Someone else found information about the Rousseau brothers

I found someone who is writing a blog on the Internet.

This young lady was a guide in the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer in Normandy.

Juno Beach Centre

She mostly talks about her travel experience but she also talks about the Rousseau brothers. This is her introduction.

It is written in French but I will translate it for you.

March 31

I received an e-mail from Normandy today. It is not that my homework were not unexpected, but there they were. My first task consisted in finding a Canadian soldier fallen in battle and buried in one of two cemeteries near Courseulles-sur-mer. I had…

1) To find a soldier
2) To try to find some facts from his past to get any sort of factoïdes
3) To try to find of members of his family still living for a little chat
4) Prepare a 5 minute presentation.

I spent all morning long looking on the Internet for a French Canadian fallen in Normandy. I stumbled Lieutenant Philippe Rousseau, a native of Montmagny, a paratrooper who died on June 6th, 1944, the night of the landing in Normandy. His brother Maurice died 3 months later in Normandy also and they are buried one next to the other in the Ranville cemetery.

By writing to the Canadian Parachute Regiment, I was put in touch with Jan De Vries, a veteran who belonged to the 1st Canadian parachute battalion.

April 5

Mr De Vries had only little information about the Rousseau brothers, since he did not know them personaly. He refered me to  Andrew Roy, another veteran who was in touch with three brothers and sisters of the Rousseau three years ago.

April 7

I call Mister Roy. He first told me that the Rousseau family was not interested in sharing the story of the brothers when he met them. He told me not to get in touch with them, which limited my opportunity for additional information for my biography. He refered me instead to Alain Sillas.

Mister Roy told me that while he was placing Canadian flags on the graves of the Rousseau brothers in Ranville cemetery in 2004, a man, Mister Sillas, asked him if he knew them. He answered he had served with them during the war. Mister Sillas told him he was writing a book with a few chapters about the Rousseau brothers . The father of his wife had served with Maurice in the British Special Air Service, a paratooper commando group who were called on the most dangerous missions. Maurice Rousseau had died allowing his father-in-law and two other men to escape. This is why Mister Sillas wanted to honour all these Canadians who had come to Europe to fight and who had died.

I got in touch with Mister Sillas and he invited me to visit him during my stay in Paris. Meanwhile I visited the library and I browsed through books on the Normandy landing and on the paratroopers to find any information that could help me in my research.

April 24

I arrived in Paris for 24 hours. I went to suburbs to meet Mister Sillas. I have already shown you the pictures of his apartment and his fscinating and impressive collection of war artefacts,

April 29

During our stop in Ranville cemetery during our training, I made my small five minute presentation. In fact, I believe it lasted maybe a little more because I found it was important to talk about Philippe, but also about his brother Maurice because their stories were intertwined.

Come back next week.

Maurice Rousseau 1919-1944

Maurice Rousseau is Philippe’s brother.

Philippe Rousseau

Maurice is buried alongside Philippe.

Maurice as well as Philippe were war heroes

They are also unknown war heroes.

I don’t believe they were ever decorated.

This is the info found on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial site…

In memory of
who died on September 20, 1944

Military Service:

Force: Army
Unit: 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, R.C.I.C.

Additional Information:
Son of J. M. A. L. and Gabrielle Fafard Rousseau, of Montreal, Quebec. Husband of Agnes Hornby Rousseau, of Montreal.

Burial Information:
Calvados, France

Someone had sent a picture of Maurice Rousseau…

Click here.

The picture is not Maurice but Philippe.

Someone mixed up the two brothers.

This is Maurice.

Maurice Rousseau

How do I know?


Next time, I will tell you more about the Rousseau brothers and how they are war heroes.

Philippe Rousseau 1921-1944

This is Philippe Rousseau’s headstone…

Lieutenant Paratrooper
Philippe Rousseau
Killed in combat
Normandie, June 1944

Someone posted it on the Internet.

This headstone is in his hometown, probably in Montmagny where the Rousseau brothers lived.

This is what I found about Philippe on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial…

In memory of
who died on June 7, 1944

Military Service:

Age: 23
Force: Army
Unit: 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, R.C.I.C.

Additional Information:

Son of J. M. A. L. and Gabrielle Fafard Rousseau, of Montreal, Province of Quebec, Canada.



Calvados, France

Grave Reference: VA. G. 8.

On the site we have a photograph of Philippe.

Lieutenant Philippe Rousseau

This is the headstone in France.

The bottom part of the epitaph says…

Ses vingt ans sont tombés sur le sol immortel d’où jaillirent ses aieux.

