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Post-War Responsibilities

Heroes Remember

Post-War Responsibilities

I was posted back to Belgium, to Brussels first, in charge of a unit that was set up after the war. There were four of them set up by the Commonwealth Air Forces to try to find the fate of airmen who were posted as missing and were never accounted for. There were four of these units in England, in Europe and I was in charge of Number Two Unit, which was responsible for Belgium and Holland and Luxembourg and the French Zone in Germany and Czechoslovakia. And during the two years that I was in charge of that, we accounted for about 3,500 missing airmen, but in no case was there a happy ending. It was a matter of finding isolated graves and determining that in mass graves there were seven perhaps, instead of four or something, which was the original thing. And when I was in Brussels, I didn’t know any of the real names of the people that had helped me during the war, and I was able to find some of them and of course when I found some they knew which others had survived the war and I visited them and it was a very rewarding experience because of all the... At that point it was quite early. The Royal Air Force Escaping Society hadn’t been formed at that point, and it was very rewarding and comforting to, because I was the first person in most cases that these people had seen of all the people they’d helped and they didn’t know whether their help was successful or not, because for security reasons they only knew of their own link in the chain of escape and they never knew whether the people they helped had made it all the way or not. And that was one of the most rewarding things I was able to do was visit the Peggy's (sp.) in Holland and, and the various people who, Mondeau, Dédée de Jongh and all of the people, the Cauchés (sp.) and so on.

The war is over. But, Mr. MacLean’s work was not.

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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