We were having difficulties finding images for Canadians
in the South East Asian theatre of World War II. Fortunately,
we ran into Cedric Mah, who graciously helped us with our
problem. All the images for that section are courtesy of
did not, in fact, serve with the RCAF during World War II,
but with the China National Aviation Corporation, which
at that point was part of the United States Army Air Force.
Born and raised in British Columbia, Mr. Mah spent the early
years of the war instructing in Winnipeg, and then at No. 2 Air Observer School in Edmonton in 1941. In 1943, he was
contacted and told that he would be of use in Asia, in part
due to his ethnicity and his ability with the Chinese language.
In Asia, Cedric Mah flew over challenging and dangerous terrain, including
the infamous "Hump". The Hump, the tail end of the Himalayas
that separates Burma from China, was once thought to be
impossible to fly due to the turbulent front created by
warm, moist air on one side of the hump colliding with cold,
dry air on the other. It would be an obstacle that Mr. Mah faced
and surmounted with regularity.
Cedric Mah says that flying at night over certain parts of Asia
was particularly difficult. "In Canada we had snow caps
and mountains. At night, light reflected off the snow," he
says. "When you get out in the jungle, there’s no light,
the whole jungle is black. All the light is absorbed by
the trees—you have to go immediately on instruments,"
After the war, Mr. Mah stayed in Asia as a pilot for several
years. Now retired, he currently resides in Edmonton and
is a regular volunteer at the Aviation Museum.