Townships loses local war hero
The Ayer’s Cliff Branch of the Canadian Legion lost one of their members last Thursday: Johannes Brus, better known as John. A full Legion service with an Honour Guard is being planned for his funeral on Thursday and a ‘Poppy Drop’, a Canadian Legion tradition of dropping poppies into the casket or the grave of lost members, will take place on Wednesday.
“John did so much for the Legion, visiting schools and speaking with children,” said Ayer’s cliff Legion president Susan Fletcher. “John was very involved with the Legion until last year when he was weak and in ill health, but he still attended meetings and social gatherings. He was a real team player,” added Brigadier-general Robin Gagnon, the Legion’s vice-president.
John Brus was a ‘quiet’ hero of the Second World War, of Dutch nationality at the time. He was active in the Dutch Resistance, saving and hiding several pilots from downed aircraft at his family’s farm, burning their uniforms, dressing them in farm clothes, and then hiding them in the hayloft from the Germans who were looking for them. He was also sent on numerous covert missions to gather information. Once the war was over, his courage did not wane: he joined the First Dutch National Battalion to help in the removal of land mines and explosives.
In 1951, John, his wife Rita and their two children, four more would eventually join the clan, came to Canada to start a new life. Always grateful towards Canadians for the liberation of their homeland, the couple was quoted in a newspaper article written many years ago in the Stanstead Journal, saying: “We came to Canada to take the place of the boys who lost their lives liberating our country. We should never forget what the Canadians did.”
One way that the couple did remember was by planting poppies on their farm, then placing little white crosses among the red blooms.
Over the years, Mr. Brus has received deserved recognition for his heroic deeds. He was awarded certificates from the United Kingdom and Canadian