the day after I landed at RAAF Base Pearce Bullsbrook WA that I met Jack Sue for the first time.  I had two days off before I was due to fly back to RAAF Base Richmond, NSW after an Aero Medical Evacuation (AME) tasking.

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Dying for some Asian food, I took a bus from RAAF Base Pearce, Bullsbrook to Perth city, changing buses at the then Midland Bus Terminal.  Whilst waiting for the arrival of the bus to take me to Perth, I walked into Jack Sue’s diving shop that was adjacent to the bus terminal.  I knew of him as a War Hero and we exchanged pleasantries.  When he found out that I was a young Airman Corporal serving in the RAAF, he immediately put me at ease.  We ended up having a conversation for more than an hour, I was offered refreshments, and he gave me some precious advice, which I will never forget.  It was a real privilege and honour to meet him that day.  In the 90’s, I had my final posting to WA prior to my retirement and transfer to the RAAF Active Reserve. I continued to touch base with him and Barry over the years.
A few months ago, I had arranged with him and Barry to do a Video interview.  However, it was winter and Jack Sue was very sick, in and out of hospital.  We decided to defer the interview until the warmer months of summer.  Unfortunately and sadly, Jack Sue passed away too soon.  I take comfort that he is now able to” Stand Easy” and take that well earned rest.
Jack Sue was born on 12 September 1925 in Perth, Western Australia into a well-entrenched 'White Australia Policy' of 24 years. This policy was an Australian Parliamentary Act where Asian nationalities were unwelcome in Australia. Racial discrimination was the norm for almost all races except Caucasians.
Jack’s father, Wong Shiu See, a full blood Chinese, was an illegal immigrant.    His mother, Mary Magdalene Clements, was born in Perth to a full blood Chinese father (Kum Chew) and an English mother (Rosetta Clements).
As a young lad, Jack was extremely active and an avid nature lover.  He was a member and eventually became President of the WA Junior Naturalist Club.  In addition, he was involved with the scouting movement and rose to the position of a Patrol Leader with the WA Sea Scout.  His other attributes included fluency in Malay and Chinese languages.  His enlistment record states that he had some slight knowledge of the Japanese language as well.
In 1939, at the age of 14, when WWII was declared, Jack received special permission to form his first dance band known as “Jack’s White Coats”, for which he was a pianist.  When he turned 16, he was employed as an office boy with Atwood Motors.  Then one day, out of the blue, he received a white feather.  A white feather, a symbol of perceived cowardice, was commonly given to those who did not serve in the Military in wartime.
He was barely 16 years old and too young to enlist in the Military.  The Military required and still does require a minimum age of 18 years old for enlistment.   He was deeply hurt.  Jack put his age up by 2 years and forged his parent’s signature to serve in the Norwegian Merchant Navy. 
When he turned 18 years old, Jack Sue applied to enlist in the Royal Australian Navy and was accepted with open arms, because of his experience in the Merchant Navy, as well as his background in yachting and sea scouting.  However, when he went to be sworn in he was rejected because his father was Chinese.   The Defence Act of 1909 specifically barred people of non-European origin or descent from service in the Australian Military even though they were  Australians by birth and their family may have been here for two or three generations.  The Australian Army led the way in 1948, getting rid of regulations discriminating against people because of their ethnic background, and the Navy and Air Force followed in the early 50s.

