On June 6, 1944, Eugene Sanford jumped into
France as D-Day dawned. He was shot on the
way down: “My parachute looked like a pepper
shaker, there were so many holes.” Three weeks
later, Eugene, part of the 1st Canadian Parachute
Battalion, was captured by German
soldiers just outside Caen.
In 1945, he escaped a Prisoner of War camp
and carrying a buddy, he made his way to the
Allies with the help of the French underground.
Last year, Eugene received the French Legion of
Honour, the country’s highest decoration. “I feel
proud,” he says. “The war made me a different
man, in knowing what I can do and what
has to be done.”
One blast, a second, then the whole right side of the plane
was in flames. In May 1944, Philip Pochailo of the RCAF
was on a bomber run over the Netherlands. After enemy
fire, the plane went down. Some crew members were
killed in the air, others on the ground. But Philip landed
on an island, in the middle of a herd of cattle. He made
his way to a farmhouse, where he hid in a hayloft and then
connected with the Dutch resistance movement.
Evading capture, Philip lived and worked with the
underground for the next 12 months, until he was
liberated by Canadian troops. Since then, he has returned
to The Netherlands twice to thank the Dutch who helped
him, and to pay his respects at the graves of fallen crew.
Philip, who lives at Revera’s Robertson House in Ottawa,
Ont., told his incredible story in a book called
Then and
Now: 1944-2004.
The book is about memories and
I think it’s necessary to remember what you’ve been
through and those who didn’t come back,” Philip said.
When you go through those graves and just look at the
ages... my God. The message is freedom isn’t free. It isn’t
something handed to you, it’s something that must be
earned. All kinds of people have died for the freedom we
enjoy and cherish.”
French Legion of Honour
Life Lessons
Eugene Sanford, The Edgemont
Calgary, Alta.
Phillip Pochailo, Robertson House
Ottawa, Ont.