Re­mem­ber­ing war-time bil­let

The London Free Press - - READER TO READER -

In 1943, when I was seven years old, an RCAF re­cruit by the name of Paul Mavaut was bil­leted with my par­ents in Bran­don, Man. He was learn­ing to fly Lan­caster bombers. I re­mem­ber him. He was, for a few months, the cen­tre of laugh­ter and life in our house.

Yes­ter­day, Nov. 1, my wife was clean­ing out draw­ers and found a let­ter from Paul Mavuat to my par­ents, post­marked Lon­don, Eng­land, and dated June 13, 1944.

In it, Paul was full of life, true to char­ac­ter. He was en­joy­ing a short leave, al­though leaves weren’t as much fun as they used to be “be­cause so many of my old pals are prison­ers of war, or gone per­ma­nently.”

Re­cently he had had “a grand view of some of the ac­tion dur­ing the land­ings,” but he was “un­able to linger, be­cause Lan­caster bombers were such a size­able tar­get.”

He hoped that af­ter a “few more trips” he would be granted

a leave to visit fam­ily in Canada. And now he was off for lunch with a Spit­fire pi­lot who was “most in­ter­est­ing to talk to.”

My mother added an end note to the let­ter: Paul Mavaut was killed in ac­tion on this last tour of duty.

I owe you Paul Mavaut. I owe you and the many oth­ers who fought be­side you for al­low­ing me to live a rea­son­ably fruit­ful life, in a rea­son­ably peace­ful coun­try. I deeply re­gret that I can­not stand be­side you, and shake your hand, and, how­ever in­ad­e­quate, say thank you for your sac­ri­fice.

Nick Fry

Lon­don

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