In English, it can be translated by…

His twenty years of life have fallen on the immortal ground of his ancestors…

I will start reading Gary’s book about the battalion when I receive it in the mail, probably today.

Come back next time, I will talk about Philippe’s brother and how sometimes what you find on the Internet is not always right…

If you want to share something with me you can write a comment.


Gary’s book is in the mail…

I got a notice from Canada Post…

The book is in the mail.

I just can’t wait to read it.

People who bought the book say it is great.

“I am so glad to get your book. I ordered five from the publishing co. in Victoria. I ordered 2 at first, one for me and one for my son in Japan; and then all my grandsons wanted a copy so I must say it was worth it. You did a wonderful job of it. I know my Joe is in history. I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. I love all the stories and I knew quite a few from the reunions, especially Earl Rice. He was in the reserve with Joe. Joe ended up becoming a major. The boys loved calling him SIR. THANK YOU AGAIN, YOU DID A SUPERB BOOK, I LOVE IT.”
— Pauline, Canada

“I loved every page of the book. I love regimental histories, but to hear the stories in the words of the actual participants was very refreshing and very entertaining. A must for anyone interested in Canadian military history.”
— Andrew, Canada

“Gary, nice book, enjoyed reading it.”
— Thomas, Canada

“Yes I got your book and am reading it each night. An incredible amount of work has gone into it. As soon as the election is over I’ll give you a plug or two. I’m still reading it and enjoying it very much and plan on giving you a plug very shortly.”
— Lowell Green, Ottawa, Canada (Radio talk show host)

“I find your writing makes for most enjoyable reading and am surprised at the thoroughness of information. You certainly have done you homework in preparing for this endeavour – congratulations again! I can honestly appreciate the amount of effort you must have put into it Gary from how well you have put it down for us to read.”
— Robby, Canada (1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Veteran)

“Yes, I have read through the book (sporadically), and really enjoyed it….those guys were awesome! I think I’ll read a section at a time, “when the mood strikes.” My aunt (Larry’s wife) was absolutely overjoyed to receive it. She called me just before Xmas. She told me that she knows about 90% of the men in the book from meetings over the years. She was going to spend her Xmas week reading it from cover to cover, and it was the best Xmas present she could receive… Again, thanks for this book….really a “labour of love!””
— Rick, Canada

“And, just to let you know, my brother Scott absolutely LOVED the book, which won me the prize for the best Christmas gift in his family this year! I’m also looking forward to reading it.”
— Elizabeth, Canada

“Three of the books will be given as Christmas presents to my nephews. I’m not sure I can say this correctly. Because this is an oral history the words are my Dad’s, and I hear him so plainly. It is so special and sometimes, when I want him close I reread that part of your book, and remember many other times with him. Thank you, for taking the time to write the book.”
— Phyllis, Canada

“Anyway, I’ve started reading the book and all I can say is GREAT!!! You’ve done a magnificent job of editing. As I read it I’m looking back at my own experiences and find that we were all alike….mostly young, thrill seeking, wondering what was in store for us and, generally, having a ball. I’ll get back to you after I’ve read a bit more. Again, thank you for sending it to me, and it reads wonderfully well.”
— Bill, USA (1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Veteran)

“Your book turned out to be a tremendous amount of work and it took me some time to read it all. It never left the table so I could read it at every opportunity. It is a tremendous source of information. I even learned most of the names of those in Marcel Cote’s stick. Some years ago I received information from the Brit. FOO who was in that stick who wrote what happened to him and how he was finally captured, but I never knew any of the names of those he jumped with. Thank you for a terrific undertaking. We will promote in our newsletter and wherever we can. Well done!”
— Jan de Vries, President, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Association

“I presented the book to Eldon at his farewell party yesterday, as he was relating some of his war stories from Europe. He was excited and teary as I told him that it was a 10-year labour of love for you to record the oral history from the men and women who made it history.”
— Jonathan, Canada

“I’m reading your book, it is really a good book.”
— Lydia, The Netherlands

“Great book Gary – hats off to you!”
— Pat, Canada

“I gave him the book and showed him the writing on the inside cover by yourself. He is very delighted that someone, such as yourself, has taken the time and interest to honour and remember the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. He actually started to go over your book and he remembers a lot of the people whose names have been mentioned. I sat with him at his bed side and I could see it in his eyes that this book brought him much joy as he read about each member’s recollections from the past. He actually started to laugh at some of them as he remembered each person’s personality of what they must have been like back then. I also will read your book after my dad and I will let you know my thoughts. I’m sure they will be good thoughts and I can say on behalf of my dad that your book has scored high marks with him. On behalf of my father and myself, thanks once again Gary for remembering the past and bringing it to others with your book.”
— Randy, Canada

