Lieutenant Philippe Rousseau an unknown hero even in his hometown

I will continue to translate what the young guide wrote about Philippe Rousseau.

Lieutenant Philippe Rousseau

May 2, 1921 – June 6, 1944

Killed in Gonneville-sur-Mer, Calvados, France

Philippe Rousseau was born in Montreal, but lived in Montmagny near Quebec City. He was the son of Lacasse Rousseau, an electrician and engineer, and Gabrielle Fafard.

Philippe is on the far left, Maurice is right beside him.

The couple had 14 children, 12 boys and 2 girls. Among them was Lieutenant Maurice Rousseau who was with the Special Air Service (SAS), Jacques, director of the Jardin Botanique de Montréal, and his two sisters Pauline et Marie who were studying medecine. We see them with Philippe on this picture (see note for an update).

Comment for a reader about this picture:
After looking at a few photos of Philippe prior to jumping on 6 june, I have come to the conclusion it is not him. However there are some spooky similarities. It would be interesting to know who that is. I also do not think he is an officer. Definitely a member of the Parachute Battalion though. He has also re-applied the AIRBORNE strip patches below his formation badges. These were supposed to be removed in December 1944. Some put them back on however when they came home. 

Philippe Rousseau joined le Régiment de la Chaudière in Lévis before enlisting with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion when it was first created in July 1942. He was already an officer, graduating from Royal Military College in Kingston with his brother Maurice. He qualified as a paratrooper in Ringway, England at the end of 1943, just after his brother. On the picture, Philippe is on the left and Maurice on the right, as members of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.

Philippe and Maurice Rousseau

During the winter of 1943-1944, he took over Maurice’s assignment as Lieutenant in charge of B Company, no. 4 Platoon.

B Company

He did not speak English that much but he learned fast. He would talk with such passion that his men would never forget what he said to them.

Maurice joined the SAS, the Special Air Service, giving up his rank of captain to become a lieutenant.

« He was eager to come to grips with the enemy and had no way of knowing when D-Day would be. » (A Rising of courage)

The SAS was a British paratrooper unit part of special commandos. Their missions were always the most dangerous ones carrying sabotage missions behind enemy lines, robbing banks to provide German money to allies, or attacking convoys and preventing reinforcements to the front lines. The SAS were such a nuisance to the Germans that Hitler ordered that any member of the SAS taken prisoner be immediately shot.

See you next Monday…One of Philippe’s men talks about him in Gary Boegel’s book Boys of the Clouds

Les sanglots longs des violons de l’automne.


7 thoughts on “Lieutenant Philippe Rousseau an unknown hero even in his hometown

  1. Can you explain who the paratrooper is in the photo above with the two women? Is that Phillipe Rousseau? I know that seems a stupid question but he is wearing medal ribbons ? Do you not state that he died in action shortly after his brother ? It would be impossible for that to be Phillipe if he died in 1944. They did not get the France and Germany medal ribbon OR service medal ribbons ( apart from the CVSM ) until 1945. Maybe I have understood wrong?

    1. That picture is supposed to be Philippe with his two sisters.
      That’s what someone had on her website and shared with me.
      But then you seem to be more an expert on medals and ribbons.
      So this would not be Philippe Rousseau then with his two sisters?

      Can you shed more light?


    2. Hi Ken,

      I sent you a montage to help you using the three pictures.

      The man with the two women is definitely a paratrooper.
      I know he does not look quite as much as Philippe.

      Maybe you are right.

      Could he be a friend of the two brothers paying a visit to their sisters after the war?

      Keep in touch


  2. My Grandfather was also killed in Gonneville sur mer on 6th june 1944. His personal belongings were recovered by Jaques Roussea, another brother whilst visiting Gonneville a few years after the war. He returned all the belongings to my family, which included a personal diary, which I now have in my possession. Are there any Rousseau relatives out there ?

    1. I believe most sibings have died. The sisters were not interested in bringing back those memories.

      That diary is very precious,
      You should keep it.

      Maybe you would like to share part of it on Lest We Forget.

      I know someone who has his uncle’s journal and he is writing a blog with all the entries.
      His uncle was a tail gunner in the Pacific.

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