Chinese laborers who built the Trans Canadian railway have a secret history in World War I
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The largest ethnic minority group to serve in the war effort, their involvement is a little known fact. In non-combat roles, the Chinese Labour Corps served to cut down trees, repair vehicles and machines, maintain airfields and work on railways - much like their predecessors did on Canadian trains.
One reason the involvement of the Chinese Labour Corps is such a little known fact is the secrecy involved in their transport across Canada. During the time, the Canadian government was imposing a head tax on all Chinese immigrants. Afraid that men would sign up for the Corps simply for a free ride to Canada, they were locked in traincars under armed guard immediately after arrival, making the train trips across Canada in complete isolation.
In Belgium and Northern France, travelers can see around 2,000 graves marked with Chinese script mingled in with the British, German and French graves throughout the cemeteries - one of the only testaments to the Chinese Labour Corps' important involvement in the war effort.