“By the way, very good book”
— Jeroen, The Netherlands

“I just completed reading “Boys Of The Clouds” and I must congratulate you on an outstanding book. I found the book to be thoroughly entertaining and totally engrossing, a real “can’t put it down” type of book. I really enjoyed reading the personal stories of all the paratroopers and the commitment and pride they felt was very evident. Thanks for a great book and keep up the good work.”
— Gerry, Canada

“Hi Gary, I had talked about doing the same type of thing but am so pleased you actually did it!!!! Congratulations!!!! Well done!!!!!”
— Chuck, Canada

“I have just got a copy of this book and must say it is a refreshing change from traditional history books. The first hand accounts make for a compelling and emotional read. My complements to the author for an amazing effort!”
— John, Canada

“Feedback on “Boys of the Clouds”. First of all, thank you for sending and autographing it. It will have an honoured space on my bookshelf. Being able to read the personal stories was so interesting. All in all, a wonderful experience to read this book. Again thank you for writing it and making it available to me.”
— Pat, New Zealand

“I will be on the lookout for your book, and congratulations on a job well done.”
— Dr. Patricia Skidmore, Canadian Oral History Association

“Your book is great. I will be posting a very positive review to our group later this week and will work to get a link up on the web site within the next round of updates.”
— Ted, USA

I can’t wait to read it…

Next time I will tell you all about the Rousseau brothers who were part of that battalion.

They will never have a chance to read the book.

If you want to share something with me about the battalion, you can reach me by clicking here…

The Rousseau brothers

If you live outside Quebec, you probably don’t know who the Rousseau brothers are.

If you live in Quebec, you probably don’t know who they are either.

This blog is all about not forgetting, but also, telling people who was forgotten.

Here is the first part of the story of the Rousseau brothers.

For a starter, take a look at this…

This book was written by Gary Boegel. Gary is not a celebrity…

But in my book, he should be.

Gary did not talk about the Rousseau brothers, but I just bought his book in a way to pay homage to him and to learn more about the battalion.

Come back next time and I will tell you more about the book unless you Google his name and read it for yourself.

If you want to share something with me about the battalion, you can reach me by clicking here…

St-François-Xavier airport 1943



I just typed Eugène Gagnon Mosquito on Google…


Click here.

This picture was posted by Mario Hains.

He is the one who has helped me in finding information about Eugène Gagnon.

You must say to yourself…

Man, he must be famous in his hometown.

I am sorry to say this but not to many people know this war hero.

It is like that here in Québec.

Most war heroes are alone and forgotten.

A veteran told me just that and a book was also written about this fact…

The man on the book cover is Raymond Meloche.

He was a sailor on HMCS Athabaskan. He was taken prisoner. He was one of the lucky one of the Unlucky Lady…

As for Eugène Gagnon, his sister threw everything in the garbage, logbook, medals and all.

Lest we forget…

French-Canadian Mosquito pilot

Eugène Gagnon DFC

GAGNON, F/L Joseph Achille Eugene (J27002) –

Distinguished Flying Cross* – No.23 Squadron –
Award effective 22 May 1945 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 1147/45 dated 13 July 1945.
Born 1921; home in Bromptonville, Quebec. Enlisted Montreal 7 February 1941. Commissioned 1942. Trained at No.1 ITS (graduated 3 July 1941), No.10 EFTS (graduated 21 January 1942) and No.6 SFTS (graduated 24 April 1942).

Since joining his squadron in December 1944, this officer has completed many sorties against a variety of targets.  His determination has been outstanding and his persistent attacks on enemy locomotives, rolling stock and road transport have been most successful.  One night in March 1945, he was detailed on a minelaying mission in a section of the Elbe River.  On the outward journey the starboard engine developed trouble but despite this he went on to accomplish his task in the face of heavy enemy fire.  On the return journey the starboard engine became completely unserviceable.  Height could not be maintained and the aircraft was forced down to 400 feet, becoming extremely difficult to control.  Displaying brilliant airmanship and determination, Flight Lieutenant Gagnon made a successful landing at base without injury to his crew and with but slight damage to the aircraft.  His devotion to duty has been most notable.

Squadron 23

No. 23 Squadron formed at Fort Grange, Gosport on 1 Sep 1915 under the command of one of the RAF’s most experienced operational pilots – Captain Louis Strange. After a brief period attempting to counter German airship flights over London, the Squadron moved to France with its FE2Bs initially employed on escort duties. By early 1917, Spad single-seaters had arrived, and were being used on offensive patrols. By the end of the War, the Squadron had converted to Dolphins, and flew these until disbanded at the end of 1919.

