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Heroes Remember

That evening I noticed, I hadn’t noticed it before but on the other side of the hedge there was a field of strawberries and they were ripe, and two girls came to pick strawberries and they were heading directly for me. They couldn’t help but see me, so I decided I had to indicate that I was there before they discovered me, which I did. And they didn’t speak any English and of course I didn’t speak any Dutch, so I'm not sure, I don’t remember now how it was but I tried some of my university German on them, which they understood. And the older of the girls, they were about 13 and 16 or something like that, the oldest one noticed that I was wearing a Masonic ring and she said that her grandfather was a mason too, and "I will get him." So she went and got her grandfather, who was an old man, in his seventies I think, wearing wooden shoes. And he came and he didn't speak any German or English and we set off across the country side with him and he called at neighbours' houses. And we were joined by various people, a group of about a dozen people walking. Eventually there were some who joined the group who understood English, which was a blessing. And he told me that they were taking me to an orchard that was a couple of miles away for the night and that they would come back in the morning with civilian clothes and try to plan what to do next and so on. And I thought they made a fatal mistake already by having so many people know that I was there and where I was. And we were about to cross a road and I said to him, this fellow in English, that I thought it was very dangerous to cross the public road, there might be Germans coming by and he agreed. And there was a little building there with a goat in it, he shoved me in the building and a couple of Germans went by on bicycles, German soldiers. After they had gone they took me out of this little building. Incidentally, just as the two Germans were going by on a motorcycle, on their bicycles, the goat noticed that I was there and began to panic. He was blatting away at a terrible rate and I was afraid that he would attract attention but he didn’t. And the next thing we moved onto the orchard and I stayed there for the night.

Mr. MacLean has slept most of the day, hidden in bushes at the edge of the field where he landed when he bailed out of his plane over occupied Holland. He awakes to see two young girls approaching.

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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