SIANG YEW TOW (19?? - 19??)
(CNAC - 1942 - 194?)
(Hump Flights XXX)
January 7, 2011
Dear Mr. Moore,
I have enjoyed checking out your CNAC webpage. One of my uncles flew the HUMP as a radioman with the CNAC during World War Two. His name: Siang Yew Tow. He flew between Chungking and Calcutta with CNAC as a radioman. He has since passed on.
I am of Chinese extraction. My family hailed from Swatow, a small town in Guangdong Province, China. Our family became Christians and have always been proud to have been associated with America's war efforts in China. As a child in the 50s, I remember seeing a photo of him standing next to a Harvard trainer.
I served in the USAF from about 1975 to 2000 when I retired.
John Tow Shanton
I am trying to put together a remembrance for my late uncle as his wife is now in her late 80s, living in Malaysia.
Kindly help me in my efforts.
Thanks for your help! Thanks too, for the webeditor link. I will go to it after this.
John Tow Shanton
From Siang Yew Tow's #1 daughter, Betty...
May 11, 2011
Hi Cousin John, Thank you for your email of 29th Jan. and I'm really very sorry for this late reply. When I got your email. we were busy as Chinese New Year was coming up, then I was busy at work and other church activities, then Easter came and went, and now we're busy packing to go back to HK and Pg. We leave on Friday 13th. and will be away for 5 weeks.
How are you doing? Thanks for taking the trouble to put my father's name and particulars on the CNAC website. It's wonderful what you have done for my mother, and for all of us as a family. As a child, I remember my father telling us that he was in the Air Force and served as a radio operator. He said that he had to send all the messages in Morse code and we were really amazed as he verbally spelt our names in Morse code! As children, we listened to his stories but were not as interested as we are now. I regret not asking more questions. In fact, there are a lot of things I didn't know about the CNAC but at least now I do (through you).
Now that we are going back to Pg. and will be seeing Jackie and family, we'll be looking through the albums to see what pictures we can find. Wish you were going to Pg. too. When do you think you can go? We go back every year.
Have to stop now and start packing. Thanks again for your interest in my father. Keep in touch.
Betty and Frank
P/S We just mailed you our belated newsletter.
and more from John...
July 14, 2011
Finally, I have some photos of my uncle Siang Yew Tow to show you. He served with the CNAC as a radio operator during World War Two.
Sorry for the long delay, though. It took me awhile to get in touch with my cousins about their father's service record.
I will also forward to you the e-mails I got from them, as they had written a few lines about their father.
I am doing a pastel drawing of my uncle too, showing him in action on board the C-47 as the radio operator.
As I get more material about my uncle from my cousins, I will send them to you for inclusion in the CNAC webpage.
Photo 1: shows all the pictures on a page in my uncle's World War Two album. The photo shows some of his buddies. Maybe someone in the CNAC family will be able to identify them?
I have gone ahead to enlarge the photos showing:
All the photos
My uncle standing next to the Harvard trainer
My uncle - somewhere in Burma
My uncle - on the base
My uncle - "shipping out." Arrow points to him
July 22, 2011
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2011 1:56 PM
To: lily dauber; Calvary Pandan; Jackie Tow; Betty Tow; Tom Moore; lehia paauwe
Subject: RE: CNAC radio operator Siang Yew Tow.
Hello my dear Lily,
Well, I hope that 2nd Uncle's CNAC webpage will get all done up soon! It would be nice to see it. And it would be a fitting tribute for Jee Sim (his wife, now in her eighties). You know that she lives in Penang. I remember you went to see her before, and I hope to go visit her too, when I make the trip home. 2nd Uncle deserves the recognition for having served with China's fledgling air force during World War Two. That he survived at all is testimony to our God's goodness - to him and to our family. Why? He flew as a radio operator all through the years of conflict, (an important post as no CNAC cargo planes could fly the route without a radio operator - it was that tricky. Both allied and enemy fighter planes were everywhere, and they were very trigger-happy, being that it was their job to shoot down anything in the air, and so, the need for good radiomen who knew the frequencies and call signs, and who were also able to intercept and identify all radio traffic enroute.
Much of the way fom China to Burma and India had to be memorised, and many pilots had the profiles of the passes oil-pencilled on their planes' windshield to help them "make the match" as they seek out the right gaps to fly through! His assigned routes took him over the Himalayas everytime - from China to Burma and India. Imagine the conditions he had to work under - lumbering along at around 150 miles per hour, for hours on end, buffetted by the incessant wind gusts that could down any heavily loaded cargo plane! Many lost control when the cargoes shifted or crashed when the pilot missed the way in the failing light as he followed the valley floor, or when he simply went too low and could not make it through the pass. Weather too caused many flights to end. Low clouds could obscure the landmarks with disasterous results! And I have not even beegin to mentioned how low the temperature could get, with the dangers from icing, and etc...
This route, known as the HUMP - because it required the cargo planes to get to the higher altitudes, a task not normally called for, for that type of aircraft, just to make it to its destination. And guess what, the HUMP earned its nickname "The Aluminum Trail" for good reasons! From the air, the shiny shredded parts of crashed cargo planes, reflecting off the sun's rays could be seen all along the way. So many airmen gave their lives flying the route to keep the Chinese forces well supplied as they battled the Japanese invaders.
Yet, 2nd Uncle made it back alive. Praise be to the Lord!
I am doing a pastel drawing showing him in his radio desk, doing his job. Hope to present it to Jee Sim when I go see her.
Okay, I will close for now. Take care and God bless and keep you and Carl safe. May your angels be ever near to give you much joy and peace.
Siang Yew Tow - CNAC radio operator.
