Language selection


Answers Newspaper Ad For RAF

Heroes Remember

Answers Newspaper Ad For RAF

I happened to see an ad where the RAF were giving two commissions to two Canadians, one from Eastern Canada and one from Western Canada and I applied for one and doesn’t matter, routine. I was applying for a lot of things, but much to my surprise it was accepted for this commission in the RAF. A short service commission and I made the proper arrangements including getting a dinner jacket made to eat in the officers mess in England and I had my ticket to go to England and all that sort of thing. Interviewer: Just one moment if I may Mr. MacLean. During the latter part of the 1930s the political situation in Europe had deteriorated to the point where many thought that war was inevitable. You remember Chamberlain and his attempt to bring peace in our time? As a matter of fact I was going to summer school at Mount Allison that year and I went in the residence common room one afternoon and who was there but a professor who was a Jewish man from Germany, who’d escaped from Germany and we were listening, we both was listening on the radio to, to Chamberlain, peace in our time and that sort of thing. And he said, I still remember this professor saying, “I wish it were true, it won’t happen,” and he was, he knew that the war would come. Interviewer: When you joined the RAF on these two short term or getting one of these short term commissions you would know that the likelihood of war was possible? Oh yes, was very high, but there was some pluses to getting in early. If there was a war on it held the promise that you would perhaps get promoted and so on fairly young and that you might... Of course survival was the key thing but that was in the life of the gods. There was no way you could tell whether you could follow a course that you could survive or not. Interviewer: After you had been accepted by the RAF for this short term commission, what happened next? Well I was supposed, I had a ticket to go to Athenia, to go to England on the Athenia and war broke out in the mean time and the Athenia was sunk before it ever got to this side of the Atlantic. And the Canadian Air Force, Easter Air Command, who were sort of managing this thing for the RAF phoned me up and asked me if I’d take a Canadian commission instead. And of course that suited me fine and I went to Halifax, almost right away I was taken to Halifax. And there were eight of us, mostly university graduates. There was one, George Hill, that graduated with me from Mount A and there was... And another fellow from, he had just graduated from Acadia and so on. There were eight of us anyway getting our elementary flying at the Halifax Flying Club. I arrived in Halifax and reported in to Eastern Air Command and told to go to the airport and I was flying that same afternoon. I could hardly believe it and we were commissioned the day before Canada declared war, the eight of us. The joke was that now MacKenzie King thought that he could declare war after getting the eight of us in the air force.

Work was very scarce as Mr. MacLean graduated from university in the spring of 1939. He recalls answering a newspaper advertisement that eventually took him into the Second World War.

John Angus MacLean

Mr. MacLean’s father was a farmer in eastern Prince Edward Island. His grandfather came to Canada from Scotland in 1832. Mr. MacLean had three brothers and four sisters. Two of his brothers died, one at the age of fiveand the other at the age of about one year. For the first two years of his higher education, Mr. MacLean attended Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. He went on to the University of British Columbia for his third year of study on a one-year scholarship, majoring in chemistry. In 1938, he returned to Mount Allison University to complete his studies and graduated in 1939. Following graduation, he answered a newspaper advertisement placed by the Royal Air Force for a short-term commission with the RAF. He was chosen as one of two successful Canadian candidates. But, before he could leave for England, the Second World War had started and he was offered a commission in the Royal Canadian Air Force, which he accepted. Mr. MacLean’s bomber was brought down over Germany and he and his crew were forced to bail out. Mr. MacLean landed just inside occupied Holland and was moved along the Comet Line through Holland, Belgium and France to freedom in Spain. He’s an excellent story-teller with emphasis on detail. Mr. MacLean also had an outstanding post-war career as a politician. He served for 10 terms as a Member of Parliament and a term as Premier of his home province of Prince Edward Island.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
John Angus MacLean
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
North America
Air Force

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: