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Injured in the Landing

Heroes Remember

Injured in the Landing

When you parachute you swing a couple of times. Well I hit the ground on the second swing in the middle of a herd of Holstein cows, and I found myself paralysed from the back down. I’d hit the ground pretty hard, slap on my back and much to my surprise the Holstein cows were very curious as to what had come out of the heavens and they came standing around sniffing at me and the ones behind trying to get in. I was scared they’d step on me. And eventually, I realized that the sense was coming back in my feet and I could twittle my toes all of sudden and I was able to get up. Then the cows lost interest and realized that I was just an ordinary person. And I tried, it was, I was too far from the rest of my crew to try to join them, of course. I was a couple of miles at that point, at least. Interviewer: Had you ever taken any evasion training with the RCAF? No. One of the ironic things was that I was posted to the squadron from the operational training school before they gave the lectures on evasion, so I was strictly on my own, as far as evasion was concerned. But there was heavy dew and it was just starting to dawn. It was about 4 o'clock in the morning and there was a canal with a bridge across it and a railway and a house, and I walked over to the house and knocked at the door. I could hear people inside but none of them came to the door. Then, I realized of course that it would be fatal for them to do so, so near to the crash, so I smartened up and went back to where I’d landed. I’d lost one of my flying boots when I, it blew off my foot when I was coming down and I failed to find it, but the Germans found it with my name in it. They questioned my crew. My crew were all captured in the first 24 hours and they tried to question my crew as to who I was and where I was, and was there a seventh person and so on, and they tried to not give any information away. Of course they didn't know what had become of me. So I hid my parachute as best I could in the edge of the canal. Then I drove the, there was heavy dew and it would be a dead give away to walk, leave a trail through this heavy dew, so I drove the cattle ahead of me and obliterated my marks through that field, and then there were cows in the next field I did the same thing for about a mile, I suppose, three quarters of a mile anyway. And then I hid in a hedge for the rest... I milked one of the cows in my escape kit little, 'cause there was a little rubber bag for water and I milked a cow into that, drank the warm milk and went to sleep, and slept most of the day.

Mr. MacLean, preceded by his crew, is the last to jump from his crippled plane. He lands in a field, some miles from where his crew would have come down. It was not an easy landing.

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
Air Force
Bomber Command

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