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Old Friends' Chance Meeting

Heroes Remember

Old Friends' Chance Meeting

I was in London on a weekend one time, on a weekend pass and lo and behold, I met one of my guides who had taken me from, who had taken me from Brussels to Paris and he was astonished to meet me and he didn’t speak English and he said, “Restez ici,” and he went and got someone, one of his friends who spoke, who spoke English. It, it was a great, a great reunion and we, he’s died now a couple of years ago, but we still keep in contact with, I kept in contact with him all his life and he joined the Belgian Army in England and had quite a career in, after the, after D-Day. Interviewer: But the bad news from your perspective, Mr. MacLean was... Well... Interviewer: That the Comet Line had been betrayed. Yes, and three of the people that had helped me had been executed by firing squad. One of them was Eric de Menten de Horne, who was one of the guides we had from Brussels to Paris and he was an only remaining son. He belonged to a family who had two sons originally, but one of them joined the RAF and was killed in an accident in North Africa, and then Eric belonged to the Comet Line and he was captured or betrayed or something and was condemned to death, killed by, executed by a firing squad. And then Dédée's father was executed. He was captured in, in Paris and executed in the same way, and then the third one was the priest who had been my guide in, in Holland and I... In my story about my wartime years, I, I quoted the letter he wrote to his parents before he was shot. He was executed in Utrecht, six o’clock one morning. Very sad. They were gallant people.

Mr. MacLean recalls a chance meeting with one of his Comet Line guides who took him from Brussels to Paris. He reflects sadly on the fate of three others who had helped him to freedom and were later betrayed to the Germans, captured and executed.

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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