Member of WWII resistance unit dies, 97

Member of WWII resistance unit dies, 97
Mr Har She Sun, one of the last surviving members of World War II resistance unit Force 136.

One of the last surviving members of World War II resistance unit Force 136, Mr Har She Sun, died last Friday night. He was 97.

For decades after the war, he and his wartime comrades would meet up to chat and reminisce.

His son Alex Har, 64, remembers that the gatherings of those nine or 10 men began when he was just a boy. But over the years, the numbers dwindled. "I think he's the last one," said the business consultant.

The elder Mr Har, born in Shanghai to a wealthy family, was sent to military college at the age of 15 by his father, a doctor in the Chinese army. He served in an elite Kuomintang force before World War II.

He was then recruited for the British-led underground resistance group Force 136, which ran sabotage missions and gathered intelligence.

He trained in Sri Lanka before parachuting into the jungles of Malaya. There, he was a wireless operator, receiving and tapping out messages in Morse code.

Six months after he landed in Malaya, the Japanese surrendered.

"Then he met my mother and became a very ordinary citizen and a good father," said his son, describing his father as "quite stern" and "always working".

Even in peacetime, Mr Har continued to put his skills in Morse code to use by working at the Singapore branch of the Kuomintang's Central News Agency.

After the communists took over China, he ended up working in the then Radio Singapore instead, retiring after he turned 55.

While he remained a disciplined man who would listen to health programmes on the radio and then buy ingredients to prepare his own healthy meals, he did - in his retirement years - visit community centres to sing and dance.

When the Memories at Old Ford Factory museum was set up in 2006, his photographs and medals were donated and he was interviewed for an oral history recording. But talking about the war was not something he often did, said Mr Alex Har, adding: "He wasn't a storytelling person."

He also seemed to have complicated feelings about the war.

In 1995, nine surviving members of Force 136 each received a commemorative silver ingot from the Government.

Asked then what the ingot meant to him as a war hero, Mr Har said in Mandarin: "I'm happy to be honoured, but I can't begin to explain all my feelings because some of them are just too painful and are better left unsaid."

Said Mr Alex Har: "He never thought Force 136 was such a proud period of his own personal endeavours...

"If he was here, he would say 'What's there to write about?'"

Mr Har is survived by his two sons, a daughter, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His wife died about five years ago.

This article was first published on September 8, 2014.
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