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Help from the Dutch

Heroes Remember

And I waited the next day, till the afternoon, and nobody came. There were two men came to work in the orchard cutting the grass, and they kept their distance but at noon time, they had a lunch and one of them presented me with a slice of bread, which was very welcome. But then they departed and I was, I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid that it had become known that I was in the orchard and on the other hand maybe my helpers were staying, had to stay away until the men cutting the grass had gone. I didn’t know it. But anyway, I decided to set out to leave the orchard, which I did, and of course I was still in uniform, and there was a canal, kind of a drainage canal, a canal with about a foot of water in the bottom of it. So, I climbed down in the canal and walked quite some distance in it where I couldn’t be seen from above ground. Then when I got out of that I tried to, I hid in a grain field for a bit and there was a path through the grain field, and I had just gotten there when I saw an elderly man walking down the path. So, I decided that I better get out of his way and hide in the grain, which I did, but then I decided I’d let him find me and I went back into the path, and he almost fell over me before he noticed me. He was deep in thought it would seem, but he took in the whole situation immediately. It must have been known that there were, that there had been someone, an airplane shot down in the area that night. And he said this, you know, you have to, we couldn’t understand each other's language but with sign language and so on he indicated that he’d get me civilian clothes. He went back to the farm and he and his wife came. She had a bowl of hot milk for me. They provided me with some civilian clothes and took my uniform and burned it.

Mr. MacLean sleeps overnight under a blanket of grass in a nearby Dutch orchard. Morning comes.

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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