I had the pleasure of a chance meeting with Capt Ho Weng Toh, a former Flying Tiger bomber pilot, a few days ago at a Chinese New Year party in Singapore. The party host introduced Captain Ho Weng Toh to the guests as an ex-Flying Tiger and my ears pricked up immediately. I recognised him from an article that was published in the papers last year. At the time, I was thinking how much I would like to meet his man, and there he was, right in front of me!
As he sat down at my table for a snack, I got up and sat down next to him and introduced myself. At 93 years old, Capt Ho was very alert and lucid as well as independent – he had arrived at the party by himself. We had a nice long chat about his time in the war and after. In fact, I conducted a quick interview with him and got him to tell me his life story.
Capt Ho was born in Ipoh, Malaysia in 1920. He went to Hong Kong in 1938 to study, but before he could complete his degree there, the Japanese invaded the island. He escaped to the Chinese mainland and joined the Chinese Air Force, which was recruiting pilots for the war effort then. He was sent to Colorado, USA for training as part of the Chinese-American Composite Wing (CACW) in 1942.
Qualifying as a B-25 Mitchell bomber pilot, he started flying operations from Shanxi, China, in 1944, as part of the 1st Bombardment Squadron, 1st Bombardment Group, 14th Air Force, under General Claire Lee Chennault. He flew 18 combat missions in all, which included bombing and strafing missions in the B-25H and B-25G. The latter was equipped with the 75mm nose cannon, but regrettably, Capt Ho never got to use it in combat. He also undertook delivery flights over The Hump in C-47s.
After the war, he returned to Malaysia but found no future there, so he joined one of the airlines in China as pilot. In 1951, he joined the Malayan Airways, then the Malaysia-Singapore Airlines(MSA) and finally Singapore Airlines (SIA). He retired in 1980 as Chief Pilot.
I thoroughly enjoyed the chat I had with this lively, animated, sprightly nonagenarian. In return, he said that he had never met anyone in Singapore like me, who was so interested in World War 2 aviation history, and carried a pack of photos of warbirds in his wallet!
Before parting company, I arranged to call him at a later date to visit him at his home to look over his old photo albums and memorabilia. I am really looking forward to our next meeting!
April 30, 2012
December 27, 2006
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