Town­ships loses lo­cal war hero

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM - Vic­to­ria Vanier Ay­ers Cliff

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

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