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Help From the Comet Line

Heroes Remember

Help From the Comet Line

The Comet Line, which was an escape organization that was set up by a Belgian girl early in the war. Dédée de Jongh was her name. She worked in a, she was a nurse's aid in a hospital in Brussels, and when the Germans invaded Belgium and took over, she spirited... There were three British soldiers, Scottish soldiers in the hospital in which she worked who were, had been wounded or something, and she spirited them out of there and had them hidden in homes. And when they were recovered, she managed to take them all the way to Spain and that was the beginning of the Comet Line, which was financed by the British, which she made contact with the British consulate in Barcelona. So from then on, I was in the care of the Comet Line. Of course I was not told in advance anything that's happening. This was for security reasons. They couldn’t tell me. I just had to have blind faith in my helpers, that they knew what they were doing, and they were to help me. The next day, I was told that, by Mrs. D., that the next day that there’ll be someone come to get me and take me somewhere else. And the next day this girl appeared and took me across Brussels by street car and gave me a street car ticket that was good for a month. It had been punched several times. So when I was taken, when we were, we had to change street cars in the middle of Brussels and at this point there was a man walking behind us who had seemed to be following us. Anyway, every turn we made he did the same thing. And she turned into a lot beside the bon marché in Brussels. There was washrooms down in the square. She took me down to the washrooms, shoved me into a lady’s washroom stall and said, "I’ll be back in half an hour," which she was. And then we caught another street car the rest of the way.

The Comet Line was an organization in Brussels that arranged passage into Spain for Allied service men and women who were caught in occupied territory. Mr. MacLean explains briefly its history and the subsequent help he received from the underground organization.

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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