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).
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.
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.