Siang Yew Tow (second from left) - with his buddies.
somewhere on the base. See planes in the background.
standing by a statue of a buddha.
standing under a C-46
July 24, 2011
I have more material for you to add to my uncle's CNAC page.
My 3rd uncle recently wrote a book about his life's experiences. Titled: "Footprints in the Sands of Time," it has on page 100, some information about his older brother Siang Yew Tow.
I will attach a picture of both the page and the cover of the book.
July 29, 2011
It was good to read the letters of those who visited your site.
I enclose another photo of my uncle Siang Yew Tow. It shows him with his buddies. Perchance, those who look in on his page will be able to identify some of them? Some may be able to therefore make the connection which could result in more of the radio operators getting the credit they deserve.
The next time I write, I will enclose an e-mail I sent to my sister Lehia, and the reply she wrote. You could include that too (if you wish) in my uncle's page as in it talks about the great risks involved in the HUMP flights, and how so many have given all serving in the CBI Theatre.
Take care and have a great day!
John Tow Shanton
Photo: Showing my uncle (second from right) with his wartime buddies. (Fellow radio operators?)
July 30, 2011
Here is the letter I wrote to my sister Lehia Paauwe. It is a follow-on of the reply I sent you with the photo showing my uncle with his war time buddies.
Do feel free to insert all the material into my uncle's CNAC page. Hope some of those who look in will find it interesting, and perhaps recognize certain ones that they know in it.
Take care and stay well!
John Tow Shanton
Subject: Re: CNAC radio operator Siang Yew Tow.
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2011 17:38:14 +0800
Thank you for your emails and updates. Always good to hear from you!
It is so wonderful how God kept 2nd Uncle safe throughout the war years. "God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform." May He continue to work mightily for each one of us in the Family, for His glory and the honour of His Name.
We are all well and busy. Thank you for your prayers nightly. May God bless you and Michele for your faithful prayers.
Love to you both,
Lehia and Ed
On 24/07/2011, at 6:36 AM, john shanton wrote:
Hello my dear Lehia!
Good to hear back from you.
2nd uncle worked as a radio operator for CNAC all through the war years - from 1939 to 1945. Praise God he survived and came home! So many did not make it. Check out the CNAC page and you will see what I mean.
I went through all the listing of those who were radio operators - and found the majority got killed -- in crashes or were shot down by Japanese planes. Quite sad.
2nd uncle's life was clearly spared - by God's grace! You will know what I mean if you go down the list of those who served together with him.
Hope you are all in good health. We pray for Glen nightly.
Subject: Re: CNAC radio operator Siang Yew Tow.
Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2011 18:28:51 +0800
Many thanks for all your efforts to do 2nd Uncle's CNAC webpage. We deeply appreciate your recounting his heroic service as a pilot and radio operator during WWII. Amazing courage! Thank God for His protection upon 2nd Uncle!
We are sure 2nd Aunt Jean and her family will be so thrilled and encouraged by 2nd Uncle's CNAC webpage. So glad that you will be visiting her in Penang.
We enjoyed looking at 2nd Uncle's historic photos. There is a close resemblance between you and 2nd Uncle! Praise the Lord!
Lehia and Ed
August 4, 2011
More info about my uncle Siang Yew Tow - provided by his eldest daughter Betty.
Please put this e-mail in with all the rest of the stuff I have sent in. It would make my uncle's page very interesting reading. I will send you more photo of him with his buddies soon. I am sure some of those who have a family member who served in the China-Burma-India will be able to make the connection here and help "fill in the blanks" on your CNAC webpage.
Thanks again for your help.
John Tow Shanton
Date: Mon, 1 Aug 2011 21:53:59 +0100
Subject: some more info for CNAC wwebpage
Hi Cousin John,
Sorry for this late reply as I have been rather busy. Frank's father went home to be with the Lord last Sunday so we will be flying back to Hong Kong again next Mon. 8th Aug. for the funeral.
Thanks for all the forwarded emails/correspondence. It's interesting to read all of them. Thanks for explaining all about the HUMP - I never knew how dangerous it could be! In fact, I'd never heard about it! I remember him tellling us children that he was a medical student in Hong Kong when the War broke out. He and his classmates were only into their 6th months or one year of university when their studies were disrupted and they were forced to flee. They trekked into China. I don't know how long they were there when he (and maybe a few friends?) signed up to join the CNAC. My mother said he wanted to join and be a pilot but because of his short-sightedness, he was disqualified and so the next best thing was to be a radio operator. I remember him mentioning places like Kunming, Chungking, and Calcutta. I don't remember him saying that he had to fly in those cargo planes. So I somehow thought he was a radio operator on ground - a desk job! I never knew the danger he was in - even as a 19 or 20 year-year-old! The Lord indeed protected him!>br>
Anyway, here's some more info. for my father's webpage. I was on the phone to my mother yesterday so I asked her who was his favourite singer and she said Nat King Cole. She said that one of Nat King Cole's songs is his favourite but she can't remember the name. I wonder whether it would be "When I Fall in Love". I said I would get a list of Nat King Cole's songs and see if she remembers which one. She said that my father's favourite type of music was the golden oldies ( I suppose they would be from the 1950s)
By the way, my mother wants to know when you'll be in Penang? Maybe you can ask her all those questions about my father when you see her.
So much for now,
P.S. My father said that when he was in India (I assume it must be Calcutta), Ah Ma (his mother and our grandmother) had sent him a sample of Indian silk cloth and asked him to buy for her some Indian sillk and bring it home when the War ended. When the War ended, and before he could get back to Singapore, he received news that his beloved mother had died, and he was devastated. I still remember the tears in his eyes as he related the story.
John Tow Shanton - The Artisit!
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