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On to Paris Via the Comet Line

Heroes Remember

On to Paris Via the Comet Line

When we arrived in Paris, I was following my guide through the station, and suddenly, two gendarmes stepped out from behind a pillar and stopped him. And I didn’t know why and I saw him turning white and I kept going out of the station. I had no choice and fortunately there was a little square near the station and there was a bench there, so I sat on the bench and watched the station. And after a while, my guide came out and walked by me and I followed him. And I had been told beforehand he would take me to where there would be a man of about 60 with a newspaper under his left arm, grey hair and wearing a French beret, and he’d be window shopping. So I saw him and I followed him. And he took me to an apartment where I stayed overnight. And then I was taken, the next day, by a guide to an apartment in the suburb of Paris, which was kept by a couple named Cauché (sp), and I stayed there for about a week. One day a guide arrived with another airman, who turned out to be my friend Pierce, who was also from my squadron, an Australian. We talked for ten minutes perhaps but then he was left there and I was taken to another place, to another large house, where there... My two friends of the night before that I’d travelled with were already there, and also a young Belgian and a Scottish soldier who’d been a prisoner of war for a couple of years ever since Dunkirk. And we were five and what was happening was they were making a travelling package to go across the Pyrenees but we didn’t know that. We, you know, we weren’t given any information in advance, in case, for security reasons. So in case we were captured we couldn’t give away the information to the Gestapo.

Mr. MacLean continues the account of his time in Brussels, awaiting further instructions. They finally come and he is told he will travel by train with two other men to Paris on the following day.

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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