On 1 July 1925, No. 23 Squadron reformed at Henlow with Snipes, but these were replaced shortly after with Gloster Gamecocks. In 1931, the Squadron was tasked with carrying out trials on the new Hawker Hart two-seaters, taking the production version, known as Demons, on strength in 1933. It wasn’t until late 1938 that the squadron received its first monoplanes in the form of Blenheims, and these were used as night-fighters in the early days of World War II whilst based at Wittering. In 1941, Havocs replaced the Blenheims, and these were used with great success in the intruder role, until themselves replaced by the Mosquito in mid-1942. At the end of the year, the squadron moved to Malta in support of allied operations in the Mediterranean before returning to the UK in 1944.

In September 1945, the Squadron had disbanded, reforming a year later at Wittering with Mosquito night-fighters. By late 1953, Venom night fighters had joined the Squadron, before Javelin all-weather supersonic fighters replaced these in 1957. In 1964, the Lightning replaced the Javelin, and it was with this classic aircraft that the squadron continued until Phantoms were received in late 1975, this coinciding with a moved to Wattisham in Suffolk. After the Falklands War in 1982, the Squadron occupied Port Stanley airfield until reduced to a Flight of four aircraft in 1988, reforming at Leeming with Tornado F3s. Defence cuts following the end of the Cold War saw the unit disbanded in March 1994. No. 23 Squadron was again reformed, this time as part of the Waddington AEW Wing in 1996, sharing not only the aircraft with the already established No. 8 Squadron, but operational duties in Europe and the Gulf.

The Squadron was officially disbanded on 2 Oct 2009.

Next time, I will tell you more about this man…

Articles on the book written by Peter Hessel

Here is an excerpt of the first article.


A historical book written by an Ottawa Valley writer is still bringing together threads of military history connecting Canada and Germany.

In 2005, “The Mystery of Frankenberg’s Canadian Airman – an eye-witness to terror bombing and the quest for truth, justice, and reconciliation in Canada and Germany” was published by James Lorimer and Company of Toronto. The book had been written by Peter Hessel, who had grown up in Germany during the Hitler era and emigrated to Canada in 1952.

The writer, who for many years has resided at Waba in the Arnprior area, is best known in the Upper Ottawa Valley for another book, “Destination: Ottawa Valley,” a book detailing the the German immigration to the Ottawa Valley in the mid-1800s. For many of the descendants of the 12,000 members of that group, the book became a link to the places and people their ancestors had left behind for a new life as pioneers in this country.

He was born in Chemnitz, in the province of Saxony in Eastern Germany, and was living in Frankenberg, a city then just a bit bigger than Pembroke, not far from his birthplace. In 1945, Chemnitz had a population of approximately 350,000. That city was targeted by Allied bombers on March 5, 1945, almost a month after the bombing that destroyed Dresden, about 80 km away.

I also found this…

The unknown soldier

Solving the mystery of a Canadian airman’s death

BRIAN BETHUNE | Nov 07, 2005

It’s not the way Canadians care to remember their part in the Last Good War. On the night of March 5, 1945, the RCAF contributed 195 aircraft to the massive bombing raid that levelled the German city of Chemnitz. Weeks later, under the heading “Durch Terror gefallen“(“Killed by Terror”), the local newspaper was still commemorating the 2,100 civilian dead: “Marieluise — it was God’s will that on March 5, we should lose our dear child, age 10; Charlotte Eichbichler — my dear wife with her six children were cruelly torn from me; Helene Schmieder, Ursula Schmieder, Alma Schmieder — it is so painful to have lost my wife, my daughter and my mother all at once.”

The slaughter of the bombing campaign has troubled us ever since, and is one reason Canadians tend to ignore the fact it cost this country dearly too. Almost 10,000 men, nearly a quarter of Canada’s total war losses, died in the air war. The Chemnitz raid took its share: 89 young men killed flying or fighting, brought down by freak weather conditions, German defences or friendly fire.

And one airman was murdered on the ground.

A day or two after the raid, a downed Canadian aviator was being taken to the railway station in the small town of Frankenberg, 15 km east of Chemnitz, when several men in civilian clothing rushed out of hiding and beat him to death with clubs while his Wehrmacht escort stood idly by. Peter Hessel, a 13-year-old refugee from earlier raids on Chemnitz, was in Frankenberg at the time, no more than a kilometre from the murder site. But he didn’t hear about it for another 59 years, more than a half-century after he had moved to Canada. When Hessel, a retired Ottawa-area civil servant, did learn of the war crime in February 2004, he felt his unique position placed a responsibility on him: “I was right there as a German, and now I am a Canadian. No one even knew who this young man was. I had to find out what happened.”

