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A Tribute to His Helpers in Holland

Heroes Remember

A Tribute to His Helpers in Holland

Interviewer: What would have happened to those Dutch people that helped you in the escape? Well, if they were cold, caught cold, they would have been shot on the spot perhaps, and if they had been arrested, they would have been tried and condemned to death for assisting a German enemy, an enemy of the Germans. Interviewer: So not withstanding that, they decided to help you? The occupied people were magnificent in that way. They would put their life on the line just for, to make you a little more comfortable or get you some food or something. Time after time and not just a few people, a whole lot of people did this. And unfortunately, of the people who helped me three of them were arrested and tried and executed by a firing squad. I always was thankful that none of them were caught helping me, but that’s very little comfort actually because they were fine, fine people.

From the beginning of his journey through Holland, many Dutch citizens provided great assistance to Mr. MacLean, and others in similar situations. They did so at the risk of being caught by occupying German forces and being executed. He pays tribute to their courage and kindness.

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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