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After the outbreak of hostilities with Japan, Prime Minister John Curtin reinforced the philosophy of the 'White Australia' policy, saying 'this country shall remain forever the home of the descendants of those people who came here in peace in order to establish in the South Seas an outpost of the British race'. 
Jack stormed out of the Navy Office and went straight into the RAAF recruiting office and was accepted.  He was assigned to the Rescue Boat Mustering.  That was 25 September 1943.  Jack completed his training and served four months with the air sea rescue before being approached by Z Special Force.   It was first known as Special Reconnaisance Department (SRD), a cover name for a secret organisation which comprised British, Australian and Canadian military personnel that would operate behind enemy line.  The SRD was the predecessor to the current Special Air Service Regiment, based in Swanbourne, WA.  Jack underwent Jungle training conducted at Fraser Island and Cairns in Queensland. Specialised and extensive training included Japanese intelligence methods, demolition-using explosives on land and sea, weapons training, cryptography, blackmail, interrogation techniques and signalling, amongst others.
Jack was given the designation Agent AKR 13.  He was then deployed with the Z Special Forces to British North Borneo, now known as Sabah, of which, he was in a party of seven Operatives for clandestine Operations.  In early 1945, they were transported by American submarine.  They then silently transferred onto a rubber boat and then a canoe for landing at a location midway between two strong enemy posts at Tegahang and Pura Pura.  This location was just north of Sandakan.  Their main objective was to locate the whereabouts of the 2,400 prisoners of war last reported to be in Changi, Singapore, and to form a subversive intelligence group behind Japanese lines to investigate the Japanese strength.  According to his War records which have now been partly declassified, Jack did a magnificent job gathering intelligence, organising native guerrillas and harassing the enemy, capturing a considerable amount of Japanese equipment and killing numbers of the enemy.
On 29 May 1945, Jack was inserted by a Catalina Flying Boat into the strongly held Beaufort area near Brunei Bay.  After reconnaissances, Jack Sue dressed in coolie clothes on a fateful day in June 1945 and entered Bongowan railway station which was staffed and guarded by Japanese.  In broad daylight he threatened and extracted the Japanese-appointed Chinese stationmaster – Ho Ah Lee for interrogation to determine the strength and movement of troops.  Jack was armed only with “L” tablets; poison which he would have to swallow in the event of capture.  Doing so would bring death within 30 seconds and avoid torture and interrogation by the Japanese.
During the next 8 days, Jack Sue checked the information passed by Ho Ah Lee and at great personal risk watched hundreds of Japanese troops move down the railway line.  The information received and passed on was of the highest importance to the 9th Australian Division.  For this heroic deed, Jack was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for conspicuous courage and bravery in the Field.  His citation states, “From 3rd March 1945 to 15th August 1945, SGT Wong displayed leadership, gallantry and cold-blooded courage of the highest order”.  He was one of only two RAAF personnel awarded the DCM, a distinctly Army award.
Jack Sue returned to Australia from war about 6 weeks prior to his 20th birthday and discharged from the military on 21 January 1946.  He returned to civilian life, built his home in the Kalamunda hills and worked in various occupations including importing; buying and selling cars; journalism; as well as teaching music, and setting up a dance band.  In March 1951, he opened Perth’s first professional diving retail and manufacturing outlet and the “Jack Sue Diving School” which operated for more than 40 years.  In later years, Jack Sue took WWII veterans, their families and tourists to Borneo and revisited the paths and places that he was engaged in during that war.  He felt deeply troubled and ashamed about the threats he made to Ho Ah Lee and during one of these tours he tried to locate him to offer an apology.  He was unable to deliver that apology as Ho Ah Lee had passed away.  However, he later found his grown up children and made that apology.
Jack wrote several books including 'Ghost of the Alkimos’ and “Blood on Borneo” despite suffering multiple strokes.  On Australia Day in 2006, Jack Sue was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the community, especially the preservation and recording of military and maritime history.
He was recognised and honoured by the NSW Government who named one of the four annual NSW Premier's Chinese Community Service Awards after him – The Jack Wong Sue Award.  This award is for Voluntary Service Beyond the Chinese Community.
For his contribution to his country during WWII, in addition to the bravery award of the DCM, Jack Sue was awarded the 1939/45 Star, War Medal (1939/45), Pacific Star, Australia Service Medal and the Returned from Active Service Badge.  In addition, the United States Government awarded him the United States Submarine Combat Insignia.
Lest We Forget!
 

 

Written by Warrant Officer David Lee JP
                   Royal Australian Air Force (Ret’d)

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