The result of a year’s relentless investigation is Hessel’s The Mystery of Frankenberg’s Canadian Airman. In part it’s an absorbing reverse whodunit — Hessel found enough witnesses to be sure the crime occurred, and to believe the culprits were prominent local Nazis, but identifying the victim seemed at times impossible. Canadian war crimes investigators had quickly given up after the war: Frankenberg was in the Soviet zone, and relations were already chilly. In the end, by shrewdly following a single tenuous lead, Hessel learned that the airman was Jean-Maurice D’Avril, a 22-year-old Montrealer.

But the book is much more than an account of solving a mystery. The Allied bombing campaign killed more than half a million Germans — crushed in their homes, roasted alive or asphyxiated. The flyers themselves were in grave danger in the air, as their casualty lists show; on the ground, alone and unarmed among their targets, they were helpless. Hessel notes that at least 45 downed Canadian airmen were murdered in Germany during the last 10 months of the war. The vast majority of killers were men in uniform, from Gestapo agents to a forest warden, who were following the lead of top Nazis like Josef Goebbels, who called the airmen “terrorists” undeserving of the rights of POWs. On the other hand, Hessel interviewed numerous Canadian air force POWs who did survive the war, and they recalled being protected from angry civilians by German soldiers.

Hessel displays a rare understanding of both national perspectives. Born to an extended family of Nazi fanatics(his mother excepted)a year before Hitler took power, he was well-indoctrinated as a child. He was on the ground when 700 bombers at a time spanned the skies. From 80 km away he watched the Dresden firestorm and worried about his relatives there. As it turned out, his aunt and two cousins survived the bombing, then killed themselves in despair the morning after.

But Hessel has been a Canadian now for far longer than he was a German, and he honours the sacrifices Canadians made in destroying Nazism. He refuses to call the bombing campaign terrorism. “The Nazis called it that, which is one reason I don’t — they never called what they did to British cities ‘terrorism.’ It’s up to the reader to judge for himself.” Instead, Hessel focuses on reconciliation, stressing it’s time to acknowledge that “Canadians caused great suffering in Germany, and that Germans caused great suffering to Canadians.”

Today in Frankenberg, entirely because of Peter Hessel’s efforts, a plaque at the murder site — carved in English, French and German — commemorates that lonely, unnecessary death, one among millions. At its unveiling on March 6, Lise D’Avril, the sister of the murdered man, met witnesses who saw him die almost exactly 60 years before, a step on Hessel’s road to reconciliation.

Memorial to WWII PoW defaced

While waiting for the book to arrive, I found this article written in 2008

A controversial memorial to a Canadian murdered by a mob of German civilians during the Second World War has been plastered over with Nazi posters.

The Gazette (Montreal) January 15, 2008

A controversial memorial to a Canadian murdered by a mob of German civilians during the Second World War has been plastered over with Nazi posters.

The much-debated memorial to Pilot Officer Jean-Maurice Joseph D’Avril of 425 Squadron of Bomber Command is located in Frankenberg on the site where the Montreal wireless operator and air gunner, a prisoner of war at the time, was attacked by a group of German civilians and clubbed to death as he was marched through the town.

“Here, the Canadian prisoner of war, RCAF P/O Jean-Maurice D’Avril (22) was cowardly beaten to death in March 1945,” a plaque says in English, French and German. “We mourn him and all victims of war.”

The memorial was erected largely through the efforts of Peter Hessel, a German-born author and translator who spent part of the war as a child in Frankenberg. Hessel raised the funds for the memorial largely through the Royal Canadian Legion and some private donors in Canada and Germany.

As well, in 2005 Hessel produced a book, titled The Mystery of Frankenberg’s Canadian Airman, publicly naming D’Avril for the first time as the murdered Canadian.

In a telephone interview, Hessel, in Germany doing research, said he was notified by friends in Frankenberg that the D’Avril memorial had been defaced with posters showing images of Nazi soldiers and containing slogans which Hessel translated as: Honour those who deserve it and In memory of German war dead.

The defacement was blamed on the National Socialist Party of Chemnitz, an industrial city near Frankenberg that was greatly damaged by Canadian bombers during the Second World War. Chemnitz is located in the state of Saxony, where the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party, known by its German initials NPD, won more than nine per cent of the popular vote in the last election for the state parliament.